Considered by most of CLEA to be more myth than real, the CLEA Occult Branch which keeps records on Magic Users also uncovered evidence of the probable existence of predatory humans. As they they resembles the creatures from myth it seems obvious to use the term Vampires to describe them. The fact that hard evidence is so next to impossible to uncover has meant that intel has to come from multiple sources. Its also shows what great lengths that this branch of sub-species of humanity will go to keep itself from hidden.
Unlike the typical ideas the general public might have of vampires, they do not turn to dust in daylight, nor are they affected by religious icons and garlic has no effect. A wooden stake through the heart would kill them but by the same token a stake through the heart would kill any normal person. Those facts are left in the realms of movies and other works of fiction. However there is a little bit of truth in the avoidance of daylight for whilst it does not burn them, their eyes are adopted to nocturnal hunting so any bright light has the effect of blinding them, akin to a person wearing night vision goggles and someone shining a torch into their field of vision.
Typically all vampires have the following traits:-
- Enhanced senses of smell and hearing and excellent night vision (adaptation for nocturnal hunting).
- Rapid Healing – even severe wounds can be repaired. Severe trauma in critical areas can be fatal.
- Super human resilience – skeleton and skin are extremely strong.
- Super human strength
- Genetic memory. Extra DNA present in the blood carries records of an individual vampire’s memory. Other vampires can “read” these memories by tasting the blood.
- Ability to “turn” ordinary humans into other Vampires. Like a snake ejects venom from its fangs, Vampires secrete an enzyme that starts converting DNA. Vampires can consciously control whether this fluid is emitted or not and so can feed repeatedly from the same victim without “turning” them. In a feeding frenzy though such control can be lost.
- Aversion to silver – one of the many “myths” with actual truth in it. Silver does not kill but in direct contact with a vampire greatly reduce and individual’s strength and healing.
- Inability to procreate – new vampires have to be turned.
Whilst there is no way to know for certain the exact origins of the Vampire race,15th Century texts tell the story of a young woman, Genovefa Wolfhart who lost her entire family when a local warlord sacked her village. She turned to her faith to try and find answers to the tragedy and when that failed to provide solace she grew angry. The strength of her negative thoughts reached a lower ranking Demon, Y’Creft and he offered her a contract.
Y’Creft stated he would turn her into a powerful creature that would be virtually unstoppable and have the means to change others into similar so that she could build an army to smite the people that had wronged her. All this in exchange for her soul. Those that she transformed would also come under the influence of the contract and its bindings.
Despite her grief Genovefa was not prepared to damn her soul. Y’Creft therefore amended the agreement and offered her a get out clause which stated that if she killed in anger and drank the blood of her victim she would forfeit her soul, but avoid that and she would keep it.
Figuring she might be able to outwit the Demon, she signed the contract. Y’Creft turned her into a vampire and bound his creation with the following curse.
- A Vampire would forfeit their soul to him if they killed in anger and drank the blood of the victim.
- A Vampire had to drink blood every third day or else the hunger would cause intense pain and suffering.
- No drinking by the fifth day would result in the death of a Vampire.
- A Vampire cannot eat normal mortal food.
- Biting another would only result in transformation if the victim pledged themselves to the contract and this had to happen within a day.
To make it hard for Genovefa or anyone else to avoid keeping their soul, Y’Creft gave the Vampires an incredible blood lust and a hunting instinct which made it hard to avoid killing and consuming blood. This coupled with the fact that the curse slowed aging meant a victim lived a lot longer which prolonged the time they had to resist the primal urges. To encourage her to kill the enemies of Demons, he also engineered the Vampire curse so that when feeding on users of White Magic their blood would restore youth as well as boosting strength and vigour which would act like and addictive drug.
At first Genovefa managed to hold out by merely injuring her enemies and drinking their blood. Her increased strength made it hard to avoid killing and when accidentally making a kill it was hard to avoid the desire to drink the blood of her victims. Soon people learned of her and came to eradicate her. Fearing for her life, she started to turn others into vampires.
Using the same cunning as, Y’Creft she went looking for people who were suffering from intense pain and suffering and offered to cure them. All they had to do was allow her to bite them and then say an incantation. Most were so desperate they agreed to her demands without question, and few knew the incantation was them pledging themselves to the contract.
Eventually Genovefa tracked down the people that had killed her family. Having an army of her own, meant she could finally have her revenge. It was in the heat of the battle that she lost control and killed and drank the blood of her victims sealing the fate of her soul.
For two centuries she and her clan terrorised large areas of Eastern Europe. Though initially Genovefa had sought ways to escape her fate, once she had forfeited her soul, she came to enjoy the power the curse gave her because she had nothing to fear from the prey she hunted. Eventually though humans started to learn ways to deal with Vampires and the hunters started to become the hunted and at the age of 225 Genovefa finally killed.
As their prey was now able to fight back and food became harder to obtain, Vampires started to fight amongst themselves for resources. This in turn led to them forming factions. and conflicts between them were frequent and bloody. By the end of the 18th Century six factions remained and their leaders had come to realise that technology had by now moved on enough to give ordinary humans an advantage especially whilst they were fighting amongst each other. Already having to keep their hunting activities on the shadow, the Vampire leaders knew they had to put a stop to the conflicts and better organise themselves if they stood a chance of surviving.
A truce was reached and the six factions became the Great Covens that govern the Vampire race. Since each one was led by a powerful family the Covens adopted the family name and a global territory
- Forstner – Europe
- Orlov – Russia
- Zhao – Asia
- Biobaku – Africa
- Myers – North America
- da Silva – South America
Overall control was given to the Forstner Coven who would rule for fifty years before the rite to rule would be handed over to another Coven, the entire sequence which would take three centuries before repeating.
Modern Day Vampire Coven Hierarchy and Operations
Since Covens have a great many members spread out, it is impractical for them to inhabit one central locations. Each Coven though has a Sanctuary, which is an actual building where the highest members use as a home. A Sanctuary is regarded as the seat of power for the Coven. In Europe and Russia the Sanctuaries se are large mansions which originally belonged to the family the Coven was named after. Elsewhere, modern structures have been adopted, some in the middle of cities, posing as fake offices or hotels and thus allowing the members to hide in plain sight. In all cases, despite outside appearances the building will have many defences because it has to protect the Coven’s leaders.
Each Coven, has a strict hierarchical structure
- Elite Advisors
- Honoured Members
- Coven Security
- Local Members
- Remote Members
Each Coven has a male and female vampire to lead them. Collectively, across all the Covens they are known as Elders. They may or may not be directly related to the original families that created the Coven but the name is retained out of respect. Elders are considered the oldest and wisest members of a Coven. Confusingly though Elders are considered the oldest and wisest their visual appearance may not reflect this, due the fact Vampires age slower than humans and in some situations reverse ageing.
Under the Elders, in a Coven are the Elite Advisors. As well as being the most trusted the Elite have a say in the overall direction of the Coven. They usually attain their positions via loyalty and importance to the welfare of the Coven. The Elite Advisors are so important that they can even make decisions when the Elders are otherwise engaged. Normally the Elders will choose their successors from the Elite or if tragedy strikes with no successors it is up to the Elite to choose new Elders from their number.
As tradition dictates, the Elders and Elite live as a household at their Sanctuary. Due to the fact that they occupy a single residence Elders and Elite members will often refer to themselves as belonging to a House while more remote members will simply state the belong to a particular coven. The two terms are interchangeable, the House reference being used for formal purposes.
Honoured Coven Members have a similar status to the Elite. These members though do not live at the Sanctuary, and through privilege or loyalty have earned respect. Often these members maintain the businesses interest and “blood” resources for the Coven, usually by being the head of a company. Other Honoured Members are politicians or similar that have a high status of power in human society. As well as this there are individuals that have performed services for the Coven above the call of duty.
The next important members of the Coven are its internal security forces. Depending on the Coven these can have different names but essentially they are assassins and soldiers who work for the Coven and eliminate threats such as rogue Vampires and Vampire Hunters. Coven security normally report to a member of the Elite.
Below the Coven Security are Local Members. These are the people who work at the Sanctuary, carrying out duties for the Elders and Elite.
The Lowest Ranking members of a Coven are the “Remote” members. These are “ordinary” vampires who live away from the Sanctuary. Generally their only connection to the Coven is by following its rules and receiving a blood supply, which they pay a percentage of their earnings.
Ambitious Remote Members who want to embrace the Coven will try to become Honoured members by carrying out specific tasks for the Elders and Elite.
Move away from Hunting and Cloning
As technology has improved over the centuries and levelled the playing field between Vampires and ordinary humans, Vampire society has been forced to adopt even more secrecy to avoid drawing attention to themselves. The exception to this was during the great rebuild period following the meteor strike. In the confusion vampires could hunt and kill as much as they liked and went unnoticed.
These days with more sophisticated policing too many suspicious deaths are hard to hide. The Elders therefore place strict rules on “open” hunting, governing the number of kills and individual may make in order to protect the security of the Coven. Limited hunting also means that Covens have to limit their “membership” so newcomers can only be purposely “turned” if a Coven’s resources will not be stretched. Turning an individual will usually be to the benefit for of the House. Despite the safeguards humans have been turned without permission from Coven leaders. Since such a deed cannot be carried out by accident as it involves a victim reading an incantation, those Vampires that carry out such defiance against the elders can expect severe punishment, even death.
Since killing humans openly attracts unwanted attention, many Covens have attempted to find alternative forms of obtaining their need for blood. One of the most unusual methods is “farming” whereby a large number of victims are kept alive in suspended animation. Given appropriate “human” nutrition a person stored this way can be continually bled for years if the body is not bled dry and allowed to recover.
For this reason geneticists and scientists are always in great demand by the Vampire Covens. Such people are either used without being aware of exactly whom they are working for or the exact nature of their work, or alternately have been turned and are working in a Coven run facility or undercover at a normal commercial facility.
Since different human blood is unique and some tastes better than others, to a vampire some “humans” are highly prized in much the same way as people keep extensive wine cellars with rare vintages. The problem with this is that even in suspended animation the human body ages, so vampires have made great strides in medical research in a bid to keep their “food” fresh. Currently the most practised method involves “partially” turning a victim which allows a body to remain viable for decades but at the expense of producing human blood with a slight taint to it.
Another reason why Vampire Covens need scientists is that most of the Coven Elders have adopted a practice of cloning their bodies. Since their blood contains genetic memory, if the blood of an individual is transferred into a clone, the new body will have the knowledge and experience of the old one. Elders therefore take and store new samples of their own blood in case of a successful attempt on their lives.
At one time Vampire leaders tried to simply make use of human bodies rather than cloning. These attempts all ended in failure for human bodies that were not turned did not incorporate vampiric DNA in the flesh and organs. Transfusing the blood of a vampire into a human only therefore succeeded in turning the individual who would still retain his or her own memories. Cloning created a blank slate, a body with no memories and being produced with vampire DNA inside every cell meant that the introduction of vampire blood duplicates the individual’s consciousness. Perhaps the biggest risk with blank clones is that though the body might look exactly the same a particular vampire if the blood of another vampire is introduced the clone will have that vampire’s memories and motivations. In some Covens there has been talk of suspicions that those at the head of the Coven have been switched in this manner but such conspiracy theories have been disputed as such a move would involve a lot of high ranking Elite members all working together to maintain the deception without arousing suspicion.
Any time a vampire bites another human and does not kill them, the victim will suffer excruciating pain. This pain last for a day, and was a deliberate magic side effect added by Y’Creft to ensure the victim would pledge themselves to the contract, the only other way to escape the pain but at the same time would transform him or her into a Vampire.
Apart from those wanting to become Vampires and aware of the Contract, most are unwitting victims and made unaware of the 24hr limit. So desperate for relief from their suffering such a victim will usually do anything to escape the torment. It is then that the Vampire who perpetrated the act will ask the victim to read an ancient text, at which point the pain dissipates and the victim becomes a full Vampire.
What many victims are unaware of until later is that by saying the “text” they are pledging themselves to the Contract with Y’Creft. This means that just like Demons “trick” humans into signing over their Souls, Vampires have learned to use similar subterfuge, of people who do not want to become Vampires.
As with the original Contract though, if any vampire can avoid killing in anger and consuming the blood of his or her victim then they do not forfeit their soul.
New vampires are normally “covenless”. This means they are considered by the six covens to be rogues and a dangerous threat. They are therefore expected to pledge allegiance to a Coven which involves meeting the elders and consuming the blood of one of them. Following the ceremony if a vampire ever breaks the rules of the coven they can expect death.
League of Blood
Whilst there have always been the odd vampire who has chosen not to conform to vampire society and has been labelled renegade, until recently there was never and actual organised resistance. They call themselves the League of Blood and they have chosen to oppose the six Covens. They see the covens as being run by the privileged who make rules in their favour, in order to keep power. This is how they view the Elders cloning themselves as means to keep control.
The Renegades want to change the way their entire race is governed and more to a more diplomatic and fairer system. Expelled and viewed as outcasts from the Covens, has forced the renegades to “hunt” for food. Doing this in turn has been seen as a threat to Vampire society on the whole, so they are hunted by the Coven Security forces, with much the same vigour as the renegades hunt their prey.
The renegades in turn sees the actions of the Elders as a means to bury their political ideals, and so have taken it upon themselves to try and bring down the Covens by any means necessary. Though some “humans” might consider the renegades as heroes for opposing the houses, their motives are not altruistic in nature as they still see themselves at the top of the food chain, just like vampires that belong to the covens.
The Pure Heart problem
By design Y’Creft had tried to force Vampires to consume the blood of White Magic users. The most desirable prey in this respect are Pure Hearts. These are White Magic Channellers, whose magical skills come from following a religion that supports the Light realm in one of its many different forms. Typically they are unaware of their special abilities and Pure Hearts that belong to that group are rarer because they are considered to have a soul untainted by any evil.
If consuming the blood of a White Magic user restores youth vigour and power, then a with a Pure Heart this effect is magnified nearly twenty fold. Though greatly desired, for many centuries Vampires were unable to consume the blood of Pure Hearts due to one problem, the magic that protects their body from evil acts like a barrier. Extracting the blood directly or indirectly by anything touched by Dark Magic destroys its rejuvenating properties.
Eventually, through trial and error over a great period of time, Vampires discovered that they could break the magic barrier by corrupting an individual. Providing that person’s blood was extracted quickly after corrupting the soul, it retains its special properties. Most Pure Hearts, being religious types would prefer to die rather than have their soul tainted and the deaths of Pure Hearts do not go unnoticed.
The Angels long ago realised that Vampires killing Light Magic users was Y’Creft’s way to get proxies to fight enemies of Demons. Though technically Y’Creft had not broken the truce between their two races, some Angels see the deaths of Pure Hearts as bending the rules too far and see such actions as an affront. This had led Angels to “redress the balance” by interfering in the mortal realm. Other Demons, especially Y’Creft’s rivals, see that as risking all out war but rather than challenging the Angels, they have instead tried to pacify the wrath of the Light Realm, by dealing with Vampire trouble causer themselves.
Whether it was out of revenge or necessity it is believed that a rogue Angel was behind the creation of the Immunatos a weapon capable of hurting vampires. The legends say that once in a lifetime a Pure Heart mortal is born that is so powerful that is a vampire touches his or her flesh they get burnt whilst consuming the blood of such an entity has the potential to remove the curse or kill.
Though Angels and Demons have tried to deal with vampires in various ways, there is in fact one “weapon” that can effectively deal with them, the Immunatos. Created by the Angel Melek who was obsessed in keeping balance, she sacrificed herself to created a powerful magic totem.
Unlike most magic totems that are physical objects this one exists as a tattoo. According to legend once in a life time a child is born with the “mark” of the Immunatos. That person it completely one with the magic totem and are well protected against them. A vampire who touches an Immunatos will feel their flesh burn and trying to consume the blood of one will either remove the curse or more commonly kill them.
Once the vampires learned of the existence of the Immunatos they at first tried to destroy it. However just as with any other Magic Totem, destroying it was not possible. Even if they killed the person wearing the tattoo, the marking would simply reappear on another new born somewhere else. Since Melek had built in a completely random nature for this to happen it became a lot harder for vampires to locate the new Immunatos since it did not rely on moving down family lines. Often a new Immunatos would go through life without even realising what they were until the vampires found him or her.
This meant the vampires were left with allying with Mystics to locate the new Immunatos. After killing several Immunatos the vampires switched tactics and decided that instead of killing the Immunatos they would keep it. This gave them the means to torture and even kill their own thus ensuring obedience to the houses.