Vampires In Depth
|Setting||Seattle||The Circle||Vampires||Other Monsters||Rules|
For those interested in the nitty-gritty, this page contains more detailed explanations of what it’s like to be a Vampire. It may be useful for getting to understand your character better, or simply satisfy your curiosity. The information is presented in a prose format, to help you get in character, but throughout there are bullet-points that highlight key issues so that they’re easy to find when using this page as a reference.
- Night to Night
- Waking up
- Setting out
- What to do all night
- Night’s end
- Hunger, Hunting, and Blood
- That wonderful taste
- Feeding 101
- Sustainable feeding
- Nonstandard blood
- Supernatural blood
- Vampire blood
- Life Among the Undead
- Meeting strange vamps
- Vampire community limits
The Vampiric Condition
Daily life as a Vampire is a lot different than that of a human being. For one thing, it’s not so much Daily as Nightly. The topics below give a sense of what it’s like to exist night to night as a Vampire.
Night to Night
A typical night as a vampire begins with waking at dusk. Younger vampires tend to sleep until the sun is fully down, as they get older, they find they can wake when there’s still some light out. It’s possible to remain awake, but very unpleasant and doing so often is a major contributor to mental instability. Therefore nearly every vampire chooses to sleep during the day, unless there is some compelling reason to stay awake.
Vampires return more or less to their ‘normal’ appearance when they sleep. Beards and hair don’t grow, fingernails don’t either. A vampire doesn’t wake up with ‘bed head’, but probably won’t have a perfectly coiffed hairdo either. Since vampires are undead, there’s no BO, no sweat, no general biological needs to deal with. Showers aren’t required unless a vampire gets dirty, but brushing one’s teeth is highly recommended unless the vampire wants to have breath like a slaughterhouse. Most nights, a vampire can roll out of bed, brush his teeth (or have brushed them before sleeping), put on some clothes, and step out on the town. Very little ‘primping’ time is required unless the vampire wants to look especially nice.
- Vampires require sleep, not for rest, but in order to protect themselves from the hateful influence of the day, and keep their minds in order. Deprived of sleep, a vampire will begin an accelerating spiral of mental and spiritual degeneration.
When he rises, a vampire is always hungry, significantly more so than when he went to sleep. The need to hunt and feed is pretty strong as a groggy vampire comes to his senses. Some disciplined vampires push this need away, preferring to hunt on their own terms. Others choose to indulge that desire early, to get it out of the way for the rest of the night. The vast majority of vampires simply allow their hunger to rule them, setting out to hunt as soon as they can leave their lair.
For those that do hunt right away, they find that the hunger is more firmly dealt with, but that it becomes more difficult to break that routine of hunting right after waking. Either way, it’s constantly on the vampire’s mind until he manages to sate his desire. Unless the vampire has been using a lot of strong powers, or had to heal a lot, a little blood will generally quiet the hunger for a while. Certainly, it’s not necessary to actually kill someone for food every night. If it was, Vampires would have a lot more exposure, as you’d be able to correlate the murder rate almost directly to the number of vampires in a particular town.
- Vampires experience a lack of blood as hunger. A hungry vampire finds it increasingly hard to concentrate on anything other than acquiring fresh blood. A ravenous vampire will even lose patience with elaborate hunting methods, feeling a strong desire to simply grab the closest human and feed.
What to do all night
Once the vampire has gotten up and fed, or at least pushed away the hunger for a while with an act of will, the night has plenty more to interest a vampire. With no aches and pains, no fatigue, no sleepiness, and very little risk of injury, vampires can do just about whatever they want each night. Money is a concern only for those who want the influence it brings, or some minimum level of physical possessions. There’s no need to work a job, buy groceries, maintain a car payment, and all that.
Most vampires have powers that allow them to easily get money or other resources one way or another, or they have a friendly vampire acquaintance who can. Being a vampire means being on a permanent vacation, albeit a fairly gothy one since it takes place entirely at night. Many vampires use their night time to set up particularly satisfying hunts, be they clever seductions or stealthy hunts. Hunting is always a crowd-pleaser among vamps, it’s one of the few things that never wears thin.
For vampires that have retained their human minds, anything that’s interesting to a human can be just as fun for a vampire, with only a few exceptions. Clubbing, driving fast cars, video gaming, sports (extreme or otherwise), reading, playing music, or even just veging out in front of the TV can all be part of a vampire’s basic day.
- There are a few things a Vampire can’t do, or can’t do well:
- Vampires can eat, and the food tastes the same it would for a human, but it doesn’t sate their hunger at all. Also, the taste of blood is like ambrosia to vampires, and most human food pales in comparison.
- Vampires can also drink alcohol, but they don’t get drunk. Still, some do it to blend in, or just because they like the taste. Drinking the blood of a drunk person can cause some intoxication, though it’s usually pretty mild. Some vampires sample people like humans sample wine vintages.
- Maintaining human hobbies and interests is quite helpful in preventing degeneration.
As the night winds down, a vampire doesn’t find himself getting tired, but she does notice the immanent arrival of day. Vampires experience this as a sense of unease, an anxiety or worry that nags at them more and more as daybreak arrives. Wise vampires heed this feeling and start wrapping things up and making their way back to their lair. The feeling isn’t overwhelming, so it doesn’t ruin the end of the vampire’s night. It’s just a bit of a warning that day is starting to fray away at the vampire’s natural habitat, night.
Over the course of the night, a vampire will naturally get hungry again. Most vampires either feed quite a bit during the middle of the night, or take little feedings as the night progresses. If she’s been using a lot of powers, or suffered damage and tried to heal it, a vampire will have gotten a lot more hungry, and will have needed extra feeding. It’s a good idea to go to bed as sated as possible, because however hungry a vampire is when she goes to sleep, it will only be worse on the next dusk.
- It’s possible for a vampire to miss or ignore the warning feeling of day’s approach if she’s already in a stressful situation like combat or some other threatening event. Of course, vampires are perfectly capable of checking their watch or cellphone to note the time, but they are as prone to having time ‘slip away’ as humans are when events get intense.
As the sun rises, things get very unpleasant for a vampire. This is when most retreat into sleep. A feeling of lethargy overtakes even the oldest vampires, young vampires will feel exhausted. Even if there’s not as much as a mote of sunlight that can get anywhere near the vampire’s resting place, he will feel the risen sun as a hateful, oppressive presence.
Using powers during the day becomes much more difficult, taking a terrible toll in hunger. What’s worse, only very well connected vampires can sate their hunger during the day, by virtue of having human thralls or the like around their lair. Many of the stronger vampiric powers are simply impossible to activate during the day. Finally, even though it’s the sun that makes the vampire feel tired, missing sleep is detrimental to his mental state overall.
Slipping into sleep when the sun comes up doesn’t feel so bad, in any case. As sleep sets in, the hateful presence of the sun seems more distant, and doesn’t really make an impression. The exhaustion or lethargy seems normal enough to someone going to sleep. Vampires can and do dream, but without the aid of magic they remember their dreams only as well and as often as humans do.
- Powers have a substantially increased hunger cost during the day, and many are impossible to use. A vampire’s Attributes are also reduced during the day, by a percentage. How large that percentage is depends on the vampire’s age, but young vampires may be reduced to or below their pre-Turning abilities.
- Should a vampire be touched by sunlight, he immediately begins to smoke and burn in proportion to how much of him is exposed and how strong the sunlight is. Midday sun in Phoenix will burn a vampire up in less than a minute. Indirect sunlight from an overcast morning in Seattle will be highly irritating but create more of a rash than actually setting the vampire on fire.
- Even if the sunlight is too weak and indirect to actually destroy a vampire, even being exposed to indirect sun negates nearly every vampiric power there is, even the ones that tend to be easier to use during the day.
Hunger, Hunting, and Blood
Blood. It’s almost certainly the first thing someone thinks about when they hear the word vampire. It is certainly on the mind of vampires more often than not. Blood is of paramount importance to vampires. It replaces food, water, and oxygen in the needs of a vampire. As long as a vampire is drinking blood, staying out of combat, and avoiding sunlight and fires, there’s no reason she shouldn’t live forever.
That wonderful taste
Fresh, human blood directly from a person’s body tastes fantastic to a vampire. Every person tastes a little bit different, and they all taste really, really good. It’s difficult for a human to imagine how good blood tastes to a vampire, so instead of using food metaphors, it’s worth noting that blood is so enticing to vampires that some lose their interest in sex.
The act of feeding provides physical pleasure to a vampire, both from the taste of the blood and sating his desires to feed and hunt. Some of this pleasure transfers over to the victim, the sheer intensity of it isn’t the same but it can still be a very, very pleasurable experience. Indeed, addiction to the feeling of being fed on is not uncommon, and is the basis for gathering easy to feed on humans for most vampires. These willing vessels are known as the vampire’s Herd, or sometimes as Blood Dolls.
- The pleasure from being fed on tends to pacify humans a little, though it is possible for strong-willed or especially aggressive individuals to resist. About 5% of the human populace is totally immune to the feeding pleasure and pacification both. In fact they experience it as a horrible, painful event, above and beyond the obvious pain and horror of having one’s blood drunk.
In order to drink blood, a vampire bites his victim, usually, though fussy or decadent vampires may use a blade or needle to get the subject to bleed. Vampire fangs are not hollow, once a wound is made the vampire must lap at or suck the wound to get the blood. This sounds messy, and it is, but vampires are instinctively good at drinking blood and don’t waste much unless they’re being careless.
Once the vampire is done, if the victim is still alive, a wound still remains. If the wound was made by the vampire’s fangs, then it closes pretty quickly. Indeed, a vampire may need to bite someone more than once during a prolonged feeding. Fang wounds don’t heal, but they close up enough to stop bleeding. After that they behave like typical puncture wounds, lightly scabbing over and likely being inflamed and painful to the touch the next day.
- Victims don’t forget being bitten unless the vampire has a power that makes that happen, or if they were unconscious. Wise vampires invest in such powers, knock their victims out first, or gather a decent sized herd to meet their needs.
On average, a human being has about ten pints of blood in their body. They can only lose one to two of these pints safely, about the same amount as donating blood. Taking up to three pints is inviting serious health concerns on the part of the victim. Taking more than three risks death for the victim. Humans don’t replenish blood instantly either. It normally takes about 8 weeks for a human to safely replenish 2 pints of blood.
How much blood a vampire needs each night depends on what that vampire’s been doing, and how her personality deals with the hunger. Weak willed vampires need more blood to sate their desires, stronger willed ones can tighten their belt when they need to do so. However, few can resist the need to use their powers, and accidents do happen, requiring healing, so ever vampire is going to need more blood from time to time.
An average vampire is going to want at least half a pint of blood each night. He will be much more likely to be satisfied by a full pint. That makes seven pints a week, just from general hunger. On top of that, even a vampire who doesn’t casually use powers, but uses them only when really needed is going to need an extra 5-6 pints a week to make up for that energy drain. Throw on the occasional need to heal and use more powers than usual when trouble arises, and most vampires end up consuming about around 20 pints of blood a week.
- All this means that a vampire needs about 75-100 humans to support herself in the long term, assuming normal events. In order to be safe in emergencies, and not constantly exhaust her entire feeding pool, it’s much better to have about 500 humans to draw on.
- Naturally a vampire will be easily found out if she’s feeding on her entire local population. A safe bet is only using 10% of the populace at most to feed, which means in order to be safe a vampire should never live somewhere with a population below 5,000.
- It also means that a city needs 5,000 people for every vampire it supports, and more if they’re doing a lot of fighting amongst themselves or against other monsters. It’s reasonable to assume that when there’s more than 1 vampire per 10,000 citizens of a city, they begin to feel crowded. When predators feel crowded, they usually try to eliminate some of the competition.
Almost all real blood can feed a vampire to some extent. However, the only thing that satisfies is human blood, right from the source. Animal blood can work as a stopgap, but no vampire has managed to go entirely on a diet of animal blood without eventually having a total breakdown and succumbing to his hunger. Blood bank blood is also much less satisfying than fresh blood, and only satisfies at all if it’s whole blood. Plasma that’s been separated out and other such products don’t cut it.
The act of feeding is such a wonderful, exciting, almost transcendent experience for a vampire that nothing can really replace it forever. Even feeding entirely from blood dolls gets boring after a while, and will fail to keep at bay the nagging desire to hunt, no matter how much the vampire can gorge on her herd. Feeding from blood dolls constantly is like eating the same three meals every day, without variation. Feeding from animals or blood packs is like eating sticky, reconstituted protein paste. The only reason to do it is to keep going a bit longer, but you still crave real food.
That’s not to say that vampires must kill, though they often do by accident or simply because their nature causes them to enjoy it. Nor must they always feed by sucking on a bite wound. For the fussy vampire, feeding from a goblet that was filled from an elegant knife cut is plenty fresh enough. Sophisticated vampires need not stalk and pounce on prey, the instinct to hunt can be satisfied by well planned seductions on difficult targets as well.
- Vampires cannot feed off any animal smaller than a large rat. It simply won’t provide enough sustenance. Animal blood in general is bad at quelling hunger. A vampire can drain an entire cow and get only half or less of the satisfaction that he’d have from drinking half a human’s blood. Similarly, each pint of cold, preserved donated blood satisfies only a third or a fifth as well as fresh blood.
Drinking the blood of other monsters is a risky proposition. Such blood is normally very potent, though some creatures will simply fail to provide any satisfaction at all. Drinking the blood of monsters can have strange effects on a vampire, altering how her powers work, or playing tricks on her mind. It’s an alternative to drinking human blood, in the sense that it satisfies both hunger and hunting desire. However, it carries it’s own dangers from the unpredictability of the blood, and the fact that there aren’t generally enough monsters to sustain a single vampire, let alone several.
- Drinking blood from a non-vampire monster only satisfies if the monster is a living thing, and even then there are some types that don’t satisfy. No two monsters will affect the vampire in exactly the same way, though each type will impose similar effects. For example, all werewolves tend to transmit some of their aggression and wildness to a vampire who drinks from them, but the exact way that manifests will be different from werewolf to werewolf.
Vampiric blood is ‘processed’ in a sense, it is no longer human blood. Vampires can drink a lot of blood and don’t actually store all that in raw volume. Just as they don’t have to go to the bathroom after eating, that mass just sort of vanishes or the like. A well-fed vampire is certainly suffused with blood through his whole body, but not to the extent that his actual feeding amount would indicate.
Vampire blood does not satisfy hunger at all, but hunting other vampires DOES satisfy the hunting instinct. Ancient or mentally degenerate vampires often develop a sort of secondary hunger that causes them to long to suppliment their diet of human blood with some vampiric blood as well, making them all the more terrifying to the weaker young vampires.
When one vampire bites another, they both feel the pleasure of the feeding equally. If they happen to bite each other at the same time, the sensation is truly extraordinarily. Vampires who come together in something like a human romantic relationship often do this during sex, or instead of it. Though the feeding gives no satisfaction from hunger (unless the vampires are sufficiently ancient), it does create a mystic bond between the vampires. That bond is not an equal one, the older vampire will always have some advantage in the bond, and the one who’s blood was drunk also takes on a lesser position.
Vampires of essentially equal age who drink from each other at the same time, or at least in the same night can develop a bond that is as equal as possible, should they desire to do so. In some cases it can help hold groups together, as vampires are not particularly good at playing well with others. The bond has some magical properties, but also creates an emotional connection between the vampires. With a mostly equal bond that emotional connection would be very akin to love. With an unequal bond, the lesser vampire will have unbidden feelings of awe and subservience, while the greater vampire will feel possessive and superior.
- Vampire blood doesn’t satisfy normal hunger, though some ancients come to crave it in addition to human blood. Vampires drinking from each other create emotional and mystic connections between them that make powers easier to use on each other.
Life Among the Undead
Vampires are predatory monsters, and moreover, their instincts are those of solitary hunters. Because of this, they have trouble creating the same kinds of cohesive social groups that humans so naturally create. How vampires have learned to function around each other is detailed more on the Vampire Society page, but it’s worth noting here that meeting another vampire for the first time is an uneasy experience.
Meeting strange vamps
Like two tigers meeting for the first time, there’s a lot of sizing each other up, and waryness in the face of another dangerous predator. There’s some jealousy as well. Remember that vampires prefer to have at least 10,000 humans per vampire in a city. More humans per vampire means essentially more blood for each vampire. So every new vamp one meets is competition for that ever-precious resource.
Especially powerful and/or old vampires tend to show it in their mystic presence. Even younger vampires without the powers to detect such things may get an uneasy feeling. Beyond the sizing up phase, vampire relationships are just more fragile in general. Vampires are less likely to be loyal to their superiors, and more likely to be angry at their friends for small slights. These kinds of problems can be overcome with some work, but there are certainly limits on the size of a vampire community that go beyond the population requirements to sustain them.
Vampire community limits
Even in huge cities like New York and Mexico City, vampires simply cannot organize beyond a certain point. There will never be a vampire ‘nation’ that spans the world, because it would be impossible for vampires to tolerate each other on the scale required. Small groups work better than big ones, especially if the small group has banded together to defend themselves and increase their power. Vampires who don’t mind giving up some of their autonomy to a magical effect can exchange blood in order to boost their emotional connection, but many are not willing to give up that much control.