-- by Eru
Getting vamp tokens is probably the hardest out of the four, so I'll mention a little bit about it first... Bloodguards have a lot of armour, regenerate, and also cut your hands off. Your best bet is to kill them as fast as you can, by getting the bypass talents (Great Cleave/Pierce/Smash, depending on your weapon), and have a good amount of brawn. Grace or tenacity are good too, for attack.
There's two main routes for human form, caster and melee. Caster mostly focuses on the stats that give +power and +ascendancy, wits and tenacity. There are numerous melee builds, but most should at least have a good amount of brawn.
You could also do a beastmaster build, but I think that would probably work best out of bat form.
- Shadow Crafting is probably our best power, and you'll want it as a primary power if you use human form. At just the first rank, it lets you turn most of your armour into shadowcloth/shadowsteel, which is very strong and has 0 encumbrance. This can also turn weapons into shadowsteel, such as nets and lances, and shields as well. This only works for organic materials, so it won't work for metal things (demonsteel, skysteel, iron, et cetera), so it doesn't work for most weapons. With wooden rings (can be gotten from treants, the youngest of which are young treants, age 150), you can put any stat you want on them, very nice for getting pure +damage or +power. A 0 encumbrance tower shield is also quite nice.
- Rage of the Beast is a rage power, and is definitely worth having for any melee build. Extended rage for just enough to last a fight is, as always, good to have.
- Regeneration is regeneration, as useful as always. You may not want it higher than 10 or 15 (so you can regrow your hands) if you don't have a health regen collar.
- Blade of Darkness has two forms, the shimmering solid form, and the writhing ethereal form. For a caster, the ethereal form has a 'b'last tech which is similar to a shadowbolt (the 'sp' tech from magic), slightly weaker but faster (less techs). For a melee, the solid form works just like most other straight swords, and can be used for backstabs with Assassin Training and House DarkBlade. The bypass it gets from having more ranks only applies in solid form, not ethereal form, but the attack/damage bonuses apply just as much in ethereal.
- Path of Shadows gives cold bypass, and provides access to spells if you have magic. With a melee darkblade build it can be helpful to have cold bypass, but other powers probably take precedence. With a magic build (Magically Gifted or House ShadowSworn), Path of Shadows affects the strength of your hand spells, so should probably be maxed.
- Mind Magic gives invisibility, detect invisibility, forcefield, mind blast, regenerate, regrowth, and mindshield. The fact that it gives both invis and detect invis alone makes it somewhat worth getting for any vampire build, but one with House DarkBlade wouldn't be able to take advantage of the invis if they were using Cloak of Shadows. If you have Mind Magic high enough for regrowth, you can drop Regeneration if you really need the points for something else, though regenerate is still useful. Of course for a caster vampire, this is your only other magic power, so you should be maxing this (and taking Psionics/Psychic Mastery). This also affects the dishearten hand spell.
- Cloak of Shadows is really only useful for House DarkBlade vampires, who get a +5 effective bonus to their cloaks.
- Ears of the Bat gives extra detect invis, which does stack with that from Mind Magic, so you can see people higher level than yourself. Detecting deaths/shifts is useful too.
- Shadow Infusion is ridiculously good in pvp situations, but doesn't help in primaling. Invulnerability speaks for itself.
- Mist Form is good in all situations, but disallows Shadow Infusion. Its main merits are that it provides the ability to float over water, so you don't lose your foot defence on water, and that it moves very very fast, so it can keep up with air form mages, and run away from others. The physical immunity helps too, but maybe not as much as the poison immunity does in pvp situations, because poison is likely a human form vamp's biggest weak point.
- Summon Vermin/Summon Wolf are great for primaling for an assassin vampire. Just have your pet attack the enemy from one side, sneak around to the other side, and whenever the enemy turns to fight your pet, stab them in the back. The vermin are naturally tough, the wolf can be trained up and given a strong collar, neither do much damage later on, so it's a choice of taste which to use.
First the three implemented vampire houses:
- House DarkBlade is the weapon mastery for darkblades, so if you use one you might want it. However, it is a lesser calling, and others (such as White Dragon Descendant, which gives cold bypass) might be more useful.
- House ShadowSworn provides the vampire's spells with Path of Shadows, so isn't a poor choice for any caster vampire.
- House NightWing gives much-needed poison armour for your human form if you invest in the bat form power, and gives the travel command.
Other heritages/lesser callings:
- Feral Spirit with Desert/Swamp Wolfkin give heat/poison absorb respectively, both of which human vampires tend to lack. A bite attack from head is nice, too.
- Dragon Blooded with White Dragon Descendant is one of the few ways to get more cold bypass, for ethereal darkblade users and caster vampires alike. This also provides an ice breath attack for your head, which can be quite powerful for a caster vampire.
- Magically Gifted with Windborn Adept provides the armour spell, which is really nice. It also provides lightning offensive spells and shockblade, for lightning damage. Flameborn Adept likewise provides fire spells and fireblade for fire damage. Earthborn Adept gives some physical soak if you have high aura.
The other talents:
- Evasion and Sure Footed are good, because a vampire should be unencumbered with shadowsteel/cloth equipment. The immunity isn't added with anything (other than Lupine Fortitude), so it's not as useful as in bat form or wolf form, but it helps nonetheless.
- Psionics is essential to anyone using Mind Magic, but also provides mental immunity/armour for someone who has Mind Magic just for the sake of invis and detect invis.
- Psychic Mastery is essential for someone using Mind Magic offensively, turning mind blast into a powerful 3 second attack.
- Psychic Wall provides even more mental protection if it's needed, and also fulfills the prerequisite for Enhanced Deflection, for a high defence build.
- Assassin Training is mostly used by vampires. With House DarkBlade, it can be used with the darkblade. With Cloak of Shadows, you can get the jump on most enemies.
- Cleave/Great Cleave is good with a typical slashing darkblade build, and works for throat slit with Assassin Training.
- Pierce/Great Pierce is also good with a thrusting darkblade, and works for backstab with Assassin Training.
- Dragon Rider's drake allows you to travel far easily, and has a claw attack, which is good if you have Great Cleave, and a physical stat-based breath attack. Vampires can probably get the most out of this, since formed mages and wolves can't mount, and demons already get warbeast.
- Instinctive Dodge is good if you can't get Enhanced Deflection, as being caught with all your locations in cooldown is just asking to die, especially since vampires don't get the auto-absorb from heavy armour.
These are my general thoughts on human form vampires, but feel free to experiment with other tactics and builds. This is all based on my own experimenting, and just covers the obvious builds and what I'm using currently. There are plenty of other effective builds out there (shadow crafting a really big lance and taking Chivalry for a warhorse, shadow crafting a stronger bow, using heavy armour and mist form, and more), and of course other talents and powers that could be useful.