Nosferatu (3.5E & 4th Edition)

Posted on October 31, 2012


I know, I’ve disappeared again for a month or so. Sometimes these things happen. Anyway Happy Hallowe’en everyone. Of course it would be nice to have a new Vampire Bestiary pdf ready for Hallowe’en – but we all know I’m currently about as organised as a tramp’s closet so that hasn’t happened.

Brief Updates: The perennial problem with the maps will be sorted within about a week or two. I’m getting this really simple program that can create maps (and more besides). So with that I can create (colour and 2.5D) maps within about 30 minutes (once I familiarise myself with the program which shouldn’t take more than a day). Basically I should be able to do all the maps for Mountain of the Cannibal God, Temple of Death and Castle Dracula within a week. Once I get some working maps ready I’ll post them here so you can see.

TEMPLE OF DEATH is about 10 pages from completion…although at my current rate that may still take a while. The artist Peter Szmer has just turned in the cover for Vampire Bestiary Part Three CASTLE DRACULA. Unfortunately I’m still waiting for money to clear (as with the above map program) so I can’t show it to you yet (for a day or two). But its pretty tasty.

Okay so what do I want to talk about today. Well, as the title suggested the Nosferatu.


What are the Nosferatu you might ask. Well the term Nosferatu probably stems from the Romanian word “Necuratu” (‘Unclean Spirit’) or the Greek word “Nosophorus” (‘Disease Bearing’) but was popularized in 1922 with the release of the film Nosferatu (aka Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror) which was an (illegal due to copyright infringement) retelling of the Dracula story by Bram Stoker. In this film the character of Count Dracula was replaced by that of Count Orlok and the term vampire is replaced by nosferatu. Over the years the term has become synonymous with vampires, but there is usually no distinction between vampire and nosferatu…until now.

While my initial thoughts were of a simply more powerful vampire (which doesn’t really work taking into account vampire hieararchy/longevity) I tried to re-envision the nosferatu as, not so much a type of progenitor vampire, but more in terms of a far more ancient and powerful PLANAR race. They look older (compare Orlok to Twilight vampires for instance).

List of Onscreen Nosferatu

  • Count Orlok: From the original Nosferatu film (and remake)
  • Mr. Barlowe: From Salem’s Lot
  • Incognito: From Hellsing
  • Jared Nomak: From Blade II…it is my contention that the Reapers are/were Damaskinos’ attempt to genetically mutate vampires into nosferatu. Its also notable that Damaskinos’ own appearance seems to be withering into a form similar to that of the classic nosferatu. I’ve been thinking that at some point a vampire might ‘die’ from old age only to awaken on the Shadowfell as one of the nosferatu.
  • Santaniko Pandemonium: From the Rodriguez/Tarantino movie From Dusk Til Dawn.

If you can think of any others let me know.

So Nosferatu are, in a sense, dead vampires from the Shadowfell. This also ties in with the idea that they prey on other vampires (Blade II Reapers). In addition it ties with my own idea of having the Daemons as spirits from the Shadowfell (and led by the Four Horsemen) because the Shadowfell would be a place of disease (tying into the Diseased Eight and Oinodaemons). So the Daemons would be the spirits while the Nosferatu would in a sense be the corpses.

The appearance of the nosferatu ties in with bats and made me think that they would, to a degree venerate the Aztec Bat God Camazotz. This ties us in nicely with the Salma Hayek character Santanico Pandemonium in From Dusk Til Dawn, which has the bar set atop a buried Aztec Ziggurat.

Putting all this together we see some recurring traits:

  • Appearance: Hairless
  • Bite: Can change both mortals and vampires into basic (near mindless) nosferatu
  • Change Self/Shapechange: Could Cast ‘Mass Glamour’ over others or even shapechange (Incognito even shapechanges into a giant serpent)
  • Disease: Disease Bearing and Unclean.
  • Strength: Notably stronger than vampires
  • Vulnerability: Sunlight

Nosferatu Hierarchy

For 3rd Edition, my plan for the Nosferatu was to make them the Vampire equivalent of the Demilich. So as lich is to demilich so vampire is to nosferatu.

For 4th Edition I planned to have the Nosferatu show up in Vampire Bestiary 5 (if I ever got around to it) or some sort of Epic Shadowfell based Bestiary.

For that I created a vague hierarchy which sort of parallels that of Vampires but is a full tier higher (high Paragon Tier – mid-Epic Tier). This drew upon a handful of different vampire monsters and nomenclature to create the following.

  • Count Orlok
  • Nosophorus (Blood Baron)
  • Necuratu (Shrouded Nosferatu)
  • Nechzerer (Shadow Knight)
  • Sigbin (Goat of Travail)
  • Nosferatu (Shadow Vampire)
  • Pichal Peri (Back Footed)

Nosferatu Template (3.5E)

  • Size and Type: Type changes to undead (if not already). Size is unchanged.
  • Hit Dice: Increase all Hit Dice to d20’s.
  • Speed: Same as the base creature x3
  • Armour Class: Natural Armour Bonus +30 (Ex), Deflection Bonus = Charisma Modifier (Su).
  • Attack: Retains all the attacks of the base creature but gains a Claw attack.
  • Full Attack: Claw/Claw
  • Damage: Claw base damage 6d10 (Medium). ..N.B. This includes Virtual Size Category damage (x2 for +30 strength)
  • – Fine =1d10
  • – Diminutive = 2d10
  • – Tiny = 3d10
  • – Small = 4d10
  • – Medium = 6d10
  • – Large = 8d10
  • – Huge = 12d10
  • – Gargantuan = 16d10
  • – Colossal = 24d10
  • – Titanic = 32d10
  • – Mega-Fine = 48d10
  • Create Spawn (Su): Those killed by the diseased bite of a Nosferatu return as half-strength Nosferatu (known as Pichal-Peri) under the command of their killer.
  • Diseased Bite (Ex):ย If both claw attacks hit the same target the nosferatu gets to make a Bite attack as a swift action. Bite base damage 8d10 (Medium) + the nosferatu heals 25 hit points + Necrosis (Target loses 1 level per round until it makes a successful saving throw). The DC for this saving throw is 10 + 1/2 nosferatu’s Hit Dice + nosferatu’s Cha modifier. The nosferatu can also employ this attack against any target that is incapacitated in any way (dazed, stunned, sleeping etc.)
  • Dominate Aura (Su): ?
  • Damage Reduction (Su): 50 epic and silver
  • Fast Healing (Ex): The nosferatu heals 25 points of damage per round.
  • Immunity: The nosferatu is immune to cold and electricity.
  • Shadow Form: The nosferatu can choose to exist as a shadow.
  • Shapechange (Su): As per the spell.
  • Turn Resistance: The nosferatu has turn resistance +20
  • Abilities: Increase from the base creature as follows: Str +30 (note this includes two virtual size categories), Dex +20, Int +10, Wis +10, Cha +20.
  • Skills:ย Nosferatu gain a +40 racial bonus to Bluff, Hide, Listen, Move Silently, Search, Sense Motive and Spot checks. Otherwise the same as the base creature.
  • Feats:ย …still working on these (thinking the Nosferatu would have the equivalent of 5 Divine Abilities)
  • Environment: Gray Waste, Lower Planes
  • Organization: Solitary
  • Challenge Rating: Same as base creature +26 (or +40 with equal level equipment)
  • Treasure: Triple Standard
  • Alignment: Any Evil
  • Level Adjustment: ECL +40 (or +60 with equal level equipment)

Okay, still a few kinks to be ironed out in the above template…any suggestions for feats/divine abilites would be helpful.

Nosferatu (4th Edition)

The following is the current (early) build of the 4th Edition Nosferatu. Its still not exactly what I am aiming for, but its sort of the mid-point Nosferatu between the Feral (weak) – ‘basic’ (ie. this one) and the Shrouded (magic)/Shadow Knight (martial) split. The latter being those with their memories returned/intact.

The art used was by artist-photographer-model Geneva Rosett-Hafter whom I hired to do the Chapter Title illustrations based on various vampires (this was back in the VERY early days when the book contained Vampires, Nosferatu, Varcolac’s and Disir among other chapters). The above was Count Orlok. At some point I’ll probably show her other stuff like Garm and Alabaster. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Its all very cool, although it didn’t really fit in when I hired Peter Szmer to do the art and the multi-chapter idea got messed up and abandoned in favour of the multi-pdf approach.