On the Ecology of the Vampire

"Listen to them. Children of the night. What music they make." - Dracula

Nomenclature: Vampires, Leeches, Licks, Bloodsuckers, Overbite, Fanger, Fangs, Lonely Ones

Description: Undead creatures that feed on humans

Things that are known:

  • They are repulsed by mirrors and garlic
  • Sunlight damages them
  • They can be slain by being held under running water
  • A wooden shaft through the heart will paralyze them
  • They are resistant to non-magical weapons
  • Once 'killed' by normal means, they simply turn into gas and retreat to their coffin


Rumors and other whispers in the dark:

  • Not undead creatures, they are actually intestinal parasites that infect corpses. The victims harbor all sorts of weird physical characteristics, but the actual creature is a small, wandering, gut worm. The gaseous form trick is pure parlor magic, just a common flashbang that allows the worm to escape.
  • They are a tactic of the powers of Law to isolate and neutralize dangerous Chaotic influences.  Vampirism is very attractive to a certain kind of power-mad maniac.  Immortality and power.  And the cost?  Ha!
    • But what happens when a dangerously dynamic champion of Chaos becomes vampire?  By the nature of the curse, they are tied down, they are dependent on their environment, they are bound by day and night, they are beyond life, and can no longer learn and grow (ie gain levels).  They have stopped being a dynamic threat, and become a static irritant - they have been encased in a cyst which protects the larger world from their influence.  Perhaps they pollute a small corner of it, but they are effectively neutralized as champions of Chaos. 
    • Vampires become terrible forces for conservatism.  Unchanging.  Eternal.  They are Law's way of making Chaos serve it, and only we poor mortals suffer for their gambit.
  • They don't actually exist. They are just the fiction-made-manifest of a sage who writes pot-boilers in his spare time. Unfortunately the one with the vampires was written in a magic book, which causes anything within it to become real, as if it had always been real. The book "Vampyr" series is quite popular. Destroying the book causes all vampires to cease to exist as if they never existed at all. Which they didn't.
  • Seven vampires carry the throne of the underworld goddess, she sends them to promote suffering in the world and remind us of her wrath. 
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  • A spirit of the underworld possesses the corpse, making a mockery of the victim, corrupting and exterminating the departed soul. Once slain, it is banished until it can regather its power. Each devil or demon can have one such champion in the world at a time. 
  • Werewolf corpses make particularly good hosts for vampires.
  • They are all sludge vampires.
  • Vampires are just ghouls, though those that feed on immortal flesh. The powers of the vampire are just side effects from their diet
  • Vampires are a trick your mind plays on you to cover up its own secret workings. Every time you think you're fighting a vampire you're actually fighting something else you don't want to look at. And if you have a sufficiently powerful personality you can get others to share your delusion, blaming the "vampire" for crimes nobody wants to confess. The mythology of the vampire gets more baroque the more crimes it must stretch over. 
  • Vampires are part of an infection - a humanoid infection. They are a hive mind, a single viral organism that infects itself out from a source. The source is nearly immortal, the ones it infects are quite strong. Those that the infected infect are pale shadows of thinking creatures.
  • Vampires are a fictional cover for the lizard overlords.
  • The blood that vampires drink is sent directly to hell. Not only does this make your soul more likely to go there after you die, but the genetic material in it (call it essence if you want) is mixed and used as a starting compound for building demons.
  • Vampires are the ultimate narcissists and for this reason they have never united to rule the world. They only "reproduce" when a vampire is foolish enough to think they can create and control another vampire, who almost always manages to get away when their own hyper-narcissism kicks in. If one vampire seems to dominate another it is a sure bet that the "slave" is merely trying to get close for the ultimate betrayal. Thus the whole idea of vampire families, splat-sects, etc. is a paranoid fever dream of Churchly witch hunter manual writers. Vampires are solo monsters, powerful enough, but their own worst enemy.
  • The Vampire is even worse than the most terrifying nightmare. It is an idea that takes over the mind, inducing secrecy and obsession. People infected with the idea, find themselves engaged in absent-minded bloodletting. Left unchecked, they begin filling bowls, barrels, and other containers with blood. It is unclear what their purpose is, and they are always unaware of their actions.
  • They are the guardians of the debts incurred by wishes. Wishes always have a cost. If that cost remains unpaid, a creature extracts the balance. A vampire preys on children, stealing into their rooms, in recompense for that other annual housebreaker with all the gewgaws. The only way to stop them, is to stop the debt.
  • All vampires are actually simulacra. A plasmic being infects and replaces a body's cells. Eventually the entire being is replaced on a cellular level, and it gains a consciousness that matches that dictated by the brain it has replaced.  The vampire has no idea that its real identity is already dead. The soul is truly gone. 
    • These plasmic beings have a cellular structure that cannot stand up to the rigors of UV light. Other weaknesses are attributed to superstitions of the former identity. 
  • The specific powers and limitations of a vampire are linked to the qualities and lifestyle of the host spirit. The landed elite are tied to their home of origin, their pale skin no longer tolerates the sun, and their thin noble blood reacts to garlic (a natural blood thinner) poorly. Poor vagabonds, by comparison, suffer constant wanderlust, are empowered by the sun and road, and resist the elements (including elemental spells). While frequently not as traditionally powerful as their noble kin, the rest of the spectrum of vampirism is aided by a shroud of ignorance.
  • Vampires are simply young liches, struggling to hold on to the vestiges of life. The blood brings the semblance of life. As the years progress, it takes more and more blood for the same effect. As the lich slips into the embrace of undeath, his need for humanity fades away, along with the taste of blood.
  • Wishes and other magical immortality means always produce vampirism.
  • If you refer to them as Draculas they will spare you.



The ecology series is a crowdsourced series of articles, and contributors can be found on google+ under the hashtag #crowdecology. They are limited posts, but following me on G+ will allow you to see them. All artwork is credited where the artist could be found. Classic ecology articles from Dragon magazine are used both for reference and inspiration; the whole impetus of the idea was to create 'classic' ecology articles that are actually useful. Let's Read the Monster Manual by Noisms is also a source of inspiration.  If you're curious how to make effective use of these articles, read On the Use of Ecology.

2 comments:

  1. So pretty cool alternate origins for vamps! Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  2. https://plus.google.com/u/0/+CourtneyCampbell/posts/LBdS5jCAAXq

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