Vampirism

You'd think they'd stick to being terrors of the night, what with sunlight's effects.
  The lurking threat of undeath is one that chills most ordinary people to the very bone. To die, to descend into eternal sleep, and then to be awoken as a slave to necromancy is a fate none like to think of, and indeed one that harms the very cycle of rebirth, according to the goddess of Death herself.   Vampirism is different, in some ways. Though it is still one of the many forms of undeath, vampires hold onto their full intelligence, unlike the 'undignified' undead - zombies, skeletons, and the like. Indeed, vampirism tends to improve much about the base creature, from their bodily strength to their unnatural beauty. If it weren't for the terrible costs they must pay to live, it would certainly seem like vampires were more of an improvement on society.   Unfortunately, to undergo the Turn - the transformation from mortal to vampire - is to commit, willingly or not, to reaping the lifeforce of mortals. It is to bid farewell to happiness and positivity on any scale they once knew, and to draw pleasure instead from base acts of evil. It is to live against the rules of nature - and against a world determined to be rid of their existence.

Transmission & Vectors

He had been such a gracious host, and I thought it only fair that I allow him a drink from me, as much as the thought disturbed me. But he was stronger than I, and I found myself unwilling to ask him to stop...
  Vampirism is generally thought to be spread through one method, and one method alone. To raise a creature to this form of undeath, a vampire must drain the lifeforce of the mortal in question and subsequently choose to Turn them with their death. The process is not painless, and the creature in question spends up to four days in excruciating agony as the vampire's venom severs their ties to life and damns their immortal soul to the realm of undeath. The sire, the vampire who turned them, remains dominant over their newest spawn until they either die, or willingly free the spawn.   It is this master-slave relationship that proves so dangerous in vampiric relationships and in hunting the creatures; killing a master could unleash countless spawn on the countryside to begin a new reign of terror.  

Alternative methods of transformation have been discovered. It is possible to harvest the venom of vampires through their blood and teeth to create drugs with similar mindless effects to the dizzying pleasure of a vampire's bite, and thus it is possible to produce a single syringe capable of forcing a mortal to undergo the Turn.   As this still places the newborn under their master's control, some older vampires have taken to utilising this method on adventurers through repeated exposure or torture - a paladin might not think anything of the three-dozen traps sapping their strength and battling their fortitude until the venom is already coursing irrevocably through their veins.

Other Beings

A number of powerful demigods possess the ability to turn their followers into vampires. Notably, a few select archdevils and demon lords hold dominion over large swathes of this form of undeath, and seek to bestow the condition on many of their followers. Whether they retain the title of master to these precious few is unknown.   There also exist vampires with near-mythical power who can raise spawn in a torturous hour, instead of the four day process - these vampires and their spawn are far more deadly, and should be approached with great care or not at all.

Symptoms

Detecting a vampire is not hard if they wish to be detected as such. They are classic figures throughout mythology and literature, and as such, their tells are well-known. All vampires have the pallor of death in their skin - unnatural washes of blue-green undertones are perhaps the most immediate tell that the being in particular is undead. They usually have fangs of varying sizes, and their eyes shift in colour to dull shades of colour, or to blood-red. They fear the deadly rays of the sun, must seek permission to enter residences, and stay far from both religious symbols and garlic - and running water is anathema to their very existence.   In short - a well-trained individual can spot a sloppy vampire from a mile away.   That being said, many vampires have a knack for deception and disguise, and their abilities to shift into mist and dominate attackers allow them some leeway in avoiding would-be hunters. It is not uncommon for vampiric individuals to maintain a completely ordinary existence within mansions and castles, served by ordinary staff who do not question their occasional dizzy spells. Such a character may not be drawn into sunlight easily, and will only leave their residence for evening balls and meetings to which they have already been invited.   The trappings of noble society, particularly in Valathe, are almost uniquely suited to hide vampirism as such.

Treatment

To feel sunlight warm my skin, one final time... is the death I have always wanted. Thank you.
— final words of an unwilling vampire
  There is only one guaranteed treatment for someone afflicted with vampirism: death. Whether it be to the sun's deadly rays, the rush of running water, or a stake in the heart followed by flame, a vampire must be slain for it to be possible to cure them. Once dead, they can generally be resurrected by normal means, though any truly eternal beings will be far past the realm of mortal ability to raise, and some vampires may have damned their souls through their actions.

Prevention

Surprisingly, it is actually relatively simple to prevent vampirism. As it is spread mainly via vampires and adjacent beings, staying out of the path of such creatures - and staying in sunlight - will drastically decrease the chance of a vampire attack. Simple methods of caution, including carrying a holy symbol and not allowing strangers within your home, are also valuable aids in preventing vampirism.   Magical methods of protection for those who seek out vampires do exist: protections against negative energy, the touch of evil creatures, and death effects will all provide varying benefits. Additionally, though unorthodox, finding ways to develop complete immunity to undeath - such as being transplanted into a construct - will prevent vampirism completely. This method, obviously, has its own drawbacks.

History

The moroi, the vetala, the jiang shi. How many years have the walking dead leeched from the living? Certainly, their abhorrent existence stretches into the annals of history...
  According to folklore spread by the cult of Zura, vampirism supposedly arose from a powerful human queen of another world whose lust for immortality overcame her completely, sending her into a feeding frenzy on her own subjects. Her death heralded her ascension into demonic power, where she sought to spread vampirism across the planes.   There is little evidence that this is the truth. There exist many forms of vampirism and many deities that claim to represent the curse's various forms. Predicting its beginning is a fool's errand for a mortal - if any being knows for certain, it would be the goddess of death herself.   What can be traced are vampiric lineages and kingdoms. The continent of Valathe has the longest open history with vampires: the current nation of Gothadrun arose from a vampire lord's holdings after their successful revolt, and a number of small towns - such as Aletheia's Lunaron - were former villages established by vampiric families to both gain political power and maintain a consistent food source. The Medimian Empire has openly welcomed undead powers in previous years, though currently seems to prefer slavery to alliance.   Though there is more to be learnt, these are each nations - with the exception of the young Vostene Republic - that have existed for centuries. Tracking impacts of one small group of people is a great challenge when the flames of war and pursed lips of upper-class society would hide the black marks on each country's record. Instead of diving further in depth, consider: these are immortal beings. They still exist to this day, lurking in the background and vying for control. It should come as no surprise that the tells to their existence have been concealed far beneath the surface.
Type
Supernatural
Parent
Origin
Magical
Cycle
Chronic, Acquired
Rarity
Rare
Affected Species

Vampiric Powers - Standard (Moroi)

  • Shapeshifting (dire bat & wolf)
  • Blood-draining, via fangs
  • Energy draining, via attacks
  • Mist form
  • Domination of the mind
  • Ability to create spawn
  • Shadowless
  • Spider-climb


Cover image: Vampire (edited by Han) by

Comments

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Master Brinsmead
Caitlin Phillips
17 Dec, 2020 22:18

These quotes have given me chills. What a fabulous article! The harvesting of vampire venom sounds terrifying and fascinating at the same time!

Cait x
17 Dec, 2020 22:30

Really interesting take on vampires - obviously they are common in folklore but I think you've managed to put your own twist on things. I like the idea that vampires are able to use a syringe of their own venom to Turn someone, rather than through biting them, if they prefer.   Great use of quotes, too! :D

Emy x   Welcome to Etrea!