Monday, October 27, 2014

Dark Shadows: Vampires and Barnabas Collins stats.(OSR)

If you've not seen the original show go check it out on youtube. It's great Gothic RPG fodder!

Based on viewings of the old show and various sites about the series on the web the following should be pretty close to what a classic Dark Shadows TV Vampire would look like. Strong but not overwhelmingly strong, with several classic powers and weaknesses.

To build a Vampire, simply make a character with a character class. Then apply the Abilities and Flaws below.
Viola! Dark Shadows Vampire.


  • Batform: The Vampire can transform into a large bat. The transformation is instantaneous but the creature cannot do any other action that round except move.
  • Bite: The Vampire's razor sharp fangs inflict 1d4 damage.
  • Blood Healing: For every 2 hp damage the Vampire causes with his teeth he can drink and regain 1 hp. He can only do this with living human or animal blood.
  • Curse of the Vampire: Two ways exist to become a Vampire. The first is to be cursed by a poweful Witch or Warlock. The second method involves the bite of the Vampire. If a target is drained to death by a Vampire he or she will rise three nights later as one of the undead. These newly formed vampires are usually subservient to their more powerful master.
  • Darkvision: A Vampire can see in the dark up to 90'.
  • Hypnotism: The gaze of the Vampire can affect his target as if a Charm Person or a Sleep spell  had been cast. The target receives a saving throw to avoid this but it is at a 4 penalty if the Vampire has previously bitten the target.
  • Immune:  Vampires are not affected by Sleep and Charm spells.
  • Strength of the Dead: As undead creatures they have an unnatural strength when compared to mortals. To reflect this the Vampire gains a +2 (in addition to their normal Strength bonus) to all  melee and unarmed damage rolls, as well as to attempts to open doors. The +2 is also used as a bonus to any Strength attribute checks. 
  • Travel: The Vampire can disappear and reappear from sight, teleporting from one location to another. This is limited to 30' per hit dice of the creature and can only be used a limited number of times per day: once per day per every four HD of the Vampire.
  • Undead: Vampires need not eat, drink, sleep, or breathe. They are immune to poison and disease. Their only need is blood. Their nonfunctional organs and dead flesh make them harder to damage. +2 to AC. The Vampire is incapacitated when a stake is driven through his heart (-8 attack.) If the stake is removed the Vampire returns to life. Cutting off the head gives them a final death.


  • Anchoring: A Vampire is compelled to sleep in a coffin to hide from the sun. If a crucifix is placed on the coffin and it is wrapped in chains the Vampire is trapped within, paralyzed and unable even to use itsTravel ability to escape.
  • Curse of Blood: When expcosed to fresh blood the Vampire must make a saving throw or attempt to feed on the source. If the Vampire does not drink at least 4 hp of blood daily he ages 1d4 years and Strength, Dexterity, and Charisma drops by one point. These an never go below one however and can be healed up by one point per day with normal 4hp feeding.
  • Holy Items: Vampires cannot approach within 10' of a holy object, bible, holy water, or sacred ground without making a saving throw. Even then he will take 1d6 damage if he come into physical contact. 
  • Sunlight: Any exposed flesh causes a smoking, withering damage to the Vampire. The damage is variable: 1 point for a finger, 1d2 for a hand, 1d4 for a limb or head, 1d6 for a torso or full exposure.

The Vampire retains all statistics except his Str, which effectively drops to 0.
His movement is now 180 (60),
He has a bite attack of 1d6.

In the show Barnabas Collins and others showed various powers which could be explained by their back-stories of dabbling in black magic. In addition to mundane character classes the Vampire may have studied the Dark Arts and gained levels in magic using classes.

Here is a write-up for Barnabas Collins, central character for most of the original Dark Shadows TV series

Barnabas Collins

Vampire Soldier 5/Witch 3
Str 13
Dex 12
Con 13
Int 14
Wis 15
Chs 13

HP: 45
AC: 14 (+2 Soldier, +2 Vampire)
Save: 10 (Best of both classes)
Attack: +5 melee, +4 ranged (two attacks per round)

Soldier Abilities
Vampire Abilities
Witch Abilities (Folkloric and Infernal Magic options)

Fine clothing, cape, black signet ring, silver wolf-head cane (dmg: 1d3+4 Str/Vamp bonus).


  1. Love it! I seem to recall that when Angelique put the Vampire curse on Barnabas (or later?) A demonic bat appeared (Gated?)from Hell to do the deed... D.S. changed it's mythos all the time. At one point it was mentioned a silver bullet would destroy Barnabas. Big AD&D / D.S. fan. Great site!

    1. Thank you! Yes I recall that they seemed to forget their own playbook a lot. Lol. More fodder for the DM!