Vampires are one of three main supernatural races within the Chronicles of Darkness (the "New World of Darkness"). They are the main focus of Vampire: The Requiem game, and refer to themselves as "Kindred".
Vampires are a race of predators who feed on blood (or possibly several different ones that have grown together over time). They were once humans transformed by a conscious act of will, known as the Embrace, into powerful creatures of the night. 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 new vampire, usually instantly. The vampire who initiates the Embrace is the Sire; the new vampire is the Sire's Childe.
Vampires have every manner of supernatural power, such as turning into animals, flying and wielding the strength of a dozen men. While these powers are not universal, vampires have unique abilities known as Disciplines, which can grant individual undead capabilities such as these and more. The sunlight burns vampires, however. As part of their curse, vampires recoil at the touch of the sun, its vital rays scorching their undead flesh. Vampires typically spend the daylight hours in the cold sleep of undeath, and only the most resolute can shake off the weight of the day's forced slumber for even a short time.
Vampires aren't destroyed upon being staked through the heart, they're held in stasis. A vampire's body slowly withers and turns inward while trapped in this state, desiccating and becoming ever more corpselike. Garlic and running water do not repels vampires. Such notions are nothing more than old wives' tales, cultural biases or perhaps the banes of certain bloodlines of Kindred. They are also not repulsed by crosses and other holy symbols. But there are rumors of the devout sometimes being able do affect the Kindred with miraculous aspects of their faith. Curiously though, the Kindred don't show up like normal people on camera or in mirrors. Their features appear obscured in photographic media (including video footage) and reflexive surfaces. They can temporarily counteract this effect, but the “default” is a sort of occlusion. The same is not true for voice recordings; vampires' voices are captured normally on those.
For the Kindred, the act of feeding becomes highly sensual. The process of taking blood is euphemistically called the Kiss or feeding - and a vampire leaves little to mark her passing if she is careful, cause all a vampire must do to heal the wound left by her feeding is to lick it when she's done. The vessel feels ecstatic when the feeding happens, and the vampire undergoes a heady rush as well. Certain vampires sustain their undeath by drinking the blood of animals, but rarely for long, as either their tastes or the needs of their cursed bodies force them to seek human blood. Although vampires do not appear to age, and some survive for centuries, the Kindred use the word “undead” rather than “immortal” to describe themselves. Vampirism is a curse, not a blessing. It does carry with it great power, but the state of being a vampire also brings with it numerous detriments, not the least of which include the internalized rage of the Beast and feeding on human blood.
While a vampire might believe that he feels an emotion, what he actually feels is the echo of mortal emotions that the remnants of his soul apply to his current experience. That is, a vampire who feels angry might indeed be angry at the subject of his ire, but the resonance of the emotion actually comes from some situation the vampire dealt with in life. This condition results in many strange situations. It should be noted, that while the act of feeding replaces all physical urges, vampires can still indulge in sex and even take pleasure from it. Curiously, however, the emotional aspect of sex vanishes after the Embrace. A vampire might enjoy the physical sensation of sex, but no more than she enjoys a particularly savory smell or the touch of a luxurious fabric.
Vampires change considerably after the Embrace. When a vampire is Embraced, their internal organs atrophy, and almost all their bodily 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 to their bodies.
Once Embraced, vampires become immortal and are locked into a form of stasis. Apart from wounds, 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 as well; old vampires find it very hard to learn new things. While mostly incapable of eating food, vomiting it up almost instantly, vampires who have trained to do so can hold down food for longer before they must expel it from themselves, therefore keeping their façade of humanity intact. As a result, the vampire is paler and generally thinner than they were before the Embrace. Certain clans have more extreme physical changes.
In addition to the physical changes, vampires experience extreme intellectual and emotional changes. The vampire is now a predator, and has a raging inner monster 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 draugr, a mindless killing machine.
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. One of the dangers of Torpor is the Fog of Eternity, which can muddle the vampire's memories.
Powers and Abilities
- Main article: Discipline (VTR)
Vampiric powers and capabilities which have often given rise to old wives' tales of superhuman speed, strength and endurance possessed by the Damned, along with their piercing gaze, their hypnotic and seductive voices and the unholy power to vanish into shadows and shapeshift into bats, wolves and mist.
These Disciplines are powers innate to vampires. They are determined by the clan, covenant or bloodline the vampire belongs to. These are special abilities associated with their curse which, like their undead bodies, are "fed" in a way by the living blood they take from mortals. Many of the Disciplines provide Kindred with preternatural means of ensuring their continued existence, or of easing the process of hunting and stealing blood from mortals.
Disciplines are generally recognized as common (common place among the Kindred and more than one clan has an innate knack for them), unique (the proprietary abilities of each of the five clans), covenant (possessed only by a specific covenant and never shared with outsiders), and bloodline (known only to the members of a particular bloodline within a clan). Powers that combine aspects of two or more Disciplines are called Devotions.
Here are some of the known disciplines:
- Animalism - Power over animals and even the Beast of Kindred;
- Auspex - Preternatural senses and perception;
- Celerity - Superhuman speed;
- Dominate - The ability to overwhelm the mind;
- Majesty - Tremendous force of personality;
- Nightmare - Manipulating fear itself;
- Obfuscate - Hiding aspects of one's self, even one's body;
- Protean - Shapechanging and adjustments of the vampiric form;
- Resilience - Legendary toughness;
- Vigor - The epic strength of many men.
Most vampires believe that their kind have existed for as long as they have had men upon whom to prey. Others believe that the Kindred have been chosen to stalk the night by whatever power chose to create them. Still others believe that vampires are part of the natural but hidden order of the world, attaching vampiric (Kindred) origins to pagan beliefs and ancient mythologies. Many vampires don't care about the secret of their origins, believing the mystery to be as unknowable as the question of mortal life's origin. Whatever the truth, it is known that vampires have preyed upon the world since ancient times. Kindred society's admittedly fallible memory marks the undead as active during the height of Rome, if not before.
- Main article: Clan (VTR)
Each Kindred is a member of a clan. A clan is a group of vampires who share common characteristics. When a vampire creates, or Embraces,a new vampire, the Embraced is of the same clan as the vampire who Embraces him or her. Each clan has its own powers, called Disciplines, that are reminiscent of “traditional” vampire powers, such as being able to mesmerize victims with a glance or assume the form of a wolf. There are five clans in VTR, as well as a number of related sub-clans, known as bloodlines. A vampire's clan is determined by the clan of his sire. The most common clans are the following:
- Daeva - Emotional, sensual, and desirable
- Gangrel - Primal, hardy, and savage
- Mekhet - Quick, discreet, and wise
- Nosferatu - Stealthy, strong, and terrifying
- Ventrue - Regal, commanding, and aristocratic
- Main article: Covenant (VTR)
Covenants are like clans in that they are distinctions of vampires. The difference between clan and covenant, however, is that one chooses his covenant. If clan is family, covenant is political, philosophical, or even quasi-religious membership. Indeed, some vampires choose to belong to no covenant at all, acknowledging no authority higher than themselves. There are five major political factions, or covenants, in VTR, and also a series of smaller covenants.
- Carthian Movement - seek to reconcile Kindred society with modern governmental structures and social systems.
- Circle of the Crone - venerates a variety of female figures as a co-creator of vampires, the Mother of all Monsters.
- Invictus - the aristocracy of the night.
- Lancea et Sanctum - seeks to influence Kindred society with the strictures of Longinus, who is believed to have been turned into one of the Damned by the very blood of Christ.
- Ordo Dracul - commands rituals and mystical knowledge that allows the Kindred to transcend their vampiric states.
Vampires have many enemies, most from within their own clans and covenants. There are some that stand out as being opposed to Vampire society as a whole, and some of the most prominent of these are vampires themselves:
This section is dedicated to how other factions of the Chronicles of Darkness see the vampires.
For a long time vampires have been a fantasy for mortals - sometimes sensual, sometimes terrifying, always mysterious. This mystery is preserved for the majority of mortals by the Masquerade, but occasionally individuals become aware of the existence of vampires and seek to destroy them or become their paramours. A mortal who seeks out vampires to experience the pleasure of being fed upon is known as a Blood Doll.
Werewolves and vampires know very little about each other, and treat one another with caution. Although scattered alliances and animosities occasionally develop, the two societies keep largely separate. Perhaps the most common contact werewolves have is with the Ordo Dracul, as that Covenant has been known to occupy mystical sites desired by werewolves for their own spiritual purposes.
Vampires and Mages are a curiosity to one another. Mages are fascinated by the Vampire's ability to cheat age and disease while at the same time frightened of their long memories and fearsome abilities. Again, interaction between the two comes largely from the Ordo Dracul but also from the Circle of the Crone and occasionally from the Lancea Sanctum. These three covenants practice their own versions of blood magic and as such are of special interest to Mages who would learn their secrets. A dark Legacy of Mages known as the Tremere have a close connection to vampires.
Vampires have a complex society of their own that can certainly rival the schemes of the changeling Courts. As well, vampires' predatory natures parallel the changelings' own, with a dark side: the undead's propensity for blood reminds the changelings that their own manipulation of mortal emotions can be savage and ruinous if indulged with recklessness. When a changeling or motley does decide to open relations with one of these hunters, the changelings do so quite cautiously. Some feel that there's a great advantage to having potential allies who have strengths quite different from fae magic, and try to woo a vampire into a pledge of mutual assistance. It's not a common practice, but a few changelings are brave or mad enough to try.
- , p. 114