For the past two years or so, I have researched "real" vampires. The method of my research has been observance of and discussion with those people I have met who claim to be real vampires. I decided to heavily research this topic when an acquaintance of mine claimed to actually be a vampire. Since then, I have cultivated this relationship into a close personal friendship. She was my first contact into the world of vampires and has been my best research associate ever since. Special thanks to her and all the other vampires who have been kind enough to talk about this condition.
Now for the nitty-gritty of real vampires as I have observed them. I have been able to classify real vampires into several categories. These are as follows:
These are people who, for whatever reason, derive nourishment from "feeding" from the "life energy" of people around them. This form of vampirism falls into the category more of meta-physics and the occult than mainstream science. It seems psy-vamps have the ability to draw out the "chi," "manna," or plain energy of their victims. They do not seem to have the craving for blood found in most other forms of vampirism. In advanced cases, the vampire can choose from which victim to draw and even which types of energy to take. The one with whom I have spoken uses this ability to heal others by feeding from the "negative" energy in the victim's aura. From what I have heard from the "victim/patients," she is quite good at what she does. In less developed cases, the psy-vamp might not even know about this condition. Other people around him or her might feel "drained" from the person's presence, and hence the vampire will usually have trouble keeping friends. A good psychic can usually tell if a person is a psy-vamp. There is no known cure, but a psychic vampire can learn to control his/her feeding habits.
These are, no doubt the most frustrating cases to study because they differ so widely. In the one case I have been able to study, the vampire was involved in demonology and either erred or made a pact he later regretted. It seems that certain "spirits" or "demons" can give people some of the characteristics of other types of vampires in exchange for partial possession. The new vampire then has certain enhanced abilities and, in exchange, allows the spirit to take over now and then. At first this almost sounds like a form of symbiosis, but the human in the deal soon finds that the spirit usually does things that are morally unacceptable. He seems to be in a constant state of remorse for the things he's done. He wouldn't go into details, but he did hint at murder. Also in this category are the vampires who claim to have been changed by a visitation in a dream or by the apparition of a ghostly vampire. Cases in this category are documented in the book _Vampires_Among_Us_ by ???????. I have not personally met any such vampire, but I have met people who were visited but not changed.
This is the category where I have had the most experience."Viral" vampires are the ones that seem to have the most reason to call themselves vampires. This "virus" is what causes the change to take place. It is passed on through blood, sexual secretions, and occasionally saliva. Transmission is usually deliberate and ritualistic. I have heard of one case where the would-be vampire "got over" the virus, and a few cases where the receivers died during the process. It is unknown if this is an actual virus or if the effects are psychosomatic based on the archetype of the American Vampire. Nonetheless, the effects and changes associated with this type of vampirism are real. The process of change is the traditional exchange of body fluids in a ritual setting. The fledgling commonly experiences a near-death-experience at some point, sometimes seemingly unrelated to the change into a vampire. Effects of the change include photosensitivity, increased night vision, anemia, dual-personality (one normal personality and another that takes over when the vampire looses it's temper), a blood fetish, a craving for rare red meat, and if the person had any psychic ability, this is increased. Sex drive is first decreased then increased beyond the intensity before the change. Most vampires describe the sensation as like that of being on LSD during a mild trip. From the descriptions, it seems to me to be more akin to the effects of thujone, the hallucinogen in Absinthe. Either way, the sensuality of a vampire is apparent. Some vampires notice a change in muscle movement. It is more direct, smooth, rapid, and efficient. Most vampires of this variety notice a slowed aging process. Depending on the strain of the virus, all of these changes are present to differing degrees. I have not met any one older than mid-sixties, so longevity is debatable. The one in her mid-sixties I met looked like a sickly mid twenties. Her lack of signs of aging was remarkable, but it remains to be seen how long these vampires live. The oldest one I've heard of anyone actually meeting was in his nineties. He is rumored to have looked not a day over 60.
Vampires By Birth:
This is by far the largest category of vampires I have met over the 'net. It seems that in some circles, the proper answer to the question of "Are you a Vampire?" is, "All my life." This type differs very little from the viral variety, if at all, other then how they got that way. Many vampires by birth can trace their vampirism through several ancestors, though not always in a direct line. It seems that this type of vampirism may be genetic, being a recessive trait, according to one fellow researcher I know. Many vampires by birth are somewhat indignant towards those of the viral variety, kind of like a king from an ancient houde would be towards a king at the start of a royal line. Vampires form birth do have their share of problems, however. Usually they don't know what they are. During puberty, they begin to show signs of what they are, and may not know who to talk to about it. This is why so many of them talk about it on the 'net. It is rather impersonal and don't have to be told to their faces that they are crazy, which, of course, they are not. Some, however are lucky enough to have parents and even grandparents who also have this genetic trait, so it is much easier for them to deal with what they are.
What can be said? They are elusive. I've heard rumors as to their existence, but despite intense research, I have not found any real proof. One person I know claims to have spoken with one, but I cannot verify his account. The theory I am going on is that immortals are possibly an extremely powerful strain of the "viral" variety. The characteristics are almost identical, with the exception of intensity. Again, this is a virtually unexplored topic because of the lack of evidence.
The White Wolf Games Connection:
The emergence of White Wolf's Games' Vampire: The Masquerade has sparked not only a surge of interest in vampires, but it has also given rise to the application of the game's terminology to real life vampires. The reason for this seems to be two-fold. First, for those who wish to keep their existence as vampires relatively secret, at least to certain people, it is a perfect excuse to get people to stop asking the wrong kind of questions. ("It's just a role-playing game. See?" - Holds up a copy of the rule book...) The live-action version of the game is especially suited to that sort of excuse. (Don't get me wrong, the vast majority of people who play this sort of game are NOT vampires.) Second, The game gives vampires and non-vampires, alike a common jargon. It is almost like a first dictionary on the subject. As for the game itself, I have the same comment on it as I do on all of White Wolf's other games: "Take reality. Make it interesting and adventurous, add excitement and a whole lot of exaggeration, and you get a White Wolf Game." This was originally my opinion on their Mage: The Ascension, but I've come to apply it to every other game I've seen by them since. I am convinced that the writers there at least know something about the real-world equivalents of their various topics.
Author: Brian H. Chabot