Ladies, gentlemen, and those of more complex orientation, I’ve made it known that I like vampires. But I must confess, I wasn’t entirely true with you.
No, my friends, I love vampires!
I love the intrigue. I love the hunting. I love the emotion. I enjoy vampires whether they’re lovers or fighters or real estate moguls on the side. My heart skips a beat when I see them losing control to their instincts. I am at awe when I observe their centuries-long Machiavellian schemes in motion. Envy becomes me when I observe their secret societies. And I am held in rapt attention as I watch them truly let loose, whether it’s terrorizing the whole of humanity or annihilating nazi soldiers on the battlefield.
My friends… join me in this evening of revel. Join me as we remind those of Golarion why they should fear us, and respect us, and most importantly, who truly rules the night.
Hello and welcome to Eldritch Excursion, the blog that sinks its teeth into the jugular of mechanics to take a big sippy from the succulent veins of flavor. This time, we’ll be discussing how it feels to play as a vampire. This is to celebrate the release of Book of the Dead, of course, and most certainly not because I’ve been dumping an unreasonable amount of time into V Rising.
Down by the Watering Hole
While countless permutations of vampires exist, they share one common trait: their eternal thirst for the blood of the living. And whether you’re a freshly-fanged fledgling or a half breed with the hunger you’re going to have to find a steady supply.
I’m going to assume that most vampire PCs aren’t playing as nobles in Ustalav from night one, with a castle in their name and servants to cater to their every whim with a whole stable of top shelf blood that lets them drink like a sailor on shore leave. Instead, you’ll likely be living from bite to bite, hunting for prey in the streets or putting yourself in social debt to the vampire aristocracy to keep yourself well fed within their territory. And being that this is Pathfinder, let’s go ahead and formalize a mechanic for that.
If you need to satiate your predatory desires, as well as find shelter from retribution, you can use the Stalk downtime activity. This varies greatly based on your preferred method of hunting: Society if you lean on social connections, Bluff if you want to lure prey to your waiting jaws, or Survival for hunting in the wild are some of the most common methods.
You try to provide sustenance for your predatory hunger, be it a vampire’s thirst for blood, a ghoul’s need to consume flesh, or even stranger necessities. The GM determines the nature of the place where you’re trying to Stalk. You may need a minimum proficiency rank to Stalk in particularly strange environments. Unlike most downtime activities, you can Stalk after 8 hours or less of exploration, but if you do, you take a -5 penalty.
Critical Success You either provide a subsistence living for yourself and one additional creature with a similar diet, or you discreetly feed while leaving little to no trace of your presence, making it exceptionally difficult to trace it back to you.
Success You find enough to feed upon with basic protection from the consequences of your actions, but active monster hunters are not thrown off the trail. If your feeding requires the death of your prey, you still need to dispose of the body.
Failure You’re left unsatiated and exposed, becoming fatigued (or a similar condition, depending on your physiology) until you attain sufficient feeding.
Critical Failure You attract trouble, failing to feed yourself while leaving behind ample evidence of your activities. Treat this as a failure, but you also gain the attention of monster hunters, rival monsters, or some other entity that is otherwise against your feeding practices.
Special If your feeding requires you to harm an unwilling sentient creature, this activity gains the Evil trait.
So, what do you do when you want to stay fed on the regular? As with any other resource, the key is persistence and investing. Luckily, I’ve got you covered. Not only can you keep yourself well fed when needed, but even a lowly mortal can get their foot in the door in the undead hierarchy.
Dark Shepherd Feat 1
Prerequisites trained in Society
You maintain loose, regular connections with a particular group of people. This can be a dedicated fans of your work, intimate companions that frequent a particular tavern, a blood cult that sees you as their prophet, or some other mix of people who offer their trust and won’t speak of you to the authorities. When making a check to Stalk, you may tap into your own flock, which reduces the time required by half and allows you to treat your result as one degree higher.
Alternatively, you may leverage your resources in negotiations, granting its benefit to another monster of equal or lower social standing for one night. This grants a +2 circumstance bonus to a check to Make an Impression or Request a favor.
Special If you spend a significant time away from your flock or relocate to a new city, you will need to spend one week of downtime to establish a new one.
Children of the Children of the Night
So, you’ve got yourself settled in, you’ve made some friends in low places, and you’re wondering where to go from here. Naturally, the best way to expand your influence is to franchise. And what better way to do so than through progeny? Unfortunately, the playable vampire option suffers from the problem of feeling like a watered-down version of the real deal until you’ve got several levels and a fistful of feats in your pocket. And while it’s not as bad as reptoid PCs being literally unable do the infiltration that reptoids are known for, it does get lonely on those long nights.
Vampiric Progenitor Feat 4
[Archetype] [Divine] [Downtime] [Necromancy]
Prerequisites Vampire Dedication
Your blood becomes more potent, allowing you to pass your vampiric essence on to new progeny. You gain a modified version of the Create Spawn ability. You may only create spawn from a creature that is lower level than you. To make your spawn, create an undead eidolon using the summoner dedication feat and apply the following exceptions:
• Your spawn does not have the eidolon trait. It gains the benefits and drawbacks of the Vampire Dedication feat except for the fangs attack.
• One of their granted natural attacks must be a fangs attack.
• Your spawn is not directly summoned by the Manifest Eidolon ability. Instead, this action to sends an unmistakable call through your shared blood. This cannot contain words, but an empathic bond allows you to communicate the urgency of the call. A spawn knows the exact location of your call and typically heads to that location as quickly as possible.
• Your control is stable, meaning you do not share actions. Instead, your spawn gains the minion trait.
• Your spawn is more independent. Instead of sharing your skill proficiencies, it becomes trained in a number of skills equal to 3 plus its Intelligence modifier, and gains Skill Increases at the same rate as your class.
• Your spawn is strengthened by your bond in blood: Each time you gain a feat from the Vampire archetype besides this one, your spawn also gains that feat. You may instead grant your spawn a skill feat so long as it meets the prerequsites.
Special You may create additional spawn, but doing so causes your current spawn to be released from your control, becoming an independent vampire. A freed spawn usually strikes out to find their own path in the night, but some may hold a powerful grudge over what they’ve become and plot against their former master.
Potent Spawn Feat 10
Prerequisites Vampiric Progenitor
Your spawn becomes more adept at combat and can better protect itself. Your spawn becomes an expert in unarmed attacks. If you are an expert in unarmed defense, your spawn also becomes an expert in unarmed defense. If you have weapon specialization, your spawn also gains weapon specialization.
Greater Spawn Feat 18
Prerequisites Potent Spawn
Your spawn nearly rivals you, balancing on the razor’s edge of power and loyalty. If you are a master in unarmed defense, your spawn also becomes a master in unarmed defense. If you are a master with unarmed attacks, your spawn also becomes a master with unarmed attacks.
Wow okay I keep getting these simple little ideas that explode into huge articles. Funny how having a stable income and a kid does that to you. Anyway, hope you like it, let me know in the comments if you plan on morbing out in your next game. Join us next time and I’ll show you how to get the “hobo” out of Murderhobo.