- "I say you can find out the servants of Death by their marks. No man is born so unnatural that his body does not revolt at the foul pollution of Undead blood. And by these marks you can tell them: by the fangs of the predator, for their thirst for blood is like that of a foul beast; by their porcelain white skin, cold to the touch and unnatural to the eye; the glow of their eyes, behind which lives the terrible Hunger. These are the marks of the blackest evil. These are the marks of the Vampire..."
- —Johann van Hal, the Witch Hunter General.
Vampires are immortal beings that have spread the loathsome curse of Undeath across the realms of Men for centuries. Though many lineages of this foul race now live in the rain-swept forests of the far north, their true origins lie within the once great civilisation of Nehekhara. The true masters of Undeath, they retain much of their original intelligence and capabilities despite their curse, and hence retain their ambition and desire. This makes them very dangerous indeed, for Vampires, due to their immortality, have an extensive period of time in which to hone their skills and refine their schemes to utter perfection.
Since the downfall of Nagash, the only remaining power-faction of Vampires still currently dwelling within the Old World is that of the Vampire Counts, which is supposedly led by Mannfred von Carstein, last of the Sylvannian royal blood-line. The Vampire, for all its power and cunning, is ultimately a base, selfish creature driven by the same motivations of the mortals they deem themselves superior to. For instance, the Brotherhood of Necrarchs strives to attain perfect knowledge of Necromancy and unsurpassed magical power, whereas the Lahmians possess luxury and decadence beyond any dream of avarice.
Vampires share no uniform physical appearance, aside from the fact that most of them have basically humanoid dimensions - most can pass as human at a distance, and hide their ungodly natures behind charm and magical glamour - but for all their refinement, they are but rotting corpses held together by Dark Magic, and only those who feed well can maintain the illusion of beauty. Some Vampires do not even care to do that, and cast aside anything that disguises their true natures, appearing as rotting cadavers that glory in their inhumanity.
The greatest curse of Queen Neferata's legacy is that they cannot subsist on normal food and drink; in order to survive, the Vampire must feast upon the very lifeblood of mortal creatures, and it is only through this imbibing of fresh blood that they are able to preserve their power and their very unlife. For the youngest Vampires, this is a terrible affliction that consumes their every thought and drives their actions, smothering all sense of rationality and reasoning, causing them to become rash, animalistic creatures that are easily caught and destroyed by Witch Hunters and other dedicated foes of the Night. However, most older Vampires are far more subtle, and have learned to subsist on less and less fresh blood, until finally only needing to feed once every number of years. Regardless, none can totally outrun the primal instincts that now govern their evil existence. Due to their unholy nature, and the Empire's Witch Hunters, Vampires are fewer in numbers then they were during the time of Nagash or the first few Vampire Wars. Indeed, since the downfall of Vlad and Konrad von Carstein, the Vampire race as a whole is divided and often hides amongst the human population. Some Vampires, such as Countess Gabriella, are trying their best to prevent the start of another Vampire War, knowing full well that it would only lead to the unveiling and possible deaths of the last few Vampires in existence.
- 1 History
- 2 Vampire Bloodlines
- 3 Vampiric Powers
- 4 Weaknesses
- 5 From Beyond Empire Lands
- 6 Sources
Some two and a half thousand years before the birth of Sigmar, the ancient civilisation of Men known as Nehekhara dwelt along the banks of the great River Vitae. Of all the kings of Nehekhara, none could match the splendour, cruelty and arrogance of Settra, the first Priest-King of the city-state of Khemri. Under his inspired leadership and unparalleled ruthlessness, the many priest-kings of Nehekhara's city-states were conquered and forced to pay tribute and acknowledge Khemri as the greatest city of the land. But Settra was unsatisfied, knowing that one day death would rob him of all he had accomplished. In his arrogance he vowed that the grave would not claim him and proclaimed that he would cheat death, setting his wisest and most powerful priests towards working on a means of preventing his passing. Soon all of Nehekhara became preoccupied with death and the afterlife, building many huge temples and monuments to the dead. These gigantic tombs became so frequent and enormous that the rulers blocked them all into the giant cities of the dead called Necropoli.
It was into this culture that Nagash was born, brother of the Priest king of Khemri. Nagash was the first son and was given to the mortuary cult as tradition demanded. He soon rose to the position of high priest. He observed the morticians as they prepared the dead for internment. He learned all of their ancient spells but, because Nehekhara was so far south of the Winds of Magic, he was too weak to cast them. Nagash took to unspeakable experiments in his quest for immortality and soon all the citizens of Khemri shunned him. Fortuitously, a group of Dark Elves was blown off-course and captured by the Zandri navy, then given to Khemri as a gift to be sealed in with Nagash's father in his tomb. Nagash only pretended to poison them; he then proceeded to learn in secret all they knew. Nagash kept them sealed in his father's pyramid as a bargain: he would learn their sorcery and they would get out alive. They taught him how to reap souls and use their energy to cast spells on his own. With this knowledge, he created the elixir that made him immortal as long as he continued to drink it. Nagash's experiments met with limited success: he was able to prolong his life and forestall the effects of ageing, but there was something missing, something that evaded Nagash. He shared his elixir with depraved noblemen, building support for himself before he finally killed his brother and seized power in Khemri. He and his immortal supporters were tyrannical rulers, slaughtering many of the citizens of Khemri. With their newfound power, they constructed the Black Pyramid, the largest structure ever built by man.
Slowly the other priest kings became afraid of Nagash and formed a confederation against him. A bloody war broke out, which culminated in the battle at the walls of Mahrak, known as the city of the gods. Here, Nagash severed the connection to the gods by killing Neferem, the embodiment of the covenant between mortals and the gods, so that he could shatter the wards protecting Mahrak. After nearly a century of warfare, Nagash's power was broken and he fled north to avoid destruction. Unknown to the priest kings, however, Nagash rebuilt his power and constructed a vast citadel, which became known as Nagashizzar, in the mountain known as Cripple Peak, seeking to take advantage of the huge reserves of warpstone there. The Skaven, also desiring the warpstone, tried many times to sack Nagashizzar and take Cripple Peak for their own. After many years of conflict, his ended in a stalemate, for they couldn't take the fortress; however, neither could Nagash drive them away. Recognizing the potential for mutual benefit, Nagash negotiated an alliance with the Skaven, supplying them with warpstone in exchange for their aid with his plans.
The rulers of the city of Lahmia, Queen Neferata and her brother Lamashizaar, had been part of the confederation against Nagash. After Nagash was defeated outside the walls of Mahrak, Lamashizaar allied himself with Arkhan the Black in secret. They travelled to Nagash's black pyramid, and plundered his library taking Nagash's nine books. Lamashizaar enslaved Arkhan after he attempted to kill him. He brought the books and Arkhan back to Lahmia where he sought to recreate Nagash's elixir and become immortal. Unwilling to kill humans to fuel the elixir because of a fear of being found out, he and his cabal of followers instead used animals. They extended their lives but did not make themselves immortal. Neferata was frustrated with the lack of progress and, desiring power for herself, she allied with Arkhan in secret and with his help created a new elixir, using it to turn the cabal to her side. Lamashizaar eventually attempted to kill her using sphinx venom which, with its magical properties, could overwhelm the elixir's power. Arkhan, however, using sorcery and his own foul blood, was able to save her. Arkhan then sought and killed Lamashizaar in his bedchamber, after which Arkhan was found and cut down by Abhorash, Lahmia's most formidable warrior. Neferata through a combination of the sphinx venom and elixir turned into the first vampire. She then proceeded to turn the rest of the cabal, consisting of Lord Ushoran, W'soran, Naaima, Lord Ankhat, Zurhas, Abhorash and several others, into Vampires using the same method (though Abhorash had to be tricked into drinking the elixir). Each of the twelve masters (Nefereta included) bore particular traits, and they could expand their lineage by creating vampire servants, but through each successive generation, the powers of the vampire weakened. Abhorash became the first Blood Dragon Vampire, W'soran the first Necarch Vampire and Neferata become the first Lahmian Vampire.
The vampire cabal feigned their own deaths, using the cult of Asaph as a cover for their operations. Neferata ruled as queen behind the scenes using her mortal descendants to issue her edicts. When the inevitable war with Alcadizaar's forces came, the vampires defended their homeland but were ultimately pushed back to Lahmia itself. Alcadizaar's armies then broke through the gates of Lahmia and set about the city. The library of Lahmia, the centre of the vampires' lore and knowledge, was defended stoically, but the defenders were slain and died in the flames. Accepting Lahmia as lost, the vampires fled north. Of the twelve Masters, only seven survived the sacking of Lahmia.
Heading north, the remaining vampire masters encountered Nagash, who was secretly pleased with the havoc they had wreaked. Making them his captains, they lead the Undead into Nehekhara. The might of Nagash combined with the power of the vampires was awesome to behold, but they faced one of the greatest leaders of all time, Alcadizaar the Great. Through a brilliant campaign, he smashed the Undead armies, and sent the vampires fleeing from Nehekhara. Nagash, furious at being defeated, cursed the Vampires to be burnt by the rays of the sun. The Vampire Masters separated and fled into hiding.
Nagash then unleashed a plague upon Nehekhara: many hundreds of thousands died and were raised to swell the ranks of undead under Nagash's control. Nagash used this new army to invade Nehekhara: easily overwhelming the meagre defences, he captured Alcadizaar and took him back to Nagashizzar in chains. After consuming massive amounts of warpstone, Nagash began the Ritual of the Waking to transform the whole world into an undead realm. Fearing destruction, the Skaven of Cripple Peak betrayed Nagash, freed Alcadizaar, who then (supposedly) killed Nagash with the Skaven's Fellblade. In actuality, his spirit survived, though it took him nearly a thousand years to regenerate his body. When he was reborn in his Black Pyramid, he tried to seize control of Nehkhara once more, but the other Tomb Kings, outraged by what he had done and united under the leadership of the resurrected Settra, drove him out. Defeated, Nagash returned to Nagashizzar, only to find the Skaven had occupied it. Nevertheless, in a single night, Nagash destroyed the Skaven Clan that ruled his fortress, Clan Rikek, and seized Nagashizzar. The Skaven decided they didn't want another war with the necromancer and left him his prize. Nagash remains in his fortress, biding his time and gathering his strength.
- "There have been dark whispers of Vampire Dwarfs and members of the other races, but no hard evidence of their existence has yet been found. Some amongst the Elves would have it that only we become Vampires; proof of the inherently Chaotic and debased nature of mutable Man. However, there are those who say the Dark Ones are a degenerate form of Elf, that there is an entire nation of Chaos-worshipping Dwarfs in lands to the east, and even that the Halflings begat the Goblins. Perhaps each race has its evil mirror?"
- —From Traugott of Verena’s Lectures.[5k]
There were five distinct families of vampires, each descending from one of the "first vampires" or original ones created by Neferata. These families were called "Bloodlines", each having different characteristics that affected the way their armies operated, although the more powerful members of any vampire bloodline could cast spells, and all were formidable in combat.
- Von Carsteins - The Von Carsteins are the descendants of Vashanesh, Neferata's husband. However, most of the history of the bloodline is lost: specifically, everything between Vashanesh becoming a vampire and the resurgence of Vlad. Some claim that Vlad and Vashanesh are one and the same, but none can confirm this. These vampires are somewhat stereotypical vampires, modelled very much in the manner of Dracula. They are seen as having close bonds with animals such as wolves and bats. These vampires have no particular modifications and several of their bloodline powers emphasise their ties with animals. They are hereditary rulers of Sylvania.
- Blood Dragons - Blood Dragons are fallen Knights, usually from the realm of Bretonnia; they are portrayed as souls in suffering, neither good nor evil. They desire skill in military combat, but do not particularly wish to become rulers or land owners, thus making them undead Knights Errant. Their goal is to not find the Grail as a Bretonnian Knight would, but rather succeed in mastering combat, and obtaining the same ability of permanently suppressing the need to drink human blood to survive as their leader, Abhorash did.
- Lahmians - This bloodline is (almost) entirely female. They are descended from Neferata, the original vampire. They emphasise the seductive nature of vampires and many of their bloodline powers centre around influencing the behaviour of enemy heroes. Neferata was queen of the city-state of Lahmia and the first of all the Vampires. After the city was destroyed by the Kings of Nehekara, she fled with her minions to the mountain known as 'The Silver Pinnacle'. After driving out the mountain's Dwarf inhabitants, Neferata established a new court, where she rules as the leader of a Sisterhood of enchantingly beautiful vampires who use secrecy, cunning and intrigue where others would use brute strength, to sway the political powers of the human kingdoms to do their will.
- Necrarch - Necrarch vampires appear monstrous and wizened, thus they are weaker in combat but have much greater magical potential than the other vampire bloodlines. Overall they are still vastly more dangerous than an equivalent level wizard in close combat, and on par with the more dangerous of melee fighters. They are described as solitary researchers, working on ever more terrible spells as they live out their undying centuries. Because of their studies the Necrarch armies field large numbers of necromantic constructs, spell casters, and zombie dragons.
- Strigoi - In appearance, the Strigoi are even more monstrous than the Necrarchs and are huge and heavily built. They are the descendants of Ushoran who with his followers fled north to what is now the Badlands and built a great empire; when it was destroyed by Orcs the Strigoi were scattered and eventually degenerated to what they are today. The Strigoi are animalistic, half-mad and barely intelligent. They have similar combat ability to the Blood Dragons, but in terms of strength and bestial fury rather than skill-at-arms.
Though they share the curse of undeath, Vampires are unique creatures with myriad abilities and traits. Some dedicate their immortal existence to mastering warfare, whilst others delve into arcane lore, create nations of Undead through political manipulations, or willingly succumb to their bestial nature.[3a]
Some characteristics are spread evenly across bloodlines, others may be confined to a single bloodline, and others still may be merely more represented in one bloodline than others.[3a][2a][2b][2c][2d][2e]
Some Vampires live a hermit-like existence in the wilds of the Old World, interacting infrequently with others of their kind. Such recluses prefer their own company, although some maintain a circle of minions to tend their needs. Through extended isolation, the Vampire loses all vestiges of its humanity.[3a]
- Ghoulkin: This Vampire has a strong kinship with Ghouls, using them as its eyes and ears in the wider world.[3a]
- Spectral Form: By shifting its physical form into a vaporous state, the Vampire becomes invulnerable to mortal weapons and is almost impossible to destroy.[3a]
- Supernatural Horror: This Vampire is hideous to look upon, having long since forsaken the trappings of nobility and beauty. The appearance of this Vampire reflects the evil in his veins a thousandfold. The true horror of the Vampire is open for all to see. The revulsion he causes in mortals vindicates his decision to embrace the beast within.[3a][4a]
For those who desire mastery of the dark arts, the curse of Undeath grants many long centuries during which the secrets of Necromancy can be unlocked. Such study can be arduous and perilous, but many Vampires find its lure irresistible at some point in their unlives and will seek to increase their Necromantic powers. Necromancy is at the core of a Vampire's existence and to master it is to master themselves and their fate.[3a]
- Dark Acolyte: All Undead creatures are steeped in Dark Magic, and Vampires are no different. Some Vampires have an affinity for necromantic magic beyond that of their peers, which only increases with age, study and practice. As even the lowliest Necrarch follows the long and difficult path of the Necromancer, this trait is especially common among them.[2c][3a][4a]
- Forbidden Lore: Long must one study to gain knowledge of the netherworld, let alone several paths of magical teaching, but time is no worry to an undying scholar. This trait is especially common amongst Necrarchs.[2c][3a][4a]
- Master of the Black Arts: What challenge do the winds of magic present to a being who sits outside the loop of time? What mortal creature can match the magical prowess of one so ancient that its teacher might have been the Great Necromancer himself? The Winds of Magic themselves present little challenge to this Vampire, so matchless is his magical prowess. This trait is especially well represented amongst Necrarchs.[2c][3a][4a]
The curse of the Undead is not a stable thing, and many Vampires grow unable to control the red thirst, while others choose simply to not restrain their primal urges. Such beings swiftly devolve into terrible monsters, crazed and bestial things shunned by both the living and the dead, whose only drive is to feast upon mortal flesh and hot blood.[3a]
- Flying Horror: The Vampire is able to take to the skies with great, membranous wings, by Dark Magic, or perhaps can even metamorphose into a monstrous bat.[3a][4a]
- Hunter in the Dark: Who knows what terrors lurk in the dark places of the world, biding their time until the moment to strike has come?[3a]
- Infinite Hatred: Driven by bloodlust beyond mortal comparison, the Vampire fights with an intensity that turns aside the most skilled parry or stoutest shield. The Strigoi, who are most commonly associated with this trait, know no love; shunned by all, they brood in their solitude vowing death upon all they meet.[2d][3a]
The martial skills of a Vampire can be fed by the red thirst and honed through centuries, or even millennia, of warfare. Few foes can stand before a Vampire who has given over his existence to the arts of the slaughterer.[3b]
- Avatar of Death: Trained by the best swordsmen of different periods and cultures, the Vampire has become a deadly warrior capable of slaying the most monstrous of foes.[3b]
- Dread Knight: There are armour-clad Vampire Knights in the world, pursuing their martial glories with deathless vigour. This Vampire has followed the path of the warrior to its ultimate conclusion, taking up arms in dark mockery of a knightly vow. Most famous are the Blood Dragons, but not all the deadly horsemen of the Old World were trained within Blood Keep.[3b][4a]
- Red Fury: The Vampire enters the melee as he has always done in centuries past with a savage and unstoppable bloodlust. He won't stop until all his enemies lie dead on the ground. This trait is especially well represented amongst Blood Dragons.[2b][3b][4a]
Eternal life brings ample time to refine the practices and manners that are the trappings of many Vampires recruited from the noble houses of the Old World. The taint of the Undead also gifts a will as strong as steel that few mortal creatures can resist.[3b]
- Aura of Dark Majesty: The very greatest of Vampires project an aura of utter supremacy and poise that induces fear and awe in even the proudest of beings. To be in the presence of this Vampire is to truly know your own lowly place in the world. As they are the most authoritative of the Vampires, this trait is especially common amongst the von Carsteins, the best generals among their kind, but can also be found in Necrarchs.[2a][3b][4a][5b]
- Beguile: What brute would dare to attack such a vulnerable lady? The entrancing gaze of the Vampire traps the weak-willed. Mesmerised, the Vampire's victim can do nothing to ward away the inevitable deathblow. This trait is especially common amongst Lahmians.[2e][3b][4a]
- Walking Death: So powerful is the unholy presence of the Vampire that mere mortals are forced to flee in dread and terror. This trait is especially common amongst Strigoi and von Carsteins.[2a][3b]
All Vampires can control the Undead through their innate power, but some turn their will to the domination of these creatures to the exclusion of all other goals. Such Vampires have near limitless legions at their disposal.[3b]
- Lord of the Dead: An army of ancient warriors stand ready to fulfill the commands of their Vampire general. Rank after rank of armed Skeletons rise from their graves to answer the Vampire's bidding.[3b]
- Summon Creatures of the Night: The Vampire howls into the cold night, and his cry is answered by the baying of countless dark creatures, wolves and bats bolstering its forces.[4a][3b]
- Summon Ghouls: The Vampire bellows a guttural cry which can be heard by his flesh eating minions. Easily dominated by a stern master, Crypt Ghouls worship this Vampire as a living god of death. Most commonly seen amongst Strigoi, to those with trait these creatures are slaves to the authority of the Ghoul Kings.[2d][3b]
Several powers are found amongst a variety of bloodlines, but are not directly associated with neither a particular archetype of vampire, nor a particular bloodlines.
- Bat Form: Wrapping the power of darkness around him, the Vampire metamorphises into a giant bat. This power is especially common amongst Strigoi and Von Carsteins.[1b][2d]
- Blood Burst: Whilst you need blood to survive, your body does not process the fluid, so once you draw forth the nutrients from it, the excess fluid collects in pockets formed of your Undead flesh. Whenever you are sufficiently injured, one or more of these sacs burst, spraying gobs of old, tar-like blood at all adjacent creatures.[5b]
- Blood-Sated: You may abstain from drinking blood for twice the standard period. This power is especially common for Necrarchs and Strigoi.[5b]
- Carrier: Your indiscretions about feeding have infected you with a horrid contagion, most commonly Scurvy Madness.[5b]
- Curse of the Revenant: So strong is the desire for some to continue living that they defy death. But this has a price – the eternal thirst for the blood of the living. Through magic, bloodletting or sheer force of will, the strength of this Vampire to survive the centuries is beyond compare. This trait is especially well represented amongst Strigoi.[1d][4a]
- Defy the Dawn: Your will is so strong, you can overcome even the terrible power of the sun. This trait is especially common amongst Lahmians, Necrarchs, and Von Carsteins.[5b][5c]
- Fear Incarnate: This Vampire has a dread reputation. It is said that he has slaughtered thousands of would-be heroes over the centuries, and no right-minded warrior will seek battle with such a foe.[4a]
- Host: Your body is host to a colony of vile insects and worms. They crawl through the rotten flesh of your body, feasting on the blood you ingest and the slippery flesh of your innards.[5b][5c]
- Honour or Death: Many mortal champions regret their rash pride after the valiant challenge they issued is accepted by a creature whose eyes are the eyes of death itself. This power is especially common amongst Blood Dragons and Von Carsteins.[2b]
- Iron Sinews: After death the Vampire's muscles grow far greater than they ever could have been in his mortal life. The Vampire becomes a beast of pure muscular power. This trait is especially common amongst Strigoi and Blood Dragons.[2d][5b]
- Master Strike: So strong is the lord of the night, that a well-placed blow from his sword can bring low, sever a limb or decapitate the toughest opponents. This trait is especially common amongst Blood Dragons.[2b][4a]
- Malformed: Your body is twisted and grotesque, an abomination to behold. Worse, the ill-advised structure of your transformed body allows unsightly bulges to form, pressing out against the flesh until the skin thins so that it pops with a sickening wet splatter. Just as soon as the bubo explodes, the flesh knits back together again as another bulge begins to form elsewhere.[5b][5c]
- Mist Form: Some Vampires can change their shape to a whirl of mist. The mist is entirely magical, under their control, and does not behave according to nature. This trait is especially well represented amongst Lahmians and Von Carsteins.[1e][5b][5c]
- Nehekhara's Noble Blood: The only thing the Necrarchs could take from their land was their necromantic lore. These secrets are found in the cursed scrolls hidden in the lairs of the oldest Lords of the Necrarch family. This trait can also be found in Lahmians.[2c][5b]
- Psychic Drain: It is not enough to sip the blood of your victims; your Undead form requires far more energy to sustain itself. You become an emotional sink, draining the will and emotion from living creatures around you.[5b][fd]
- Quickblood: Is it possible to dart aside and avoid a cannon ball? Is it possible to grab an arrow in fight with one's hand? It certainly is for these Vampires. The sword-strikes of even the most skilful men are but clumsy and childlike before the preternatural speed of the Vampire. This trait is especially well represented amongst Lahmians and Blood Dragons.[2e][4a]
- Scent Blood: You have the uncanny ability to smell the blood of living creatures within 16 yards.[5b][5d]
- Silvered Blood: Through some twist of magic, the argent metal already courses in your veins. Rather than weakening your flesh, the presence of silver in your body makes you immune to its dreadful effects.[5b][5d][5e]
- Stench: You exude the particularly loathsome stench of a charnel house. Those who are creative can circumvent your odour—Dwarfs are quite fond of wrapping scarfs soaked in their own urine around their nose and mouth, though such techniques often have a similar effect.[5b][5e]
- Swarm Form: You may assume the form of a swarm of beetles, flies, ravens, or cockroaches. Whilst in this form, you may not attack nor may you be injured—stomping on your constituent roaches is definitely uncomfortable, even painful, but not lethal as you are Undead after all.[5b][5f]
- Transfix: The Vampire is so beautiful that a mere mortal's will to fight immediately disappears before her. The eyes of the Vampire are two deep pits where a mortal can find his doom. The unfortunate victims can do nothing but stare entranced and helpless at the deadly hunter preparing to strike. This power is especially common amongst Lahmians and Von Carsteins.[1b][2e]
- Unbending Willpower: Some of these immortal hunters have crossed the oceans of time, commanded armies and ruled kingdoms in their everlasting undeath. There are few creatures that can avoid being overcome with awe and falling to their knees before them and the obedience they obtain from their servants is absolute. This power is especially common in Necrarchs and Von Carsteins.[1b][1c]
- Unhallowed Soul: You are truly cognisant of your freedom from the spiritual realm, and thus, you fear no God or Daemon. You are immune to the repulsing powers of places or objects of faith, including those of the Chaos Gods. This trait is especially well represented amongst Blood Dragons, Lahmians, and Strigoi.[5b][5f]
- Waterwalker: Your will is so strong you may overrule the curse on your blood and cross running water with immense effort. This trait is especially well represented amongst Blood Dragons and Strigoi.[5f]
- Wolf Form: The Vampire can change his shape to that of a wolf. This trait is especially common in Blood Dragons and Von Carsteins.[2a][5g]
- Call Winds: The anger of a von Carstein is so powerful that even the sky reflects it. You may call forth a huge and terrible storm, even from a completely blue and quiet sky.[2a][5b]
- Persistent Image: The light of the sun has not rejected you. Your image is reflected in mirrors and any other reflective surface. You also cast a normal shadow from the sun or any other light source.[5b][5d]
- Pure Blood: The ring of Vlad von Carstein is the ancient inheritance of the noblest of the Vampire bloodlines. Only they have the right to wear this holy relic, which is charged with the power to restore and resurrect a destroyed Vampire's body.[1b]
- Summon Bats: The Vampire produces a bestial howl that awakens dark creatures and beckons them to his aid.[2a]
- Summon Wolves: These beasts are slaves to the implacable will of the von Carstein blood.[2a]
- Blademaster: Trained by the best swordsmen of different periods and cultures, a Blood Dragon Vampire can easily deflect the blows from his puny enemies.[2b]
- Doomrider: A knight and his horse share a very strong bond – so strong that sometimes it can continue even after death.[1d]
- Heart Piercing: Using a combination of great strength and amazing speed, it is easy for the Vampire to create a gap in his opponent's guard.[2b]
- Might of Arms: The Vampire has trained for centuries in the use of his favourite weapons, acquiring a skill that is rarely matched, even by the best of mortals.[1d]
- Piercing Strike: Whenever you attack with a weapon, you put the full force of your might behind the swing, delivering gruesome injuries.[5b][5d]
- Warrior Pride: A Blood Dragon High Lord will be buried with his finest and most precious suit of armour.[1d]
- Strength of Steel: Such is the Vampire's martial prowess that he is able to strike at the precise moment when it will cause the most carnage. Further, a true knight will never abandon his armour and sometimes the steel skin becomes part of his own body.[1d][2b]
- Terrible Blows: Your great strength and incredible speed allows you to rain blows of terrifying force on your enemies.[5b][5f]
- The Awakening: The Vampire can sense the remains of long-dead warriors and awaken them to bolster his unholy ranks.[2c]
- Death Incarnate: The mere presence of an unnatural creature as a Necrarch Lord is enough to stop the heart of weak beings and cast despair into the strongest of souls.[1c]
- Deathsight: You can see spirits and souls that are normally invisible, as per the Lore of Death spell of the same name.[5b][5c]
- Mastery Over Flesh: You are naturally gifted at manipulating and controlling the flesh of the dead.[5b][5d]
- Summon Ancients: You can sense the remains of long-dead warriors and call them to fight on your behalf.[5b][5e]
- Unholy Cynosure: The Necrarch can focus his power into a different plane to forsee the future and change the present.[2c]
- Wellspring of Dhar: Your soul is so corrupted with dark magic that it has become a natural pool of True Dhar.[5b][5f]
- Massive Monstrosity: Such is the size of some of the more ancient Strigoi that a blow that would kill a normal creature is but a mere scratch to these gigantic beasts.[2d]
- Summon Vermin: You may call forth a tide of bats, rats, or other tiny creatures to attack your enemies. Alternatively, a crowd of giant vermin such as Vampire Bats or Giant Rats may be summoned.[5b][5e]
- Aethyric Cipher: Your natural mastery over the Winds of Magic allows you to cloak and dissipate the Aethyric distortions around you.[5a][5b]
- The Dead Walk Fast: This Sylvanian proverb could not be more true, especially for the swift and nimble Lahmian Vampires.[1e]
- Domination: The eyes of the Vampire are two deep pits in which a mortal can find his doom.[2e]
- Innocence Lost: These deceptive creatures look so inoffensive and vulnerable that naïve enemies lower their defences. That is when they strike with all their supernatural strength, ripping apart armour and bodies with their seemingly innocent hands.[1e][2e]
- Lightning Reflexes: The body of a Vampire looks human, but is capable of reactions so fast that even the quickest swordsman would look clumsy in comparison.[1e]
- Night Creature: Sometimes, in the uncertain light of the forest, a hunter can see a beautiful pale girl, but in the blink of an eye she disappears. If he is wise, he should realise that he is now the prey.[1e]
- Seduction: How can a mortal resist the allure of a creature who has preyed on warm blooded males since the dawn of time? Who can refuse to become her willing slave?[1e][2e]
- Swiftness: How swift and sure is the tread of these beautiful and arrogant maidens of Undeath![1e]
- "Hawthorn bound and sharpened true,
Silvered blade the neck must hew,
Garlic, bloodwort, witchbane too,
Keeps thine flesh yet fair to view.
Blessed lance speared through and through
Holy verse will fiend undo.
If thou wouldst see dawn anew,
Harken well these lessons few."
- —Stirland proverb, as cackled by Ingrid One-Tooth.[7a]
All Vampires suffer from the Blood Curse placed upon them by Nagash. The curse places the following six restrictions upon the Vampire. The most common involve the inability to cross running water, the inability to cast a reflection or shadow, the urge to drink blood, vulnerability to sunlight, weakness to certain herbs, and a weakness towards silver. However, as the bloodlines have crossed and become muddied, there is no guarantee that a Vampire has all of these weaknesses and may have others instead. All Vampires must drink blood, but the other weaknesses are not assured.[5h]
- The Blessing of the Lady: The Lady of the Lake's holy blessing is anathema to the creatures of the night. Weapons that have been anointed in Sacred Lakes or the fonts of Grail Chapels can inflict debilitating wounds upon the unholy. The goddess's magnificent Grail Knights bear her permanent blessing, and Vampires often find it painful to even look upon these living saints.
- Barriers: This Vampire cannot enter any other structure not owned by him unless he is first invited. Once the Vampire is invited, he may enter and exit freely. The Necrarchs typically have this vulnerability.[5h][5i]
- Counting: These Vampires have a curious obsession with counting. Whenever confronted with a number of small objects, such as poppy seeds, coins, or pieces of string, the Vampire must use an act of strong willpower or be unable to resist the urge to count the objects—an act that usually takes one to ten minutes.[5i]
- Fire: A few Vampires are vulnerable to purifying flame.[5i]
- Garlic: Many Vampires have an unusual weakness for rare roots and plants, as can be seen with Daemonsroot and Witchbane. A few are saddled with vulnerabilities to more common plants such as garlic.[5i]
- Ithilmar: The silvery steel of the Elves is said to hold uncanny magical power. Whilst much of this material is used for armour and decorative items, the Elves are famed for their potent weapons wrought from this ore.[5i]
- No Reflection: Many Vampires are cursed, so they can never behold their visage in the surface of a mirror or in a shadow cast by the moonlight. Mirrors or other reflective surfaces do not show the appearance of these Vampires.[5i]
- Religious Symbols: The power of belief is quite strong in the Old World, and mortals who present icons and symbols of their Gods can sometimes repel Vampires.[5i]
- Holy Books: There is a belief amongst Witch Hunters that Vampires will not come near holy books. In addition, reading passages from a holy book is thought to ward off Vampires.[6a]
- Sawdust: A few Vampires can be repelled by the accoutrements of those who handle corpses, such as sawdust or embalming fluid.[5i]
- Silver: The mere touch of silver burns the flesh of Vampires with this weakness.[5i]
- Stakes: Plunging a stake through the heart of any creature is traumatic enough, but when used against Vampires with this weakness, any attack with a stake is enough to drive these creatures away. The stake must be fashioned from a special wood, such as ash, hawthorn, or rosewood.[5i]
- Sunlight: A Vampire in direct sunlight halves all characteristics and receives injuries per minute of exposure, regardless of the toughness of themselves or their armour.[5j]
- Tears: A rare few Vampires cannot suffer the tears of a virtuous mortal, and therefore, they never feed on innocents, preferring instead to feed on the corrupt, the vicious, or criminal. These Vampires often pose a number of questions to their victims to assess the quality of their morals before attacking.[5j]
- Warpstone: Warpstone is particularly loathsome to these Vampires. They cannot tolerate its presence, and if they come into contact with the substance, they experience dreadful changes.[5j]
- Running Water: Some Vampires are unable to cross running water, receiving grievous damage if they attempt it. For the purpose of this curse, the water must be at least a yard across, a foot deep, and have a current. Simply splashing a Vampire with water is not enough, nor is rain, or dumping a bucking of water on a Vampire’s head.[5j]
Due to the immunities offered by the Blood Gifts, not every Vampire suffers from the full six curses. As well, Vampires are also vulnerable to many things that plague ordinary mortals. Vampires are immune to normal weapons or injuries, and they must heal at the same rate as any creature, though they can use both blood and necromancy to mend their wounds more quickly. Vampires can also die from their wounds just like a mortal. They are only unique in that, because they lack a true soul, their spirit does not depart for Morr’s Garden or the fury of the Realm of Chaos, thus allowing them to be summoned back to this world more easily than any other creature.[5j]
Vampires are also vulnerable to Insanity, perhaps even more so than mortals.[5j]
- Banquet of Blood: Vampires who gorge on blood often become addicted to it. If a Vampire drinks blood more than twelve times in one day, he risks gaining insanity.[5j]
- The Beast Returned: Weakened strength due to persistent denial of the urge to feed or very low resistance to the urge to feed itself both causes the bestial stage of the first feeding to return.[5j]
- The Blood Kiss: Receiving the Kiss often troubles weak minds.[5j]
- Critical Hits: Although they no longer fear death, they do fear the ending of their glorious un-life. Vampires gain insanity every Critical Hit they take from silvered or blessed weapons, fire, or sunlight.[5j]
- The Melancholy of Age: Vampires may gain some insanity for every century they live after being given the Blood Kiss. For each passing century, they progressively lose the will to fight this insanity. Time spent in hibernation does not count towards this.[5j]
- Other: Vampires are also likely to gain insanity from magical mishaps and encounters with Chaos entities. However, their closeness to death makes them immune to insanity caused by failing to withhold terror or fear. Likewise, they are typically inured to the horrors of extreme violence, torture, and suffering.[5j]
From Beyond Empire Lands
The influence and history of the Vampires is hardly restricted to the Empire, or indeed the Old World. Nor are Humans the only race set upon by the masters of the night. All over the world, the sanguine thirst of the Vampires has wreaked havoc. [5l]
Estalia and Tilea
- "It may be three hundred years since we fought the War of Blood, but in Estalia, we have long memories. The Vampire Nourgul razed all of the land between the Irrana Mountains and the Southern Sea before he could be defeated. It was only with the aid of blessed Myrmidia that he was. We would never clamp the Vampires to our bosom as you do in Sylvania. That land is a blight on your Empire that should be burned out and staked."
- —Cristobal Mendez, Estalian diestro[5l]
In the south, Estalia still bears the scars of its own Vampire war, and the people there have an unforgiving view of the Undead. On the other hand, the Tilean city-states appear to have been free of large-scale Vampire activity, though some Strigoi nests are to be found in the country. Perhaps this is because of the warding influence of the cult of Morr, who are strong in Tilea and hold their great convocations in the Tilean city of Luccini. Perhaps, more sinisterly, the Byzantine politics of Tilea make it easy for Vampires to remain hidden and work their influence from the shadows; the city of Miragliano in particular is rumoured to be a haven for Vampires. [5l]
- "They must have short memories, these poets who write of the ‘noble’ Vampires. Do they not remember how many died? The dead are neither noble nor beautiful. I have been to Mousillon; I tell you this for a fact."
- —Gervase, Bretonnian rapscallion[5l]
The superstitious peasants of Bretonnia know only fear at the mention of Vampires. They have adopted some of the practices of Sylvania, sometimes burying their dead face down so they do not rise again, placing cloves of garlic in the ears of the dead and dried crows’ feet in their mouths. Bretonnia was the home of the infamous Blood Dragon called the Red Duke, who was the scourge of Aquitaine, and rumours persist that others of his dread kind dwell in isolated hamlets and forests. These Vampire knights are considered to be worthy opponents by questing knights, who see them as chivalrous, tortured souls. The glamour of the knightly ideal blinds them to the truth of the matter—the Red Duke was a barbarous killer as are most of his kind. The courtly ideals of Bretonnian nobles make them easy prey for the Lahmians, who have secretly infiltrated Bretonnian society as easily and as thoroughly as they have that of the Empire. [5l]
Most of the Vampires who dwell in Kislev are of the monstrous kind, beasts barely better than ruthlessly hunted animals. It is believed that regular consumption of Chesnochnaya, garlic vodka, will keep them at bay. The Kislevites’ lack of familiarity with Vampires in their other, more seductive, guise is what allowed the Tsarina Kattarin to keep her rulership of the country even after she became a Vampire. The Kislevites have a long tradition of magic-wielding ice witches holding positions of power, so a pale and beautiful woman with magical abilities holding the throne was not without precedent. Her reign was cut short when the country’s boyars realised having an immortal ruling them meant nobody else would ever rise to the top, and they would be reduced to squabbling amongst themselves for greater shares of power. An alliance lead by Tsarevich Pavel finally dealt with Kattarin. Her frozen corpse is still on display in the Frost Palace as a warning to other Vampires.[5l]
In Araby, knowledge of necromancy is not suppressed, and so they do not suffer from the ignorance that allows Vampires to gain footholds amongst them as in the Empire. Only the Blood Dragons have a presence there, and that is in the western desert. The people of Norsca and Albion are fortunate not to have had much experience of Vampires, perhaps because their aversion to running water keeps many Vampires from travelling by sea. It cannot be long, however, as even Lustria has learned to fear the Vampire Luther Harkon and his Undead pirates who control the region known as the Vampire Coast.[5l]
- "Only men, with their short lives and shorter vision, could have imagined such a loathsome use for magic."
- —Ithilweil, Elf enchantress [5l]
The Elves see Vampires as yet more evidence of the inherent weakness of Humans. Elves very rarely turn to Dark Magic to lengthen their lives, since they live so long to begin with. The idea is alien and unnatural to them, and the Ghost Striders count Vampires amongst the monstrous threats they mercilessly vanquish. Even the Druchii dislike Vampires, seeing in them evidence of the magical techniques tortured from their ancestors by Nagash. [5l]
- "I got nothing to fear from Queen Vampire Bitch and her daughters. My blood’s half Bugman’s, and there’s few Manlings alive or Undead who can stand a drop as potent as that. I’ll march in and take that place tonight, piece a’ pish. Put some sausages on, I’ll be back for breakfast."
- —Dwinbar Eldagnisson, Dwarf Troll slayer (deceased)[5l]
Vampires find the blood of Dwarfs stale and tasteless and tend to leave them alone. However, the Dwarfs have a lengthy entry in the Book of Grudges for Neferata, whom they call “Queen of Evil” for taking the mountain fastness of Silver Pinnacle from them in a single night. Many Troll slayers still find their heroic deaths there. The Dwarfs have also come to the aid of their Human allies against the Vampire counts on occasion, and at the Battle of Hel Fenn they fought valiantly against the forces of Mannfred von Carstein.[5l]
Sylvania has one of the Old World’s greatest concentrations of Warpstone, which naturally makes it attractive to the Skaven. All of their attempts to take it have been foiled, and even the stealth teams Clan Eshin occasionally sends to harvest Warpstone are afraid to enter the forests. The Skaven’s masterwork, the Great Plague of 1111, was foiled not only by Mandred Skavenslayer, but by an army of plague victims who rose from their graves in Sylvania and caused great casualties to the Skaven. [5l]
- "Blood is for the Blood God. Not for drinking!"
- —Hermann Hackgut, follower of Khorne.[5l]
The worshippers of Chaos have a strange position on Vampires. Followers of the Blood God see them as blasphemers who steal the blood that is rightfully Khorne's. Vampires' immunity to disease makes them distasteful to worshippers of Nurgle. Tzeentch's followers see them as beings of stasis, unchanged by the years or mutation and abhorrent in their God's eyes—however many of them he happens to have at that moment. Although some Vampires live lives of pleasure enough to make a Slaaneshi swoon, they are resistant to all things new and prefer to live in idealised pasts rather than embracing new sensations, arousing the cultists' contempt.[5l]
Vampires gain no benefit from watching their herd vanish under a sea of Chaos, and the unholy symbols of Dark Gods pain them as much as any such holy symbols. They have sided with humanity, often secretly, in the war against Chaos. Strange as it may seem from the point of view of Humans, who see only monsters on both sides, the forces of Chaos and Vampires are naturally opposed.[5l]
- 1: Warhammer Armies: Vampire Counts (5th Edition)
- 2: Warhammer Armies: Vampire Counts (6th Edition)
- 3: Warhammer Armies: Vampire Counts (7th Edition)
- 4: Warhammer Armies: Vampire Counts (8th Edition)
- 4a: pg. 61
- 5: Warhammer Fantasy RPG 2nd ED -- Night's Dark Masters
- 6: White Dwarf 236 (US)
- 6a: pg. 39
- 7: Warhammer Rulebook (8th Edition)
- 7a pg. 247
- 8: Warhammer: The Red Duke