Saturday, May 23, 2015

A Change to the Ultimate Sandbox

It's taking me longer than I anticipated to read back over my Monster Manual posts, so I thought I'd write about something else instead.  You might have noticed that, as that series progressed, I was spending less and less time coming up with rationalisations for the changes being made to monsters from book to book.  You could chalk that up to laziness (you wouldn't be far wrong), or perhaps to a desire to get through the Monster Manual as quickly as possible (you would also be not far wrong), but the real reason is this: when and if I ever get around to running the Ultimate Sandbox, I no longer want to alter the rules as I go.

When I started, what I really wanted was to begin with pure OD&D, and gradually change the rules in a fashion that emulated the changes D&D made from edition to edition.  I'm not quite so keen on that anymore.  Not only is it far more trouble than it's worth, but finding players willing to go through the whole process would be difficult.  The guys I play with are pretty happy to find a system that works and stick with it, and I doubt they'd be too keen on having to change things up every year or so.

So that plan is out the window.  The Ultimate Sandbox will be not so much focused on the progression of rules, but on the integration of every nook and cranny of the D&D books in terms of setting, the creation of one enormous sandbox setting that includes all of the D&D worlds with guidance and reference for what can be found wherever the PCs decide to go.  It's still an enormous, Sisyphean labour, but now a slightly more manageable one.

So what am I doing with the rules?  That's another Sisyphean labour to add to the list.  I've been dissatisfied with 3rd edition for a while, and 4th edition was far from the solution that I was looking for.  I waited for 5th edition, hoping that might be what I wanted.  It was a step in the right direction, but again, it wasn't what I wanted.  The only thing left to do, and a conclusion that I should have come to at least a decade ago, is to house-rule my own version of D&D.  I started this at one point, in the early days of the blog, but never followed through.  Whatever I come up with will probably be a cross between the uniformity and comprehensiveness of 3e with the power-scale of 1e, all stripped back so that it's easier to run at the table.

I don't intend to drop "rules progression" aspect entirely, though.  While I don't want to change the rules as I go, I have no problems with starting small and adding to them.  So, for example, I'll begin by simulating OD&D, using only the elements present in those rules.  So the only classes will be Fighter, Cleric and Magic-User, and the only races Men, Elves, Dwarves and Hobbits.  Gradually the rest will be introduced, in the order they first appeared in the books, but without being altered mechanically.

Some of the rules I'll be tinkering with have been outlined in the blog before.  I wrote about Skills here, about starting level for new characters here, and a method for mitigating save or die effects here.  (I probably won't use that last one.)  I may post some of my house rules from time to time as I develop them, but for the moment my focus is on the Ultimate Sandbox.  I may even start introducing those house rules in my current, sporadic 3rd edition campaign.  I have some thoughts about spicing up combat that could prove to be fun, but those are for another post.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

AD&D Monster Manual: The Final Part

WOLF: There are four types of wolves presented here in the Monster Manual: regular wolves, dire wolves, worgs and winter wolves.  Regular wolves and dire wolves have been mentioned throughout the earlier D&D books, but this is the first time they get full stats.  Worgs (totally not taken from Tolkien, there's a whole different vowel) and Winter Wolves are appearing here for the first time.

Regular wolves conform to their behaviour in the real world (or at least the popular perception of that behaviour).  They live in forests, hunt in packs, and will attack if hungry. Their howling can spook herbivores (such as horses, whose meat they are said to love).  Their cubs can also be taken and trained as war dogs or hunting beasts. It's basic stuff, but no D&D game would be complete without them.  Wolves had previously (in Supplement I: Greyhawk) been given a bite attack that did 1-6 damage; it now does 2-5.

Dire Wolves are a larger relative of the wolf that lived in the Pleistocene Epoch. (This is a thing that gets lost in later iterations of D&D, when there are "dire" animals all over the place. They're not prehistoric, they're just bigger, meaner and more monstrous.)  Otherwise they act like regular wolves, they just have more hit points.  The only stat they had been given previously (again, in Supplement I) was a bite attack that dealt 1-8 damage; it now does 2-8.

Worgs are an evil, intelligent variety of dire wolf. The book describes them as "neo-dire wolves", so the relation is explicit. How they came to be so much more advanced is a mystery, though I suspect magic to be involved (isn't it always?).  They like to pal around with goblins, and as they are the size of ponies they can be ridden.

Winter Wolves live only in cold regions, and they get all the abilities you would expect from that: a freezing breath weapon, and a weakness against fire-based attacks. They're even smarter than worgs, though still evil. Their silvery-white pelts are worth 5,000gp.

WOLVERINE: Wolverines have made a single appearance in D&D thus far: the ubiquitous wilderness encounter tables from Supplement III: Eldritch Wizardry.  A regular variety and a giant version appear here, but they are basically the same creature. Gary betrays a real bias against them: not only does he describe them as vicious, hateful and destructive, but they have an alignment of "neutral (evil)". In AD&D, wolverines are not just regular animals, they are actually quantifiably evil. They're fast and tough, they get a +4 to all attacks, and they have a musk attack that works like a skunk's. To refresh, the musk can blind its victims, make them lose half of their Strength and Dexterity, and rot all cloth , including any magical cloth that fails a save. That is nasty, and there's a hilarious note that wolverines will purposely spray any human food or items that they find unattended. Add in the statement that they have exceptional intelligence when it comes to hunting and combat, and what you have is a license for the DM to run them like a total bastard. Just one of these critters could eviscerate a low-level party.

WRAITH: Wraiths first appeared in OD&D Vol. 2. There they are described simply as "high-class Wights", but here they get some more detail. They are still said to be similar to wights, but they exist more strongly on the Negative Material Plane. They have no powers in sunlight (which is a new addition) so they only dwell in dark, gloomy places. As before they are immune to normal weapons, and take full damage from magical ones. In OD&D, their relation to silver weapons was a strange one: they were said to take half damage from silver arrows, with no mention made of any other silver weapons. Here that is changed, and it is simply silver weapons that deal half damage.  They've also gained the usual raft of undead immunities. Allow me to list them for the penultimate time: immunity to sleep, hold, cold and charm spells; 2-8 damage from holy water.  A raise dead spell will destroy a wraith outright. Their level drain still works in the same fashion as before, but it's clarified that anyone they completely level drain becomes a wraith at half-strength, and is under the wraith's command.

I do wonder about the link that's been drawn between wraiths and wights.  It's probable that there isn't a specific one, but it's intriguing to think that a wight who drains enough levels will eventually grow a stronger connection to the Negative Plane, and become and immaterial wraith.

Stat Changes:
Number Appearing: Old - 2-16, New - 2-12; Armor Class: Old - 3, New - 4; Hit Dice: Old - 4, New 5+3

WYVERN: Wyverns first appeared in OD&D Vol. 2. Wyverns are stupid, aggressive, related to dragons, and they have a sting that is lethal on a failed save.  This is pretty much exactly what they were in OD&D, and the changes here are very minor. The biggest addition here is probably the note that they are brown to gray, and have red or orange eyes.

Stat Changes:
Movement: Old - 9/24, New - 6/24; Hit Dice: Old - 7, New - 7+7;

XORN: The xorn is making its first appearance here, and it's a weird monster. They live on the Elemental Plane of Earth, and occasionally come to the material plane, where they feed on "certain rare minerals".  These minerals, of course, are the very same ones that PCs most often quest for: copper, silver, gold, electrum and platinum.  Only copper and silver are specifically named, but there is an "etc." included, which I take to mean that the other coin types are included in their diet. No mention is made of xorn eating gems. Xorn can smell such metals at 20 feet, and will likely demand that any coins carried by the PCs are handed over.

The colouration of a xorn helps it blend in with rock, and it can actually pass through said rock with no penalty to its movement rate, as though phasing. It takes a round for a xorn to go from fully material to being able to phase through rock, during which time it is said to be "adjusting its molecular structure". Because of these abilities, a xorn has a 5-in-6 chance of gaining surprise.

They are immune to fire and cold spells, and take half-damage from lightning (or no damage on a successful save).  The following spells affect them: Move Earth flings them back, Stone to Flesh and Rock to Mud reduce their AC to 8 for 1 round, and render the xorn unable to attack during that time, and Passwall delivers 11-20 damage. A Phase Door spell cast while the xorn is phasing will kill it outright.

I've never encountered or used a xorn in D&D, and I think I know why. They're specifically designed for the kind of dungeon-exploring, treasure-hoarding sandbox campaign that Gary was running in the mid-70s, as a nuisance monster that can eat the PCs' treasure.  They don't make a lot of sense outside of that context. 

YETI: Yetis first appeared in The Strategic Review #3 and haven't changed a great deal. They still have the same bearhug attack, except that now they hug on a roll of 20 instead of 18 or better. They have also kept the same gaze ability, where anyone surprised by the yeti must make a save vs paralysation, or become rigid with fright, allowing the yeti two free claws and a hug (this ability has been greatly clarified here).  Their camouflage in snowy regions remains unchanged, as does their susceptibility to fire. It's a basic monster, but a good one, and Gary has only done bit of tidying up.

Stat Changes:
Movement: Old - 12", New - 15"; Hit Dice: Old - 4, New - 4+4

ZOMBIE: Zombies first appeared in OD&D Vol. 2. They haven't changed in concept, being animated corpses that follow simple instructions from their masters (clarified to be a dozen words or so). A new addition here is that zombies always strike last in combat. As before they fight until destroyed, but no specific mention is made here of morale checks, as there was in OD&D. Like all undead in the MM, they are now immune to sleep, charm, cold and hold spells, and are damaged by holy water.  The biggest change really comes with their Hit Dice, as the jump from 1 to 2 is a significant one.

Stat Changes:
Number Appearing: Old - 3-30, New - 3-24; Hit Dice: Old - 1, New - 2;

Before I put the Monster Manual to bed, I have a quick word on the updated Treasure Table.  The original Treasure Table from OD&D had treasure categories from A to I.  The new version has those same categories, and although the numbers are often different, the categories follow much the same principles. For example, Treasure Type I, in the original version, has no coins but a good chance for gems, jewelry and magic. In the Monster Manual it is the same, with a small chance for platinum pieces.  Mostly, the categories correspond quite well, and have just been altered to accommodate electrum and platinum pieces, and to split gems and jewelry.

The Monster Manual has added Treasure Types H through Z, which are more specialised. Some are designed for monsters with very little treasure, some to exclude everything but magic, but on the whole they serve a much more specific purpose than those in OD&D.

I'd just like to give a quick word of thanks to everyone who has stuck with this blog.  It's been a long time since I started blogging through the Monster Manual, and a lot has changed in my life since then.  I've taken some long hiatuses, and been fairly erratic, but through all of that there are folks who've been reading and commenting regardless of my unreliability.  Thanks guys!

Next week I'll probably do a quick round-up of the Monster Manual, just to refresh myself on the major additions it made to D&D, and what it's added to my theoretical "Ultimate Sandbox".  Beyond that, I'll just be ploughing ahead much as I did in earlier years.  I think that the next book I'm tackling as an issue of The Dragon, and I'm looking forward to it.  At the very least, it's not going to take me five years.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

AD&D Monster Manual part 61

 WILL-O-(THE)-WISP: Will-o-the-Wisps first appeared in Supplement 1: Greyhawk.  They appear as glowing balls of light that lead victims to their deaths in order to feed on the life-force as it leaves the victim's body.  They haven't changed much from their first appearance.  Whereas before only one wisp would be encountered, now there's a 10% chance to meet 1-3, usually close to their lair.  As in OD&D they can alter their brightness, even extinguishing it entirely and becoming invisible.  In OD&D this invisibility wasn't given a limit, but here it is restricted to a duration of 2-8 melee rounds, and then only if the wisp doesn't attack.  (I can see why, as strictly by-the-book OD&D wisps could remain invisible at all times and still attack.)

Another thing that has changed is the range of weapons that can harm a wisp.  In OD&D, they could only be hurt by metallic weapons, but here any weapon will hurt them.  They get a hell of a compensation, though: they are now immune to every spell except for protection from evil, magic missile and maze.  As before, a wisp will surrender and reveal its treasure if near death; in OD&D it would do so at 3 hit points or lower, and here it does so at 5 hit points.  I wonder if this means that wisps can speak?  They do have Exceptional Intelligence, but no mention is made of how they communicate.

Oh, and in combat they now glow blue, violet, or pale green.  It's a charming touch.  I would also like to point out that wisps have an Armor Class of -8.  As far as I can tell, that's the best AC in the Monster Manual, equalled only by Demogorgon.

Stat Changes:
Number Appearing: Old - 1, New - 1 or 1-3; Damage: Old - 2-12, New - 2-16

WIND WALKER: Wind Walkers first showed up in The Strategic Review #3.  They remain much the same as before: ethereal wind-based creatures that dwell on high mountains or in deep caverns.  The first new thing we learn about them is that they originate from the Elemental Plane of Air.

Two factors are affected by the number of wind walkers that appear: the distance at which they are detected, and the range at which they can detect thoughts (as they are telepathic). Each wind walker present adds 10' to these ranges.  This works the same in AD&D as it did in OD&D, but it's a bit clearer in the Monster Manual.

The way that wind walkers attack is something I'm not clear on.  It's said that they attack by wind force, causing 3-18 points of damage per turn to every creature within 1" that they hit.  This means that they get an attck against every creature in that range, yes?  But once a turn?  Is that correct, or should I interpret that as once per attack round?  It makes a big difference.  Also, the original entry for wind walker had a note that they deafen victims at 20 feet.  That's not present here at all.

As before, wind walkers ca only be fought by other ethereal creatures (djinn, efreet, invisible stalkers and aerial servants are named specifically), but there are a number of spells which can affect them.  These spells are the same in AD&D as in OD&D: control weather will destroy them on a failed save, slow hits them like a fireball, ice storm drives them away for 1-4 rounds, and haste halves their hit points but doubles their damage output.  They are, as before, affected by magical barriers.  They still pursue foes tenaciously as they did in OD&D, but there they did so for at least 10 turns; here they will chase for only 2-5 rounds.

As in OD&D, they are subject to telepathic attack, and can be controlled by storm giants.

Stat Changes:
Armor Class: Old - 8, New - 7; Hit Dice: Old - 6, New - 6+3

Thursday, April 16, 2015

AD&D Monster Manual part 60

WHALE: In principle this is the same monster that first appeared in Supplement II: Blackmoor, but its absurdities have been wrangled somewhat.  Just look at the damage listed below: originally a whale fluke could dish out up to 140 points of damage, which is a little extreme.  The AD&D whale is still a powerful beast when riled, but it's been brought back to a level that fits on the mortal plane.

Whales are split into plant-eaters and carnivores, and the carnivores will often attack humans (killer whales will always attack, which doesn't sound at all accurate, but this is D&D).  In addition to the bite and fluke attacks mentioned above, whales near the surface can do a tail smash that deals damage equal to one-half the whale's Hit Dice.  I wonder if this is accurate, or if it was supposed to say hit points.  As it is, the tail smash deals from 6 to 18 damage depending on the whale's size, which seems a little paltry.

Carnivorous whales can swallow their prey whole, and the biggest can swallow a whole longship and crew.  It's said that escape isn't too difficult, but a whale's digestive juices deal 1 point of damage per turn (that's slow), and there's a 50% chance that anyone disgorged will emerge at a great depth underwater.

Never one to shy away from making dead monsters valuable, Gary says that whales often have treasure in their stomachs (this bit was in Supplement II as well).  There's a 1% chance per hit dice that each treasure type will be present.  If a whale is sick it creates ambergris, which can be sold for 1,000 to 20,000 gp, and a whale carcass is worth 100gp per hit die.  Ambergris is most often used in perfumes, and whenever I read about it it reminds me of the following quote from Moby Dick: "Who would think, then, that such fine ladies and gentlemen should regale themselves with an essence found in the inglorious bowels of a sick whale!"

Stat Changes:
Armor Class: Old - 5, New - 4; Movement: Old - 18", New - 18" to 24"; Hit Dice: Old - 40, New - 12 to 36; Damage: Old - 1 bite at 10-80 and 1 fluke at 15-150, New - 1 bite ranging from 5-20 to 15-60 and 1 fluke ranging from 1-8 to 5-40

WIGHT: Wights have been around since OD&D, and have changed but little.  The first change I noticed is that they are no longer referred to as "nasty critters", which gives them a bit of added dignity.  We learn that the term wight used to mean "person", but now refers to this undead monster, which dwells in barrow mounds or catacombs, hates all life, and shuns sunlight.  Basically, wights have become an actual concept rather than a collection of stats hoping that you've read Tolkien.

Like a lot of undead in this book, Wights are now said to exist simultaneously in the Prime and Negative Material Planes.  They can only be damaged by silver or magical weapons, which is a slight tweak: in OD&D only magic weapons could damage them, but the silver is new.  They also now get the standard raft of undead immunities, such as sleep, charm, hold and cold-based spells, and a vulnerability to holy water.  A raise dead spell will now destroy a wight outright.

In OD&D, any man-type drained or killed by a wight becomes a wight.  That's clarified here: the newly created wight is at half-strength, and under the control of the one who slew it.

But the best thing about wights, of course, is their level drain ability.  It was there in OD&D, and it's here as well, unchanged in all its glory.  May it live on forever.

Stat Changes:
Number Appearing: Old - 2-24, New - 2-16; Movement: Old - 9", New - 12"; Hit Dice: Old - 3, New - 4+3; Damage: Old - energy drain only, New - 1-4 plus energy drain

Thursday, April 09, 2015

AD&D Monster Manual part 59

GIANT WASP: Giant wasps first appeared in Supplement II: Blackmoor.  As I've mentioned before, monsters from that supplement were often heavily rewritten by Gary.  Giant wasps have remained the same conceptually (how could they not, they're based on the real-world) but they work very differently terms of the rules.  The biggest change is with their sting attack.  In OD&D most giant wasps could sting only once, and 20% of them could sting twice.  Giant wasps from AD&D can sting as many times as they want.  This has been offset by a drop in the deadliness of the wasps' poison.  In OD&D it would kill the victim after 24 hours, with no saving throw; the only way to cure it was with a neutralize poison spell.  Said victim would be paralyzed within an hour, and any movement other than teleportation would kill him outright.  In AD&D, the victim now gets a saving throw.  If he fails he is paralyzed permanently, with death occurring after 2-5 days (either from the paralysis, or from being eaten by the wasp's larva).  Neutralize poison still works as a cure, as does a nebulously defined "antidote".

A small amount of ecological info is given.  Giant wasps hunt continuously, both for food and for victims to paralyze and feed to their larva.  Some wasps build nests out of mud, and some out of paper.  A paper nest will contain from 21-40 adult wasps within.

The entry ends with the rather charming note that the wings of giant wasps are vulnerable to fire, and will immediately be burned off by a fireball or any other hot flame.  It's a small touch, and the sort of thing I would probably forget during a game, but I like it.

Stat Changes:
Number Appearing: Old - 3-30, New - 1-20; Armor Class: Old - 5, New 4; Movement: Old - 6"/24", New - 6"/21"; Hit Dice: Old - 3, New 4; Damage: Old - 1 sting for 1-8, New - 1 sting for 2-8 and 1 bite for 1-4

WATER WEIRD: Water weirds make their debut here.  They are said to originate from the Elemental Plane of Water, and to feed on the essences of living things.  How they do the feeding is unknown, but they attack by forming into the shape of a watery serpent and lashing out, striking as a 6 Hit Die creature (they only have 3+3 Hit Dice, so this is a decent leap).  Any creature they hit will be dragged underwater unless he makes a save vs. paralyzation.

From what I gather here, water weirds are almost unkillable.  They take full damage from blunt weapons, but only 1 point from any bladed weapon.  If their hit points drop to zero they don't die; instead they are disrupted, and must wait 2 rounds to reform.  They are slowed by cold spells, and take half damage from fire spells (or none on a successful save).  It seems to me that the only method that will work is a purify water spell, and who's going to have one of those memorized?

This creature has another one of those charming little abilities that will rarely come into play, but would be awesome if they ever did: they have a 50% chance to take over and control any water elemental.  It's a bit odd that a creature so much weaker than an elemental can do this, but they are quite a bit more intelligent (a rank of Very, as compared to a rank of Low).

GIANT WEASEL: Giant weasels first appeared in the random encounter tables in OD&D, but this is the first time they get an entry of their very own.  They did get a damage listed for their bite attack in Supplement I: Greyhawk (1-8 plus blood drain), but here that has been amended to 2-12.  The blood drain has been kept: when a giant weasel attacks it doesn't let go.  Instead it holds on, draining blood at a rate that deals 2-12 damage per round to its victim.  Nothing is said about when the weasel lets go, or how to get it off short of killing it.

If they're taken young enough, giant weasels have a 25% chance that they can be trained to guard or hunt.  And ooh, we haven't seen this in a while: Gary has given a monetary value to the body part of another dead monster!  In this case it's the weasel's pelt, which sells for 1,000 to 6,000 gold pieces.  (Really?  That seems super generous.)

Friday, April 03, 2015

AD&D Monster Manual part 58


VAMPIRES: Vampires first appeared in OD&D, and most of the changes presented here are clarifications to their already-existing abilities.  There are plenty of those, so strap in, this could take a while.

The first change to be noted is that vampires are now Chaotic Evil.  In OD&D's three-alignment system, they were Chaotic.  In the article that first introduced the expanded nine-point alignment system (from The Strategic Review #6) Vampires were said to epitomise Lawful Evil, but that's not the case in the Monster Manual.

As before, it is said that vampires must rest in a coffin during daylight hours.  This requirement is now lessened for vampires who are far underground, though they still need to rest in a coffin occasionally, as their power is restored only by contact with soil from their own grave.  It's all very Dracula, but I wonder about the specific use of the term "grave".  What if a vampire was never buried?  What soil do they require then?

It's noted that vampires, and all other undead, exist simultaneously in the Material and Negative Plane.  I'm pretty sure that this has been mentioned in the Monster Manual before, but it's been a while since I started this whole thing and I can't remember.

Vampires are now explicitly said to have a Strength score of 18/76, bringing them in line with the uncanny strength they usually have in stories.  The damage done by a vampire's blow has been altered to reflect this.  An 18/76 Strength gives a damage bonus of +4, and a vampire's attack now deals 5-10 damage. or 1d6+4.  It's lovely when D&D makes sense.

As before, a vampire drains two levels from its victim with every hit.  Deal with it.  They are still only hit with magical weapons, and their regeneration ability remains unaltered.  As before, when reduced to 0 hit points a vampire is forced into gaseous form.  This is expanded on here: the vampire must then return to its coffin within 10 turns and regrow its body over the course of 8 hours.

Vampires get a number of new immunities: the standard things that don't work on undead (sleep, charm, hold), poison, and paralysis.  They are also given resistance to spells based on cold or electricity.

Some other abilities that have been barely altered: turning into gaseous form at will, transforming into a large bat, a gaze that can charm a person, and the ability to summon rats, bats or wolves.  The summoning has been clarified.  Bats can only be summoned when underground.  Rats and bats do not attack, but merely confuse and obstruct vision.  Summoned creatures take 2-12 rounds to arrive.

As before, vampires will recoil from garlic, a mirror, or a lawful good holy symbol if any of these is strongly presented.  Again, this is clarified.  These objects can't be used to drive a vampire away.  Garlic only causes them to hesitate for 1-4 rounds.  With the other two, a vampire will try to position itself so that the object isn't between itself and the victim, or it might try to get a minion to deal with the problem.

(Note: the cross is specifically mentioned here as a lawful good holy symbol, further evidence of the Christian roots of the D&D cleric.  I have to decide at some point whether I will have a Christian church in my campaign, or if I'll assign the cross to an existing Greyhawk deity.  Probably the latter.)

The same three methods for killing a vampire in OD&D are given here as well: exposure to direct sunlight, immersion in running water, and a stake through the heart.  Guess what?  There are more clarifications!  Sunlight now takes a full turn to kill a vampire, but that vampire loses all of its powers during that exposure.  Immersion in water drains a third of the vampires hit points every round, thus killing it in three rounds.  A stake through the heart now only keeps a vampire dead for as long as the stake remains lodged in its chest.  To permanently kill a vampire in this way, it must be beheaded, and holy wafers must be stuffed in its mouth.  (So there's another bit of Christian iconography. Whichever Greyhawk church I assign the cross will have to get holy wafers as well, I guess.)

Holy water is now said to deal 2-7 damage on a vampire struck with it.

As in OD&D, any human or humanoid killed by a vampire becomes a vampire under the control of the original (which means demi-human vampires are a thing.  And goblins, and orcs, and maybe even ogres and giants.  Rad!).  Clarifications!!!  The new vampire is said to be "appropriately-strengthed." I suppose that means Hit Dice?  It's specifically said here that vampires can have character classes, and that a vampire cleric will be Chaotic Evil.  No word on what happens to a vampire druid or paladin; I imagine that either would lose their powers.  The transformation into a vampire now takes one day after the creature is buried, but if it isn't buried it does not occur (that answers my grave dirt concerns from earlier).  If the head vampire is killed, all the rest become free-willed.  (This would have made the ending of The Lost Boys a lot messier.)

Finally, we see the introduction of the eastern vampire into D&D.  They are the same as regular vampires, except that they are invisible.  In exchange for this they can't charm with their gaze, and can't assume gaseous form at will (presumably they still do so when reduced to 0 hit points).  I wonder about the invisibility.  The way it's worded makes it seem more like a permanent state than an ability they can use.  I would probably play it as an ability, and treat it like the spell; level-draining monsters that can't ever be seen?  No thank you.

Stat Changes: Number Appearing: Old - 1-6, New - 1-4; Armor Class: Old - 2, New - 1; Hit Dice: Old - 7 to 9, New - 8+3; Damage: Old - 1-10, New - 5-10

Just one monster today, folks.  This one took a while, but it does cover the entirety of the letter V.  Progress!