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Omerian Echo: Vampir Playable Race | New Player Option for Dungeons & Dragons Fifth Edition

The Omerian Echo Campaign Setting is underway! If you haven’t already heard the news, check out the following information:

Here is the first installment, the vampir!

Playtest Content

The material here is presented for playtesting and to spark your imagination. These game mechanics are in draft form, usable in your campaign but not refined by final game design and editing. They aren’t officially part of the game.

Constructive feedback is welcome and appreciated in either comments or social media. If you can give me a valid reason with examples why something is off, 9/10 I’m likely to make changes to the content and credit you for doing so. Otherwise, feedback without anything to back it up gets ignored (or at most a smile emoji like this 🙂 ) Thanks!

Design Notes

I had no idea when I started creating this race that it would turn into what it did. But it did and I love it.

The trouble with taking monsters from the Monster Manual and turning them into playable races is that they almost always broken AF. It’s hard to translate a lot of the cool features available to those monsters into racial options and keep it balanced.

Without any greater inspiration, I turned to the Zendikar rules from Wizards. While I was transposing the bite attack that those vampires had, I thought to myself; why do they automatically have to heal themselves? Why not use that blood to power other functions?

Light bulb!

From there, the rest was easy, especially if you understand the rough structure of how races and spell-like abilities work.

We know from duergar and drow that certain powers are available at certain levels for races. Drow, for example, get the dancing lights cantrip at 1st. Then, at 3rd they can cast faerie fire, and at 5th they pick up darkness. Duergar get enlarge/reduce at 3rd level and invisibility at 5th. If you’ll notice, the spell level progression is roughly the same as a half-caster’s such as a ranger or paladin. Therefore, we can extrapolate a rough idea of what levels spells are available as racial innate spells:

  • 1st level – cantrips
  • 3rd level – 1st-level spells, sometimes 2nd-level
  • 5th level – 2nd-level spells, sometimes 3rd-level
  • 9th level – 3rd-level spells
  • 13th level – 4th level spells
  • 17th level – 5th level spells

There are probably a few unspoken rules here, too. Typically, action economy rarely, if ever, increases for any function outside of levels (such as races and feats), especially if it’s a damage-dealing effect. There are a few rare exceptions, notably goblins which get Nimble Escape (which, while I understand why it has it, kinda kills the natural goblin rogue build) that allows them to Hide as a bonus action which doubles as both a strong defensive and offensive function.

Anyways, another important thing to point out is that in the Zendikar vampire build, they can heal up to 6 hit points by drinking blood. Basically, this tells us that a weaker form of cure wounds is available to a 1st level character (with some strings attached, of course). Cure wounds typically heals 1d8 + a spellcasting modifier, so 7.5 on average as a 1st-level spell. That’s fairly telling.

I need to quit digressing and get to the point, haha! Anyways, taking this information, I built out a system of innate magic powered by “blood points” earned through draining life. It works very similarly to the Monk Way of the Four Elements. Some of the effects are nerfed for obvious reasons, and most of the good ones are attainable long after it would normally be useful (typical quarter caster design).

The only complaint I foresee is the sheer number of options available will cause some analysis paralysis, especially among noobs. ’cause let’s face it, this is a race that a lot of rookie players will be attracted to.

oe-vampires
Art by Marta Neal.

Vampir

The Banevoid’s vortex walls, known as the Banerazor, filters light differently, imbuing the Layer of the Ascended with a dull, pinkish glow. As such, the undead who once hid from the dangerous daylight hours now thrive in it.

Thanks to their immunity to the Glasspox disease that wiped out half the human population of High City New Amorn, the vampiric descendants of Cresko the Unholy took to the wrecked habitat and filled its halls. New Amorn (renamed Rudenkein) is a dangerous place for the underprepared. However, the vampir have learned the value of working with the other Splinter High Cities rather than against them.

Vampir are hardy and intelligent arcanists. They trade their magicks to the other settlements in exchange for food and slave labor (which is usually one in the same).

Vampir Traits

Your vampir character has some qualities in common with all vampir.

Ability Score Increase. Your Strength score increases by 1.

Age. Vampir are practically immortal, often living for hundreds of years. Vampir reach maturity at the same rate humans do, typically before they are turned. Of course, a vampir’s physical appearance can deceive; whatever age they were when they were turned is the age which they appear for the rest of their long lives.  For example, a vampir that appears geriatric may still be very “young” mentally, whereas a child-like vampir could be many hundreds of years old and have the mental facilities of a wizened sage.

Alignment. With long lifespans and a “devil may care” attitude, vampir almost always tend towards chaotic. Amongst the Royalbloods, there may be some semblance of unity and order, but it is all a ruse. The vampir are taught to rule by fear, pure and simple. For this reason, they are nearly always evil.

Size. All vampir stem from humans originally. As such, they share common physical traits with their ancestry. Vampir stand 5 to 6 feet and typically weigh between 120 to 180 pounds, although denotäeka are marginally shorter and heavier. Your size is Medium.

Speed. Your base walking speed is 30 feet.

Darkvision. Due to thousands of years of exile in the shadows, vampir have developed a natural ability to see in the dark. You can see in dim light within 60 feet of you as if it were bright light, and in darkness as if it were dim light. You can’t discern color in darkness, only shades of gray.

Bite. Vampir do not gain sustenance through normal food or drink. Instead, they drain the lifeforce from living creatures. You can make a bite attack against a willing creature, or one that is grappled by you, incapacitated, or restrained. Make a melee attack against the target. If you hit, you deal 1 piercing damage and 1d6 necrotic damage. The target’s hit point maximum is reduced by an amount equal to the necrotic damage taken, and you gain blood points equal to that amount. The reduction lasts until the target finishes a long rest. The target dies if this effect reduces its hit point maximum to 0. A humanoid killed in this way returns as a zombie in 24 hours unless the Ritual of the Damned is performed upon the target before it rises. The necrotic damage dealt by your bite increases when you reach certain levels, increasing to 2d6 at 9th level, and 3d6 at 17th level.

Blood Magic. As you gain class levels, you develop innate magical powers common among all vampir, known as blood magic. When you drain the lifeforce from living creatures through your bite attack, you gain blood points. You can spend these points to fuel various blood magic features. You start knowing two such features: unearthly speed and regenerate. You learn more blood magic features as you gain class levels.

When you spend a blood point, it is unavailable until you replace it by draining the blood from another living creature. The maximum number of blood points you can have equals 1 + half your class levels plus your Charisma modifier (minimum of 1). You lose any unspent blood points each day at dawn.

Some of your blood magic features require your target to make a saving throw to resist the feature’s effects. The saving throw DC is calculated as follows:

Blood magic DC = 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Charisma modifier

Children of the Night (9th Level Required). As an action, you can spend 5 blood points to cast conjure animals. However, you can only conjure 2d4 swarms of bats or 2d4 swarms of rats, and the beasts are considered fiends instead of fey.

Impenetrable Flesh (5th Level Required). When you are hit by an attack, you can use your reaction to spend 3 blood points to gain resistance to bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage from nonmagical attacks, including against the triggering attack, until the start of your next turn.

Mist Form (9th Level Required). When you are reduced to 0 hit points but not killed outright, you can use your reaction to spend 3 blood points to drop to 1 hit point instead. You also cast gaseous form targeting yourself as part of the same reaction. Once you use this feature, you can’t use it again until you complete a long rest.

Regenerate. As a bonus action, you can spend up to 5 blood points to regain 1 hit point per blood point you spent. The number of hit points you regain per blood point spent increases as you gain class levels, increasing to 2 at 5th level, 3 at 11th level, and 4 at 17th level.

Unearthly Speed. As a bonus action, you can spend 2 blood points to take the Dash action.

Vampiric Resistance (17th Level Required). As a reaction, if you fail a saving throw, you can spend 9 blood points and choose to succeed instead.

Wall-Walking (3rd Level Required). As a bonus action, you can spend 1 blood point to gain the ability to climb difficult surfaces, including upside down on ceilings, without needing to make an ability check. In addition, you gain a climbing speed equal your walking speed. This effect lasts until the end of your next turn.

Sunlight Hypersensitivity. Exposure to direct sunlight is fatal to vampir. If you start your turn in sunlight, you take 20 radiant damage. In addition, you have disadvantage on attack rolls and ability checks. When exposed to sunlight, you can use your reaction to spend 2 blood points to take half damage instead.

Languages. You can speak, read, and write Common and one extra language of your choice. Thanks to their long lives, vampir are polyglots out of necessity.

Subrace. There are two main kinds of vampir: royalbloods and denotäeka. Choose one of these subraces.

 

Denotäeka

Denotäeka are the result of a young vampir improperly performing the Ritual of the Damned on a humanoid. Instead of transforming into the charming, intelligent undead creature one thinks of when they hear the name vampir, the victim instead transforms into a monstrous beast. Denotäeka are completely hairless. They have long, curved fangs that jut from their mouths and long, pointed ears. Denotäeka may lack the finesse and mental capacity of their pure-blooded masters, but they are much hardier than royalbloods, often making for vicious warriors.

Ability Score Increase. Your Strength score increases by 1 and your Constitution score increases by 2.

Claws. Your claws are a natural weapon which you can use to make unarmed strikes. If you hit with them, you deal slashing damage equal to  1d4 + your Strength modifier, instead of the bludgeoning damage normal for an unarmed strike.

Keen Smell. You have advantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on smell.

Fear Gaze (9th Level Required). As an action, you can spend 5 blood points to target a number of creatures equal to your Charisma modifier (minimum of 1) within 30 feet of you. Each creature must succeed on a Wisdom saving throw or drop whatever it is holding and become frightened until the end of its next turn. While frightened by this effect, a creature must take the Dash action and move away from you by the safest available route on each of its turns, unless there is nowhere to move.

Wolf Form (13th Level Required). As an action, you can spend 7 blood points to transform into a wolf for 1 minute. While in wolf form, you can’t speak, your walking speed is 40 feet, and the piercing damage from your bite attack increases to 1d6 + your Strength modifier + the necrotic damage normal for your bite attack. Your statistics, other than your speed, are unchanged. Anything you are wearing transforms with you, but nothing you are carrying does. You revert to your true form if you die.

 

Royalbloods

Charming, intelligent, and above-all arrogant, Royalbloods consider themselves the “pure” vampir. The majority of royalbloods were created by an elder vampir (500+ years old) performing the Ritual of the Damned. No matter a royalblood’s age, it is seen as royalty among the vampir and given high status. Royalblood young, those freshly turned, learn at an early age to invoke fear among the slaves and denotäeka. “Fear is power and power is survival,” as Cresko used to say.

Ability Score IncreaseYour Intelligence score increases by 1 and your Charisma score increases by 1.

Bat Form (13th Level Required). As an action, you can spend 7 blood points to transform into a Tiny bat for 1 minute. While in bat form, you can’t speak, your walking speed is 5 feet, and you have a flying speed of 30 feet. Your statistics, other than your size and speed, are unchanged. Anything you are wearing transforms with you, but nothing you are carrying does. You revert to your true form if you die.

Unearthly Beauty. You know the know the friends cantrip.

Vampiric Charm (17th Level Required). As an action, you can spend 9 blood points to target one humanoid that you can see within 30 feet of you. The target must succeed on a Wisdom saving throw against this magic or be charmed by you. The charmed target regards you as a trusted friend to be heeded and protected. Although the target isn’t under your control, it takes your requests or actions in the most favorable way it can, and it is a willing target for your bite attack.

Each time you or your companions do anything harmful to the target, it can repeat the saving throw, ending the effect on itself on a success. Otherwise, the effect lasts 24 hours or until you are killed, or you take a bonus action to end the effect.

 

The Ritual of the Damned

Vampir do not procreate in the traditional sense, but instead turn humanoids (almost always humans) into a vampir through a process known as the Ritual of the Damned. After you reduce a humanoid to 0 hit points with your bite attack, you can use your action on a subsequent turn to spend up to 9 blood points to transform the target into a newborn vampir. The target must make a DC 10 Charisma saving throw. It adds a bonus to its saving throw equal to the number of blood points you spent. On a failure, the creature immediately transforms into a denotäeka vampir. On a success, the creature rises as a royalblood vampir the next nightfall. If you do not use the Ritual of the Damned on a creature that you reduced to 0 hit points with your bite attack, it returns as a zombie in 24 hours.

 

Omerian Echo Campaign Setting: Only on Patreon!

The vampir are included in the Omerian Echo campaign setting that I’m developing for Patreon. I expect the material to be released sometime in late March (just before The Forsaken Peak Kickstarter commences).

Patrons of the Silver Club or higher get the material for FREE. Plus, all Patrons get every other PDF made for the site, including monthly collections (usually 40+ pages of content). They also get to vote in all Patron-only polls, swag, printed copies of the books, access to workshops, and top-priority requests. The best part? It only starts at $3!

“$3 for 100+ pages of monthly content? Dave, that’s cheaper than a burrito!”

Yep, sure is! So what the hell are you waiting for?

BONUS: this race will be included in the January 2019 collected works, titled EVIL, available on Patreon at ALL levels.

Check out DMDave’s Patreon today!

Art by Marta Neal.

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The Ascended: Races of Omerian Echo

Recently, on Instagram, I started working on a “crowd-suggested” campaign setting titled Omerian Echo. The concept is simple: 400-500 years ago, the world of Old Omeria was destroyed by a catastrophic event known as the Banevoid, eliminating 80% of all life that existed. Those who foresaw the apocalypse took the skies in massive motes known as High Cities, powered by magic.

Nine major races populate these High Cities. They are known as the Ascended. Here they are listed in order of population percentage.

Population Share of the High Cities

meta-chart (1)

 

The Restored

Nearly 80% of all life perished when the Banevoid erupted, destroying Old Omeria. Many of the old races became endangered or extinct.

Eventually, the mysterious Razor Council of the Green City discovered a way to recreate the lost races. These Restored, as they are collectively known, now make up the majority of the humanoids living in the High Cities.

There are four common varieties of Restored: goblin, elf, dwarf, and orc. While they share many of the characteristics of their respective ancestries, they are typically near perfect humanoid specimens, strong, intelligent, and beautiful.

Vindandas (Half-Elementals)

Ancient enemies of the örn, the vindanda are half-elemental beings tied to elemental air. Once Old Omeria shattered, consumed by the Banevoid, the harsh winds and vacuum of the solid world’s absence empowered these genie-kin.

Much like the cloud and storm giants, the vindandan High Cities stay aloft thanks to internal magic and not through the presence of Sparker Engines. Their cities are sights to behold, massive motes shimmering with azure crystals.

The vindandas are a proud and haughty race who see all the Ascended races—giants included—as trespassers in their realm. They are at the heart of the slave trade, as well, seeing it as humanity’s penance for the destruction of Old Omeria. In fact, the vindandas call it The Thousand Year Service, a suggestion that humans won’t know true freedom until they’ve served the other Ascended for a millennium to account for their ancestor’s mistakes.

Humans

Humans are versatile, certainly, but in a world that requires flight, their usefulness has its limitations (at least in the eyes of the flying races). Perhaps the other Ascended races blame the humans for the Banevoid. They were the first to discover it and study it. They were convinced there was a solution. Did their trepidation to ascend doom millions? No matter the reason, the humans now serve the other races of the High Cities.

Örn (Birdfolk)

The stubborn, ill-tempered winged avian humanoid race known as the örn survived the Banevoid by doing what they do best: flying away. Five centuries later, a majority of the High Cities have a major presence of the örn, typically in positions of high political power.

Unlike the other dominant races of the Splinter High Cities, the örn’s use of human slavery is limited. In fact, the örnish capital of Grand Eyrie has the greatest population of freed humans living there. Of course, the vindanda see this as a great offense.

Ratfolk

The Ratfolk of the High Cities lived in the shadows for the first decade of the ascension. On Old Omeria they were seen as one of the “evil races”, servants of the fiends and dark races of the underworld. But the ratfolk’s knack for survivability kept their race from extinction; ironically, their former dwarven and gnomish masters weren’t as lucky. Once their numbers were revealed, the ratfolk demonstrated their technical capabilities to the other Ascended races. Soon, the small, tenacious contortionists were employed as assistant engineers on the Sparker Engines.

Their climbing skills and adaptability to the high altitudes were similarly useful on exterior projects as well. They proved themselves able negotiators and traders as well as ship pilots.

Four decades after the Ascension, they’ve taken on a new and improved status among the other Ascended as one of the most powerful and influential races of all the Splinter High Cities.

Odödlig

They only came after the Banevoid: Odödlig, the Deathless. Part construct and part undead, these strange beings swiftly made their presence known among the Ascended, filling the skies with their mighty flying longships.

There are whispers that they were once angels, cut off from their own realm. Others think they’re fiends that have climbed out of the Banevoid itself. Their origins remain a mystery.

Early on, the Deathless traded in technology and were the first to offer the secrets of the Sparker Engines to the low races. But they are chaotic creatures, known for changing their attitude without warning. Where a Deathless might act benevolent one day it could turn and become violent the next.

Some of the Splinter High Cities refuse to allow them within their borders. Other City Lords only do so out of fear. No matter what, the Deathless are a part of the Between Times whether the other Ascended like it or not.

Vampir

The Banevoid’s vortex walls, known as the Banerazor, filters light differently, imbuing the Layer of the Ascended with a dull, pinkish glow. As such, the undead who once hid from the dangerous daylight hours now thrive in it.

Thanks to their immunity to the Glasspox disease that wiped out half the human population of High City New Amorn, the vampiric descendants of Cresko the Unholy took to the wrecked habitat and filled its halls. New Amorn (renamed Rudenkein) is a dangerous place for the underprepared. However, the vampir have learned the value of working with the other Splinter High Cities rather than against them.

Vampir are hardy and intelligent arcanists. They trade their magicks to the other settlements in exchange for food and slave labor (which is usually one in the same).

Jätteblod (Half-Giants)

When the low races of Old Omeria ascended, the Storm Kings weren’t pleased with this invasion of their territories. After all, the low races destroyed their own lands. Why should the Storm Kings be forced to share their dominion? As the centuries rolled on, the Storm Kings’ attitudes softened. Important marriages bound the giants to the refugees and their noble houses, and with those marriages came mixed-race progeny. Among the Storm Kings, these jätteblod are seen as a necessary device to control the High Cities. But to the other Ascended, they are treated as upper-class nobles and celebrities. “The only thing greater than a half-giant’s thunderous voice is its indomitable arrogance,” as the old saying goes.

Voidbränds

Those touched by the Banevoid’s magic are irrevocably altered, returning as the aberrant voidbränds. The other races of the Splinter High Cities meet these faceless, shadowy creatures with equal parts amazement and fear.

To move among the Ascended, the voidbränd adopt special masks known as egalitans, which further remove the individualism from voidbränds. In their strange culture, there is no race, sex, or personality. A voidbränd’s background is its own, and their personal histories are kept a secret. Within voidbänd colonies, failure to follow this Law of None that guides their culture is a crime punishable by exile or even death.

Of course, some voidbränd converts rebel snap out of this extremist point-of-view, and rebel wherever possible.

Design Notes

You might have noticed that a few of the traditional names have changed such as the “birdfolk” and “half-elementals.” Unfortunately, this is necessary should I go to publish this campaign setting. Certain races aren’t covered by the Fifth Edition Systems Reference Document which I have to abide by.

Having said tha, it means I get to make my own versions of these races and I’m not tied to any sort of preconceived ideas for those races. *rubs hands together while cackling*

Omerian Echo will be published and available to DMDave’s Patrons!

Sometime in March, I’ll publish the Omerian Echo setting. All of the content will be here on the site for FREE to everyone and likely included in the monthly collections on Patreon. Silver Club Patrons get to enjoy the finished campaign setting in its totality (I’m aiming for roughly 80,000 words or 100 pages).

In addition to the campaign setting, as a Silver Club member, you get a 1,000-word request, the ability to vote in Patreon only polls, and a copy of every PDF that’s published on Patreon.

Become a Patron today!

Art by Blizzard Entertainment.

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Introducing the “Shattered Lands” Campaign Setting

Thanks so much to everyone who entered the campaign setting contest! The final tally is in. Here is how it played out:

poll-results

In first place was the suggestion from Instagram user @stephenbogle03. I have tentatively named the setting “Shattered Lands” but will probably change it to something more appropriate.

A world which has been consumed by the void, a seemingly endless roiling blackness in which the laws of reality are warped if applied at all. None who go into it come out. As such, the great nations have taken to the skies in massive cities, which have dozens of levels upon which entire civilizations reside, supported by great engines. The higher levels are the wealthier areas, while the underbelly of the city is literally on the bottom. Travel is possible by airships of all sizes, but not everything is peaceful; some of the cities are encounter difficulties ranging from food shortages to failing engines, so war seems almost inevitable.

Although this is the winning entry, I have to say that I liked the other top entries so much that I’ll also be looping these into the campaign setting, with the presence of those thematic elements dependant on how well it did in the poll.

In other words, in addition to massive cities in the sky and the beckoning void below, there will also be:

  • Viking raiders pillage the sky cities. They will play heavily into the campaign as this was tied as runner up.
  • A world is torn apart and remnants of a dead world. A large part of the “original” world remains in a massive, magical floating mote between the cities and the void. Only the bravest adventurers dare travel to this world. Those that do return, speak of great riches found within the ruins of the old world.
  • Natives populate the world mote, descendants of the original races that populated the planet before it was destroyed. They see the races from above as interlopers.
  • Apocalypse rewind. A sense of stability has overcome the descendants of the old world. However, the signs of the old civilization are still apparent everywhere. And within those ruins are artifacts of great power.
  • Feudalism and honor reign supreme in the high cities. The wealthiest of the high cities look down upon those below them and command fealty. However, supplies are growing thin and many predict that a war is coming.
  • High class gothic. Years ago, one of the high cities crashed into the far end of the world mote. Rumor has it that its inhabitants are still there, but changed in some way. The natives speak tales of the masked men and women drink the blood of the young warriors who dare venture into its dark halls.

What to expect from this campaign setting.

Over the next three months, I’ll be creating material for this setting. The content will roughly follow the flow of the latest Ravnica release. This content will include:

  • Introduction to the themes and history of the Shattered Lands setting.
  • Races of Shattered Lands (some old, some new).
  • Classes and Subclasses (some old, some new)
  • Backgrounds, Feats, and Player Rules Variants
  • Expanded Rules for Airship Combat and Travel
  • Adventures set in the Shattered Lands
  • New Magic Items, Treasure, and Spells
  • Monsters, NPCs, and New Gods

I estimate the content to come out to 100 pages or more. That’s roughly 80,000 words of new, Fifth Edition content.

A lot of the material will be available here on the blog. However, the bonus content (about 20% of the campaign setting) will only be available to Patrons of any level. And the finished campaign sourcebook itself will be available to only Patrons of the Silver level or higher. There will also be printed copies available through Amazon CreateSpace.

This is an exciting endeavor, and one of the things that I wanted to do once this blog started taking off.

A huge thanks to my patrons, the folks over on Instagram, and everyone who helped come up with these ideas.

If you’d like to contribute or participate in some way (art, story notes, etc) let me know via Instagram DM. I can’t promise that I’ll take every submission that comes my way, but I’ll definitely check out what you’ve got to offer and give you a shout out when and where I can.

See you soon!

Art by CG Land.