Vampires, also referred to as the Damned, are supernaturally reanimated corpses that are inhabited by the spirit of the deceased as well as by the spirit Amel. They rise at night to drink the blood of the living.
Anne Rice's vampires are not affected by garlic or crosses, nor can they be killed by wooden stakes through their hearts. They sleep during the day since sun exposure causes them severe pain and, eventually, death. This differs from natural sleep, as they become fully dead, and the dawn often triggers their sleep against their will, forcing them to find shelter. Most opt to sleep in some form of coffin, like the archetypal vampire. It is during this time that they are most vulnerable.
The physical changes that take place when one becomes a vampire are apparent: their eyes become luminous, their skin pale and reflective, and their fingernails become translucent. Furthermore, if their hair or nails are cut, these things will grow back during their sleep, to the state they were in when the vampire died. Vampires are very attractive, and even beautiful, as the transformation of becoming a vampire refines and perfects their physical features; this makes vampires more efficient predators, as it allows them to attract and seduce humans. Upon transformation, they lose all natural bodily fluids (with the exception of blood) and their bodies' natural functions cease. They are unable to have children.
They do not age physically (instead, they become more "statuesque" as they age, developing very smooth, white skin), and in all but a few cases, vampires younger than a thousand years old can usually be killed by exposure to sunlight or fire.
Biting & FeedingEdit
Vampires need blood to survive. It has been implied that the need to feed gradually decreases as they age, as David Talbot suggests most "newborn" vampires must drink heavily every night, himself included, while extremely old vampires are known to be able to survive years without blood, although they still experience the same cravings as any vampire.
Human blood is preferred as it is more nutritious and tastes the best, but animal and vampire blood can also be drunk. Interestingly, a vampire's bite and subsequent feeding is an intimate and pleasurable experience for both participants.
After feeding, a vampire's appearance becomes markedly more human and less pale. Starved vampires, such as those straight out of hibernation, appear shriveled and aged.
Contrary to popular belief, vampires possess not one, but two pairs of fangs; sharpened and elongated upper canines and lateral incisors.
All vampires were originally human. In the Vampire Chronicles, a vampire is a corpse inhabited by both the spirit of the deceased as well as the demon Amel. Amel's essence exists within a vampires' blood. As such, vampirism is bestowed through blood transfusion between a human and a vampire.
The transformation is not caused by bites. Instead, a vampire bites and feeds on a human to the point of exsanguination. At which point the vampire offers its own blood for the human to drink. The human experiences great pain in their bodies as they die, after which they rise as a newborn vampire. When a human is turned by a vampire whose 'Dark Gift' has remained pure without having been passed on to others for centuries, the newly made vampire will be much stronger than normal vampires (as in the case of Lestat, who was made by Magnus). Vampires do not use the terminology that they were transformed or changed into vampires, but that they were 'made' vampires.
Powers & AbilitiesEdit
- Ancient Empowerment - Very old vampires or ones who have been made or strengthened by feeding on blood that is close to the root of the vampiric mother may have additional gifts like the ability to move matter with the mind and the ability to set things ablaze by the force of will.
- Innate Artist - They have many artistic talents, like singing, painting and acting, and a preternatural "understanding" of any type of problem, puzzle or machine.
- Mimicry Mastery - They also have the uncanny ability to almost perfectly mimic anything (movement, playing musical instruments, etc.).
- Enhanced Feelings - The main characteristic of vampires is that they feel more vividly than they did as humans and are all excessively emotional, sensitive, and sensual, being easy prey to intense suffering and aesthetic passions. They are supernaturally beautiful as vampires tend to make fledglings from humans they have grown to love, and the transformation from human to vampire enhances one's beauty.
Those who have lived for more than a thousand years are by far the most powerful of the vampires; they are called the Children of the Millennia (including Khayman, Mekare, Maharet, Marius, Pandora, and Mael). After several hundred years, and depending on the strength of their maker, vampires begin to exhibit special powers, referred to by most of them as "gifts".
- Mind Gift - (the combined abilities of telepathy and telekinesis).
- Telepathy - This is the ability to communicate and read thoughts, especially those of humans. This gift is used largely to obtain blood – since via telepathy a criminal or amoral human can be sensed, and many of Rice's vampires refuse to feed on the innocent, this allows them to identify their prey. It is impossible for a maker or fledgling to contact each other directly, although in some cases it is possible for a vampire to seek out their maker/fledgling by looking through the eyes of those near their fledgling, or by hearing the thoughts of their maker/fledgling through others in a relay effect. A vampire of sufficient power or age may also unwillingly 'hear' the thoughts of all the humans within range of this power, leading to an old vampire saying: "If you do not learn to silence the voices, they will drive you mad." Khayman of the First Brood possessed this level of telepathic power, but had trained himself to hear the multitude of thoughts as "one annoying noise."
- Telekinesis - Older vampires may also possess the ability to move objects with the mind, as witnessed through Akasha's destruction of the Elder, or Akasha's habit of opening the doors to the tabernacle, and Marius' opening and unlocking the doors to Akasha's shrine in Blood and Gold.
- Spell Gift - (Mind Control). Mentioned in Blood and Gold and The Queen of the Damned, this gift allows a vampire to cloud the mind of a human, bending the human to his or her will. Marius employs the Spell Gift often, especially when employing humans to move Enkil and Akasha to a new location. Armand is especially gifted in having the ability to bespell other vampires as well as humans and uses it almost exclusively to draw those who "wish to die" to him.
- Enhanced Physicality & Senses - All vampires possess heightened and refined senses (especially hearing and eyesight), as well as superhuman strength and speed that slowly increases with age; they are able to do things many times faster than humans can, with little or no effort. Eidetic memory from the moment of becoming a vampire seems to be natural, as Lestat tells David in Memnoch The Devil, however, memories of their human lives, particularly those relating to sensation, fade over the years. They can move faster than the human eye can detect, see in the darkest of nighttime, pick one sound out of even the noisiest area, and raise the volume of their voice to painfully loud levels. The physical strength of a vampire increases with age and also to be fed with the blood of ancient vampires or blood that is closer to that of Akasha.
- Superhuman Strength - The supernatural ability of abnormal strength equivalent the that of 10 to 20 or more strong men depending on the vampire's age and the purity of his or her Blood or Dark Gift. Fledglings are seen casually overpowering adult humans; including hoisting them high off the ground by the throat with only one hand with no visible effort or strain. Even newborn vampires must be careful when handling humans, as they can easily and accidentally break a human's bones or neck. Older vampires are as strong as 100 men and can overpower and harm younger vampires with little effort, as seen with both Lestat and Akasha in the Queen of the Damned film when Lestat single-handedly saves Jessica from a group of young vampires and later when Akasha rips a vampire's heart out and slices another one's neck with a swipe of her hand.
- Superhuman Speed - The supernatural ability to jump, move, react, run, and fly faster than the human eye can see. This allows vampires to cover long distances in short periods of time. They can cross a room in an instant; in Interview with the Vampire Louis used his speed to cross the room, turn on the light switch, and sit down all before the interviewer could even turn his head. They appear as blurs of motion and even sometimes become invisible when they use this ability to cover longer distances.
- Superhuman Senses - The supernatural ability to hear, see, smell, and taste beyond the human limit. They can see clearly in complete darkness.
- Superhuman Agility - The ability to adhere to sheer surfaces such as walls and ceilings as well as jump higher and further than humans.
- Fire Gift - (Pyrokinesis). Another power usually only developed by a Child of the Millennia. This gift is known to be possessed by Marius, Akasha, Eudoxia, Thorne, Khayman, Armand, Lestat, Mekare and Maharet, and later the vampires Merrick Mayfair and Quinn Blackwood. With the Fire Gift, a vampire can telekinetically set alight an object or being of their choice, for example, in Blood and Gold, when Akasha destroyed Eudoxia's body by fire, or in the film when she set fire to the vampires in bar and at the concert. Use of the gift on humans was performed by Lestat in Blood Canticle, when he set aflame gunmen on the tropical island. The Fire Gift is specially fatal to vampires, as the "changed" blood found within their bodies ignites easily, thus rendering them extremely vulnerable to fire. The gift requires that the vampire have line of sight on their target. The gift can be deflected by a more powerful or skilful blood drinker through the use of their own Fire Gift.
- Cloud Gift - (Flight). Depending on the novels or the cinematic depiction, not all vampires have this ability. According to the books, Lestat, though young by vampire standards, gains this ability after repeatedly drinking Akasha's blood, making him stronger. Quinn Blackwood was given the strength to use this gift by his maker, Petronia. Otherwise, flight is a power only exhibited by the Children of the Millennia. Louis, Gabrielle, and Santino are among a few that do not have this gift or are never mentioned having it. Most if not all vampires dislike or even hate flying, as they find it extremely unsettling due to it being a sign that they are truly no longer human.
- Killing Gift - Believed to be possessed by the eldest Children of the Millennia, like most gifts it comes with age. Known holders of this power are Akasha, Marius, Lestat, Maharet, Mekare, Khayman and Mael. This power was originally combined with the Fire Gift in The Queen of the Damned, but by Blood and Gold Rice had decided the two powers should be made separate abilities. The exact nature of the power is unknown, but it seems to cause numerous fatal ruptures in the entire cardiovascular system.
- Immortality - Unless killed by one of the vampire's weaknesses, namely sunlight and fire, or an elder vampire's powers, it is said that they have the potential to live eternally. Once turned, vampires cease to physically age in the way that humans do nor does age weaken them. Instead, they become more powerful and slowly their skin becomes whiter, smoother, and more reflective, resembling marble as seen with Akasha and Enkil as well as the Children of the Millennium. Lestat and Jesse Reeves share much of this ancient appearance due to receiving blood from Akasha and Maharet, respectively. During their immortality, vampires will sometimes go into a kind of hibernation, either because they have become mentally unbalanced from knowing what they have become or because their surroundings have changed too much for them to cope with. This is hinted to usually happen within 100–200 years of being created and is mentioned as the "dangerous time" by the elders. Many vampires commit suicide if they continually exist in the world, leading to Marius telling Lestat that he should live out one lifetime pretending to be human and watching the world change. Maharet is the only vampire explicitly said to have never "gone underground"; she has lived, night by night, for over six thousand years, mainly by keeping the records of her mortal daughter's descendants.
- Healing Factor - Vampires are immune to all forms of human diseases and illnesses as well as to most attacks other than their known weakness and even then are able to heal quickly, especially if they feed or are covered in vampire blood. All vampires can potentially heal from any non-fatal wound, including decapitation, as proved by Mael in Blood and Gold, but time and blood are needed. A bullet wound, for instance, would heal within seconds, but serious burns from a fire would require decades, if not centuries, to heal. However, the greater the damage done to them, the stronger they will be when they are fully healed. An influx of blood from a vampire, especially a powerful vampire, can greatly speed up the healing process. Vampires are unable to regenerate lost body parts, but are able to reattach them easily.
Despite their supernatural abilities as well as their immortality and regenerative capabilities, vampires do possess weaknesses that humans do not.
- Fire or Sunlight - Any exposure to fire or sunlight will cause intense pain and exposure for long enough will lead to the vampire's demise.
- Dead Blood - If a vampire drinks from a human after they are dead, the vampire will begin to grow weak. For example, Claudia lied to Lestat by claiming two dead boys she brought him were merely "drunk", when Lestat drank from them he then started to grow weak.
- Elder's Powers - If an elder (a vampire that is 1,000+) makes a fatal injury like ripping out the heart or slashing their throat the vampire will die.
- Exsanguination - Drained of blood by a vampire completely. Other methods of exsanguination like slashed throat, will only slow them down until they feed.