The Vampyres of the Clans are living beings infected with a complex parasitic organism that is in some ways like a virus, and in other ways like a malformed prion. The infection is derived from highly refined nanotech-altered conventional hantavirus packets, loaded with specifically altered prion packages as well as RNA designed to override most cellular data. In return, the mutated cells produced by the viral component are shifted to allow the prion to link and interface with them. This is known as tetramutagenic parasymbosis, Folklore has always stated Vampyres have specific weaknesses -- running water, stakes, holy symbols, etc.
As with most folklore this is completely incorrect and is based mostly on cultural distaste for such things as well as practicality.Vampyres have low buoyancy due to the changes in their bodies and thus most clans dislike large bodies of water. (although since they no longer need to breathe this is somewhat moot, and some clans have adapted to water living). n The main weakness of a Vampyric creature is sunlight, or more specifically, high intensity UV radiation. UV radiation is capable of penetrating far enough into a Vampyre body to break protein bonds and denature the RNA fragments that convert living cells to Vampyric ones -- resulting in the body rejecting its own tissue.
The effect looks similar to burning and blackening, with heavy pus-filled blisters rapidly forming on exposed skin. Left in full, direct sunlight long enough a Vampyre can be destroyed in short order. The prion-modified cells of the Vampyre are irrevocably altered on a mitochondrial level. The skin of a Vampyre is converted to allow oxygen to pass into the bloodstream, without respiration, even in water. Prions also cause swelling of various blood vessels while the RNA packets rewriting the body drive additional calcium and iron to bones and ligaments. The RNA packets also begin to convert many of the body's cells back into totipotent stem cells.
This wis why the Clans vary so much as these stem cells allow for conversion to body types best suited for their environment. The process takes some time to fully convert but ends up resulting in a supernaturally tough and strong creature. The number of programmed RNA alterations is six hundred forty seven, including but not limited to:
- Tripled rod and cone count in the eyes, leading to near perfect night vision and hawk-like normal daytime vision.
- Increased cochlea production in the inner ear, with some of the sinuses being co-opted for this purpose. This allows vastly increased hearing ranges as well as a sense of balance and direction that is hyper-accurate.
- Smell amplification using basal stem cells normally locked into one form during early childhood to mimic the more sensitive noses of bloodhounds (although this can be problematic, as very strong scents can be disorienting for a vampyre).
Most Vampyres possess vastly increased strength, due to rapid cellular regeneration, stem cell rejuvenation and a mix of altered hormonal production and adrenaline stimulation. Enhanced mitochondrial activity means every cell is more powerful, has more energy and greater potential. While not invincible or indestructible, Vampyres are difficult to kill -- certainly they are far hardier than most living beings. Regeneration is large scale, due to the stem cells, with most minor wounds closing within a few hours. Cuts, stabs, and bullet wounds are particularly pointless.
This is given the small cross section of actual damage done, most bullet hydrostatic shock has no immediate effects on a Vampyre body, but larger caliber weapons can shock and disorient. Severing limbs is not fatal in most cases but is immediately disabling. Such wounds heal in (relatively) quickly, in a manner of days. Heavy burns, electrical damage and crushing damage linger longer, and are the most effective method of disabling or destroying a Vampyre. However, unless such an attack vaporizes the cells entirely, they will eventually regenerate, although this may take weeks. Even lost limbs can be regenerated in a handful of months.
Vampyric body changes aren't merely cellular. The skin becomes somewhat leathery to touch (but not to casual glance) and is fire-resistant. The teeth all become canine-indented, with capillary channels at the tip of each running through the roots and directly into the bloodstream of the Vampire. The rest of the digestive tract is highly atrophied, mostly a series of lymphatic filters, hemoglobin recycling glands, and iron-binding. They can eat a small amount of 'conventional food' but it provides no nutrients as they must absorb all such things through blood intake.
Given the vastly lower lipid content, protein differences and cell structure in non-mammalian blood, it can be utilized for short duration but not long term, but this is not able to kill them, it only makes them weaker. The closer the blood is to high order creatures the more easily it is assimilated. Vampyric blood vessels thicken considerably and contain multiple valves and contraction-points to prevent massive blood loss. Other modifications to the body aside from all of the above are a large number of protein-like substances that prevent cellular freezing, hepatic 'cell clots' that absorb foreign matter from the bloodstream and break it down into base components, and other such fixtures.
Given the huge range of changes forced on the body by the conversion it should come as no surprise that being converted into a Vampyre is highly stressful and not always survivable. At ages under sixteen the body's stem cells are simply not differentiated enough to keep up with the changes and past sixty to sixty-five the glandular changes and prion alterations are likely to kill from systemic shock alone. Vampyres can engaged in sexual activity but it cannot produce offspring -- female internal reproductive organs are cannibalized in the conversion process for required proteins.
The blood of a Vampyre containing the hantavirus/prion pair can infect those it bites and chooses to inject with said blood, which will turn a victim into a Vampyre in four to six weeks. The various clans live in highly striated environments, each specifically suited for their anatomy. Vampryres can be killed many of the ways you can kill a Zu'Ann, but they can not freeze to death or drown for example. They are completely exothermic and do not generate internal body heat, much like lizards. Adaptation to various environments puts additional stresses on the Vampyre's body. The more outre the environment the weaker the Vampyre tends to be since more of its power is focused on changing the body to survive rather than grow powerful.
Vampyre Games Setting