Vampire-to-Human population ratios are roughly 1:5000. Downtown Chicago has a little under 3 million residents, and the vampire population is currently somewhere between 500 and 600 (the PC vampire population is about 1/20th of the entire PC and NPC population).
Contrary to popular legends and beliefs, vampires are not actually immortal. The oldest vampire on record is well over two million years old, but the normal age for a vampire is one hundred to one thousand years. Vampires are not immortal in the sense that they most certainly can be killed, here is an example of some methods:
- Stake through the heart (Very painful)
- Silver nitrate or silver attacks (Even more painful)
- Fire (Still painful)
- Separation of, or destruction of either, the heart and the head (Painful but quick)
- Decapitation, heart removed, heart burned, ashes sprinkled in running water (No words are available to describe how much this hurts)
- Various (sunlight, wood-chippers, etc..)
Some of the myths and legends about vampires are certainly very true. If a vampire has not been invited to your home (be you a human, another vampire, anyone who lives in a fixed place with a threshold), he cannot enter no matter what he attempts (although they can certainly throw things in). Once a foolish person has invited them inside, be it a resident of the home or someone within the home, they can leave and enter at their whim. A loophole is that a vampire can be brought inside by someone else (effectively combining the entering and inviting in one action), be it carrying the vampire over the threshold or dragging the vampire in (EG: in a coffin?) If one has a combination home & work-place, the threshold is the threshold of the private residential part and not the parts open to the public. Note that your landlord sees your apartment as his "work-place", so he really doesn't play into the equation. The invitation can also be made "from afar" by way of a phone call, E-Mail, letter, et cetera, as long as the inviter is within the home at the time, or is a resident of the home.
Less commonly known is the fact that said invitation can be revoked (the initial inviter and anyone invited or residing in the residence can make the revocation, including other invited vampires, unless the invitation was written and still exists; a written invitation remains valid for as long as the invitation physically exists and as long as the residence is still owned by the same person as the time of the writing. Similar to the written invitation, one can 'lock' an exit by placing a blessed object of the resident's faith on the exit's threshold for the purpose of holding off vampires, with the 'lock' remaining for as long as the object is there, regardless of invitations), often with spectacular results if the vampire is present and in the home at the time; The vampire will be forcibly removed by an energy or force still unknown to this day and age, and they may well be injured by the removal if the evicting entails them being tossed through a locked door or window. Generally, the evicting force will attempt to remove the vampire through the exit they came in. If that isn't viable, it will attempt some other door, and only if those are unavailable will it resort to windows, chimneys, etc.. Doors and windows not already open or unlocked will possibly be opened before the vampire departs, but not if opening or unlocking would require more talent than someone wearing oven mitts. If unlocking the door or window would require too much complexity, the vampire is just sent through the door or window. (NOTE: There are no hard and fast rules concerning what exit the vampire is evicted through. When it comes up in-game, one will largely have to play it by ear) Disinviting a vampire during the day and into the sunlight is generally not considered magical malfeasance due to the magic not coming from the disinviter. If the vampire wasn't in the residence at the time of the disinviting, they are unaware of it until they next try to cross the threshold on their own power.
Many of the myths and legends about vampires are certainly very false. A vampire has no problems with crossing running water, no particular aversion to garlic or roses, no compulsion to pick up or count small objects, is not a normal person during the day, is not missing a reflection in a mirror, has no need to rest in the soil of their homeland, nor are they affected by the standard cross just lying around.
Unlike some portrayals of vampires, the fangs are constantly there 24/7, unless removed by pliers. Normally a vampire is somewhat pale and their flesh might feel wooden and cool to the touch, but this shifts more towards a normal living human's appearance the more recently and/or regularly they have fed; contrariwise, a lack of feeding can result in the vampire either resembling a dessicated mummy-like corpse or a rotting mass of carrion and bones. As a vampire loses its temper or is otherwise overcome by emotion, their pupils initially contract, leading to the eyes being solid iris surrounded by the whites. As their mood progresses, a vampire may begin to glow. Yes, glow. Initially the whites of the eyes, and then starting up throughout the body. Strangely, the glowing makes the skeletal structures of the vampire stand out in silhouette, as if the illumination was coming from behind them (like a hand over a flashlight), although it obviously does not come from any single direction.
The more powerful and older vampires sometimes achieve the level of Master vampire. They have additional powers and abilities beyond those of so-called 'normal' vampires. Please see Master Vampires for more information.
Vampire v. Faith
Vampires are generally unable to face holy items. If an item is the symbol of a given religion, the item is "blessed" under the terms of that religion, the bearer of the item has faith in that religion, and the bearer is thinking "anti-vampire thoughts", they can ward off vampires. This can hold true for all religious groups, not just Christianity. When a vampire is confronted by a faith-backed holy object, a light will shine from the object, and the vampire may be burned, especially if they come into contact with the object. If the object is blessed, proximity and contact is not unlike with sunlight. If the object isn't blessed, it is rather annoying and unnerving, but not damaging. If the person holding the object has no religious faith or isn't thinking malicious thoughts towards the vampire, it's just an object that can make the vampire nervous. It takes a holiness on par with a Relic to work without the backing of a nearby faithful person (and thus, very rare), or the strange loophole clause of a blessed object set upon a threshold (of a home or otherwise) with the intent of warding off vampires.
Please see the Faith page for horribly nitpicky details.
Humans are very cautious about vampires. For instance, when a vampire victim dies, they are usually taken to a morgue built specifically for that purpose. Normally, the morgue contains a large vault, which under normal circumstances is used to contain the body for when it rises. When a vampire victim rises, it usually has one driving purpose, and that purpose is to feed. Often, there is a vampire present in the vault or within sight that acts as a 'counselor' to the new vampire, introducing them to the world of the newly undead.
The process of being made a vampire (AKA: being brought over) generally involves the vampire somehow killing the victim without causing enough damage to prevent the corpse's resurrection three days later. Obviously, death from blood-loss alone would damage extensive portions of the brain, thus basic over-feeding often resulting in either just a corpse that'll never rise as a vampire, or a mindless vampiric killing machine (also known as a Revenant). The most common way is to Roll the victim while feeding (to boost the effectiveness of the Rolling), thus implanting a sort of hypnotic suggestion that the victim should "will themselves to die". Unfortunately, the exact details are sketchy (on the parts of both vampires and vampirologists), since even the combination of Rolling + Alternate Feeding has proved generally ineffective at bringing over new vampires. Still, the general method is repeated feeding within a fairly short amount of time, with a 10-day span between feedings (by the same vampire) generally resulting in the victim's death after three instances. Unfortunately for some rash vampires, any amount of feeding can end up bringing someone over, if a single vampire feeds more than three times on an individual with no more than about a week between feedings.
SEE: +help vamp
To quote Varney the Vampire (Chapter XXXIV):
"Not once or twice will the vampyre's attack have sufficient influence on your mortal frame, as to induce a susceptibility on your part to become coexistent with such as he. The attack must be often repeated, and the termination of mortal existence must be a consequence essential, and direct from those attacks, before such a result may be anticipated. If you were to continue my victim…the energies of life would slowly waste away, and, till like some faint taper's gleam, consuming more sustenance than it received…and then, Flora Bannerworth, you might become a vampyre."
A successful attempt to bring the victim over is fairly obvious due to the next three days finding the corpse not decaying, unable to be Raised as a zombie, and faintly glowing at night. Yes, glowing. Upon rising, the stress of the transition from life to unlife often finds the new vampire fairly animalistic. Due to this trauma, it is not unusual for the "parent" vampire to bind the "child" vampire's will to their own (through Oathing) and/or to try to erase their ties to the past by renaming them (often with a single-word name).
Much like the "Y2K Bug", many systems of official record-keeping were thrown awry with the legalization of vampires, given the fact that most data-entry requires a first and a last name, yet many vampires refuse to acknowledge their "birth name", instead going with the aforementioned single-word nom de plume. As such, it is not uncommon to enter "Vampire" as a first name on police records, abbreviated to "V." (EG: Ruthven the vampire gives a statement to the police; it's credited to V.Ruthven) In earlier centuries, it was regular habit that vampires would contest over particular names, but this practice has fallen into disuse among many of the younger vampires in America.
Although the Oathing is only really "needed" when the new vampire is still wet behind the ears and sowing their wild oats, many Masters of the City (AKA: MotCs) tend to adopt the habit of requiring all vampires in their domain to Oath to them, so as to maintain a foothold should they need to be reined in. Many MotCs even go so far as to implant the notion (through Rolling or Control Dreams) in their charges that they must Oath to the MotC for fear of withering away, going Revenant, or not awakening at dusk.
The way it actually works is that a vampire has to be Oathed to someone, somewhere, even if that someone is half a world away and hasn't had any contact with the vampire in question for the last few centuries. The very act of being brought over effectively oaths the new vampire to the "parent" vampire (as long as the new vampire didn't turn out more powerful than their "parent") so it's generally not an issue unless the "parent" vampire dies. If the "parent" vampire dies, or the vampire in question is otherwise left unoathed, it takes a few months (years, for master vampires)1 for things to start to go badly, with the vampire gradually losing more and more control over themselves.
For the first month or two of unlife, a vampire's body may make a passing attempt to carry on the habits of life. Two months is generally recognized as the outside limit (try Healing+Power=Days) and during this time there may be some growth to hair or nails. For the next century or so (Healing+Power=Years), one can attempt to focus power and healing abilities to kick-start such activities, but success is limited and very rare and generally costs more than it is worth. Swallowing anything other than blood is also rendered impossible without a lot of choking and dry-heaving.
After a century or thereabouts, no kick-starting is able to be done and the body will slowly attempt to revert to the state of death. About all that can be assured for reactivation is pulse and respiration, the latter consisting of conscious decision and concentration. During nocturnal activity the heart beats until dawn causes it to seize up and kill the vampire until next dusk. Both during the day and during the night, the fangs are constantly extended. The teeth that become fangs vary from vampire to vampire, but are almost always either the second, third, or fourth upper pair from the center2. The further back they are the easier they are to conceal, but the harder it is to feed. The rare individuals with the first pair as fangs have it easy in the ease-of-feeding department, but look like evil rabbits. Those with fangs further back than the fourth pair have concealment easy, but have to gnaw to feed or carry sharp straws. Generally, the fang-placement of a vampire will match that of the vampire that brought them over, although it's not unheard of for 'genetic drift' to set them up one pair further ahead or back. SEE: Vampires Feeding
The duties of the digestive tract are superseded by the blood-processing magics, preventing even the digestion of water, since the continuance of the vampire's abilities depends upon blood. The process of feeding involves stabbing with the fangs, then hickey-action (as opposed to the hollow-fang technique). The stabbing and sucking can be painful for the target unless the vampire mind rolls them into enjoying it (as per 'mind rolling'). The resulting holes do not require the vampire to Heal or provide medical attention due to a degree of innate healing magic in the feeding process, although it is possible for a truly careless vampire to just rip a chunk out, lap at it, and let the target bleed to death. Still, repeated feeding will leave the donor's neck scar-tissued and discolored due to hemorrhaging after the first dozen or so feedings unless extra healing magics are applied.
For a vampire to gain sustenance from blood, the blood must be fresh from the source or no more than fifteen minutes old. Although stored blood (such as from a blood bank), or animal blood may be consumed, it has a far lesser flavor and thus much less 'oomph'. A continual diet of old blood or animal blood will cause the upkeeping self-healing ability to fade, which results in eventual physical degradation. If a vampire cannot feed for an extended period of time (months on end), they will not truly die, but will either atrophy and dessicate into a withered voracious form (if inactive) or will atrophy into very little save for bones and goo (if active).
With the arrival of the local dawn, a vampire soon suffers what appears to be massive heart failure, leaving the vampire virtually a corpse until the next local dusk when their heart reactivates. As such, a vampire up in arctic latitudes during the winter has a longer period of nightly activity than one residing in a more equatorial location, and a vampire on a west-bound plane could attempt to race against the sun. Due to this cessation and reactivation of their parametabolic activities, it is extremely difficult if not impossible for a vampire to try to awaken during daylit hours, generally requiring either outside magical assistance or massive bodily damage.
If exposed to flame or temperatures over 450 degrees Fahrenheit, a vampire burns surprisingly easily, at a rate comparable to cardboard or dry light wood. If in contact with a holy object backed with faith and animosity, the object quickly heats to a similar temperature range, often harming both the vampire and the object-bearer at the same time. If exposed to sunlight, the immolation is far more impressive, the vampire's exposed areas easily reaching a few thousand degrees Fahrenheit in a matter of seconds. Extreme cold isn't really a problem, unless it's cold enough to start to freeze salt water and blood (-20 C, 0 F). Freezing a vampire solid has no marked effect other than rendering them immobile, which will eventually lead to the dessicated withered form due to a lack of feeding and activity, unless the vampire tries to move around too much while being frozen (which might make parts snap off).
When finally killed, a vampire under a year undead leaves a normal corpse. One under 5 years old quickly breaks down into a mess, under 50 breaks down to a ash-covered skeleton, and those over 50 years undead revert to the ash of legend. Sunlight, Fire, and Holy Might also reduce them to ash, ruining any DNA testing but still allowing for carbon dating.
Since the vast majority of blood is composed of water, and since vampires aren't known for their stone-dry eyes, leathery skin, and arid mouths, there is obviously a fair amount of slightly salty water in a vampire at any given time. Generally this is passed out in a means similar to sweating (although it isn't literally sweat so it doesn't feed the same odor-causing bacteria that human sweat does), although a vampire can cry quite normal looking tears. If a vampire is starving and is starting to scrape the bottom of the barrel of their reserves, the external signs of moisture begin to go away, leading to the "blood tears" of dramatic stories as well as dessicated parchment-like skin, fake looking eyes, et cetera.