Vampyr or vampires are a type of creature known to drink blood. The cursed affliction associated with vampyr is often referred to as vampirism.
"Vampiric" is an adjective often used to describe things bearing qualities associated with vampyr, such as the ability to forcibly drain a substance from another entity. As such, vampirism is not strictly associated with blood; it can pertain to the soul, anima, and even the mind.
Canon info adapted from wowpedia. Any additions on this article that cannot be found on the Wowpedia page are fanon additions or interpretations within the reason of what can be observed in the lore.
Known Vampiric Entities
Though not technically vampires, the Nathrezim are very similar to vampires in their abilities and characteristics, with the later creation of the San'layn possibly even being inspired by their role in the Scourge. Nathrezim has been witnessed dominating the minds of the weak-willed and possessing a vampiric aura capable of leeching life force from their foes.
The Nathrezim also forged the runeblade Frostmourne, considered a vampiric runeblade due to its ability to steal souls, including the soul of its wielder. Other vampiric runeblades were employed by the Scourge to corrupt bitter paladins into what are known today as second generation Death Knights, and it is possible that these weapons employed Nathrezim design as well.
Up until the third invasion of the Burning Legion on Azeroth, knowledge of vampires was mostly limited to the San'layn.
After the defeat of Illidan's Forces at the base of the Icecrown Glacier, many of the Blood Elves who served under Prince Kael'thas were hunted down and risen by the Lich King into the San'layn. As a mockery of their new name - Blood Elves - they were raised into vampirism. Within the ranks of the Scourge, the San'layn fulfilled a similar role to the Nathrezim in overseeing Scourge operations, as well as infiltration to sabotage enemy societies and leadership.
Though his form was comparable to a gargoyle, Kirtonos the Herald was, for all intents and purposes, a vampire. Long ago, he became the master of Scholomance's Doctor Theolen Krastinov. Responsible for many of the atrocities during Krastinov's rule over Scholomance, Kirtonos fed on the blood of his innocent victims. To appease his master, Doctor Krastinov had to provide Kirtonos with more and more blood.
Kirtonos was known to be capable of shifting into the form of a gargoyle at will.
Blood-Thane Lucard, a Vrykul vampire, was discovered by Sir Finley Mrrgglton in Dreyrgrot in Stormheim. His state was specifically compared to the San'layn by Mrrgglton, who had long suspected that some vrykul had also been cursed like the blood elves.
The Red Blade fleet of human pirates found the tomb of Lucard, who upon being woken up seeped out a mist from the ancient ruins, transforming the pirates into blood-crazed vampires. Sir Finley gave an order champion a sharp wooden stake to stab Lucard through the heart, but it turned out to be ineffective. This ancient vampire was killed, though Mrrgglton had his doubts as to whether or not a vampire can truly die.
Though the Venthyr of the Shadowlands do not feed upon blood as vampires are known to, the Venthyr that inhabit the plane of Revendreth bear remarkable similarities in their characteristics and their nature. Rather than consume blood, they strip pride and sin from the arrogant souls delivered to them, sparing them an eternity of torment in the Maw.
Unlike the San'layn, the Venthyr feed out of purpose and duty to humble sinful souls rather than pure gluttony and sadism. Some Venthyr have become as prideful as the very souls they take charge of, and their tactics are known to be torturous and cruel, including the act of breaking souls with fear through release them into fog-veiled woods to be hunted for sport. However, ultimately this torture comes with purpose, and the vampiric nature of the Venthyr comes from a place of duty.
Their nature of feeding upon a victim's sin and pride strongly parallels a vampire's thirst for blood in the world of the living, and they are physically similar as well. Venthyr are pale and gaunt, bearing claws and fangs and even seem to possess a similar bat-like affinity.
Details of the curse that afflicts vampires continue to be an unknown, for the most part. The origin of vampirism is unclear, though like most necromantic creations it is unlikely to be a natural phenomenon. Possible sources could include practices of necromancy and blood magic, ancient Vrykul, or even demons.
Vampires, as undead, exist through the use of necromancy and blood magic, and extensive usage of blood magic has been speculated to be capable of causing a "hunger" within the user. The oldest known vampire to have been observed is Blood-Thane Lucard, a Vrykul, suggesting that the Vrykul may have their own history with vampirism that predates the San’layn by possibly hundreds or even thousands of years. Due to her past involvement with the dead, it is possible that Helya may be linked to the origin of vampires.
Though vampirism does not begin with the Scourge, many of the Scourge’s unique qualities and capabilities stem from their origin with the Burning Legion. Eredar warlocks and the Nathrezim were witnessed raising the dead as far back as the War of the Ancients, and vampires often develop in such a way that they become reminiscent of the Nathrezim. Between the Legion’s first appearance and the present day, there is some possibility that vampirism was planted in the world by demons.
Another subject that is generally unknown is a vampire’s ability to transfer the curse to another. It is unknown if this is contingent upon a vampire’s power or age, or if simply any vampire can create another. Among the San’layn, however, individuals known as “blood royals” are typically only created by other blood royals, if not the Lich King himself.
Vampires are undead, and most immediately share many characteristics that undead do, such as pale appearance. However, vampires rarely decompose as the life essence they consume sustains them and keeps their body intact. If starved, a vampire may become withered and gaunt.
The curse of vampirism changes the victim on a physiological level, beginning with the most expected change of vampiric fangs. Sometimes this occurs with the canines extending beyond their natural length and becoming sharper, though some have also developed teeth akin to vampire bats, with their incisors changing instead. Many vampires may also experience elongating of the nails to form into durable claws. These changes may be accompanied by a dramatic change in eye color, such as red, white, yellow, green, blue or black.
Possessing a distinct affinity towards bats, some of the bodily changes a vampire experiences may result in their appearance becoming progressively similar to a bat, oftentimes with the ears or the nose. Ears may become wide and pointed (or simply widened among Thalassian elves), and the nose may become flattened. Powerful vampires may even develop wings, as observed with Blood Queen Lana'thel and her daughter Thal'ena.
Psychologically, it is unknown if there are any direct changes, though many traits of vampirism can change a person, such as the hunger for blood or the powers one can potentially attain. The San'layn in particular were noted to be cold and arrogant sadists who inflicted pain purely for entertainment. They were often exceptionally cunning as well, masterminding some of the Scourge's most deadly and manipulative plots.
The curse of vampirism shapes its victim into a predator of all things living, changing the body beyond the surface level. As undead, parts of the body naturally deteriorate, however a vampire's body prunes anything that does not make the individual an efficient killer. Becoming faster, stronger, and deadlier is the priority. Many bodily functions that have no use will be discarded or repurposed. Much of the body's digestive system is actually preserved rather than permitted to rot, such as the stomach. Because a vampire has no need for conventional energy, fat is useless. Therefore, when undergoing changes, fat may be discarded in favor of muscle growth.
Vampires are quite possibly immortal so long as they survive on blood. While most undead develop the Ichor of Undeath in lieu of blood, the blood a vampire consumes is assimilated into their own bloodstream through the repurposed digestive system. Once blood is in the bloodstream, it is consumed by the body to keep its condition preserved. Without blood, the body begins to wither and decay until it ultimately dies. Similar to a living body, anything that cannot be used by the vampire's body is ultimately ejected through regurgitation. For example, if a vampire were to consume bread, it would be regurgitated because it has no use in the vampire's body.
Where most undead have their senses dulled to the point of tasting and smelling nothing, and sometimes not even distinguishing color, vampires' senses are tuned to better develop them as hunters. They covet the taste of fresh blood, and can often sense its fragrance upon the air. A vampire's hearing will also listen intently for the sound of heartbeats, and has been described almost as music to one's ears.
Strengths and Weaknesses
- Strengths: As undead, the standard strengths and weaknesses of undeath apply, such as a weakness to the Holy Light, yet an inability to physically tire and remarkable durability. Vampires are predators of life and are naturally attuned to seek it out. A vampire may experience increased sensitivity to their senses of hearing and smell, being able to detect heartbeats and the scent of blood. They may also develop an unimpeded vision in the night. In some cases, a vampire may also possess a natural affinity for blood magic.
- Weaknesses: Despite what common myths may suggest, many alleged vampire weaknesses are false. Garlic and sunlight are unlikely to affect a vampire, they typically possess reflections, and a stake is not a guaranteed means of killing a vampire. The major weakness a vampire may face, and one shared with most undead, comes from the Holy Light and anything affected by it, including blessed items such as holy water. Even Venthyr are known to share this weakness, burning to ash with enough exposure to Light.
Many vampires have abilities not unique to their curse, such as Prince Keleseth who conjured frost and shadow, and Prince Taldaram who wielded orbs of flame. However, certain traits and abilities are common among vampiric beings.
- Enthrallment: Also considered compulsion or geas, enthrallment refers to a vampire placing a victim under a magical form of subjugation that binds them to the vampire's will, making them obedient and effectively a slave. It is not a means of mind control, but rather an implanted compulsion for the victim to obey their master. They may experience euphoria or heightened suggestibility. Enthrallment is ultimately a contest of wills, for it lasts only as long as the vampire's will can allow, and a strong-willed individual can potentially break free. The most notable presumed usage of enthrallment has been Prince Valanar's capture of Leryssa and General Arlos.
- Shapeshifting: Though it is unclear as to what the full extent of vampire shapeshifting is, Kirtonos the Herald was capable of shifting into a different form at will. It is also possible that Valanar practiced shapeshifting in assuming the form of Counselor Talbot, rather than wearing a mere illusion, due to the caliber of the disguise that concealed his true nature being significantly above what mere cultists can achieve.
- Vampiric Magic: Though the exact form of it varies, many vampiric beings possess the ability or affinity to magically drain their victim of some essential substance. Oftentimes it is blood, but it can also apply to other resources as well. Nathrezim have been known to drain life essence directly, San'layn have proven capable of siphoning blood, and the Venthyr use their ability to draw anima from a soul in their work.
Though the process of cursing a victim with vampirism and their transition into becoming a vampire has rarely been observed, there have been various ways for vampires to be created.
- Bites: A vampire bite in itself has no guarantee to turn an individual, however in some cases, vampires have been created through little more than a bite. Most notably, Blood-Queen Lana'thel and her daughter Thal'ena have accomplished this feat before. Logistically, this involves a transference of essence, like an infection, that will ultimately drive the victim into a frenzied bloodthirst that must be quickly sated. If left unattended, the victim will lose their mind in the hunger.
- Raising: The San'layn were created by the Lich King following the Blood Elves' defeat at Icecrown Glacier. It is likely that they were dead for some period of time even before being raised as San'layn, and that creating a San'layn or a vampire does not require the victim to be alive or very recently deceased. That said, this was also a feat accomplished by the Lich King, it is unknown if this is achievable by others.
- Mist: The exact properties of this mist are unknown, however, the mist that Blood-Thane Lucard exuded in Stormheim was able to convert humans into vampires. It is unknown if the change was progressive or instantaneous.
The relationship between a vampyr and the victim they turn is a unique one. A bond develops between the two, whether it be one of hate or love. Among some vampyr, the relationship between a victim and the one who turned them can become one of family, akin to a relationship between a child and their parent. In some cases the bond may be more literal than abstract, as Lana'thel's victims who lost their mind in the hunger seemed to belong to Lana'thel herself.
One of the most well-known elements of vampirism is the individual’s need to consume blood. Oftentimes the hunger for blood is not at all comparable to a living individual’s hunger for sustenance, as a vampire’s bloodthirst quickly becomes violent in nature and causes intense pain and madness when left unattended. It does not need to be sated as regularly as a living person’s hunger, as some vampires can feed only once a day, or go days before needing to feed. Among some vampires, feeding may induce feelings of euphoria.
The most common means of feeding for vampires involves the fangs that develop from their affliction, biting and piercing the skin to cause blood to flow, which is immediately consumed. Vampires are often expected to feed on the neck, and this is sometimes true, as a hungry vampire may be tempted to target areas with greater blood flow. This is liable to kill the victim.
If a vampire wishes to spare their victim, however, they can feed on areas where there is more muscle, with a lesser likelihood of causing lethal damage to their prey. It is also possible to create a safe incision on the body where blood flow will not be lethal and feed on that. Blood can also be stored in items such as cups or vials and consumed immediately or later.
Some vampires, such as the San’layn, have also developed a technique of feeding with the use of blood magic to essentially siphon blood from a source into their body. Oftentimes this involves the use of blood orbs, though blood can be siphoned forcibly from the body to deadly effect.
Vampires are prone to hunting sentient individuals such as humanoids. Though it is possible to feed on the blood of animals, it is rarely ever enough to sustain a vampire, and may not be satisfying to consume. Blood can also be affected by heavy concentration of magic, for better or for worse.
Hierarchy and Blood Royalty
It is unknown if there is an inherent hierarchy to vampires without the establishment of a society, though the San'layn possessed a clear chain of command with ranks that carried authority as well as serving as symbols of power. The San'layn were ruled by the Blood Queen Lana'thel, with the Blood Prince Council serving beneath her. These create what is referred to as Blood Royalty. Blood Princes and Princesses seem to be inherently more powerful than other San'layn, with female Blood Royalty even developing wings.
The San'layn possessed numerous roles based on nobility such as the concept of queens and princes, as they also possessed Darkfallen Nobles within Icecrown Citadel, and Blood Marquises were allied with Dreven during his attempts to join the Horde. It is unknown what authority these titles held or if they were counted among Blood Royalty.
As the San'layn culture is modeled heavily on Thalassian culture, it may be that the establishment of Blood Royalty simply exists as a facsimile of their former lives as elves of Quel'Thalas, and is not a trait shared across all vampires. However, the Vrykul vampire Lucard held the title of Blood-Thane, which parallels the title of Blood Queen and Blood Prince, and may suggest a similar hierarchy.
Views on Vampirism
Vampires are almost universally regarded as monstrous in nature, due to their unnatural thirst for blood and a tendency to prey on people. For this reason, many civilizations will treat vampires in contempt, sometimes casting them out if not killing them on sight. Many cultures have created stories of vampires - some true, some based in fiction - that typically portray them as irredeemable monsters who pose a dangerous threat to society. Furthermore, the San’layn, the most well-known form of a vampire in the present day, have a history with the Scourge that has tainted the reputation of vampires even further.
It is difficult for a vampire to ever truly coexist with the living in society. Unless they are hidden, they will likely face intense discrimination and become a target for harassment and are liable to be murdered. Therefore, it is most optimal for a vampire to conceal themselves rather than attempt to be public about their true selves.
Vampires, as a people, have made very few attempts to integrate with society. Typically, a vampire existing within a civilization is either doing so as an individual or part of a very small group. Currently, the only observed instance of vampires attempting to find a place within society was Prince Dreven and his San’layn seeking to join the Horde, however this attempt ultimately failed. Few factions in the world accept vampires, and those that do are typically not explicit on the matter.
The Venthyr are solely unique in this regard, as their role in the Shadowlands is both normalized and coveted. They are not seen as monsters by the denizens of the Shadowlands, though their way of life often earns a wary glance from the Kyrian and the Night Fae. As one of the four essential Covenants, the Venthyr have also been supplied with mortal aid without significant issue.
Many myths have circulated surrounding vampires and their various habits, abilities, or weaknesses, as odd as they may seem. Some have yet to be proven or have been refuted altogether.
Some stories claim that a vampire can be only be slain by driving a stake through its heart. However, when Sir Finley Mrrgglton had a champion drive a stake through the heart of Blood-Thane Lucard, it was revealed that a stake had no unique properties or ability to kill a vampire.
Another myth suggests that a vampire will die under the light of day. Both the vampire pirates of the Red Blade and the San'layn have been witnessed operating in clear daylight, therefore sunlight does not seem to have adverse effects on vampires. It is possible this rumor has roots within the phenomenon of the Ember Ward, a region of Revendreth where the Holy Light scorched the sky, and burns all Venthyr touched by rays akin to the sun.
For whatever reason, Finley Mrrgglton was doubtful that vampires can truly die. It is possible that such a myth exists that vampires cannot die, though since Lucard has yet to return as a threat this remains doubtful.