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Vampire Traits and Tropes
Here is my long list of  vampire traits that I've been sifting through, taken from the books, films and TV shows I've been devouring this year.. I'd love to get others' feedback and opinions on these though apparently I'm going to have to break this up into multiple entries
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Must drink blood to survive?
Dead, undead, "resurrected"?
Murderous killers or capable of having a conscience?
Demonic or simply predatory?
Does every feeding result in a kill, or can a vampire live on non-fatal feedings?
Are they nourished by the living human's  emotion at the time of feeding? Do passion and terror work equally well?
Can they survive (but not necessarily thrive) on other mammal blood?
Heartbeat? Breathing? Never? Only sometimes?

Con't...

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by    Posted october 15, 2010
Is the daylight "sleep"  death-like so they are in fact they are dead during the day? (I like the idea that it's the karmic payback for having cheated death and gained the near-immortality: they must pay by knowing death each time the sun rises.)

"Who watches over vampire souls as they sleep"? Such a poignant and important question. Probably the only deep thing Laurell K. Hamilton ever wrote.

Or are they completely soulless, having traded that as well for immortality?

Day walkers? Can older vamps can push the envelope some, especially if well fed?

True Death: Sunlight? Staking, wood only? Or is the only guarantee decapitation and cutting out heart?

Upon True Death does the body reverts to what it would have been had they died a natural, human death? So for some then there will be remains, for others nothing but dust?

Silver vulnerability?

Do they need to rest in their Native Soil?

Can they cross running water?

Garlic?

Religious symbols like crucifixes?
by    Posted october 15, 2010
How do you make a Vampire? I'm fond of: Drain Intended to the point of death, feed them your blood, allow intended to die.  Wait three days for them to rise. (very Biblical tradition).

What's the nature of the Progeny /Master relationship?

Does a newly made vamp maintain its exact appearance at the time of its mortal death, or do they revert to a beautiful and youthful appearance regardless of how old they were when at the time of transformation?

Bad Breath- I like this one. Their diet has a logical impact on their mouths. Back in the day they could rinse with mint or rosewater. Today, Listerine as long as they don’t swallow.

Eating regular food? (No. Just no.)

Alcohol/drugs? Can it affect them if taken through the blood of an intoxicated victim?

Eyes at time of feeding/ arousal? Turn red? Or some other color change?

Fangs?? Always longer than a normal human’s? Or do they descend when hungry, aroused, angry, feeding?

Territoriality? Master of the City, or a ruling Council or are they simply solitary predators?

Do strength and power increase with age?

If they isolate, which I think a vampire may do as too much time flows by and the world changes around them too much, will they lose the last of their humanity? Would very old vamps become very still, little movement, even less expressive gestures, faces seeming to ossify into a death mask? Seems like this would marks a sort of “aging/dying” process as vampires need to be around the living to remain vital themselves. Again, I think it isn’t only about the blood, though blood is the unchanging ever-present, constant need.
 
Ruling Political Bodies?
 
Glamouring/ Mind Control/Influencing-- Do all vampires have an inherent ability to cloud the mind and influence mortals?

Super strength/speed?

Quick healing powers?

Levitation? Flying?

Shape-shifting? 

Invisibility?

Mist formation,  non-corporeal states? 

Do Vampires  need to be invited in?  (Seems like wishful thinking on the part of humans.)

Mirrors?

Impotency; deriving all sexual pleasure from feeding alone? (Sounds like a nasty rumor started by jealous male humans.)  (And simply no fun at all)

Vampires Lineage—are they are descended from Angels—the group that chose to Fall to mate with humans.  (See Book of Enoch) Or from Lilith? Or Cain? 

OR (I almost forgot) a very po'ed Wallachian prince who felt betrayed by God, renounced Him, rose from his own grave and started spreading vampirism from the Carpathians westward?

Whew!
by    Posted october 15, 2010
Obviously, the answers to these questions are partly based on what kind of vampire story you want to tell and to what audience. These days, it seems less attention is paid to the older vampire myths because the followers of modern vampire books, shows, and films know so little about them having grown up with Anne Rice and Stephenie Meyer.

So I'm a little bit overwhelmed with your many questions, so let's take this one at a time.

"Do vampires need to drink blood to survive?"

My answer is a definite yes. However, in some portrayals vampires can survive without blood, but the result is that they age indefinitely and lose much of their power. In these stories, the vampires regain their youth and potency by drinking blood and often don't need to consume any form of nutrients in order to survive.
by    Posted october 16, 2010
Yes, I know it's a *lot* of "questions" and I honestly didn't expect answers to all of these; mostly I was thinking it'd be fun to discuss them and their various ramifications. Oh but Sean, oh please, don't type "Anne Rice" and "Stephanie Meyer" in the same sentence! Granted both take vampires some distance from their remorseless demonic roots of the previous century (19th) but there is no comparing the depth of thought and writing abilities between the two authors.
by    Posted october 16, 2010
"Can they survive (but not necessarily thrive) on other mammal blood?"

For me this one is a rule that gets broken all the time. Vampires only feed on humans. Since they evolved from humans animal blood cannot be used as a substitute.


"Does every feeding result in a kill, or can a vampire live on non-fatal feedings?"

Yes, a vampire can feed off of its prey for an indeterminate amount of time without either killing its prey or turning it into a vampire. The trick to not killing is to not take too much blood at once and to allow for the prey to recover in between feedings.

Depending on which version of vampires you're going with the vampire bite doesn't always transmit vampirism. In the religious and supernatural depiction of vampirism, a vampire bite will not turn you into a vampire, but it will turn you into its minion or slave. A psychic link is often created during the bite which allows for the vampire to manipulate its minions' mind in order to guarantee that the minion is available to feed on and doesn't try to escape. In addition, in most religious and supernatural tales of vampirism, the vampire must not only drink of his or her victim's blood in order to turn them into a vampire, but also force the victim to drink of his or her own blood. This is what allows for the transformation from human mortal to vampiric immortal to occur.
In more modern and scientific versions of vampire tales, the vampire can choose who will be his prey and who will be changed into a fellow vampire. This is usually explained by saying that there is a specific venom or saliva carrying the vampiric DNA that initiates the transformation and that the vampire has control over when he or she releases this venom/saliva during the bite. This would mean that the ritualistic blood exchange is unnecessary and that vampires could proliferate far more quickly.
by    Posted october 17, 2010
"Are they nourished by the living human's emotion at the time of feeding? Do passion and terror work equally well?"

I would say that yes, they are nourished by human emotion, but more on a psychological/metaphysical level. Not on a physical one. In the case of psy-vamps, absolutely. From my research, the early vampires (usually referred to as succubae or Lilin after Lilith) fed off of psychic energy given out by their victims' emotions as well as feeding on their blood. So they were both sanguine and psychic vampires and certainly more powerful than later depictions of vampires. However, most vampire portrayals from the thirteenth and fourteenth century onward have vampires mainly feeding off of blood and damning their victims by turning them.
by    Posted october 29, 2010
"Heartbeat? Breathing? Never? Only sometimes?"

My take on this is probably more scientific and less spooky than most vampire authors, so I apologize in advance. LOL! The way I see it, vampires are essentially like humans with all of the same bodily functions (and some additional ones acquired when they were transformed into the undead). They need the same basics for survival that we do (though for different reasons):
Food and water (accompanied by blood to maintain longevity and regenerative abilities)
Shelter (mainly from the sun)
Potential for reproduction (either through impregnation or transmission of the vampire gene)

As far as oxygen goes, vampires do need to breathe since their blood still needs to be oxygenated. However, due to their regenerative capacity, they can go for great lengths of time without needing oxygen. But, keep in mind, that during times of physical or emotional stress their bodies would react similarly to humans' and their heartbeat would increase thus requiring more oxygen. So, say you have a vampire submerged in water... if the vampire is relaxed and relatively conservative with its energy, it can remain under water for a longer time than a human could. Yet if it were in a situation where it was panicking or struggling, it would have a greater need to breathe.
by    Posted october 29, 2010
"Demonic or simply predatory?"

On this one, you can pretty much go in either direction or both. I've tended to base my own vampire cosmology around science and have tried to avoid excessive use of supernatural elements, though those can be fun too. In this case, it depends on what kind of genre you're writing in. In the more romantic vampire tales, usually the idea is that a human loses his or her soul, essentially becoming damned, when transforming a vampire and that they take on demonic properties or are in some cases actually possessed by evil forces. In the more reality-based vampire stories, when a human becomes a vampire they are often so overwhelmed by their biological need to consume human blood that they eventually go mad and lose their moral humanity.
by    Posted october 30, 2010
Feel free to ask a question too, Aerin. And I'm glad that you're finding this to be entertaining and informative. : )
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