A preternatural being that feeds on human blood.
There are endless varieties of vampires in cultures throughout the world including several non-humanoid types such as cats, spiders, frogs, disembodied spirits, even trees, fruits, and vegetables.
The modern vampire is a relatively immortal being who was once human, they are portrayed as intelligent, charming, and good looking. They may be stylish murderers or heroes.
The subject's foremost authority, Montague Summers, a former member of the Roman Catholic Clergy turned to the dark arts describes them as "...a pariah even among demons." He goes on to describe them as gruesome hideous pests that issue forth from unhallowed graves to spread their infection across the land.
Vampires are the walking dead, a dead body that sleeps in its grave, awakening only at night to suck the blood of the living.
Blood provides vampires with nourishment, prevents them from decomposing, and allows them to continue to do things that they did in life such as walk, fight, and produce children.
According to Montague Summers, only the truly wicked will become vampires, not ordinary men. "The ordinary man can no more be a great sinner than he can be a great saint." This type of man, who will become a vampire, must have supreme will power and concentration so that he always chooses the path that is most evil, even when he appears to do the right thing it is always for the wrong reason. He turns away from God and devotes himself to the practice of Black Magic.
The offspring of a witch and Satan may be born wicked enough to become a vampire.
In Slavic lore, werewolves become vampires when they die, so do wizards, and anyone killed by a vampire.
If a person is excommunicated from the Church and dies before the excommunication is formally revoked, their body will not decompose and they may rise again as a vampire.
Murder victims rise from the grave seeking the blood of their killer. The only way to give them peace is to destroy the murderer.
If a body is not properly buried or cremated, the soul may remain linked to it and be driven to reanimate it. The dead body then continues life after death by taking the life force of others in the form of blood.
There is another kind of vampire that takes the life force of others without ever actually sucking any blood. They are called "spiritual vampires" or "psychic sponges." They become stronger by feeding on the vitality of those who are unable to protect themselves such as young children. After a short period of time with a spiritual vampire the victim may feel weary or depressed, a longer period of time may result in more serious health conditions.
Spiritual vampires may prey on their victims unconsciously, others know exactly what they're doing.
Since vampires are already dead, they are very difficult to stop or destroy. Only thoroughly burning to ashes assures that the body will not rise again. However, some evil is so potent that even fire cannot purify it and the burning only creates a vampiric ghost.
See Also: Creatures by Type » Vampires
Summers, Montague. The Vampire, his Kith and Kin. First published by Kegan Paul, Trench, Treubner, and Co., 1928, republished by Forgotten Books, 2008.
Summers, Montague. The Vampire in Lore and Legend. First published 1928, republished by Dover Publications, 2001.