Vampire Spawn with Class

By Skip Williams

This column aims to provide players with tips on creating effective and interesting characters of various types. So whether you're a beginning player creating your very first character or an experienced gamer looking to put some punch into an old standby, this column is for you!

The Pros and Cons of a Vampire Spawn

The mysterious and deadly vampire, with its mesmerizing gaze, inhuman strength, and thirst for blood, has earned a place of honor among first-class monsters. Thanks to the rules in Libris Mortis, D&D players can now get a taste of the vampiric life by playing a vampire spawn. These rules allow players to create various kinds of undead characters by treating certain undead monsters like special character classes. The player wishing to create such a character chooses a race (usually a standard race such as human or elf, but any race the campaign allows will do), then adopts the mantle of undeath just as if he were playing any other character class.

Vampire Spawn Assets

A full-blown vampire's sheer power puts it well beyond the scope of most campaigns. The vampire spawn, however, shares many traits with its greater cousin and offers much to player characters. When you choose a vampire spawn, you gain respectable combat power as well as abilities that allow you to serve as a scout, a thief, a lookout, a trickster, or a spy. Below are several assets you have going for you when you choose a vampire spawn.

Vampire Spawn Weaknesses

The vampire spawn's long list of powers and advantages comes at a price. Below are a few of the disadvantages you should keep in mind if you're considering a vampire spawn character.

Playing a Classy Vampire Spawn

As noted earlier, the vampire spawn class works best when combined with another class. His second class will determine what his allies expect from him and what he must do to succeed overall. Still, you should keep the following tips in mind when you play a vampire spawn character.

Mind Your Coffin

According to legend, a vampire must rest in his coffin each day. The D&D game doesn't have such a requirement, but your DM might decide to go with the traditional concept. But whether you must spend time there on a daily basis or not, your coffin is your refuge if you lose all your hit points after gaining the fast healing ability. Try to remain within 9 miles of your coffin if you possibly can, since that's the distance you can cover within your 2-hour limit while flying in gaseous form.

It's okay to ask for help with your coffin, but remember that it's your problem, not your group's. So work with your DM and try handle most business involving your coffin (or coffins) outside of game time, so that the other players in your group aren't sitting around doing nothing while you see to your coffin. If you decide to haul a coffin around with you, try to limit the impact on your party by finding a reliable way to move and protect it.

Plan Ahead

Issues involving your coffin aren't the only matters you must handle ahead of time. You also need to talk with your comrades about how to deal with your vulnerabilities before any problems occur. For example, get your friends to agree to carry you over running water when necessary. Likewise, arrange to have an ally sunder or snatch away any mirrors or holy symbols that foes use against you. There's not much you can do about the smell of garlic, but your allies might be able to remove garlic from an area you need to enter, cleanse away the smell, or move a battle away from an area that reeks of garlic.

You can use your domination power to force bystanders -- or even foes -- to help you with some of these problems, but you can't always count on that tactic. People who agree to help you of their own free will generally prove more reliable than anyone you force into the job.

Key Allies

You're most effective in battle when you combine your unique talents with your friends' abilities. Here are a few tips on working well with your colleagues.

The Party's Main Warrior: This character is the best one to sunder mirrors, holy symbols, or buds of garlic. He might also have enough carrying capacity to tote your coffin a short distance when necessary. And you can help him with your domination power, which can prove useful against enemies who are too tough for him to defeat.

If you're the party's main warrior, be sure to keep a ranged weapon available so that you can keep attacking a foe that's using a mirror, holy symbol, or garlic against you. When you're in a position to make melee attacks, don't overlook your blood drain and energy drain abilities, either of which can effectively neutralize a living foe.

The Party's Scout: This character can also help you by sundering mirrors, holy symbols, or buds of garlic. If your scout has the sneak attack class feature, be prepared to use your gaseous form power to move into a flanking position with her when needed.

If you're serving as the party scout, your stealth and mobility are hard to beat. Your domination power can prove immensely effective for quietly dealing with guards and sentries, and your blood drain and energy drain attacks are great for sapping a foe's vitality. Moreover, energy drain combined with a sneak attack can really ruin an enemy's day. But be careful to avoid entering places where the rest of your party can't follow to rescue you if you get into trouble.

The Party's Arcane Spellcaster: Be prepared to come to this character's aid when trouble arises. You can always use your spider climb or gaseous form ability to go to the arcane spellcaster's rescue if necessary. Your domination power can stop a foe in his tracks, and your blood drain or energy drain can make an attacker think twice about continuing to bother your spellcaster.

If you're functioning as the party's arcane spellcaster, your natural armor, fast healing, and other defensive abilities make you less vulnerable than most in that role. You're not invulnerable, however, so try to stay out of the foe's melee reach. Still, your domination and energy drain powers can provide a nasty surprise for enemies who try to disrupt your spellcasting with melee attacks.

The Party's Divine Spellcaster: Your fast healing power and undead traits make you less dependent on this character than most adventurers are. The various inflict spells can restore your hit points and help you survive when a foe's attacks deal damage faster than your fast healing power can repair it.

Most divine spellcasters also have enough combat power to sunder mirrors, holy symbols, or buds of garlic. In addition, their spells can help to shield you from the effects of sunlight and running water.

If you're the party's divine spellcaster, your ability scores and class features probably make you a potent combatant, and you can boost your power even higher with your spells. Keep in mind, however, that your allies are still counting on you for healing and defense.

Some Key Equipment

Your collection of gear may vary depending on what other classes you take in addition to your vampire spawn class. The following items should prove useful in any case.

About the Author

Skip Williams keeps busy with freelance projects for several different game companies, and he served as the Sage of Dragon Magazine for eighteen years. Skip is a co-designer of the D&D 3rd Edition game and the chief architect of the Monster Manual. When not devising swift and cruel deaths for player characters, Skip putters in his kitchen or garden (rabbits and deer are not his friends) or works on repairing and improving the century-old farmhouse that he shares with his wife, Penny, and a growing menagerie of pets.

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