The dark and mysterious vampire bat shifters were shunned even during the days of Wulfgard, when shifters ruled much of the mortal realm, for their love of the taste of blood. When the old gods were defeated and the shifters cursed, the vampires sought to avoid the fate of beastfolk and retain their shape-shifting gifts by selling their souls to the Archdemon Arashk. As a result, they remained able to change shape at will and gained immortality, at the price of their undead state and blood addiction. Rumor has it there are other kinds of vampires as well, such as those that can shapeshift into rats, but if these exist, they are relatively rare - or simply very well-hidden.
The vampires retained all of their former powers and became virtually immortal in their state of undeath. As with most creatures, the power of a vampire varies from individual to individual; however, it is also influenced by how long a person has been a vampire. Contrary to some tales, vampires do not have enhanced physical attributes across all forms. When in human form, a vampire is physically on par with an ordinary human (or elf or dwarf, as the case may be) in every respect, save perhaps for a heightened sense of hearing. To achieve flight and use their bestial strength, they must shift into their beast-man form. When in this form, they can also send forth a sonic blast that may stun their victims.
All vampires have at least a few minor psychic abilities. The most powerful vampires can use these psychic abilities to dominate the minds of weak-willed individuals, while lesser vampires can only use them to persuade or mislead. Contrary to some legends built around them, however, vampires have no control over animals, which is why vampire hunters often bring dogs. Also, it is very difficult for a vampire to control the mind of beastfolk or anyone infected with lycanthropy, due to their somewhat half-animal nature.
Vampires are able to transform into the forms of a bat, their natural form (human, elf, or dwarf), or a man-bat (these vampire man-bat forms are not to be confused with ordinary bat-folk. They only have increased strength, speed, heightened senses, and the ability to fly when they are in man-bat form, not in their natural form. Their man-bat form is stronger than most mortal men, but their strength is exceeded by werewolves and most beastfolk. Also, unlike a werewolf's uncontrollable transformations, a vampire's shapeshifting is voluntary and painless, though still not instantaneous. In the case of dwarven vampires, their man-bat form is not relative to their size as a dwarf, nor are their limbs stumpier in comparison to other vampires. All vampires' man-bat forms are larger than a human or at least the same size, and when a vampire is transformed, it is virtually impossible to tell the vampire's true race.
Mist Form, and Other Vampire Types
Legends speak of a wide variety of forms vampires can take, including mist (often described as mist with glowing red eyes). Likewise, some tales speak of vampires that are not descended from specifically the vampire bat shifters, and instead their bestial forms are those of rats or other, stranger animals. It is unknown how many - or if any - of these legends hold any truth.
A vampire must drink the blood of the living in order to survive. The bite of a vampire induces a pain that paralyzes the victim, which gives them time to feed. However, vampires must carefully balance the amount of blood that they drink, lest they slip too deep into undeath or too close to their animal side. Vampires who drink blood in moderation can pass as normal, but those who do not drink enough will enter deep undeath, and those who drink too much will turn feral.
The vampire's victim must be alive at the time of the feeding - or else very recently dead, killed only seconds or minutes ago - in order for the vampire to gain any life force; otherwise the blood is useless to them and only weakens them. This is why vampires must feed from the living and why powerful vampires keep human cattle from which to feed.
Vampires who do not drink enough life-blood go very deeply into a weakened state of undeath, their movements slowing, their skin becoming pale and aged, their muscles withering. Eventually they become little more than corpses, entering a state of hibernation until either killed by some means or returned to "life" by the administering of life-blood.
Opposite of Deep Undeath, a vampire who drinks too much will blood become more and more ravenous for it, losing control until they go feral. They begin to exhibit bat-like features even in their "normal" form, and will eventually enter their man-bat state perpetually so long as their hunger continues to be fed.
As undead, vampires cannot reproduce through normal means. Instead, they spread their curse by bite, similar to werewolves, but transferring their curse involves a more elaborate ritual than does the transference of lycanthropy... But such a ritual is unknown, as it is not generally the case that one witnesses a vampire infecting someone. Rumor has it that the vampire must drain the victim of nearly all his blood, effectively killing them, and then drip some of their own blood back into the victim, while calling upon their innate demonic magic to seal the curse. Some time later (six days, most tales say), the dead individual will arise as a vampire.
A newly "reborn" vampire is extremely susceptible to the psychic suggestions of the master who created them, unless their will is strong enough to break free, or their master is destroyed.
It is said that there are other ways that one might become a vampire - including a much lesser-known ritual that involves sealing the vamprisim curse onto a living being, dooming them to return as a vampire six days after their death - but any other ways to acquire vampirism remain shrouded in mystery.
There is no known cure for vampirism.
As a combination of undead and Shifter-kin, vampires have numerous weaknesses. However, they are nonetheless extremely difficult to kill. Even "mortal" wounds will heal over time, especially with the application of life-blood, which can often bring a vampire back from a state of "death." However, although vampires often shun the food of mortals, rumors about them being unable to eat garlic or drink wine are entirely unsubstantiated.
The chief weakness of a vampire is sunlight. As creatures of the night, vampires prefer the darkness, where they can take advantage of their acute sense of hearing. Even more than this, however, vampires cannot be touched by sunlight because they are undead. Like all undead, they begin to burn and crumble when exposed to the sun, and they will quickly disintegrate.
Holy Objects and Running Water
Also due to their undead state, all things blessed by the higher powers will cause harm to vampires. These objects include holy weapons, holy water, and holy symbols. Holy weapons and holy fire can kill vampires permanently, as can a holy stake being plunged through their heart. It is said that vampires cannot cross running water, as such violently moving water will burn them as if it was acid.
As descendants of the Shifters, vampires share their weakness to silver weapons. Injuries caused by silver will be extremely painful and negate a vampire's regenerative abilities. Thus, wounds inflicted by silver are capable of being fatal wounds, unlike wounds inflicted by ordinary weapons.
As the Six are the most powerful werewolves, the First are the most powerful vampires. Their group is comprised of the first vampires ever to come into existence – the eight vampire bat shifters who originally made the demonic pact with Arashk that caused them to become members of the undead. They have existed since the days of Wulfgard, and their power is immense. However, of the original four males and four females, only two males and one female are known to still be “alive” for certain: the others may have entered a state of dormant hibernation or been killed. The three known to still be active are Duke Draculea, who still rules over a section of the Empire, hiding his vampiric nature; Grimwing the Warlock, who leads a group of feral vampires that live in the mountain caves near the city of Dhuum; and Lady Nefertari (known as Lady Carmina in the Empire), who currently leads a coven of female vampires in Kemhet. All three of these ancient vampires command many followers and thralls.