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"For now, we sleep, and we dream. But one day we will rise, and we will make our dreams real again."
Urzen the Unrelenting[1a]
Strigoi

The Strigoi are one of the five Vampire Bloodlines, being descended by the Vampire, Prince Ushoran of Lahmia. The Vampires of the other bloodlines play at being mortal and wear the robes of lords, knights, and princes, but underneath, the Vampire is purely a beast. There are those who lose themselves so much in their pretense that they forget this. The Strigoi have not forgotten and do not pretend. They embrace the beast within them, taking all the strength and fury the animal can give them. That strength is terrible to behold, and that fury knows no end.[1a]

History

Every society needs a whipping boy. It was not enough for Neferata and her brethren to simply be the lords of the great city of Lahmia. It was not enough they had drunk the Elixir of Life and became immortal. They still had to find more ways to feel superior over others, to exclude their equals from their little cult. It was this childishness of the queen that led her to prevent her younger brother, Prince Ushoran, Lord of Masques, Celebrations, and Festivities from drinking the Elixir and joining the True Blooded — her petty need to keep somebody out of her elite cadre. In order to teach her a lesson, and claim only what he was due, Ushoran stole her precious Elixir and entered into that same state of great un-life without her help.[1a]

Of course, this incensed the queen, and she spent the following centuries seething at the insult and planning her revenge. She would get her chance, but not until long after the Vampires had betrayed Nagash and scattered to the wind.[1a]

Just as Ushoran cared not for the exclusivity of the Vampire cult, he also did not share their fear of Nagash. Whilst the other First Children ran far away to the north and hid from the world, the courageous Ushoran sought out a place to build a new kingdom where he could make manifest the dream of Lahmia — but free from petty squabbling and foolish politics. His dreams were realised when he came upon the valley of Strigos and its capital of Mourkain, where Kadon already ruled as priest-king and had taught the people to worship Nagash as a God. It was a simple matter to replace Kadon with himself and to replace their worship of Nagash with worship of his Vampire line. Kadon had been a cruel and vacillating king; Ushoran brought his people order and prosperity, and they welcomed him for it. He even restored Abhorash’s principle of the Vampires only feeding upon criminals and enemy captives, so once again, the people would have nothing to fear from their immortal masters.[1a]

Soon, the kingdom of Strigos was vast and powerful. Ushoran then sent word to his four other brethren, welcoming them to his new Vampire state, where they would be free to feed and live luxuriously, just as they had back in Nehekhara, safe from the hand of Nagash. To Neferata, this seemed yet another insult. Her interloper brother would dare to presume his empire greater than her own (though it certainly was) or that he might ever rule over her. As well, the queen saw at last her chance to get her revenge. She slaughtered Ushoran’s messenger and at once spread rumours to the other bloodlines, assuring them that Ushoran either meant to enslave them all, or worse, sell them out to the reborn Nagash.[1a]

After two hundred years of living with their guilt over abandoning their master and their fear of his revenge, the Vampires had grown bitter and insular. Each bloodline blamed the others for their betrayal and scattering but was prevented from acting on this because of the taboo against harming their own kind. When Neferata gave them a target and a reason to break this pact, the pent-up fury of the other bloodlines exploded in an orgy of violence. They sent mortal armies and Vampire assassins to that kingdom to destroy the interloper once and for all.[1a]

The human armies sent against Ushoran’s kingdom were a rabble, but they came from all sides and with an unceasing dedication fuelled by Neferata’s get. Strigos was beset, and in turning back the tide, the prince was distracted at a critical time, allowing his kingdom to be ravaged by an immense tide of Greenskins, no doubt also instigated by Neferata’s agents.[1a]

The prince rushed back to defend his capital, and the battle raged at those gates for days on end. Strigos was beginning to turn the tide when the Orc shaman broke through Ushoran’s wards and slew the great prince with a terrible magical blast.[1a]

Even this great loss would not have ended Strigos, for the prince’s sacrifice had won the battle, and loyal agents of Ushoran remained. But with their forces weakened and their borders broken, they turned to their brethren in darkness for assistance and found them, instead, closing in like jackals. The other First Children were hungry for blood and still in desperate need of a whipping boy.[1a]

The Blood Dragons called them dishonourable and hunted them like animals. The Lahmians continued to turn human armies against them and laughed as they were driven like common mortals into hiding. Many of the surviving thralls of Ushoran ran, pursued to the frozen north where they sought out Vashanesh, Ushoran’s favoured brother. But Vashanesh declared he had no time for cowards or weaklings, and he tore out their throats. Others turned to the hermetic Necrarchs, hoping those lonely few would share their hiding places, but the Necrarchs also rejected them, fearful of being targeted for a similar destruction by the other bloodlines. The Strigoi became so terrified of exposure and extermination that they were forced to live in dark, secret places, far from humans and civilisation, and they fed only on indigents and hermits, lepers and Ghouls, or most usually, vermin and the already dead. In a century, the great kingdom of Strigos was no more, and its once great princes turned to yelping dogs, hiding in the shadows and stealing scraps.[1a]

Four hundred years later, the shame of this grew too much to bear for Vorag Bloodytooth, later called the Ghoul King, and he gathered an army of Ghouls and set about rebuilding the lost kingdom. He did create a new capital deep in the Plain of Bones, but his rage was then directed at the Greenskins rather than his fellow Vampires. Once again, fighting that endless angry tide proved deadly, both to him and to his dreams, and his empire fell as Strigos before it.[1a]

Yet the efforts of Vorag the Ghoul King remain an inspiration to the Strigoi. They still dream of rebuilding their great Vampire empire, and they have learnt much from the mistakes of Vorag. They also dream of taking revenge on their brethren for their centuries of debasement and the betrayal that caused it all. The other bloodlines’ folly is that they think the Strigoi are a spent force because they are all hiding or in slumber. But in the shadows, ambition burns all the brighter, and in slumber comes renewed strength. With their guards down, the other bloodlines will have no defence when the Strigoi rise again — and rise again they most surely will.[1a]

Society and Outlook

The scattered nature of the Strigoi means any sort of formal society does not exist, but each individual still remembers the time and ways of Mourkain, and a sense of tradition and history unites their customs. The Strigoi remember what it was like to be lords and kings, and they continue to act as such even though they are currently between reigns.[1a]

Their shadow courts and kingly ways are, of course, somewhat changed by the social and physical conditions in which they find themselves, warped into grotesque and often pathetic parodies of what they once were. Their courtiers and servants are now mindless Wights and mad Spirits; their palaces are underground crypts or swampclaimed graveyards. Their people are nothing but filth-ridden, bestial Ghouls. Yet, they take their reign seriously, demanding absolute loyalty and proper deference from their subjects, in return offering their dutiful governance as lord protector and keeper of the law and bringing swift reparations on those who enter unwelcome. Some are more lax in their duties than others, of course.[1a]

Just as the ways of the Strigoi are rooted in the past so, too, are their minds and memories. Many Strigoi have lost the strength to keep fighting for their return to power and instead have slipped into a grand reverie of their past glories. They relive old battles and celebrations, wear their old titles, and obey long forgotten laws of noblesse oblige. For some, the despair has driven them completely into madness, and they can no longer even tell what is of the present or the past — they may wear sackcloth and believe it to be their lordly robes or converse with friends long since dead. For others, the only escape is in dreams, and they sleep almost constantly, dreaming of better days past or still to come.[1a]

Then there are those whose madness takes a more overt and dangerous form. Yudas the Shadow King became the terror of Wissenland when he saw in each young maid the face of his faithless wife. Urzen the Unrelenting still dreams of his martial days, and he drills an army of Zombies and Ghouls through a full parade each night, despite the fact that the mindless creatures can do nothing but obey his every command.[1a]

Not all of the Strigoi are lost in their reveries but, instead, use their memories of what they once had and their hunger for revenge as sparks to action and fuel for their great plans. For others, the hunger becomes a cold, terrible resolve, hardened over the centuries into a will unmatched by any other creature. And whatever their mental state, all of the Strigoi are dangerous. Like all Vampires, they take their right to feed upon and dominate all lesser beings as a birthright, and they take just as much offence as their brethren when anything upsets this natural order. A century-sleeping Strigoi may seem like an easy target for the tomb robber or Vampire Hunter, but they can awaken in an instant, and their rage at the intrusion will be assuredly terrible. Whilst they lack the countless soldiers of the Von Carsteins or the martial prowess of the Blood Dragons, the Strigoi are still just as fearsome.[1a]

Ushoran could not match the leadership of Vashanesh or the skill of Abhorash, but even when mortal, he was incredibly powerful. Through his blood, his thralls have inherited his might and added to it their Vampiric nature, each one rippling with cord-like muscles and unholy strength. Even a Blood Dragon knows to fear the strength of the Strigoi; if they should ever make a mistake and let those powerful hands get around their neck, their life would be ended in a moment. The Strigoi take great pride in their incredible strength and consider it a sign of their true place amongst Vampire kind — the strongest should be at the top. And there are yet more gifts unique to the Strigoi — but they come with a terrible price.[1a]

The lifestyle that forced them into the dark corners of the world has also driven them deeper and deeper into their own dark natures. The more they dwell in the shadows and the bowels of the earth, the more they come to resemble shades and beasts. All pretence of their humanity has fallen away, leaving only the Vampire hunger and the pure essence of the predator, shaping their flesh to better hunt, kill, and feed. Their bodies curve and bend, their claws become harder and sharper than steel, their fangs grow longer and far more deadly. The most distorted fall onto all fours, their legs and spine twisted, and spikes protrude from their backs. Their ears become pointed like a bat’s, and their mouths extend out like that of some sort of daemonic wolf. As time passes, they no longer resemble anything remotely Human; instead, they are creatures of some deformed nightmare.[1a]

Eventually, their mind also follows suit, slipping slowly away from their aristocratic delusions, until all that is left is the vague memory of absolute power and the limitless rage at having lost it. Yet, they are still not mindless beasts; all Vampires are princely creatures and no amount of physical devolution can change that. Even as they rave and froth and howl, they rule over their courts, however deranged, and maintain a sense of noble pride, however twisted. Unto the last, a Strigoi is nothing if not lordly.[1a]

Feeding and Breeding

The Strigoi are shunned by all other Vampires, and the Lahmians have their agents in almost every town and city. Humans are not good at keeping secrets, particularly not when they have been selected to sate a Vampire, and those drained to death quickly come to the notice of Witch Hunters. Thus, it is extremely difficult for the Strigoi to feed upon the living or dwell amongst them for any lengthy period. The sole exception to this is the travelling people of old Strigos - the Strigany. Without a kingdom, the last remnants of Ushoran’s people were left to wander the Old World, feared and hated by all others for their Vampire-tainted past. Isolated and shunned from human communities, the predations of the Strigoi Vampires upon these travelling folk remain unnoticed, and, of course, there are many amongst those people who rush to welcome their once and future kings. A wise Strigoi does not stay long with these people, however, for they attract Witch Hunters, as well as Vampire agents, for they know the dark reputation of these folk is often based on truth.[1a]

In the main, the Strigoi resort to feeding upon the dead instead of the living, a habit which hastens their descent into insanity and bestial appearance. The dead, unlike the living, attract no attention if disturbed, and their blood, if the corpse was killed within the year, can provide sustenance enough for survival. The taste is cold and bitter, however, so the Strigoi feed as little as possible and take no joy in it. Rats and other vermin add variety but only offer the choice between the bitter and the insipid. The luckiest ones have learned to suppress their feeding urge, by sleeping, mental exertion, or some darker power.[1a]

Unlike their other Vampire brethren, the Strigoi are not social creatures. For safety reasons alone, it is better that they neither meet nor communicate with any of their bloodline. Most find the memories it brings back too painful. Nor do the Strigoi grant the Blood Kiss to anyone, except in the most exceptional of cases. Again, the risk of exposure is much greater after such a deed, and the idea of cursing anyone to live as they do is beyond even the vast cruelty of their dark souls. But it is snobbery as much as mercy that stays them from breeding; when Strigos does rise once again, the kingdom shall be inherited only by those who deserve to do so — those who were so cruelly deprived of it so many years ago. Someone who does not remember that event would only be able to join their number through incredible diligence and deference to the Strigos line.[1a]

Designs and Stratagems

The Strigoi do not wait idly for their past glories to return. Even those lost in reverie or insanity ache to return to power and domination. Snatching moments of dominion over mindless Ghouls or some terrified Strigany is no substitute for true kingship, as if water for wine. But how can they bring back the great kingdom of Strigos whilst they remain so desperate and despised?[1a]

The answer lies in the example of Vorag the Ghoul King. He was the first of their line to rise up after the massacre and attempt to take back what was once theirs. Although his plans failed, his methods were sound — he took strength from the powers of the Strigoi and applied them far from the realms of the other Vampires — deep in the Dark Lands. The other bloodlines, as much as the Strigoi, cling tightly to their lordship over humans. They care far less about areas where humans cannot or will not go. Thus, the Strigoi have survived in graveyards, ruins, and dark forests, and it is why Vorag’s efforts in the south went unnoticed and were not prevented. If their kingdom is to rise again, then it will do so in places that are similarly lost or forgotten.[1a]

Every ruined castle or abandoned graveyard can be a Strigoi stronghold. Every festering bog or desolate wasteland can be their standing ground. Where the lands are hidden by fog, or thick woods, or high mountains, the Strigoi take root and begin, once again, to build their armies and dream of reclaiming their thrones. A whole country, however, would have to be established somewhere quite far from the Empire and its human agents. The Badlands present the best alternative currently — mostly empty of both humans and other Vampires and only partly threatened by Greenskins or Ogres. The fact it was once the land of Strigos is also not lost on the Strigoi kings. Further north and almost as lacking in population are the Border Princes, and these lonely, anarchic lands are also fertile ground for the ambitious Strigoi.[1a]

Vorag also showed the strength that can be gained from an army of Ghouls, and these creatures are always the foot soldiers and servants of the Strigoi. Starvation is a constant threat across the Old World; one poor harvest, natural disaster, or lost trade caravan can leave an entire village with nothing to eat but the grass and leaves around them. Soldiers and sailors, too, are often lost miles from supplies and surrounded by the dead. Eating the flesh of men in order to survive is far more common than anyone would ever guess, but once done, this sin forever taints the soul, driving the human to become a hideous, bestial monster. In this, the Strigoi see much of themselves, so many Strigoi are protective and compassionate towards their hideous servants. Others simply see them as a natural force, like the rats and bats and cockroaches that naturally flock to these creatures of decay — useful but due no more concern than any other beast.[1a]

Whatever their master’s approach, the Ghouls seem driven by their nature to worship the Strigoi fervently and without question, some travel dozens of miles to seek out their masters, searching through the most hidden of places, or some even feel a call in their blood that leads them unerringly to their goal. Rare is the Strigoi Vampire who has no Ghouls in his court, and all of them welcome such followers, for they provide the greatest gift of all: a chance for the Vampire to feed on the living as opposed to the dry, bitter blood of the dead. Ghoul blood is sour compared to that of a full human, but it is a great step up from the blood of the dead.[1a]

It is easy to dismiss the Ghoul Kings as mad masters of equally mad minions, but the Ghouls provide the Strigoi with both a constant supply of fresh blood and a ready army at hand. What is more, Ghouls fight with the frenzy of Trollslayers, terrifying their opponents far more than even a Zombie, and the fact their hearts still beat makes them immune to all the weaknesses of necromancy. Should the Strigoi’s magic ever fail, the Ghouls will fight on.[1a]

There are many others who serve the Strigoi, of course. Like all Vampires, they are natural Necromancers, and their crypts are full of the dead, able to be summoned up to defend their resting place. They have a great fondness for Spectres, again seeing much of themselves in a creature so fired by an inconsolable need for revenge. Wights, too, make very suitable attendants; the Strigoi approve of the Wights’ sense of history and propriety, as well as their unyielding determination to serve their liege lords.[1a]

The Strigoi’s most powerful weapon of all, however, is simply themselves. They have no need of magic or swordplay, or armies, or political subterfuge. They alone are enough to crush all who challenge them. They are gigantic, muscle-bound monsters, their flesh rotted to a thickness almost impossible to pierce or destroy, and their arms strong enough to rip an Ogre in half. Yet despite their size, they can move faster than the eye can see, climb over any surface at incredible speeds, and use their bat or rat forms to overcome all defences. And they are fired with a hatred purer than anything ever known and a pulsating desire to destroy. They are creatures of nightmare, their hideous nature not hidden behind any human pretence. To see one is to gaze upon the true image of death in all its terrible glory. Often, the Strigoi have no need of their strength, for their appearance alone has stopped the hearts of many strong, brave men. Especially as their appearance is often a surprise, for they sleep so long that mortals and immortals alike forget them, or think them no longer a threat. This is a mistake they rarely live long enough to regret.[1a]

This is the way of the Strigoi; they are forced to dwell in the shadows, prevented from lording over mortal men, but they have kept their pride and their fury. They take what they know they are due and crush those who make the mistake of thinking them weak. And although they stay hidden, they refuse to be cowed by fear of the other bloodlines. Let them come, say the Strigoi. Let them come into the shadows, into our world, where we rule. Let them see what strength we have found in darkness. Let them discover that this so-called dying race has strength enough to kill them all. And let them know that like Ushoran the First, we are princes, kings, emperors and Gods. We are nobody’s whipping boy.[1a]

Etimology

In Romanian mythology, strigoi are the troubled souls of the dead rising from the grave. Some strigoi can be living people with certain magical properties. Some of the properties of the strigoi include: the ability to transform into an animal, invisibility, and the propensity to drain the vitality of victims via blood loss. Strigoi are also known as vampires.[2]

The name strigoi is related to the Romanian verb a striga, which in Romanian means "to scream". Virtually all authorities derive it directly from the Latin terms strix and striga, the root of which relates particularly to owls and commonly appears in related taxonomic terms for them as well as for blood parasites such as the Strigeidida. Cognates are found throughout the Romance languages, such as the Italian word strega or the Venetian word strìga which mean "witch". In French, stryge means a bird-woman who sucks the blood of children.[2]

Source

  • 1 Warhammer Fantasy RPG 2nd ED -- Night's Dark Realms
    • 1a pg. 66-72.

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