Six Cylinder Sunset
Vampires live like spoiled royalty. The are immortal, powerful and contain the experience of all their years. They can be killed, but the road is difficult. They always keep a clutch of human vassals, and often times move in “families” or “companies,” though they seem to be as often solitary. Remember this: prepare as much as you can for a fight with a vampire; then try to avoid it at any cost.
No one knows how old vampires are. Maybe all the old stories are true and they come from Eastern Europe. Likely, they are much older than this, as evidence by a few encounters with vampires who have intimate knowledge of times long, long ago. Wherever they began, they breed and feed through well known methods.
The creation of a vampire is a rare and horrendous occasion. Vampires are rarely made, but when they are it is at the wishes of the vampire who makes them – the Usher. Once chosen, the Imp as they are called, need only feed of the vampire’s blood. This is often done after the Usher has feasted on the Imp’s blood, though this isn’t necessary; it merely hastens the process. There is more than one case of a vampire hunter getting enough blood in his system during a fight to inadvertently turn him but don’t worry – you need about a pint or so to really turn. Smaller amounts will sicken a human but with rest and decent care they will probably recover. Still be warned: the fever and weakness is serious and without tending to the poisonous blood will take the life of the victim, especially with the young and infirm.
Once turned, a person retains all their memories. However, they gain the extraordinary abilities of the Vampire. Putting it to simple summary: the Vampire is just a human with evolved faculties. They see, smell, hear and sense better than a human in every way. Better even than most beasts. Their reaction time is incredibly swift, and the heal at a rate that boggles the mind: I’ve personally witnessed them healing from broken bones in a few hours. They are furthermore incredible strong and resilient, perhaps four or five times as strong as a human.
This enhancement manifest in a few, less-than-optimal ways however: first, they feel physical pain & pleasure much more acutely than any human. They are thus driven to every form of hedonism, and feel more powerfully any pain you’re lucky enough to inflict. The former they indulge in, while the later they seem to be able to conquer through will – after all, they are harder to hurt, and confident they will heal.
Follow this line of thought and one piece of vampire folklore starts to make sense: the aversion to garlic. I’ve not had much luck with garlic, but seriously potent smells like strong sulfur and aerosol weapons like mace work wonders to avert their attention. Like sunlight, it won’t stop them on its own, but every weapon in your arsenal is worth your time.
Religious symbols don’t do a thing. Sorry. But there is some good news: Vampires seem to have an aversion to Iron, Copper, Silver and Mercury. For some reason these metals are anathemas to vampires. Unfortunately, they are all notoriously weak materials so crafting weapons is tricky, never mind the scarcity of the materials after the Fall. The content has to be high, as well, so the source needs to be relatively pure. Iron and Copper are the most commonly found, the later scraped mostly from old wiring. If you can get this stuff into a vampire, they become sickened and weak but remember: you’ve blunted the edge not broken it.
The way to kill a vampire is completely destroy through fire or concussion, or to cut off its head. Enough physical injury will slow a vampire, but only the above methods will put it down for good. Like humans, you want to aim for the major organs, even if they affect it less. This is one place where the old legends seem to be right – a stake, bullet or anything else through the heart seems to really take the wind out of their sails pretty fast. Their movements will become sluggish: that’s the time to strike.
Fire will kill a vampire, but sunlight won’t. It burns them severely if exposed for long periods of time (several times quicker than any human would burn – it seems even their skin is more sensitive). As part of their heightened senses, daylight is too bright for them to see anything. It confuses and disorients them, leaving them completely blind, but they can still hear your footsteps and smell your breath – get one in the sun and the fight is in your favor, but you’re not completely safe. Vampires can go several weeks without needing to rest, and when they do sleep, only a few hours is needed.
Vampires need blood to stay alive – no one is sure why but that’s the way it is. They prefer human blood, but in a pinch they’ve been known to drink other mammal blood. To my knowledge avian, reptilian and amphibian blood is as revolting to them as it is to you or me. Know too that vampires have been known to consume human organs in the raw to get to the blood, rather than slowly sucking it as pre-Fall popular media would have us believe. But make no mistake: it’s the blood, not the organs they want. Common practice for a vampire is to take humans and add them to their collection – called a clutch – where they slowly drain enough blood at a time to keep them weak, but not dead. Notable vampires keep hundreds of humans in this way.
Vampires were the main architects of the Fall, working in league with humans (traitorous and unwitting), werewolves (who they betrayed), witches, and presumably some other-worldly beings it’s best not to mention. They call the Fall the Concerto, and they see it as having three movements:
- Cadenza: the planning stage, roughly 1948-2012 when they worked in isolation and in teams to bring about the Fall.
- Fugue: the time we’re living in now. They are grinding us down, letting us kill each other off and starve. Meanwhile, they consolidate their forces and begin building for the New World.
- Finale: complete domination. There is definitely something big planned, bigger than taking over the planet (since they could have done that at any time) but only the highest echelons of their society are aware of any clear plans.
Since they were in on the ground floor, Vampires spent ages stockpiling weapons and supplies for themselves and their Clutches. The werewolves did the same, but in the double-cross the Vamps destroyed most of those. Know this: Vampires are not only faster, stronger and more aware that you are – they have the best guns, ammo and vehicles.
Finally, the physical signs of vampirism: they are universally pale of flesh, depending on their ethnicity while alive. The color drains from their eyes and their hair, turning them towards clear-greys. Hair dye is not uncommon, so don’t rely to heavily on that. Vampires are rarely physically large, as the transition into un-death seems to take much of the heft from their limbs. They are typically very lithe and do not gain or lose weight with feeding. Vampires do not have fangs generally (see below), and drink their victims’ blood the old fashioned way.
One important note: mutations are more common that you’d expect. For whatever reason, the transition into vampirism sometimes distorts the body in strange ways as the last vestiges of humanity seek to fight off the encroaching infection. The quicker the transition into vampirism, the less chance for mutation, which may help to explain why Ushers feed on Imps before turning them. For the unfortunate few who turn slowly, the change manifests in sunken eyes, long limbs and digits, pointed ears and strange placement of- or multiple copies of fangs. Think of the old movie Nosferatu and you’re not far off. Unfortunate hunters who are splashed with Vampire blood have been known to take on a few mutations of their own, notably bodily distortions. Such are the hazards of the job, I suppose.