Vampire Variety Pack

So you want to put vampires into your setting. But if All Myths Are True, how do you reconcile the many different and contradictory myths about vampires? The most common answer is to pick and choose traits that work for your story, or make some up, and proclaim that Our Vampires Are Different. But another approach is to say that these contradictory myths are referring to different kinds of vampire that all coexist together.

Often this means that there are multiple supernatural species that are thrown under the umbrella term "vampire", although occasionally they are all the same species but with minor differences. These differences can include different strengths and weaknesses, social structures, preferred prey and hunting grounds, so a Vampire Hunter is advised to be informed about them lest he shove a cross at a vampire of a clan that crosses don't work on.

When a new vampire is created, they will be of the same type as their sire; as such they are usually called "clans" because they are essentially a large family, although "bloodline" is another common term because... vampires, blood... The different clans may get along well with each other, but are usually plotting and scheming against one another for resources (or just to liven up their eternal lives); sometimes they are outright at war with one another.

Often a clan will be named for its originator, who will be the leader of the clan if he/she is still around. It's also sometimes the case that each clan founder in turn share a sire, who may be the originator of the vampire species. If that guy is still active, he's your best best for a Vampire Monarch. If not, expect him to be Shrouded in Myth.

Sub-Trope of Our Vampires Are Different, obviously. One clan may be Chinese Vampires or Classical Movie Vampires. A Council of Vampires may be made up of representatives from each clan. Compare Actually Not a Vampire. See also Totally Not a Werewolf.


Examples

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    Comic Books 
  • In the Marvel Comics universe, vampires are divided into "sects", each with their own abilities and customs.
  • In the American Vampire series, there are many different subspecies of vampire, with wildly different powers and appearances based on a combination of their land of origin and ethnicity. (So a white or black American vampire is a very different creature from a Native American vampire, nevermind one that is native to Ireland, Japan, or Eastern Europe.) Eventually the Vampire Hunter group admits that calling all these creatures vampires is really a misnomer, because while certain strains may be fairly similar, about the only thing they all have in common is that they drink blood, and a person can always be infected by exposure to infected blood, and sometimes simply by being fed on.
  • The Buffy the Vampire Slayer comic continuation varies the standard depiction of vampires in the TV show. Season Eight has Japanese vampires who take on some of the characteristics of the stereotypical manga vampire, and Season Nine introduces "zompires", animalistic and unintelligent vampires who were sired during the period when the Earth had no Seed Of Wonder, and New Vampires, vampires with magical powers and fewer vulnerabilities who were sired after the creation of the new Seed Of Wonder.

    Fan Fic 
  • In the extensive "Sylum Clan" vampire Fan Fic site, vampires are organized into clans.

    Literature 
  • The vampires in The Dresden Files are not a single class of unlife but several superficially related species: the White Court are basically superpowered humans who feed on emotional energy, the Red Court are blood-sucking bat-like monsters who take on human appearance, while the Black Court are the classical necromantic undead. The Jade Court have also been mentioned, and the White Court is further subdivided into three families: Raiths feed on lust, Malvoras on fear, and Skavis on despair.
  • Anno Dracula uses the idea of different bloodlines to draw vampire characters from a variety of sources that use different rulesets, by saying that some attributes are common to all vampires (for instance, weakness to silver) while others only appear in a particular bloodline (for instance, the need to sleep in a coffin full of one's native earth is particular to Dracula's bloodline).
  • In Anita Blake Vampire Hunter, various vampires are noted to be from different bloodlines (that is, they've been turned by a vampire who somewhere up the chain was turned by a particular vampire who produced the bloodline). A vampire can also become the head of their own bloodline upon reaching a certain level of power, although it's rare to reach this level. Bloodlines also tend to have particular powers related to them on top of generic vampire abilities (example, Belle Morte's line are noted for powers related to sex, and Morte d'Amour's line is noted for producing 'rotting' vampires).
  • In the Relativity series, there are two kinds of vampires: The "classic" vampires that Dracula would be an example of, and mindless, zombie-like creatures who live in the sewers and eat rats. It is implied that several centuries ago, a scientist attempted to "cure" vampires and accidentally created the zombie breed.
  • The Saga of Darren Shan has Vampires and Vampanzee. Lady Evanna's future children might also apply.
  • In Phoenix Ascendant, set in the magical world of Zarathan, it's said that Zarathan has at least five kinds of creature covered by the term "vampire", with differing powers, weaknesses, and chances of being cured.

    Live Action TV 
  • In Kindred: The Embraced (a TV series based on Vampire: The Masquerade) there are five vampire clans which control the city between them: Gangrel, Brujah, Ventrue, Toreador, and Nosferatu (the Camarilla clans from the game, sans the Tremere and Malkavians).

    Tabletop Games 
  • The World of Darkness
    • In Vampire: The Masquerade, Caine is the originator of the clans, and each clan traces their ancestry back to one of his "grandchildren", the Antediluvians. Except the Giovanni and Tremere, whose founders diablerized an Antediluvian.
    • The Old World of Darkness also has the Kindred of the East, or Kuei Jin, who dominate Asia. Though they are both called vampires, Cainites and Kuei Jin are two different creatures, sharing only surface similarities.
    • In Vampire: The Requiem, older or more powerful vampires can refine their blood to found a Bloodline, an offshoot of a Clan that develops new, sometimes unique, powers and weaknesses. Joining a Bloodline and gaining access to its abilities usually takes effort and mentorship, though it can happen spontaneously, and an experienced vampire can force itself into a Bloodline other than its creator's.
  • Warhammer's bloodlines can be separated by their hat: von Carsteins (Dracula), Lahmian (Lesbian Vampire), Blood Dragon (Blood Knight-literally, they're knights who strive to be better in combat until they can defeat a dragon and lose the addiction to blood), Strigoi (Looks Like Orlok degenerates from more intelligent vampires) and Necrarch (Mad Scientist / Necromancer).
  • Pathfinder has several vampire offshoots, including the ancient, sterile Nosferatu; the bestial, plague-bearing Vrykolakas; the memory-eating Vetala; and the hopping, Life Energy-drinking Jiang-Shi. Each, notably, has a unique way of resisting Final Death.

    Video Games 
  • Legacy of Kain
    • In this game series, or at least in Soul Reaver, there are six different vampire clans, each descended from one of Kain's lieutenants. Although you never get to see one of them...
    • As of Nosgoth, now you do!
  • The Elder Scrolls
    • The in-universe book Immortal Blood describes various subspecies of vampires living in various places in Tamriel, and Skyrim's extension Dawnguard actually introduces one of them: the Volkihar Clan, who are central to the plot.
    • The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind has three different clans that are treated as guilds. The clans are Berne, Aundae, and Quarra, respectively Fighter, Mage, Thief, and joining one by becoming a vampire unlocks a quest chain with one quest unique to each clan.
  • In Vampire: The Masquerade Bloodlines, based on the Old World of Darkness, the vampire clans serve as a Character Class System for the player character and as in-game organizations with distinct histories, characters, and stereotypes.

    Web Comics 
  • Sluggy Freelance
    • Each vampire clan has their own unique set of powers and abilities. Sam, one of the main characters, is the last member of his clan the Lysinda Circle. He has traditional weaknesses such the need to be invited before entering and is easily paralyzed by a toothpick to the heart, but is super strong, fast, etc. Other vampires from other clans we've seen have different weaknesses, but not all of Sam's powers.
    • Chapter 68 reveals more. There are three main "varieties" of vampire. The vorpyrs of Western Europe are divided politically into several "Circles", such as Lysinda's Circle, led by "royal" vorpyrs whose blood is needed to turn humans into more of their kind. The vrykolakas, originally from Greece, are susceptible to silver and weaker than vorpyrs but turn everyone they feed on. While the strakoi from Romania are daywalkers with an array of magical abilities.
  • The Kingfisher has vampire lineages with distinct powers and physical quirks, each founded by a Progenitor who spontaneously rose from the grave.

    Web Original 
  • Whateley Universe: Ayla's speech on vampires in Ayla and the Mad Scientist (Chap 12):
    There are vampire-like mutants, and maybe mutant-vampires, just as there are mutants who look like all kinds of animals and all sorts of Class 1 and Class 2 entities. That doesn't make them true vampires. Alex has an eclectic set of talents that combine to give her these abilities, but all that doesn't make her a true vampire. And her ability to be a giant pain in the ass isn't vampiric at all. I waited until the assorted snickering died down.
    I explained, There are vampires who are living humans, and there are vampires who are mobile corpses. Now these are all completely different things, and my researchers said that there was some disagreement over whether all of these are real. There may be some other types out there for which my researchers didn't find enough evidence to include in their list. But there are vampires who are corpses possessed by a demon or a spirit. Those are two different things, and The Magus insists that they're separate entities, with somewhat different powers and strengths and weaknesses. She ought to know. Then there are living people who are vampiric: people possessed by predatory spirits; and sorcerers who practice vampirism for dark magical purposes. And then there are two relative newcomers to the vampire biz. The Amazing Three have fought what Doctor Amazing calls a "symbiotic vampire". Very tough, but very susceptible to their few weaknesses. Doctor Amazing has hypothesized that they're a non-sentient silicoid extraterrestrial lifeform that parasitizes a human.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/VampireVarietyPack