We all know a lot about vampires. Since the “vampire craze” of the 1720s, night creatures seem to come back into the spotlight every few years (don’t worry, there’s no UV light).
From Bram Stoker’s Dracula to Twilight, Blade, and Underworld, these bloodsucking monsters are all over pop culture.
What if I told you that one of the ones I just listed isn’t about vampires? Blade is a dhampir, even though Wesley Snipes made him famous as a Marvel character.
You see, just before Eric Brooks was born, a vampire bit his mother. Some vampire enzymes were passed to the baby boy during this process, and over time, he gained some of the superpowers that vampires have.
Without getting too deep into the Marvel Comics vampire lore, Blade is a great example of a dhampir who is part vampire and all tough. And that’s a great way to explain what a dhampir is.
Some interesting things come with being part-vampire. They have amazing magical powers because they come from vampires, but that’s not all. They also get a hunger that won’t go away.
Most dhampir try as hard as they can to fight this hunger, but only those with the strongest wills can really stop it.
This is where the dhampir’s fight lies. Even though they aren’t fully from either world, they often become monster hunters because of their link to the supernatural.
When they use their new skills and their hate for monsters and the being who made them what they are, they make a destructive mix.
There is a myth about dhampirs, but it doesn’t get as much attention in the media as it could.
Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft, which is part of D&D 5e, tells us about the dhampir and a few other “lineages” that can make our character even more scary.
Lineages are things that change the way a race looks, like dhampirism, which is a changing trait. If you wanted your character to be a dhampir, you would still choose a race as a starting point.
Then you would choose which qualities to keep. More on that soon.
- Dhampir’s History with D&D
- First Encounter with the Dhampir
- Creating a Dhampir
- Unearth Arcana’s (UA) Dhampir
- The Best Races Before Becoming a Dhampir
- Backgrounds for Your Dhampir
- Dhampir Hungers and Origins
- What Classes Are Well Suited to the Dhampir
- Best Races to Turn into Dhampir
- Dhampir Appearance
Dhampir’s History with D&D
Older versions of D&D still don’t say much about Dhampir. In the first version, they are shown as being bitten by vampires and becoming weaker undead that DMs can use.
First Encounter with the Dhampir
Like most people, I found out about D&D the same way most people find out about the TTRPG.
I started playing D&D in late 2015 or early 2016, and Thiago Shinken’s “Dhampir – Playable Race 5e” was in the DM’s guild of one of the first homebrew games I joined.
At the time, 5e didn’t have many easy ways to play as a vampire or dhampir.
At the time, I thought this expanded race-type resource was great for a homebrew campaign because it was similar to the way Wizards of the Coast (WoTC) introduced races to its players through stat blocks.
The following things were true about Thiago’s Dhampir.
- Ability Score Improvement (ASI): +2 Charisma and +1 in a stat that depends on the sub-race.
- Age: 700~
- Size: Small to Medium
- Speed: 25 – 30ft Dark vision: 60ft
- teeth: Because their vampire parent gave them deadly teeth, they can do piercing damage equal to 1d4 + their Strength modifier. They can also get temporary hit points from people who are grappled, knocked out, or held down, depending on their charisma factor.
- Necrotic Resistance: Dhampirs naturally can’t get hurt by damage that comes from dead things.
- Human Ancestry: They can also get traits from their human parent. Depending on which sub-race they choose, they may be able to join an extra ASI or learn skills or abilities that only that sub-race has.
Creating a Dhampir
Before we get to all the fun stuff, I want to talk about how dhampirism works in 5e.
You can become a dhampir in the middle of your adventure, or you can make your character a dhampir when you make him or her.
The way these two methods work isn’t that different, but they will change how you play your character.
A dhampir who has been sick for a long time before the campaign starts is much more likely to have a clear goal than one who suddenly changes in the middle of a campaign.
Talk to your DM to find out which choice is best for you and how well dhampir or other dark lineages fit into your campaign.
Most likely, a half-vampire will fit better into a game set in Ravenloft than one set in Eberron.
Unearth Arcana’s (UA) Dhampir
The Dhampir, Hexblood, and Reborn were playtest materials for the Gothic Leniage Unearthed Arcana, which came out on January 26, 2021.
It was written by Jeremy Crawford, F. Wesley Schneider, Ben Petrisor, and the rest of the D&D team at WoTC.
The Dhampir in Unearthed Arcana doesn’t look too different from how they are described in folk tales.
According to the release, Dhampirs in the D&D world are also stuck between life and death. They stay alive, but they are cursed with a never-ending thirst.
Most importantly, Dhampirs become more like vampires as they age, with bites that drain blood, dark vision, and faster speeds.
Then, they go on adventures for their own reasons, like to show their hunger away from people they don’t want to hurt or to get back at the people who changed them.
In the book, they use the method for making characters that was first shown in Tasha’s Cauldron and apply it to Everything. They do this by giving their characters their own Language, ASI, traits, and proficiencies.
The Best Races Before Becoming a Dhampir
As a big fan of the vampire look, I’ve noticed that they are often shown as a noble race.
So, humans with similar backgrounds or elves are the first two races that come to mind for roleplaying (RP) reasons that match the look and origins of the race.
But from a min-max point of view, the Aarakocra, Water Genasi, Triton, and Lizardfolk come to mind. The Ancestral Legacy ability only says that the Dhampir who is changed can take their climbing, swimming, and walking speed skills.
With that in mind, the 50-foot flight speed of the Aarakocra and the swim speeds of the other three could be tempting choices.
Even so, any race can become successful if the right steps are taken to write a good backstory. Because ASI and language choices for Tasha are so flexible, players can easily mix and match their Dhampir.
Backgrounds for Your Dhampir
When it comes to the right setting for the race, I think the following are some of the best ones. Like the last part, any background that works between the player and the DM shouldn’t be avoided.
Noble (Player’s Handbook p 135.)
If you want your Dhampir to have a noble background, what better way than to be born into a noble vampire family?
Vampires shouldn’t be an exception to the rule that there are all kinds of civilizations and groups.
Even if your character isn’t a noble by human standards, that doesn’t mean they can’t be one in the mysterious and dark world of vampires.
Courtier (Sword Coast’s Adventure’s Guide p. 146)
On the opposite end of the spectrum from the self-contained nobles are those who are open to society.
Your Dhampir could be a bridge between your mortal and undead sides.
Whether it was through their parents or a chance meeting, their upbringing was that of someone from high society, so they can choose their fate with less concern for their blood or thirst for it.
Charlatan (Player’s Handbook p.129)
What is it? A courtier who is less legal and takes more steps?
Well, a Charlatan is someone who lies to hide in plain sight instead of mixing with other people.
Your benefactor gave you a second name, which you used to lie your way into a society of your choice, whether it was human or vampire.
The Charlatan takes their poison and drinks it himself.
Faceless (Baldur’s Gate: Decent into Avernas p.203)
This background would be more like a normal spy story, where your character’s goal is to hide the fact that he or she is a vampire, for whatever reason that may be.
Faceless people usually have a different plan than the one they tell their party or the public.
So, this background is more for people who want their Dhampir, who is already strange, to be even more mysterious.
Urchin (Player’s Handbook p. 141)
Your character isn’t quite human, but they aren’t quite dead either. They are too horrible for your human parent and not noble or pure enough for your vampire parent.
Since then, you’ve had to take care of yourself and make sure you stay alive. You hope to one day make your own way and leave a legacy, just like your Dhampir had to do when they were born.
Dhampir Hungers and Origins
Not every dhampir is made the same way. They can be made by many different things, and they can have many different hungers to fight.
Most vampires have one parent who is a vampire and a desire to drink blood, but that doesn’t have to be the case.
Think about how your vampire got to be the way they are when you make your character.
Who is in charge of your new family?
Were they standard bloodsuckers, or did they like to eat things that were a bit… different?
If you are changed in the middle of an adventure, these choices may be more up to your DM, since they depend a lot on the creatures you meet.
If not, you can use the tables below or your own imagination to make up your own kind of dhampir.
|1||You are the reincarnation of an ancestor who was a vampiric tyrant.|
|2||Your pact with a predatory deity, fiend, fey, or spirit causes you to share their hunger.|
|3||You survived being attacked by a vampire but were forever changed.|
|4||A parasite lives inside you. You indulge its hunger.|
|5||Tragedy interrupted your transformation into an immortal.|
|6||You are a diminished form of an otherworldly being. Slaking your hunger hastens your renewal.|
|7||One of your parents was a vampire.|
|8||A radical experiment changed your body, making you reliant on others for vital fluids.|
|2||Flesh or Raw Meat|
|3||Cerebral Spinal Fluid|
What Classes Are Well Suited to the Dhampir
Because of the bonuses to ability scores, this path could work well for any class or even a build with more than one class.
Making the best build comes down to making the best use of the available traits, which is usually our second-most important worry when we look at how race and class complement each other.
Before we talk about the best classes, let’s talk about the different kinds of builds in general. There are quite a few stops in between full-caster and full-martial lessons.
Where the vampire bite will thrive is in martial arts lessons that focus on close combat. It won’t be hard for these people to get close to each other and have a snack. They will also find it easy to make the piercing damage higher for the new effects.
Casters and melee classes with a long attack will be able to use the spider climb ability better. Being away from the fight and being able to cast spells from a safe ceiling or wall is a rare benefit. Most of the time, this type of traversal skill lets any ranged fighter stay on top of things.
Here are some ideas for classes that can improve the dhampir’s skills or make good use of them:
Best Races to Turn into Dhampir
This whole part doesn’t care about how unhappy I was with the ancestral legacy trait before. If you decide to go against the RAW, this part doesn’t matter because all races will be just as good.
Here is a list of races that give you flying or swimming speeds if you want to stay with RAW. Focus on your past if you want to show that you have certain skills.
Dhampir don’t need to worry about climbing speeds because they already have one.
|Aarakocra||Flying 50ft (no medium or heavy armor)|
|Water Genasi||Swimming 30ft|
When a creature turns into a dhampir, it only makes small changes to its look.
They tend to get a little lighter in color, and their hair gets darker. Compared to other people of their own race, they are a lot more beautiful.
If you look different, it’s likely because of where you came from as a dhampir.
You can figure out what kind of vampire traits you might get by looking at the table or making your own story.
You can also use the table below to help you decide.
|3||Upturned nose, similar to that of a bat|
|4||Elongated, pointed ears|
|5||Glowing eyes of a red or yellow hue|
|6||Long, clawed fingers|
|8||Extremely noticeable fangs|
You now have everything you need to turn yourself into a dhampir. Will you give in to your hunger, or will you fight against the forces that cursed you?
You decide, and we hope you do well with this interesting character.
Can we Keep the Age and ASI of the Race we Converted from?
Yes, no rule says you can’t. Even though the resource book doesn’t say you can do either, since it only mentions skill and tool proficiency, walking, climbing, and flying speed, there’s no harm in keeping the ASI and life span of the race you changed from, especially at a role-play-heavy table.
Why don’t Dhampirs Suffer the Same Drawbacks as Vampires? Or Even Sunlight Sensitivity Like the Drows?
Dhampirs are only half vampires, as we’ve already said, and they don’t get everything from their vampire parent. Since no other problems are addressed, DMs and players can use what is written in the resources book as is.
But no one can stop the table from making up some bad things for the character based on how much of a vampire they are. Of course, this setting should also come with some good things.
Is it Preferred for Dhampir Characters to be Part of “Evil” Campaigns?
No, not really. Even though Dhampirs are the offspring of the undead, which makes them perfect for evil campaigns, the Dhampirs in the resource book are more of a neutral or even anti-hero type of race. Since they hunt monsters as a representation of their undead heritage or stay away from people they might hurt, it shouldn’t be hard or strange to have a Dhampir in a group of adventurers.
What Homebrew Tweaks Could Benefit the Race?
From a personal point of view, I don’t like the bloodline system that Tasha set up. I think it takes away a lot of the charm that a character’s race could add.
That said, I would keep Thiago’s +2 to Charisma as a standard for people who want to play Dhampirs. The +1 would be up to the player, and I would encourage them to choose an ASI that fits their human half.
I’d also try to give some Dhampirs a sensitivity to sunlight. Those who have it could get a simple set of spells they can use whenever they want. For example, unlocking the cantrip mage hand and being able to use command or charm person once every long rest would be an interesting addition to the race, in my opinion.