Vampires are a type of undead species on Discworld.
Mainly, the term "vampire" refers to an intelligent humanoid being with one or all of the following characteristics:
- physiological: has a deficit of hemogoblin in their blood and requires such from human or cattle blood.
- psychological: has a violent craving for blood, although the craving can be transferred to other things such as "the perfection of light and shade" (Otto Chriek, in The Truth and Monstrous Regiment) or coffee (Maladict, in Monstrous Regiment).
- psychological: craves power over people (Lady Margolotta, in The Fifth Elephant and Unseen Academicals).
Most vampires originate in Überwald, and those who are still powerful noble families in that region are still feuding with the werewolves. Vampires are often powerful feudal lords because they are undead, so they have had plenty of time to accumulate wealth and political power. Also, they can violently suppress the townspeople if such an action actually becomes necessary. Generally, vampires who want to rule over people can simply influence their minds (Carpe Jugulum). Though the term "vampire feudal families" is used, it is more common for one single vampire to be the lord of a feudal region; vampires generally do not raise families.
Vampires are nearly indestructible. Though they can be reduced to fine dust by sunlight or a small number of other means, simply dripping a little blood (human or otherwise) onto the pile will result in complete reanimation, and makes scattering remains mandatory.
With these common characteristics, vampires nevertheless don't fit a stereotype. Some vampires drink cattle blood and play power politics but go to meetings to quit drinking human blood (Lady Margolotta). Some vampires seem to be the stereotypical vampire – obsessively meticulous about their socks, can't learn any modern ideas, and harass townspeople by biting their necks every now and then and requiring them to kill him; but this turned out to be because:
- the silk socks are expensive,
- after lying in the coffin for fifty years, modern ideas don't seem so enlightened, and
- it is healthy exercise and source of family pride for the townspeople (see Count Bela de Magpyr in Carpe Jugulum.)
In Thud!, Sally von Humpeding derives a sense of power from the intrigue involved in spying and espionage: she is certainly an agent of the Low King in Ankh-Morpork and is unmasked as such by the end of the book. But is she also reporting back to Lady Margolotta? (Via the League of Temperance, who have pressed for her to be allowed to join the Watch). And to Vetinari (who is irritated that he has lost A.E. Pessimal, formerly his observer and inside man, and who is supporting the League in getting Sally into the Watch)? If so, this makes her a triple agent, poised amidst three powerful players, each of whom is pursuing an agenda of their own. As with double agents everywhere, this offers her choices and chances for manipulation. By the end of the book, she has become a quadruple agent: recognising what's going on, Samuel Vimes refuses to allow her to resign from the Watch, as he has other plans for somebody with her skills. Perhaps she will re-appear as a member of the Cable Street Particulars, as her skills make her ideal for this aspect of police work? (And maybe the Diamond King of Trolls could use her services, thus making her a quintuple agent.)
Other behaviour attributable to their immortal status includes the tendency to evolve their names over time. Listing the full name of a vampire alone could occupy several pages in the Almanack de Gothic, and indeed it seems this may function as some sort of status symbol. As a generally nocturnal species, it can also be presumed that they do much work in the city at night in case say, someone wakes up in the wee hours, decides what he really needs at the moment is a hundred square feet of canvas or a dozen wooden chairs.
Members of one vampire clan started calling themselves "vampyres", trying to be modern. This clan has once attempted to make what they considered an enlightened arrangement of obtaining blood from citizens by means of taxation; it has failed (see Carpe Jugulum).
Nowadays, many vampires, especially those who have moved to the cities on the Sto Plains, are members of the Überwald League of Temperance, in which members go to meetings and sing songs by an organ about how they love hot cocoa and a bun instead of the b-vord; most members drink no blood at all.
Other younger vampires, in a parody of Roundworld goth culture, dress up as ordinary humans and give themselves ordinary human names such as "John" or "Melinda" and engage in what they believe are ordinary human activities, such as agriculture.
How to become one
It seems that people can be born as vampires by vampire parents, or people can be changed into vampires by being bitten by a vampire in a special way. Some vampires can change to a bat form (see Count Notfaroutoe in Reaper Man or Sally who can turn into a flock of bats), but some change to other forms such as a magpie (Carpe Jugulum). One was even known to hunt in the form of a great black dog. Vampires usually look pale and skinny, but are in fact very fast and powerful. Many vampires can fly, or rather float in the air, while in human form, such as the Lady Margolotta. Others can fly with the aid of wings, as is done by the Dragon King of Arms.
- Lettice Babblejack
- Rupert Bleakley
- Otto Chriek
- Dragon King of Arms
- Sally von Humpeding
- Jane Mary Betty Ann Pamela von Jones
- Bela de Magpyr
- Count and Countess de Magpyr, Vlad and Lacrimosa
- Lady Margolotta
- Schwarzlache von Morecombe
- Herr von Schlust
- John "Not-A-Vampire-At-All" Smith
- Count Varcolac
- Count Volosu
- Arthur and Doreen Winkings, Count and Countess Notfaroutoe, although only Arthur is an actual vampire.
... but probably not Bob
Supposedly, there are also such things as vampire watermelons and vampire household tools such as unused hatchets. (A folk-legend common in many areas will tell you that a blade, once fully drawn from its sheath, will need a taste of blood before it can be stowed away. While this relates to martial accessories such as swords, bayonets and other edged weapons, it isn't a big leap to more household items such as axes, kitchen knives and craft scalpels. Experienced modellers of Airfix kits and their ilk will cheerfully tell you that their craft knives appear to obey this universal law and have a thirst for human blood, and any user of a Swann-Morton surgical scalpel will assure you the most dangerous time for the user is when fitting a new blade, a time when concentration is needed and a no. 10A blade will have a Stormbringer-like life of its very own. Those new blades, bright sparkling new from the foil packet, are very definitely hungry.