What Are Vampires
Vampires are a species of ghoul, described as zombie-like beings who maintain their existence through the consumption of life from sources outside of themselves. They occupy a space between Night and Day (thereby making them Eveningstrollers), and are able to interact with the denizens of both sides. There are two types of vampires: The Original Vampire, and the Turned Vampire.
Also known as ‘Kings’ and ‘Queens’ (or ‘Lieges’). As the name implies, they are the original definition of a vampire. Every human/turned vampire can trace their lineage back to a Liege.
Lieges are ghouls which possess an extreme level of corruption (read more about ghouls). Their desire to persist, even after their original body is gone, is so strong that they will attempt to possess a body of the recently-dead (or their own if it is still viable) as soon as possible. The body has to be unclaimed, or buried on unconsecrated ground, or used during occultic ritual for that specific purpose, or not protected, or any other type of similar circumstances.
Generally refers to the human-turned-vampire, though it applies to any living thing that has been turned into a vampire (a cat or a tree, for example). Unlike a Original Vampire, they (or whatever remains of themselves) continue to exist in their own body, and cannot possess another. They can also turn other humans and animals.
The Vampire Body
The vampire body is difficult to describe. Vampires either possess a body (as in the case of the Original Vampire) or continue to use the body they had before they turned. However their bodies are not entirely physical – while they can still continue to interact with matter, they exist outside of the known laws of nature. In other words, their bodies are preternatural.
- They don’t biologically sustain themselves – instead they spiritually sustain themselves.
- Despite this, vampires are able to sense and experience their world, and respond to environmental feedback. Their cognition is intact.
- Their forms can change – although they have a default look, they are able to shapeshift into other animals. Their alternate forms are consistent with their default look. For example:
Peter is a human vampire who is bald, has big ears and lanky. When he shapeshifts into a cat, he becomes a lilac Petersbald (this would be the cat he either kept or seen many times when he was alive), which is nearly hairless, with big ears and lanky.
While they are able to switch between groups and classes, they cannot switch between Turned Vampires are stable, while Original Vampires have trouble maintaining a consistent default appearance.
Turning Into a Vampire
A human/animal has turned into a vampire when all of their life has not been completely consumed by the attacker. Meaning there is still a bit left inside them, enough to trap their soul into their body. At this point their humanness has ‘died’, and they are reborn into a being of Night.
Origins and Distribution
Vampires originate, and are thus common, in the Levant (spanning the area between historical Greece and Mesopotamia), Eastern Europe and also China. They have since been scattered all over the globe. Each town, city, place has their own tradition of vampire, with its own society, practices and quirks.
Identifying a Vampire or Features of a Vampire
The Original Vampires’ natural ability for persuasion (projecting a charming, consistent appearance) generally works in fooling most people. However, to those who are aware, and to those who are vampires themselves, they are very distinctive. Because they technically do not own the body they possess, their appearance mutates constantly. Their appearance is not stable. Depending on their emotions or motivations, they will project a look that ranges between their human-like physical vessel to their ghoulish form (also known as vampiric form). Nosferatu is a good example of an appearance that’s between human and ghoul.
Those hands sure look charming!
Human Vampires look the same as the average person. They keep the body/appearance they had prior to their ‘deaths’, and do not age. The only time when their appearance changes is when they pass the threshold between hunger and starvation, which is when they (forcefully and suddenly) assume their vampiric form. They are unable to control their actions in this form.
Both vampire types have canines that by default, sharper looking. The teeth (all of them) can be selectively extended and sharpened for feeding. Human Vampires have pockmarks where they have been bitten (usually the jugular). The pockmarks look like natural moles.
The easiest way to tell the difference between an Original and Human Vampire is to look at the mirror. Human Vampires continue to have a reflection, while Original Vampires do not inherently have one, so must continually project one into every mirrored surface they encounter if needed. When that is not possible, see if they cast a shadow. Original Vampires do not take care about projecting a shadow.
Most vampires appear gaunt and dark, though whether this is a vampire-specific feature, or just selection bias, is still debated.
The Requirement for Life
Original and Human Vampires require only one thing to persist: a life force (Life). Because their existence is unnatural and ambiguous (the Original because they have stolen a body, the Human because they should have died naturally), they need to sustain their own life by consuming others’.
Life is not the same as blood. Vampires have to pierce the skin of a subject in order to suck their life out, and blood is simply one of many carriers. Artificial blood is not viable, but other so-called non-blood carriers, like an insect’s hemolymph, work.
Life can be gotten through various means; the most common and potent being from human sources. Some vampires will subsist on animal life. And feeding on plants and microbes is possible, though right now in TWIDI, in the context of the Victorian Era, they haven’t understood plants (or microbes) to possess life in that sense yet. This vegetarian alternative will be explored in the future.
Whatever source they take life from, they must eat. It’s usually enough to eat a day’s worth (the amount differs according to source – a vampire needs to eat at least one human, or 4 rats – as well as preference, and activity). Just enough to go comfortably above the hunger-starvation threshold. Once they start getting hungry, it’s only a matter of time before they become desperate. At which point, nothing can stop them from killing as many people as they can to satisfy their hunger. Original Vampires, being ghouls, are conscious during their vampiric form. Human Vampires, who are not meant to be ghouls in the first place, lose all consciousness and control during their vampiric form.
A vampire can never die from starvation, because they never get to that point.
Since vampires are preternatural beings, they are able to gain powers beyond any ordinary human ability. Vampires gain powers through cumulative consumption of life – so the more they eat, the more powerful they become. A vampire can also eat less if they feed on very potent life sources – e.g a pure-hearted, young human. The rate at which a vampire gains power is dependent on those two factors: quantity and potency.
Here is a not-exhaustive list of vampire powers:
1. Persuasion (of projecting an appearance, or using subliminal influence)
2. Shape-shifting (human or animal)
3. Animal communication
5. Supernatural speed/strength (naturally activated when assuming vampiric form)
8. Passing through objects
9. Heightened sense of smell (a default power)
And so on…
What powers a vampire can gain is random, and some powers are more likely than others due to circumstance. Zeynel’s ability to shape-shift into animal form and communicate with animals came from his strictly-animal diet, and the form he takes and the animals he can communicate with are dependent on what he eats (so he can turn into a rat, but not a rhino). Zeynel is also slower to gain additional powers due to his minimal consumption, so he’s considered ‘weaker’.
A vampire can become so powerful that they surpass typical limitations – they no longer need to feed on life, they can freely walk under the sun, and they can only die through another vampire or by divine means. But this requires centuries of killings, which is not an advantage many vampires have.
Killing a Vampire
There are more preventive actions than actual killing ones. Prevention is usually enough to deter them from killing an individual or a village, but that is still not solving the problem. Prevention methods vary according to culture (some use garlic, some use bags of beans). What is listed below are general cases.
They are very averse to holy objects, so holy water, a scroll containing scripture or an icon can help in prevention. It doesn’t matter what religion or wisdom tradition the object came from, as long as the person wielding it believes in that divine power. Holy water is the most powerful (think Wicked Witch of the West).
Other direct killing methods include decapitating their head and burning everything, shooting them with silver bullets, exposing them to the full force of sunlight, and of course, drowning them in holy water (in China, the jiangshi is covered in yellow paper instead).
*dramatically poses before dying*
They are not affected by holy or religious objects. So holy water doesn’t kill them. Sunlight does not cause them immediate death, but it can cause great discomfort during full exposure and they will die from shock in a few hours. They can be killed by decapitation, burning, and shooting. Out of respect for the Human Vampire they are buried just like any other human.
For Both Cases
Vampires can kill each other. They just need to suck out the other’s life. Getting there is not as simple as it sounds.
The most effective, the most powerful way to kill a vampire is by direct divine intervention.
Their Role in Night
Original Vampires rarely interact with Night, due to their solitary nature, and their rarity. They know of each other’s existence, but avoid meeting up whenever possible. They congregate during times of plague.
In contrast, Human Vampires are involved with many aspects of Night and Day, and can be alone, or form their own communities, with their distinct cultures, language and rules. They are able to form both human or Nightcrawler relationships, if they choose. Most Human Vampires stick to those who they are closest, or those who turned at the same time and place. Their level of interaction with their original human culture varies. Some will keep up and even participate actively, while some will fade and stubbornly hold on into the particulars of their time. The general community of Human Vampires is vibrant and full of contradictions and commonalities.
Human Vampires, in concerts with their respective Ministries, have an unspoken rule of not needlessly killing humans. The Ministries in return provide them with its own unique alternative source of life, or allow them to consume from non-human sources.
The only prominent vampire in Brookham is Zeynel – who is the ambassador for his Ministry, and manages central services like the Nightmarket and the Night Post. Vampires in Brookham in general keep to themselves and do not have a stronger Brookham Vampire culture.
Animal Vampires are popular as pets, especially among those who are long-living. They are turned using the same methods (described earlier). Animals are different in that they acquire human-like intelligence by default, and are quick of learning. Since they are very new it’s not certain if they can also acquire new powers.
Saucy ending for this article (Max Ernst)