(Or as I prefer to call it, “The Lore According To Lee”)
Every writer of a vampire book or comic and director of a vampire film has given their own interpretation on what can and cannot affect vampires and how you turn someone into a vampire etc, what I’ve decided to do is throw away all the supernatural mumbo jumbo around them and go for a science based explanation.
While I love TV shows like “TruBlood” and “Moonlight” and really enjoyed seeing Kate Beckinsale in both Van Helsing and the Underworld series. Not to mention growing up watching all the old Hammer Horrors with Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing and all the eye candy Dracula got to bite. I always picked fault when someone was bitten and two minutes later they were rising up a newly sired vampire. So outlined below is my own personal take on what a vampire can and can’t do and what can and can’t affect them.
All the points mentioned below are covered in various chapters within the book “The Unsired: Book One – Vampire Hunter”, but I thought it useful to outline them here as a reference guide.
- Adrenalin. Commonly known as the fight or flight hormone in humans, in vampires the mental stimulation that causes it’s release has the effect of turning their iris crimson red and the extension of their upper and lower canine teeth as fangs. The release of adrenalin into a humans blood stream before feeding is known to improve the taste of the victims blood and is the main reason why vampires choose to terrorize their victims before feeding on them.
- Ageing. Unlike humans vampires do not age, their cells do not suffer the degradation that causes ageing, so every
vampire looks as good as they did on the day they were sired. For this reason the vampire council has forbidden the sireing of children. While still looking frail and old anyone sired in their advanced years will still have the increased strength and vitality of a vampire, however anyone sired that is suffering a brain based disease or debilitating mental illness will not be cured by being sired. Therefore diseases such as Alzheimers, Parkinsons, or Progressive Supranuclear Palsy (PSP) will still affect any newly sired vampire, but the disease will not progress any further.
- Alcohol. Vampires are unable to stomach strong spirits in their natural form and to get the effect of alcohol (i.e. drunk)
they would have to drink the blood of a human while they were intoxicated.
- Bats. Vampires do not have the ability to turn into bats this is a myth dating back hundreds of years to when a vampire or person suspected of being a vampire was chased into the woods by an angry mob. To escape the mob the individual climbed up a large tree and disturbed a bat which flew off noisily. The mob below mistook the bat to be the vampire they were chasing magically transformed, and passed the story onto others.
- Blood. Vampires can only feed on human blood, no other animal will sustain them. All blood types are equally as nutritious to them, but each blood group has its own unique taste and smell that sets it apart from the others. Therefore the vampires have their own particular taste that they prefer. The age of the blood donor is a factor though as young childrens blood is far more nutritious than that from any older person. The blood of a virgin is no different to that of a mother with several children, this myth was started
by prostitutes and madame’s centuries ago to encourage young girls into the oldest profession, so as to avoid being hunted by vampires. Vampire blood itself is very similar to human blood, but it is somewhat thicker and does not clot and dry up outside the body like ours. Every vampire carries a scent within their blood linking them back to the vampire from whom they were sired (turned into a vampire).
- Bloodlust. When a vampire either smells blood, is about to feed or feels threatened their adrenal glands react in a similar way to those of a human giving them heightened senses. In physical terms though the iris of a vampires eyes will turn crimson red and the canine teeth in both their upper and lower jaws will extend. Older vampires learn to control this, and resist the eyes turning red and the fangs extending by sheer will power, but younger inexperienced or newly sired vampires will not be able to mask the symptoms and will attack at the slightest provocation.
- Blood Scent. A vampires position within the clan is dependent upon the number of generations of vampires that have
been sired before him or her all the way back to the clan leader. Leaders used to pass information via a messenger whose blood had their scent within it’s make up as well as what was called a scent marker. A scent marker was either a piece of parchment or cloth with a drop or two of the clan leaders pure blood spilt onto it. They were used during the time of the vampire wars back in the 12 and 1300’s. Scent markers are now superseded by modern technology in the form of mobile phones and computers.
- Burn. Vampires feel the pain of a burn far more than a normal human due to the changes to
the chemicals in the vampires nervous system. Even the smallest burn feels about ten times worse than the equivalent burn to a human. Because a vampires skin can regenerate far faster than in a human especially when fed human blood the skin and nerves will grow back without showing any scarring. Once completely incinerated to ash though a vampire cannot recover and will remain dead no matter how much blood is poured on the ashes.
- Clans. Most vampires are all linked by clan loyalty. Many years ago there were a great many clans, but over time only three remain the Shestakov Clan headed by Lord Vladimir the oldest vampire, and based in Russia. The Vogel Clan headed by Lady Guinilla the second oldest vampire based in Sweden, and the Vasolo Clan headed by Lord Dimitri the third oldest vampire and based in America. In early 1600 the various vampire clans fought many terrible wars against each other eventually resulting in the three remaining clans and an established world order which has maintained a steady number of vampires and an organized world council. Many other vampires with no clan loyalty exist around the world, but keep themselves secret from both human and other vampire alike. Some of these individual vampires may be older than the present leader Vladimir Shestakov, but nothing is known about them. Any individual vampires not aligned with a clan are slain on sight by clan linked vampires.
- Coffin. Vampires do not require a coffin to sleep in, although as it’s a sealed box that prevents sunlight burning them
or light falling on their more sensitive eyes some vampires have used them for sleeping purposes. One young lady was in the process of being sired, but her vampire suitor was slain just after feeding on her to her human extinction. Fearing she was dead the family interned her body in the family crypt and mourned her loss. When the girl awoke a vampire she used the coffin as her resting place as she secretly slipped out to feed on the locals. She was eventually tracked down and slain by hunters who happily passed on the story of how a vampire needs to rest in their own coffin. Consequently Vampires do not require the sacred earth they are buried beneath to line their coffin or any other earth or soil for that matter. Most vampires are sired off in the woods or forest and return to live normal but secret lives among their friends. Since their death is not recorded and they are not ever buried in practical terms alone this myth wouldn’t work.
- Companions. Any person who willingly allows a vampire to feed upon them is termed a companion. Most do so in the
hope that they will eventually be sired and turned into a vampire themselves.
- Consorts. While a companion is someone who will allow a vampire to feed upon them, some humans do so to get some perverse sexual pleasure out of being subservient to what they consider a superior being. A consort is someone who allows a vampire to both feed upon them and have sex with them, usually at the same time or at the height of their sexual bliss or climax. Prostitutes have often been willing to act as companions or consorts for vampires provided they pay the extra price for allowing them to feed upon them. Around 1600 A.D. with the formation of Hunter groups and such organisations local brothels were regularly raided in the search for prostitutes who bore the tell tale bite marks of allowing a vampire to feed upon them. Those found with bite marks were usually taken away and executed without trial.
- Crucifix. Vampires do not fear the cross or the star of David or any other religious artefacts. This myth started when a
small group of vampires were terrorizing a village during the clan wars. The villagers all sought refuge in the small church in the village centre, and the priest a large heavy-set man based at that church went out to confront the vampires carrying a large crucifix. He intended to use the crucifix as a weapon to swing at the vampires like an axe or a pick. As he emerged from the church carrying the crucifix the vampires all fled, so everyone presumed it was because of the crucifix that they ran off. In actual fact the vampires having much more sensitive hearing had detected the sound of a cavalry unit approaching the village and had chosen to run away rather than fight and risk losing one or two of their numbers to the soldiers.
- Drugs. As with alcohol vampires are unable to absorb any kind of drug in the same way a human does, but they can feed on a human under the influence of a drug to get the same effect.
- Eyes. The iris of a vampire’s eye will turn crimson red when they are in “bloodlust” and about to feed. A red
tinge will stay for several moments after they have fed before the eyes return to their original colour. A vampire’s eyes can be any normal human colour when not in “bloodlust”. The sensitivity of a vampires eyes is somewhat different to those of a human due to the change in the balance of the two types of receptors in the eye known as the rods and the cones. Where humans can see with clarity during sunlit days, a vampire would find the brightness overpowering and painful to its more sensitive eyes. A vampire has far better night vision and can see clearly in the darkest of nights, but has poor colour perception when compared to a human.
- Fangs. (See also Teeth.) A vampire’s fangs will be replaced or regrown should they become damaged or removed.
- Flight. Vampires cannot fly or levitate, but because of their increased speed and strength they are able to
run and leap greater distances which has probably accounted for an urban myth or two from witnesses seeing them do this.
- Food. The only food a vampire needs is human blood. Their stomachs no longer produce the enzymes and acid to break down normal food so they cannot digest it and are forced to vomit back any food they ingest.
- Garlic. Vampires do not fear or dislike garlic. Garlic was used to mask the scent of their victims from them. For instance many years ago, when a parent
discovered a bite mark on their suddenly pale and listless child they would suspect a vampire was at work and would send the child away to stay with friends or family to recover. All the villagers would be warned and would rub garlic cloves around their windows and doors to prevent the vampire being able to trace their victim. So the garlic was not there to ward off the vampires but to hide the scent of their victims.
- Hearing. Like all their other senses vampires have particularly acute hearing when compared to humans. They can hear both higher and lower frequencies as well as detect them over a far greater distance.
- Holy Water. Holy water does not burn or have any special effect upon a vampire. A wise monk fearing the loss of faith among the people of his village used acid to pour over and burn a captured vampire in the hope of giving faith in the church back to the people of his village. The trick worked and the numbers at churches in the surrounding area were boosted as the story spread, but there is no truth in it at all and the monk later confessed to his superiors about what he had done. The church however decided to issue no statement on the matter and the monk concerned was simply moved to another location.
- Hunting. Vampires love to hunt, they enjoy the thrill of the chase and revel in having to use their superior
senses to track down their victims. Vampires will intentionally release captured victims so that they can hone their skills in hunting them down and this is a practice taught newly sired vampires. The action of hunting their human victims usually terrorizes them and has the added effect of causing the human adrenal gland to pump it’s hormone adrenalin into their blood stream which is considered a delicacy to vampires as it improves the taste of their victims blood.
- Hypnotism. While stories of the hypnotic effect of the eyes of a vampire abound there is no natural ability behind the story. That’s not to say that some vampires haven’t studied hypnotism and use it to coerce their victims into willingly allowing them to be fed on. Many humans do become paralysed with fear, particularly some women, and viewing a vampires eyes in “bloodlust” would certainly be a shocking sight, so this may account for some of the instances attributed to the hypnotic effect of a vampire’s eyes.
- Immobilize. A wooden or metal stake or any sharp object that punctures the heart will stop a vampire in its tracks and paralyze it. If removed soon enough the vampire can recover from this, but if any splinters break off they must be cleared out before the vampire will regain control once more. The ingestion of blood will speed up the recovery particularly in cases where the vampire has been kept immobilized for an extended period of time.
Invitation. It is not true that vampires need to be invited into someone’s house or home before they can enter. It is likely that as most vampire stories started to come out of Eastern Europe around the 12 -1300’s that one or two polite young gentlemen who were in fact vampires had not entered into their victim’s house until invited as that was simply the social etiquette in those days. When it was later discovered that the person concerned had been a vampire the comment would have been made that they seemed normal and polite and had not entered until invited. Over the years as the story has been passed down it has been altered to the present inaccurate belief.
- Kill. Not the easiest of things to do, but decapitating (chopping their head off) and incinerating (burning until ash) is the only sure way of wiping the toothy smile from their face. A stake through the heart if left in long enough will do the trick too, but should the stake be removed before they have rotted away then the vampire can recover, especially if fed lots of blood.
- Mirrors. The old story of a vampire casting no reflection is also a falsehood. Probably because they can
move so fast people have mistakenly thought they cast no reflection when they have moved out of the way behind someone or suddenly appeared beside someone using a mirror.
- Mist. Vampires cannot dissipate and become mist. Again due to their speed and other abilities they have eluded those chasing them into mist filled forests or along foggy riverbanks more through speed and stealth than supernatural powers, but those chasing them are always quick to explain their lack of success in catching them by supernatural means.
- Myths & Legends. Vampires and in particular the vampire Lords and senior council members are keen to keep the details of their abilities secret. The more false myths and legends about vampires that circulate the happier they are, as they can continue to walk freely among their human prey virtually undetected.
Nails. The nails, skin and hair of a vampire are pretty much the same as a normal human. In particular their nails are no stronger than ours and they do not have the catlike ability to extend them like claws. In the past though some vampires as well as humans pretending to be vampires have taken to wearing small thimbles over one or more fingers with a sharpened blade acting as a nail. They have used this tool to surgically cut into humans to aid their feeding rather than use their fangs.
- Oxygen. A vampire does not need to breathe heavily upon exertion as it is able to absorb oxygen through its
skin and directly into the capillaries (small blood vessels) under the skin surface. They can also absorb oxygen from water in much the same way so it is impossible to drown them.
- Pigmentation. Vampires are incapable of producing skin pigmentation and once someone has been sired as a vampire they will slowly lose any skin pigmentation they currently have to take on the typical pale vampire complexion. For this reason vampires tend to live in the more temperate or colder climates without a great deal of sunlight. The geographic positioning of the early vampire clans showed them to occupy the areas of Northern Europe and Russia. However this distribution has now shifted to include all of Europe, most of Northern Asia and lately North America and Canada. It is also why the Negro, Hispanic, Asian and Indian races are never sired into a vampire clan, as to do so would draw too much attention to them, as they slowly turned white.
Pregnancy. As vampires cannot conceive and fall pregnant so any pregnant woman sired would also abort her unborn child as she herself died and the incompatibility of her blood chemistry as the metamorphosis to a vampire occurred. Should the human sireling be in the process of giving birth when sired then the baby may or may not survive the transition as either a human baby or possibly something different.
- Rank. Every vampire in the organized clans has a position of rank based on the vampire who sired them. Most sireings are done by the very junior or youngling vampires, as it is the number of generations below the heads of the respective clans that designates each vampires position. In very rare occasions a human who is considered special may be sired by a more senior vampire giving them an elevated status within the clan immediately. Any vampire deemed worthy of promotion will be allowed to feed on a small amount of blood from a senior vampire. The scent of this blood will then be added to their own elevating their status within the clan by however many generations above them the blood donor is.
- Repair/Regeneration. A vampire can recover from virtually any injury and even regrow severed limbs. The
recovery is dependent upon how much blood they can ingest and the age of the blood they are drinking. To regrow a severed limb though all superficial repairs are halted while first the bone is regrown and then the muscle before the outer layers of skin are repaired.
- Running Water. Some old myths and legends would suggest that vampires cannot cross running water, again this belief is false. It is likely that in the past a newly sired vampire unsure of its newly acquired abilities who in its previous life as a human was unable to swim chased its prey to a river and let them escape as it was unaware it had nothing to fear from drowning.
Saliva. Vampire saliva has two very special qualities, firstly it has an anaesthetic property to it which stops their victim feeling any pain after an initial careful bite. This is particularly useful when feeding on children as with no pain there is no struggling. The old gypsy vampires used to make and give away toys to the children they met in the woods to keep them happy and visiting them for more toys while feeding on them repeatedly. Secondly it contains an anti-coagulant which stops the blood in even the smallest bite or cut from clotting and scabbing over. The anti-coagulant is not a long acting one and breaks down outside of body temperature, so all a vampire has to do to stop any bleeding on their victims is to wipe away the saliva around the wound and apply pressure the same as normal first aid.
- Sex. Vampires do not have sex to procreate and cannot conceive or give birth. Vampires indulge in sex
purely for pleasure and with their increased speed strength and stamina are likely to injure any human they consort with unless they maintain a modicum of self control or are restrained from doing so in some way. Hence the reason vampires are closely associated with fetish clubs where bondage devices are available and used to protect their human consorts.
- Silver. While vampires do not fear silver or burn at its touch their skin does turn the surface of any jewellery worn green and discolour their own skin black if worn for an extended period of time. It is likely that the myth regarding silver was linked to the crucifix being used as a weapon to ward off vampires. Most peasants could not afford any gold jewellery, so silver was the precious metal of choice for the poor and most crucifixes would have been made from it hence the association of the two as weapons against vampires.
Siring. To sire a new vampire the human has to be drained of their own blood and die, having already ingested a large amount of vampire blood themselves before dying. The time it takes for the human to metamorphosise into a newly sired vampire is dependent upon the amount of vampire blood in their system, plus their own body size and build.
- Slay. See Kill. A popular term now used to describe the killing of a vampire after the success of the TV Series “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”.
- Smell. Vampires have an acute sense of smell which they mainly use to scent their victims. Once a vampire has fed on someone they can scent them over a very large distance. Vampires can also recognize various scents and in particular they used to use scent marked cloth to relay their orders with a few drops of their own blood.
- Speed. A vampire can move faster than any human due the changes in their nervous system caused when they are sired and their body chemistry subtly changes.
- Stamina. A vampire has incredible stamina to match its increased strength so it will not tire under normal conditions. However overlong use of its increased strength and durability will require a larger intake of blood to replenish this.
- Strength. The average vampire is approximately four times stronger than a human so going into an arm wrestling competition with one is not a good option.
- Sunlight. Sunlight does not cause a vampire into a ball of flames. However vampires do have a problem with sunburn as their skin no longer produces any pigmentation to protect them from the effects of the sun. Even the shortest exposure to bright sunlight will cause reddening and damage to their outer layer of skin. Simply by feeding though a vampire can recover from the effects of the sun. Because of the sensitivity of their eyes direct sunlight leaves vampires virtually blind, so sunglasses are an essential part of a vampires accessory list.
- Teeth. (See also Fangs.) Vampires have a retractable set of canine teeth or fangs which extend out of the gum line when they become excited and are ready to feed. This is usually bought on by either the smell of blood or in anticipation of feeding, but can also be as a result of feeling threatened, i.e. whenever an adrenalin surge is produced.
- Temperature. A vampire has a body temperature well below that of a human and is cold to the touch. They do not feel the cold no matter what ambient temperature they are exposed to but generally prefer the cooler and more temperate climates to those of the tropics.
- Valves. All of a vampires blood vessels both arterial and venous develop valves (semi lunar cusps within the walls of the blood vessels) which help with blood return and circulation. For this reason a vampires heart rate is virtually undetectable as it operates with a slow and steady pump rather than a rapid beat.
- Wolves. Vampires do not turn into wolves and share no common ground with them in any shape or form. It is likely that someone being chased by an angry mob considered to be a vampire disturbed a wolf which then ran off as the person being chased went to ground and hid. The mob then jumped to a supernatural conclusion as was common in those dark middle ages and another myth grew from the stories passed down through the ages.