Posted by : David Guyll April 24, 2011

I wrote not so much a handbook--certainly not of the quality you'd find on the Character Optimization forum--but more of a primer to the vampire class, as I wanted to work on some character concepts but wanted to make sure I knew what I was getting into. Some people have criticized that it is too frail or weak to be a viable striker, and after looking over every single class feature and power, I don't think that it is the case (even given the lack of specific feat support).

Comparing strikers with reasonable optimization at 1st-level, the vampire is basically on par with everything except for an Artful Dodger rogue with an 18 in Dexterity and Charisma, and Weapon Focus (light blade) or Backstabber. When you compare dailies, the vampire does almost double damage before you consider feats in the equation (which I still was in the case of the rogue). By 11th-level, the rogue ended up being something like 5 points ahead when you lumped on all the feats and assumed that she had combat advantage, but at 15th-level the gap closed due to the vampire's Hidden Might getting its second kicker.

So, I dunno. Looks pretty good to me. I've heard people actually playing the damned thing not having many complaints.

In regards to the durability thing, I think detractors are overlooking all the powers and class features that grant temporary hit points (including one of your 1st-level at wills), let you steal healing surges, and even regeneration when bloodied. The fact that temporary hit points don't affect your bloodied condition means that you can have a lot of them, but still benefit from the regeneration. Plus, when stealing healing surges from allies they act like two. I'd totally overlooked that if you have more than your max at the end of a short rest, that you get topped off; I thought it was after combat. This makes it even easier for a vampire to abuse healing surges by just getting a couple from her allies.

That, and necrotic resistance is a pretty common energy type.

{ 7 comments... read them below or Comment }

  1. Agreed. I like the Vampire class a lot, and will be playing one in the very near future. I think it's a well balanced but challenging class to play, a thinking man's Striker.

    What I'm looking forward to is the release of the Multiclass Feat and Hybrid rules for them - I would love to see how the Hybrid Vampire's Healing Surges work out in particular.

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  2. The issue many of the optimization folks have with the vampire is that (as you state above) it is hard to "trick out" with feat support. No weapon, no charge/frost cheese. This makes me happy after already having to reign in a charge based slayer, thief, and the dual strike half elf paladin/warlock.

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  3. Ki focuses have gotten some love, though I'm not sure if they're better than holy symbols in the long run. You can take Implement Focus and Holy Symbol/Ki Focus Expertise to give you some more attack and damage. Mainly, what I noticed was that the damage worked out fine (before feats) until you compared it to an optimized rogue that has Sneak Attack.

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  4. The thing that bothers me about everyone who claims the Vampire class is underpowered, is that they focus purely on how much damage the class can dish out, like that is the be-all and end-all of being a 4E character. I've grown to almost despise the idea of 'roles', because then every class has to be slotted into one of those roles, and then it gets analysed solely on the basis of its ability to perform that role.
    As far as 'striking' goes, maybe they are lacking compared to a ranger, rogue or barbarian. Who gives a rat's behind? The Vampire is a fun, flavourful class that I would love to try out. Where I really see the class shining is as a party scout. Good senses, high mobility, deceptively tough, dex-based means good at stealth. The class appears to be very flexible, and hard to pin down in terms of 4E 'roles'. Which suits me just fine.

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  5. I actually got a chance to play a level 3 halfling vampire in the adventure, The Wayward Wyrmling. I was regularly dealing 13 points of damage using at-wills, never got hit, and didn't even really need to resort to any encounters except for the blood-drink one. That being said, I wish I'd gotten to take the daily for a spin.

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  6. Well yes, but I've seen a non-optimized barbarian dealing 25 per attack on at wills. However, I agree that that's not the whole point of the vampire. Get an elf vampire, and have 7 speed. very good for scouting, due to stealth and speed, and able to handle some of the weaker monsters alone.

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  7. The damage cited was the average. Assuming 25 is also the average, I am curious how the barbarian was able to do this without being optimized: a 3rd-level human barbarian with Weapon Proficiency (fullblade), Weapon Focus (heavy blade), Power Attack, a Strength of 20, and a +1 fullblade will only deal 20 damage on average assuming devastating blow (all of which I consider to be quite optimized).

    This is also in melee; my vampire spend most of his time using the ranged at-will that also had a forced movement kicker, which I used to force kobolds into a river, or at least knock them prone if they made their save.

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