Identifying a Vampire
Although they are considerably more sightly than other undead creatures, vampires do display certain identifiable physical traits that set them apart from their living peers. In particular, all vampires have fangs and cast no reflection, and many are pale and cool to the touch. Because vampires are supernaturally gifted at stealth and subterfuge, however, many are able to hide these features, so detecting a vampire can be difficult.
Weaknesses of Vampires
Vampires are nocturnal creatures that display an aversion to daylight on par with the dark-dwelling uordeq. Exposure to sunlight does not harm them, but most vampires find it to be uncomfortable at best. Perhaps more importantly, sunlight weakens vampires and prevents them from using many of their abilities, which is why most choose to slumber during the day.
Vampires are also highly dependent upon the blood of living creatures in order to survive. This manifests in the form of an addiction that can border on obsession. Vampires who fail to feed regularly become violently ravenous, attacking and gorging themselves on any living creature they can get their hands on. This condition is known as a blood frenzy, and can be triggered by extreme hunger, injury, or, in some cases, the mere sight or smell of blood.
The only other weakness universally shared by all vampires is an inability to enter a home uninvited. This appears to be less of a behavior and more of a magical affliction tied to the vampire's curse itself. Once invited, however, a vampire may enter a home at any time thereafter, and most vampires are capable of charming such an invitation out of a home's owner quite easily.
Some vampires have been known to possess other peculiar behaviors, such as aversion toward certain objects (e.g., purifying herbs, sacred objects, mirrors), obsession with sleeping conditions (e.g., coffins, native soil, blood), unwillingness to enter certain areas (e.g., hallowed ground, running water), and even odd compulsions such as counting. These extraneous traits seem to occur regularly but inconsistently, suggesting that the curse of vampirism promotes madness in general, but that the form of this madness varies from one vampire to the next.
True Vampires and Blood Magic
Vampires can, and do, walk many different paths. A vampire will frequently cling to the vocation it held in life rather than delve into the mysteries of his or her condition. In contrast, true vampires dedicate themselves to unlocking the secrets within their blood, learning to harness the curse itself as a source of power. This blood magic is unique to vampires, unrivaled among the dark arts for its innate qualities. Indeed, no pacts, formulas, or incantations hinder a user of blood magic. A true vampire need only will it for their corrupt power to pour forth, lending them preternatural strength, agility, and stealth.
Although blood magic springs directly from the vampiric curse, living creatures can learn to harness it by periodically drinking the blood of a vampire. This has the side effect of making the drinker obsessively subservient to the vampire, but allows the drinker to harness all of the unearthly potency of a vampire without having to become one. If the thrall's supply of vampiric blood should cease, however, perhaps because the master dies or withholds it, the thrall quickly loses these abilities.
The processes of thralldom and withdrawal follow starkly different timetables. Those who first taste a vampire's blood often feel a strong desire for it immediately afterward. If left unquenched, this thirst will usually go away within a few days. If the budding thrall should drink a second or third time, however, the thirst quickly turns to addiction, bringing with it an associated obsession with pleasing the donor vampire. Thereafter, the thrall need only feed from the vampire once every few days to maintain the effect.
When deprived of the source of their addiction, thralls enter a state of severe withdrawal. Most become violent, going to any lengths to regain access to their masters' blood. In contrast to the speed with which the addiction takes hold, this state of withdrawal can last weeks or months, even years in the case of thralls who have fed for several decades. And though many thralls eventually recover, they invariably lose their ability to use blood magic.