Separating Myths from Facts in Vampire: The Requiem
Where does Vampire’s mythology diverge from popular belief? Where do the conceits ring true? The following statements outline real-world legends of the undead, clarifying their truth or falsity in the World of Darkness.
•Vampires must sustain themselves on the blood of the living: Fact. For the Kindred, the act of feeding is highly sensual. The vessel feels ecstatic when it happens, and the feeding vampire undergoes a heady rush. Certain vampires sustain their undeath by drinking the blood of animals, but rarely for long, as either their tastes or the needs of their cursed bodies force them to seek human blood.
•Vampires are immortal: Myth and fact. Although vampires do not appear to age, and some survive for centuries, the Kindred use the word undead rather than immortal. Vampirism is a curse, not a blessing. It does carry with it great power, but the state of being a vampire also brings with it numerous detriments, not the least of which include the internalized rage of the Beast and feeding on human blood.
•A vampire’s prey automatically becomes a vampire: Myth. You do not necessarily become a vampire if you’re bitten or killed by a vampire. It takes a conscious act of will, known as the Embrace, to create a new vampire. Indeed, a vampire leaves little to mark her passing if she is careful. All a vampire must do to hide the wound left by her feeding is to lick it when she’s done.
•Vampires have every manner of supernatural power, such as turning into animals, flying, and wielding the strength of a dozen men: Fact. While these powers are not universal, vampires have unique abilities, known as Disciplines, that can grant individual undead capabilities such as these and more.
•Vampires can have sex: Fact. While the act of feeding replaces all physical urges, vampires can still indulge in sex and even take pleasure from it. Curiously, however, the emotional aspect of sex vanishes after the Embrace. A vampire might enjoy the physical sensation of sex, but no more than she enjoys a particularly savory smell or the touch of a luxurious fabric.
•A wooden stake destroys vampires: Myth. Vampires aren’t destroyed upon being staked; they’re held in stasis. A vampire’s body slowly withers while trapped in this state, becoming ever more corpselike.
•Vampires don’t show up like normal people on camera or in mirrors: Fact. Vampires show up with their features obscured in photographic media (including video footage) and in mirrors. They can temporarily counteract this effect, but by “default,” their features are obscured. The same is not true for voice recordings; vampires’ voices are captured normally on voice recorders.
•Sunlight burns vampires: Fact. As part of their curse, vampires recoil at the touch of the sun, its vital rays scorching their undead flesh. Vampires typically spend the daylight hours in the cold sleep of undeath, and only the most resolute can shake off the weight of the day’s forced slumber for even a short time.
•Garlic and running water repel vampires: Myth. Such notions are
nothing more than old wives’ tales, cultural biases, or perhaps the banes of certain bloodlines of Kindred.
•Vampires are repulsed by crosses and other holy symbols: Myth — almost. While such is not generally the case, the devout sometimes do affect the Kindred with miraculous aspects of their faith.
•Vampires’ souls are as dead as their bodies: Myth and fact. A vampire may believe that he feels an emotion, but what he actually feels is the echo of mortal emotions that the remnants of his soul apply to his current experience. That is, a vampire who feels angry might indeed be angry at the subject of his ire, but the resonance of the emotion actually comes from some situation the vampire dealt with in life. This condition results in many strange situations. A vampire who has never experienced a given emotion before becoming Kindred might become confused, while a vampiric artist might create a work of art that is awkwardly devoid of any true emotional insight.