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.
Feel LifeMany begin the study of vampirism with at least an intuitive knowledge of this ability. Besides major changes in own life force (that are felt by pretty much anyone), they will learn to recognize the smaller changes, up to the continual pull of old age... once aware of how slowly, but relentlessly is their power sapped away, many will become afraid of aging, and eventually accept the solution that brings them eternity. Some vampires teach this ability freely, or spread instructions towards achieving the same. This is the most innocent entry into the dark.
To use this ability on oneself, there is no need to expend magic of any sort, only to concentrate for a time. Using it on others is actual spellcasting, ranging in power from cantrips to potent rituals, depending on what information is sought:
- estimate if a body is still alive, or not
- attune to a particular creature, and find out more about its health
- scan an area for signs of life (for instance a battlefield)
- up to locating a particular creature in a long range
Closed effects(Note that "Closed" is the default state of vampires.)
Control Body - with concentration, the body yields to the will of its inhabitant. Temporary effects may be achieved, allowing great strength, or speed. Permanent modifications are also possible, the well-known vampire teeth are a typical example.
Heal Self - a variant of Control Body, by concentrating on one's proper function can the body be repaired much faster than normal.
Ignore - caster may attempt to simply deny a certain effect, emotion, power, etc., that could have power over him. Anything can be tried, but the difficulty to do so can be ridiculously high.
Control Appearance - power over yourself is also the power over the perception of others of you. This is an illusion, that changes your look into that of a somewhat different person; may also 'return' their human face, if it has changed.
Invisible - closing upon yourself even more, and concentrating deeply, the vampire becomes even harder to notice. Unless specifically searched for, or guarded against, most people won't perceive him.
Turning into a wolf, bat, or similar large change would also require to be Closed. (I leave it open, whether it is one of these effects, or there will be an entire group of transformation powers.)
Open effects(Note that to be 'Open' also means that any useful temporary effects of being 'Closed' are suspended or lost.)
To stay Open for too long means the risk of loosing your life power. Be careful. But to be Open reminds many of the great joys of life. Some prefer to avoid it, others wallow in it.
An Open vampire has an easier time reading the emotions of other people. At the very least, excitement and a fast heartbeat they will know.
Refresh / Feed - to consume the essence of life, there are many ways besides the usual sucking of blood (though it may be the most effective):
- draining flora (very low gain)
- using animals
- feeding on the field of battle (requires mere presence, no physical contact is necessary)
- in hospitals or other places with many wounded or weakened people
- childbirth (usually child or mother dies as a result)
- from other vampires (best if they are Open; nasty to do it to own kindred)
- from being among crowds (low yield, but quite safe)
Boost Senses* - improve the performance of your senses. It can help to find out, if anyone is following you, for example.
Watch* - observe a particular person or small group from afar; sight only.
Embrace - the art of becoming a part of something, like a group of people. One could also become a 'part of a wall' and climb it with amazing speed, etc.
Some of the advanced Feel Life effects also require the caster to be Open.
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? Responses (9)-10
"Open" and "Closed" is cool.
Yay-a new version of Vampires.
Aside from the new approach to the subject, the philosophical aspects of being opened and closed this is just okay. The concentration of self and closure of personal essence being the cause of vampires lacking shadows or reflections is interesting, though.
Thank you. Note also, that the shadow and reflections of an "open" vampire will be easier to perceive, and seem more real. If such a vampire looks human enough, he might even pass for one.
I think it is a good idea, but seems a little skeletal right now. I do like how some of the powers tie nicely into existing superstitions.
Skeletal is a good word... it is really an extension of the True Vampires post, but it has enough to stand on its own - for now. There will be more to this.
Crap. That BH was me.
I like this sorcerous approach to vampires a lot. Its not for everyone, nor is it useful for all standard applications of vampires, but its a cool variant. I see myself using this approach as a group of vampiric magi in my Arabian style campaign.
That said, it really should be expanded more. Seems like you're already working on that though.
I am very pleased you like this. In time, more will be revealed to those that seek. :->
In this case, I prefer a bit more to have a few broad powers with numerous applications than have them exactly listed. Having these, an effective predator could be made. What is probably missing, are the more advanced, more involved powers stemming from their source and philosophy. But perhaps, even that could be valid for some interpretations... that with all their noble thoughts, this is their true nature. Everyone has to decide for their own variant. (Note: a few suggestions or ideas are never out of place.)