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SLASH'EM offers a new playable race, Vampire. Vampires are always chaotic and can play as a barbarian, ice mage, necromancer, rogue, or wizard. Vampires offer a very different play experience from the other races.
Vampires start with the following attributes:
- Unbreathing (immunity to gas, spore, choking, and drowning (?) attacks)
- Flying (not to be confused with levitation)
- Level-drain resistance
Vampires generally have superb stats, particularly their physical stats. The following table outlines their maximum (unaided) attribute levels.
For all of these advantages, vampires are set back by their rapid rate of hunger. Not only do vampires get hungry faster, but they cannot eat food in the way that non-vampire adventurers can: the vampire's only source of sustenance is blood from fresh corpses, potions of blood, and of vampire blood. On the upside, they can eat a corpse and still sacrifice it (e. g. for altar farming). Also, like Doppelgangers, vampires are restricted in the two-weapon skill.
The early game as a vampire is primarily about nutrition management. The vampire can only drink fresh blood for nourishment. This means that you will have less than 3 turns to drain the blood of a corpse after you have made a kill. It also means that the comestibles you find in the dungeon (food rations, tins, etc.) will be useless to you. Finally, nutrition drawn from sucking blood is much, much less than that gained by eating a corpse. It also seems that intrinsics are less likely to be granted by draining blood than by eating corpses, though adult dragon blood always seems to grant intrinsics for vampires. There does not seem to be a way to gain strength by eating giant corpses. Combined with the vampire's inability to eat tins, the vampire's maximum strength of 19 will prove difficult to achieve without enhancement.
On the upside, you will face no penalties for eating cats and dogs (vampires are way beyond that level of evil). Vampires also seem to gain an alignment bonus when they drain vampire bat corpses. ("You feel evil and fiendish!")
If your character would start with food rations, you will start with potions of vampire blood instead. These are obviously much more difficult to replenish and also have the disadvantages of being heavy and susceptible to boiling. Later in the game, you will find these potions as well as potions of blood on enemy vampires.
If you choose to play as a vampire, you will want to pray to alleviate hunger often. This means waiting until you are weak before calling on your god. You will find yourself doing this often. (An atheist vampire would be an extremely challenging conduct.) A ring of slow digestion will help you out enormously, eliminating the need for regular prayer altogether. In fact, using the combination of one of these rings with the "life blood' draining passive attack (to gain nutrition), one could go the entire game without eating, and thus fill the requirements for Foodless, Vegetarian, and Vegan conducts.
Vampires can draw sustenance from their bite attack against certain monsters. Note that since your to-hit ratios will improve as your level increases, and since you will be fighting monsters that take longer to kill, you will find yourself adding nutrition the more you fight. Projects like retrieving stashes, farming, and returning to the minetown temple are all much more risky when you need to be constantly fighting to survive. Take advantage of the vampire's intrinsic regeneration to drain corpses before you finish a battle. Sleep magic is also extremely useful. Carnivore pets will be useful only for a very brief segment of the early game--they will eat corpses that you need to drain.
Once you acquire a medical kit, you can perform the draw blood technique. This allows you to create a potion of vampire blood at the cost of an experience level and one phial from the kit. (Put the kit down and loot it to count your phials.) The level that is drained is not taken off in the same way that a monster's drain attack is: if the kit is uncursed, you will be set to the beginning of the counter of the previous level's experience points; if it is blessed, then your counter will be set to the midpoint of the two levels.This means you will need to regain the lost level by fighting or with a potion of full healing. Keep in mind two things with this technique: first, in the early game, levels generally come more quickly and are thus easier to replenish. Second, in the SLASH'EM late game, the difference between levels is always the same (50,000 XP). This technique can be a lifesaver if you are about to die and happen to have a medical kit (don't use it till you are in danger, as potions are heavy).
If you receive an early wish, a medical kit is a popular choice for a vampire. Not only does it typically solve the nutrition problem, it also allows for the player to intentionally lower his level to easily run the protection racket without having to accumulate wealth and travel to mine town while level 1. It also is useful for generating said wealth as it is typically very expensive, depending on its contents.
Blood vs. LifebloodEdit
There seems to be a difference in the game between "blood" and "lifeblood." "Blood" is what certain monsters have in their corpses, available for draining after they are killed. It can be poisonous, acidic, or hallucinogenic as the corpse would be. "Lifeblood," on the other hand, is the nutrition that is drained through the bite attack during combat. It is always safe to eat (never poisonous or acidic) and seems to be extractable even from monsters that don't leave corpses or one would not think of as having blood (such as flaming spheres and grid bugs). Vampires will NOT disable their bite attack when fighting petrifying monsters, so melee attacking any of these will result in a YASD.
By the late game the nutrition problem will mostly have resolved itself as you fight larger monsters with greater frequency. Hopefully you will also have access to a ring of slow digestion which you can equip permanently or intermittently to keep your hunger under control.
Since vampires do not breathe, they cannot choke. As with the amulet of magical breathing, overeating may cause you to vomit and lose nutrition. It is always safe to choose "Yes" when asked if you want to continue eating when already overstuffed. This is important because you will almost always be eating lifeblood when you are fighting as a vampire. If you are overstuffed you will not die, but are at risk of occasionally losing a few turns in the midst of battle to alarm when you "choke." ("You regain your composure.")
Since you will have a difficult time accumulating intrinsics as a vampire, getting oneself crowned is very useful. On the other hand, crowning will also increase prayer recovery time, which will put you at greater risk of starvation in the early and middle game. To accommodate the lack of intrinsics, magic-users may also want to make use of the new set of protection spells in SLASH'EM (endure heat, resist poison, etc.). These will be especially prized to the vampiric wizard, who can cast spells without hunger. Note that vampires are immune to magical instadeath attacks like the touch of death.
Flying is fun. Whereas levitation allows you to avoid traps, water, and lava, but keeps you too high up to pick things up or otherwise interact with objects on the ground, flying gives you the best of both worlds. You will sail over traps and water and across the Plane of Air without having to mess around with boots, spells, or rings (or the SLASH'EM item, Amulet of Flying). This is particularly convenient in the endgame as you race for the starting staircase.
However, this also means you will need to avoid losing anything important in a pit. Since the vampire's flying ability is intrinsic, there is no way to turn it off and descend. The only ways to retrieve an item trapped in a pit are to teleport it out with a wand, snag it with a bullwhip while levitating(!), or use the new fishing pole tool. Additionally, it is possible to dig downwards with a pick-axe and then descend with > and either hope the object falls or use autopickup to grab the item. You also may have a hard time getting things up out of water.