VAMPIRISM -- (ITS GOOD TO BE DEAD)
Vampirism is a disease you get after being smacked a few (or a lot of) times by vampires. Each time a vampire successfully hits you, you have a small chance of contracting the disease. You'll know when you get it because youre supposed to get a spooky dream that marks the onset of the disease. But this isnt always the case. For example, if you catch the disease and then travel before resting, youll just up and die, coming back as one of the undead. It's always best to rest for a few hours after having been in combat with a vampire. It's the best way to make sure you get the warning in case you want to get it cured. If you have the dream, youve got 3 days to get to a temple and get cured. If you cant make it in 3 days, youre (un)dead.
When you die, there are a couple of things that can happen. If the journey is long enough (more than a couple of weeks), youll simply arrive at your destination as a vampire. If its shorter than that, youll wake up three weeks later in a random dungeon and have to fight your way out. Youll still have all of your stuff, though. Its only the adventurer types who make a habit of robbing dead bodies, and there's only one of those in the game (dat's you, buck-o).
Being Undead has a lot of really nifty advantages.
Being Undead also has some major drawbacks.
Heres a few suggestions on how to deal with the drawbacks.
As far as resting goes, you have a couple of options. First, you can watch your schedule closely so that you dont have to wait for things like stores and guilds to open. Second, you should always travel Cautiously. This will get you to where youre going after the sun goes down. The town gates will be closed, but youve got that cheapo Levitate spell and good climbing skills, so getting into town shouldnt present a problem. As an added measure, buy some soul gems and get a soul trap spell. Go soul trap a few rats, bats and whatnot. Soul bind them into an article of clothing that casts a harmless spell (like light). If you need to loiter and havent eaten in a while, just use the item until it breaks. This will release the critter and you can kill it. Now you can loiter/rest for 24 hours.
Another option (when you need to rest) is to travel to a graveyard and munch on whatever is there. If youre in a province where you dont care about your rep with the law, just kill a few guards and hightail it out of there. This is another area where a ship is handy (you can't fast-travel with guards hot on your tail, but you can always change transportation modes).
For dealing with damage from sunlight, youll either have to avoid it (hard to do when you need to talk to people who are only out in daylight hours), or be able to cure it. Equipping a couple of magic items with the "Regenerate" power can help offset this.
Losing your guild affiliations is more of an annoyance than a problem. You can rejoin all of them, except the Thieves and Assassins. The drawback is that you have to wait 30 days to get your former rank back. If youre not a member of the Thieves or Assassins Guilds, then you can join them by following the regular admissions procedures. If youre a member of a religious order, remember that youll take damage every time you visit your guild.
By far the biggest headache is the vampire hunter. Once or twice a year youll get a letter from a vampire hunter. If you follow the instructions laid out in the letter you can get yourself cured of vampirism. If you dont follow the instructions, youll get a string of people trying to kill you. Of course this is one way around the need to feed each day, but its still a pain. Eventually they'll get the message and leave you alone (until the next batch). Fortunately it only happens once or twice a year.
There is one illogical item in being a vampire. You do not have Vampiric Effect. Beating up on a critter does not suck health out of them and transfer it to you. It just makes them very dead. One way to cure this is to create an item that has Vampiric Effect. The ability costs 1000 enchantment points. Any Daedric weapon larger than a dagger has more than enough capacity to hold it. On the other hand, simply being walking death has its advantages. With your speed and agility up close to 100, you'll get in a lot more shots at your opponent, so you'll be taking less damage to start with.
Vampires are loosely organized into tribes. Each tribe has certain additional advantages that go with being a member. For all but one of the tribes, you get additional spells in your spellbook. For that one oddball tribe (the Anthotis tribe), you get 20 points added to your intelligence. So, if you want to boost all of your stats, go hang around the south central side of the Alik'r Desert and get smacked around by vampires until you catch the disease.
As mentioned above, the only way to get vampirism is to get beaten up by vampires and survive. Simple enough, but how do you find the vampires to get beaten up? If your level is high enough you'll encounter them as monsters in the various dungeons as you go about your Guild and Merchant quests. Another option is to go hang out in graveyards or in the wilderness. Rest and deal with the random encounters until vampires show up. Two dungeons always have vampires in them, if you're not picky about which tribe you join: Scourg Barrow and Direnni Tower. Get up close and personal with them and then beat feet before you die. Do it enough times and you'll catch vampirism.
OK, you've got vampirism, but you want to get rid of it. As mentioned above you'll get a letter from a vampire hunter once or twice a year. If you follow the instructions in the letter (finding and killing a particular vampire), you'll be cured. A second method is to find witches covens (the Glenmorial Witches are your best shot) and do quests for them. Eventually you'll get a quest to deliver a component to the Mages Guild. The component is a cure for vampirism AND lycanthropy. Drink it and you're cured.
Once you're cured, you will find all of your guild affiliations restored (including the Thieves and Assassins) unless you rejoined while you were a vampire.