Dungeons & Dragons' latest lineage option provides players with an intriguing ability that creates a lot of synergies with multiple player classes. Yesterday, Dungeons & Dragons released a new playtest for three "Lineage Options," which included racial trait features for dhampir player characters. A dhampir is traditionally known as a "half-vampire," a creature born of a union between a vampire and a human. Popular dhampirs in pop culture include Castlevania's Alucard and the Marvel vampire hunter Blade, and are known for having vampire abilities without typically suffering from drawbacks like sensitivity to sunlight.
Yesterday's dhampir playtest received a lot of attention from players, not only because it brings back a popular D&D character choice, but also because of its powerful vampiric bite ability. The playtest states that the dhampir's vampiric bite is a natural weapon that counts as a simple melee weapon with which your are proficient. Dhampir players add their constitution modifier to their attack and damage rolls when attacking with their bite, and players make the attack roll for the bite with advantage when they are missing half or more of their hit points.
The vampiric bite can also be used to empower a dhampir in one of two ways: players can regain hit points equal to the damage dealt by the bite or they can gain a bonus to the next ability check or attack roll a player makes, with the bonus equalling the damage dealt by the bite.
So - why is the vampiric bite such a powerful trait? Because it is classified as a simple melee weapon, players can use the bite in conjunction with several different class features, making the bite and its subsequent bonus even more powerful. For instance, a dhampir monk's bite attack classifies as a natural weapon, and thus the damage dice increases in size as they level up. At Level 5, a dhampir monk's bite attack uses a d6 for damage instead of a d4, and that increases again at Level 11. This extra damage becomes useful due to the empowering aspect of the bite, which can be used to increase the odds of scoring a hit on a foe or completing some sort of successful ability check in the heat of battle. The vampiric bite also syncs up well with a paladin's divine smite, as the bite can be used to smite a foe and deal extra damage that can be turned into either healing or a bonus.
The vampiric bite becomes even more powerful when paired with magic. If a fellow party member uses a hold person or hold monster spell on an enemy, the dhampir can follow up with a vampiric bite attack that not only has advantage on the attack roll, but also automatically becomes a critical hit if successful. So - a dhampir paladin's vampiric bite would deal 2d4 damage plus twice the number of dice used to calculated divine smite damage, and that damage can all be turned into either healing or an empowering bonus on the next attack roll. A Level 5 dhampir paladin attacking a paralyzed foe would deal an average of 28 points of damage when expending a second level spell on the initial attack (assuming they have a Constitution Score of 10), which in turn becomes either 28 points of healing OR a +28 bonus to their next attack roll or ability check.
While natural weapons are usually underwhelming in Dungeons & Dragons, the benefits of a vampiric bite make the attack particularly attractive. While there are some limits to a vampiric bite attack's benefits, there are certainly enough ways to make it a very attractive feature for players. We'll see whether the dhampir survives playtesting or receives a significant nerf when it finally reaches print.
You can check out the full dhampir playtest rules here.