The header here is clickbait, this topic isn’t actually about how strong Vampires are or aren’t.
What it is about is how the Vampire mode gimmick fails to function, and how to fix or replace it. I would love to hear people’s thoughts, whether or not they read the screed below.
Vampires as they stand
Vampires’ current gimmick grants them two modes; Alive or Bloodless. Swapping between modes takes a significant amount of time, making it impractical mid-combat.
Alive is mostly mundane; it features slightly boosted regen and the fangs mut, and is otherwise human with different apts.
Bloodless grants undead resists, but and extraordinarily bad -20% HP. It also grants a stealth boost which does not scale meaningfully, a heal on bite which does not scale meaningfully, and allows turning into a bat.
In practice, Vampire wants to remain alive except in Crypt, Ice caves, and extended. That could be changed by reducing the frailty of bloodless, but I would argue the real issue with vampire modes is more fundamental.
Fundamentally, the current mode system encourages you to, on encountering an enemy, retreat and swap to the appropriate mode. At present, the appropriate mode is Alive, but making Bloodless less trash would only make the calculus on ‘which mode is appropriate’ more complicated, not introduce any tactical significance to the modality.
What to do
Ideally, rework vampires so your form and it’s changes have actual tactical significance, without introducing a lot of gameplay friction from regular form swaps.
Simply making mode switch combat usable means instead of deciding the appropriate mode pre-combat, you decide on a per turn basis. With the current modes, this just means trite decisions more regularly. With different modes, this theoretically could be tactically interesting, but will certainly be cumbersome to play. I think this solution is not promising.
The solution I favor is to make mode swap involuntary; my inclination is to have ‘blood’ function akin to Usk piety- the longer a fight goes, the more alive you are, but out of combat you rapidly revert to bloodless. My vague vision is that low blood states boost stealth and stabbing playstyles, and high blood states provide survivability over protracted fights.
Alternately, Revivify could be changed to function like an XP evoker. That is, make Alive a significantly superior state, but limited in duration and only accessible after enough killing.
I have mixed feelings about this- it feels thematically unsatisfying. However, this would probably significantly easier to design and balance than the prior suggestion.
Other options I lack any clear vision of- likely some solution with periodic mode swaps exists, likely some solution with a strategic cost for mode swap exists, likely something I haven’t thought of at all is viable. I’d love thoughts on anything of the above.
(I’m not going to do any coding for this unless a much clearer design coalesces, and also it gets general buy in, and also I finish my other projects. But it might happen some day!)