Vampire Physiology 101
From WoD Gotham
Essentially we look at a vampire as a corpse whose nerves and muscles are powered by the manipulation of the blood. No longer is a beating heart nourishing the body pushing blood around to feed the muscles, nerves, bones, etc. It is now blood. No one fully explains this in White Wolf and we have had many many a conversation about what Kindred can and cannot do. So here it is as we see it…
Vampires are beings that have adapted to move among mortal society. They are therefore equipped with certain traits that mimic humans for survival purposes. The blood in their bodies no longer is pushed by a beating heart among the dead tissues enriching them and making them function. Instead blood is subconsciously moved to areas taking them over much like cellular possession. So blood would take over the nervous system, making it function as necessary. That is why vampires feel pain or a touch or anything at all. Remember their flesh is dead, so are the nerves. We see it as it being the blood that powers the necessary systems so that the Kindred body may move about efficiently and react to stimuli.
Functions that are necessary are powered in this way like the necessity of saliva. Saliva aids in speech and is a necessary survival tool for blending in among Kine. Have you ever tried to talk with a bone dry mouth and tongue? What about chapped lips?
Functions that are no longer necessary cease to function. For instance, the respiratory and reproductive systems are of little use to them. Vampires require no oxygen to enrich the muscles and the blood. That’s all taken care of with the supernatural properties of their vitae.
Other bodily fluids are replaced by blood (V20 pg 16) as the body no longer requires them. A vampire doesn't procreate in the same way that a mortal does so sperm is no longer manufactured. If the vampire cries, he cries tears of blood.
The nerves are powered by blood. It is in this way that vampires feel sensations. Some sensations are better than others - like a massage is better than a curb stomping for instance. Their flesh is dead, they don’t get goose bumps. They don’t have a need to perspire. They have no bodily warmth. They don’t need clothes to insulate themselves. They do not feel fatigue. They could run all night long and never break a sweat or start huffing and puffing or stop out of exhaustion because well – they don’t breathe.
We have read many articles and differing opinions on the act of biological sex in vampires and we have seen evidence for both positions on the "Do vampires fuck?" issue. Our opinion is this: We agree with White Wolf (VtM core pg. 139). They don’t need to fuck and they don’t necessarily want to. Kindred see themselves as higher up on the food chain than mortals and look at biological functions as a crude curiosity or possibly derive perverse enjoyment in seeing Kine reduced to their basest biological functions. In the case of vampires with low Humanity or old vampires, you would think that this is especially the case. However, some neonates or vampires who are still very much in touch with their human side or still very preoccupied with retaining it, MIGHT see sex as a way to still "feel" human, but they will find that now that they are undead and there is no physical pleasure derived from it. Any emotional and psychological comfort becomes twisted and they will lapse into depression or even become violent as they are faced with the stark reminder that they can never ever form a true connection with another being ever. The reaction is entirely dependent on the personality of the Kindred in question, but rest assured there is a reaction.
Vampires have no chemically induced desire for sexual reproduction and therefore have no sex drive – no testosterone no estrogen no pheromones. Their drive is to feed on blood. That is their equivalent of an orgasm. It is all consuming. However, they recognize the advantages of being able to have mortal sex in order to seduce prey. In order to mimic life-like traits such as erections, body temperature, and vaginal responses such as lubrication, they must expend blood.
Vampires are efficient predators and have been given tools to survive. Some have claws, which can extend for battle. They will their blood to stimulate certain tissues and bones in their hands and out they pop. These claws aren't like daggers at the end of the fingers. That would simply be overkill and inefficient as the claws would also impede other movements and be generally awkward. All vampires have fangs which operate in much the same way but with less effort (it doesn't require a Blood Point to grow fangs). Still others who have retained more of their Humanity can use their Blood to mimic life-like displaces for short periods. In short, when picturing a vampire, picture an efficient predator who stalks its prey. Its physiology is designed for peak efficiency and performance for the hunt and feeding. To do that it must be able to move and stalk without being encumbered and it must be able to camouflage itself among its prey.
For EACH trait that you want to make seem human, you must spend Blood Points from your character's pool. The number of points is 8 minus Humanity with the minimum number of Blood Points spent per trait being 1. This means that you don't just spend 1 Blood Point and appear completely human for a scene. For example, vampires of Humanity 7 and 8 (average mortal and just above your average mortal) can spend 1 Blood Point to make their skin flush with the appearance of live tissue. To mimic a pulse as well that's another Blood Point.
All vampire blood has the same inherent traits. Some have unlocked more secrets than others and therefore have more Disciplines. Blood of Clans have certain properties, which make it more natural to learn to use the blood for certain gifts. This is where Clan Disciplines come in. Out of Clan Disciplines lie dormant in the blood until such time as one would be exposed to it by having the blood of one whom already possesses the Discipline in your character’s system. There is a chemical reaction between your character’s blood and the blood ingested. Once a Kindred ingests vitae it fuses with his own, thus making this possible. However, to learn another Discipline, the Kindred must know about the Discipline and know that the blood he has ingested has that Trait within it and only then will he unlock the trait with the guidance of the donor, or in the case of Diablerie, it is unlocked through force of will.
It should be noted that Disciplines like Thaumaturgy and Necromancy are considered more as courses of study and not an inherent blood trait.
On a final note, we would like to make it very very very clear that vampires are monsters. They are no longer human. They have evolved into a different entity at the time of Embrace. Their physiology and their psychology are different from that of mortals. They are governed by the struggle between their bestial sides and their human sides at all times. It is the Beast that drives their hunger for vitae and it is the human side that governs what remains of their human conscience. Do not take this lightly as a player. You are not role-playing a human who happens to have a blood fetish. The physical distinctions between mortals and Kindred are readily obvious in this article, what is more subtle and left up to role-playing is the psychology of the Kindred. Remember that their undead nature should have an impact on how they view the world around them. The Beast is strong in them and that will always always always have an effect on how they behave.
In short, you are role-playing a predator locked in an eternal struggle with itself.