|Language:||English • magyar|
Vampirism a disease which affects sapient non-Undead mammals - most famous the Humans, Elves, Orcs, Dwarves, Gnomes, Halflings, Goblins, Ogres (Vampirism is largerly unheard of in the Orient, being largerly restricted to the Occident). The main symptoms are becoming undead, as well as being forced to adopt a nocturnal lifestyle and a diet of mammal blood.
Vampires - along with theriantropes - differ from other forms of undead by the fact that they have preserved their mortal bodies relatively intact. Another trait they have in common with theriantropes - and liches - is their preservation of their free will and sentience.
For vampires, the blood of warm-bodied animals - chiefly mammals - is a requirement to sustain their mortal looks, as well as several mortal functions. A well-fed vampire is physically indistinguishable from a mortal: he or she has a warm body warmed up by the stolen blood, regenerates fast when wounded, is capable of sexually reproducing, and can also apreciate the taste of mortal food, albeit not enjoying any benefits from it. When a mortal is turned into a vampire before reaching physical maturity, the vampire will continue to age and grow until reaching said maturity - provided that said vampire is also well-fed. When deprived of blood, this development grinds to a halt.
Other negative consequences of blood-deprivation include an inability to blend into mortal society, a highly unnatural eye colour, lack of regeneration, body entering a state of decay (effectively turning the vampire into something little more than a zombie who is capable of talking - a decaying corpse that walks and talks), and an inability to reproduce sexually, or enjoy the taste of mortal food. Any pregnant vampire's child who is deprived of blood from a prolonged period of time is aborted.
Young vampires are highly averse to the sun - effectively burning to death upon direct contact with sunlight -, and only gain immunity towards it gradually over the course of three centuries. While being satiated with blood gives younger-than-300 vampires temporary resistance to the sun, recklessly going out to the sun will drain them quickly and make them require more even blood, inducing levels of bloodthirst considered detrimental to their quest of blending into mortal society. For all intents and purposes, avoiding the sunlight altogether is the most practical thing for any vampire to do.
Origins of Vampirism
Because Artograch is a medieval world where the scientific method that readers of this article take for granted has not been invented yet, and because the technology to study life at a microscopic level just does not exist yet, even the most rational and scientific-minded vampires remain largely ignorant about the origins and true nature of their condition, and thus are forced to fill in the void with superstitions and pseudo-religious fluff about their blood, "the call of the blood", "the potency of one's blood", "blood-bonding", etc.
Truth be told, vampirism is in many ways like a disease, a disease to which the only cure is a final death - vampirism is caused by a microscopic, parasitic/symbiotic life form that reanimates its dead host via necromancy (hence vampires being undead) and bestows the host with various powers in exchenge for blood - the very same parasite also contaminates the vampire's blood, and spreads Vampirism via the sharing of said contaminated blood with mammalian mortals. The powers bestowed upon the unwitting host vary from bloodline to bloodline, but it can be said that with the exception of the Children of Tséntach, all strands of vampirism share the same power to emulate mortal functions (warm body, appreciation of mortal food and beverages, possibility of sexual reproduction, partial immunity from the sun, capability to reach biological maturity) so long as the vampire is well-satiated with blood.
The precise conditions of creating a new bloodline are just as poorly understood, as there have been powerful vampires who assassinated bloodline-founders yet did not create their own mutated bloodlines - likewise, the longest-lived vampire not to create a new bloodline has been blessed with a much greater longevity than the founder of the youngest bloodline. Perhaps it is merely fate or just a coincidence, that those vampires who are destined to found a bloodline cause the vampirism-giving parasite inside them to mutate in a way that conforms to the founder's traits, creating a new bloodline inherited by everyone the vampire converts from that point on. Vampires call this process the "overpowering of blood" - due to their ignorance about the causes of their condition to begin with, they explain this away by saying that "the vampire has managed to overpower his/her own blood, and contort it to his/her desires".
- See also: :Category:Vampire clans
It is important to mention that while vampires are physically not as diverse as theriantropes - which are divided into werewolves, werebears, wereboars, werelions, weretigers, wererats -, they still come in a variety of unique bloodlines with their own attributes and abilities. For example, there is a clan of vampires that doesn't age even when embraced before reaching maturity, is rendered sterile and asexual upon the embrace, but gains tremendous advantages in the arts of magic.
Notable vampire clans include:
Vampires in Keldorn
Vampires form an important part of Keldorn's society. The Vampire Prince - who is elected by the "registered clans" (clans that accept the authority of the prince) - is part of the five-person council that officially rules over the Republic. The so-called "registered clans" are those vampire clans that accept the authority of the Vampire Prince (or Princess) and various additional Vampire laws in exchange voting for princes, representation in Keldornish politics, and protection from both internal and external enemies. In contrast the "independent clans" refuse to recognize the authority of the Prince, but not necessarily that of the Keldornish government as a whole. Whether independent or registered, clan hierarchies usually - but not always - feature a redementary caste system of sorts, with the clan's leader being elected by those of the highest caste. Some clans practice hereditary succession instead.
In Keldorn, vampire society consistently sits on a fragile balance: resources like mortal cattle to be drained are in constant shortage and thus subject of competition over. Ancient clan rivalries often threaten to turn violent, which is not in the interests of Keldorn's authorities. In an effort to make things more orderly, princes frequently hold councils with the major registered clans, and try their best to resolve conflicts peacefully. Vampiric society is heavily ritualized, where the preferred method of diplomacy is earning favours, giving gifts and tributes, and the preferred method of solving diffferences is individual duels instead of outright wars.
Many vampires (Vampire Death Knights) are also members of the Order of the Knights of Death, but are still expected to show some loyalty to their clan. This causes them to have conflicting double-loyalties. On the other hand, the various rival clans do shamelessly try to gain influence by getting their favourite candidate - from their own clan - to be the order's leader.
Since Keldorn is an undead state, vampires are free to flaunt and practice their vampirism. There are absolutely no repercussions to feeding or using their powers in public... nevertheless, because most free (non-slave) humans are powerful people (Necromancers and Death Knights), trying to feed on mortals other than designated blood-cattle is a very bad idea that often results in a premature final death of the vampire.
Vampires in Gabyr
Due to Gabyr's alliance with the undead state of Keldorn, vampires in Gabyr do not get hunted down and killed just for being vampires. If an individual is publicly known to be a vampire, no one bats an eyelid. On the other hand, the murder of Gabyrian free residents, feeding on Gabyrian free residents, stealing slaves from others, or even feeding in public, are all crimes that warrant harsh punishment.
On an unrelated note, Gabyr's status as an international trade hub and safe haven for pirates also makes it a very logical home for the kind of smuggler's den that smuggles mortal blood-cattle into Keldorn for vampires to suck on. The Gabyrian authorities don't even bat an eyelid - though they do demand protection money (euphemistically called "taxes") for... protection from angry people who would like to see an end to mortal trafficking.
Vampires in Continental Artograch
The status of vampires in Continental Artograch is a completely different story.
The mortals live in a magical society where supernatural happenings - such as Magic - are part of everyday life (and thus not even considered supernatural), and everybody is well-aware that vampires exist, which renders a full-on Masquerade unnecessary. Nevertheless, individual vampires or groups of vampires who live in states such as Etrand, Etrancoast, Froturn, Dragoc, Neressa or Charnek are still required to impose a masquerade of a sort, lest they meet their final death very fast. For in the aforementioned states, anyone who is publicly known as a vampire is hunted down, and killed if caught - should the vampire succesfully escape with their unlife, they will be forced to flee to another state, change their appearence, change their name, and re-invent a new false identity for themselves. Feeding or using vampiric powers in public immediately invites the warth of the law enforcement, and in case of Etrand, Etrancoast and Froturn, the Inquisition.
In spite of all these dangers, the Continent is still a far more inviting place for quite a number of vampires than Keldorn or Gabyr. Why? Some vampires may not know any better, some may lack the means to travel to Keldorn, but a far more logical explanation is the fact that blood is just far more easier to come by in these lands. While Keldorn constantly has to import unwilling humans by abducting and smuggling them into Keldorn in order to feed their vampires, the Continent is (at least compared to the desolate Keldorn) a bountiful land full of herds to feed from. Blood is extremely easy to come by, so long as the vampire manages to discretely isolate the prey from the herd, and remain hidden from the herd at large. Compared to the dry desert that Keldorn is when it comes to blood, Continental Artograch is a bountiful Garden of Eden, so long as the wolf keeps his identity - or very existence - hidden from the sheep, lest the sheep overwhelm and proceed to lynch the wolf.
Continental Vampire society can be divided into three parts:
- The Lone Wolves: Vampires who do not formally belong to any clan (but usually still possess the traits and powers of a major bloodline), do not wish to belong to any clan, refuse to recognize the authority of the Vampire Prince/Princess in Keldorn, or may not be aware of his/her existence at all. Typically, when a mortal is made into a vampire, but not initiated into polite vampire society, that mortal is a Lone Wolf. They can include both vampires who are ignorant of their brethren's sophisticated clans and structures, and vampires who were once part of a clan, but decided to go their own way.
- The Independent Cabals: Effectively groups of Lone Wolves, who decided to form their own groups, called "cabals" or "clans" (not to be confused with conventional bloodlines also called "clans"). Usually being built from the bottom-up, their level of organization can range from downright primitive (on the level of street gangs and mortal thugs) to sophisticated enough to rival Keldornish clans (enforcing their version of the masquerade, having quasi-religion rituals and initiations, established traditions, etc.). Just like Lone Wolves, they bow to no prince who lives on a far-off island (Keldorn), and may not even be aware of his existence.
- The Satelite Clans: Just as their name suggests, they are satelites of Keldornish clans (independent or registered), with their leaders taking orders directly from the clan's leader in Keldorn. The satelite clans are usually the ones responsible for smuggling unwilling mortals into Keldorn to be blood-cattle. They are also the ones who carry out the agendas of their parent-clans on the continent. In some cases, the continental satelite of a clan can outgrow its parent, but in spite of this, they may remain loyal - such an example would be the Mystic, whose continental branch remains active and loyal to the Keldornish parent. In contrast, some Independent Cabals were originally Satelite Clans who decided to rebel against their Keldornish overlords.
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