Vampires Suck

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!)

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I don’t think this is true. The -10% HP when switching is quite brutal, as I see it. If you see -20% HP as a dealbreaker for staying in bloodless, then the -10% penalty for switching would also be significant. I agree about the point about Vp basically being Human (as Alive is form you want to stay in), but the tedium incentive isn’t there as of now.

Pre-0.24 Vampire default form was Satiated, last I recall. Bat form was good, and this is only more true with AOO in play.

“Alive being superior. but temporary” sounds like a fun fork idea, at the least. You get to make use of the actual cool Vampire stuff by default, it creates risk (lose batform if you wanna become stronger). Gate by killing blood-filled creatures is the obvious way to keep the theme.

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they should get space ripper stingy eyes at xl7

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Disclaimer: Vp are my most played species by far (online), so obvious bias.

Personally I almost never switch to Bloodless, but large part of it is that Alive form is strong, and is good enough for most situations (early Sewers, or Ice Cave, or poison/torment enemies help you make use of Bloodless though). That said, I still think species are interesting and distinct enough as is. Yeah, it’s a Hu with some different apts and mutations, but so are HO, Mf and Mi. The value comes from facilitating different playstyles and Vp does that well (I also think it was fine for Og to have high M&F for similar reasons). It’s the best stabbing species by far, IMO. Heavily boosted Stealth/Hexes allow you to bootstrap into stabbing easily from virtually any start. The flavour and theme are also there, having two blood modes and being the only mutating undead is just a bonus.

I also don’t think Bloodless is that much weaker than Alive, stealth boost is bananas early on when it matters the most, there’s a cute synergy with biting Kiku wretches, Bat form is good escape, etc. I’ve seen players just stay Bloodless all the way through the run and can’t really say that it was a wrong choice as such, even if I prefer Alive. Just a matter of different tastes.

Current mechanics don’t encourage constant swapping, quite the opposite, they give you a choice of playstyle and encourage you to stick with it (you don’t want Regen+ or rPois gear when Bloodless, and you don’t care about making the most out of your bite when Alive).

I wouldn’t mind a redesign of some sort in principle, as long as stabbing prowess (on a non-frail, non-slot restricted species) doesn’t go away, but I don’t think involuntary form switching in combat is the way to go. That’s the way it worked before, and it would be very annoying to manage (especially if forms have different resistances/vulnerabilities). You kinda can’t make forms distinct enough and have non-annoying involuntary switching at the same time.

Charged evocable-like super form sounds really interesting, but it probably would mean that perma Bat form runs are no longer a thing, which would be a shame. Also not sure Vp needs a buff like that (cause it’ll likely trigger a balancing nerf :)).

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I randomly pick between species I haven’t won when starting a new run. This currently includes vampires.

I don’t find them very exciting. The regen is nice and I hardly ever switch to bloodless.

I like the idea of an Usk style blood frenzy, at least thematically, but it all depends on the details of course.

For the more XP Evoker style, perhaps switching to Bloodless could be free and very fast but becoming Alive is earned back via XP. Then at least I’d actually consider going Bloodless for the stealth boost or resistances in some situations.

If Bloodless needs a boost, perhaps it could gain some sort of vampire mesmerize ability? The enemy version of mesmerize would be largely useless, but it could function like Zin recite. Cost breath, low chance of confusing enemies in LOS, akin to Gozag’s gold distraction.

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I think the main issue vampires have is that people (wrongly) assume that being bloodless is bad. The bloodless perks are very strong, and the HP penalty isn’t really an issue, since you get a self-heal on every stab. The plethora of stabbing sources (hexes, nets, allies, divine actions, etc.) means a wide variety of builds can enjoy the self-heal - and that’s even before considering how branching into hexes is basically free (thanks to their aptitudes.)

I suspect the misleading race descriptionmight be a part of that problem - saying you can “switch forms at will” sets the wrong expectations, considering the long delay and steep HP cost. I’d love to see it updated to something more helpful for people who’ve never played one before (ie. “bloodless vampires gorge themselves whenever they stab foes”.)