Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Origins of the Vampire

The vampire is a powerful undead monster that spawns its own followers from living humans. Those followers can gain power of their own and eventually break free of their master to become their own vampire lords. This endless chain of loathsome reproduction has carried the vampiric races into the present day. But what first set the chain in motion?

Vampires are fundamentally created by hatred and violence. They are the product of unnatural concentrations of negative energy, generated through war, famine, cannibalism, or great injustice. The standard vampire that we know as the common variety is far removed from this first cause, but it still thrives on the same negative energy. The first vampires were basic, plant-like creatures formed from corruption of the natural world. In places of great death and depravity, negative energy coalesces. If this energy reaches a certain critical point, Veldrane mold form spontaneously. This mold, which is considered extraplanar in origin, affects living creatures (both plant and animal). Those who consume it or stay too long in its presence become Veldrane mold vampires, who thrive on the moisture of living creatures the way standard vampires thrive on blood. Veldrane mold vampires in turn spawn others of their kind, but a small fraction of their spawn are mutants: They are standard vampires.

These standard vampires, at first small in number, gradually usurped the place of their weaker Veldrane brethren. Now, many eons later, standard vampires are the most common. But as they have expanded to the ends of the earth, they have multiplied and rarified. Sukko vampires, immune to cold, now inhabit the polar wastes. Inferno vampires thrive in the tropics. Magebane vampires come into existence when powerful magic users become vampires, while moglet vampires can only exist in places of legendary art.

All vampires maintain their connection to the hatred and violence that create them. They are fundamentally creatures of negative energy. Like all undead, negative energy heals them and positive energy harms them. Vampires have a natural sensitivity to places where negative energy pools, and this is why they are often found at the center of wars, revolutions, and corruption. Just as a human thrives on blue skies and sunny days, a vampire thrives on bloodshed and conquest. But there is more to this negative energy sensitivity than meets the eye. Unbeknownst to all but the most erudite sages, vampires are a necessary byproduct of the natural order of things. They are the only undead whose origins can be traced to spontaneous formation from negative energy alone. The process that forms a vampire spawn from a creature slain by a vampire actually sucks ambient negative energy out of the prime material plane, concentrating it in the undead life force of the newly revived spawn. Vampires act as living conduits of negative energy, channeling it into themselves through their own actions, then feeding off it and destroying it in the process. If they were removed from the world, the negative energies they focus would be released. Unchecked, mankind’s endless atrocities would form great concentrations of negative energy. Eventually this energy would pool into concentrations so great that portals to the negative energy planes would appear. These in turn would release creatures far, far more terrible than vampires.

Thus, the deities that govern good and law allow vampires to exist. Their followers are sent to defeat the vampires, but the scales can never tip too far. By their very nature, vampires act as lightning rods for negative energy; as they feed off it, they reduce its concentration in the world, and they absorb the foul byproducts of human conflict that would otherwise attract far greater evils.

A few vampires gain true insight into their natural position in the world. They learn to manipulate negative energy in a way no others can match. They ascend to the status of arch-vampires, and begin to challenge the gods themselves. Rather than accept that the gods “allow” vampires to exist so that a natural balance is preserved, the arch-vampires challenge that the gods should even govern such things. They set centuries-long schemes into motion, and strive to expand the role of vampires in the world. The most powerful arch-vampires become demi-gods. These quasi-deities travel to the outer planes, where they maintain constant connections to the negative energy planes and the prime material plane. From there, they direct armies of minions and sponsor other arch-vampires. Vampire clerics who still receive spells may wonder from whence they come. It is these ascendant arch-vampires that provide them.

For generations, the old gods regarded the arch-vampire demi-gods as a natural correction mechanism, much like wolves who feed on overpopulated deer. But now the wolves seek to become king. Two powerful arch-vampire demi-gods have grown to such stature that the old gods are wary. Vlad the Immortal and Suthrikorn the Red now actively sponsor other arch-vampires, encouraging them to break free from the “game of balance” and expand their rightful claim to the world. The vampire armies are becoming more active, and the forces of good have stepped up their efforts against them. For the first time, the scales are tipping toward the vampires’ favor...

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