The Mage Wars. Seven thousand years past, mankind waged epic war against himself and the other denizens of Ryngard. The origins of the conflict, like almost everything else about it, are completely lost to human memory, retained only in the oldest of texts, buried far beneath the earth in decaying cities of ancient heritage. However, while the names, places, and events are shrouded in mystery, the leftovers of that terrible conflict are still around to cause problems.
Anaszt was a child born and raised in the midst of the Mage Wars. Like many in the city-states of that time, he was conscripted into a military unit and forced to fight for his very survival; the fact that he was mage-trained simply made him more efficient than the average individual. Unlike most of his peers, however, he utterly loathed the constant warfare and the destruction it heralded. Eventually he broke away from the military unit he was attached to and went into hiding, trying to find a solution to the unending conflict.
Decades passed, and the Mage Wars raged on with no end in sight. Anaszt eventually emerged from his exile, but he was no longer himself. Corrupted by the experiments and research he had done, lost in the depths of madness, Anaszt's goal of ending the Mage Wars was utterly stillborn. It had been supplanted by another goal, another plan, and it was to this end that he twisted himself into an unholy monster.
The Day of Ascension had arrived.
Birth of the Hands
Magic then was not as magic is now. Untold quantities of knowledge were lost, and entire schools of magic were erased from understanding. Through means unknown, Anaszt transformed himself into what most would understand as a Vampire. Consumed by bloodlust and armed with superhuman power, he became an unholy terror raging across the countryside, as did those who arose in his likeness from the legion of corpses left in his wake. Labeling themselves the Anaszti, they eventually hid in the shadows to survive the backlash from the post-War population, taking care not to attract too much attention.
Occasionally though one hears of a town whose inhabitants have gone missing...
The Anaszti are those of Anaszt's brood, those who arise as a vampire after being fed upon. Their powers include superhuman physical abilities such as strength, speed, and endurance, as well as enhanced senses. This is sometimes to their detriment, as garlic and other pungent herbs cause them active discomfort; however, mere garlic won't stop a determined Anaszti. They also possess amazing regenerative capabilities, able to actively heal wounds that would be lethal to a normal human. This regeneration also makes them effectively immortal.
Their physical abilities, especially regeneration, are fed by the blood they consume from their victims; too long without blood will cause them to lose control to their bloodlust and go on a feeding frenzy rampage. Most Anaszti consider this to be the height of foolishness, as it risks drawing the attention of the normal populace, who are likely to decide to rid themselves of the vampire menace if they gain awareness of it.
Those Anaszti who are magi can also tap into their blood reserves to enhance their normal spellcasting, a potent surprise for unsuspecting vampire hunters.
Notably, and directly contrary to common lore about vampires, the Anaszti have no intrinsic weakness to holy water or holy ground. This myth arose from a foolish young vampire who tried to feed on an especially pious priest of some deity or another while inside said priest's church. Suffice to say, the deity decided to take personal offense and the youngling was engulfed in flame. A second myth is that they possess mind-warping powers, able to mesmerize victims and hold them under thrall; said story arose from the machinations of a particularly devious vampire whose minor magical talent for influencing others was supercharged into a mind-snaring psychic assault.
However, nothing is without it's drawbacks; the manipulative twisting of form and function that creates such dangerous beings as the Anaszti also produces a terrible cellular weakness to sunlight, forcing exposed flesh to spontaneously combust. Even their amazing regenerative capabilities cannot withstand the cell destruction that light engenders, which makes sunlight and daytime a true safe haven against an Anaszti onslaught.
The true genius of Anaszt's scheme is something only older vampires know, though as they age most tend to figure it out on their own: a fraction of the power taken from every victim's blood is siphoned off and passed from progeny to sire. This continues all the way to Anaszt, who after seven millenia could rightly be called a Blood God. Younglings are kept in the dark to prevent them from going on a spawning frenzy and attracting too much attention. The last time such an event happened, the backlash from normal humans was enough to convince the Anaszti to police their own, purely for the sake of survival.