The Lords of the Night: Vampires is a ?race? book (if the term can apply to undead creatures) from Bottled Imp Games. The zipped file is just under 9 megabytes, and contains a single PDF file of 9.5 meg. The PDF itself (which lacks the cover displayed here) is 130 pages long, with a page for the credits/legal, a page for the table of contents, and a single page for the index and OGL. The book has a non-hyperlinked table of contents and bookmarks.
There is a fair amount of artwork throughout the book, all of which is in black-and-white. Every page has full borders around it. There are a large number of sidebars in dark grey. Unfortunately, no printer-friendly version is included, which may make printing this book difficult depending on your printer.
The book opens with what are essentially two introductions. The first one is done in-character, setting the mood for the book. This product goes far beyond expanding what?s in the Monster Manual, but rather redefines vampires and weaves a broad mythology around them. The second introduction is by the author, addressing questions of the v.3.5 revision, how to use the book, etc.
The first chapter is an in-character treatise on vampires. It gives the broad history of the ?race? of vampires, as well as overviews (just fluff, no mechanics yet) or their basic powers and limitations.
The second chapter covers the different varieties of vampires. This is where the book truly begins to show the wide diversity it brings to the subject of undead bloodsuckers. Over half-a-dozen templates of different breeds of vampires are given, along with stats for dhampyres (half-vampires), and notations on what happens to mortals suffering from vampire bites. Note that these templates aren?t just quickly given, but also have quite a few paragraphs on what it means to be each kind of vampire, role-playing them, and more.
Chapter three lays out basic mechanics that all vampires are subject to. It deals with age categories, with the Dark Gifts they gain, and with how much blood they can retain (which fuels their powers). If the last chapter showcased the variety of vampires that this book introduces, it is here that it truly begins to distinguish itself from the MM, as it goes into much greater detail about what vampires can do, how they do it, and the consequences of their actions.
Chapter four deals with character classes for vampires. The majority of this chapter covers black classes; variants of the eleven base classes in the PHB deliberately tailored to vampires. Mortals that become vampires can (and usually do) exchange their levels for levels in the equivalent black classes, an inevitable byproduct of sliding into evil. The chapter closes with three prestige classes: the Devoted Incarnate, the Blood Knights, and the Black Cabal. Not just prestige classes, these are the three orders that rule Avystervan, the City of Graves, covered later in the book.
Chapter five is the listing of Dark Gifts; special powers that vampires gain as they age (or in place of feats slots they gain). Many of these require using stored blood that a vampire has taken to activate, and the majority of them have prerequisites that must be met. This is the primary way to customize the vampires in this book, as several dozen Dark Gifts are presented.
New spells are the subject of chapter six. Oddly, the spell list at the beginning of the chapter is a unified spell list, not breaking itself down by class, just level. Virtually all of the spells here are meant to be used by vampires. A few new domains end the chapter.
Chapter seven deals with magic items. While the entire book has some 3.0 throwbacks (mentioning subdual damage or partial actions), this is slightly more visible here, as none of the magic items have the listed magic auras that they should in 3.5. This is a minor complaint though, as a variety of new wondrous items are given, followed up by new magic weapons for vampires.
Chapter eight is much like the first chapter, in that doesn?t concern itself with mechanics, instead giving us flavor text to flesh out Avystervan, the City of Graves. Avystervan is the heart of vampiric power, being the oldest abode of the strongest vampires (though not of their god), and the dwelling place of their temporal rulers, the Black Council. While various portions and services of the city are covered, no map is given.
Chapter nine deals with Vangual, the god of vampires. Ruler of the race, this chapter gives information (though not resembling stats) on Vangual himself, before giving information on his priesthood, both vampiric and mortal.
The non-divine rulers of the vampires are the subject of chapter nine. The majority of this chapter covers the First, the original vampires made by Vangual. The chapter gives a basic overview of their powers, but doesn?t give them stats (though it does have a few broad suggestions). The eight First are then given brief descriptions (though a paragraph for each). Also, several other vampires who, while not First, are movers and shakers, are then given abbreviated coverage (without stats).
Chapter eleven is a brief chapter discussing vampire broods. Broods are groupings of vampires that operate in a city or other location. A quick overview of a brood is given, followed by brief discussion of some sample broods.
Chapter twelve covers new monsters, most (but not all) of which are undead. The majority of these are monsters created by vampires as servitor creatures. Here we see more 3.0 throwbacks, such as ?Face/Reach? entries, and some (but not all) of the monsters having damage reduction that calls out specific plusses of magic weapons needed to overcome it. The chapter ends with discussion of vampires among monstrous races, such as drow and mind flayers.
Chapter thirteen covers The Void. The Void is the source of the energy of vampires; said to be beyond even the Negative Energy Plane, The Void is the chaotic evil essence that makes vampires possible. A set of mechanics here measures how much of The Void a new vampire draws on; the more of The Void they use, the closer to being Chaotic Evil they become. It is difficult, though not impossible, to resist The Void.
Chapter fourteen deals with the Katharein. A Katharein is a sort of spiritual journey that vampires go through every so often. The first time is always when they become vampires; their soul flows to Vangual, who puts it through a test of some sort; the character has a chance to fight off the corruption of their essence and retain their mentality and sense of self, even though they do become vampires. At various points in the future, they?ll undergo this again, and it is always a chance to either stave off the darkness growing within them, or embrace it fully.
Chapter fifteen is notes for the DM. It has suggestions on what sort of campaign to run using the vampires here, what sort of characters you can have the players be for various campaign models, role-playing vampires, etc.
Chapter sixteen presents a few adventure hooks and campaign ideas. After it ends, there?s an in-character epilogue to round out the introduction (and other in-character materials throughout the book), and then a lexicon of terms. Finally, there?s a master index of age categories, and they bonuses they give, for vampire of different types.
Altogether, Lords of the Night: Vampires is an imperfect product, but comes so close and works so hard at it, that it deserves a 5 out of 5 star rating. The plethora of options for vampires is not only broad, but innovative. Add in to that the heavy use of fluff materials for campaign backdrops, and this book can easily be the foundation for a campaign setting. This is easily the largest and most extravagant work on vampires for the whole of d20, and anyone using these creatures in their game will be well-served by it. Give your game?s bloodsuckers some backing for their bite with Lords of the Night: Vampires.
<b>LIKED</b>: This product presented a huge variety of options for new vampires, as well as for customizing them. It also had a large amount of flavor text that was very evocative, setting a gothic campaign background.<br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>: There were several places where this product had throwbacks to 3.0, despite it being a 3.5 product. Also, a printer-friendly version should have been included.<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Very Good<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Very Satisfied<br>