Semi-heretical texts trace the Dhampyr to the Golden Children of the original Wan Xian. When their parents fell into corruption, the dhampyr retained Heaven’s favour and tried to convince their progenitors to abandon their evil ways. The Wan Xian slaughtered them all on the holy ground of Meru and for that, the August Personage finally cursed them into vampires. The Scarlet Queen was most offended by the vileness of the Wan Xian and wanted to ensure that they would always be reminded of their crime. She collected the souls of the fallen Jin Hai and wove them with a strong pattern of Yang that would ensure that the now cursed Wan Xian would be able to bring them forth once more when imbalanced towards yang. The first dhampyr was born in the early Fourth Age, with his mother being so disgusted by the half-dead creature and the shining soul within it that reminded her of her own sins that she killed the infant immediately. As the ages passed, the Kuei-jin lost their ability to see the souls of the Golden Children inside the dhampyrs and instead utilized them as servants.
Dhampyr are rare. It is estimated that there are no more than thousand active dhampyr within the Middle Kingdom. The bodhisattvas of the Kuei-jin believe that the low numbers interrelate with the numbers of the Golden Children, and that each dhampyr is a reincarnation of one of the original sins of the Wan Xian. For this reason, higher ranking Kuei-jin see with shame and hate on the Twilight Children.
Dhampyrs carry half of their parent’s curse within them, which makes them extraordinarily resilient even as embryos. There are reports of a female Kuei-jin who cut her son out of her womb while in the sixth month, with the infant surviving the experience. Chi corruption like the one in Japan can result in deformed offspring, called the Makuro Hiko. In most cases, Dhampyr are the result of the union between mortals and Kuei-jin. Unions between Kuei-jin are only rumoured to have produced a live child, while sexual encounters with other shen either end with no children or a normal Dhampyr. Dhampyr can only breed with regular humans.
While the sun is much more forgiving to a dhampyr than to a Kuei-jin, it is still not a pleasant experience. Sunlight seems extremely bright for them and prolonged exposure to it makes the P’o within them unruly. As a result, most Dhampyr are pale, fond of shades and avoid direct sunlight whenever possible.
Dhampyr are not immortal, but age at a much slower rate. After they come of age in their 20s, they have good chances to live 300 years or longer.
Within the psyche of a dhampir lingers the P’o. It is not as fully awakened as in a Wraith or Kuei-jin, and unable to assume full control via Shadow Soul, but its whispers guide the Shade Walker nearly from birth, being able to provoke them into brutal rampages once pushed or humiliated enough. Similarily, while fire is not more dangerous to them than to any other mortal, Dhampyrs experience a limited form of Fire Soul. As a result, most Dhampyr have troubled childhoods. Most grow up feeling that they don’t belong, neither among the mortal masses and neither in the world of their parents.
Unlike ghouls, Dhampyr cannot be forced via a Blood Bond to serve their parents. This means that the Court and the parent have to invest to earn their newest servants trust. Since the demon within them makes such things rather difficult, most Kuei-jin parents focus on utility, conditioning their child to absolute loyalty to their cause. Most are not conceived out of love, but for the necessity of a servant. The psychological damage of such an upbringing can be enormous.
Powers and AbilitiesEdit
Dhampyrs have inherited their parents ability to harness chi. Unable to utilize it as much as their parents, most dhampyr use their own chi via techniques similar to those used by the Shih. Some raised among Kuei-jin with darker intentions have also learned to draw chi from consuming the flesh of mortals or other shen. This chi can be used to heal wounds or to use Disciplines. While they cannot interact with the spirit world, they are able to use Demon Arts and Shintai, although learning them is much harder than for a full-fledged Kuei-jin. When low on chi, Dhampyrs experience strong feeling of hunger, with a preference for raw flesh.
Dhampyr are blessed by joss. Luck works in their favour, but also ensures that their life never come to rest. A Dhampyr can always win at a card table, but joss will make sure that they receive threatening phone calls intended for another or similar extremely unlikely circumstances will align. Dhampyrs are forbidden from being inducted into a Dharma and follow Humanity instead. They are unable to be ghouled and cannot experience the blood bond when tasting Kindred vitae. In a similar vein, they are unable to be Embraced, Awaken or become possessed by a Demon, although they can return a Wraith or take the Second Breath after their death.
Kuei-jin tend to see their children as some kind of sophisticated chih-mei, only more intelligent. Among the Courts of the Hungry Dead, Dhampyr are essentially half-persons, roughly on the same level as Heimin. Most use them to monitor Scarlet Screens or interact with the mortal world during the day. What standing a dhampyr can achieve depends on geography and the goodwill of the Ancestors. Dhampyrs rebel against the world of their parents and choose to live as vagabonds. A few even take up arms against the supernatural, joining with various hunters to use their abilities to keep the supernatural contained.
The dharmas are divided on the issue of siring children. The Thrashing Dragons wholeheartedly embrace the process, while not always the result. Devil-Tigers that want servants instead rely on bakemono, seeing the conceiving of a child as antithetical to their duty as devils. The Thousand Whispers are ambivalent: They occasionally birth a dhampir, raise it and then murder it when they live their life behind for a new one. Bone Flowers see the process of birthing or conceiving a dhampyr as a disgusting affair that involves way to much yang for their taste, but their dharmic duty to the family means that they are fairly invested in their offspring when they bring themselves to it. For the Cranes, the birth of a child is an investment and as such, they are not really against it as long as it does not interfere with their duties. The Face of the Gods usually has nothing against raising a child, but are rarely yang-imbalanced enough for it. Godling children are raised within the cults of their parents and often become high-priests of them. Others are soul-bonded, becoming little more than extensions of their parent’s form. The one’s most accepting and caring of their children are the heretical followers of the Flame of the Rising Phoenix, for whom their children are simply part of their new attempt to live a human life.
- , p.27-28
- , p.18, 75