*Shelf above Patch’s head collapses, spilling down copies of Paizo’s Classic Horrors Revisited and Rule of Fear and the Carrion Crown Adventure Path and TSR’s Ravenloft box set and WotC’s Libris Mortis and some Sengir Vampire Magic cards and White Wolf’s Vampire: The Masquerade and Vampire: The Requiem and Vampire: The Dark Ages and Clanbook: Ventrue and some Buffy the Vampire Slayer DVDs and Innovation’s Interview with the Vampire comics and a pile of Jim Butcher audiobooks and…*
…Yeeeeahhh, you know what a vampire is, and just how many ways you can spin them. Seriously, even dragons haven’t gotten as much press.
I do like the idea of deciding what your vampires will be like early in the campaign, so you don’t immediately fall into Dracula or Lestat paradigms unless you want to. I really like, for instance, Jim Butcher’s take on them in The Dresden Files novels: four Courts of vampires, one of which has a couple of squabbling but not overly complicated houses. It’s nice and tidy and works well for that world. A similar structure might work in yours, with bloodlines or courts being delineated by species (vampire, nosferatu, vetala, etc.) or special abilities (one family might turn into wolves, another might excel at sorcery). Also, the genesis of vampires might come from one or several sources (a god’s curse, a devil’s blessing, corrupted fey, arcane experimentation, and so on).
And while I haven’t spent enough time with Mythic Adventures yet to say much about mythic monsters in this blog (I didn’t for instance, mention the mythic treant or troll), I probably shouldn’t let this opportunity go by to mention that a mythic vampire of the 10th rank can drain blood…from 30 feet away. Oh, and blot out the sun. For a mile in any direction. You’re welcome.
The Pharaoh of Dusk delights in using the preconceptions of would-be hunters against them. Despite his tightly wrapped form, the undead king is no mummy at all, but a vampire. His “grave wrappings” are actually strips of flesh flayed from the ghouls, ghasts, and ghuls foolish enough to move threaten his feeding grounds.
Quetzatlaka the White Death moves from village to village in the mountain realm of Tutlan, sometimes using his powers to carve himself a place in society, other times existing in the surrounding forest like a fell force of nature. His swarm form is a flock of bone-white albino parrots with scything beaks. He fears couatls and will pay a king’s ransom for evidence of one’s death.
Fey vampires are some of the most terrifying undead, all the more so because their dual natures complement each other so well. Vivyanka is a vampire rusalka who lairs in the Darkgate Grotto. She specializes in turning swan maidens into her spawn and has ties to the svartalfar assassins of Shriek Cavern far below.
—Pathfinder Bestiary 270–271
No, I do not actually have all those books and media. (Though I wish I did.) And those Innovation adaptations of Anne Rice’s landmark novel are gorgeous. (Hand-painted panels!)
Also don’t forget F. Wesley Schneider’s chapter in Classic Horrors Revisited for a thematic look at vampires in Pathfinder, along with variants and even more special abilities (including the swarm form, which you know you totally want to use). After that, hit the used bookstore for the 3.5 tome Libris Mortis. After that, White Wolf’s Vampire: The Masquerade hardbacks. So much deliciousness there. Look for Dark Ages in particular. I know a lot of serious Vampire players love the Requiem reboot, but the sheer sprawling mythologies and monsters of the old World of Darkness seem like they’re right up a Pathfinder fan’s alley.
(I’ve mentioned this before: No matter how much I talk and write about Pathfinder or D&D, I actually have more time behind the table as a Vampire player, courtesy of some neighbors. I was Clan Ventrue, naturally—it’s the only civilized choice. Just make sure you make friends with some sorcerers if you’re going to play Gehenna.)
Finally, I should have linked to the Wikipedia page on valkyries yesterday; jenna-darknight had some great notes on the subject as well.