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The origins of the vampires can be traced all the way back to ancient Nehekhara, to the evil priest-king Nagash. Nagash was the first and most powerful necromancer to have ever lived. Eventually, the other priest-kings joined forces in order to crush Nagash and rid the land of his evil; they succeeded, though only temporarily.
However, Neferata, the queen of Lahmia, in her thirst for immortality and eternal life, stole some of Nagash's books instead of destroying them as the kings had agreed, and took them back to Lahmia. Once safe within the walls of her own city, the queen began trying to replicate the Elixir of Life which had given Nagash eternal life. She succeeded to a certain degree, her heart stopped beating and she stopped breathing, yet she did not die; she had become the first vampire.
Realizing that she would need powerful lieutenants she shared the elixir with an unknown number of individuals.
These ancient beings discovered that they could produce new vampires through a process known as the "Blood Kiss", and before long, the entire court of Lahmia had become blood-drinking creatures of the night. However, their new-found powers also served to make the vampires arrogant. When the vampires discovered that Nagash still existed, they sent envoys to meet him at Cripple Peak. Some of these messengers, however, were captured by neighboring kingdoms. Realizing that the threat of Nagash was not yet ended, the priest-kings once again banded together, and marched against Lahmia.
During the ensuing war with the other kingdoms Lahmia was sacked, and most of the vampires were slain. Fleeing Lahmia, the vampires made their way north, where they regrouped upon meeting up with Nagash and were made generals of his armies. Nagash intended to turn the entire world into a kingdom of death, were no action would be taken except when he willed it. However, Nagash was unprepared for the might which his former homeland could muster. Ruled by Alcadizaar, the armies of a unified Nehekara rode out to meet Nagash's undead horde. When Alcadizaar defeated them all of the vampires, except the line of W'soran fled. For their cowardice, Nagash cursed the Vampires to be burnt by the rays of the sun.
After this event the vampires fled and spread across the known world founding their own castes, based on their ideals and abilities.
Types of Vampire
Aside from the standard Vampire, some of these undead beings may follow a certain path or excel at certain abilities in which others do not, often becoming one of four archetypes, the greatest amongst them, the Vampire Lords can also be members of these cabals.
Blood Knights - are fallen Knights, usually from the realm of Bretonnia; they are portrayed as souls in suffering, neither good nor evil. They desire skill in military combat. Their goal is to not find the Grail as a Bretonnian Knight would, but rather succeed in mastering combat, and obtaining the same ability of permanently suppressing the need to drink human blood to survive as the first Blood Knight, Abhorash did.
Lahmians - Are spies and assassins. They emphasize the seductive nature of vampires and many of their powers center around influencing the behavior of enemy heroes. Neferata was queen of the city-state of Lahmia and the first of all Vampires and thus the first Lahmian. After the city was destroyed by the Kings of Nehekara, she fled with her minions to the mountain known as 'The Silver Pinnacle'. After driving out the mountain's Dwarf inhabitants, Neferata established a new court, where she rules as the leader of a Sisterhood of enchantingly beautiful vampires who use secrecy, cunning and intrigue where others would use brute strength, to sway the political powers of the human kingdoms to do their will.
Necrarchs - Are powerful Necromancers. Necrarch vampires appear monstrous and wizened, thus they are weaker in combat but have much greater magical potential than the other vampires. Overall they are still vastly more dangerous than an equivalent level wizard in close combat, and on par with the more dangerous of melee fighters. They are described as solitary researchers, working on ever more terrible spells as they live out their undying centuriesm, like the first Necrarch, W'soran. Because of their studies the Necrarch armies field large numbers of necromantic constructs, spell casters, and zombie dragons.
Ghoul Kings - Are hulking Vampires, warped by feeding on rotting corpses. In appearance they are even more monstrous than the Necrarchs and are huge and heavily built. The first Ghoul King was Ushoran who with his followers fled north to what is now the Badlands and built a great empire; when it was destroyed by Orcs the Strigoi were scattered and eventually degenerated into the first Ghoul Kings, with many more outcast vampires joining them since. Ghoul Kings are animalistic, half-mad and can be barely intelligent. They have similar combat abilitys to the Blood Dragons, but in terms of sheer strength and bestial fury rather than skill-at-arms.
Vampires have no set appearance although they do share a set of common physical characteristics. Vampires are invariably tall and pale skinned, they are many times stronger than a mortal man and can move faster than the mortal eye can see. Some of them can pass for human in low light, and indeed many live among the the aristocracy of Bretonnia and the Empire, feeding on unknowing individuals. Vampires are all extremely charismatic individuals and are known to beguile their victims with their shear force of personality before feeding.
What all this cannot hide, however, is that all vampires are Undead. And are essentially living corpses with no pulse or breath. Vampires need to regularly feed off human blood to stay strong and keep up the appearance of being alive. If they can feed regularly they can maintain a convincing façade of life, but if they cannot gain a regular supply of fresh blood they will soon degrade into little more than walking corpses.
Vampires are unique among Undead in that they maintain full consciousness after being given the Blood Kiss. This means they keep all of their human ambition and desires. This also means that they can learn new skills over time, making the ancient Vampires powerful foes indeed.
All Vampires are magical creatures who have dark magic flowing in their veins. This means they can achieve a mastery of Necromancy that few Necromancers could ever possibly hope to achieve. As they grow older their powers of Dark Magic also grow. Vampires also do not need corpses to protect themselves while performing Necromantic rituals, making them very powerful.
Vampires can create other vampires through a process known as the "Blood Kiss", the "Dark Awakening", the "Turning" or the "Red Ascension". Whatever these rituals involve is unknown as Vampires do not discuss the process, even amongst themselves. the Blood Kiss may also be unique to each Vampire. Vampires do not give another the Blood Kiss lightly as, all vampires have the blood of [Neferata] running in their veins, with each generation of vampires [Neferata]'s blood becomes diluted and vampires become weaker.
The new Vampire will be a thrall to the old, and as time goes will either become nothing more than a mindless null, or become stronger and break free from their master.
Killing a Vampire
It is not known fully how sunlight effects Vampires, but it is believed that it will only kill the weakest of their kind.
It is also known that Vampires are nigh on impossible to kill, they can ignore wounds that would slay a mortal and continue fighting.
When they are eventually killed they, can burst into flames, crumble into dust, or leave a human corpse.
Originally all Vampires belonged to specific and strict "Bloodlines", all of which had specific traits and ideals. This was eventually retconned. With it now seeming that Vampires of any family can follow a specific archetype, such as the Blood Knight Templars of the Von Carsteins.
- 1: Warhammer Armies: Vampire Counts (7th Edition), pgs. 34-35
- 2: Warhammer Rulebook (8th Edition), pg. 244