Posted by : David Guyll January 15, 2011

So, there's going to be a vampire class in Heroes of Shadow. This isn't the first time WotC tried to make a class-based progression to simulate the full potential of a monstrous creature. Like Level Adjustment before it, most of the book was a let down as most of the monstrous classes sucked if you didn't take the "right" class (ie, stuff without level-based progressions), and many more sucked no matter what you did because by the rules you were supposed to take all the monster levels before multiclassing out.

For example, let's say you wanted to play a mind flayer psion, because it makes sense. The mind flayer class was 15 levels, meaning that by the time you got into psion, everyone else was level 16. Imagine a barbarian picking up a level of sorcerer at level 16 and trying to zap devils with magic missiles. Now imagine that barbarian without a greataxe, rage, or damage resistance, instead flailing ineffectually with tentacles doling out 1d4 damage (plus Strength modifier...woo fucking woo).

Yeah, the class gets other abilities like mind blast, but the shitty thing is that it was based off your Hit Dice, which presented another problem with monstrous classes: you didn't always get a Hit Die when you leveled. A level 15 mind flayer only had eight. This meant that your hit points, attack bonus, skill points, and saves were abysmally stunted in comparison to your companions, making you even more of a liability than low-level wizards. It's a good thing you get plane shift at level 12, assuming you live that long.

As for vampires, there's a lot of speculation going on in the forums (you just have to pick through vampire jokes and idiots who don't understand how the executioner class works). Some people think that it should have been a race, others a bloodline tree, and still others a theme. Revenants are cool, but even with feat support lack the sort of supernatural powers that I expect out of a vampire, and dhampyr bloodline feats further illustrate that they're just not enough, especially when you're trying to juggle an actual class at the same time. A theme is more of what I'm expecting, but not all DM's own Dark Sun material (or even allow themes if they do), so I'm not expecting WotC to start allowing one player to pick up a vampire theme while other players have to deal.

Me? I'm banking on an Essentials model because it allows them to dole out racial features at set levels, while giving you a bit to customize. This way they could deliver a core "vampire" structure, but still allow you to specialize in shapeshifting, charms, calling animals, or whatever, in a similar vein to Vampire: The Masquerade (except that you can actually use your vampiric powers). Despite their past experimentations, I'm very optimistic about their second attempt because if anything, WotC has done a remarkable job of taking races and classes that I hate, and reinventing them into something entertaining: clerics, bards, druids, and psions are all classes that I hated in earlier editions, but actually enjoy now.

{ 1 comments... read them below or add one }

  1. Actually, I think that 4e, more than other editions could make this work pretty easily. I think it is a pretty interesting idea and I look forward to seeing how they pull it off. I will probably pick up this book for this class.

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