Vampires are reanimated human corpses which feed on living blood and emotions to sustain themselves. Vampires can turn humans into vampires through unspecified means, presumably by feeding off them three times on three subsequent nights.
Powers & Abilities
The magical forces that sustain them also endow them with many supernatural abilities.
- Superhuman Strength - Upon their reanimation, new vampires experience a dramatic increase in physical strength; able to lift cars with ease. This superhuman strength is a valuable tool to vampires as it enables them to achieve such feats as snapping handcuffs, overpowering their prey, and fighting off any human opponent. Their strength increases further with age.
- Immortality - Unless killed, they can live forever as they do not age nor decay.
- Healing Factor - Wounds from most objects, even bullets, heal in seconds without causing them any seeming discomfort.
- Superhuman Speed - They move with incredible celerity and can run up to a hundred miles per hour, switching from complete stillness to blurring speed. They can cover short distances, making it appear to ordinary humans that they vanish at will. Combined with their mind powers, they can seemingly appear and disappear at will.
- Superhuman Senses - Their senses are dramatically enhanced to an unknown degree, to the point where they can tell a human's emotional state from their scent, hear whispered comments from some distance away and granting them superior night vision, able to see in total darkness.
Vampire Feeding & Conversion
- Vampires can drink human, lycanthrope, or even animal blood for sustenance and to maintain their spiritual power. They cannot eat physical food, though they can experience the taste of food through human servants. Animal blood is not a sufficient diet. A vampire can survive for extended periods without human or lycanthrope blood, but may be driven insane by the experience. One such vampire, Sabin, began to rot from the inside out after trying to go off blood "cold turkey" at the request of his lycanthrope lover Cassandra.
- Vampires are capable of turning humans into vampires by draining their blood; as a result, many vampires do not drain a human more than three times a month. A sufficiently powerful vampire, however, is capable of turning a human with a single bite. In Laurell K. Hamilton's short story, The Girl Who Was Infatuated With Death, Anita explains to a client, "It has to be three bites within a very short space of time or the body fights off the infection, or whatever the hell it is."
- In modern times, it is impossible for a lycanthrope to contract vampirism (or a vampire to contract lycanthropy). This, and the fact that lycanthrope blood seems to more sustaining than regular human blood, is the reason why vampires prefer lycanthropes as blood donors. In pre-historic times the vampiric blood was weaker than it is now so human beings could be infected with vampirism and lycanthropy simultaneously, resulting in incredibly powerful hybrids. The Mother of Darkness seems to be the oldest and most powerful example of such a hybrid. Others include her "children" and certain members of "The Harlequin".
- When a vampire first rises, it may be confused or dangerous. As a result, persons who might rise as a vampire are stored in a locked morgue, and attended by a vampire counselor who supplies the newly risen dead with an animal to feed on and helps them adjust to their new status.
- If a human is killed during a group feeding and then rises (a very rare occurrence), he or she will rise as an "animalistic vampire", with little or no cognitive ability and with extreme strength and resistance to pain, and can only be controlled by the master that made it, and even then only if he or she is powerful enough.
Limitations & Weaknesses
- Sunlight - Vampires are burned by the touch of direct sunlight. If exposed for prolonged periods, they will combust and be reduced to ash.
- Garlic - Vampires dislike the smell and touch of garlic and will weaken if they come into physical contact with it, they will try to avoid it as much as possible.
- Invitations - They cannot enter a person's home without an invitation. When Anita revoked her invitation to Jean-Claude, he was pushed out of her home by an unseen force.
- Master Vampires - They (regardless of their age) are subject to the will of their masters, even ones younger than themselves. The 500-550 year old Aubrey was subject to the will of the 200-300+ year old master, Jean-Claude. It is unknown if Aubrey could have overpowered Jean-Claude.
- Silver - Silver generally causes wounds that heal with approximately the same speed as humans and will leave scars and burns, and thus head or heart shots with silver bullets or blades may be fatal.
- Stakes - A stake through their hearts will kill them.
- Holy Water - Holy water in like acid to their flesh.
- Religious Iconography - Religious symbols of any faith can repel and even physically harm vampires providing the person carrying such a symbol is a true believer. A Jew carrying a cross or a Christian wielding a mezzuzah would have no effect.
- Fang Removal- Pulling out their fangs kills them or robs them of the loin's share of their abilities. including their immortality, until they grow back.
Vampires have a variety of mental powers, most of which depend on eye contact:
- Rolling: Vampires can "roll" victims by making eye contact. "Rolling" typically refers to a temporary hypnotic state that vampires can use to conceal their movements (giving them the illusion of instantaneous movement), to give commands to the victim, or to reduce the pain of a vampire's bite. Victims with supernatural power, such as other vampires, animators, human servants, and lycanthropes, display varying amounts of resistance to this technique, but most people avoid the technique by not looking vampires directly in the eyes.
- Deep Rolling: Given time, a sufficiently powerful vampire can put a victim into an effectively permanent hypnotic state. In Guilty Pleasures, Aubrey uses this technique on Anita's friend Catherine in order to blackmail Anita -- Anita knows that once deeply rolled, Catherine is Aubrey's to command unless Anita meets his demands. Vampires sometimes pretend to release a rolled human to appease the police, but if they have been "deep rolled" they can still recall them.
- Mass Hypnosis: Some vampires are able to exert a hypnotic effect over an entire crowd. For example, one of the vampire comedians at the Laughing Corpse used mass hypnosis to convince his audiences that he was funny. Mass hypnosis does not have the same permanent effects as "deep rolling". Mass hypnosis is not a widely known vampire power, and has its limits. For example, in Bloody Bones, Anita doubts that any vampire could hold three murder victims simultaneously hypnotized while killing them. This form of "mind control" is the only one currently considered legal.
- Vampire's Bite: A vampire's bite can (but apparently does not always) provide the vampire with mental control over the victim. In Guilty Pleasures, Nikolaos bites Anita and states that after a few bites, her control over Anita will be absolute. Anita is able to remove the effect of the bite by disinfecting the wound with holy water. In Circus of the Damned, Anita states that a vampire must enter a victim's mind during a bite to gain control over the victim. A vampire's bite can be intimate, loving, and sexual.
- Empathy: Vampires refer to being able to "smell" emotions such as fear and lust, and some vampires are able to detect lies. It is not clear precisely how much of this ability involves literal scent and how much involves mental powers. However, mental powers are clearly a significant component; once Jean-Claude makes Anita his human servant, he is unable to read her emotions, which suggests that the technique is not purely physical.
- Main article: Master Vampire
After a few centuries, some vampires reach "master vampire" status. Other vampires will never become master vampires, although their abilities continue to increase with age to a certain limit. For example, although Damian is more than twice Jean-Claude's age and more powerful than most non-masters in the series, he is still weaker than most masters and was unlikely to grow any stronger without magical assistance. A sourdre de sang appears able to mask and retard the development of master vampire status in his or her followers; Warrick, for example, had his powers grow and master status develop during an extended absence from Morte D'Amour's presence.
Master vampires are more powerful than typical vampires with regard to the general abilities discussed above, have the ability to control lesser vampires, and may also develop additional powers. Some of the abilities that master vampires may display include the following:
Some masters have one or more animals to call. Mr Oliver had the ability to call snakes, Belle Morte can call felines, and the Padma can call nearly every animal. This ability also allows them to summon and command animals and lycanthropes of that species. A sufficiently powerful lycanthrope can interfere with and resist this call, however. For example, Nikolaos had the ability to call rats and wererats but Rafael temporarily blocked her call, preventing her from calling the wererats of his Rodere against their will. Some masters can call non-animals: Samuel, for example, can call mermaids and mermen.
The eldest of vampire masters, such as Nikolaos, Mr. Oliver, and Warrick, are able to wake, move, and use their powers during daylight, as long as they remain in shadows. It is unknown, however, how far Warrick's power extended. Aubrey, although not a master, was capable of at least reflexive motion during daylight if threatened. Damian, Anita's vampire servant, was able to move and survive in the sun after receiving another mark from Anita. It is unknown, though possible, if this master power evolves into the ability to withstand the sun completely.
Empathic Voice Manipulation
Jean-Claude and Mr. Oliver have the ability to form an emotional or hypnotic connection with their voices. Anita characterizes Jean-Claude's voice as having an almost physical sensation, and typically describes his voice as "silk against skin" or "fur against skin". Asher also has this power, but while Jean-Claude is able to portray joy and pleasure better, Asher is able to portray sadness and bitterness better. It is somewhat unclear whether this difference is inherent in the power, or simply due to the individual vampire's personality.
Human Servant Creation
Human servants are bound to a master vampire by a magic called marks. There are four types of mark needed, and when the servant is bound by the fourth (final) mark, he/she becomes immortal. The human servant can only die when the vampire they are bound to dies. Most human servants die as the vampire they are bound to dies, but in the third book Anita lives on as she kills the vampire she is bound to. Also, if the human servant is killed, either by blade or bullet (they cannot be poisoned or catch a disease), sometimes the vampire they are tied to dies too.
Animal Servant Creation
A vampire with the ability to call animals may also form a vampire-servant relationship with one animal or lycanthrope subject to the vampire's call. The series does not provide many details about animal servants, but the process and relationship appears similar to that of a human servant. The nature of a triumvirate, however, implies that the two are different enough that a vampire can have both at the same time.
When a vampire binds a human servant and a lycanthrope who is also their animal to call, within a sufficiently short period of time, the three may form a triangular relationship called a triumvirate. This relationship forms a virtuous circle that magnifies and shares the abilities of all participants. It also seems possible for Anita to create a second triumvirate with her animal servant, Nathaniel, and her vampire servant, Damian. In the case of a triumvirate, the one who binds the animal servant and the other servant, whether vampire or human, uses their energy to keep the others alive and be able to have mind-to-mind communications. For Anita's case, if she does not eat, or feed one of her many other hungers, she will begin to feed off of Damian and then Nathaniel until she feeds those hungers.
Some vampires are not hurt as badly by silver and some are not affected at all. It depends on how much power the vampire has and how old the vampire is, though age rarely has that effect. The Regional Preternatural Investigation Team often uses silver to slay vampires.
Draw Blood From a Distance
This ability allows a vampire to cut or skin an opponent, but only if that opponent has a magical aura.
In Bloody Bones, Seraphina says she usually accomplishes this by using a vampire's own 'aura of power' against itself, and that humans normally lack the aura and therefore cannot be harmed this way. As necromancers, Anita and Larry each have an aura of power, which enables Serephina, for the first time, to cut humans from a distance just as she does vampires.
Jean-Claude admits to being unable to do this, though he does hold the knowledge of how it is done. It was demonstrated in The Killing Dance by Sabin, aimed at Anita, though Sabin claimed it was an accident.
Anita has inherited this vampiric ability to cut a vampire's aura. Anita first demonstrated the ability Burnt Offerings, when she accidentally cut Yvette, out of anger. Later, in Incubus Dreams, Jean-Claude helps her control the ability as they were trying to control Primo.
A master is capable of drawing all of the power from vampires that he has personally sired, reducing them to a weakened, near-skeletal state. (Examples: Jean Claude; Belle Morte; Obisidian Butterfly).
Some master vampires can call shadows, cloaking an area in darkness. Serephina conceals her orchard this way in Bloody Bones.
Some vampires have a minor level of pyrokinesis (the ability to create and control fire with the mind), but major pyrokinesis is almost unheard of among vampires because flame is an element of purity, with the exception of Warrick who believed it to be a gift from God in Burnt Offerings.
Some vampires have a mind reading power but they only can read peoples minds from a distance away.
Each sourdre de sang is capable of supporting a bloodline - a group of vampires who draw power from that vampire either by direct descent or by blood oath. Some powers are only seen in master vampires of a given bloodline.
Morte D'Amour - The Lover of Death
- Rotting Vampires
Rotting vampires, such as Janos, have the ability to allow their body to rot into a decaying corpse or even fall apart without suffering damage. As a result, they are almost impossible to kill without fire (or, presumably, sunlight). This ability appears to be limited to selected members of Morte d'Amour's bloodline.
Morte d'Amour and selected members of his bloodline are able to cause "corruption" with their bite -- unless the victim is sufficiently powerful to resist, even a single bite can cause a victim to decay and die. This ability appears to be significantly more rare in Morte d'Amour's bloodline than the ability to rot and reform.
Belle Morte - Beautiful Death
The greatest of the powers in Belle Morte's line is the ardeur. Belle Morte, Jean-Claude, and Anita are the only people known to possess this power fully. The most basic aspect of the ardeur inspires intense sexual passion in all it touches. Those under its thrall are gripped with an intense desire to have sexual intercourse with the user of the ardeur, or else the nearest person.
The ardeur drains the energies of those it feeds on and can potentially drain a person to the point of death. Thus those who possess the ardeur must have several lovers if they wish to properly feed the ardeur without killing anyone.
All those in Belle Morte's line that possess the ardeur are called "incubi" (if male) or "succubi" (if female). It should be noted that other vampires automatically assume that all belonging to Belle Morte's line are incubi and succubi.
- Other Related Abilities
Several master vampires in Belle's line have powers related to the ardeur.
- Asher's powers seem to revolve around intimacy and seduction. He is unusually strong at "rolling" his victims mentally, and has a power to "fascinate" others. Asher's bite is literally orgasmic, and his victims often are addicted to the experience and/or experience "flashbacks" of the orgasms received from his bites. Although Asher does not appear to draw strength from lust itself, he can draw power directly from Anita, or, presumably, from anyone else he has seduced as deeply as he has her.
- Augustine has the ability to make others love him. As with the other powers in Belle's line, unless he is extremely careful, the power also works in reverse, forcing him to love his victim.
- London's power is that he is exceptionally good "food" for the ardeur itself. Using the ardeur on him generates additional power, and he is capable of satisfying the ardeur much more often than anyone else.
- Requiem can inflame physical lust in his victims (and, of course, in himself).
He is now, as of Cerulean Sins, a Sourdre de Sang. Which means that he is completely independent of Belle Morte and any other bloodlines now. It also means that every vampire in his territory that sworn a blood oath to him will receive their animating power from him solely. It also gives him other abilities, mainly that he is now the leader of a new bloodline and all of the powers that come from that position.
Also called mora, Nighthags are vampires who have the ability to feed on and create fear in those around them. This ability works similarly to the ardeur in that the vampire who feeds using fear can go longer without blood, though not forever. Damian's former Master, Morvoren, is a very powerful night hag and is possibly the sourde de sang for the bloodline. Night hags cannot completely turn this power "off"; everywhere they go there is a small feeling of dread, no matter what they do. It is a master-vampire power.
In general, vampires are organized in a strictly hierarchical structure, both as a matter of social organization and as a matter of the magical power that animates them.
- With the exception of rogues and members of Malcolm's Church of Eternal Life, all vampires are bound to a master. In most cases, that master will have his or her own master, resulting in a hierarchy of control. Although a sufficiently powerful master appears to have some ability to control subject vampires through purely magical power, there are numerous vampires in the novels who demonstrate an ability and willingness to disobey their master. The brothers Wicked and Truth managed to kill their master and were basically free agents, even though a vampire usually doesn't live through the death of their master.
- Each area large enough to support a social group of vampires is controlled by a single Master of the City. Assuming this position increases a vampire's magical as well as social power, as the master draws a share of power from all the vampires under its control. This position is typically transferred only by the death of the existing master. A vampire traveling to a new area must have the permission of that area's master, and when masters of different cities visit one another, they often engage in detailed negotiations of terms.
- All of the individual masters of the various cities in turn owe allegiance to the Vampire Council. The Vampire Council is based in Europe and is composed of several extremely powerful vampires. Normally, a vampire assumes a position on the council by killing an existing member.
- Other than obedience to their masters, the rules among vampires vary. For centuries, the Council required vampires to act with discretion, going so far as to kill Vlad Tepes for drawing unnecessary attention. After the United States began recognizing legal rights for vampires, the Council has supported limited cooperation with legal authorities. Vampires living in the U.S. are forbidden to commit crimes, and many city masters engage in vigilante activities to control vampire crime, often delivering criminal vampires to authorities, frequently in pieces.
- First, vampires gather power directly by feeding, primarily on blood, although some master vampires can also draw power through fear, lust, or directly from their human or animal servants. Vampires also appear to draw power from their subjects.
- In return, a vampire receives its animating force from its master, who in turn receives his or her own animating force from his or her own master. A vampire at the head of a bloodline is known as a Sourde de Sang and need not draw its animating force from any "upstream" master.
- Vampires interact with humans in a variety of ways.
- Vampires may mentally dominate humans, forcing them do their bidding. Vampires refer to these humans as Renfields or more simply slaves. Another term for this ability is "overshadowing".
- Vampires also take blood from willing humans. Some vampires are in romantic relationships with humans who willingly donate blood. Others take blood from humans who have a psychological need to supply blood. These latter humans are known as vampire junkies and attend freak parties where they meet vampires.
- Master of a City. A Master vampire who is strong enough to control other vampires in a territory. Lesser masters have to ask permission to stay in the city. This vampire is answerable to the Vampire Council.
- Master Vampire. A vampire with enough inner or personal power to be able to rise from the day death by his/her own will/strength.
- Pomme de Sang. A pomme de sang, or "apple of blood," refers to a person who has agreed to feed a vampire regularly. In vampire society, the pomme de sang is a submissive but valued position, similar to a "kept man or woman" among humans. Pommes de sang are protected from interference by other vampires, and are typically given gifts and otherwise treated as a human might treat a lover.
- Sourdre de Sang. A sourdre de sang, or "fountain of blood", is a vampire capable of supporting his or her own bloodline. A sourde de sang generates his or her own animating power, and also provides animating power for all vampires that share a bloodline or have taken blood oaths to members of the sourde's bloodline. A sourde de sang is owed a duty of fealty by all vampires that draw power from its bloodline.
- Stalking Horse. A vampire who acts as a front for another more powerful vampire drawing challenges to that vampire's power base.
- Témoin. A Master of the City's second-in-command.
The origin of the vampire race is unknown, although they have existed for as long as humanity has existed. Though increasingly powerful the older they get, human hunters and internecine struggles seem to have kept their numbers down, and there seem to be few vampires more than 100 years old.