If you’re in a group, they should have guidelines to playing their vampire species that discuss strengths & weaknesses, abilities, etc. I’d stick to that. But if not, here’s my two cents on playing/creating a Vampire, as a person with intimate and extensive history with this species.
PICK YOUR VAMPIRE TYPE
There are different types of Vampires out there, and even more that you could add on to or change somehow to reinvent them. There are sparkly Vampires, Buffy The Vampire Slayer I-have-a-very-strange-angry-face-effect-when-I-turn-on-my-Vampyric-powers Vampires, categories of Vampires, IRL Vampires, more stuff on IRL Vampires, ‘The Four Types of Vampires’ Vampires, ‘Vampire The Masquerade’ Vampires — literally shit tons of different ones out there to choose from or take inspiration from.
Dive in and explore your options to figure out what kind of Vampire you want to use or base your Vampire off of. Typing in ‘types of vampires’ into Google is a+ helpful.
CREATE THE MYTHOLOGY
I do not exactly recommend using outdated, overused, old ideas from other mythology to base your Vampires off of. Instead, I’d suggest you invent them all your own using what you know of Vampires already and building off of that.
Things to consider when creating Vampire mythology
- Do they use clans? If so, how do clans function? How to Vampires outside of clans work? Are Vampires capable of being happy or fulfilled outside of these clans? Are clans a traditional thing that’s outdated in your society, or are they still present? How do other Vampires join these clans, if they can at all?
- Is there more than one kind of Vampire? Is there a hierarchy among different types of Vampires, such as ‘this one is deemed lesser than the others’? If so, what is this hierarchy based off of?
- What do they eat? Human blood only, or animal blood too? How does blood effect Vampires in general, and how could different bloods effect them individually? Can they drink and eat human food, or will it makes them fall ill? Can they eat other supernatural creatures?
- Do your Vampires follow any kind of religious views that are strictly of the Vampyric realm itself, or are they allowed to believe whatever? Do they believe in anything at all? Are their beliefs dependent on what clan they belong to?
- How does turning work? How long does it take? Can Vampires turn humans and other species all they want? Are their progeny(s) seen as sacred children of theirs or just another Vampire?
- Can they mate to produce more children? Will their children be Vampires too? What about hybrids?
- Do they hide from the world, or are out in plain sight? Or, do they reign over a selected piece of land?
- Are people afraid of them? Are they part of the society’s folk lore?
- How do they act? Does being a Vampire effect their personality? Does being in a clan effect their personality? Is there anything considered ‘bad Vampire behavior’?
- What is their history throughout the centuries? Where did they come from / begin? How did they migrate? Do they shape-shift at all?
- What are their fangs like? Rounded? Straight? Do they extend? Where are they located?
PICK YOUR VAMPIRE ABILITIES, & MORE
Some Vampires smell as well as dogs, or hear as well as bats. Some Vampires are capable of sensing emotions that help them realize what a person is feeling even if they try to lie about it. Others can see visions while they sleep. Again, I don’t recommend using the same old boring folklore throughout history to rip your Vampires’ abilities off of. Get creative.
I do, however, suggest you keep the whole ‘can’t be in the sun’ thing, since that’s a distinguishing Vampire-mainly type weakness. Their strengths and weaknesses are ultimately yours to play with, so have a bit of fun and think outside the box.
Things to consider
- Does Vampyric age effect how strong or weak a Vampire’s abilities are?
- What is your Vampire’s individual abilities? Meaning, out of all their abilities, what is their most honed or least good with?
- How do Vampires die?
I normally just play/create my Vampires based off everything above or take these things into consideration when developing my Vampires, and they seem to spring to life rather well. Hope this helps you out a bit, anon!
This is really great. I’d also add, don’t forget about vampire variations beyond the Western. These myths are world wide and you can take a lot of inspiration from the different varieties. Africa and Asia both have very interesting myths dealing with these undead.
Wikipedia: Vampire Folklore by Region is a good jumping off point to see the wide variation (and how old) vampire folklore really is and how far back beyond Dracula it goes. Vampires have been an important part of cultural myths all over the world and there are a bevy of interesting stories to draw inspiration from.
Jiangshi: The Jiangshi are a variant of vampire that feeds directly on a person’s energy or life force.
Kindred of the East was White Wolf’s foray into Asian vampire counterparts that that they called the Queijin (specifically Chinese and Japanese, and more specifically “chi eaters”). It’s a wothwhile starting point for research, but take it with copious amounts of salt. White Wolf can be spotty when dealing with other cultures, though their research is usually good. Either way, it’s a nice starting point and may give a few ideas especially if you’re looking to go in a different direction. The powerlist and descriptions in the sourcebook is very helpful.
Wikipedia: Asanbosam from West Africa.
The Kindred of the Ebony Kingdom: this was a secondary sourcebook dealing with the “Laibon” which were the vampire bloodlines out of Africa and based in the continent’s myriad of mythological traditions in the White Wolf’s World of Darkness setting. Again, some interesting stuff that already gears itself towards character building, storytelling, and society crafting.
White Wolf ran historical versions of Vampire in Vampire: The Dark Ages and Victorian Vampire.
The GURPS Vampire Companion, Blood Types, Creatures of the Night, and Undead are excellent investments for the collection of research material that is easy to flip through and are all a treasure trove of ideas. They’re also pretty cheap to order used from Amazon.
However, always be aware of the perils of Exotification and Orientalism in the works listed, in any you uncover, and in your own work. Always do research on the societies the myths are based in so you can grasp some of the themes these societies valued and feared.