Vampires

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The earliest legends of Vampires — actually of blood-sucking fiends of any sort — are found in the Talmudic myths of Adam's first wife, Lilith. There is much confusion as to exactly who Lilith was, if she was in fact a singular entity or a multitude of creatures. Was she Adam's first wife? Who really knows? There's no hard evidence, nowadays, to tell us one way or another. It's all just speculation.

But, in many of these stories, whether with Adam or someone else, she gives birth to hundreds of monsters… mostly blood-sucking fiends of some form or another. Mythologically, Incubi, Succubi, and Vampires can all trace their origin back to her. In reality1, there is more truth to these stories than most would like to believe. While the existence of a literal Lilith is a subject of much controversy and debate, it is true that Vampires are, in fact, native denizens of this Earth — for all that they're considered unnatural outcasts by humans and demons alike.

Like every other race, however, they are as widely varied as the bodies they inhabit.

Characteristic Abilities & Their Shortcomings

That doesn't mean, however, that Vampires don't share certain similarities across the board. These include:

Longevity
Why not simply call it immortality?

Because Vampires do age, albeit exceedingly slowly. True, there are no tales of a Vampire actually dying of old age2. On the whole, Vampires tend to meet messy ends. The oldest known Vampire, according to human researchers, was turned sometime a century or two before the birth of Christ3. That Vampire, however, is considered something of an anomaly, since most known Vampires are less than a millennium in age. At the very least, any but the unluckiest or most idiotic Vampire can easily outlive any natural human lifespan. So, from a human perspective, whether or not they're truly immortal is something of a moot point. For all human intents and purposes, they are.

A Vampire's age isn't so much seen in his body — though the oldest of them may show occasional signs of wear and tear their younger counterparts may not4 — as it is in his mannerisms and breadth of power5. Older Vampires have simply had longer than their younger brethren to hone and strengthen their abilities, and it makes a difference. True, some Vampires are naturally stronger than others. Some youngsters rise to be more powerful right out of the grave than their own Makers. Others, even if they're turned by the most powerful elder, never achieve more than a middling strength6. But, generally speaking, the longer a Vampire survives, the stronger he becomes.

More than that, the longer a Vampire survives, typically, the more patience he develops. Freed of his sense of mortality, he can afford to wait decades, even generations for plans to come to fruition because, let's face it: Being at the top of the food chain means you're pretty damned likely to be around centuries from now to watch your plans work out.

The biggest drawback of their longevity, is their tendency to get out-of-step with modern human society. Keep in mind that humans are the Vampire's natural prey. So, the ability to blend in with contemporary human society is important. Human concerns, however, don't tend to align with Vampire concerns. Vampires don't much care about finding a mate and making a life for themselves. They're predators. And human beings are prey. Thus, unless, they take specific care to keep up with the times, blending in can be a real challenge. What's more, the older they get, the more of a challenge it becomes, because, the older they get, the more arrogant they're likely to become, and thus the less likely they are to see a need to blend in. Vampires aren't human. And most of them are damned proud of that fact.

Note: PC Vampires can't be older than 1000 years without Mayhem's personal approval. Vampires less than 750 years old are preferred.
Supernatural Speed
We're not talking The Flash, here, but Vampires are capable of moving far faster than a human. Indeed, most humans think Vampires can move from one side of the street to another in the blink of an eye. That's not strictly true.

In fact, the human perception of a Vampire's speed is flawed, since that perception is often clouded by a Vampire's natural affinity for shadows and their tendency to use a low-level glamour that allows them to make it seem like they're moving far faster than they are.

To be fair, the slowest Vampire in existence still moves at least three times faster than an average human — which, to a human, is pretty damned fast. An average Vampire, however, moves about four to five times as fast as an average human and the fastest Vampires out there move five or six times as fast as the fastest human. So, yes. They're quick on their feet, but the unassailable blur most humans describe has more to do with glamoured perception than reality. Seen through a camera, or without the effects of glamour, a Vampire blurs past no differently than a car moving at the same speed7.

And, they're not unstoppable.

Vampires are still flesh and bone, for all that their flesh and bone is supernaturally enhanced. They can't pass through solid barriers any more than a human being can. And at least some of the laws of physics still apply, insofar as impacting an obstacle is concerned. True, it takes a much greater hit to injure a Vampire than a human, just as it takes a much greater hit to injure a freight train than a Buick. But freight trains crumple when they hit brick walls or if they play a losing game of chicken against other freight trains. So, too, do Vampires8.

What's more, a Vampire's propensity for physical speed can be directly correlated to his propensity for physical speed when he was alive. Size, weight, and build do play a factor, as does stamina and endurance over short and long distances. A human in great physical condition will make a far more athletic Vampire than a human in mediocre physical condition. Fortunately, just as regular human beings can, a Vampire can improve his body by regular feeding and proper exercise and training9. But, he can't change the basic characteristics he has to work with — namely his height and build10 — but he can, with discipline and work, make the most of what he's got.
Enhanced Reflexes
Agility (i.e. reflexes) and speed are not the same thing.

Sure, it's often true that a body capable of great speed also has great reflexes, and certainly a Vampire's reflexes are much better than a human's — simply because all of their physical attributes are that much better. But it is entirely possible for a man who is capable of great speed when running in a straight line to be hopelessly tangled when negotiating a trickier course because he's unable to make the necessary adjustments quickly enough.

The most sluggish, uncoordinated Vampire still reacts twice as quickly and twice as skilfully as the most sluggish, uncoordinated human. But, that doesn't stop him from being considered clumsy — even by human standards11. The average Vampire, however, is three or four times as agile as the average human12. The most agile of Vampires is easily five or six times as agile as the most agile human, however.

Natural aptitude, as with all physical attributes, plays a huge role in determining a Vampire's general agility. A clumsy human generally makes for a clumsy Vampire, while an agile human makes for an agile Vampire. However, this rule of thumb can be deceptive since it's possible that a human being was clumsy more because of personal insecurities than lack of physical aptitude. Should they, as Vampires, gain more confidence in their abilities, it's very likely those abilities will see a marked improvement simply because of the change in their attitude. That said, training and practice can also mitigate natural ability — no matter how poor or excellent it may be. After all, the more often one performs an action, the easier and more natural it is to do. Eventually, it becomes second nature — i.e. reflex.

Still, there's no denying that a body born with natural talent that is consciously honed and trained to be better than it already is will always trump a mediocre talent honed to the same degree. Likewise, however, a poor natural talent honed to be the best it can be may beat a natural talent with little or no training whatsoever. Nothing is ever entirely cut-and-dried.
Supernatural Strength
To a human, even the weakest Vampire has a vice grip, since the weakest Vampire is still at least twice as strong as the average human. The average Vampire, of course, is three or four times as strong as an average human being. Since an average human being can lift their own body weight with minimal difficulty, an average Vampire can lift three or four times his own body weight without difficulty.

Of course, the strongest of the Vampires can lift four or five times as much as the strongest human. Unassisted by belts, hooks, or other such apparatuses, the record for the most weight deadlifted by a human being sits somewhere in the 1000 lb (500 kg) range. So, the strongest Vampires can certainly give Superman a run for his money. Most Vampires, however, top out at the 800 - 1000 lb (300 - 500 kg) range13.

As with speed, a Vampire's strength is largely dependent on his height and build, not to mention his physical condition. Since it is possible for a Vampire to improve the condition of his body, it's possible for a Vampire to improve his strength. Steroids and other body or performance enhancing drugs that work on humans do not work on Vampires, however. So, there are limits. Further, the worse condition the Vampire's body is in when he's first turned, the more difficult it will be for him to improve his body afterwards. Humans have it a helluva lot easier when it comes to losing weight and getting in shape14.

Too, again, a Vampire is not entirely immune to the laws of physics. Conservation of momentum is still observed. Therefore, one can generally assume that a bigger, heavier build will, when in good condition, inevitably be stronger than a smaller, lighter build in the same condition. As far as humanity is concerned, however, if you decide to trap a Vampire in a box, no matter how big he is, it better be one helluva strong box.
Increased Stamina & Endurance
A Vampire's stamina and endurance largely depends on the stamina and endurance he had as a human being. Of course, even a Vampire considered to have no stamina or endurance according to his peers has as much as the average human. But, as always, the average Vampire's stamina and endurance tend to be about twice or three times that of the average human, while a Vampire who's considered to have remarkable stamina and endurance is four or five times as durable as his similarly ranked human counterpart.

That said, stamina and endurance are not the same thing. Nor are they necessarily linked15. Generally16, stamina measures a body's ability to keep going even under pressure, while endurance measures its ability take direct punishment and not fall down. Thus, someone with a lot of stamina will likely do well in a cross-country marathon, while someone with a lot of endurance will still be standing at the end of a fight.

It is possible, however, for a Vampire to have specialized sorts of stamina or endurance. These are considered unique resistances, however, and tend to fall into the category of Blood Powers (covered below).

Regardless, both stamina and endurance are directly affected by willpower… and willpower has nothing to do with a body's race or species. Sap anyone of his will and he will fail.
Enhanced Senses
A Vampire is a highly specialized predator. Like any good predator, his senses are naturally sharp and, indeed, are sharper than those of the human beings he hunts. He can see in all but total darkness — but not any farther than a sharp-eyed human might in clear daylight — and hear the beating of his prey's heart — but not if she's more than a short city block away. He can smell her blood and thus taste the state of her emotions by the subtle changes in her physiology17. He can sense the heat from her body even if she's several meters away from him18.

That said, of all his senses, it really is the Vampire's hearing that's the most sensitive. Legends, of course, have attributed that fact to their relationship to the bat, but that's nothing more than an old wives' tale. Most Vampires scoff at the very thought — though some few will laugh and play it up, just for a lark. Though all his senses work in concert to make him the effective hunter he is, it's no secret than anything whispered within earshot of a Vampire is no longer secret unless he chooses to keep it so.

He is not infallible, however. Though he can track a single individual, running alone over open ground with relative ease, it becomes a whole lot harder if that individual flees into a crowd or across a well-travelled thoroughfare — any place where her scent might become confused with others. Further, while he can hear the thud of a heart pounding from across the street, he can't pick that single heart out of a throng, unless it's rhythm is somehow distinct19.
Blood Lust
Vampires need blood.

It's not just a craving; it's not an addiction; it's a physiological fact. Without it, they devolve first into mindless beasts that will slaughter and drain any living thing that crosses their path and finally into dessicated revenants that lie dormant until they sense the presence of blood — at which point they arise keening from the grave and go on a murderous rampage that could quite conceivably last for weeks or months before they're sated.

So, while Vampires are flesh and bone, just like human beings are, they don't remotely share the same dietary requirements. The primary difference lies in their ability to directly metabolize blood taken from their prey, converting it into the energy and nutrients they need to thrive20. Although Vampires are perfectly capable of digesting regular food, it does nothing for them from a nutrient standpoint21.

What's more, it's not just any bit of blood that will do. Sure, in a pinch, a mouthful of blood from any mammal will keep them going, but it's human blood that actually fulfils all their dietary requirements. Animal blood simply lacks certain necessary proteins found in human blood. Thus, any Vampire that swears off human blood and resorts simply to animal blood will ultimately find himself deficient in vital proteins and will, consequently, fall very ill22.

Indeed, ingesting human blood seems to have an almost magical effect on Vampires. A freshly, fully fed Vampire has remarkable powers of rejuvenation, healing injuries quickly — sometimes visibly — and gaining limited resistance to further injury. More than that, a well-fed Vampire can much more easily pass himself off as human: His body temperature and colour both approach human norms and his temperament tends to be a lot more convivial, even indulgent in some cases, than it would be when he's hungry. Too, it can't be forgotten that a hungry Vampire is physically incapable of adequately performing certain, more enjoyable human activities if he hasn't fed within the last 48 hours23.

The average Vampire can survive a week or so without feeding with few ill effects — other, perhaps, than a pronounced irritability, a tendency toward lethargy, and an inability to quickly rejuvenate himself. Unsurprisingly, the longer he goes without blood, the more irritable and short-tempered he becomes and the longer it will take him to heal if he gets hurt. By the end of that week, he'll need to drain a full body or two of blood in order to bring himself back up to full strength. Of course, most Vampires prefer to have small daily meals that don't entirely drain their victims, rather than waiting until crisis point when they need to drain their victims dry. Not only is it easier on their systems, it's easier on their food supply24.
Preternatural Regeneration
A well-fed Vampire heals very, very quickly. Small cuts and scrapes scab over in minutes and disappear in hours, while severely broken bones take a mere handful of days instead of weeks to heal. In fact, the more recently and more fully a Vampire has fed, the quicker he heals.

Further, Vampires are generally immune to human disease. You won't see a Vampire suffering from hay fever, the flu, or a cold. Even the 'scarier' diseases like cancer, diabetes, or heart disease don't affect them — even if they had been suffering from them before they were turned. The only human diseases that carry even the slightest threat are certain blood diseases such as HIV/AIDS and acute lukemia — and then any ill-effects25 are only temporary, lasting only until the Vampire ingests healthier blood.

That said, Vampires are not immune to all disease. There are certain diseases that are specific to Vampires, which can be devastating to them. There is a unique form of necrotizing fasciitis (commonly known as flesh-eating bacteria disease in humans, but referred to as grave rot in Vampires) that cannot simply be cured by ingesting more blood. If caught early, the simplest treatments include soaking the affected area in a rather vile potion that includes trace amounts of silver (to which all Vampires have an allergy) that serves to neutralize the spread of the condition. More advanced cases may require amputation or the cutting away of the affected flesh, followed up by cauterizing the wound with liquid silver — which makes it almost (but not quite) impossible for the Vampire to regenerate the lost body part26.

There is also a sleeping sickness, called the Fading, that can occur in older Vampires27, which ultimately causes them to sink into a deep coma from which they may never awaken. It is initially characterized by an unusual distractedness or inattentiveness in the Vampire that is a precursor to an almost Alzheimer's-like dementia that inevitably leads the Vampire to create a secure resting place for himself into which he will ultimately retreat. In this crypt, comatose, he will decay into a revenant state unless he is regularly supplied with blood by loyal friends, compatriots, or servants28. To date, there are no known cases of a Vampire recovering from the Fading, but as long as they don't fade to dust, it's still theoretically possible.
Glamouring
The Vampire has always been considered a hypnotic creature, able to ensnare a person's will by meeting his gaze. There's a great deal of truth to that idea, for the Vampire can, in fact, cloud a victim's mind and bend her to his will. But there are distinct limitations to that power — not the least of which is the fact that his glamour doesn't work on everyone.

In the first place, Necromancers are completely immune to any form of vampiric glamour. Why this is, no one is entirely sure, but no one disputes the truth of it29. Furthermore, certain Psychics — namely highly skilled Telepaths — are also apparently immune to a Vampire's glamour. Indeed, most Necromancers consider Vampires to be twisted abominations that have wrongly defied the power of death and Telepaths often speak of there being a disconcerting "blank void" where the Vampire's mind should be30. Other folks that remain largely unaffected by Vampire glamour are full-blooded Fae, Infernals, and Celestials31. While their half-blood offspring have an increased resistance to a Vampire's glamour, and thus a greater chance of throwing off the Vampire's control even if he does initially succeed in ensnaring them, they are not immune. It entirely depends on their personal strength of will.

However, even the most recently turned Vampire possesses the ability to glamour human minds. It allows him to soothe his prey, erasing any memory of pain from her mind and, in some cases, any memory of his own existence. Generally, this is done through direct eye contact and verbal commands, though some particularly powerful older Vampires exhibit an almost telepathic ability that depends on their line-of-sight, and not their victims'. This makes their voices, even their very presence, as hypnotic as their gaze over a small area, permitting them some measure of crowd-control32. Unlike true telepathy, a Vampire never achieves the ability to speak mind-to-mind with his victims — only with his Human Servant. He must always speak his commands aloud to his thralls, even if he speaks very softly. Further, his victims must be able to hear his commands, or they will not respond33.

Most Vampires do not waste their glamour on frivolous things. Glamouring takes enough concentration as to be fatiguing, if done too often or too widely. (The stronger their victim's will, the more fatiguing rolling them becomes34.) Thus, most Vampires become masters at personal manipulation without needing to resort to such 'parlour tricks'. At their core, Vampires are sociopaths. They find great amusement and satisfaction in getting their prey to submit willingly to them. It gives them a sense of power and control that is far more potent than the rush of glamouring itself35. So, while a Vampire may glamour his victim when he's actually ready to break out his fangs and puncture her skin, he often prefers to get her to that point purely by the practical arts of persuasion and seduction.

Finally, a Vampire must be careful not to ask their thralls to do anything too far outside their nature, as that could cause the thrall to break out of their control. Thus, while asking an honest person to spy on their friends or colleagues and report back with information shouldn't cause a thrall to break her glamour, asking that same thrall to kill one of her friends or colleagues almost definitely will. So will asking her to kill herself, if she's not already suicidal. Certainly, exceedingly powerful Vampires may find that they can psychically bully their thralls into performing acts completely contrary to their nature, but chances are very high that, in doing so, they will 'break' those thralls such that they become entirely useless for any future purpose (except, possibly, as lunch)36.
Bloodsong

Note: As a general caveat to the characteristics outlined above, understand that each Vampire has these characteristics to a varying degree. Most Vampires will be average for their kind in each. (That's why it's called average!) But, it's not unusual for an individual to excel in certain areas. Thus, a Vampire with really good speed and reflexes may not be the strongest creature out there. Likewise, a brute may not have the same speed as one of his more dexterous kin. Finding a balance in keeping with your character, as a Vampire, is important.

Further, a Vampire's physical characteristics do tend to echo the characteristics they had as a human — mitigated by the fact that their vampiric body performs to a higher ideal, even if it looks a little dumpy. Thus, if someone turns the strongest brute of a man in the world into a Vampire when he's in peak condition, you can bet that, as a Vampire, he'll be considered one of the strongest brutes of the Vampires, too. But, that doesn't mean he'll be among the fastest. Likewise, if someone turns the fastest track star out there into a Vampire, you can bet he'll be among the fastest Vampires, too, but not necessarily the strongest. Natural talents do tell.

That said, ├╝bervamps, who are the best at all those things, will simply not be permitted.


Footnotes

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