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Vampire Physiology

A vampire is a fictional creature in the role-playing games and books set in the World of Darkness settings by White Wolf Game Studio: the Classic World of Darkness and the Chronicles of Darkness (the "New World of Darkness"). The concept of a vampire in WoD takes many elements from the folklore surrounding traditional vampires in Western culture, and adds a number of specific features for the sake of game mechanics.

The vampire that walks the World of Darkness is an undead creature. It is a former human being that has undergone the Embrace of a vampire, being completely drained of blood and then fed some by his sire.

Vampires need blood (which they call vitae) in order to sustain their undead bodies. It can be human, animal or vampiric blood (but animal blood is not as good, and vampiric blood has potentially troublesome supernatural properties — such as the ability to create a blood bond).

Vampire bodies do not function like the bodies of living organisms. They are (more or less) preserved in a life-like state, but they do not age or die from illness. Vampires are created through the Embrace; during the Embrace, a vampire drains a candidate of all their blood and replaces it with a small amount (generally a single drop) of their own. This causes the corpse to rise as a (very hungry) vampire, usually instantly. The vampire who initiates the Embrace is the Sire; the new vampire is the Sire's Childe.

When a vampire is Embraced, their internal organs wither away, and almost all their body fluids are replaced by blood. Vampires use blood (also called Vitae) for a variety of purposes; blood replaces most bodily fluids, so vampires will sweat blood and cry blood under certain circumstances. Blood is also used to get up and move; every night, vampires expend a certain amount of blood to rise. In addition, vampires can use blood to enhance their physical attributes and use supernatural powers called Disciplines. Blood is used to Embrace, as noted above, and also to create Ghouls. Finally, vampires can use blood to heal damage.

Blood is generally replaced by sucking it out of humans. While vampires can feed on animals, they do not enjoy the taste of it, and older vampires will acquire no sustenance from it. The process of taking blood is euphemistically called the Kiss or feeding. Vampires do not have to completely drain a victim, although frenzying vampires are likely to do so. Vampires can hide the puncture marks of feeding by licking the wounds, making the process fairly subtle.

The feeding process is highly pleasurable (arguably the highest pleasure) for vampires, and is also extremely pleasurable for victims. Vessels who are drained regularly can become addicted to the Kiss.

Vampires change considerably after the Embrace. Physically, they are incapable of eating food, vomiting it up almost instantly. As a result of these processes, the vampire is paler and generally thinner than they were before the Embrace. Certain clans have more extreme physical changes, discussed below.

Once Embraced, vampires are locked into a form of stasis. Apart from wounds (healed with blood), vampires are restored to their condition at the time of Embrace every time they rise up for the night. This physical condition eventually extends to their mindsets - old vampires find it very hard to learn new things.

In addition to the physical changes, vampires experience extreme intellectual and emotional changes. The vampire is now a predator, and has a raging id called the Beast. The Beast reacts to a variety of stimuli, notably hunger, anger, fear. The Beast continuously assaults the character, and if the Beast's demands exceed the character's own capacity to control it, will react in a Frenzy or Rötschreck. Vampires can permanently lose control to the Beast, entering Wassail, a state of permanent Frenzy. In this condition, all humanity is lost and the vampire becomes a mindless killing machine.

Vampires from every bloodline have superhuman attributes, but in certain clans one of each may be superior to other clans or even have magic such as tremere.

Vampires are highly vulnerable to some physical threats, most importantly sunlight and fire. Vampires burn easily, and will burn up almost instantly in sunlight. However, outside of these, vampires are very hard to kill — bullets do not cause much damage, and their superior strength and speed make them hard to hit, let alone damage in combat.

When wounded, vampires can pass into a deathlike stasis called torpor, which allows them to heal more extreme damage. Torpor can last for centuries depending on the circumstances, and as a vampire gets older, Torpor becomes a more attractive option. Some vampires have been in Torpor for millennia.

Strengths and Weaknesses

Vampires fear fire and sunlight. They receive serious damage from both (sunlight is absolutely lethal after very short exposure). Vampires are also vulnerable to so-called "True Faith", that is, the strength of a person's true religious conviction (which is, fortunately for vampires, very rare). Such faith need not be religious per se — one of the rulebooks mentions a yuppie repelling a vampire with his credit card, thanks to his faith in the power of money.

Driving a stake through a vampire's heart will not kill him but will paralyze him. Damage done to other parts of the vampire's body, with any kind of weapon, is not significant: it may incapacitate the vampire, but he will heal fast if allowed to do so, and provided the damage does not deprive him of all his blood.

Vampires are immune to most diseases, drugs and poisons, but can be affected by some if present in the blood of their victims.

World of Darkness vampires are not affected by garlic, silver or the like, and usually cannot be appeased with offerings (as in some traditions). However, some vampires have specific weaknesses, such as needing some earth from their place of birth to sleep.

From dawn till dusk, they enter a state of supernatural sleep which makes them extremely vulnerable. They may awaken in case of emergency or even not falling asleep at all if their will is strong enough, but during the day they are very weak.

All vampires have the potential for superhuman physical attributes. These capabilities improve with age and with the potency of the blood (generation in classic VTM, independent Blood Potency in VTR; and both Generation and Blood Potency in VTM V5). Certain clans and bloodlines have even greater powers of strength and speed, such as the Brujah in VTM with their mastery of Potence and Celerity; in VTR, Vigor is the Discipline for increasing a vampire's already superhuman strength. A few clans have powers that no other vampire can normally learn without a out-of-clan tutor (or without committing diablerie), such as the blood magic of the Tremere.

Also, blood is truly vital for vampires, because they can only have so much blood in their body and they continuously spend it to heal injuries, use their powers or even simply to make their dead body move. When a vampire does not have any more blood in its body, it falls into torpor and cannot be reanimated unless someone feeds it with blood or a period of time has passed. This period ranges from a few days to several years, depending on the individual vampire's humanity — a measure of how much the vampire has retained of his former self and how much he or she has given in to their "inner Beast".

Basic Powers

Superhuman strength: all Vampires have incredible strength and those with Vigor (in VTR) or Potence (in VTM) have even greater strength.

Superhuman speed: Vampires are very fast and agile; those with Celerity are like a blur to mortals. Some especially skilled vampires are fast enough to outrun trains.

Immortality: Vampires are dead — or more accurately, undead — but as long as they are not killed, they will "live" forever without aging. Vampires, like all other beings, accrue experience over time; in VTR, vampires' Blood Potency also naturally increases over time. These two factors make elders exceptionally dangerous adversaries.

Enhanced durability: Vampires are very hard to kill; they can only be destroyed by fire, sunlight, massive physical destruction (such as decapitation or the natural weapons of supernatural beings), or the loss of all their blood at the fangs of another vampire. Vampires with Resilience (in VTR) or Fortitude (in VTM) are even more durable, and can endure some sources of damage that vampires would be otherwise unable to resist.

Clans and Factions

In both VTM and VTR, vampires belong to certain clans and factions; some vampires belong to a bloodline, which is essentially a sub-clan. Each clan has their own powers that some other clans didn't, and has its own unique weakness as well. There are thirteen clans in VTM, while there are only five in VTR. In VTM, clan and bloodline were one and the same: a vampire who belonged to a bloodline was not technically considered a member of the parent clan, and would often possess powers and weaknesses distinct from the parent clan. In VTR, vampires are members of bloodlines in addition to membership in their parent clan. In VTM, the factions (sects) are mainly defined by the conflict between the Camarilla and Sabbat, while the five covenants in VTR are much less rigid.

Clans of Vampire: The Masquerade

Brujah: Very strong vampires with short tempers though it is said that wasn't always so and there are "true brujah" out there. These vampires are idealists and even though nowadays they're mostly anarchic punks, one must never underestimate them as their might exceeds other vampires'.

Gangrel: These vampires are very animalistic and like the Brujah, they are at risk of giving in to the beast easier than most. These vampires are in both VTM and VTR. Gangrels can shapeshift into many forms, from a simple wolf to something like a werebat (VtM: Bloodlines) these vampires had a truce with werewolves in VTM.

Toreador: Vampire that glide through the mortal realm with ease, these vampyric creatures are similar to Lestat in that they are very social and enjoy living amongst the mortals. They use their powers to seduce humans.

Tremere: The mages of the vampires, these vampires are usually distrusted by others. Tremere practice blood magic that can either thrall someone or make them explode by boiling their blood.

Malkavian: The insane vampires of the Malkav bloodline have the unique gift of seeing the unseen and future events. Though their madness makes them diffcult to talk to, as their insanity can manifest in different ways.

Ventrue: The elite of the vampire society, these vampires make up the Camarilla the most and use their wealth and power to dominate lesser vampires.

Assamite: A clan that is usually seen as diablerists and assassins when in truth their are guardians and scholars.

Ravnos: Ravnos are seen as tricksters and gypsies, the clan was nearly wiped out by an ancient vampire.

Nosferatu: Vampires that are deformed and monstrous in appearence are the Nosferatu, Vampires who use their obsfucate abilty to spy on others. These vampires are used as informants.

Followers of Set: The Followers of Set (or Setites) are a clan of vampires who believe their founder was the Egyptian god Set. Orthodox Setite belief dictates that Set will one day return to rule or consume the world, and devout Setites prepare the way for his resurrection. To this end, the clan remains independent of the Sects of other Kindred, and practice with great skill the arts of corruption, deceit and ancient sorcery.

Tzimisce: If you described a Tzimisce as inhuman and sadistic, it would probably commend you for your perspicacity on the inhumanity, and then demonstrate that your mortal definition of sadism was laughably inadequate. The Tzimisce have left the human condition behind gladly, and now focus on transcending the limitations of the vampiric state. At a casual glance or a brief conversation a Tzimisce appears to be one of the more pleasant vampires. Polite, intelligent and inquisitive they seem a stark contrast to the howling Sabbat mobs or even the apparently more humane Brujah or Nosferatu. However on closer inspection it becomes clear that this is simply a mask hiding something alien and monstrous.

Lasombra: Vampires that cast no reflection in mirrors. The leaders of the Sabbat, clan Lasombra are Darwinists, predators, elegant and inhuman. Firm believers in the worthy ruling and the unworthy serving, the Lasombra have maintained their traditions even as they have turned the Sabbat to their own purposes.

Giovanni: The usurpers of clan Cappadocian and the youngest clan of Caine, the Giovanni are both a clan and a family. They Embrace exclusively within their family (one of many things kept within the family), and are heavily focused on two goals: money and (necromantic) power.


The sects in VTM were the Camarilla, which enforces the Masquerade that allows vampires to live alongside mortals undetected; the Anarchs, who, while hating the oppressive nature of the Camarilla, still honored the rule of the Masquerade; and the Sabbat, who denigrate the Masquerade and its followers, and who often embrace their nature as monsters.

Vampire: The Requiem


Daeva: A clan thats a mix of Toreador and Brujah, they have physical abilities of Brujah but the adeptness and seduction abilities of Toreador.

Gangrel: The Gangrel are more or less the same as they are in VTM but are said to be more feral and have difficulty in social interaction.

Ventrue: Almost the same as VTM but have a touch of Malkavian in them as their search for more power usually makes them deranged.

Mekhet: As masters of secrets and shadows, suffer the pain of fire and sunlight more harshly than other vampires.

Nosferatu: The same as VTM except their "deformity" is not always physical.


Facts and myths

Stakes: Stakes do not kill vampires, but if a wooden stake impales a vampire through the heart, then he or she will be paralysed until it is removed.

Garlic: Garlic has no effect on vampires.

Sunlight: The sun is very dangerous to vampires and can kill them almost instantly. When the sun rises, vampires are typically forced into a supernatural sleep.

Fire: Fire has the same damaging effect as sunlight, but to a lesser extent.

Mirrors: In VTM, vampires do have reflections in mirrors, with the exception of those of the Lasombra clan. In VTR, a vampire's reflection is distorted in reflective surfaces (as well as media such as photographs and video); it requires willpower to look normal in these forms.

Running water: Vampires can easily cross water to no ill effect.


In the Classic World of Darkness (as depicted in Vampire: The Masquerade and spinoffs like Vampire: The Dark Ages), vampires descend from Caine, the first murderer, cursed by God. Caine Embraced three childer (the Second Generation), who in turn Embraced thirteen (the Third Generation, called the Antediluvians). These were the beginnings of the 13 vampiric clans. With each subsequent Embrace, the childe is in a higher generation, and the standard generation in the modern setting is the 13th (twelve steps removed from Caine).

In the Chronicles of Darkness (the "New" World of Darkness, as depicted in Vampire: The Requiem), the origins of the vampire species are more mysterious. With the removal of the generation concept, the idea of single source became less certain. Common theories include that the Roman soldier Longinus became a vampire after piercing the side of Christ on the cross, or that the first vampire was Dracula or a mysterious figure called the Crone. Some have even suggested that each of the five main clans in Vampire: The Requiem had a different origin.

See Also

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