(rescued from a really old RPG.net post)
I’m typically not a vampire kind of guy. I’ve played VtM and the Jyhad CCG. I usually enjoy Vampire books or movies – Anne Rice is ok, I liked the Sonja Blue books, and a the first couple of Underworld movies. I thought the vampire in the novel Blindsight was pretty cool done (nutshell: they were a human-like sapient species that died out due to a bad evolutionary hand, including a reaction to right angles that gives them seizures, which humanity resurrects in the future). I fell asleep during every Blade movie I’ve tried to watch. My girlfriend used to watch True Blood and occasionally I watched it with her, but honestly I’d never watch it on my own. I’m not a fan or Twilight, and can’t get into The Strain.
But an aside in the discussion of a now somewhat embarrassing review of a certain game got me thinking: the concept of vampires gaining memories from their victims, and how that might work. This is what I came up with.
There is something about the blood that is more than just transporting oxygen and nutrients or removing waste. Blood permeates the entirety of every living thing. Beyond the DNA that we inherit, it contains not only our own cells, but those of our mothers and our children. It serves as a conduit to what makes us us. The ebb and flow with each heartbeat disperses our very essence to every cell in our body, linking a vast network of disparate organs and processes into one whole. Regardless of whether it is called a soul, or a consciousness, or the self, without blood there are none of those things.
No one knows where the first vampire came from, or whether it is a condition, a state of being, a punishment or a curse. Vampires are not made, per se. They are human beings unmade, stripped completely of their identity during their dying moment, only to inexplicably have the faintest glimmer of life return, a pale and tentative reflection of their former selves. They remain trapped in a limbo between life and death, faced with an eternal threat their identity, memories, personality – everything about them – will slip into oblivion.
So long as they have a steady supply of human blood they can stave off this gradual erosion of the self. If they cannot get blood, or they lose too much or too quickly, those pieces of their former life are lost forever. Each time some part of their selves slips away, they inch closer and closer to becoming a mindless, violent monster.
True to most vampire lore, mortals become vampires when they are killed by a vampire. It has been speculated this is due to some of the vampire’s blood being exchanged during the attack. In rare cases, mixing of whole blood due to some mishap may result in one or both victims becoming vampires. It is also not unheard of for an individual that has been attacked by a vampire to die of another cause relatively soon afterward, only to rise as a vampire. For those that die from nonviolent means, the result is an unnatural creature that has memories of its former life – vampire. When the death is violent or involves a large amount of blood loss a mindless, violent monster is created. An immediate and complete transfusion after a vampire attack can sometimes prevent the victim from becoming a vampire, but it’s not a reliable procedure.
Vampires are effectively immortal. Aside from complete dismemberment or incineration, they awaken each night exactly as they were when they died. Everything – from hair and nails, to existing scars and injuries, to internal organs – are maintained in a nonliving, but pristine, state. All new wounds, aside from the actual separation of a body part, heal without scars or other signs of damage. The only exception is fire, which not only do their bodies not heal burns but can destroy them completely. If for some reason a body part has been detached, it will not grow back – instead, if placed back into position before the vampire rests it will reattach itself perfectly. Possibly because of its central function in the living body and it’s close association to blood, the heart is very important for a vampire. Destroying or removing the heart will end its immortal existence. Otherwise, decapitation does not permanently kill the vampire, but keeping the head separated from the body is for all intents and purposes the same. Lack of blood for a dismembered or decapitated vampire will, eventually, lead to the complete destruction of the creature.
Vampires have a metabolism, of sorts. It is regulated by temperature, with higher temperatures requiring a higher consumption of blood. Vampires, contrary to popular belief, can endure direct sunlight with no direct ill-effects. However, direct exposure to sunlight and higher temperatures vastly increases their need for blood and accelerates their devolution into mindless killing machines. Thus, most vampires lead a nocturnal existence, so they can better regulate their blood consumption. This has an advantage too, because it is easier for them to find and feed at night.
While the tales of a vampire’s supernatural abilities such as speed, strength, invisibility, etc. may have some merit, in most cases it is because their near immortality affords them the opportunity to perfect a wide variety of skills at a level no mortal human could master. Certainly, it affords them more than enough time to delve into the spiritual disciplines and the occult, which may grant them “magical” abilities.