Killing a vampire 5e

Killing a vampire 5e DEFAULT

The last in our classic horror monster slash Halloween Series is the Vampire, arguably the most iconic of all the classic monsters. The Vampire has been the star of over 190 movies, and if you add in books and TV shows… well, we can’t be bothered to count that much. The Vampire has been woven into our culture, especially over the last 100 years that it is hard to imagine a world without them.

You can’t talk Vampires without first mentioning Dracula, who is far and away from the most famous of all vampires… err, sorry Strahd. Most people agree that Bela Lugosi provided the world with the best portrayal of Dracula in Dracula (1931), but one could argue that Max Schreck in Nosferatu (1922) was way creepier. Chris, though, is partial to Christopher Lee, who got to be Dracula in two different vampire movies, The Horror of Dracula (1958) and Count Dracula (1970). Both movies were pretty great so if you get a chance, check them out.

But Count Dracula isn’t the only Vampire, here are just a few other actors who have played vampires other than Dracula. Sorry if we missed your favorite Vampire from film and TV, but the list is really long: Kiefer Sutherland in The Lost Boys (1987), Paul “Pee Wee” Reubens in Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992), Christopher Walken in The Addiction (1995), Wesley Snipes in Blade (1998), Johnny Depp in Dark Shadows (2012), and Dominic Cooper in Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (2012). These may not represent the best Vampires in cinematic history, but it proves the next point we wanted to make. Vampires have been interpreted in so many ways throughout history, there is no right or wrong way to play one. Sutherland gave us a Vampire in the throes of teenage angst, Snipes played a famous comic book Vampire, Dark Shadows was campy fun, and Vampires even met and saved the president of the United States! One person's vision of a Vampire will most likely be different than yours.

Why do we bring this up? We all know Strahd, as he is the most famous of all Vampires in Dungeons and Dragons. Vampires were always serious evil creatures that you didn’t want to run into, and Strahd was no different. Strahd was one of the first baddies to be given a fully fleshed out background. He was played as the serious BBEG, no messing around and he was out to kill you. In 5e, Strahd spreads his acting wings and allows the DM to have the ability to play him in several ways. Sure, he’s a bad guy that wants to kill you, but now he wants to fuck with you first.

So let’s take a look at the Vampire and how they have changed throughout the editions of Dungeons and Dragons.

OD&D - Vampire

No. Appearing: 1-6
Armor Class: 2
Move: 12", Fly: 18”
Hit Dice: 7-9
% in Lair: 20%
Treasure Type: F
No. of Attacks: 1
Damage/Attack: Special
Save: F7/M12
Alignment: Chaos

The Vampire was introduced in the Dungeons & Dragons White Box (1974). The very first thing the description tells us is that the Vampire is an undead creature and not a lycanthrope. Those of you that have been living under a rock and want to know why on earth the vampire might be considered a lycanthrope can go on to read that they can change into a giant bat or a gaseous form. How big of a giant bat? We have no idea, but being a giant bat is pretty cool.

Then, we descend into every other Vampire stereotype that is out there. Direct sunlight equals one dead and crispy Vampire. Impaled through the heart with a wooden stake…dead. Sign of the cross, shown a mirror or given a piece of pizza with extra garlic? Our blood-sucking friend runs away, hissing and cursing you that he’ll be back. Bedtime for the Vampire equals sleeping in their coffin during daylight hours. You can be charmed by the Vampire, doing the evil one’s bidding, or more likely, being convinced to go give him a hug so he can suck you dry. If men-types (This is the terminology used in the book. Got to love the sexist 70’s) are killed by a Vampire, they will become one and be under the control of the one that made them. One thing we found odd was there was no mention of holy water causing damage to them. That seems to us to be the biggest damage-causing attack missing, and it’s too bad, cause any cleric worth their salt will have some on them and would love to splash it on the undead.

Now that the stereotypes are covered, the creators add in some of their own “flavor” to our favorite cape-wearing bad guy. If a Vampire is submerged in running water they will are killed. Researching vampire lore, there isn’t any mention of running water killing Vampires, but that they cannot cross running water. A lesser-known defense is that because vampires are unclean and unholy creatures, they can not cross running water because running water is perceived as clean and pure. The water has to be moving, as stagnant water has a higher chance of being diseased and bacteria that cause these diseases.

Next up are the powers of the Vampire and they aren’t great if you are a player. It can regenerate, summon a few pets to join the fight or charm themselves a few new friends from the party. Now, when we say summon a few pets when we mean Vampires can summon 10 to 100 bats or rats, or 3 to 18 wolves. That’s a lot of pets, and the fact that they can always stare at your party members and charm just keeps stacking the deck against you.

Finally, we get into the whole “drinking your blood” vampire thing. The description gets a little convoluted on this issue.

…otherwise they can be hit only as Spectres, but such hits do not kill them but only force them to assume gaseous form if they lose all hit points. Vampires drain two life energy levels as do Spectres when they hit an opponent in combat. 
Dungeons & Dragons White Box (1974)

We feel like the creators were tired by the time they got to the “v” monster section and didn’t feel like creating a whole new set of rules for the effects of drinking the blood of their victims, so instead, they made the ability the same as the spectre. It’s not that we can’t get behind this, because when you stop and think about it, it makes complete sense. Not setting up a whole set of new mechanics is a smart call and makes it easier for the DM. The problem is we wish they had given it a better description instead of falling back on the term ‘energy drain’. It’s technically correct, but you could have at least mentioned they needed to drive their fangs into the neck of their victims to drain their energy. They are called bloodsuckers for a reason folks!

Basic D&D - Vampire

Armor Class: 2
120’ (40’), Flying: 180’ (60’)
Hit Dice: 7-9
No. of Attacks: 1 touch + special
Damage/Attack: 1-10 + energy drain
No. Appearing: 1-4 (1-6)
Save As: Fighter 7-9
Morale: 11
Treasure Type: F
Alignment: Chaotic

The Vampire next shows up in Dungeons & Dragons Basic Set (1977). Not much changes in this version, but a few things are clarified and adjusted. They may not be exciting but are important to help further develop the creature. Of utmost importance is that the energy drain is clearly defined. In the White Box, there is no actual definition of energy drain beyond how they describe it in passing in the wight’s monster information, which is you remove a hit die and level from the character.

“Energy Drain: A successful hit by certain undead monsters will drain energy from the victim. Unlike other special attacks, there is no saving throw against an energy drain. Each energy drain will destroy one level of experience of a character, or one hit die of a monster. The creature drained of energy loses all the benefits (attack level, saving throws, spells, etc.) of the former level. This effect cannot be cured.”
D&D Expert Booklet (1981)

Vampires are unaffected by sleep, charm, and hold spells. It makes sense and follows the basic mechanics of other undead creatures in Dungeons & Dragons. A character slain by a Vampire will return from death as a Vampire in 3 days. It’s good that they specify the length of time it takes to turn the creature since the previous edition left it wide open for interpretation. There is no mention of how to prevent this from happening, which is too bad since your party now has an amount of time to potentially find a cure for your new undead condition… maybe a preemptive stake through the heart?

You can still be charmed by a Vampire, falling completely under their control. And because Vampires cannot use spells or magic… you know they are going to target the Magic-User first so they can cast our favorite “fuck you” spell at their allies… Fireball.

We also get additional details of the weaknesses of Vampires. A Vampire may take the form of a human, a dire wolf, a giant bat, or a gaseous cloud at will, but doing so takes 1 round. It may not be much, but a round where they can’t attack is a big deal. In dire wolf or giant bat form, the Vampire will move, attack, and do damage according to the statistics for those creatures. The Vampire's armor class, hit dice, morale, and saving throws remain unchanged. They get the best of both worlds in this scenario. When they change into gaseous form, a Vampire can fly at the listed speed and has immunity to all weapon attacks. A Vampire cannot attack while in gaseous form. This is an escape from, as they can move through cracks in the walls, to a height where they are out of reach, and under dungeon doors.

Speaking of weaknesses, this edition goes on to clarify that silver weapons do nothing against the Vampire, holy symbols only stop them if the symbol is directly in their path and that the Vampire needs to sleep in a coffin with a bottom layer of dirt from where they used to live. Which seems like an interesting distinction for any Vampire that wishes to travel the world and is forced to bring a coffin of dirt from his homeland, and depending on how specific you want to get, the dirt from his childhood home’s garden.

AD&D - Vampire

Frequency: Rare
No. Appearing: 1-4
Armor Class: 1
Move: 12”/18”
Hit Dice: 8+3
% in Lair: 25%
Treasure: F
No. of Attacks: 1
Damage/Attack: 5-10
Special Attacks: Energy Drain
Special Defenses: +1 or better magic weapon to hit
Magic Resistance: See Description
Intelligence: Exceptional
Alignment: Chaotic evil
Size: M
Psionic Ability: Nil


[5e] Killing vampires?

I was going to have a small adventure for my players that includes uncovering a vampire affliction. Looks like vampire thralls simply die (or fall unconscious) as normal when it hits 0 HP, or when it has a stake driven through its heart at its resting place.

True vampires are apparently much harder to kill--they have "Misty escape" which allows them 2 hours to return to their resting place, as long as they are able to transform; once at the resting place, a stake to the heart will only paralyze the vampire until it's removed.

So it seems the only way to *really* kill a vampire is to somehow force it into a place it can't transform (when it's in running water or sunlight).
I assume dragging it into direct sunlight or running while it is incapacitated at 0 HP will cause it to immediately die.
So, could the resting place(s) be destroyed, thus preventing it from returning to its resting place and thus forcing it to die? e.g. a stone coffin being decimated
Are there any *other* clever ways to kill a vampire??

Thanks ahead of time!


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D&D 5E Can Moonbeam out-right destroy a vampire?

Shiroiken said:

Also, technically the Vampire doesn't have to die if forced to resume his normal form while a 0 HP. He's unconscious but the DM can allow him to make Death Saving Throws. If the party doesn't finish him off (just like when he's in the coffin), he can turn back into mist once the moonbeam is gone.

Click to expand...

The idea is to hit it with moonbeamand then bring it to 0 hit points (either with the moonbeam'sown damage, or some other way). When the vampire hits 0 hp, it would normally trigger the Misty Escape ability: When it drops to 0 hit points outside its resting place, the vampire transforms into a cloud of mist (as in the Shapechanger trait) instead of falling unconscious, provided that it isn't in sunlight or running water. If it can't transform, it is destroyed."

Moonbeam, assuming the vampire failed its save (and by the time it's brought to 0 hp, it is usually out of Legendary Resistances, and it has disadvantage on the save), prevents the vampire from transforming. Thus, it is destroyed. This seems fairly clear by the book.

Now, you could also use moonbeamon a vampire that had already fallen to 0 hit points and gone misty. This is a bit more iffy. For one, the Misty Escape trait says the vampire can'trevert to humanoid form, and the moonbeamspell says it has to. Also, it doesn't dropto 0 hp by being hit with the beam, so the first paragraph doesn't trigger. I think I would judge in favor of the moonbeamhere - it seems weird that it would kill a vampire if it hits it before it goes mist, but not afterward. On the plus side, it wouldn't have disadvantage on the save if hit in mist form, because the advantage it gets on Constitution saves cancels that out.



[Note from the DM: I was rather sick on Tuesday and spent the night in the hospital. My notes are at the office and I don’t recall what happened last week, other than destroying the vampire and drawing a few cards.]

After their most beneficial shopping trip, the party returned to the Cartophile’s shop and prepared to leave. It was then that they were informed that a vampire, safely sealed in a mechanical coffin, a modron, and Mary, a witch, were coming along to aid the party and serve the cartographer’s interests. Not too happy with the additions, the party nevertheless headed out.

That afternoon, the party was attacked by a gang of hangry ogres. After defeating the foul creatures, they resumed their journey.

Following in the rear of the expedition, Mary chatted amiably with Reyroris. Then she convinced him to draw a card from her mysterious deck. It was a boon, so he drew another. It was not. His soul is now imprisoned in a machine somewhere.

Somehow, Mary convinced Sytarii to draw two cards, both boons, from the deck as well, before Ganus caught on and attacked her.

A fight ensued between the two magic users, and Mary’s cat ran off… toward the mechanical coffin. As Ganus slew Mary’s clone, the cat turned back into Mary and managed to unlock the coffin before Ganus slew her properly. The vampire burst forth, angry at the world for being trapped in the coffin for so long, and angry at the party for slaying his girlfriend.

A protracted battle was fought as the party tried to keep the vampire from doing too much damage. Near death, it retreated to the coffin, where it recovered while the party tried to destroy the mechanical monstrosity.

With the coffin near failure, the vampire leaped forth and launched a final assault. The party split their attacks between the vampire and the coffin, finally destroying the coffin, which blew up spectacularly, then slaying the vampire for a final time.

And with its coffin destroyed, the vampire turned to dust, to never return.

Alas, our tale pauses here, to be continued next week.

CharacterXPXP So FarLevel (To Advance)Treasure

2,59230,6167 (34,000)Wand of Magic Missiles (attuned)
‘Splashy’ the Water Weird and BackPack
Robe of Eyes

49229,9457 (34,000)Ruby Ring (250 gp)
+1 Longsword
Potion of Giant Strength
Weird Tank (Empty)
Potion of Water Breathing
Scimitar of Wounding
Sytarii2,59229,0037 (34,000)+1 Dagger, “Reszur”
+2 Dagger, “Tinderstrike”
Wand of Winter
‘Bubbles’ the Water Weird and BackPack
Taban024,9607 (34,000)+1 Trident, “Drown”
Telfid2,59227,8257 (34,000)Scroll of Lesser Restoration
Ring of Fire Resistance
Gauntlets of the Ogre
+2 Hammer
Aria2,59228,5957 (34,000)Skyblinder Staff
Scroll of Goodberry
Noctavia07,8505 (14,000)N/A
Unassigned Treasure: 

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Killing a Vampire without Sunlight, Running Water or Wooden Stake

There are plenty of ways to slay vampires according to myth, and you're certainly able to rule on what makes the most sense in your campaign.

However, the only RAW ways to destroy a vampire are found in the Monster Manual under the description for Misty Escape:

Misty Escape. When it drops to 0 hit points outside its resting place, the vampire transforms into a cloud of mist (as in the Shapechanger trait) instead of falling unconscious, provided that it isn't in sunlight or running water. If it can't transform, it is destroyed.

While it has 0 hit points in mist form, it can't revert to its vampire form, and it must reach its resting place within 2 hours or be destroyed.

So here's what I'd do to be sure Ctenmiir dies:

Once they defeat him, and he's done his whole Misty Escape thing, the party can stake him through the heart with an arrow or crossbow bolt while he's incapacitated/paralyzed in his coffin. Both have wooden shafts, and both are piercing weapons. Honestly, any wooden implement will work, including smashing up the coffin lid! The below quote from the Vampire Weaknesses section explains why:

Stake to the Heart. If a piercing weapon made of wood is driven into the vampire's heart while the vampire is incapacitated in its resting place, the vampire is paralyzed until the stake is removed.

While they're waiting for him to regain that one hit point, they'll need to drag/carry the coffin to the ledge overlooking the mud pool from the last room. Then, just let him sit in his coffin for an hour until he regains the 1 hp. He's still paralyzed per the above Weakness. In fact, he can actually heal to full and still be paralyzed!

Once he get's 1 hp back, the party takes him out of his coffin, and tosses it into the pool of boiling mud. As soon as it sinks out of sight, hack off the head of the still paralyzed vampire, forcing him back into Misty Escape. However, since he can't reach his coffin now, he'll die per:

it must reach its resting place within 2 hours or be destroyed.

On a side note: I prefer the cosmetic changes that were added in the 3.5e version of this dungeon, but it is still a super fun module regardless - have fun!!

KILL COUNT: Every Vampire Killed By Guillermo (What We Do In The Shadows)

Fair one. He took a couple of my swollen berries in his palms and began to crush and pinch them. I can't say that I didn't like it at all. But, coming to. My senses and pulling myself together, I nevertheless slipped out of the strong double embrace and headed towards the shore.

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And as luck would have it did not stop for a minute. I already managed to regret my rudeness several times, as one elderly lady saved the situation and thereby helped us to get to. Know each other. The fact is that there were already exactly twenty minutes before the end of the flight, and the commander of the ship announced the beginning of the descent.

I looked at my watch and.

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