This post contains commentary on events revealed in episode 24, which we recognize many have not seen yet. As such, the following contains spoilers, both for 24 and probably for events to come in episode 25. Proceed at your own risk!
To absolutely no one’s surprise, the Briarwoods revealed themselves to be vampires. Although Vax’s failed Wis save could have simply been the effects of a Charm spell, the spell results sound much more like Hold Person. We also think that, considering that the Briarwoods have been in planning stages for well over two years, it’s incredibly unlikely Matt stuck to the default vampire template for both of them. We’re thinking Silas Briarwood may have taken cues from the Warrior Vampire variation, and Delilah may have dabbled in the Arcane. Only time will tell what their true capabilities are.
Vampires are very tricky undead monsters. They are resistant to necrotic and nonmagical physical damage, and can transform into a bat or a cloud of mist at will. If they are defeated and able to transform, they will instead vanish in a cloud of mist and escape to their resting place, where they will be paralyzed in their humanoid forms until they can sleep it off. These abilities are stunted by the presences of running water, sunlight, or a wooden stake through the heart. They are also very charming creatures, among several other powerful traits. (We’ll save those for the official monster analysis.)
Simply being bit on the neck and drained entirely of life isn’t enough to turn into a vampire spawn. A vampire must either have its own crypt (which we presume the Briarwoods brought with them) or must be buried underground overnight, if they don’t have a crypt yet. This is a full 8-hour process, which can be interrupted.
All vampire spawn are the willing slaves of the one who turned them. If the source of their undeath is killed, the victim becomes a free-willed vampire. However, the soul in charge of the body is not the same one as before its undeath…
PCs as Vampires
Also to no one’s surprise (but to everyone’s chagrin), Vax remains reckless in his actions. From owing a favor to a hag over some vials of poisons, agreeing to train a naive (or stupid-like-a-fox) butcher’s son, to sneaking undisguised directly into the temporary abode of two powerful vampires, Vax has written a lot of checks that we’re not entirely sure how he plans to cash. (You’re going to be the death of all of us, sir.)
Conveniently, the Monster Manual has advice on what changes apply to PCs-turned-vampires. The player will continue playing the character with new strengths and weaknesses, including base Con, Dex, and Str scores of 18, vampiric damage resistance, darkvision, traits, and actions. These would be added to, rather than replace, class features. A vampire rogue… Let’s just say that Sneak Attack becomes a LOT less fun.
The big question here is, how much time will pass between this episode’s conclusion and the start of the next one? If Matt chooses to start in the morning without giving the rest of the team time to act, then it’s possible that Vax will have a change in alignment and abilities without the rest of the party realizing it. If, however, the earrings are working, the party may have time to respond before their rogue is killed, let alone turned.
How does one restore a vampire character to their mortal form?
- Kill the vampire, leaving the body intact. Cast Resurrection (7th level spell, Clerics only).
- Kill the vampire. Cast True Resurrection (9th level spell, Clerics and Druids only).
- Cast Wish (9th level spell).
In a Mercer campaign, Resurrection is difficult. A vampire is an undead and unwilling target. No one in the party knows any spells above 6th level. If Vax or any of the rest of the party is turned, it would be simpler to stake them and let the sunlight take care of them, or just let them play as undead with new motivations. Here’s hoping it doesn’t come to that.
Other questions left unanswered
What happened to the rest of the De Rolos? What of the Seeker, who Vax left waiting over the course of the dinner, and whose men have turned allegiances? What else did the Briarwoods perceive from the dinner? Who was that boy the party almost recognized when the Briarwoods arrived?