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Some were the descendants of male vampires and mortal females, but many others had dhampyrs for parents and some resulted from a vampire of either sex biting a pregnant female. A dhampyr's powers might lie dormant for years before being quickened; dhampyrs might also have children who were normal in every respect.
Dhampyrs were thin and willowy, with pale skin and slightly pointed ears. They had slightly pronounced canines and blood-red eyes. Dhampyrs were unharmed by sunlight or positive energy the way true vampires were. Many dhampyrs felt the characteristic bloodlust of a vampire as well as the ability to feed off of blood for sustenance or healing, though their thirst was much milder than that of true vampires and not all or even most dhampyrs carried out the practice.
In addition to the characteristic blood drain ability shared by nearly all of their kind, some dhampyrs developed other unnatural abilities. Some fairly common abilities were the ability to move more quickly, enhanced nightvision, or even the ability to transform into a mist for under a minute once per day. More advanced abilities might allow them to charm enemies into a daze, gain enhanced vitality from blood drinking, or other abilities that made them more like their vampiric kin.
The time it took for vampiric abilities to awaken in dhampyrs varied from one person to another. In some cases, the marks of a dhampyr's heritage skipped a generation, awakening in later descendants. In other cases, dhampyrs awakened their vampiric heritage early in their life.
In addition to abilities gained from their vampiric heritage, most dhampyrs possessed the standard abilities and physical characteristics of their mortal heritage, whatever that might be.
Because of their unusual circumstance of being not only half-breeds, but the spawn of the undead, dhampyrs often felt out of place no matter where they were. Grim and somber, dhampyrs often were guarded and obsessive, though they also exhibited a great deal of patience and a penchant for black humor as well.
The degree of outcast feeling, however, varied from individual to individual and depended, to a certain degree, on the environment in which a dhampyr was raised. Dhampyr raised unaware of their vampiric blood might more or less pass as normal, while those who were aware of their heritage had a greater tendency to develop a fascination with death and macabre practices such as blood drinking or black humor. Some of the latter even developed a vampire-like thirst for blood, though this derived from a psychological, rather than a physical need.
Possessing some of the strengths of vampires and none of their traditional weaknesses, dhampyrs were simultaneously valued and discriminated against by both sides of their heritage.
Dhampyrs might be born into mortal society or they might be raised by vampires and treated as special but lesser members of a vampire clan. In the former case, how dhampyrs were treated depended largely on whether or not the dhampyr's neighbors knew of their true nature. In cases where a dhampyr's heritage was a secret known to only a few, many could safely pass as normal without incident. When a dhampyr's true nature was known, however, they were frequently mistreated, though in some cases their vampiric ancestry was treated as a boon rather than a curse.
Dhampyrs raised among vampires were another matter. Most vampires saw their progeny as special creatures, above the average mortal though of less value than a true vampire. As a result, dhampyrs were the favored thralls of true vampires, who utilized them as soldiers and assassins, giving them tasks that were beneath a true vampire but allowed opportunity for prestige nonetheless. In some cases, dhampyrs were even allowed to use the names of vampire clans as their surname, a high honor in vampiric society.
Some dhampyrs viewed their heritage as a curse, others as a blessing. The former often turned to hunting their undead brethren, becoming deadstalkers who hunted down vampires and other undead, turning vampires' own abilities against them. Those who felt their heritage made them special, however, were more likely to become bloodknights, using their supernatural abilities as a tool to make them deadlier warriors.
- Nicky Rea (1996). A Guide to Transylvania. (TSR, Inc.), p. 96. ISBN 0-7869-0424-0.
- Brian R. James (2009-01-12). “Playing Dhampyr”. In Chris Youngs ed. Dragon #371 (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 32–33.
- Brian R. James (2009-01-12). “Playing Dhampyr”. In Chris Youngs ed. Dragon #371 (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 33–35.
- Brian R. James (2009-01-12). “Playing Dhampyr”. In Chris Youngs ed. Dragon #371 (Wizards of the Coast), p. 35.
- Brian R. James (2009-01-12). “Playing Dhampyr”. In Chris Youngs ed. Dragon #371 (Wizards of the Coast), p. 33.
- Brian R. James (2009-01-12). “Playing Dhampyr”. In Chris Youngs ed. Dragon #371 (Wizards of the Coast), p. 38.
- Brian R. James (2009-01-12). “Playing Dhampyr”. In Chris Youngs ed. Dragon #371 (Wizards of the Coast), p. 34.
- Brian R. James (2009-01-12). “Playing Dhampyr”. In Chris Youngs ed. Dragon #371 (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 36–37.