Vryloka

I WASN’T ALWAYS A VRYLOKA. THE HISTORY OF vrylokas is a complicated one. To explain it, I would have to go back to the beginning. The first vryloka came from a powerful dark lord. She…was not a willing subject. But she was still the first. He was a powerful lord, and his will is made reality. For those willing to subjugate themselves, he will bestow the gift, but they must be powerful in their own right before earning his trust. As for the ceremony itself? It was…degrading. I’d rather not revisit that. But we all took part in it. Not really wholesome family activity, but I guess it’s something you do when you give yourselves to a dark lord. My family was…affected…by the situation. My father’s not exactly the most stable, and eventually he drove my mother crazy with him. And it all ended with me leaving the family to try and survive on my own.

—Serana Volkihar

 

Appearing as human nobles to the world at large, vrylokas are in fact powerful living vampires, the result of a bloodbond ritual with a powerful god of death. They easily rise to power and navigate among the social and political elite, all the while keeping the origins of their dark powers secret.

Vampiric Origins

Uncounted centuries ago, the noble families of a now-forgotten kingdom sought a way to increase their life span beyond the meagre years allotted to them by their human heritage. They were approached by a mysterious entity known only as the Red Witch—a scarlet-clad figure who offered to them a blond-bonding ritual that would grant them the vitality of vampires without subjecting them to the taint of undeath. In later centuries, these creatures became known by the name of the first noble family to forge the pact: the Vrylokas.

Pale Hunters

The vrylokas' appearance greatly resembles that of their human ancestors, but the ghastly results of the bloodpact are obvious. They have dark grey or blue eyes which may turn red when angered or excited. Their skin is pale, and their hair comes mostly in shades of red, from deep scarlet to strawberry blond. Some rare individuals may be found with jet-black hair. They have upper canine teeth that sometimes appear slightly more pronounced than the human norm, however unlike true vampires, vrylokas have no fangs.

Vrylokas favour clothing that reflects their ancient origin, from layered robes and tall head-dresses to long jackets and trousers, or bodices and skirts. Their garb is often embroidered with bloodred roses and thorns—symbols of the Red Witch. They favour red with accents of brass and black. Their weapons and armour are uniformly ornate and flamboyant, with spikes and flourishes of rose motifs and rubies.

Passionate Loyalty

Vrylokas are passionate creatures, equally capable of blissful love and seething rage. Both grudges and affections of a vryloka last centuries, sometimes passing from generation to generation. The intensity of their passion often leads to feelings of ennui and unrest. Their once-human minds appreciate the advance of years more than more naturally long-lived species, and so vrylokas spend their time searching for ways to entertain themselves. Some turn to intellectual endeavours, becoming renowned artists and scholars. Others seek gratification by pushing themselves to their physical limits through military service or adventuring. Most turn their distaste for world-weariness against each other, engaging in elaborate power games in which the common races are treated as possessions and pawns.

These conflicts are strengthened by the vrylokas’ dedication to keeping their bloodlines sacred. A vryloka’s duty is to their family first, and even as rivalries tear competing families apart, there is no room for doubt or betrayal with regard to lineage.

Like all emotions, loyalty is all-consuming to a vryloka. In some rare cases, a vryloka may develop this same degree of loyalty to outsiders—most often fellow adventurers with whom he or she has fallen in. Initially, such characters typically ensure that their outside loyalties do not impact their dedication to their kin. However, many vryloka adventurers eventually find themselves forced to make a choice between the bonds of friendship and those of family. Vrylokas universally pay fealty to the Red Witch. Few adopt the faith of another deity.

Vryloka Names

Vrylokan families are often ancient and noble, and their names reflect this. Vrylokas have a strong sense of duty to their family, and they tend to choose names that befit this noble heritage. More recently created vrylokas may use names from their culture of origin, or take on new names from the high families of vrylokas.

Male Names. Aurel, Bogdan, Claudiu, Grigore, Mircea, Stelian, Moise, Ionica, Ivan, Vladislav

Female Names. Adela, Crina, Elzeny, Iulia, Mirela, Sanda, Elena, Eupraxia, Smaranda, Stefana, Voica

Family Names. Dorgumir, Gavril, Ghenadie, Ionel, Loredana, Vasili, Danesti, Dragos, Necula, Shishman

 

Vryloka and Vampires

Despite their ties to vampirism, vrylokas maintain a strong taboo against the complete embrace of an undead existence. They seek eternal life, not the empty shell of an undead existence. A vryloka who becomes undead is an outcast, a pariah hunted for his or her corruption of the vryloka bloodlines. However, rumours abound of powerful vryloka nobles who have successfully hidden their vampiric nature for decades.

Vryloka Traits

The bloodbond ritual grants you great power beyond that of an ordinary human.

Ability Score Increase. Your Charisma score increases by 2, and you may increase either your Strength or Dexterity score by 1.

Age. Natural-born vrylokas age a little slower than humans, reaching maturity in their late 20s, at which point they cease to visibly age. First-generation vrylokas remain the age they were when they went through the bloodbond ritual. Vrylokas live for many centuries.

Alignment. A vryloka’s vampiric nature means they are pulled towards lawful evil, believing strongly in order and structure. However, many vrylokas attempt to struggle against their innate evil nature.

Size. Vrylokas are about the same size and build as humans. Your size is Medium.

Speed. Your base walking speed is 35 feet.

Darkvision. Thanks to your vampiric blood, you have superior vision in dark and dim conditions. You can see in dim light within 60 feet of you as if it were bright light, and in darkness as if it were dim light. You can’t discern colour in darkness, only shades of grey.

Undead Resistance. You have resistance to necrotic damage.

Radiant Vulnerability. You may not have the weakness to sunlight of a full-blooded vampire, but you are still averse to bright concentrated lights. You have vulnerability to radiant damage.

Stealthy Hunter. You have proficiency in the Stealth skill.

Blood Dependency. You must feed on the blood of a creature of a type other than construct, ooze, plant, elemental, or undead once every two days, taking approximately one glass. You may not feed on another vryloka. Drinking from a medium creature once has no noticeable effect on the target. If you do not feed for two days, you gain half as much from all healing and have disadvantage on strength and constitution ability checks and saving throws until you do.

Living Dead. Because your soul is tainted by undeath, you are both living and undead. If a feature has different effects on living creatures and undead ones, you choose which effect applies to you. Additionally, you may count as a vampire for the purposes of meeting any prerequisites.

Human Heritage. You have advantage on any deception checks made to pass as a human.

Lifeblood. When you reduce a creature you can feed on within 5 ft. of you to 0 hit points, you may drink of their blood as a bonus action, granting you a surge of vitality. You gain temporary hitpoints equal to your Constitution modifier + your level (minimum of 1), and gain advantage on strength or dexterity-based attack rolls, skill checks, and saving throws until the end of your next turn. You regain 2 blood points. Once you use this feature, you must finish a short or long rest before you can use it again.

Vampiric Legacy. You know the message cantrip. Once you reach 3rd level, you can cast the command spell once per day. Once you reach 5th level, you can also cast the darkness spell once per day. Charisma is your spellcasting ability for these spells.

Languages. You can speak, read, and write Common and one extra language of your choice.

Drinking Blood

Blood Dependency can be met by drinking blood using the Lifeblood ability, or it can be met through roleplay interactions. The single glass of blood required does not take enough to cause serious long-term damage to a medium creature when drinking once. Multiple consecutive drinks from the same creature or drinks from smaller creatures may have a detrimental effect, at your DM's discretion.

Optionally, if you are using Walrock's vampire prestige class, you may substitute the requirement to feed every two days for its blood points rule. You gain an additional two blood points.


Shadowy Manipulators

The nature of their race compels vrylokas to hide in plain sight within other cultures, typically by passing themselves off as human nobles from distant lands. They endear themselves to local rulers and strive to attain the power and wealth that their ancestors enjoyed. At the same time, they maintain a shadow society of their own, engaging in vicious games of influence and power against vryloka peers—oblivious of the harm they cause mortal folk caught in the crossfire.

Those who break their bond of blood, however, are typically exiled—shunned by vryloka society and forced to live in isolation among the common races. Some such vrylokas take up lives of wandering and join adventuring, while others undergo a dark breakdown and turn into bloodthirsty killers; preying on the folk around them.

Credits

Race design: /u/Zagorath, based on the race of the same name from Wizards of the Coast in Heroes of Shadow.

Art: Wizards of the Coast

Formatting: The Homebrewery

Design Notes

While it has had a couple of its features tweaked slightly in order to work with vampire prestige classes in general, and /u/the_singular_anyone's in particular, this vryloka is designed first and foremost to be able to stand on its own as a race with any of the standard classes.

In terms of balance, an analysis using the /u/jwbjerk Detect Balance guide (shown below) makes it appear fairly strong, but well within the bounds of acceptibility. This analysis is, however, deliberately trying to assume the worst.

Advantage on rolls for a single turn and a small temporary hp bonus once per day is probably not worth 1.5, especially given the melee range requirement, but I'm scoring it at that as an upper bound just to be safe. Similarly, Detect Balance seems to give an undue amount of weight to the strength of Darkvision, and that overly high weight is what is being used here. This also counts radiant vulnerability as –0.5, while the guide suggests it be –1.

Score
Ability Point value
ASI + 3.25
Speed + 0.5
Darkvision + 0.75
Undead Resistance + 0.5
Radiant Vulnerability – 0.5
Stealthy Hunter + 0.5
Human Heritage + 0.5
Blood Dependency – 1
Living Dead + 0.5
Lifeblood + 1.5
Total 6.5

Living Dead is designed to allow multiclassing into any vampire prestige classes or full classes with a prerequisite involving being bitten by a vampire, without needing to specially meet that prerequisite. Similarly, any feats or similar player options that require being a vampire would have their prerequisites met by this class. Any stat or level requirements still need to be met.

Living dead's other component mostly will have no effect, simply meaning that they count as humanoid when being healed by allies, or when allies use turn undead and similar abilities. It also means that magical detection spells won't work on them unwanted. However, in certain cases it may be desirable to count as undead, for example an ally can detect undead if their vryloka ally is missing, and this may help locate them.

More usefully, if the player takes levels in /u/the_singular_anyone's vampire prestige class, the "Undeath" benefits involving food and drink apply. It does not, however, reduce or remove other abilities, such as the sunlight hypersensitivity such a character would suffer.

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