The half-living children of vampires and human mothers, dhampirs are born into a world that rejects them. Stigma and suspicion follow them regardless of whether the truth of a dhampir child’s nature is known. This mistrust either forces a dhampir to develop a disarming wit and charm, or to embrace bitterness and keep others at arm’s length through guile or outright intimidation.
Few dhampirs find solace with their undead forebears. As living creatures, even tainted ones, the reality of living with an evil, blood-sucking monster seldom appeals even as they struggle with their own urges or hungers. Dhampirs struggle to find acceptance both within society and within themselves.
Lithe and GracefulDhampirs appear much like humans at first glance. Adults stand between 5 and 6 feet tall but are more slender on average than humans; males weigh around 160 pounds. Female dhampirs are only slightly shorter but are a fair bit leaner, weighing around 120 pounds. Teir skin and hair color runs the vast spectrum of tones available to humans, though they tend to be slightly pale. Teir ﬂawless features are tinged with some unnamable exotic quality. Despite the fear and uncertainty that follow them, the half-dead possess a seductive appearance. Listeners fnd themselves unconsciously giving weight to a dhampir’s words and are drawn to his or her presence. Dhampirs glide through life with a seemingly eﬀortless grace that belies their struggle.
Blood TiesFor most dhampirs, family is all they have. Immediate kin might be the only source of solace for a dhampir raised by a mortal family. Driven away by the unconscious or superstitious derision of their peers, families containing a dhampir can easily become clannish and reclusive. They learn to keep the world at a distance to protect themselves and their loved ones. Dhampirs who grow up in this situation commonly strike out on their own after reaching maturity, both out of a need to find connection to the greater world and to spare their family the burden of their presence.
Conversely, some dhampirs are born into bloodlines that deliberately cultivate their tainted nature. A true vampire patron, usually the one who originally began the line, oversees these bloodlines. Such a bloodline holds its lineage in the highest regard. There is no doubt among its members that theirs is a superior stock and upbringing, and that greatness is their due. The majority of outright evil dhampirs arise from cultivated bloodlines. They quickly become true monsters, seeing the fear of the living world as envy of their station.
Cultural MasksParticularly close-knit or cosmopolitan communities can easily tolerate a dhampir in their midst, but that has more to do with adherence to tradition or relative anonymity than true acceptance. Larger cities include dhampirs sprinkled among the population as the half-dead blend in and find their niche, relying on their innate charm. Dhampir don’t relate easily to humans but find a natural kinship with other half-breed races, particularly the fiendish tieﬂings. They, along with half-orcs and half-elves, know all too well what it’s like to live between two worlds, never truly fitting in to either. Some dhampirs choose to band together for safety, camaraderie, and understanding. These groups are nomadic, traveling from town to town and making their living oﬀ the land. Such a band adheres to a loose set of guidelines called the Walking Crow edicts. These rules dictate the dhampirs’ responsibility to protect one another from outsiders, for each caravan group to self-govern and be self-sustaining, and for every Crow to work toward the prosperity of the caravan. These groups rarely find warm welcome with outsiders, but they are tolerated because the Crows develop diverse adventuring skills by necessity. Despite their trepidation, villagers can resolve threats to their homes by hiring a band of Crows to handle the problem for them.
Candles in the Dark Dhampirs constantly struggle with their nature. They suffer from a troubled upbringing and intrinsic corruption that gnaws at civilized thoughts and behavior. The truth of their heritage weighs on them. Many experience disturbing urges to consume blood or to control others. They shun the light and find safety and comfort in darkness. Enticed and repulsed by mortals at the same time, this constant struggle is at the core of a dhampir’s existence.
Many dhampirs use this struggle as fuel to action. Good dhampirs are horrified by their own corrupted existence and dedicate themselves to living in opposition to it. They become priests who venerate gods of light, or they vow to destroy all undead who perpetuate their misery. Others are broken by their turmoil. They lash out at the world in a rage of bloodlust and hatred. Many evil dhampirs turn to worship of demons and other gods of darkness and pain, seeking to conquer and subjugate their mortal peers.