- "Vorador's pantry! A vampire's feast! Like cattle awaiting slaughter, men and women dangled from the rusted hooks upon the dungeon walls, blood and viscera frosted the dirt and stone. The abundance nearly overwhelmed me. For blood is the life..."
- ―Kain — Listen (file info)[src]
Vampires were, alongside the humans and the Hylden, one of the three sapient races dominant in Nosgoth. Though the original, Ancient vampires were a species in their own right, the term "vampire" eventually came to refer to any individual afflicted with the blood curse, irrespective of birth. Vampirism comprised an extremely eclectic heritage which spanned many generations and sub-races across history, but with common traits: usually, vampires needed to consume Blood regularly to survive, were immortal and sterile, were vulnerable to water and sunlight, developed individual abilities and dark gifts, and would drastically evolve over time.
Under this definition, the first vampires emerged as a consequence of the Vampire-Hylden war, when the Hylden unleashed the blood curse against their adversaries as retribution for their banishment. Before their extinction, these ancient vampires passed the curse on to humans, who carried on their lineage. Over the eras, under the leadership of ancient patriarchs such as Janos Audron, Vorador, and Kain, vampire culture alternated from that of feared and widely-hunted outcasts to that of Nosgoth's apex predators. Ranking among the series' defining and most recognizable components, vampires have appeared in all Legacy of Kain media to date.
Vampirism causes the subject to become "immortal". They can still be killed, but they will not age like a mortal or die of natural causes. Their natural human needs are replaced almost solely by blood-lust, a thirst which they were required to quench in order to maintain their strength. Vampires are also sterile and cannot reproduce in the conventional manner, though there are ways that one can create a vampire from another creature. They also have other abilities, including superhuman strength, speed, agility, heightened senses, durability,an enhanced healing-factor and paranormal abilities such as shapeshifting and telekinesis. Vampires become more powerful as they age. The vampires of Kain's lineage would enter a period of hibernation as they pupate from fledglings into adulthood and undergo a state of physical/physiological metamorphosis receiving new abilities, physical features and become substantially tougher; able to withstand more punishment before succumbing to death, or needing to consume blood.
As above, vampires are sterile, though a few methods were discovered to create vampires from other (not necessarily) living beings, although many of these methods have not been entirely explored or explicitly elaborated upon in the series. It is known that one can use necromantic magic which is the only way for a Human to create a vampire, as was the case when the Necromancer Mortanius turned Kain, though Mortanius also used the vampiric heart of Janos Audron to do this. It is also known that Kain was able to divide up his soul and join it with that of a corpse, then place the fused soul back into the cadaver. Using this method, he created a small cadre of vampires who shared some of his powers. This could be done with any sized fraction of the soul, though the more was used, generally, the more powerful the vampire was when they returned to life.
The Ancients would pass their dark gift onto humans in order to prepare them for life serving the Pillars. One of the first turned vampires was Vorador, turned by Janos Audron for crafting the Reaver blade, not for guardianship.
It is safe to assume Vampires turned humans en masse into vampires in order to preserve their species from their self-inflicted extinction. This lead to an uprising by the humans who overthrew the vampires, rejected their gift, and took control of the pillars.
The Ancients were said to worship a God whose primary function was to recycle souls, and it was every Ancients' honour to be spun in this Wheel of Fate. However, the opposing faction of the Hylden rejected their God, and the Ancients ignited a war between the two species. The Hylden ultimately lost this war, but did not end their campaign quietly. They cursed the Ancients with a predatory blood-thirst, and worse still, immortality. This inability to die naturally drove many of the Ancients to despair as the act itself cut them off from their God, unable to reuse their souls. Many ancients committed suicide in order to restore the cycle, but the curse also granted sterility. The race would die out of extinction with no way to continue on, and the numbers were declining rapidly with the mass suicides.
The Pillars of Nosgoth now began to choose human guardians due to the Ancients' inability to produce children (as Guardians are chosen at birth). They abducted the human successors and when they came of age were transformed into vampires, deeming it a necessary evil as only Vampire Guardians could adequately serve the pillars and their governing forces.
Humans inevitably rejected the curse, fighting off their vampire oppressors (led by Moebius and Mortanius) and claiming the Pillars as their own. Unable to properly tend to them, the Pillars' power slowly dwindled and the Binding weakened, allowing Hylden to slowly infiltrate back into Nosgoth and orchestrate their eventual return. As this history faded from living memory, the humans eventually lost sight of the purpose of their work, unaware of the evil the Pillars were holding back.
The background materials for the multiplayer spin-off Nosgoth elaborate on the history of the events of Soul Reaver and vampires of that age, showing that in the wake of Raziel's execution Kain disappeared, abandoning his empire and using the Chronoplast to search for a way to restore the pillars.[NOS]
The resulting power vacuum sparked infighting and mistrust among among the lieutenants and their clans - which devolved into open conflict, the near extermination of the Razielim and ultimately led to a bloody civil war.[NOS]
With the vampires distracted by their own affairs, the formerly subjugated humans were allowed the chance to rebuild and rose to present a credible threat to the vampires. A particularly devastating attack awakened the vampires to the renewed threat posed by humanity and the clans reunited in an uneasy alliance aiming to put down the resistance of humanity once and for all in the War for Nosgoth.[NOS]
A Blue skinned, winged race which in ancient times participated in the war with the Hylden. As the ancients raised the pillars, banishing the Hylden to the Demon Realm, the Hylden retaliated, casting the initial Blood curse on the ancients (whose effects included Blood thirst, sterility and most significantly immortality; which caused the ancients 'oracle', the Elder God to fall silent). In despair, the ancients managed to find a way to maintain their control of the pillars by passing the curse onto humans, turning them into Nosgoth's second generation of vampires. Janos was the last of the Ancient vampires and the only one seen in the series (though others have featured in Murals).
As the ancients found a way to turn humans into vampires, Vorador was the first Human to whom 'the Dark Gift' was passed, beginning a new generation of vampires and the first not born of that race. Many of the initial Human Guardians born after deaths in the circle were turned by the Ancient vampires to maintain the pillars (a policy which gave rise to the human rebellion and vampires abandoning the pillars to human guardianship). As the ancients faltered the turned vampires flourished and began to turn others. After many centuries passed, the ancients all were all but forgotten by humans. A rise in vampire numbers led to the initiation of Sarafan crusades against them alongside Moebius' Mercenary Army which virtually caused the demise of this generation of vampires, mirroring the same way in which the Ancient vampires had led crusades against the Hylden. Vorador was the last (and also the first) of this generation of Vampires and he, his brides and the vampire killed in the Sarafan era at the start of Blood Omen are the only examples shown in the series (though others have been cut and feature in art).
A generation of vampires which existed only in the fourth Paradox timeline. This generation was raised by Vorador following the Collapse of the the pillars and filled the ranks of Kain's Vampire Army. When the army was defeated by the Sarafan, the Sarafan conquered and hunted down Nosgoth's Vampires to a small group in Meridian,the Cabal. The fate of this generation (and their sire) remains ultimately unknown, though many believe Kain may have hunted them down. Umah, Faustus, Marcus, Sebastian, Magnus and the unnamed members of the Cabal were all part of this generation of vampires.
A generation of vampires that was raised by Kain five centuries after the collapse of the the pillars. Using a new method based on his own unique vampire rebirth, Kain snared the souls of six former Sarafan commanders and used them to re-animate their corpses. They in turn raised the vampire clans which would dominate Nosgoth for over a millennium. As Nosgoth deteriorated into a wasteland the vampires too devolved into monstrous beasts as a consequence of sharing Kain's soul, tainted by Nurpraptor's corruption and doomed to corrode as Nosgoth does without the pillars to maintain balance. The fate of this generation of vampires remains ultimately unknown, though Wraith Raziel may have inflicted heavy losses and the rapidly dwindling human population, reduced to a single city, may lead to the eventual starvation and extinction of all vampires in this timeline. Raziel, Turel, Dumah, Rahab, Zephon, Melchiah, the Tomb Guardian and the vampires of the Razielim, the Turelim, Dumahim, Rahabim, Zephonim and Melchahim were all part of this generation of vampires.
The method used by Mortanius to resurrect Kain as a vampire (trapping his soul beyond death and using the Heart of Darkness to raise him from death) makes Kain a unique case amongst vampires and because of this Kain is arguably not part of any of the established vampire subraces.
The curse bestowed a number of natural 'powers' to vampires, making them superior to humans in many ways:
- Enhanced Strength: Among the most innate of a vampire's gifts is their superior strength compared to that of any man. As predators of mortalkind, vampires utilize their strength to move massive obstacles as well as lift men off the ground single-handedly - either to toss them away or strangle them.
- Enhanced Speed: They are faster than mortal men. They can evade, dodge, and sidestep projectiles using their inhuman speed.
- Tactile Telekinesis: They have some limited degree of tactile telekinesis, allowing them to summon weapons and move objects. They can also feed in this manner by summoning or "calling" blood from either a dead or weakened victim from a distance without biting them. (though traditional neck biting can also be used).
- Durability and Healing: Vampires are much tougher and capable of withstanding more damage than any human. Vampires can regenerate wounds almost instantly as Raziel describes in Soul Reaver: "Physical wounds are fleeting - a vampire's immortal flesh begins to close as soon as it is cleaved." Impalement and decapitation (or amputation) injures would not heal and were generally 'fatal' - Vampires 'killed' by such methods could be revived however.
- Claws: Given enough time, human fingernails would develop into vampire claws, providing them with a "natural weapon". Vorador, as the first turned vampire and the closest to the Ancients' bloodline, possessed claws that resembled those of his masters which Kain also began to display as the corruption of Nosgoth began to set into the land, twisting his body as it did his soul.
- Vampire Lore : Vampires drinking other creatures' blood: "Will gradually become stronger, and harder to kill." increasing their physical strength and being able to endure more damage before they "fall".
- Evolution and Absorbing Veins: Over time vampires evolve, developing new abilities and Dark Gifts. The vampires born of Kain's line demonstrated this in the extreme, becoming "less human and more divine". Naturally this process takes centuries and fledgling vampires usually develop some years after their master; however by killing a more experienced Vampire and drinking their Blood, vampires can 'absorb the veins' of an opponent and gain their abilities. (Wraith Raziel similarly gains abilities by Soul Consumption).
For the specifically described individual Abilities used in game, see Abilities.
For a full list of Abilities seen in the Legacy of Kain series, see Category:Abilities
Aside from their 'natural' advantages over humans, Vampires can also develop their own Abilities or 'Dark Gifts' which mimic and in some cases exceed Sorcery and Glyphs (which they can also collect for extra abilities). Vampires can develop multiple abilities on their own or they can consume and emulate the dark gifts of other vampires (a living vampire like Kain must kill and consume the blood/veins of an expired vampire in order to receive the vampires' dark gift.)
Kain's first generation of descendants inherited most of their abilities from Kain. He would go into periods of evolution, after which he would emerge with a new 'gift'. Since Kain's progeny were made using a portion of his soul each, they would later inherit his evolutions via the same method. The vampires sired by Kain's 'sons' inherited most of the vampiric gifts from their patriarch but overall do not develop their own abilities. When the corruption of Kain's soul, caused by Nupraptor, bloomed in full, the abilities his lieutenants received were matched by a monstrous transfiguration. These 'gifts' were in turn passed on to their respective offspring in a similar manner to their masters. For example, Melchiah's inability to sustain his physical form was passed to his kin who became shambling, decaying ghouls thereafter. Though it can also work to an advantage, such as Rahab's ability to touch water without dying being passed to his offspring who then dominated the waters of Nosgoth as amphibious predators.
- "I knew my opponents' weaknesses, having suffered them myself. Physical wounds are fleeting - a vampire's immortal flesh begins to close as soon as it is cleaved. Vampires need only fear those wounds that impale or inflame. Water scorches like acid, and fledglings are devastated by sunlight's touch."
- ―Raziel on a vampire's weaknesses
Despite being stronger and hardier than humans, there were a variety of ways to kill a vampire: water burned a vampire's skin like strong acid did to humans and immersion was fatal; fire 'inflamed' and burnt vampire flesh faster than it could heal and fledglings were particularly vulnerable to sunlight.
Otherwise, a vampire would have to be impaled through a vital organ or have their head or heart removed in order to kill them, any other damage they took would be healed almost instantly as their flesh would simply knit itself back together (an ability sustained by adequate blood supplies).
Additionally, vampires are vulnerable to certain sound frequencies: Marcus was incapacitated with pain upon hearing the bells of Meridian's cathedral, while the humans within Kain's Empire created the Silenced Cathedral, a stronghold created to generate destructive soundwaves, to combat the vampires.
After death, a vampires soul is drawn into the Spectral Realm where, after some time, it may adapt and become a Vampire Wraith. It would contend for souls with other native species of the realm such as the Sluagh. Vampire Wraiths are very agile and quite powerful compared to most other spectral beings.
If the means through which a vampire is killed is reversed, a Vampire Wraith may be able to re-enter their body, with the added ability to cast an energy-siphoning band to their enemies and draw upon their energies from afar. For example, if a vampire was killed through impaling, the vampire could be revived by simply removing the implement with which they were impaled, allowing the skin to heal and reanimating the body. Death through immolation, beheading and other more permanent means that natural vampirism cannot adapt to were irreversible.
to be added
- 'Nosgoth – A Land in Turmoil' at the Nosgoth official blog (by George Kelion) (preserved at Tales of Nosgoth/Nosgothic Realm)
- 'Vampires – A Legacy Under Threat' at the Nosgoth official blog (by George Kelion) (preserved at Tales of Nosgoth/Nosgothic Realm)
- 'Humans – From Slaves to Soldiers' at the Nosgoth official blog (by George Kelion) (preserved at Tales of Nosgoth/Nosgothic Realm)