For the Inkliverse, a vampire is any human or human-derived being that steals or robs prana from other humans. See Spiritual Predation. There are many varieties. The following list is not exhaustive.
Vampires can be broadly classed as living or dead (or undead), and as "skilled" or "palled." Living and dead require no comment. A skilled vampire steals prana using a skill they have learned. A palled vampire owes its powers to the "pall" cast on it, a powerful and elaborate ka-based spell that also inflicts whatever vulnerabilities the vampire is subject to. Skilled vampires do not share these vulnerabilities and are therefore more dangerous.
Undead vampires are various forms of ghosts who may or may not be in possession of a lifeless body. They are not numerous and, even though they seldom became vampires willingly, they are usually not nice. Most decent people, on being turned into a vampire, would rather die than go on that way, and soon do so. Others try to continue being decent and either fail to survive or fail to remain decent. Also, many of the ghosts animating vampires are fragmentary ka'u, not real souls, and are therefore running on automatic, not moral agents at all.
Undead vampires have no leaven, no prana-generating capacity. If they do not acquire prana elsewhere, they must do nothing that requires prana or else run out. Even moving, even not decaying costs prana, so they must get prana or get deader.
The "ancestral" form of undead vampire is one of the Walking Dead, a ghost who retains a lot of lucidity when it dies (though it may not realize it is dead), and decides to stick around and animate its corpse. The result is someone who walks and talks, but is, nevertheless, dead and decaying. If the Walking Dead goes on to take prana from the living, e.g. to reverse or forestall its decay, simulate life, or for any other purpose, you have your basic undead vampire.
This is, of course, a horrible mode of existence. But many of the Walking Dead are too muddled in their wits to realize their condition. If the Walking Dead is sufficiently horrified (most typically when it falls asleep and has a nightmare), the body flares up in a case of Spontaneous Human Combustion and the soul is released, to become a "normal" ghost or to ascend. Of course, there is the alternative of becoming hardened to the horror.
The Walking Dead are "skilled" vampires (though generally self-taught) and, as such, have no particular additional powers or vulnerabilities. If the ghost that animates one is actually a ka, not a complete ghost, it is then technically soulless. This ka/soul distinction applies to all undead vampires.
The Classic vampire is based on the Walking Dead, but with additional features based on the pall that vampirized them. They require blood to generate prana, and do not relish any other form of nourishment. Ethical vampires can get by on blood sucked from raw or rare meat, animal blood, or non-lethal sips from living humans.
As is well-known, they are repelled by holy objects, garlic, and silver. These do not harm them, but excite revulsion; they certainly cannot victimize anyone defended by these things. Sunlight does not destroy them, but their powers fail during daylight hours.
Many of them fear mirrors, because the taotie haunts mirrors and has somehow developed a predatory interest in Classic vampires; most other vampires do not have this problem. As a result, Classic vampires that practice glamour (and it is a skill common in their sub-culture) are careful not to cast reflections.
At night, Classic vampires have the strength of ten, are vastly tough, and can slip through any cracks that will admit drafts. Various forms of magical learning are common in their sub-culture, such as seemings for turning into a bat, wolf, or mist.
Greek vampires are similar to Classic ones. Their level of strength is more variable, from three to ten times normal human, with weaker being commoner. They turn into owls rather than bats and tolerate garlic. They can also consume normal food and drink, though they still need blood for prana. Those who practice glamour are careful to avoid reflecting. Magic is not so common among them as among Classic vampires.
Ancient Egyptian funerary rites were designed to assist the dead to Duat, their Elysian underworld. If those rites were particularly botched or maliciously mangled, they sometimes produced a vampire, usually in some degree of mummification.
Egyptian vampires steal prana by sucking breath, leaving the victims with stifling feelings of suffocation or, in the extreme, smothered. Cautious or ethical vampires can make do by taking small sips of breath, usually from a wide population of sleepers, who suffer nothing more than a passing stuffiness. If the vampire is unrestrained, about a month of steady predation will leave the victim dead of what looks like galloping emphysema. The victim will then arise as another vampire, unless steps are taken.
These vampires reflect and cast shadows normally, but usually weigh only a few pounds, due to their mummification. They have three times the strength and speed of a normal human, and can squeeze through any crack that admits a draft, but only at night.
Egyptian vampires are repelled by white feathers (the holy symbol of Ma'at, Truth, against which the soul is weighed at judgment), balances, crocodiles, hippopotami, jackals, ibises, and baboons. They are not repelled by ankh symbols, but can be distracted with a kind of hungry longing around them, and ankh amulets serve as protection against their breath-sucking.
Egyptian vampires often use nymic magic and luck-casting, and often cast ka'u if they are themselves ensouled.
The hopping corpses or jiang shi of China (called kyonshi in Japan, where they are also found) are examples of undead energy vampires. They do not suck blood or breath, but draw off prana directly. Unfortunately, they typically release the prana by killing people.
Like Western vampires, they are created by a the casting of a pall, but by a different line of descent that has acquired different rules and limits.
The most rudimentary jiang shi, animated by a fragmentary ka or a very muddled ghost, just prowls the night, strangling people, using its prodigious strength (four times normal) and leaping ability on the hunt. It can also detect nearby living by their breath, so holding your breath can give a temporary reprive. They are inert by day. They only use the prana for animation and strength, not to prevent decay or simulate life, with horrific results.
The most full-developed jiang shi, much rarer than the mere monsters and animated by a complete, coherent ghost, develops the hopping into full-scale, run-across-ceilings martial arts of cinematic calibre. It also develops many sophisticated ways of getting prana, which need not be at all evil, though the number of benevolent jiang shi is quite small. They certainly use prana to prevent decay and simulate the appearance of life.
Spectral vampires are disembodied ghosts, whether souls or ka'u, that feed on the living, usually as energy vampires. If they are skilled enough in glamour or seeming, and powerful enough, they can give the impression of being living people or undead monsters. At the other end of the scale, they may manifest as no more than a bleak and dreary mood hanging about a place, sapping energy from people passing through; these are either the most minor or the most subtle of vampires. In the middle are those who attack in dreams; these are part of the reality behind the figures of night hags, incubi, and succubi.
Living humans can give or take prana from each other without being vampires, just as they can take an occasional drink of wine without being alcoholics. Living vampires may be defined as prana addicts, who need to take prana from others to feel healthy and normal. The normal human prana generation is not enough for them, and, for whatever reason, occult means of prana generation are not to their taste or not among their skills.
Like undead vampires, they are rare, and they are even more dependably nasty: a reasonably decent person would learn to make do with their natural prana level, or learn to generate more in honest ways, not take it from others by force or guile. They often develop eating and sleeping disorders, using prana instead; they become insomniac (and indifferent to or proud of the fact) and find mundane nourishment uninteresting or repellent. They overlap a lot with ghost-drinkers.
Most are singular cases of "skilled" vampires, self-taught prana robbers who have developed their need and their style individually, but there are a few groups or types, usually organized into clans or gangs.
Some living vampires who become such without clear understanding recognize that they are vampires in some sense or other and conclude that they must be "undead," and not conventionally alive. They may actually drink blood, shun daylight and garlic, etc. It all depends on their individual delusions. If they think their vampiric status gives them special invulnerabilities, they are unlikely to remain conventionally alive for long.
Time vampires, or vampire-wizards. The only known gang is in Boston. Nothing to do with the original Minute Men, but given the locale and their talent, the name is inevitable. They steal a minute or so of time off isolated individuals, who vanish for the time stolen, then return to reality where they left off, but completely drained of prana, and therefore groggy and confused. The vampire not only gets the prana, but can use the stolen time to do time-tricks.
Velvets are a relatively new class of vampires, or vampire-witches, Slavonic in origin, which steal prana with body heat. Most are pretty young (or young-looking) women, and most dress in velvet. They use the prana to enhance their beauty as well as to power other magic skills, often involving glamour, dreams, and heat. They form a small sub-culture of individuals and little gangs in Europe. Eating disorders are very common with them; eating normal food costs status.
Return to Inkliverse
Return to Wind Off the Hilltop
Copyright © Earl Wajenberg, 2010