Ravenloft is a long-time favorite of countless D&D players. The setting focuses on terror, thrills, and chills with strong horror themes and imagery.

Every character who has ever visited Ravenloft has found themselves changed in some way. In some of these cases, those changes include the character’s own lineage!

In Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft, three new lineages are introduced: Dhampirs, Hexbloods, and the Reborn. Each lineage has different perks and drives that will appeal to different players.

This article will cover what each of these lineages are, how they work in game mechanics, and what their strengths and weaknesses are. We’ll also look into some roleplaying tips and questions to help you really get into the character’s mindset when you’re playing!

Ravenloft Lineages

The lineages introduced in Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft are all filled with dark storytelling potential. Each one represents a character who has, willingly or otherwise, become… something else…

No longer are they an Elf, Human, Half-Orc, or whatever else they might have identified as. While some of those physical traits might still remain, the character has become something decidedly darker now.


Not quite living yet not quite dead, the Dhampir fights a never-ending battle with their own dark hunger. These typically result from an encounter with a vampire.

As the Dhampir attempts to resist their urge to feed on the blood of others, they still gain a taste of the vampire’s abilities such as increased speed, darkvision, and a bite that allows them to empower themselves by draining the life of others.

For heroes of this lineage, they are uniquely suited as monster hunters. Not only do they possess enhanced physical abilities (useful for fighting such enemies), but they also have an intimate knowledge of what drives such monsters.

Dhampir gain vampiric powers but must constantly fight off their hunger.

Dhampir Traits

As a Dhampir, you have the following traits.

Creature Type: Humanoid

Size: Medium or Small

Movement Speed: 35 feet

Darkvision: 60 feet

Ancestral Legacy: If replacing your previous race with this lineage, you can keep any skill proficiencies you gained from it as well as any climbing, swimming, or flying speed. If you choose not to keep these or are taking this lineage at character creation, gain proficiency in two skills of your choice.

Deathless Nature: You don’t need to breathe.

Spider Climb: You have a climbing speed equal to your walking speed. At level 3, your hands can be free while moving up, down and across vertical surfaces or upside down on ceilings.

Vampiric Bite: Your fangs are a natural weapon that counts as a simple melee weapon that you are proficient with. Add your Constitution modifier (instead of Strength) to attack and damage rolls when biting. A bite deals 1d4 damage and you have advantage on attack rolls to bite enemies when you have half or less of your maximum hit points.

Successfully biting a creature that isn’t Undead or a Construct allows you to empower yourself. You may regain hit points equal to the bite’s piercing damage OR you gain a bonus (equal to the bite’s piercing damage) on the next ability check or attack roll you make.

Roleplaying a Dhampir

There are three major things to keep in mind when roleplaying a Dhampir: their origins, what they hunger for, and how those two things affect their goals.

Classic Dhampir origins involve those who were either born of a vampire parent or those who survived a vampire attack (albeit with some… changes…)

Of course, there are other things that may have led to your transformation. A fiendish parasite might be behind your insatiable hunger, though you may have found yourself transformed after a deal with a powerful entity or encounter with some otherworldly being.

Whatever led to your transformation, your hunger and attempts to resist (or indulge) it will largely define your character. What does your character hunger for? Blood or raw meat might be what you crave, though you might instead feed off of psychic energy, dreams, or the life force of those around you.

Lastly, how do these Dhampir traits affect your character’s goals? Have they chosen to retreat from society to keep their hunger from harming those around them? Maybe they hope that they can end their curse by slaying whatever foul monster is behind it.

Within the party, the Dhampir character is likely to struggle with the temptation to feed off of their allies. While the rest of the party sleeps and the Dhampir is keeping watch in the dead of night, how do they resist their urge?


Whether it’s fey power, eldritch magic, or some manner of witchcraft, a great magical power is infused within the Hexblood.

As time goes on, the Hexblood finds themselves going through physical transformations. Because Hexbloods are so closely tied to Hags (whether through bargains or birthright), they will most commonly take on features that reveal that connection.

These physical changes include forked points on the Hexblood’s ears, long hair that quickly regrows when cut, and skin in shades that reveal the type of Hag who has influenced them.

Related: You can learn more about the types of Hags here!

Most noticeable, however, is the twisted crown (known as an eldercross or witch’s turn) that grows from the Hexblood’s temples and wraps around their head. This crown can’t be removed and serves as a sign of the connection between the Hexblood and a Hag.

Did you become a Hexblood as a result of a bargain with a Hag? If so, what were the terms?

Perhaps you were taken by a coven of Hags and are being transformed to accomplish some goal of theirs.

If a Hag wasn’t directly involved, you might have found yourself becoming a Hexblood due to fey shenanigans or some kind of curse upon your birth.

Hexbloods of sea, green, and annis hags gather around a cauldron.

Hexblood Traits

As a Hexblood, you have the following traits.

Creature Type: Fey

Size: Medium or Small

Speed: 30 feet

Darkvision: 60 feet

Ancestral Legacy: If replacing your previous race with this lineage, you can keep any skill proficiencies you gained from it as well as any climbing, swimming, or flying speed. If you choose not to keep these or are taking this lineage at character creation, gain proficiency in two skills of your choice.

Eerie Token: Harmlessly remove one of your teeth, nails, or lock of hair as a bonus action. This token is magical until you finish a long rest at which point the missing part regrows. You can only create one token per long rest.

While the Eerie Token is imbued with magic, you can use it to send messages or remotely view a location.

Messages are sent telepathically to whichever creature is holding the token. You must be within 10 miles of the token and the message can contain up to 25 words.

You may also enter a trance as an action. In this state, you can see or hear from the token as if you were at its location. This trance lasts for 1 minute unless you dismiss it early and you are blinded and deafened to your own surroundings while using this ability. This harmlessly destroys the token.

Hex Magic: You can cast the disguise self and hex spells. Once you cast either of these spells with this trait, you can’t use the trait to cast that spell again until you finish a long rest. These spells can also be cast using any spell slots you have.

When you take the Hexblood lineage, you choose Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma to be used as the spellcasting ability for these spells.

Roleplaying a Hexblood

As a Hexblood, you have some kind of dark destiny set before you. Was this a result of your own doing or something that fate instead had in store for you?

You might be attempting to escape this destiny, but you could just as well be looking to better understand it. With the promises of power ahead of you, you might even embrace this transformation regardless of its cost.

Speaking of which…

There’s always a cost when it comes to Hags. It might seem small at first, but the cost is always something very large when it’s all said and done.

Do you know the Hags who are responsible for your transformation or have they been silently grooming you from the shadows until the time is right?

If you chose not to take a Hag origin story, what might the Fey be looking to gain from doing this to you? What led to that encounter?

As a Hexblood, your physical appearance is so radically different that you will have a difficult time blending in without the use of magic. Ask yourself how this might affect your character’s view of the world and how they relate to others.


Whether rising from the slab in a mad doctor’s laboratory or clawing your way from a grave, you have been denied your eternal rest.

You likely still wear the scars of whatever caused you to die. Grayed skin and still veins reveal you to be something… not quite living…

Your mind is filled with questions as it tries to come to terms with the inconsistencies surrounding your death and new life. From time to time, you might experience some form of memory triggered by a familiar smell, sight, or sensation.

Who were you once before? Who (or what) are you now?

As a Reborn, you struggle to claim either your past or present identities.

While you possess many abilities fitting of a creature in your circumstance, yours is a type of existential crisis.

A Reborn created from stitched together remains and the application of some good old-fashioned mad science.

Reborn Traits

Creature Type: Humanoid

Size: Medium or Small

Speed: 30 feet

Ancestral Legacy: If replacing your previous race with this lineage, you can keep any skill proficiencies you gained from it as well as any climbing, swimming, or flying speed. If you choose not to keep these or are taking this lineage at character creation, gain proficiency in two skills of your choice.

Deathless Nature: As someone who has overcome death, you gain several benefits.

  • You have advantage on saving throws against disease and being poisoned.
  • You have resistance to poison damage.
  • You have advantage on death saving throws.
  • You don’t need to breathe, eat, or drink.
  • You don’t need to sleep. Magical effects cannot put you to sleep.
  • You can finish a long rest in 4 hours. Those 4 hours must be spent in an inactive, motionless state though you do retain consciousness during this time.

Knowledge from a Past Life: From time to time, you experience sudden memories from your past. When making an ability check that uses a skill, you can roll a d6 and add the result to your d20 roll for the check. You can use this a number of times equal to your proficiency bonus. You regain all uses of this ability when finishing a long rest.

Roleplaying a Reborn

Death changes a person…

How do you react to the circumstances that led to you becoming a Reborn? Some Reborn might view their situation as a blessing while others might think of it as a curse.

Do you approach the world around you with curiosity as if experiencing everything brand new for the first time?

Have you encountered others who, upon seeing your terrifying appearance, chased you away with torches and pitchforks?

Perhaps you’ve grown bitter and angry at being denied your eternal rest. Instead, you are riddled with foreign memories and burning questions that you must solve if you wish to return to nothingness.

In those quiet, motionless hours, you struggle to remember details about your life. Even things like favorite foods, your spouse’s name, or the face of a dear friend… It’s like they are all shrouded in a distant fog.

But you continue to dwell on this past.

You can remember who you are if you just… concentrate… it’s like it’s so close but so far away…

Who… are you?

How Do Lineages Work?

These lineages replace whatever race your character might have been prior to their transformation. While some of your previous traits remain, you have become something noticeably and decidedly different.

Taking a Ravenloft Lineage at First Level

If you are taking one of these lineages at first level, you might decide which race your character was previously and what the circumstances of their transformation were. However, ignore any bonuses from that race for now.

When making a character who begins as a Hexblood, Reborn, or Dhampir, increase one ability score by 2 and another by 1. Alternatively, you can increase three different scores each by 1.

Some traits of your original race might be included in the Ancestral Legacy trait that each of these options has. (So take note of that!)

Taking a Ravenloft Lineage During an Adventure

These lineages all introduce some potential twists that can be added to a character’s story.

If you are a player and are interested in playing one of these lineages, you can talk to your DM to arrange a situation that might lead to such a transformation.

If you’re a DM, these can make for some interesting plot points and possible temptations for players.

A character who fails to resist a vampire’s bite might find themselves turning into a Dhampir and require assistance before they transform.

A Hag or other powerful Fey creature might promise power and assistance to a character who then begins turning into a Hexblood.

Did a character die and the player just isn’t ready to say goodbye to them yet? The Reborn can add a new dimension to their beloved character.

When a character adopts one of these lineages, many elements of their previous lineage go away though a few may still remain.

The only question is: what next?

Conclusion – Ravenloft Lineages

There’s a ton of awesome content in Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft. The lineages are quite possibly my favorite part of the book!

In my own Curse of Strahd game, one of the characters found herself getting mixed up in the affairs of some Hags.

To get out of a dangerous deal with the coven, she would later pledge herself to another being who could sort that business. However, that deal would lead to her becoming a Hexblood (much to the concern of the rest of the party.)

If you’d like a storytime post about all of that, let me know in the comments below!

You can pick up Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft on Amazon by clicking here!

Not sure if Van Richten’s Guide is for you? Click here to check out my full review!

Which of these new lineages do you like most? Initially I liked the Hexblood the most, but I think the Reborn has some incredible roleplaying potential that would be fun to explore.

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