Note: Vampire society is especially guarded about revealing secrets; they fear that the revelation of much of the information that would be in this section could allow people to easily hunt and destroy them. Because of this, only limited research has been done on the biology of vampires and a good part of this entry is speculation.
A vampire (VAM-pī(ē)r) is a human that has undergone a magical ritual to become something that isn’t quite human. Vampires are traditionally considered undead, although there is little evidence for this as vampires do sleep, breathe, and exhibit both a pulse and a heartbeat. They feed on blood, but can also eat and digest traditional human food. Vampires will bleed if wounded, so presumably they have a circulatory system. Vampires do eliminate waste in the normal human ways. It is unknown if vampires are fertile, although it is assumed that while they have the capability to perform the act, vampires do not reproduce sexually.
Instead, vampires create offspring through the drinking of blood. The first bite and draining from a vampire will cause the human to crave being bitten more often. If the cravings are not fulfilled, the human can go mad with desire, suffer terrible withdrawal symptoms, or—in many cases—fully recover from the compulsion.
It is unknown exactly how many feedings a vampire needs to perform in order to convert a human into a vampire. There must be at least one month between the first and final feeding, or else the vampire risks being left with a dead and exsanguinated human.
Vampires can only convert humans into vampires; while they can drink the blood of non-humans, there are no recorded instances of non-human vampires, nor of non-humans developing the same cravings. There is a hotly contested debate on whether humanoid or partially human cryptids, such as fairymaids and mermaids, could theoretically be turned into vampires, but, again, no such instances have been recorded.
Some vampires can cast spells and, in Thunderbird Province, they are considered full citizens and members of the Magimundi. Magi who become vampires lose their original magical powers and must retrain in order to cast spells.
While vampires can eat and drink normal foodstuffs, they require blood to survive. If a vampire is deprived of blood for a significant length of time, they will enter a frenzied state where they will attack and drain the first creature they come across. If they are sufficiently restrained, a vampire deprived of blood will enter a sort of coma from which they can only be revived by being forcefed blood.
Vampires prefer human blood, either magical or mundane. They gain no nourishment from the blood of other vampires. They can subsist on the blood of other mammals. They can drink non-mammal blood, but do not gain any nourishment from it. Vampires can subsist on the blood of mammalian cryptids, but tend to avoid them as a food source for reasons unknown.
Vampires have a strong allergy and aversion to bright sunlight, which damages and can even destroy them. While in recent years, a topical ointment has been created which allows vampires to walk in daylight without taking damage, most vampires prefer to avoid the sun and will always wear dark glasses in brightly lit areas. Peter Romulus created a now-patented lunar shield poultice-spell combination that turns one’s skin into a mirror, deflecting and diffusing moonlight, allowing the lycan to resist the lupine mandate. Romulus’ spell has since been modified to temporarily shield vampires from the effects of sunlight and is sold in a proprietary and encrypted format to those mages and wizards who have the Leeuwendaalders to afford it. It’s a very difficult spell, and it must be maintained constantly, requiring magical ingredients that are quite rare and, in some provinces, illegal to harvest.
Vampires have the ability to magically heal themselves, although (depending on the type of injury) it may heal itself into a strange configuration. As vampires age, they also change in appearance. Some typical changes include loss of head and body hair, tips of ears becoming pointed, and teeth becoming sharp and pointed. Vampires do age, but they do not die of old age or disease. They can be killed, however; see the section on defense for more information.
There are several sub-species of vampire, each with their own quirks. Some have a natural intolerance to garlic. Some have unusually pale skin, or red eyes. We are hesitant to include this, but it is often asked. Unless ensorceled in some way, vampires cast a normal reflection in mirrors and may enter buildings without invitation. It is believed that these are rumors that have been spread by vampire tribes to sow confusion. Vampires can, and do, die. The corpse of a younger vampire is identical to that of a non-vampiric human corpse. After vampires reach a certain age, their bodies dissolve into dust when they die.
There is no specific collective noun for vampires. Coven, tribe, clan, and house have all been suggestions. The area where vampires live has in the past been referred to as a ghetto, but that term is now considered pejorative.
Vampires tend to live in solitary enclaves within or near the Magimundi communities. The city of Morts-vivants in Hispaniola is a noted vampire community which does not welcome outsiders. Virginia Isle is thought to trade with Morts-Vivants. Other hidden communities of vampires can be found, particularly in the Louisiana and Alabama bayous, the Savannah and South Florida swamps, and in densely populated cities where food sources are abundant.
Vampires seem to have biology identical to non-vampiric humans. Older vampires can exhibit subtle mutations such as paler skin, pointed ears, longer taloned fingers, and the like.
Vampires can eat human food, but require mammalian blood to survive. The blood of choice is human blood, magical or mundane.
In general, the body parts of vampires can be used identically in spells that require human body parts. Vampire blood is a very potent magical ingredient, but can cause unpredictable side effects in spells that require human blood. The dust of a dead elder vampire is also a potent spell ingredient.
Note: Vampires are considered a protected species by the North American Council of Five. They are considered sentient beings with intelligence equal to humans. Harvesting a vampire for parts carries with it the same penalties as harvesting a human for parts.
Vampires have a particular hatred of necromancers, and necromantic spells are especially effective against vampires. Vampires can be killed through excessive trauma, but they are able to heal many injuries. They are also especially vulnerable to acid, light-based spells, and electricity.