The Vorlog is a dhampir-like creature native to the Dungeons & Dragons setting of Ravenloft. Introduced in the 3rd Monstrous Compendium Appendix for Ravenloft in Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd edition, vorlogs are what happens to the individuals chosen to be Vampire Companions if their vampiric "spouse" is slain during the transformation process.
Birth of the Damned
When Van Richten wrote his Guide to the Vampire in AD&D, he introduced a new element to the vampiric creation process; the Bride/Groom, which 3e renamed the "Companion" (though "Spouse" is more accurate). In a nutshell, this is what happens when a smitten vampire attempts to create a special kind of spawn; one of theoretically equal standing with its progenitor, and bound to them through a powerful spiritual-mental link. This requires an elaborate ritual called the Dark Kiss, where the progenitor vampire slowly drains the spouse over a prolonged period of time and feeds them some of the progenitor's own necrotic blood as the victim lies dying - the precise mechanics differ between 2nd and 3rd edition. But the end result, if performed successfully, is the progenitor vampire lying convalescent and helpless beside its transforming spouse-to-be for some time, typically around an hour.
More than one vampire hunter has found the two comatose together and seized on this chance to destroy the progenitor vampire, assured that they are saving the vampire's victim. And, at a glance, it seems to work; the vampire's intended victim awakes seemingly unchanged. In truth, the hunter has failed; by this point, the spouse-to-be's soul is already irrevocably tainted with necrotic energies, and a psychic link is already forming with its progenitor-spouse. Destroying the vampire only damns the once-mortal, leaving them trapped forever between life and unlife, and haunted by the need to fill a void that can no longer be filled.
They have created a Vorlog. And by doing so, they have damned the poor, pitiful creature to an existence of torment.
The vorlog is a creature that was never meant to be. Caught on the razor’s edge between life and undeath, the vorlog is trapped in a world of horror which no other being can truly understand. There is no known way to cure a vorlog; only death grants this monster any the measure of release. It is a creature to be both pitied and feared.
A vorlog is neither alive, nor undead, but somewhere between the two. They resemble their former mortal selves, but pale-skinned and with slightly elongated canine teeth - budding fangs. Stricken by an insatiable feeling of grief and loss, the typical vorlog expression is doleful at best, and they are prone to emotional outbursts - predominantly fits of weeping or insane fury. Whilst they still cast shadows, and are unaffected by holy water or holy symbols, their reflections are strangely translucent, they move with eerie quietness, and sunlight burns them as badly as it does any true vampire. Though they can't actually be turned like undead, a lingering vampiric taint in their mind means they panic at the sight of holy symbols devoted to goodly gods. Their strength, dexterity and charisma are all increased, albeit to a level that is a pale reflection of the potency that a true vampire would have.
In 2nd edition, vorlogs cannot be detected by spells or abilities that specifically focus by sensing the living or the undead. This ability does not seem to pass over into 3rd edition. The rest of their abilities are more consistent.
Many of a vorlog's powers mimic those of a vampire. They are unaffected by powers that prey upon the mind, and likewise effortlessly shake off paralysis, poison or slumber-inducing attacks. They are supernaturally resistant to physical attacks (+1 or better weapons to hit in AD&D, Damage Reduction in 3e), can physically regenerate from damage, and when injured too badly by attacks or sunlight to sustain themselves any further, they dissolve into magically animate puddles of tears, which flow about under their own power and seek a dark place to shelter; a tear-form vorlog can only survive exposure to the light for 1d4 hours before it evaporates and is destroyed. Unlike a vampire, vorlogs cannot assume this puddle-form of their own power; it is activated by pure reflex, enabling them to escape.
Another "warped" vampire power present in vorlogs is the ability to touch the minds of animals. But whilst a true vampire can use this to command the loyalty of the creatures of the wild, a vorlog's version merely floods the animals' minds with grief and hate, inducing a berserk rage that can be as dangerous to the vorlog as to anyone else.
Like a true vampire, a vorlog can hypnotize others, although their version of the Charm Person power invokes deep sympathy and pity.
Whilst they do not feed on blood, and in fact require human food to survive, their broken psychic link and vampiric taint has turned them into predators of the mind. Vorlogs feed on psychic energy, allowing them to drain Wisdom with their touch, and must regularly feed on Wisdom to sustain their own existences.
A vorlog's psyche ultimately revolves around grief, loss, and hunger. The vorlog is a broken, almost pitiful thing; the jagged fragments of its nascent psychic link rip and tear in its mind like a dagger being twisted in a wound, creating a yawning hollow that the vorlog needs to fill, but which it simply can't.
Lone vorlogs, then, alternate their time between pining for their dead vampiric spouse and trying to fill this void by forcibly bonding to another unfortunate - creating what is called a "surrogate". These poor souls have the bad fortune to catch the vorlog's attention by resembling the vorlog's spouse, however vaguely; just enough that the vorlog becomes obsessed with them, fixated upon the idea that the surrogate is their former spouse reborn in some manner. This leads to the vorlog stalking the surrogate, using its charm to lure the surrogate into their grasp so it can sap away its mental energies, with the ultimate goal of draining the victim's sense of self entirely and permanently addling them into reciprocating the vorlog's twisted love, a process that involves leeching away almost all of the surrogate's mental energy before feeding them the vorlog's blood over three consecutive nights, fixing the surrogate's mind into the form the vorlog desires. The new surrogate truly believes itself to be the vorlog's love, and has no greater desire or ambition but satisfying the vorlog and easing its loneliness.
Indeed, finding a surrogate brings a vorlog a sense of peace, for a time. Being near a surrogate augments a vorlog's healing powers, and the constant sapping of the surrogate's Wisdom to keep its mind from recovering enough to challenge this belief ensures the vorlog is fed. In fact, the sense of peace a surrogate provides is so essential that a vorlog cannot survive without one; a vorlog that goes more than three months without one is overwhelmed by its grief and crumbles into nothing, consumed by the hole in its own soul.
But no surrogate can ever measure up to the idealized vision of the original, burned into the vorlog's brain. Invariably, the vorlog becomes more and more disappointed with the surrogate's "failures", turning increasingly abusive. Ultimately, it destroys its present surrogate, and then goes looking for a new one.
A vorlog's surrogate can be saved, however, by killing the vorlog before it kills its surrogate. In AD&D, the victim is then left confused for 1d4 weeks (or until subjected to a Bless spell) before snapping back to normal, or they can be cured outright at any point by bathing them in holy water. In 3e, they are simply restored when the vorlog is killed.
As vorlogs are rare by nature, it is unusual for two vorlogs to ever encounter each other. One might assume that a vorlog might find some comfort in learning its plight is not unique, but this is not the case- a vorlog's mind is too wrapped up in its own misery to have empathy for another of its kind. Should two vorlogs meet, they will quickly start bickering over which of their late vampiric spouses was superior, which frequently devolves into the vorlogs attacking one another; the surrogates of the vorlogs involved in such a fight frequently end up being targeted as well.
The vorlog appears as a template in two seperate sourcebooks for Ravenloft D20; Denizens of Darkness (3.0), and Denizens of Dread (3.5). The stats below are repeated from Denizens of Dread, with notes on how the DoDarkness version differed.
- Base Creature: Humanoid or Monstrous Humanoid
- Size & Type: Unchanged
- Hit Dice: Increase by one die type, to a maximum of D12.
- Speed: Unchanged
- Armor Class: +3 natural armor
- Attack: Unchanged
- Full Attack: Unchanged
- Damage: Unchanged
- Special Attacks: Gain the following additional special attacks.
- Animal Rage (Su): At-will, a vorlog can send all animals within a 50ft radius into a mad rage, as per the Rage spell cast by a 12th level caster. Affected animals must succeed on a Will save (DC 10 + 1/2 vorlog's HD + vorlog's Charisma modifier) or start attacking the nearest creature, including other enraged animals or the vorlog itself.
- Charm Person (Sp): At-will. A vorlog's charm invokes pity and sympathy, but otherwise functions as a Charm Person spell cast by a 6th level Sorcerer and a Will save DC of 11 + vorlog's Cha modifier.
- Wisdom Drain (Su): A vorlog's unarmed attack inflicts 1d3 Wisdom damage. (Darkness specifies this as Temporary Wisdom Damage)
- Create Surrogate (Su): A creature whose Wisdom is reduced to 3 or less becomes a Lost One under the vorlog's control. A vorlog can turn such an unfortunate into a Surrogate by feeding them its blood over 3 consecutive nights. A vorlog can only have 1 Surrogate at a time. Once a being becomes a Surrogate, the vorlog allows its Wisdom to recover, restoring functionality, but never higher than half of its maximum value; the vorlog uses its Wisdom Drain to keep the surrogate's wits impaired.
- Special Qualities: Gain the following additional special qualities.
- Damage Reduction: 5/Silver and Magic. Darkness grants them DR 10/+1)
- Fast Healing (Ex): A vorlog with at least 1 hit point left recovers 1 hit point of damage each hour.
- Surrogate's Strength (Ex): If a vorlog's Surrogate is physically present, a vorlog's Fast Healing is 1 hit point of damage each round.
- Puddle Form (Ex): A vorlog reduced to 0 hit points or lower dissolves into a puddle of tears with a mournful wail. This puddle then attempts to escape; it has both a land speed and a climb speed of 20 feet, and can flow through the smallest cracks. A vorlog in puddle form that fails to reach a dark haven within 1d4 hours is destroyed. It takes 8 hours of resting in a dark haven before a vorlog in puddle form can regain its humanoid form.
- Immunities (Su): Mind-affecting effects, poison, sleep, and paralysis.
- Saves: Unchanged
- Abilities: +4 Strength, +2 Dexterity, +2 Charisma
- Skills: +8 racial bonus to Move Silently checks.
- Feats: A vorlog gains Alertness and Improved Unarmed Strike as bonus feats.
- Environment: Any land and underground.
- Organization: Solitary
- Challenge Rating: Same as base creature +1
- Treasure: Standard
- Alignment: Usually Chaotic, Always Evil
- Advancement: By character class
- Level Adjustment: Base Creature's +8
- Weaknesses: A vorlog takes 1d6 hit points of damage each round it is exposed to sunlght, and will not approach anyone who presents the holy symbol of a good aligned deity with both courage and conviction. A vorlog will starve to death if it fails to feed on both food and spiritual energy (Wisdom), and will die if denied a Surrogate's presence for 3 months.