Friday, May 18, 2012

What's a vampire, anyway?

OK, I'm doing a major overhaul. Note that this post will describe vampires in the universe that I, personally, RP in. I'm not trying to say they're "proper" vampires, or any such bullshit--I will not play that silly game. They're what I like, so they're what I use. This post is for people who want to be well-informed about what I expect from vampires in my universe.

Basically, there are three bloodlines of vampires in this universe; lower, more sadistic ones who have less capacity for humanity, "normal" ones who are pretty standard vampires, and, "greater" ones, who can use blood magic (from the blood they consume, not by spilling blood). I also use True Blood as a kind of blueprint, with other sources (mostly a mix between years of all-purpose RP experience, Vampire: The Masquerade, Let the Right One In and Supernatural) changing most of the details. No form of vampire in this document will be "faithful" to any one universe, mythology, etc., though, and they're not meant to be. 

To be clear, I say that True Blood is the blueprint because it's what inspired me to make a vampire character. I use its social situation (the fact that vampires 'came out of the coffin', the political and social climate around that, etc.), and alter other things about it as I see fit. As of my writing/editing this, my story hovers around the end of season three, so there haven't been any of those major changes in the Authority yet, werewolves and shifters haven't come out, etc.. I'll edit accordingly if/when this changes. 

Now, to the meat!

Things That Apply To All Bloodlines of Vampires

They crumble to ash when they're killed.

They must feed on the blood of humans, or 'higher' creatures (eg, not animals) to thrive. Animal blood would sustain them in a pinch, but provides poor nutrition, all around.

The blood of other vampires will cause them to feel closer to that vampire, to bond with them in a more intense way than they would with humans.

They cannot procreate as they could when they were mortal.

They will live forever, barring murder or suicide.

Their body consistently tries to return itself to the state in which they were turned; they do not age, and all healing will reflect their condition just prior to being made vampire. This also means that a hair cut grows back in over the course of a day's rest.

They burn to ash in the sunlight, and are incredibly, incredibly difficult to rouse during the day, whether they're out of the sun or not.

They have superhuman physical attributes (some bloodlines are stronger than others).

They grow stronger with age.

Cutting off their heads will always kill them, regardless of bloodline.

While they can consume small amounts of fluid or near-fluid materials that aren't blood without having to vomit them out, anything more substantial is likely to make them violently ill. Even vampires who have conditioned themselves to be able to swallow food and drink will need to regurgitate it eventually, as they have no functional digestive system; blood is just sort of absorbed through the stomach and incorporated into their bloodstream from there.

Their palette has changed to find blood more palatable than a human would. They can taste things in it that humans wouldn't. Their sense of taste for other things has made them less appetizing. These are a mixture of biological and psychological cues, though, so it's possible for vampires to condition themselves to recognize what smells, etc., would appeal to humans. Possible, but definitely a learning process.

Silver burns their skin, weakens them significantly, and can poison them, if it is healed inside them or otherwise incorporated into their bloodstream. Silver poisoning is characterized by weakness, particularly gnawing hunger, and slowly starting to resemble a chemo patient, basically. The more blood a vampire drinks, the faster it's purified from their system. The blood of 'higher creatures' will hasten this process (and the blood of a fairy will purify it away instantly).

They're capable of having sex (but not of procreating sexually, remember). As that's concerned, they can't pass on diseases.

Religious things (holy water, crosses, hallowed ground, etc.) don't affect them at all.

Their tears are made of blood, rather than, you know, tears. 

They're effectively dead, so their blood is cold, their heart doesn't beat, they don't need to breathe, they don't sweat, they don't blush, they don't urinate or defecate, etc.. It's probably worth a reminder that breathing is necessary for speech, just like with anything else, but they don't need to do it to survive. 

Things that normally require bloodflow (eg,, erections) are accomplished by an unconscious magical force instead, making these things slightly firmer than they would be in a human.

They do have small amounts of relatively normal, mortal fluids that are required for them to function without appearing thoroughly fucked up. These include oils in the skin and hair, enough normal tears to keep the eyes lubricated, enough mucus to keep the nose from bleeding and sexual fluid.

Sexuality is a natural part of their hunting technique--that is, it's acknowledged as a necessary function by their bodies, so they're capable of it. They can't sexually reproduce, though. For female vampires, this means that all of their eggs were lost upon being turned. For male ones, they have seminal fluid without sperm.

Lower Vampires

This bloodline has been hunted down extensively, both by vampire hunters and by pro-mainstreaming vampires of other bloodlines. This means that they're the rarest sort.

They have many shark-like teeth that extend over their human ones when they're about to feed. These will grow back, if lost, regenerated like any other injury.

There's no special pleasure associated with being bitten by one of these vampires. It hurts just as it would being bitten by an animal. 

It is especially easy for them to create new vampires; they only need to feed them their blood, and it's done in a matter of minutes. This means that, while these vampires are relatively rare, there will often be episodes of them creating many other vampires at once, resulting in quick, scattered population explosions. This can also be accomplished by touching the blood to an open wound, which would require less blood than having them drink it would, but there's little to no danger of it simply for being on unbroken skin.

While their physical attributes are superior to those of a human of comparable size and strength, they are weaker than other vampires who share their age and build.

They have more of a pack mentality than other vampires, and tend to live in nests with their many progeny/siblings.

They can only be killed by beheading, or by especially enchanted means; stakes/wood do nothing but piss them off, really. 

Neither their blood nor their saliva has any healing properties whatsoever. 

Their monstrous qualities are especially strong; they're more distanced from their humanity than other races of vampire, more easily given over to sadism toward humans. Whether this is due to an increased appetite or some kind of natural meanness is unclear. 

Standard Vampires

These are the only vampires who have 'come out of the coffin', officially; these are the ones humans will see on TV, the ones who invented synthetic blood, etc. etc.. 

These are the most common type of vampire, and are generally the ones most dedicated to the mainstreaming effort; it was their idea.

They have two fangs that extend from their top row of teeth when they're about to feed. These are different between all vampires, just as human teeth are not identical among humans.

Attempts to enter a mortal dwelling uninvited will result in their bleeding as though having a brain hemorrhage, becoming incredibly weak and suffering agonizing pain, until they either secure an invitation or manage to crawl out of the door.

They can work a kind of subconscious magic that makes the bite pleasant. The bite itself will hurt, but sucking on it, afterward, is generally a very erotic sensation. . .unless they don't want it to be. Then it hurts about as much as you'd expect.

Being pierced by anything wooden will kill them instantly. Wooden things also cut/pierce through a vampire's skin very, very easily.

They have significantly greater physical attributes than humans of comparable build, even directly after being made.

To make a new vampire, they must drink from them until they're on the brink of death, then feed them a significant amount of their blood. Afterward, they shut them away from the sun for a varying amount of time (anywhere from one night to two weeks, depending on a number of different variables, such as the age of the siring vampire and the health of the prospective vampire), after which they rise as a vampire. It's traditional to bury them, but not necessary.

Their skin is slightly thicker and firmer than human skin, making it more difficult to cut, bruise or pierce with weapons not made of wood or silver. Still doable, of course.

They're capable of 'glamouring' humans--meaning, they look them straight in the eyes, and they'll obey whatever they say, so long as they maintain eye contact. This can be as simple as "go over there and don't move" or as complex as "you never saw us here tonight, you came to get donuts and you left". 

Their saliva has healing properties, when it can be concentrated on a particular spot. It's normally used to heal arteries after feeding so their prey doesn't bleed out; it's not especially useful for wounds larger than that.

Their blood has stronger healing properties than their saliva, and this is accomplished either by feeding it to a human, or putting it on a wound.

A mortal who's had a vampire's blood fresh from the source--that is, when they're in a position to form a clear mental picture of the vampire--will find themselves thinking favorably of them, fantasizing about them, missing them, etc., for a period of time, depending on how much blood they've had. 

If a vampire and a human swap blood in remarkable amounts, they will become blood bound to one another--basically the same thing as above, but mutual.

If this goes on for long periods of time, the bond begins to favor the vampire; that is, the human's feelings of loyalty to, and desire for, the vampire (and their blood) will be more intense than the vampire's feelings of the same.

This bond can be turned into a 'ghouling' situation, but it is not necessary to drink a mortal's blood to accomplish this (though they usually will). Ghouled humans will begin to assume a vampire's attributes, most notably their longevity, as long as they're fed that vampire's blood regularly. Heightened physical attributes apply. They're capable of being in the sun, but are likely to be made uncomfortable by it, thanks to their strong empathy with the vampire. Doing this is generally regarded as making a slave of the mortal party, because their free will is largely overwhelmed by their esteem for the vampire (and their blood). 

This process can be done to animals as well, to make them stronger, more loyal, and effectively immortal (though they're still capable of dying from, say, blood loss. . .same with humans, but I forget shit, OK? It's a lot of details!)

Drinking the blood of an unknown vampire has all kinds of positive effects; heightened physical attributes, heightened libido, etc., without any particular feelings for the vampire it came from (though, I guess if they happened to meet them while dosed up on their blood, maybe they'd feel it??). Different people react differently to these changes--sometimes the sudden heightened senses can trigger hallucinations, for example, but that's not to do with the blood itself, just the personality, body chemistry, etc., of the user. It also makes the user more easily given over to violence, and is highly addictive. It's a pretty big problem in certain parts of the world, with humans known as drainers subduing vampires and draining them dry, and other vampires willingly selling their blood for the money. It's referred to as 'V', and considered an illegal drug all around.

Greater Vampires

Most/all of the things about Standard vampires apply to the Greater as well. In addition. . .

They can use blood-fueled magic. It's suggested that this energy is supplied not by the blood, in and of itself, but by the sacrifice represented in taking it from another. Therefore, synthetic blood cannot replenish this energy in them.

This magical energy in them actually makes it much harder for them to feel satisfied by synthetic blood. Even if they're not using magic all over the place, the magical attribute represents a second kind of hunger. They naturally hunger for the power that blood gives them, even if their personality type isn't really given over to using it.

Of course, this hunger will often warp said personality type into being more superior and power-hungry. While Greater vampires are capable of mainstreaming (in the sense of letting humans know what they are, in the most basic sense, and trying to make a place for themselves in human society), the number of them who do is far lesser than Standard vampires. Many of them will, in fact, participate in human society, but they'll be pretending to be human, using magic to make themselves convincing.

To the public, any Greater mainstreaming vampire is required, by the Authority and by the urging of the supernatural community at large, to present themselves as a Standard vampire.

While they can use magic to accelerate their own healing, it's a very rare vampire that can use anything resembling healing magic on other people. If they manage to do so, it's incredibly taxing.

More drastic forms of magic are also very taxing. By 'taxing', I mean that they use enormous amounts of that blood energy. If they exhaust very much of that, they enter starvation mode and ravenously feed on the nearest available mortal source.

They can learn how to more effectively execute magic they use often to require less blood.

As insinuated above, they can do a lot with it, and can make themselves convincingly human by it (eg, making their heart beat, giving themselves body heat, sweat, etc.). However, these are conscious decisions they have to make. . .so, someone might find that a vampire is cooler or warmer than normal, that they sweat too much or too little, that the rhythm of their heartbeat is off, etc..Basically, it's hard to make it identical to what it was when they were human, so how convincing they are is up to how well they can pull that sort of thing off.

While they can use magic to create life, they need the raw materials for it, and they can't use magic to create mortal life from their own body. So, basically, they can make a homunculus or a golem, they can cause existing lifeforms to mutate in all sorts of ways, but they still can't make babies. It's the nature of the curse.

Their 'magical' nature is very palpable to magic-sensitive people or creatures. So, those who are drawn to, or strengthened by, magic, will feel drawn to these vampires. Some may think that it's a twisted and disgusting energy, while others might not make that distinction, and find the presence of magic at all to be pure and comforting. 

The blood of magical creatures replenishes their energy at a far greater rate than that of more mundane creatures (humans, basically, though some humans have magical attributes in this universe, too. . .not the subject of this post, though!).

Blood taken from a corpse renders their magical powers inert.

There's a symbol that can be drawn, in a manner similar to a devil's trap for demons, that will exploit the magic in this breed's blood. They'll be unable to leave the symbol and unable to use magic while inside it.

Their magical acuity makes it easy for them to detect many things about supernatural creatures and forces. Too many to list, really; I'll probably tell you about it if/when it's relevant.

The blood of a Greater vampire is more potent than the other bloodlines'. A human drinking it may even sometimes manifest magical abilities (though they'd have to somehow figure out they were there, of course).

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Maxwell Garrington

Playby: Simon Bonney
Full Name: Maxwell Garrington (James Brennan)
Apparent Age: ~30
Date of Birth: December 20, 1740
Date of Death: July 13, 1768
Birthplace: Brighton, England
Place of Death: Cork, Ireland
Current Residence: Crystal Springs, California
Hair: Dark Brown
Eyes: Blue
Height: 6'0''
Weight: 200 lbs.
Occupation:  Adjunct professor; 'cleaner'
Sexual Orientation: Pansexual; nonmonogamous
Personality Points: Confident, outgoing, playful, seductive, intellectual, passionate, progressive-minded 
Voice Clip: Here! It's at least as important as a picture, to get an idea of the whole Maxwell experience.
F-List: For those interested in that kind of shit.






A Summary of Public Knowledge

 

Maxwell was born in Brighton, but was moved to Cork as a young boy. He identified as homosexual when he was human, and from the age of 17 until being made vampire, lived with his "husband", Cyril. 

He was made vampire by one known as Evangeline in the mid-18th century. They spent many, many years together, adopting a number of guises to pass among humanity (father/daughter, sister/brother, husband/wife, etc.).

They parted briefly in the early 20th century, but reunited after World War II and had a home built in Crystal Springs, in which Maxwell currently resides. 

In the 1980s, they spent time in West Berlin and formed a band called The Sinkillers*, which enjoyed a strong cult following, most notably appearing in the film The Sky Over Berlin**, and was lauded for their hypnotic live performancesThe band dissolved in the early 1990s, and Evangeline disappeared from his life shortly thereafter. 

He returned to the US and traveled the country for some time, recording a single album under his own name with the assistance of musicians met along the way. This enjoyed slightly more radio play in certain avenues than his work with the Sinkillers, songs appearing in the odd film or three, but carefully avoided truly mainstream recognition. 

When the matter of the Revelation arose, Maxwell embraced it whole-heartedly, as his longstanding approach had already been to make a place for himself in mainstream society, rather than hiding in the shadows among his own kind. His personal revelation was first made via forum posts and webcam through a Sinkillers fansite, followed by an article submitted to the local newspaper.  

Thereafter, fond of answering questions and relating knowledge, he traveled the country, giving talks on how vampires might integrate peacefully into human society, and fielding questions about what life was like in 18th century Europe and beyond. However, he quickly found himself frustrated by the fact that humans did not seem to understand the limited point of view one had in that time period, particularly when restricted to nighttime hours, leading him to abandon these pursuits in the space of three months.

For some time, he continued to travel the US, with no particular aim beyond gauging the success of the Revelation around the country.

His experience in lecturing eventually inspired him to pursue teaching and, after a great deal of convincing, he was taken on as an adjunct professor at the local university, leading an elective course in creative writing. This was a matter of some controversy, once a few of the school's wealthy (and quite conservative) donors got wind of these plans. He did, ultimately, acquire the job, but only under the condition that the public was made aware of his introduction into the school before the year's sign-ups were to begin.

On his first night of teaching, he made the ill-considered decision to sing for his students as they came into class, of a mind that it would make a fond first impression, considering his history in music. Instead, this decision stirred up controversy once more, for many students later related that they felt strange, manipulated and vulnerable, in those moments he was singing. His classes were put on hold for a week, and many of his students dropped out in that time.  When asked what happened, Maxwell would claim the effect to be a result of his 'condition', something over which he had no control.

Upon returning, his remaining students decided to make a formal announcement of their trust, each shaking his hand (many of them merely following the example of those before them) before sitting to take instruction. Later, some would admit to being unsettled by him in such close proximity but, in the same breath, admit it couldn't be helped; it was no fault of Professor Garrington's, who proved to be an effective teacher, if notoriously long-winded. 

Things went well for some time; he was seen drinking synthetic blood much more often than he was noted sneaking away in the company of some healthy youth, of which no proof of feeding could be produced. 

It wasn't until Russel Edgington appeared on television***, divesting that poor newsman of his spine, that things went sour for him. Public opinion of vampires took a nosedive, and persons of import who had once taken his side concerning his place in the university reconsidered their decision. By this time, substantial rumors of his feeding on students from the school, and others in town, had begun to surface, fueling the idea that his position jeopardized the safety of the student body. He was not asked to renew his contract for the following semester, something taken as a deliberate act against him for what he was. A number of former students and other allies at the school sometimes call for his return, but there has been no grand demonstration, as yet, and after two months, there remain no indications that he'll be asked to resume teaching, in spite of his popularity among his own students.


Starting last year, he has been posting advertisements around campus and on the internet offering affordable room and board in his home to students in need, with details to be discussed over the telephone or through email. He hopes that this will allow him to take an active role in assisting students who would otherwise suffer the stress and distraction of money woes and miserable employment. In his home, they would be beyond such worries, and have a quiet, peaceful environment in which to focus on their studies.

At long last, after a full year away, he has managed to convince the school board to renew his contract at the college. Once again, he teaches a twice-weekly creative writing course. Thusfar, his performance is as good as it ever was; passionate, professional and dedicated.

Maxwell has a strong internet presence, favoring the handle 'Somniloquist'. He has accounts on major social media sites, where he'll often comment about various vampire rights issues, as well as ongoing human rights concerns, and shows a staunchly liberal political lean. Posts about cooking started out sparse but have recently grown into experimental video blogging about how vampires can hope to succeed in cooking for humans. He has hopes of making a proper webseries out of it but that has yet to come to fruition.

 (Footnotes: *: A fictional equivalent of the band Crime and the City Solution. ** Literal English title of the German film Der Himmel über Berlin, AKA Wings of Desire, in which the aforementioned band appears; I figured calling it that instead would more comfortably allow for fictionalization. ***One of my few insertions of True Blood canon into the RP, a reference to a scene from S03E09, available here as of my writing this entry.)


Further Information 

 

 As Maxwell's profile in Crystal Springs rose, the local sheriff, Carmilla, grew frustrated with his lack of respect for her authority, and managed, at last, to corner him. Having dug around and discovered his talent for magicks, as well as his apparent concern for human well-being, she presented him with an ultimatum; work for her, or face the judgment of the state's Magister for his longstanding refusal to acknowledge the Authority.  

This proved a fairly clear choice for Maxwell, and it was in this way that he began working to clean up the messes his fellows quite like making. Magic is not a thing known to the larger human population, and it is in vampires' best interest--as well, Maxwell thinks, as that of other supernatural communities--that it remains so; his job is to help keep that secret when other vampires threaten to expose it, often unintentionally.

Hobbies/Misc. Info

-Owns a monstrously fat, orange Maine Coon mix named Felton.
- Loves the challenge of cooking.
- Continues singing and playing instruments, chiefly guitar; he's made progress in stripping the hypnotic effects from his voice and is half-heartedly considering writing new songs. For now, he plays at the Robin St. Cafe often with a band comprised, largely, of employees.
- Owns a 1960 Harley Davidson Sportster, fully restored, that has recently been put back on the road. His other car's a shitty, low-priced, dark sedan, just like about a thousand other cars in the area.
- His fashion sense speaks to nostalgic considerations from the 1980s. Underground fashion, thank heavens, was more subdued than the neon horrors of the mainstream, though his hair is sometimes rather conspicuous.
- Is intensely proud of his ass.
- Hates vampire bars, as well as human clubs with loud recorded music (loud live music is a-OK).
- Favors coffee shops and low key bars, as well as community gathering places, for food and fun.

Rumors!

(Which ones are true?? Oh, what's the fun in that. . .?)

- Owns an extensive collection of classic cars.
- Chains pretty young girls in his basement for blood.
- Uses his singing voice to compel strapping young men to do his bidding.
- Has been romantically involved with a mysterious man named Dean for a number of months.
- Is totally worth the risk in bed.
- Subtly compelled his students to set up. . .something. . . in their writing assignments.
- Was booted from his teaching job for attacking the Anatomy professor.
- Or maybe the biochemistry professor's suicide wasn't a suicide!
- Remember that guy they found outside the hospital last year, drained of blood? What other vampires do we know!?
- Lost his job because multiple board members threatened to pull funding if he remained.
- Has been seen lurking around town with a horrible, medieval headsman's ax.
- Saved a group of fashion students from a nest of vampires who'd been keeping them as blood dolls.
- Probably more. Who knows with him? He's just SHADY.

OOC Notes

 

On Setting

        

On a large scale, this setting/universe has its core basis in the True Blood canon. This mostly concerns the social status of vampires, and on that count, the Great Revelation occurred ~4 years prior to the current point in the story. I do keep up with the Sookie Stackhouse book series, but thusfar, when I do use canon events, it has been from the TV series canon, not the books.

On Supernatural Characters/Rules/etc.

 

While my core basis is in the True Blood series, as I mentioned, it is also informed by the many years I've spent role playing, and absorbing other influences. The most marked difference is the ability of vampires to use magic, of course; this goes by a Vampire: The Masquerade-style rule of consuming blood to power it, but doesn't have technical limitations on what kind of magic a vampire can or can't use. . .basically, my point of view is, I do dramatic RP. It's more like writing than it is like playing a game, and as such, "fairness" is less of a concern, for me. I write in limitations, and leave out limitations, as suits the plot. What I mean by that is, while my character in particular (and, theoretically, others) can do some pretty impressive things, he still has to fail, or otherwise hit a stopping point, not because there's a rule saying so, but because making a character too all-powerful wounds dramatic tension, conflict and so on. I think this is a logical way to pursue non-combat-oriented RP, and expect this same logic of my partners.

Since I don't actually have a huge amount of experience in non-vampire supernaturals, I'll usually default to the Sookieverse definition of a particular thing. . .if you're familiar with it, fine. If not, we can discuss. I really do prefer discussing things in detail if you intend to play any kind of non-human character, particularly a non-vampire supernatural, so we can reach an agreement on how a given character type is meant to work. . .if we don't do that, it makes things messy down the road. To be honest, the only Sookieverse definition I'm really married to is werewolves/shifters. I've already altered fairies a bit, and find Harris's interpretations of other fae creatures kind of strange, so whether those are kept or overwritten remains to be seen.

All of this said, it is not necessary to be familiar with True Blood to RP with me. It helps, but I can usually explain the important parts pretty quickly (and people with good reading comprehension probably have the gist of it by now).

On His Playby and Physical Attributes

I still need to find someone to make art of Maxwell for me. Since that's yet to happen, just try and regard the reference images as part of an old photo album that no longer represent him fully. His build isn't as skinny as Simon Bonney's, but he retains his facial features and voice. I'm sure to describe the relevant differences where appropriate. RP is a written medium, yeah?