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Theory and speculation: Vampires in the GrimGrimoire setting
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Theory and speculation: Vampires in the GrimGrimoire setting
Mostly this is the result of several years' worth occasionally running the concept through my head--I like vampire stories, and so every fall or so I start thinking about having one of our protagonists (usually Margarita) run into a vampire story. Which in turn got me to puzzling out the mechanics of the concept and how it would work in
given what we already know about the nature of magic and theology in the setting, and the kind of things that vampire legends and literature tell us.
I got a lot farther along with the theory than I did on any story...
So, I figured I'd post the theory, both because writing stuff out helps me think and also to see if anyone else has any ideas thereupon.
Lillet Blan's Commentary: "Cress is a great fan of vampire stories before bedtime now that it's the Hallowmas season, even though they're sometimes a little more scary than they ought to be and she ends up crawling into bed with Amoretta and me due to bad dreams. For people in the rural districts, though, those legends and stories aren't particularly entertaining, not when they tell a history of blood and pain and the violation of the dead. I think it has something to do with the
nature of the vampire, the fact that it exists as a pseudo-mortality unlike the more spectral undead, which so captures the imagination both of those who enjoy the stories of vampires, and those who dedicate themselves to hunting them down."
In its simplest form, a vampire is a form of corporeal undead. It consists of a corpse which has been "inhabited" or "possessed" by a spirit entity. The powers and abilities of vampires can vary widely (as seen below), but the underlying, defining factor is that the link that the possessing spirit makes to animate the body requires the expenditure of mana to maintain, and that the spirit can absorb large quantities of mana efficiently by draining it from living beings by drinking their blood. It's pretty much a straight percentage basis: drink X% of a victim's blood supply, and the vampire absorbs X% of its MP stat or stored mana. (It may be noted that even non-magicians absorb mana from their environment; they just don't use it for anything.)
It may be further noted that drinking blood from a target that has no mana (either because it doesn't
an MP stat at all, like a natural animal, or because it's
all its mana at the time of the vampire attack), does nothing whatsoever for the vampire. It's after mana, not fluid volumes.
One significant fact about the vampire is that the spirit possessing the corpse actually "inhabits" the body as if that body was its own: it can see through the spirit's eyes, hear through its ears, feel through its skin, and so on. This is to be contrasted, for example, with a poltergeist-type phenomenon where the spirit would move the body around through a form of telekinesis,
the body without
it. (This latter effect is associated with lesser forms of corporeal undead such as zombies, and is one reason why zombies continue to decay while animated and why, also, their movement is slow and jerky rather than natural.) It may be noted, however, that this is a
effect; the body itself is not "brought back to life" by any true biological process.
There are two basic forms of vampires, determined by what kind of spirit animates them:
vampires are corpses that are inhabited by the spirit of a living, mortal person--in essence, by a ghost. Generally speaking, that spirit happens to be of the person whom the corpse originally belonged to (see on creation of vampires, below), but that is not a requirement.
vampires, by contrast, are inhabited by the spirit of a devil.
This basic division is responsible for most of the variation in the behavior of vampires found in story and legend. In all cases, the mind of the vampire is the mind of the possessing spirit, and it will act in accordance with the psychology of that being. A necromantic vampire may well attempt to resume its normal life, and will generally have more interest in human affairs. A sorcerous vampire will be more interested in spreading evil--the more powerful and intelligent the devil, the more grandiose its plans will likely be.
Powers of vampires:
All vampires share one basic attribute: they have greatly increased speed, senses, and physical strength over a normal person. This is because, as noted above, the body is animated magically, not via biological process. The force of magic allows the creature to move faster, exert more muscular force, see in near-darkness, and so on. Similarly, because, again, the body is animated by magic and not by biology, to destroy a vampire generally requires more than the mere application of physical damage: what must be destroyed is the link between the body and the possessing spirit; if this is done the spirit will be immediately be driven out and generally sent to Purgatory or Hell, as appropriate (though it could be speculated that if the spirit was initially a ghost capable of sustaining its independent existence, e.g. Lujei or Calvaros, it would be capable of reverting to that state). The stake through the heart or the absolute destruction of the body by fire would accomplish this, as would sufficiently powerful exorcism Necromancy.
The sorcerous breed of vampire (only) shows a weakness to holy or blessed symbols similar to what the devil spirit would: the stronger the devil, the more resistance it is likely to have. However, holy energy would be capable of destroying a sorcerous vampire if applied in sufficient quantity.
(In game terms, vampires
any HP damage received except from particular sources. For those sources, damage can only be healed by burning mana--essentially, the reverse of a grimalkin's Mana Burn spell. A vampire also dies
if its mana supply drops to 0--there's no more energy left to sustain the spirit/body link. Thus it is possible to starve a vampire to "death.")
The other powers and abilities of the vampire vary widely with the nature of the possessing spirit. A necromantic vampire with a magician spirit, for example, may be able to use magic. (This gives rise to a very dangerous creature, since a magician vampire could have its servitor creatures mine mana for it and therefore not have to drink blood!) Sorcerous vampires, especially, are often capable of shape-shifting. On the other hand, a weak spirit of either type is little more than a revenant, an animated, blood-drinking corpse.
Creation of vampires:
Generally, a vampire is created by another vampire. In essence, the vampire "passes on" its state to a victim. For sorcerous vampires, the vampire drains the victim to death and in doing so "prepares" it to be inhabited by another devil of equal or lesser strength (generally, this is what creates the "plague of the undead" type of situation). For necromantic vampires, the spirit of the victim is trapped inside the body at the moment of the body's death.
However, this does not address "first causes" among vampiric lines of descent. These all start with the corpse and the spirit being separate, and powerful magic being used to create the link between body and spirit. This might be performed by the possessing spirit itself, if present and sufficiently powerful (Lujei, for example, could have made herself into a vampire if she happened to have a corpse on hand to inhabit...except that as powerful as she was, why would she?
). Or, a third party could cast the spells, summoning a ghost or devil to inhabit the corpse for whatever reason (one suspects the first necromantic vampire was created when a powerful necromancer's spouse died...).
Fuyu no Sora
First item of interest: Length
- ...Wow, Dezo, you really thought a lot about this, huh?
That's an impressive amount of text you've got going right there.
Second item of interest: Inconsistencies.
- While most of what you've detailed actually makes sense in how vampires could exist in GG, I don't particularly see why stakes to the heart would do anything at all against a magically-reanimated corpse. Since it is the application of magic due to possession, and not an actual revival, why would staking a vampire do any more damage than "okay, so you pierced my physical shell. What were you planning to do after that?"? I don't think it would be much different than any other physical attack since, as you said, there are no biological processes at work and the heart is simply another muscle tissue without major importance in terms of survival.
- On sorcerous vampires: That alone is troubling, as it would mean that creatures of sorcery would be able to break into our plane without having a gateway opened for them first. This is dangerous and is probably unlikely, since if it were possible to demons, even if only in spirit, to pass into the mortal realm without needing a catalyst of some sort first (i.e. ritualistic magic or rune-summoning) they would have more than likely abused it by now and used it to wreak havoc in the world.
Third item of interest: The theory.
- That's extremely well thought-out, and I'd never even imagined vampires populating the GG world.
As I stated, apart from those two little details in Section Two, I really do find that your vampire theory is very interesting and actually plausible (at least the necromantic vampires, which sounds appropriately creepy!)! Plus, it has the advantage of giving us another badass Margarita story.
Well, those are my thoughts.
Oooh, discussion! And I kind of had to cut things off short, too.
Addressing your inconsistencies...which mostly had to do with me not putting in quite as much rambling discussion as I usually am prone to...
While most of what you've detailed actually makes sense in how vampires could exist in GG, I don't particularly see why stakes to the heart would do anything at all against a magically-reanimated corpse. Since it is the application of magic due to possession, and not an actual revival, why would staking a vampire do any more damage than "okay, so you pierced my physical shell. What were you planning to do after that?"? I don't think it would be much different than any other physical attack since, as you said, there are no biological processes at work and the heart is simply another muscle tissue without major importance in terms of survival.
Apart from "directly attacking them magically" or "vaporizing the body completely with fire, acid, etc.," a vampire's weaknesses are all symbolic of life and light. In essence, the magic which allows the corpse to rise up and walk around is repelled by such symbolism. I didn't want to go particularly into specifics, since, well, if I ever want to use the ideas for a story I didn't want to paint myself into a corner by precisely
legends I would use, but this would include things like sunlight (light and purity), garlic, wild rose, etc. The good old stake-through-the-heart is the symbolic severing of the tie between life and death; it is in essence the metaphoric re-killing of the corpse in a way that merely beating on it with a club lacks. Many RL vampire legends--and I'm inclined to go this way here--use that only certain special woods can be used, those that have certain magical or symbolic properties (for example, hawthorn or yew).
On sorcerous vampires: That alone is troubling, as it would mean that creatures of sorcery would be able to break into our plane without having a gateway opened for them first. This is dangerous and is probably unlikely, since if it were possible to demons, even if only in spirit, to pass into the mortal realm without needing a catalyst of some sort first (i.e. ritualistic magic or rune-summoning) they would have more than likely abused it by now and used it to wreak havoc in the world.
And here I am punished for not going into
detail. What's happening here is that the vampire (either kind, actually) is actually
ritual magic, using its own mana, on the body of its victim to prepare it to become a new vampire. The version might vary, again (see above about how I don't want to paint myself into a corner), but whether it's the act of feeding the vampire's blood to the potential victim, or whether it takes several feedings over time (usually three in stories), the vampire infuses its own magic into the victim, preparing it for the transformation. It's as much a magical summoning ritual, in the terms of sorcery, as to cast a Hell Gate Rune, level it up to 2, and call out a demon in the flesh.
As a corollary, it's pretty clear that what I think you're worried about--that the sorcerous vampire could simply grab a passerby, drain him/her, and suddenly there would be two vampires without further activity--would not happen.
Sorry for any confusion!
(See, this is why I post stuff like this--so people can point out where I haven't thought things through, or where the material is lacking in details that need to be filled in!)
Fuyu no Sora
...Does this count towards our score in who's more unclear? Because if it does, you just won a battle.
On the other hand, now I see what you mean (And this is why you should just ramble on as you usually do! When you try to cut yourself short, this kind of thing happens, see?
). Well, that solves the problems that I personally saw, so I think your idea of vampires in the GG setting would work within the established canon.
And hey, again, this will probably give us another badass Margarita story, so I'm definitely all for including vampires!
Question: would these vampires smell bad if insufficient mana is maintained?
... what? Why are you looking at me like that?
Humor aside, I presume you're asking about the rank breath and the like shown by the title character in
? Reading over how I wrote it, I would have to say no (or, at least, not due to low mana), since retarding the decay process is listed as a side effect of the inhabiting/possession link, and if there's insufficient available mana to maintain the link, the vampire "dies." Although at that point it would probably start to smell bad quite rapidly.
I do wonder about smells, though--since the body isn't operating by the usual biological processes, ordinary human smells wouldn't happen, but at the same time, would there be any different scent chemicals given off? (Of course, there's the simple fact that the average "lurk in their grave and emerge to pounce on victims" kind of vampire doesn't
Fuyu no Sora
Well, if the body is not decaying, then it means that there would be no bad smells coming from the vampire. Even if they're the "lurk in their grave until pouncing" type, if they're not surrounded by rot or other unpleasant stuff, vampires of the like would just acquire an 'earthy' scent: The smell of freshly turned earth and grass. So...nope, I don't think it's likely they'd stink.
Ahh, I thought maybe the preservation would be affected by how much mana was in the critter (which I interpret as a sign of its 'health'). Or ... if a vampire was created using a not-so-fresh shell.
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