Upheaval in Zhaltssom
Vampires in this setting are still considered undead creatures, and can still create their own vampire spawn, but they are otherwise quite different in physiology from the vampires in most other settings. Vampires in Zhaltssom are actually thralls to Rashnu, the god of the dead, and retain some characteristics of the living. For instance, the requirement to feed on blood is not merely a psychological effect, but it is actually required for their continued existence – exact amounts vary depending on the quality of the blood, but a vampire could only go two days without feeding before they suffer weakness. If deprived of blood for a consecutive week, a vampire will perish.
Additionally, vampires in Zhaltssom are incapable of summoning animals, freely draining energy (in the form of negative levels), assuming gaseous form, or spider climbing without the aid of magic. They can dominate humanoids or animals, can change shape into bat or panther (not wolf) form, and do still have the supernatural resistances and healing that vampires are known to have, as well as being able to create spawn (which many of them release shortly thereafter, though some do keep slaves). They also still have keen senses. Unlike most types, Zhaltssom vampires’ special power is that they have a very strong magic affinity and are capable of controlling the elements strongly. (In game terms, rather than the abilities mentioned above, all vampires have a certain set of spell-like abilities they can use.)
It should be noted that vampires in Zhaltssom do cast shadows and their reflections do show in mirrors, but their reflections are blurry and indistinct.
There is a somewhat uncommon (by mortal standards) phenomenon about vampires in Zhaltssom where they will drain other vampires for power. Known as diablerie, this happens once or twice a century and leaves the perpetrator stronger, but with inky black veins in their aura. Also, vampires who commit diablerie run the risk of having their victims’ memories and behavior supersede their own. If this wasn’t bad enough, Rashnu disapproves of the practice as it tends to be servants draining masters, leaving his power base weaker.
Vampires can heal normally if they get a decent supply of blood. However, if they are gravely injured, they can outright immerse in it to recover much more quickly. Such a bloodbath is generally considered taboo among more civilized vampire cultures and is utterly reviled by good-aligned vampires. Neutral vampires will only use it if utterly desperate, and evil vampires will use it if they feel it is best, but even the evil vampires are loath to do it. (After all, that takes the combined blood of multiple creatures to accomplish and can EASILY attract unwanted attention from do-gooders.)
Their connection to a god renders some of the standard weaknesses inert. A Zhaltssom vampire can cross running water just fine, is not repelled by holy symbols inherently, and neutral-aligned vampires aren’t even affected by holy or unholy water. Unusually for vampires, exposure to sunlight is not immediately fatal – it only causes extreme pain and skin blisters at first, and the vampire can force themselves to seek shelter, but prolonged exposure can send them into a fatal state of shock.
That being said, there are still weaknesses that can be exploited. Silver and its alloys (such as electrum) can disrupt their deific connection and deal great harm to them. Any extremely strong odor (typically that of garlic), or sudden intense light or sound, can cause them pain due to their heightened senses, so vampires will tend to stay away from those. Impalement of their heart by wooden or silver stake does not immediately kill, but will send them into a state of paralytic shock. The surefire way to destroy a Zhaltssom vampire is by beheading or by total destruction of the body.
Fresh vampires have been known to exaggerate lawful tendencies. Untying knots and counting spilled grains are two such examples. However, while these are often used by older vampires to keep younger vampires busy, this is not a reliable weakness to exploit, as even a few years of undeath (particularly if those years are spent amongst the living) lets a vampire overcome this compulsion.