Vampires [in the Sanguine Universe] 101
Brought to you by MikazukiYuki
Id like to start by saying that what I think a vampire is will not necessarily fit the pop culture definition of one. You are free to disagree with me; however, if you wish to create a vampire for the Sanguine tournament, the vampires MUST fit in the Sanguine universe, and must therefore follow the rules listed here. And no, I will not accept But theyre not from that world as an excuse.
The biggest thing most people who are into modern vampire fiction will disagree on me with is my mystical-magical-only-semi-scientific view of vampires. I have several reasons for this.
>>>One, vampires are more supernatural than scientific. Science cannot explain everything, but magic can.
>>>Two, apparently trying to define them as scientific results in 3P1C PH4L3, like the Twilight series. <rant> Smeyerpires are NOT vampires--theyre dream beings that Stephanie Meyer thought up and created, she just used vampire as the closest term. Vampires do not sparkle. They are not perfect marble Adonis statues. They do not contradict the rules of their own creation. And they are deep, more so than any human in the Sanguine universe. Oh, and they have personalities, too. </rant>
>>>Three, I actually draw from more than just pop culture--I use actual vampire lore, too. And vampires were never scientific until recent times. Yes, I will use science to define them, but not to fully explain them, aside from why certain vampires are different from others and maybe certain things they can do.
That being said, if you have any questions regarding anything in this guide (aside from flames saying what a vampire should be and how I got everything wrong), just post a comment, and I will answer it to the best of my ability. Dont be surprised if I just redirect you back to a certain section of this guide; if I do that, it is because your question has already been answered.
And now, on with the guide.
Part one: The Definition of a Vampire
First off, let us begin with the basics. What IS a vampire?
Traditionally, vampires are defined as Ghouls that drink the blood of persons asleep. Of course, for some vampires, this definition still applies. However, they are far more complicated and complex and confusing than those eight words could cover.
For this story, not all vampires are alive. To understand this, these are the defining points of life, as presented by Wikipedia:
1. Homeostasis, or regulation of internal environment to maintain a constant state.
2. Organization, or being composed of one or more cells.
3. Metabolism, or, in short, consumption of energy.
4. Growth, as in physical change.
5. Adaptation, or changing over a period of time to adjust to the environment.
6. Response to stimuli, which means reacting to something that happens (such as leaves growing toward the sun, or the senses of higher animals)
7. Reproduction, or the ability to produce new organisms.
Under those rules, certain kinds of vampires are not alive. Lower vampires, for instance, cannot reproduce in any way, shape, or form. Certain vampires do not ever grow--even their skin and nails stop, and those unlucky few eventually decay away. And some never adjust to their environment.
I will get into the classes of vampires later.
However, not all vampires are 100% dead, either. Again, Im using good ol Wikipedia to help me out here:
Death is the permanent termination of the biological functions that define living organisms.
Clinical death refers to the cessation of blood circulation and breathing.
Some vampires still fit under the rules of life. There is also the problem with the word permanent--most vampiric hearts beat in certain situations (Ill get to that later), and they only breathe when they need to speak aloud, as air needs to be pushed past/through the vocal cords for speech, or out of habit or wanting to appear human.
Thus, we are left with only one definition: Undead, which is a state between life and death. While not the best term, it is the most accurate I have come across, so it is the term I shall use.
So far we have gathered that vampires are undead, which is basic. But, you can be undead without being a vampire--ghouls, zombies, and their ilk are examples. What separates vampires from other undead creatures are several factors, which include, but are not limited to:
> Coherent thought (most other undead do not have all of their metal faculties)
> Increased abilities (some, but not all, undead do not gain special abilities upon becoming undead other than their undead-ness)
> Cessation of decay (most vampires do not decay, but most other undead do)
Next, we move on to the most agreed-upon, universal fact: Vampires drink the blood, or somehow otherwise consume the life energies, of the living. However, this alone cannot be a defining factor. If it were, then certain types of ghosts would be considered vampires, as would kappas (Japanese water goblins).
So, why do vampires drink blood? The idea is that blood, while a very poor nutritional source, is rich in life energy. While not all vampires drink blood, they still need this life energy to sustain themselves. You see, because they are not alive, their body does not produce this energy anymore. Life energy is created by a living soul, and while vampires still have their souls (contrary to popular belief of the humans in Sanguine) [as well as numerous other cultures], the soul is bound to a dead body, therefore making the soul itself undead. If a vampire did not feed regularly, they would wither away into a corpse, and eventually the soul would leave the rotted, useless body, thus causing true death. This will be covered in a later part of the guide.
So, now we know that vampires are undead beings that consume life energy. This is the one true definition that fits ALL vampires, no matter what.
Part Two: Classifications of Vampires
While each and every vampire, just like each and every human, is unique, it is widely recognized that there are five general families of vampires and seven ranks or classes of vampires within each family. Also note that there are exceptions to every case, and that these are just generalizations that apply to the majority.
Also, a note about their description. When I say pale, I mean they look like they either A) don't get much sun, B) like all the blood has been drained from them, C) dead, or D) a combination of the above. Not all vampires are paper-white. It all depends on there they were born (as a human) and what their parents looked like. So, if both parents had dark skin, they would have dark skin--they'd just be paler as a vampire. This is kind of an obvious statement, but I thought I should cover it, in light of someone pointing out that they didn't know if all vampires were "white" or not, as that's the way they're shown most times (this was on a forum about vampires).
Part 2.A: The families of Vampire
A vampire belongs to a family either through being 'born' into it or being turned by a member of the family (or by someone else who was turned by a member of the family, and so on). Usually, direct descendants of a family's Progenitor are extremely rare, and they are regarded as a kind of vampiric royalty (prices or princesses, dukes and duchesses for their children, etc.)
The five families are:
1. Nosferatu: These vampires are the lowest of the low. They are animalistic and rely on their instincts for survival. They must feed nightly and almost always kill their victims. As they mostly feed on animals, they never adapted the beauty of other vampires, and are therefore hideously ugly. Their familiar is that of the rat, the king of vermin, and they adapted many features of rats--the large incisors, the matted fur, the fact the usually creep on all fours, and the fact they carry many diseases. The Progenitor of this family, Nosferatu (Count Orlock to some), is still very humanlike, and has all of his mental faculties
But hes still rat-like and ugly. He is also the only one who is able to create other Nosferatu vampires via the blood-sharing method, and only high-ranked Nosferatus can create them through the conventional means (breeding). Needless to say, you wont find one among humans very often, as they are far too easily spotted. Their homeland is the dark woods of the world, especially Europe and North America. They are not very well organized, and tend to be solitary creatures. If they do live in a group, it would be a small family unit, led by the oldest and/or most powerful one.
2. Jiang Shi: Asian vampires that are thought to be evolved zombies. Unlike every other form of vampire, Jiang Shis cannot reproduce on their own in any way, shape, or form. This is because Jiang Shis are created when someones soul didnt leave their body properly, through improper death (murder, suicide) or because they just wanted to cause trouble. Some are also created when the soul is forced back into the body after death by nether magic, or the magic concerning death and the deceased. They do not drink blood, but instead absorb life energy through the wounds they create with their sharp claws (which are on hands that are forever outstretched, stuck in rigor mortis). While more humanlike than Nosferatus, one would have to be a moron to mistake them as human--aside from the fact that some of them decay (rot, bloat, etc.) and they are stiff, they move in a peculiar manner
By hopping. Their familiar is that of the first vampire, the mosquito. They can be controlled if one places a talisman on their forehead, which also renders them mortal (no stiffness, no special powers). Their Progenitor is unknown, but currently the most powerful Jiang Shi is a girl that lost her name. She does not have the stiffness and usually does not hop, but is still rendered useless when a talisman is placed on her forehead. Their homeland is the crypts and tombs of Asia. They are not social at all, and will usually be either alone or with one other Jiang Shi (their death-mate), but, if they do organize, they are a force to be reckoned with, for in large groups they function like a hive mind--many beings, one train of thought, one goal. (and, since most Jiang Shi value their individualism, this is the reason they arent very social). They typically feed as often as they can, but as they avoid humanity and most other life forms, this isnt very often. They kill the animals they feed on, but rarely do much harm to the humans, as the draining of life energy is rarely fatal. However, their claws are not very clean, and thus many of their victims will get gravely ill, perhaps even die, from strange infections.
3. Dracul: The classic vampire. This family is usually what you picture when you say vampire [unless the only vampire media youve seen is Twilight related, in which case you deserve my pity]. They are extremely beautiful, a handy adaptation considering their main prey animals are humans. If one is not hypnotized by their gaze, one will quickly realize that they do not look fully human. Their eyes are brightly colored, and can be seen clearly in the deepest of darkness. They are usually taller than the average human, and thinner too. They are nocturnal creatures, and almost always wear cloaks, hats, sunglasses, and all other manner of disguises to cover up their non-human beauty
Unless, of course, they are hunting. Once they have their prey in their grasp, however, they reveal themselves as the monsters they really are--lengthened canines and fingernails, slit pupils set within glowing eyes, dual-vocal-rod voices, and a deep bloodlust. Lower level vampires of this family cannot reproduce through the sharing-blood method, but all but the lowest rank can through breeding. Their familiar is that of a wolf, the lord of the night. The Progenitor is Count Vlad Dracula, considered the king of vampires, and with good reason--this family is the largest of vampire families. Their homeland is the dark alleyways Europe, although they have spread to just about everywhere
To give you an idea, for every twenty humans in a city, you can almost guarantee there is at least one Dracul vampire, possibly up to five in the bigger, darker cities like London and Prague. They are highly intelligent, but still use their vampiric instincts quite often. They also tend to organize; the odds that the city vampires dont know where their brethren are located are close to nil. They can go for days, even weeks, without feeding, but the longer they go without feeding, the more monstrous-looking they get. Those that feed less often usually kill their victims, draining them dry so they can go longer between feedings, while the ones that feed more often usually do not, as they drink smaller portions.
4. Baptiste: They go by many names--neodrinkers, modern vampires, daywalkers--but this is their true name. They are the most humanlike of all the vampire families, right down to trying to keep a diurnal schedule like most humans. They, like Dracul vampires, are hauntingly beautiful, with bright eyes, pale skin and slender frames. They do their best to fit in with humans, sometimes even going so far as to enroll in schools--if they look like children or teenagers--to avoid suspicion (Hey, why isnt that kid in school?). Because the openly socialize with humans, they know their customs, behavior, and mannerisms better than the other families and are harder to spot as a nonhuman because they have become so good at mimicking them. The only place this is not true is in France, their old homeland, which they were driven from hundreds of years ago; indeed, a Baptiste vampire would have to be suicidal if they were thinking of going to France. Other than that, they are fairly widespread, and tend to live where the humans do, with most of them living in big cities such as London, New York, Tokyo, and the like. They are not as numerous as the Dracul (thanks to the incident that drove them from France), but they still make their presence known. Other vampire families tend to either respect them (for getting along with humans and other humanlike species so easily) or despise them (for being kiss-asses or pussies). They rarely kill their victims, and most of the time the death will not be intentional. They are also highly organized, even forming clubs and running businesses to help one another out. When in bloodlust, they look like Dracul vampires--slit pupils, glowing eyes, lengthened canines and nails, etc.--with the only difference being that their eyes change colors instead of just getting brighter. Their familiar is that of a bat, the most well-known vampire. Their Progenitor, Laurent Baptiste II, was killed in the same incident that drove them from France, but he left a family line. Their leader is Laurent Baptiste IV, the grandson of the Progenitor, but he is old and weak. He had a bastard child with a Slavic vampiress (she experienced 'true death' after giving birth but before they became 'death-mates'), but it is questionable whether this son is leadership material, so all the Baptiste vampires are waiting with bated breath...
5. Others: This category covers mixes of the families (half-Dracul, half-Baptiste is fairly common) as well as other half-vampires. Take note--half-human, half vampires DO NOT naturally exist, and can only be created through freak science (taking a human and modifying its genetic code to that of a vampire, or vice versa), and even then, that half-breed would have many, MANY problems--most of the weaknesses and nearly none of the strengths, plus additional issues from having modified DNA. How this works, and why other half-vampire breeds can exist while this one cant, will be covered later.
About the name 'Dhampir': Instead of being the traditional sense of them being born to human mothers from vampire fathers, this name now applies to the scientifically-created monsters. People did try to create them through natural means, but all the children that resulted were a) either fully human or fully vampiric, b) stillborn, or c) experience 'true death' shortly after birth.
Part 2.B: The ranks of Vampire
Not all vampires are equal, even if theyre part of the same family. There are seven levels or growth, or ranks or vampire, which is a classification of their relative strengths, weaknesses, and abilities. Vampires can, and in fact often do, advance through these ranks; they are not simply born Masters. Some, however, never advance: they may remain a Newdied/Newly Turned forever, or never advance passed Vampire.
There are some weaknesses that all vampires share, such as the methods used to inflict true death upon them, but those will be covered in the section about true death.
There are also common strengths, but they will be explained in the section about Dark Gifts.
The seven ranks are:
>> Newdied/Newly Turned
>> Strong Vampire
1. Newdied/Newly Turned: This type of vampire was either recently born (but since they are undead, they say newdied instead of newborn), or was just turned into a vampire through blood-sharing. These are, in a word, pitiful. Strong sunlight can kill them, and if they survive theyd be severely burned. Holy water is fatal if ingested at this stage, and will cause wounds akin to strong acid on flesh. They shrink from holy objects (they are, after all, damned for not following the natural law of death), and are repulsed by garlic, roses, lilies, and any other plant that is or was considered holy. If they attempt to cross running water, they will be repelled and unable to approach at all. They are easily manipulated, especially by other, stronger vampires. Their only gifts are the abilities to shape-shift into their familiars to escape danger, and a mental connection to their parents/Dark Master (the one who turned them).
2. Teething: They are just getting used to being vampires. They are clumsy with their powers, often causing more harm to themselves than their prey. Sunlight is no longer fatal, but it hurts like hell. Holy water is still fatal if ingested, and still causes severe wounds to their skin. Holy objects now merely irk them, and garlic is only repulsive because they have enhanced senses. They are still easy to control, only now they are aware that they are being manipulated. They can cross running water only if they are asleep, and even then will be in pain the entire time, and severely ill when they wake up.
3. Greenhorn: They are slightly stronger then Teethings, but are still, as Masters call them, Newbs or Rookies. They are getting the hang of their Gifts, but still make silly mistakes. Sunlight gives them sunburn, but nothing intolerable. Holy water hurts badly, but is no longer fatal unless they are thrown into a pool of it and left to dissolve. They are willful and prone to disobey their parents/Dark Master. They have the same crossing-water problem as Teethings.
4. Vampire: This is usually when they sever their ties from their Dark Masters, or leave the home of their parents. They are now able to take care of themselves. They can use their Gifts effectively, and are now difficult to manipulate unless it is a Master doing so. This is also the skill level that it is recommended vampires achieve before looking for a death-mate, their version of a spouse or life-partner. They can now cross running water while conscious, but will be ill the entire time. They can communicate effectively with their familiars. Holy water still acts like acid, but is now merely painful.
5. Strong Vampire: As the name implies, they are strong vampires. Even Masters have trouble manipulating them now. Many of the weaknesses are gone (holy objects and plants), and they are discovering that they have different Dark Gifts to play with besides their staples. They can now communicate with, and even manipulate, their familiars with ease. Holy water has become a kind of irritant, itching more than hurting, but still annoying.
6. Premaster: They have entered training to become Masters. They often seclude themselves so they can train without interruption, so not much is known of their powers other than they must be somewhere between Strong Vampire and Master.
7. Master: As their name implies, they have mastered their Dark Gifts and are thus unimaginably powerful. They have all the strengths of vampires. However, to counter this, it seems they are cursed with what most consider the silliest of weaknesses: the crossing-threshold restriction, which means they have to be invited into any building that isnt obviously abandoned or public property; Jiang Shis of this rank are also afflicted with the counting-obsession restriction, meaning that if they see large amounts of small objects, they have an irresistible urge to stop and count them (such as grains of rice thrown into their path.); there is also the double-edged sword of empathy, the ability to feel the emotions of others and to make others feel their emotions. They have also mastered the ability to change into mist, but they are loathe to use it, as a strong breeze would separate them and cause them to drift apart, making it nearly impossible to re-gather themselves. They feel slightly seasick when crossing running water. Many wear crucifixes or rosaries as a kind of slap in the face to those who still think they are effected by such things. They can manipulate the lower-level vampires and their familiars.
And thats the ranks in a nutshell.
As stated before, these are all generalizations that apply to the majority. There are exceptions to everything, but those exceptions will be few and far between. Also, a note about the kill-rate of certain families: remember that there are psychos in every human family. The same is true of vampires. Some will always kill, others will never kill. Remember, this is the majority, not all.
Have I repeated myself enough for it to sink in?
Part Three: The Dark Gifts of Vampires
'The Dark Gifts' is the name given by vampires to their special abilities. Not all vampires have all Gifts, and there are some Gifts that ARE shared by all vampires. A general rule of thumb is "The higher rank the vampire, the more Gifts it will have, and the better it will be at those Gifts". It's also safe to say that the Progenitors of the 'families'--and their descendants--have most, if not all, of the Dark Gifts.
I will not go into every little detail here, nor will I cover every possible variation of a Gift. This is simply a list, to give you a general idea. I will put notations where I find them necessary.
Immortality - Well, yes, technically they can be forced to experience 'true death'. But they won't die of old age or illness. If they do get very, very old, though, their sense begin to fail them, and they become much easier to kill. This is sheared by all vampires that are lucky enough to not decay.
Heightened senses - Also a gift common to all. Better night-vision, sensitive hearing, acute sense of smell, strong taste buds, and a more responsive sense of touch.They even appear to have more, unknown senses.
Dark Sight - Their name for their ability to see things as if watching a slow-motion movie. Also a kind of thermal-vision, where they see other creatures as heat and beating hearts, if applicable. Not unlimited--can only be used for short bursts at a time. Also, silver is nearly invisible to them in this form.
Empathy - Explained in the Master description.
Some Psychic Abilities - Telepathy between other vampires and their familiars, and sometimes with non-vampires. Weak precognitive abilities. Some have a form of tele/psychokinesis. Nearly all have a kind of ESP that allows them to obtain information about their surroundings without using sight, smell, taste, hearing, or touch.
Familiars - They have an affinity with certain creatures, which varies by 'family'.
Shape-Shifting - They can change into their familiar (or groups of their familiars--such as several bats, a cloud of mosquitoes, a pack of wolves, or a pack of rats--in the case of the Masters and Progenitors of each family) and/or a cloud of mist.
Sangrekinesis - A Gift that only otherwise very weak, genetically deficient vampires posses. This gives them the ability to control, shape, or otherwise manipulate their own blood.
Increased Physical Abilities - Speed and strength are greater than the average humanoid.
Fangs and Claws - Canines lengthen to fangs, nails lengthen to claws.
Some Control Over Space/Time - The more powerful vampires can walk on walls and ceilings, and the most powerful ones can slightly alter reality.
Control of Shadows - Can manipulate light and darkness.
Hypnotism - A single gaze can bend lower or less powerful creatures to their will.
Vampiric Instincts - They have animal instincts that humans lost long ago.
Fast Healing - They heal their wounds much quicker than other humanoids.
Wisdom - The older vampires have had a long time to gather knowledge and experiences.
Language - Vampires know Commonspeak (as nearly everything capable of speaking does), and most also know Latin. This is because the Church chose Latin for their spells and prayers. If the Church had picked Esperanto as their holy language, guess what language vampires would know? It is a sort of double-purpose: mockery and self-preservation. Not only does it laugh int he face of the Church, it also allows vampires to know what spell is being cast on them, and thus how to counter it/whether to run away. Vampires are also the most 'politically active' of the nonhumans, and that's why Latin has become the kind of international language of most nonhumans. Some also know Elvish, as it is one of those ancient languages only a select few speak today, and they will thus use it as code. Vampires are also, of course, fluent in the language they were raised in.