Vampirism is a path through a desolate, uncharted land. What is below are only guidelines, the typical development of a student of the vampiric arts. But in theory, it is possible to develop these techniques anew, or learn them from preserved records.
(This is the promised follow-up extension of the True Vampires article.)
The Stages of Advancement
- candidate - a person is interesting enough to a master to consider study, the first lessons about vampires are imparted. (Note: the candidate doesn’t have to know about this interest, or even be willing to study.)
- apprentice/adept - the adept starts his training, aware of what he is doing
- token vampire - the adept masters one or more technique of life force transfer, and now can feed. Closing and opening is possible.
- permanently closed - when life doesn’t escape the body anymore, only a little is lost in daily life; more with great stress or traumatic moments. Sensitivities start to manifest, and will get more serious over time. This is when they are considered vampires by their own kind.
- dead - once the life expectancy runs out (depends on factors as race, health, etc.) the mortal becomes something wrong, a paradoxon, a true exception to the laws of nature. These creatures cannot stay ‘open’ for too long; what they were only sensitive before become vulnerabilities.
- the ultimate being - the hypothetical end of all striving; this creature is immortal without relying on others, and in absolute control of its own destiny. It is immensely powerful, rivaling gods themselves.
But first, you must truly understand what it means to be Open, and what it means to be Closed.
All living beings are by their nature Open. They are a part of the world, in permanent contact with it, interacting, perceiving, gaining and losing power. And in the end, it is through this link their life comes to an end.
At first, it is a matter of concentration. Very little escapes those who are Closed, everything stays inside. The adept must learn to achieve this state, and uphold it for the longest possible time, to gather his energies, and not waste them on the outside world. He closes upon himself, and becomes a concentrated version of his own potential. Those looking upon him, and perceiving him fully, may feel it is an important, even mysterious person that is hard to see through; sometimes they confuse the power for a mere "strong presence".
But ironically, the vampire (or soon-to-be vampire) is harder to notice when not specifically spotted:
"People say that vampires have no shadow, or no reflection in the mirror. That is not true, but think: The Shadow is not You. The Reflection is not You. When You are truly Closed, they are but empty, shallow, unimportant extensions of Yourself, and most living beings perceive them as such. Mostly, they don’t notice them at all."
And that’s why the approach of a Closed vampire can be so startling - first they are hard to notice, and suddenly they are hard to ignore.
...and Open again:
To become a vampire, the adept must be Closed permanently, without concentrating - otherwise, the loss of life and death are inevitable, by expiring in sleep, for instance. However, the state of being Open is essential for survival as well. Before, the adept could simply end concentration, or use a cantrip to suspend the Closed effect. Now, he has to master this technique, too.
Below are listed effects, or more precisely groups of effects. Most of them affect the caster only. More may be added later to the basic trio - Feel Life, Open and Closed. In that case, pick and choose which (sets of) powers suit your vision of these vampires.