Thursday, April 2, 2015

A to Z of Vampires, Berbalang

We are sticking with the Philippines today.  Why? Because they have some awesome freaky fantastic vampires there.  I swear they have the Carpathians and Eastern Europe beat.

The Berbalang blur the line between vampire and ghoul. They are described as "bat winged creatures that live underground and eat corpses. They make a loud moaning sound that can be heard for miles when they feed."

The Berbalang appeared in the Fiend Folio for AD&D 1st Edition and it was something like an astral ghoul. It changed a bit over the editions to what we have below.

CR 6
XP 2,400
CE Medium undead
Init +4; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +14


AC 20, touch 15, flat-footed 15 (+4 Dex, +1 dodge, +5 natural)
hp 68 (8d8+32)
Fort +6, Ref +6, Will +9
Defensive Abilities projection DR 10/good or silver; Immune undead traits


Speed 40 ft., fly 60 ft. (good)
Melee* bite +10 (1d6+3 plus paralysis), 2 claws +9 (1d6+3 plus paralysis) or incorporeal touch +10 (1d4 Con damage)
Special Attacks paralysis (1d4+1 rounds, DC 18)
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 9th; concentration +13)

At will—bleed, ghost sound (DC 14)
3/day—alter self, charm person (DC 15)


Str 17, Dex 19, Con —, Int 13, Wis 16, Cha 18
Base Atk +6; CMB +9; CMD 26
Feats Defensive Combat Training, Dodge, Flyby Attack, Mobility
Skills Bluff +10, Escape Artist +10, Fly +17, Knowledge (local) +5, Knowledge (religion) +6, Perception +14, Stealth +15
Languages Common


Projection (Su)

Once per day as a full-round action, a berbalang can enter a trance that separates the creature's spirit from its body. This splits the berbalang's current hit points in half between its body and its spirit. The berbalang's spirit body gains the incorporeal subtype and special ability; otherwise, it retains the same statistics as its physical self with the following changes: AC 19, touch 19, flat-footed 10 (+4 Dex, +4 deflection, +1 dodge), single incorporeal touch attack that deals 1d4 Constitution damage on a hit as its sole attack. This spirit projection can travel no more than 1 mile away from the berbalang's body. Because the creature is only partially in existence when in this state, its body gains displacement as the spell. When separated in this way, the berbalang's body is unconscious and helpless. If the berbalang's body is injured while in this state, the separated projection immediately returns to its body, and the body loses displacement. If the physical body is slain, the spirit body immediately dies as well. If the spirit is reduced to 0 or fewer hit points, it returns to the body immediately. A berbalang in spirit form can end the effect at any time as a standard action, at which point the spirit immediately returns to the body. When a berbalang's spirit form returns to the body, add both the spirit body's hit points and the physical body's hit points back together to determine the creature's current hit point total.


Environment any land
Organization solitary or pack (2-8)
Treasure standard

Berbalangs prefer to make their homes within a day's travel of humanoid settlements. These lairs are well hidden and sometimes protected by other undead creatures. Some berbalangs set themselves up as secluded shamans or wise old crones, using alter self to appear human. Ultimately cowardly, berbalangs rarely attack a settlement directly, preferring to pluck its meals from those who stray too far from civilization. A berbalang stands as tall as a human and rarely weighs more than 100 pounds.

OGL Section 15: Copyright Notice - Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Bestiary 3
Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Bestiary 3, © 2011, Paizo Publishing, LLC; Authors Jesse Benner, Jason Bulmahn, Adam Daigle, James Jacobs, Michael Kenway, Rob McCreary, Patrick Renie, Chris Sims, F. Wesley Schneider, James L. Sutter, and Russ Taylor, based on material by Jonathan Tweet, Monte Cook, and Skip Williams.


Jolie du Pre said...

They seem totally frightening.

Misha Gerrick said...

Sounds like a horrid thing to meet in the wild. ;-)

Tasha Duncan-Drake said...

Sounds absolutely lovely :S - doesn't the moaning give them away if they are that noisy when they feed? Or is the idea to scare away anyone who might be close?
Tasha's Thinkings | Wittegen Press | FB3X (AC)

Sophie Duncan said...

What a nice creature! ;P I don't think I'd want to meet one of those on a dark night!

Sophie's Thoughts & Fumbles
Wittegen Press

Mary Lewis said...

Great topic to blog on. My Mother in law is obsessed by Vampires so will be passing on this link.x

Jennifer Hawes said...

Very creepy! I love researching things/places.

Timothy S. Brannan said...

Moaning when they feed.

Pun Isaac said...

This is great. Keep them coming Tim.

Cathy Keisha said...

Don’t think I’d want to meet one of those!

Anonymous said...

Yikes. Look like scary creatures.

~Patricia Lynne aka Patricia Josephine~
Member of C. Lee's Muffin Commando Squad
Story Dam
Patricia Lynne, Indie Author

David P. King said...

Shoot, I should look more into eastern monsters. :)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

In other words, attack its body when it splits.

Unknown said...

Brilliant subject for the A-Z Challenge. As a huge vampire fan, I look forward to reading more about of these creatures of the night.

Anonymous said...

I don't know of any current sources on Philippine folkloric through which to corroborate the Berbalang tales. The ur-text on them seems to be the book Oddities, by early 20th century strange phenomena author Rupert Gould, citing an account published by naturalist/ethnographer Ethelbert Skertchly in 1896.

Skertchly's account has a couple wonderful details worth adding to the Berbalangs: Apparently they "go by contraries" -- that loud moaning of theirs apparently gets quieter the closer they get! Moreover, when they're close enough to see their glowing eyes, you're supposed to stab behind you with your lime-juice anointed kris, because that's where they actually are (Displacer Ghouls?).

I first read about the Berbalangs in an early '70s horror comic, which added the embellishment that the adventurer (they may have used Gould or Skertchly's name) who discovered them had traveled the world in the '20s and '30s trying to warn the world about them, before his mysterious disappearance. They'd obviously make wonderful villains for a Call of Cthulhu campaign as well.

Rachel said...

Wow! I didn't know there were more than two types of vampires! You know, the average like from Interview With A Vampire, and then the sparkly from Twilight.

Your A To Z Neighbor (and new follower),
On Twitter @WhenALionSleeps

Beth Lapin said...

As a field biologist, I find your Species Account format an absolutely fascinating application! Thanks.

Arlee Bird said...

Now I'm scared. I guess we can try to run and try to hide, but the fiendish bloodsuckers are everywhere in the world. This guy is creepy.

Arlee Bird
A to Z Challenge Co-host
A Faraway View

Heather M. Gardner said...

The name Berbalang makes it sound like its going to be cute!
Not so cute.

Heather M. Gardner
Co-host: Blogging from A to Z April Challenge
Blog: The Waiting is the Hardest Part []

Molly said...

This is absolutely fascinating. I look forward to more vampires