Range: Vampires are native to Elcenia. They primarily live on Anaist, with significant populations on all Elcenian continents.
Lifespan: See description.
Vampires have two forms, which they can shift between instinctively as early as birth: one resembles a bloodlessly pale half-elf with black hair and eyes, and the other a large, dark-colored bat. Vampires are sensitive to sunlight, which can kill them in as little as ten minutes if they go out unprotected; briefer exposure is painful and burns, but can be healed. Their fur in bat form can shield them adequately, as can a traditional garment called a sun cloak, or certain spells or potions. Vampires are naturally nocturnal but most of them can adapt satisfactorily to a diurnal schedule if called upon to do so.
They survive on a diet of blood, which they consume exclusively in their humanoid forms, through strawlike fangs. Vampires do not have circulatory systems or digestive systems (although they do have respiratory organs); instead, the blood they drink disperses through the interstitial fluid that houses their organs and flows around their muscles to provide nourishment. In addition to sustaining them, blood vampires drink affects their lifespans. They have no fixed span of their own; instead, they have a life expectancy equal to a continually recalculated average of the lifespans of each creature they feed from. So, a vampire feeding exclusively from elves would have an elf's lifespan, whereas a vampire feeding from a mix of dwarves and humans would have a lifespan between those two. The longer the lifespan of the bitten creature, the better the blood tastes to the vampire. They do not need to take enough to kill their sources in a given feeding. Their fangs have magical properties which provide anaesthesia to the puncture wounds and speed healing, as well. Vampires do not need to eat frequently; once weekly is comfortable, twice monthly will cause no significant impairment, and once monthly is indefinitely survivable. However, they do require more water than even frequent feeding provides. They can drink water through their fangs, but find doing so unpleasant except in dire emergencies; they prefer to absorb it through their skin with frequent bathing.
Vampires can echolocate, in either form, by producing high-pitched squeaking noises and interpreting the echoes. This allows them to navigate even in total darkness, although they cannot see in the dark. Given magical protection from the sun, or from a vantage point of shade, they can see nearly as well as humans in daylight. They are about three times stronger than and twice as fast as humans, in their normal forms. When vampires sleep, they must do so hanging upside-down, in bat form; given nothing to hang from, or prevented from assuming the form, they will be unable to fall asleep and may die of sleep deprivation. However, in their humanoid forms, they can "trance" - specific physical triggers, usually pressure to a part of the body that varies from vampire to vampire, provoke an otherwise calm individual to fall into a highly relaxed, dissociative state. They can return to full consciousness at any time and do not lose awareness of their surroundings.
Historically, vampires were predatory, taking blood from sapients often in fatal quantities. However, a religious revolution around 10140 resulted in the entire species adhering to a faith forbidding non-consensual biting, and modern vampires are not feared; they feed on friends and neighbors who agree to be sources, and take only small amounts. Vampires are very secretive about the other details of their religion and do not allow outsiders to know more than a handful of generalities: they worship a deity called the Fanged God (who supposedly has another, undisclosed name), are organized in a hierarchy with a pontiff at the top and priests at the bottom (all with concealed lay identities), and have "clans" based on astrological calculations which affect which rules of the religion apply to any given vampire.
Vampires, and not other species, occasionally produce hearers.
Vampires do not have visible ethnic differences from one another. However, they track ancestry from several "lines", which interact with the clan system when determining religious roles. Children of opposite-sex couples are the same line as their father (unless the father is a dragon or a nonthudia half-vampire, in which case the child is the same line as the mother). If there are two fathers of different lines, a priest designates the lines of the couple's future children when they marry. If there are two mothers of different lines, the one who does not carry a given child passes on her line to that child (with exceptions comparable to those for opposite-sex couples). Lines are about biological ancestry and are not affected by adoption. There are five lines:
The following characters are vampires: