Innistrad's vampires comprise its only nonhuman civilization and the biggest threat to humans on the plane. Their existence represents a sort of externalization of self-indulgent desire; if werewolves are a symbol of repressed rage, vampires are a symbol of repressed desire. On Innistrad, vampire manor houses, courts, and even the occasional castle exist across the plane, and vampires themselves vary considerably in aggressiveness toward their human prey.
The Nature of Vampirism Edit
Vampirism on Innistrad is neither a virus nor a curse, but what the vampires themselves somewhat euphemistically call a "condition of the blood." It is an anointing that persists and is perpetuated by magic alone, and few if any of its bearers consider it a curse. When reflecting on the nature of "the condition," vampires sometimes poetically call it an ablution, a washing of the self in blood that results in a new state of being. Innistrad vampires are not truly undead, although they have some undead traits (such as agelessness and skin that's cold to the touch).
Vampiric traits Edit
The most distinctive thing about vampires' appearance is their eyes. The sclera is black and the irises gold, silver, or other colors. The skin is pale and cool to the touch. The hair is often black but is sometimes deep purple, dark magenta, burgundy, or even dark blue-green. Some vampires wear wigs, however, for variety, novelty, or to disguise themselves more easily among humans. A vampire's canines are very slightly pronounced at all times, and when they bite someone, the canines extend about a quarter inch. Vampires also tend to have long and slightly curved fingernails.
Vampiric powers Edit
Humans have a multitude of tall tales about the evils and wonders of which vampires are capable. In reality, though, the vampires' universal suite of powers is limited to just three things: agelessness, slightly enhanced strength (approximately double that of a human), and a two-foot-wide aura of silence that emanates from them at will.
Vampiric magic Edit
That said, many vampires learn a uniquely vampiric form of glamer (quasi-illusion magic) that enables them to move among humans undetected. These are mind-affecting spells that alter what nearby humans think they're perceiving, rather than true illusion magic that changes the subject's appearance. As such, particularly strong-willed humans can sometimes shake off the effects of the glamer and see the vampire truly. Also, given time, power, and mana, elder vampires learn all manner of powerful magic, including flight, hypnotic gaze, transformation into other forms (such as that of a bat or a mist), and so on.
Vampiric Vulnerabilities Edit
All vampires inherit a set of weaknesses linked to the ritual that created their race. First, although they can be harmed or killed by any weapon, weapons of living wood have special efficacy—this is the so-called Dryad's Legacy (dead wood is inert, no more effective than stone or steel). Second, a vampire can't cross running water in which the moon is
reflected, because of the link between water as the source of human food and the moon as the source of angelic power. Third, Avacyn herself can enchant water with the power to burn vampires like acid by touching it. But this water is scarce and becoming scarcer with each passing day.
Silver, the soothsayer Edit
Because of the connection between Innistrad's silver moon and its angels, and because the ritual that created vampires required the drinking of angel blood, silver has special properties vis-à-vis vampires: it causes them to see how they would have been in normal, mortal life, ignoring vampire glamer and reality alike. Because of this, vampires go to great lengths to avoid mirrors (glass backed with a coating of silver), because mirrors reflect their mortal images rather than their actual ones. This is also the reason why vampires can't cross running water in which the moon is reflected. Although silver weapons aren't particularly deadly to vampires, the presence of silver unsettles them, putting them at a disadvantage.
Avacyn's power Edit
The archangel Avacyn is (or was) the living covenant of the balance between humans and vampires. Avacynian holy symbols can induce in vampires a paralyzing fear and the desire to flee, although their ability to do so has significantly diminished in the last year (because of Avacyn's disappearance). Despite Avacyn's absence, however, the strength of faith alone imbues a degree of continued power in the symbols of Avacyn: the silver collar and the heron crest.
The Unquenchable Thirst Edit
A vampire will starve to death in one full cycle of the moon unless it drinks as much human blood as an average human contains (about five liters). Almost any vampire will drink more than this if given the chance, however. Without enough blood, a vampire starves quickly—in a matter of several days—first desiccating before eventually crumbling to dust. Because of the source magic that created all vampires, only blood from a living human will suffice. Vampire alchemists have attempted transmutations of animal blood to human blood, but all have failed. Blood from a dead human is also insufficient; if blood from a living human is like wine, blood from a dead human is like vinegar.
Blood trade Edit
To vampires, blood is indeed like wine. Vampires enjoy a lively commerce in blood, although the commodity is only good for a few days before it provides no nourishment—about the same length of time as wood stays alive once cut from its plant. Small castles and manor houses in relative proximity to each other trade blood via carriage and experiment with various blends. Particularly interesting or delicious samples are occasionally preserved by well paid time-mages who can use sorcery to prevent the blood from "dying" for a short time (freezing doesn't work). When a time-mage can't be secured, however (which is often), some vampires resort to slavery of the victim, shipping him or her from place to place to be supped on. Specialty carriages exist for this purpose.
Feeding and siring Edit
A vampire will drink the blood of his or her human victim, usually until the victim dies of blood loss. Sometimes the vampire is interrupted and the human will survive and recover. Although other humans might suspect the survivor of a vampire's bite of becoming a vampire, this isn't a possibility, because siring requires an exchange of blood. The survivor will be plagued by disturbing and sometimes erotic dreams for years but will not turn.
When a vampire wishes to turn a human into a vampire, to sire the victim, the vampire must introduce his or her own blood into the victim. The simplest way to accomplish this is for the vampire to cut his or her own cheek or tongue before or during the bite. This act will "anoint" the victim, endowing him or her with the same "condition of the blood" that all vampires have. But this is only the first step. The victim, once anointed, will begin to feel the bloodthirst, and food will become unsatisfying within one to three days. But this first bloodthirst is special; only the blood of the sire can quench it. A newly anointed victim who doesn't drink the sire's blood before the next new moon will die. But if he or she does, the siring will be complete and the anointed will become a full-fledged vampire.
Only the Gifted Edit
Who do vampires choose to sire? Because vampires believe they are humanity's saviors, and because of their own decadence and hedonism, only the cream of the human crop is fit for siring. A vampire might decide to sire a human because of the human's beauty, charisma, intelligence, or talent, for example. In short, only the most remarkable humans become vampires.
The Bite Edit
When vampires feed, they will sink their teeth into any exposed flesh. Usually the neck is most convenient, but an arm or even a cheek will do. But the siring bite is special. Vampires want to avoid marring the appearance of their future peers, so often a siring bite is made in some out-of-view location, such as on the upper thigh, the torso under the arm, or the bottom of a foot (although in this last case the victim must be special indeed to be worth the vampire's self-humiliation).
Not all vampires are created equal. Among the existing vampiric bloodlines, some are more common but prestigious whereas some are rare but less respected. There were originally twelve bloodlines, which originated long ago in a ritual that had something to do with the Markov progenitor, Edgar Markov. Three of these bloodlines have died out completely. Five others are relatively minor, having sired fewer vampires. The four major bloodlines that remain are:
This is the bloodline of Edgar Markov and is the most prestigious of the bloodlines. The Markov line has been fairly ambitious in its siring over the many centuries, and as a result the Markov vampires exist in all four of Innistrad's provinces. This isn't to say that all vampires of the Markov line are all high-minded or noble; a bloodline doesn't determine temperament, self-discipline, or restraint. Markov elders seem to have a talent for psychic magic.
The Falkenrath line, concentrated more in Stensia than the Markov line, had a famous falconer (now dead) as its progenitor and remains associated with far-reaching activity and predation. Falkenrath vampires are the boldest in walking among humans, taking pleasure in choosing their victims from deep within human communities that consider themselves safe. Falkenrath elders are more likely to master powers of flight than those of other lines.
The progenitor of the Voldaren line, Olivia Voldaren, was in life a beautiful but strange, hermetic, antisocial woman who preferred to live far away from human civilization, in manor homes built for her from her seemingly boundless wealth. Like their progenitor, Voldaren vampires tend to live in the distant places, in the borderlands and edges of Innistrad's provinces. Voldaren elders can more easily master magic that enables them to transform into animal forms, especially those of the bat, cat, and rat.
Unwilling to take part in the political and social machinations of Stensian vampires, those of the Stromkirk line chose to concentrate their power in Nephalia instead. As a result their disguising glamers are more powerful and more sophisticated. Stromkirk's progenitor, Runo Stromkirk, was a high priest in life who worshipped a pre-Avacynian god of the sea and storms, and Stromkirk vampires still feel a slight affinity with the coast. Some Stromkirk elders have achieved the ability to transform themselves into mist.