Vampires

Vampires are the sentient undead, those suffering from the condition of vampirism. The vampires of San Diego belong to the San Diego Kiss.

Physique

Bluntly, vampires are walking corpses. They feed on blood, and often pump that blood through their veins as they did while they were alive - however, this pulse is much slower than a human's, and in fact older vampires frequently learn to slow and even stop this pulse. This does them no harm, as their bodies do not depend on blood circulation. Female vampires cannot give birth, however male vampires can sometimes have children. This becomes more and more rare as the vampire ages. With a vampire father, the fetus is at risk for Vlad Syndrome. As they are dead, vampires are immune to poisoning and disease, including lycanthropy (with the notable exception of the line of hybrids created by the Mother of All Darkness).

Vampires possess strength and speed far beyond anything a human is capable of, although when it comes to raw physical power generally lycanthropes have them outclassed. Both their physical and mental health is dependent upon their diet. Older vampires can go for longer periods of time without consuming blood, but when a vampire starves they drain away to a mummy-like husk, and their mental faculties deteriorate as well. These faculties do not always recover - a vampire who is crazed for blood and has no control over themselves is called an animalistic vampire, or more formally a revenant. It should be noted that vampires require the blood of sentient prey to survive. Animal blood can sustain them temporarily, but they will begin to decay if their diet consists solely of that. The blood of lycanthropes and magically-inclined humans is more potent than simple human blood, and in fact vampires can become drunk on enough powerful blood.

Vampires are highly flammable, and sunlight causes them to burst into flame (although some vampires develop the ability to walk in indirect sunlight, and very rarely direct sunlight). Holy water acts as a corrosive, and leaves permanent scarring. Holy symbols can also burn a vampire, if there is true faith behind them. The stronger the faith, and the more powers the vampire is using at the time, the brighter the glow produced by the object, and the hotter the burn they produce if the vampire makes contact. Crosses can be used to restrain vampires - if they are draped over their coffins or placed over the door of the room the vampire is within, the vampire will be trapped. Aside from these injuries, vampires can heal from pretty much anything. Decapitation is a pretty sure way to kill a vampire, as is fire, but the traditional method is a stake through the heart. To be sure that the vampire will not return, it is best to burn to remains and scatter the ashes over running water.

Vampires are human in shape, but appear paler than they did in life. They have enlarged canines (fangs), which older vampires are more adept at hiding than younger vampires. Their eyes are often more vivid than they were in life. Some vampires (of Morte D'Amour's line) can cause their bodies to rot at will, and restore them from this rotting. This makes them much more difficult to injure. Vampires do not disintegrate upon death, unless the corpse is burned.

All of a vampire's senses are heightened, though not to lycanthrope levels. They can hear a person's pulse just by standing nearby, and their vision in near darkness is excellent.

Metaphysics

During the day, vampires do not simply sleep - they die. A necromancer's vampire servant can sleep instead of dying if their master is touching them, and a powerful enough vampire can maintain consciousness even while the sun is in the sky. Powerful vampires can rise before sunset, and necromancers can raise vampires during the day (though they do not achieve full consciousness, just ambulatory obedience). Weaker vampires woken during the day may become revenants.

Vampires can also read emotions, to a certain extent. This is an ability that grows stronger with marks. Some vampires can use this ability to determine if they are being lied to, but not all are able to reach this level of mastery. No vampire, no matter how powerful, may physically enter a home without an invitation. This invitation can be revoked at any time by a resident of the home, which will immediately force the vampire off of the premises.

Vampires have the ability to hypnotize, or 'roll', people through eye contact. This hypnosis is temporary, allowing the vampire to mask their movements, give commands, or hide the pain of their bite. The simplest way to avoid this is by not meeting the vampire's gaze, but animators, other vampires, powerful lycanthropes, and human servants display varying levels of immunity to a vampire's gaze. Vampires can also use mass hypnosis, which is the only legal form of rolling without consent, and is limited in what it can achieve. With more time and power, a vampire can 'deep roll' a victim. While the actual hypnotized state can be released at the vampire's will, the vampire will forever have a connection to the victim and be able to recall them at will. The only way to end this state of hypnosis is through death, either of the victim or of the vampire.

While biting a victim, some vampires can enter the victim's mind and establish some mental control over the victim. This control is firmly established after a few bites, but can be erased by fully cleansing the wound with holy water.

Older vampires are more powerful than younger vampires, in general. However, force of personality is a strong indicator of how far they will rise in power. Some vampires eventually develop into master vampires, gaining access to new abilities and a measure of control over lesser vampires. In addition, they may develop one or more master-specific abilities.

Many master vampires can make their voice a tangible force, conveying emotion or sensation with their words. Certain master vampires gain a resistance to silver, while others gain complete immunity to its special effects. Still other vampires may gain the ability to manipulate shadows. By manipulating auras, some master vampires can cut their metaphysical opponents from a distance. Humans cannot be affected this way, but necromancers have an aura of power which allows them to be cut.

Most master vampires gain an animal to call. This power gives the vampire the ability to summon (and to a certain extent control) animals of a certain type (for example, rats) and their lycanthropic equivalent. Certain powerful vampires (Council members) can call more than one animal. A sufficiently powerful lycanthrope can both ignore the call and block its effects on other lycanthropes - usually this is displayed by clan leaders, who can then protect the lycanthropes of their clan through metaphysical ties.

Master vampires can turn humans through a series of three bites, although certain powerful vampires can turn a human with only one bite. For this reason, vampires tend to avoid drinking from the same human more than three times in a month. In very rare cases, a human can be turned through a group feeding, in which case they rise as a revenant. The master that created them can control them, but only if they have enough power. When vampires first rise, they are often confused and/or dangerous. As a result, victims of a vampire attack are stored in a special morgue, where a vampire counselor waits with a small animal for the vampire's first meal.

A master vampire who sires a vampire forever has a connection to them, and is capable of draining the life force from their offspring (which causes their bodies to wither, and eventually produces mental deterioration as well).

Additional Sources of Metaphysical Power

A master vampire can form ties with one particular lycanthrope of their species to call, making them their specific animal to call (in this case referring to an individual lycanthrope bound to the master vampire, not the species of animal the master vampire has power over).

More commonly, a master vampire can bind a human to them through a series of four marks. These marks cannot be removed once given, and a vampire can have only one Human Servant at a time. Each mark binds the two closer together - the death of the master or the servant can lead to the death of the other. Most servants are subject to their master's will, but a necromancer servant retains free will.

  • First mark: A simple energy transfer. The human servant gains greater resistance to injury and to vampire mental powers, and an almost complete immunity to their master's mental powers.
  • Second mark: Another energy transfer, usually represented by points of light resembling the master's glowing eyes. The master gains the ability to draw power from the human servant, to experience food and drink consumed by the servant, and to enter the servant's dreams.
  • Third mark: The master drinks the servant's blood. The servant gains increased healing and an immunity to poisons. Master and servant gain the ability to communicate telepathically.
  • Fourth mark: The servant drinks the master's blood. The servant ceases to age, and may draw upon the vampire's strength. Mental communication between the two is nearly complete.

A triumvirate can be formed by a master vampire with their animal to call and human servant, usually if their human servant has significant psychic/magical abilities. The abilities of all three are strengthened through the marks (similar to the marks made with a human servant, but they are made between all three and are less specific in the ritual of their creation), and the master can feed off of both servants if they run out of energy.

Bloodlines

Sometimes a master vampire gains enough power to become a sourdre de sang - a "fountain of blood". While they were able to sire vampires before, being the sire of a bloodline makes them forever independent of their own sire - both socially and metaphysically. A sourdre de sang generates their own animating force, meaning that their sire can no longer leech that energy from them - this also means that they provide for all vampires that have been sired by they and their line, or have taken a blood oath into the line. Individual bloodlines often have distinguishing characteristics that are passed on to vampires of that line.

Line of Belle Morte: Incubi/Succubi

Belle Morte's bloodline is known throughout the world for their beauty and sexual powers.

The ardeur is the strongest incarnation of these powers, and thus the rarest. A double-edged power, it latches upon the deepest desires of wielder and victim, then molds them both to provide the situation. The downside is that the bearer of the ardeur must 'feed' this hunger, or require immediate 'emergency sex'. With practice, the ardeur can be controlled, but it takes effort and concentration. Vampires who possess this ability are generally referred to as incubi (male) or succubi (female) - they can inflame lust and feed off of it as if it were blood.

Certain vampires of Belle's line have demonstrated a few other incarnations of lust-related powers:

  • The vampire Asher, of the St. Louis kiss, can fascinate his victims, and with his bite can roll them so deeply that they orgasm and become addicted. They may even have flashbacks throughout the day. Asher can draw power from them.
  • The vampire Augustine, Master of Chicago, wields the power of love. This power, however, can be double-edged if he does not exercise caution.
  • The vampire London, of St. Louis, can provide especially good sustenance for the ardeur.

Line of Morte D'Amor: Rotters/Corrupters

Certain members of Morte D'Amor's bloodline can cause their bodies to rot and decay at will, without suffering harm. This renders them nearly impossible to kill without the use of fire and/or sunlight. An even smaller number of Morte D'Amor's line can spread corruption to a victim with their bite, causing them to decay and die.

Line of Morvoren: Moras/Nighthags

Night hags, or moras, are vampires that can feed off of fear the way Belle's vampires feed off of lust. Like the incubi and succubi of Belle's line, they can generate this 'food' in those around them. There is a lingering aura of fear around them, whether they will it or no. It is believed that Moroven, once of Belle's line, is the sourdre de sang from which this talent springs. Only master vampires of her line display this ability.

Culture

Vampires maintain a highly organized social hierarchy reminiscent of the courts of Medieval Europe. Each city is controlled by a single master vampire, the Master of the City, to whom all other vampires in the city must answer. In fact, the other vampires of the city are blood-oathed to the Master, to enable the enforcement of the Master's laws. This enables the Master of the City to draw power from the vampires of their kiss, and also to be aware of their location and condition.

Entering the city without the Master's permission is a direct challenge to their authority. Even visiting human servants need to negotiate for entry into another vampire's territory - if they do not, they can be killed on sight. Visiting another vampire's territory can sometimes take months of negotiations. The Council tends to bend these and all rules, showing up whenever they please, but not without good reason. Hosts are expected to provide sustenance for their guests, whether in the form of willing victims or merely hunting rights. Most Masters are very strict about hunting rights, especially within the United States. In addition, more powerful visitors often require some form of entertainment to be provided. All Master vampires are permitted to take a pomme de sang, always a human of lycanthrope. A pomme may be shared with guests to show generosity on the part of the host. Sharing a pomme de sang is a great honor, but requesting such an honor is a tremendous faux pas.

A powerful Master vampire (Council and/or a sourdre de sang) can give one of their lesser vampires their seal, their ring of office. This lesser vampire is then known as their vaisseau. A vaisseau speaks for their master, but more than that, to do them harm is to do harm to their master (metaphorically, not literally). To punish them is to say that the same would be done to their Master, which could be a grave insult.

Vampires are very formal, and usually negotiate the rules for any engagement, including a battle for the city. Typically, a challenge for the city will involve the Master (or the Stalking Horse, if there is one) and the Challenger using their powers against each other, as well as their allies and servants fighting each other. These include human servants, the animals and lycanthropes a master can call, and any other allies a master might possess.

It is a greeting among vampires to plant a light kiss above the big pulse in the throat, but this is a gesture reserved for the very closest friends as it shows great trust and affection. To refuse this gesture shows anger or distrust. If a master vampire wishes to show that they consider their human servant to be their equal, they allow their servant to place his/her hand upon their wrist, over their pulse. It is one of the vampires' strictest laws that they shall not kill the human servant of another.

All Masters of the City owe allegiance to their sourdre de sang, the origin of their bloodline. The concept is similar to that of a liege lord. The sourdre de sang of a bloodline can make certain encroachments in the territories of their descendants that they cannot make in the territories of other vampires, and their descendants cannot retaliate.

The Council

All vampires in the world are subject to the rule of the Vampire Council, based in Europe. A seat on the Council may be bought only through the death of one of the sitting members, but as the Council are some of the strongest vampires in the world, this is no easy task. The members are each powerful vampires and sourdres des sangs.

  • Belle Morte: Probably the Master of Paris, and at least 2000 years old, Belle is the sourdre de sang of one of the most populous lines in the world. Her vampires are known for their beauty, and she is the mistress of the ardeur. All of the great cats are hers to call. She can project her power.
  • The Dragon: An ancient vampire, known to have created a vampire during the Roman times, the Dragon has remained fairly secluded in recent centuries. She can suck the energy from other vampires, killing them. She can project her power.
  • Marmee Noir: The Mother of All Darkness, Marmee Noir is the head of the Vampire Council, but she has slept for centuries and is no longer considered an active ruler (although she has recently woken from her sleep). She and a few of her line are both vampire and lycanthrope - she herself is a were-sabre-toothed-tiger. It has been suggested that she is the first vampire. (deceased)
  • Morte D'Amor: Although his name is often translated as "Lover of Death", a more accurate translation would be "Death of Love". He is the sourdre de sang of the rotting/corruption vampire line.
  • Mr. Oliver: A vampire homo erectus, Mr. Oliver is titled The Earthmover, for his ability to generate earthquakes. He can almost completely hide his vampirism, and even remain awake during the day. He calls snakes, and included a lamia among his retinue. (deceased)
  • Padma: The Master of Beasts, Padma can call any animal, not just one type. He exerts great control over lycanthropes, wielding his energy like a lycanthrope's beast. Despite this, he is widely viewed as the weakest of the Council.
  • The Traveler: Able to travel between bodies, the Traveler effectively possesses weaker vampires. He can cloak his presence, and lend power to lesser vampires.

Interaction with Human Society

Although vampires are recognized as citizens in the United States, this is not the case throughout the world, and discrimination against them is prevalent - the change is recent, and previously vampires could be shot on sight. Vampires in the United States have begun presenting a public face to human society, but they keep their inner workings highly secretive. Vampirism disqualifies someone from police service.

Vampires generally drink from willing donors. Some vampires are involved romantically with humans who provide blood, while others attend 'freak parties' - events hosted by vampire junkies who are eager to be bitten. Many vampires also run clubs or other venues where the curious can seek out vampires and offer to feed them. While the physical action of sinking fangs into someone is painful, Master vampires usually 'roll' their victims with power to make it more pleasurable. Blood-taking can thus become very intimate. It is illegal to feed from or turn a minor in the United States, and it is illegal to turn anyone without consent.

Humans who have been mentally dominated by vampires are referred to as Renfields, after the character in Bram Stoker's Dracula. Before the novel was published, they were referred to simply as slaves. It is also possible for a few vampires to completely roll someone such that they truly love the vampire and cannot bear to be away from them - they are called Brides, like the Brides of Dracula.

Terminology

Ranks

Rank Description Term Origin Notes
Master of the City - - The master vampire in charge of a city's Kiss.
Stalking Horse Figure Head Derived from an old hunting practice wherein the hunter would walk beside their horse so as to trick their quarry into believing that only the horse is approaching, rather than a predator. A vampire who pretends to be the Master of the City, acting as a distraction for challengers so that the real Master of the City is able to work undisturbed. Not all kisses have this position filled.
Témoin Second French for 'witness' or 'second', as in the second in a duel. The Master of the City's right-hand vampire, usually the one left in charge if the Master has business elsewhere. In theory, they are next in line for the throne, however there is no requirement that a vampire be témoin before challenging for the city.
Human Servant - - A human, psychic, or practitioner bound to a master vampire through metaphysical ties, considered subservient to the master but also an extension of them.
Animal to Call - - A lycanthrope bound to a master vampire through metaphysical ties, considered subservient to the master but also an extension of them.
Pomme de Sang Personal Donor French for 'apple of blood'. Usually a human or a lycanthrope. A pomme de sang is a vampire's personal food supply. In exchange, the pomme is pampered and lavished with gifts, and enjoys protection from other vampires.
Renfield Slave From the character in Bram Stoker's Dracula. A human who serves vampires completely.

Other Terms

  • Mora: Also known as a nighthag, a vampire with the ability to feed on fear.
  • Revenant: A vampire who rises without control, violent and feral.
  • Sourdre de Sang: French, meaning approximately 'fountain of blood'. Used to refer to the founder of a vampire bloodline. All vampires of the sourdre de sang's line owe them special allegiance.
  • Vaisseau: French for 'vessel'. An ambassador, of sorts, for a Council member or sourdre de sang. Any insult or injury given to the vaisseau is symbolically dealt to the Master behind them - which can have powerful repercussions.