Thursday, June 4, 2015

Races of Pathfinder: Dhampir

Dhampir are the result of either an unlikely love between a vampire and a human or, well... something much more disturbing. Either way, they are generally beautiful in an unearthly way, and may look sickly and frail to some. Their beauty and grace makes them ideal thieves and spies, but they can fill many party roles with ease thanks to their variant heritages.
Racial Traits:
Ability Scores: +2 Dexterity, +2 Charisma, -2 Constitution. Dhampir bonuses make them ideal Ninjas or Bards, and along with the Sanguine bloodline they can be especially deadly as Sorcerers. The penalty to Con does have its drawbacks, however, as their generally reduced hit points keeps them out of front-line combat for the most part.

Type: Dhampir are humanoids with the dhampir subtype.

Size: Dhampir are the same size as humans.

Speed: Dhampir move at the same speed as humans.

Undead Resistance: Their undead heritage gives Dhampir a +2 bonus against both diseases and mind-effecting affects. This is a great bonus, and can save your party in a pinch.

Resist Level Drain: Dhampir naturally resist the energy drain effects that their vampiric parents love to use on living beings. This means they essentially ignore all penalties from negative levels and any negative levels that your dhampir might accrue are automatically healed away after 24 hours. This ability is seriously awesome, and makes dhampir the best possible race for building a vampire hunter-style character. (Think Blade here).

Manipulative: I honestly don’t know why a trait called Manipulative includes a bonus to Perception, but be glad it does! The boost to Bluff isn’t bad, either.

Spell-Like Ability: A dhampir can cast detect undead three times per day, which is just another reason that dhampir make excellent vampire hunters.

Darkvision: If you’ve read this far in my guide you know how much I love Darkvision. This is always a great thing to have in a dungeon!

Low-light vision: A race that naturally gets both darkvision AND low-light vision? This is awesome! Though, as I’ve said before, low-light vision just doesn’t come up that often in real games.

Light Sensitivity: This is part of the punishment for all those excellent blue racial traits up above: you are dazzled in bright sunlight, and that equates to a -1 to all attack rolls and sight-based Perception checks.

Negative Energy Affinity: This is the other part of the punishment I mentioned, and it’s a doozy. You can’t heal from a good cleric’s positive energy, and you can’t use cure spells, as they harm you as if you were undead. Now, in most cases this is a serious detriment to your party. However, remember that most classes that have cure spells also have inflict spells available to them, and potions aren’t prohibitively expensive, so if your party is careful then you can get around this. Furthermore, if you play a necromancer (which a dhampir is VERY good at doing), you can heal yourself all day long with negative energy, and heal your undead minions at the same time! (Therefore for necromancers, this is a green ability.)

Variant Heritages: IMPORTANT UPDATE: Developer Patrick Renie recently issued an update to two of these heritages. I will be updating the guide as I have time to reflect these ability score changes. LINK

Jiang-Shi-Born: This is the obvious choice for a dhampir Wizard or Witch, giving you a bonus to Intelligence and trading the penalty to Con for a penalty to Wisdom, which you probably won’t care about if you’re an arcane caster anyway. An Alchemist would do very well, also, thanks to the boost to both Int and Dex. You do lose the +2 to Perception, which hurts, but erase as a spell-like ability is fun. Sonic damage comes up very seldom, so this is definitely an upgrade from the light sensitivity that standard dhampir suffer. All-in-all, this is a good option for anyone who doesn’t care about Wisdom very much. UPDATE: Jiang-Shi born actually have +2 Str, +2 Int, and -2 Dex

Moroi-Born: With a bonus to Strength and Charisma, I like this heritage for a melee Sorcerer build, but the penalty to Constitution means you won’t make a very good Paladin or Cavalier. Again the loss of +2 to Perception is very painful, and the weakness that replaces light sensitivity is not much better, since a good Cleric can take you out much more easily if you fail saves against her channel energy. This one just isn’t as exciting as some of the other variant heritages.

Vetala-Born: This variant heritage just screams “MONK” to me, with a bonus to both Dexterity and Wisdom and a penalty to Int. You won’t want to be a caster, anyway, since you will take a -1 to your effective caster level in hallowed areas. The comprehend languages spell might come in handy but is strictly worse than detect undead. Overall, this is a decent choice for most, but a great choice for a monk. UPDATE: Vetala-born actually have +2 Dex, +2 Int, -2 Wis

Nosferatu-Born: Another heritage with a boost to Strength but a penalty to Con, this just isn’t optimal for much of anything, and the replacement for light sensitivity is truly dreadful. Stick with one of the other heritages, and leave this one to NPCs.

Alternate Racial Traits:

Dayborn [Spell-like ability]: You give up your spell-like ability in exchange for no longer being light sensitive... SIGN ME UP! This is an EXCELLENT option, especially for a class that already has detect undead available to them.

Fangs [Spell-like ability]: This is a strange one, as it doesn’t actually give you a true bite attack. Instead, you get an attack that you can use when grappling a foe or on a helpless or otherwise incapacitated target. If this granted a true bite attack I’d be all for it, but it’s just too situational. Note, however, that if you’re planning to take the blood drinking racial feats available to you, it’s probably worth picking up anyway.

Vampiric Empathy [Manipulative]: A limited speak with animals spell isn’t worth giving up your +2 bonus to Perception. Leave this one alone unless you plan to charm a lot of animals.


Alchemist: A Jiang-Shi-Born dhampir will make a seriously great Alchemist, thanks to a bonus to Intelligence for extracts and bomb damage and to Dex for making those bombs hit. The favored class option is unique and pretty nice, as it gives you +10 minute per level duration on your mutagen. This doesn’t matter much at higher levels once the mutagen can last hours per level anyway, but it can come in very handy in low levels.

Barbarian: There’s just no good option for making a dhampir Barbarian, and they don’t really make thematic sense to me either, as I imagine a half-vampire as being calm and collected, not raging all over the place.

Bard: The standard dhampir makes an excellent bard thanks to Charisma and Intelligence bonuses, but that’s all they’ve got going for them, no other exciting racial options here.

Cavalier [Samurai]: The penalty to Constitution really hurts your chances of being a Cavalier as a dhampir. The alternate heritages don’t really help either.

Cleric: A cleric seems like a slightly odd choice for a dhampir, as you’d think most good gods would forsake such a creature, but a Vetala-Born dhampir can make an excellent Cleric. Just make sure you pick a neutral or evil god so that you can channel negative energy to heal yourself. The Undead Lord archetype obviously is a great choice for a dhampir Cleric, and the racial favored class bonus will give you a better chance of affecting undead with your channeling feats.

Druid: While the idea of a dhampir druid doesn’t make a lot of sense (wouldn’t nature turn up her nose at these guys?) the Vetala-Born dhampir can still make a very good druid. The Mooncaller archetype is extremely thematic and actually builds on a lot of the dhampir’s natural abilities, so I’d take a look at that one for sure. The Urban Druid is another one that makes sense for a dhampir.

Fighter: The standard dhampir can make a pretty good ranged Fighter thanks to the bonus to Dexterity, but thematically if you’re going to be an archer as a dhampir, I much prefer the Ranger.

Gunslinger: The standard dhampir was basically born to be a Mysterious Stranger, thanks to bonuses to Dex and Charisma. There aren’t any other specific racial options that work for Gunslingers, but it’s still a great choice.

Inquisitor: A Vetala-Born dhampir is a great choice for an Inquisitor, and the obvious choice for a vampire hunter Inquisitor is the True Death Inquisition, allowing you to send vampires and other undead right back tot he grave. You also gain access to the Kinslayer racial archetype, which gives you plenty of options to turn a vampire into a steaming pile of good. There’s also the Vampire Hunter archetype, which sadly does not stack with Kinslayer, but has abilities that are almost as good.

Magus: A Jiang-Shi-Born dhampir will make an excellent Dex-based Magus, but the penalty to Constitution does make one consider closely the idea of getting into melee, and because of that the Myrmidarch is the obvious choice of archetypes.

Monk: As I mentioned earlier, the Vetala-Born dhampir just screams “MONK” to me, and you could take the vampire heritage and run with it by building a grappling-focused monk that bites people and drains their Constitution. The Hungry Ghost Monk archetype would also fit that theme quite nicely. If you’d rather stay out of melee, go with the Zen Archer monk and watch your enemies fall under your flurry of arrows.

Oracle: The standard dhampir makes an excellent Oracle, and the Bones, Dark Tapestry and Juju mysteries all fit very thematically. I like the Juju mystery since it’s the only way in the game to create neutral-aligned undead to do your bidding!

Paladin [Antipaladin]: There are no good options for being a dhampir Paladin, as the two heritages that give you a Strength boost also cause a Con penalty. If you did decide to go with a Paladin, the Divine Hunter or Holy Gun archetypes will at least keep you out of melee. The Antipaladin is a better choice since you can heal yourself with your touch of corruption and/or channeling.

Ranger: If you want to be a dhampir who kicks some serious ass on his vampire forebears, but doesn’t believe in the whole divine magic thing as much as an Inquisitor might, this is the class to choose. With the Constitution penalty you’ll probably want to go with Archery as a combat style, and your favored enemy will obviously be undead. I would also suggest taking the Infiltrator archetype, replacing favored terrain with abilities that will aid you on your hunt for undead creatures, since vampires can really be in any terrain. With a low Wisdom score, the Skirmisher archetype is also attractive, trading away those few spells for some interesting Hunter’s Tricks (I like Chameleon Step, Hateful Attack, and Surprise Shift) that will also make you excellent at hunting down those vampires. The Urban Ranger is also a decent option if your vampire targets are more likely to be in a town or city than out in the wilderness.

Rogue [Ninja]: A dhampir who sticks to the shadows and sneaks around is both thematically appropriate and mechanically powerful. The standard dhampir makes for a seriously excellent Ninja, while the perfect Rogue would be one of the Jiang-Shi-Born heritage. In both cases, your dhampir’s darkvision will come in handy. The racial favored class for a dhampir Rogue is also top-notch, giving you a +1/2 levels bonus on Stealth and Perception check in dim light or darkness, and if you’re a standard dhampir that still stacks with your +2 racial bonus to Perception! Overall, Ninja or Rogue are excellent class choices for a child of the night.

Sorcerer: A dhampir’s bonus to Charisma makes them excellent candidates for Sorcerers, and there’s even a bloodline made specifically for them, the Undead bloodline. In fact, the Wildblooded version, Sanguine, is even more appropriate (and more powerful), as it lets you gain hit points from drinking the blood of the recently deceased. Combine this with some of the dhampir racial feats such as Blood Drinker and Blood Salvage and you’ll be gaining hit points and temporary Con bonuses all over the place! I also like the Razmiran Priest archetype for a dhampir, since I can imagine a dhampir “Cleric” moving from town to town at night and selling “curatives” while also scouting for weak-minded people who may join her cult and provide her some blood now and again.

Summoner: Like the Sorcerer, Summoner is a good choice for a dhampir thanks to the Charisma bonus. To make that negative Constitution score even less of an issue, you may want to consider the Synthesist archetype, which replaces your own physical scores with that of your eidolon “suit”. You can also play on the undead aspect of your character with some eidolon evolutions like Unnatural Aura, Undead Appearance, or Incorporeal Form.

Witch: A Jiang-Shi-Born dhampir can make a very good Witch, and I find the idea of a half-undead creature using hexes to be thematically appropriate, since most of them can be done with a simple glance of the dhampir’s unearthly eyes. The death, moon, or shadow patrons are all appropriate, and you’ll want to consider the Gravewalker archetype for it’s creepy Spell Poppet replacement for the standard Witch’s Familiar and its undead-controlling abilities.

Wizard: Like the Witch, a Jiang-Shi-Born dhampir can make an excellent Wizard. Dhampir Wizards also gain access to a racial archetype, the Cruoromancer, who is like an emo necromancer, using his own half-undead blood to fuel his necromancy spells. I also like the Shadowcaster archetype for a dhampir, since it plays on their dark and ominous nature. There are also a few thematic Arcane Discoveries available, including Multimorph and Immortality. The favored class option for dhampir is also pretty amazing, adding +1/4 levels to your caster level for necromancy spells!

Racial Favored Class Options:

Alchemist: Increasing the duration of your mutagen can be really helpful at lower levels, since it could let you continue the use of the mutagen through multiple encounters. I like it.

Cleric: +1 caster level for channeling feats affecting undead is a little situational, but for either a necromancer or an undead destroyer-style Cleric this will be very helpful.

Fighter: Your Fort saves are already pretty good as a Fighter... I just don’t see a +2 to stabilize rolls being worth as much as +1 hit point.

Inquisitor: If you plan to demoralize some humanoid foes, this is great, but if you’re a vampire hunter then you won’t need to use this often, since you’ll instead want to be demoralizing undead.

Rogue: This is an AMAZING favored class option! Bonuses to the best skill in the game and another skill that Rogues use all the time are just incredible. This one’s worth taking every level!

Oracle: If you are focusing on negative energy spells, then this can be a worthy choice. But, your options are limited.

Wizard: For a necromancer Wizard, a +1/4 levels to caster level for necromancy spells is a seriously good choice. Take it!
Racial Archetypes:

Cruoromancer (Wizard): This is an excellent archetype for an aspiring dhampir necromancer, allowing him to use his own half-undead blood to fuel his spellcasting in interesting ways. You start off with the ability to add +1 to your caster level when casting a necromancy spell, or to sicken the targets of your spells. However, as your character levels you gain new abilities, like increasing the number of undead you can create using animate dead, or creating an area of desecration around yourself when casting another spell. You’ll obviously want to choose the Necromancy school and probably the Undead focused school to get the most out of your undead thralls. You may even want to consider the Thassilonian Gluttony focus, giving you a few extra necromancy spells each day at the cost never casting any abjuration or enchantment spells.

Kinslayer (Inquisitor): The Kinslayer is all about hunting down and destroying undead creatures, and so if you want to make a Blade-style dhampir this is your best choice. You gain the Slayer’s Brand judgment which lets you touch an undead creature and mark it with your personal symbol, letting you locate that creature at all times. You then gain ways to modify this judgment as you level, allowing you to do things such as use your brand as a ray, or deal additional damage when you brand an undead creature. You also gain detect undead at will as a spell-like ability, so make sure to take the Dayborn alternate racial trait so that you don’t have to deal with that pesky light sensitivity. The True Death Inquisition is an obvious choice for a dhampir Inquisitor, so I highly recommend that one.

Prestige Classes:

Red Mantis Assassin: The Red Mantis Assassin is similar to the 3.5e version of the Assassin prestige class, gaining spell-like abilities that she uses to assassinate her targets, while also gaining abilities adding to her stealth and subturfuge. I especially like the Prayer Attack ability for a dhampir, as it involves fascinating your enemy and that seems very thematic to me. You also gain the ability to know if one of the creatures you killed is restored to life, which is an excellent ability, and the ethereal form ability at 8th level is also very vampire-esque.

Agent of the Grave: This prestige class is a pretty obvious one for a necromancer-style character, and there are several different ways to get there. Probably the best choice is the Cruoromancer Wizard, though you have to wait til 9th level to enter (requires 4th level spells) whereas if you take the Oracle of Bones approach you can get there starting at 7th level. The Gravewalker Witch is just as quick, also allowing you to start taking Agent of the Grave at 7th level. The Inspired Necromancy and Undead Manipulator will let you take control and influence hordes of undead creatures, and the Undead Initiate ability is great for a dhampir who wants to be turned into a full-fledged vampire.

Racial Feats:

Blood Drinker: This feat allows your dhampir character to embrace their undead heritage and start drinking blood from sentient creatures. You get to choose a single type of humanoid, and when you drink their blood you gain temporary hit points and a bonus to Con-based skill checks and saving throws. This would be a great way to run a character who has to constantly deny his thirst for blood, but every once in a while, in secret, gives in to it. Remember, though, that drinking blood from an unwilling creature is considered an evil act.

Blood Feaster: This is a nice upgrade for Blood Drinker that allows you to gain a bonus to damage rolls and Strength-based skill checks when you drink blood from a victim. This one is great for a front-liner who can take a moment to suck some blood from a dying creature in order to deal more damage to his other foes in battle.

Blood Salvage: This feat lets you use Blood Drinker on an already-dead creature, which means you can use it without turning all evil and such.

Diverse Palate: You can drink the blood of another type of humanoid, or monstrous humanoids! This one probably isn’t worth it to most characters, unless you know for a fact that you’ll be battling several different types of creatures often, as opposed to just picking “humanoid (human)” which would be sufficient in most games.

Life-Dominant Soul: This feat makes you feel more alive, literally. It essentially lets you gain the effects of healing from either positive OR negative energy, although both are at half power. I don’t like this one because you should be able to manage negative energy to heal yourself if you’re planning to play a dhampir. Potions of inflict spells really aren’t that expensive!

Natural Charmer: You can take twenty on many Charisma-based checks. Wait... seriously? This is awesome! You know that beautiful barmaid over there? Take a few minutes to chat her up and she will literally follow you anywhere and do anything to please you! This one is probably overpowered for a feat with no prerequisites (other than a high Charisma score) but I’m not gonna complain!

Unusual Origin: Bite attack!  Good for sneak attacks, and can be fit into any manufactured weapon combo at a -5 penalty.


  1. For favored class bonuses, I think you made a mistake. The Sorcerer one should be Oracle, which makes it a bit better. Especially with the lunar mystery's touch of the moon revelation.

  2. A Moroi-born Dhampir Antipaladin would be very good, considering that they have +2 to their spellcasting and attacking stats. The only downside is the -2 to their constitution, but that is easily negated with the capstone of the Knight of the Sepulcher archetype, which turns Charisma into their Constitution stat.