The country of Apropriya is not one you'll see nestled too closely to the other islands or continents.Yet that fact in itself is a blessing - those who make the voyage there or end up shipwrecked on its shores rarely ever make it off. And those that have escaped tell wretched, horrible tales of the 'lost island.’
During the day, there isn't much amiss. Most of the countryside alternates between humid, mountainous timber lands and green, rolling plains. The closer to the center of the island you get, the more one can see the slow spread of civilization. Farmlands and villages, small city settlements with large palisade walls. Roads and pathways that snake and twine through the wilderness.
It has become known throughout the world that Apropriya is home to the children of Cain, a continent ruled by vampiric nobility and the Midnight Aristocracy. While much of their culture and history has been passed by word of mouth, records have been written by various nations, and tales of their reclusive nation have become more widespread.
Apropriya was once a peaceful and prosperous country, ruled by a King named Abel who was chosen by the High Angel Maltziel to rule. King Abel’s brother, Cain, felt insulted and undermined by the divine decree. Overcome with envy and unbridled rage, Cain sought to bring about his elder brother’s demise, bringing him to the fallen angel Azrael.
The Apropryian royal was the subject in Azrael's initial experiments of necromancy, the original immortal, but was deemed inadequate due to the angel's inability to control and manipulate the vampire like later iterations of necromancy would include. Cain nonetheless shared many traits with Azrael's 'perfect undead', such as immortality and super-accelerated regenerative capabilities. What set him apart was the ability to pass on these gifts through blood transferral and create more vampires of his own volition.
After Cain acquired the vampiric blessing, he went on to oppose his brother directly. Abel's six Counts were transformed into vampires one by one in a violent usurping where Cain personally murdered his kin, replacing him as King. As the vampires dominated and grew as a species, Cain was empowered, enough so that his presence on Apropriya made the air toxic and the temperature plummeted.
The current location of Cain remains largely unknown at times, but he is rumored to walk the night in anonymity as a shapeshifter. The impact of his reign is felt to this day, as many vampires regard him as a god in his own right.
“In all my voyages, I had never seen the zeitgeist of a people so fastidiously cautious. In my time on Apropriya, I came to see firsthand the machinations of the noble houses; any possible disruption to their great game was watched and studied. On at least three accounts, I can recall seeing their sickly eyes watching me through the thick of the woods. I do not want to imagine how many times I did not catch them.” -Hans Greiger, Feleran Diplomat
Throughout the world, vampires will often go to great lengths to hide the trail of bodies that they leave in their hunting grounds, operating from within the shadows and taking advantage of the night. Nonmagi scarcely survive an encounter with a hungry cainite, after all, and they largely supplement the diet of a vampire despite rich magi blood being far more empowering. While expert hunters are able to blend in and silently strike, this does not cloak them from a rival vampire that decides to track and follow their movements.
A vampire knows when someone's heart is beating and when it isn't. They cannot hide from their own kind.
Blood is more valuable than gold. Competition between vampires is ruthless, and a war between two clans makes human battles look tame, even if it's all often conducted in the shadows beyond civilized society. Immortal they may be, but in a world of cannibalistic serial killers where grudges can quickly develop, only the strong survive.
OOC - Any vampire can request a cap 3 dangerous/deadly with another via ticket, requesting specific setting circumstances that the admin then mediates on. It's also possible for the target to have a champion depending on IC. The champion is subjected to the same settings, and if defeated the original target is then left vulnerable immediately after as originally intended.
Blood feuds are mandatory and must be accepted, not optional. Once declared, it should be arranged and completed within a week. A vampire that has completed a blood feud has a 10 year cooldown before they can request and hunt another, even if their target survives the encounter.
The Great Houses
Unlike the majority of modern, civilized nations, Apropriya’s leadership is disparate and decentralized at its core. Vast swathes of land are handled by completely separate parties with little shared in the way of methodology or vision. There are anywhere within the range of thirty-two to forty notable houses, three of which are the dominant continental powers.
House Falkenrath: The first and most prominent among the Great Houses are the Falkenrath; they fit typically into the most frequent commonalities of Vampiric legend. Although one could certainly say all of the Apropryian vampires are “noble,” none so fittingly assume the role of the prestigious and lofty Lord or Lady as most of Falkenrath do in all facets. Records indicate that their progenitor was one of the original counts upon Apropriya, having joined Cain in rebellion against his brother.
Though prone to internal turmoil and scheming, one always finds that their plots and plans are elaborate and enacted over the process of decades. Many transferrals of land or humiliations in Court fail to ever trace back to their originators; it’s a game of constant politicking, jockeying for prestige and favor with the Archduke over decades and centuries alike. Though they are not fond of debauchery or displays of machismo, they [Falkenrath] are responsible for one of Apropriya’s most notable traditions, the Wyld Hunt.
Outside of Falkenrath proper, one will most often find a Vampire of this direct lineage as “masters at arms” or generals and leaders. Their habit and propensity for the hunt leaves them with usually militaristic and austere tendencies. Their temperament and training often makes them some of the most formidable tacticians and duelists in all of Apropriya.
House Balaren: Almost as old, but not as significant, are the Balaren; they are a contrast to the strict, regimented hierarchy of Falkenrath’s eternal society. In terms of the hierarchy of the Caininite world, these people are the “wildcards” - to enter the Balaren’s Summer Palace is to subject oneself to the Eternal Masquerade. They pointedly exemplify hedonism and gluttony, indulging in every excess. A Vampire’s worth, in their eyes, is weighted equally by lineage, wealth, and creativity when it comes to their parties.
It would be unwise to say that the Balaren do not take themselves seriously. Beneath the masques and parties, there is an underbelly to their world; intrigue, powerful plots, and internal plays happen while the Lords celebrate alongside one another. In their world, unlike Falkenrath, Lords fall in and out of relevance within months and years rather than decades; however, they can reclaim their prestige just as swiftly. Everything is ephemeral; the parties, the titles, the plots.
The Balaren found outside of the great holds and immediate subsidiaries often find their purposes in other courts as bards, jesters, artists, or other talented artists. It is said that there are very few entertainments more delightful than the bawdy songs of a Balarenese lyricist.
House Avayren: Emerging towards the later end of Cain’s activity was an eccentric fellow, far more visible than the ancient Archduke of Falkenrath or the degenerate Margrave of Balaren; he is one of the few Great House dukes to remain active and visible throughout the last few decades. Much like himself, Johan Avayren’s house is always at the cutting edge. Avayren is the technological and logistical hub of the continent, overlooking one of the very few warm water seas on the continent.
Many notable innovations, such as the advent of Ghoulification, came from the laboratories and offices of Vampiric “geniuses” sired directly by Johan himself. It is not incredibly unusual, compared to the other Dukes’ regimented structures, that those spawned by Johan are talented scientists and craftsmen in the holds and surrounding cities of Avayren.
Unlike the other houses, curiously, Avayren seems mostly detached from the politicking of the internal Great House courts by virtue of a more pressing interest in progress. Humiliations and disgraces come only with lethargy or lack of intelligence. They’re almost entirely interested in tending to their own business and pushing the boundaries of their immortality. When they are found outside the boundaries of Avayren, they are often inventors, mathematicians, or some variety of philosopher.
The Night Hunt
It is strongly recommended that people do not linger out of their homes for too long in the three main cities. Once the sun goes down and darkness falls upon Apropriya...
The nobles begin their Night Hunt.
It is mostly a gesture of kindness for the commonfolk, seeing as vampires of Apropriya do not fear the sun, but they say that the nighttime is where the blood sings loudest. They feed off of the fear and the terror of their commonfolk, hunting down any citizens with the gall to be caught outdoors. If there is not enough sport during the night, some vampires will even raid the homes of their people to feast off them in their beds. They do not hunt to kill, of course, only to feed, but those who have ran foul of the noble families often find themselves not surviving through the night.
Soleil, and the Order of the Silver Sun
Soliel, the Angel of Sunlight, awakened within the outskirts of Apropriya to the prayers of the lost refugees of the country. She is a young angel - only having been unsealed in the past three centuries by the cries of the people. But since her awakening, she has led the people in their defense against the noble houses. Her magic is based on the power of the sun, which leads to many issues when the storm-clouds linger over Apropriya almost daily. And at night time, when the vampires begin their hunt, she is almost powerless to defend her people.
Her worship is maintained by the Order of the Silver Sun, a sect of worshippers that draw their power from Soliel and the Sun. Their churches are entrenched into the earth, low to the ground and often covered by hilly areas or heavily wooded groves in order to avoid the sight of the vampires. Their entrances always face the dawn sun. The cut stone is enchanted, an ancient art passed on by Soliel herself that protects against the chaotic and the wicked. It's the only place they can safely pray, but it doesn't stop her symbol from being spread across the corners of Aproriya.
Crossroads and groves, settlements and villages, all end up carrying some manner of Soliel's symbol as a symbol of protection. Humans pray to her for safety when they travel. Those with her direct blessing are known to have blood which is rancid and unappealing to vampires. Under Soliel's tutelage, the Order's elite templars can go toe-to-toe with most of the older vampires... But only Soliel herself, at her strongest, could combat with the Elders of each House. It is a fruitless struggle to try and cut the vampires at the head, until they find some new boon to shift the tides of war.
They employ hit and run tactics during the Night Hunt in order to compete with the Vampires' numbers. Though Apropriyans naturally fear the night, they know that the only time they can get the Vampires is when they are at their most vulnerable - outside of their cities. Armed with enchanted silver and iron weapons, they rise together and hunt the hunters while they prowl the countryside. It's the only way they know how to protect the people, and perhaps one day slay the Vampiric tyrants.
Hearing from shipwreck survivors and the like, the Templars have been made aware of the continent of Esshar. News from the outside world is sparse and hardly worth their time otherwise. Their struggle is HERE, NOW, on Apropriya. Their war, and their cause, is remarkably small scale. They care not for a war between Barsburg and those within Esshar, if only because it doesn't concern them yet. They live day to day just trying to survive. Vampires are the Templars' natural foe.
Blood is the life support of a vampire, which they derive all sustenance from. It is euphoric and invigorating to consume, to the point where they often lose themselves when feeding, and even maim or drain their victims completely. The only way most vampires survive is by regular murder, making them predators of the darkest kind. They feast on the life giving aspects of blood in particular, and the bounty is all the more rewarding if they manipulate their prey or hunt them personally.
Vampires, much like humans, are emotional creatures, but they typically more strongly with a lack of balance as everything is enhanced: physically and mentally. This overwhelming flood of emotions (coupled with feeding and killing) tends to lead to a kind of madness, but they have a safeguard in their psyche, a vampire can completely shut down their humanity, making them carefree and impervious to guilt, giving them the remorselessness they need to be calculating killers. It is often referred to as the ‘guilt switch.’
The 'guilt switch' is a term that vampires use to refer to their ability to shut down their empathy in an instant. When overwhelmed by loss, sometimes centuries of it, it's usually the default mode a vampire will take, as their amplified feelings can be extremely painful. It makes feeding on (and often as a result killing) humans an effortless act too... they just become a food source. Turning off the guilt switch is far easier than it is to turn back on. Once a vampire loses their empathy, it's difficult for them to find any substantial reason to let it back in.
The senses of a new vampire are augmented to a whole new level. They can see the different scents in the air, or the pathways that different sounds make. Within a millisecond, their eyes can zoom in on distant details that are hundreds of feet off. In time, this all becomes more refined, though the first few days can feel overwhelming as they adjust. The first feeling that strikes them, of course, is an unrelenting thirst for blood, and when they get their first taste, it's a trip of euphoria that has no comparison in the mind of a vampire (unless paired with other enjoyable activities, like battle). They can see the pulse of blood beyond a human's warm skin, and a young, hungry vampire will find it difficult not to fixate on this; they've been known to feed on and kill their loved ones to satisfy the cravings. The person themselves become irrelevant when they begin to focus on the flow of blood.
It is also power. A vampire that feeds often has sharpened senses, more stamina. A fledgling can feel their body and mind come to life with each meal, growing less corpse-like. Those they have no attachment to (such as prisoners or victims at night) are as good as dead once a vampire sinks their fangs into them; they'll often go right for where the blood tastes the best, the main arteries, and the flesh itself compliments the warm liquid. In this sense, a vampire is rarely shy when feeding, and never truly in control when their desire reaches this peak.
Ghoulification and Siring
The process of turning one into a ghoul was developed and refined by the Avayren family over a millennia ago. It made the process of turning one into a vampire far more streamlined and effective, though not at all guaranteed.
Through providing blood to someone, the person in question becomes dependent upon the substance. A drug in a sense with a binding euphoria and innate strength granted through consumption, many looking for an escape from their mortal coil might consider it freedom. They grow strong attachment to their sire, and feel unable to subsist without the occasional taste. In time, their skin gradually chills, and they're imbued with strength and lesser passive regeneration due to the effects of Cain’s gift. While tapping into this unnatural power, their sclera shifts from white to black, and their shadow begins to move of its own accord as they tip toe the line between life and death.
A vampire can forcibly cut off their connection with a Ghoul. Severed from the pull of Cain's Curse, the person's mortality gradually returns and the shadows that once consumed their eyes in moments of adrenaline turn white once again. The physical blood cravings may persist for several years after this, but will eventually fade.
When a ghoul is turned into a vampire, by feeding them an excessive amount of the blood of their sire and killing them, they will awaken regardless of whether or not it was a success. It's no less than a minute, sometimes seconds, before their body is animated. Immediately, the veins in their face become visible as the transformation overwhelms them, burning through their body and magical circuits. A web of red throughout their skin that either softens and fades as they transition into a vampire, or continues to accelerate, taking their life.
For the unfortunate that don't make it, they just have seconds to live before becoming corpse. This also makes reviving the corpse incredibly difficult, almost impossible, as they've technically already lived a life of undeath - if only for a few seconds. Elixirs that might give someone a second shot at life, or necromancy, are ineffective for these reasons. The stars rarely let a soul escape them twice, though there have been isolated instances where this has happened. Vampires believe those who die were simply not worthy of Cain’s Blessing.
A vampire's abilities may involve the following:
- Hypnosis: Able to put others under brief, temporary charms when their eyes connect with the other person's. This is commonly used in a variety of ways, from fear tactics to making the act of being fed on by a vampire an enjoyable experience rather than a painful one.
- Minor illusions. They can change their eye color at a whim and distort the perceptions of others, able to blend in with society as necessary.
- Supernatural regeneration. Minor wounds disappear within minutes. A vampire can harness the Curse of Cain to regenerate and recover from all minor of injury. (1 Blood - Heal a temp, 3 Blood - Heal a wound by 50%, Mythril Kit tier. 10 Blood - Heal a wound by 75%, Arcanium Kit tier.)
- Enhanced strength, speed, and sight. All senses are improved. The only downside to this is that strong day light is near blinding to vampires; they prefer wearing a hat under the sun.
- Thinblood: A vampire can transform a victim without undergoing the ghouling process. Thinbloods are made when a vampire has a person drink their blood and kills them within a minute afterwards. The vast majority of people die during this. A thinblood cannot ghoul or sire, their blood has no effects on humans, has visibly grey/corpse-like skin, is unable to use hypnosis, and possesses an increased appetite. Much like vampires, thinbloods are predators that hunt and kill indiscriminately, especially during the beginning years of their transformation when they are almost entirely feral.
(On a successful transformation the Vampire must pay 10 Blood, and it inflicts a -40 vit permanent injury to the thinblood on transformation, the near destruction of their body that they must feed to restore)
Vampires and their Thralls operate off of a Blood system. The max capacity of Blood is 10.
- 1 Blood is passively lost for each year that passes by as a maintenance cost for both Thralls and Vampires.
- After an aggressive+ battle, 1 Blood is lost. If a Vampire is victorious, they can choose to bite instead. Temporary (+2 Blood) and Permanent (+5 Blood). The Temporary injury cannot be healed and lasts for five days.
- Vampires can also bite willing victims for the same Blood gains and options.
- A vampire can pass blood to a target of choosing, if they accept, including other vampires. They guide the 'vitae', the concentrated light/warmth of their past prey, through their system to the recipient. Humans/thralls cannot do so. Only vampires.
- Ghoulhood costs 8 Blood from both the Vampire's pool and the target's pool (total of 16).
- Vampire costs 10 Blood from both the Vampire's pool and the target's pool (total of 20). The target must be a Ghoul.
- If the Ghoul spell is activated, it has a cost of 1 Blood after the battle concludes.