After their less-than-expected creation in the Egyptian sands many millennia ago, vampires (Homo sapiens sanguinarius) spread, in ancient times reaching eastern Europe, India, and some even spreading out as far as China, though some believe that the original mutated virus—spread from bats to humans by fleas and ticks—might have sprung up in more than the one documented village. The scroll, which is supposed to have detailed the birth of vampirism, was found in the tomb of a hurriedly mummified, low-class physician. Most stories agree that nearly immediately after infection, those unfortunate enough to be taken by the plague either died nearly instantly, their bodies unable to handle the first Turning, and the fortunate quickly transformed into something no longer human.
Vampires, while not all ghostly white, possess a skin tone in an extreme shade paler than that which they were born with. However, they still do maintain similarities to the original skin tone. For example, a black vampire will not end up with chalk-white flesh, while a Nordic vampire very well could. Most injuries and scars heal with Turning.
Fangs are not evident unless the feeding drive has kicked in. When it does, the upper incisors and canines lengthen and sharpen considerably. Eye color also intensifies during the feeding phase, though does not change completely. Vampires generally possess the same physical features they did as humans.
Body temperature runs well below human norm in vampires, and most vampires are unable to eat solid food without ill effects (though liquids are usually tolerated). However, feeding generally increases the temperature to a more usual temperature.
The senses are all enhanced by vampirism, especially the auditory and olfactory, and most vampires can move with higher speed than their human counterparts. Vampires also have a generally higher pain tolerance, and are able to regenerate missing limbs or repair wounds after time. This process is accelerated by feeding.
Sunlight is extremely damaging to vampires and will easily kill them, though there are a choice few who are able to withstand the sunlight with age. This is believed to have been inherited through a single, small bloodline.
Hair growth, fingernail growth, and the like are not impeded by vampirism. Vampires are able to dye and cut their hair as any human could.
Vampires, depending on their personal preferences and individual needs, will require blood (not necessarily living) in varying amounts to survive, or, after a certain length of time determined by each vampire's physiology, they will die.
At a certain point, by matured vampires able to be controlled to a degree, and by young Fledglings uneasy to rein in, the feeding drive will kick in, causing vampires to hunt prey and drain them of blood. This is held at bay if prepackaged blood is utilized.
Fangs are retractable, though still extremely sharp even when not extended.
Simply being bitten by a vampire does not grant one access to their gifts.
After millennia of refinement within vampire bloodstreams, the virus was perfected to where most of the time, the would-be vampire does not perish from the vampiric plague, but is nearly always transformed. However, the virus does cause physical death for the Fledgling, though the virus will eternally keep the body functioning without the heart beating and without necessity for breath.
For transformation to become a vampire to occur, the person must first be nearly drained of blood, and a moderate amount of the vampire's blood must be fed to the Fledgling. The virus works nearly instantly, and the Fledgling undergoes varying amounts of pain as the body is completely reformed on a subcellular level. The amount of blood taken before the Turning is correlative to the success and strength of the new vampire; a person nearly completely drained stands a far better chance of surviving.
After Turning occurs, the vampire can either be entirely coherent or entirely incoherent. It lies entirely within the individual vampire.
Although rare, it is possible for vampires to reproduce, though hybrid vampire-humans or vampire-lycanthropes have never been recorded. Children born from two vampires are considered “pure-blooded”, and although they will mature, will also stop aging in their physical prime.
Vampires are immortal, untouched by aging and human disease, and when a vampire is Turned, they stop aging at whatever age they are. The creation of unmatured child vampires is highly discouraged.
Vampires do disintegrate in sunlight, and cannot survive either beheading or severe damage to the heart—staking usually does the trick. Fire can also usually destroy a vampire.
A very small percentage of powerful, old vampires is able to be in the sunlight without dying.
Powerful, master vampires are able to project thoughts and emotions into those that they wish. The stronger-willed the receptor, the less luck the vampire will have. They are able to establish stronger links after eye contact is made.
Some vampires can control lycanthropes with a bite, the virus interacting with lycanthrope blood to subdue them to the 'conquering' vampire's will.
The speaking voice of vampires becomes positively enhanced over time.
Originally in Athens, then Alexandria, then Rome, and now located in London, the Vampire Council is responsible for all matters regarding the vampire population—not to mention quite a few werewolf matters as well. Councilmembers are almost always Masters of their own cities, and are always powerful, intelligent vampires.
The singularly most important person in the world of vampires, the Head of State and leader of the Vampire Council is the dictator and master (or mistress) of all vampires. The word of this vampire is law, and the position is only held by the shrewdest, most powerful of vampires.
Appointed by the reigning Head of State, each Region is allotted one First Representative to sit upon the Council and, along with his or her fellow First Representatives and the Head, decide matters regarding the vampire species.
More akin to First Representatives-In-Training than holding power in their own right, Second Representatives are often either well-versed in Regional matters—often serving merely temporarily—or, equally often, up-and-coming political figures, bent upon advancing their own careers at no cost. These are also appointed by the Head of State, under advisement from the First Representative in their respective region.
Though a fair percentage of vampires live solitary existences across the globe, most elect to live with or nearby vampire Families, or Covens, in turn organized into separate international regions:
In turn, the regions are regulated by a strict social order.
Within the cities, vampires often use private nightclubs as meeting places for their kind and those that know of the underworld under their very noses. Some willing humans, usually either the perceptive few who have made themselves aware of the existence of vampirism, or those who are simply members of the Gothic subculture and blood fetishists, make themselves at home, and provide willing food for the vampires.
Butchers, perhaps not surprisingly, also tend to rank in the select few who know of the underworld's secrets, out of necessity if nothing else. Blood from the slaughtered animals is usually nabbed quickly by the clubs, lone vampires, and servants of more powerful vampires to provide a good, steady supply of the treasured substance.
Herds of animals are also kept outside city limits, 'milked' for blood periodically, and larger cities have blood processing and distribution companies.
Vampires not possessing the day-walking capability are chained to night jobs, or if their Family runs a business, working with their fellow vampires. Older vampires with well-planned residences can also work from their homes, with well-tinted windows solidly in place.
It is against vampire dogma to kill humans–especially if one is messy about it. Vampires who manage to leave clues their existence to the general population, or who perform any actions which might endanger Families in such a manner, are usually dealt with by lethal means.