Powers of the Vampire
The Vampire possesses an array of supernatural powers at its disposal. This makes the creature extremely difficult to contend with in a fight. Although the abilities attributed to the Vampire differ somewhat from culture to culture, the creature’s other powers remain the same. However, many of the abilities that the Vampire is commonly though to possess are based in fiction, not folklore.
The Vampire possesses supernatural strength, speed, agility, reflexes, and endurance. The Vampire’s strength is said to be far greater than any mortal’s, as the Vampire is no longer restrained by mortal limitations and is empowered by a combination of the spirit and the flesh, the only limitation being that the Vampire requires blood to fuel its energy reserves. The creature’s strength gives it an advantage during the hunt, as it can overpower almost any human without much effort at all.
The Vampire is extremely quick, moving faster than the human eye can possibly see. The creature’s sheer speed, combined with its unnatural stealth, makes it impossible for the Vampire’s prey to detect or escape from the Vampire until it is too late. The Vampire possesses supernatural agility as well. The creature can leap to great heights and is nimble enough to scale sheer surfaces with amazing speed, much like a spider. The Vampire is able to avoid gunfire easily, and reacts with unnatural quickness to any threat, due to the creature’s superhuman reflexes. The Vampire is able to move at great speed for long periods, and it is nearly impossible to tire the Vampire, due to its preternatural degree of endurance.
Once again, the Vampire’s formidable abilities are limited by one thing: blood. If the Vampire goes without feeding or is prevented from doing so for an extended period of time, the creature steadily begins to weaken and show its true age. This can prove to be fatal to the Vampire, if the cunning Vampire Hunter doesn’t dispatch the revenant beforehand.
The Vampire’s senses of sight, smell, hearing, and touch are of supernatural keeness, comparable on many levels to a wolf’s. The Vampire can see with perfect clarity in the darkness of the night, to the point of being able to detect the bodily heat emanations from its victims. The creature’s hearing is comparable to a bat or an owl, possessing a level of sensitivity on par with the bat’s own echo-sensitivity.
The Vampire’s sense of smell is as acute as that of a wolf or a dog’s, enabling the creature to track its prey for miles by the scent of the victim’s blood alone, a sensation that the Vampire relishes. The Vampire is also able to tell individual people apart by the scent of their blood coursing through their veins or bodily odors. The Vampire’s sense of touch is amazingly acute, as the creature can feel the heartbeat of a potential victim through thick walls, or it can detect the vibrations of a vampire hunter’s footsteps and the direction of the footsteps, enabling the Vampire to either escape or prepare an ambush for the would-be hunter.
In addition to its five senses, the Vampire possesses a preternatural sixth sense. The Vampire can instinctively sense impending danger, usually posed by humans. The revenant can sense emanations of good or evil, instinctively avoiding the former while congregating in the latter. Overall, the Vampire’s keen senses give the creature several advantages when hunting or eluding its enemies.
Resistance to Injury
The Vampire is incapable of being harmed or slain by most forms of conventional injury, including firearms or blades. Furthermore, the Vampire cannot feel the pain that would result from such attacks. Gunfire has no effect on the revenant whatsoever, serving only to slow the creature down. Likewise, blades don’t affect the Vampire at all, unless the blade pierces the heart or removes the head.
The Vampire has supernatural regenerative capabilities, which allows the creature to recover from injuries that would permanently incapacitate or even kill a human. However, the Vampire cannot regenerate severed limbs, although the creature could possibly reattach a severed limb by pressing the limb against the stump. Poison, suffocation, extreme cold, aging, drowning, or disease cannot kill the Vampire, as the creature is already dead. The only substances that can kill or cause the Vampire pain are silver or blessed steel (both of which will be discussed later).
According to legends from around the world, the Vampire is a shapeshifter, capable of assuming a multitude of different forms. However, the Vampire is restricted primarily to animal forms, most notably a bat, a wolf, a rat, or a mist. The Vampire is able to assume these forms at will. In some cases (usually fictional cases), the Vampire is able to take the form of a monstrous man-beast form of the bat or the wolf.
By no means is the Vampire limited to assuming the forms of the aforementioned animals. In folklore, it is practically unheard of for a Vampire to change into a bat. However, according to folklore, the Vampire is able to assume the form of a fox, a moth, an owl, a spider, a locust, a cat, a dog, a frog, a snake, a fly, a flea, a mouse, or a raven (as well as other species of bird).
Shapeshifting gives the Vampire an array of advantages. Although not prominent in European folklore, the form of a bat enables the creature to fly over considerable distances. The bat also has keen hearing and the ability to use echolocation to maneuver through the night. The wolf is a ferocious predator, possessing savage strength, great speed, a degree of animalistic cunning, and keen senses, as well as deadly claws and teeth. The rat is small enough to penetrate most openings with ease, as well as having sharp teeth that enable the rodent to gnaw through nearly any material and having a keen sense of smell as well. The other forms mentioned previously offer many of the same advantages, as well as some unique ones of their own. Basically, the Vampire can utilize any abilities that an animal may have when it assumes that particular animal’s form.
In addition, the Vampire is able to dissolve into the form of a vaporous mist at will. While the creature’s ability to become a mist is rarely mentioned in folklore, it is feared greatly by the people of Hungary, some other parts of mainland Europe, and the Orient. While the creature’s ability to travel for any considerable distance is limited in this form, it is able to move in complete silence, to leave its grave (through finger-sized holes in the earth), to slip through the slightest openings with ease, and to escape from vampire hunters in pursuit of the creature. The Vampire is also unable to be physically harmed in this form, as projectiles just pass right through the vapor.
In other legends, it is said that the Vampire can become a ball of luminescent light, known as a will-o’-the-wisp. Perhaps coincidentally, these dancing lights are thought to be the ghostly remains of the dead in folklore throughout Europe.
In folklore, it is sometimes thought that the Vampire appears as a ghost to its victims, materializing only to attack and feed. In such cases, the Vampire’s spirit would arise from the grave, leaving the creature’s physical body safely behind in the grave. While in spectral form, the weapons of mortal men could not harm the Vampire, but this did leave the body vulnerable to an attack from vampire hunters.
Through the use of hypnosis, the Vampire is able to dominate the mind and will of a human. The creature can convince a potential victim to allow the revenant to enter the individual’s home or leave a house unseen, command one that has been bitten by the creature in any way the Vampire wishes, and to force the chosen victim to accept the Vampire’s dark embrace without a struggle. The Vampire’s bite seems to have an anesthetic effect on the victim, giving the creature the time it needs to feed. Afterwards, the Vampire may use this ability to make the victim forget about the attack.
To dominate a human, the Vampire need only make eye contact with its victim for a few seconds. However, the stronger the human’s will, the longer hypnosis takes. If necessary, the Vampire can completely crush the human mind or destroy the individual’s sanity, leaving little more than a drooling lunatic. In the same manner, the Vampire can create a human slave. This slave is totally obedient to his master’s will, to the point of being willing to sacrifice everything for his master’s safety, including his life. Such individuals inevitably lose their minds, due to the Vampire’s power over them.
However, the Vampire’s ability to dominate a human is largely an invention of Bram Stoker’s, and the term domination comes from the popular role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons. In folklore, the Vampire attacked its victims while they slept. Some were even unconsciously aware of the Vampire’s attack, claiming that they felt a heavy weight sitting on their chests, or even being awakened to find the creature hovering over them, readying itself to feed.
According to legend, the Vampire is able to command many of the very animals it is able to transform itself into. This includes the bat, the wolf, the rat, locusts, the owl, the fox, the snake, and the moth. These creatures of the night come at the Vampire’s beck and call. They will obey each and every single command, even if it means death. This ability is present in folklore, but isn’t commonly mentioned.
One possible explanation is that, since mankind sees the Vampire as a savage beast, these animals see the Vampire as a kindred spirit of sorts, finding themselves somehow compelled to obey the Vampire’s commands.
Command of the Weather
According to Professor Abraham Van Helsing, the Vampire is able to control the weather, within limits. The creature could direct the fog, summon a powerful storm, control the direction and the force of the wind, or even call down bolts of lightning to strike its enemies.
However, folklore makes no mention of the Vampire possessing such power. One tradition, as told by Dimitrij Zelenin, says that the earth itself rebelled against “unclean” bodies being buried within its soil, and retaliated by causing severe weather, like bringing about cold and frost during the spring months. Other than that, this is an invention of Bram Stoker.
As the Vampire is essentially a rotting corpse, the revenant is capable of spreading a deadly plague through either its bite or its mere presence. In Romania, as mentioned earlier, the Vampire is known as nosferatu, which literally means “plague-carrier.” When the Vampire has destroyed a village, the contagious disease that inevitably follows kills off the survivors with a horrible wasting disease. Over the next few days, the victim would progressively become weaker and weaker, until death occurred. Worse, those who died of the plague could become Vampires themselves. Those that did arise from the grave would continue to infect the countryside with the Vampire’s evil, spreading death and pestilence wherever they went.
During the Middle Ages, the Black Death struck Europe. The people who didn’t die of the bubonic plague blamed the Black Death on the Vampire, even though infected rats that had been bitten by disease-infected fleas had caused the disease. In fact, it could be argued that the fleas and the rats (both of which the Vampire may command) were sent by the Vampire to wreak havoc on human society. It is said that those who died of the Plague were cursed to rise from the grave as the Undead. Overall, the Black Death killed an estimated thirty to sixty percent of Europe’s population, and went on to spread into other parts of the world. Unlike the humans, however, the Vampire itself is immune to disease.
The most coveted trait of all is the Vampire’s immortality. Conceivably, assuming the Vampire feeds on a regular basis and evades vampire hunters, the Vampire could live forever. However, no Vampire in folklore ever exists long enough to actually determine how long the creature could exist. Thus, immortality is more of a trait of the fictional Vampire than a historical fact.
In regards to the Vampire’s actual lifespan (so to speak), it is often assumed by people that, barring destruction, the Vampire is immortal. However, this notion is only partially supported by folklore. Muslim Gypsies though that the Vampire’s unliving existence only lasted for several months, while other Gypsies believed that a reanimated corpse could only exist for forty days, which was seen as a mockery of the forty days that Jesus Christ spent in the desert, resisting temptation from Satan.
In the Slavic countries of Albania and Serbia, it is said that if the Vampire can escape destruction for thirty years and feed on human blood discreetly, the Vampire will eventually become human again, wandering about the world with a new identity.
As far as the Vampire of fiction goes, time equals power to the Vampire. The Vampire grows in strength for every year of its existence, gaining greater intelligence, greater cunning, an exponential increase in its various supernatural abilities, resistance to its weaknesses (sunlight, holy icons, etc.), and a decreasing need for blood. While this may be somewhat true in ancient folk beliefs, as mentioned previously, this is only partially supported by folklore.
In addition to those mentioned above, the Vampire has some other, lesser-known powers at its disposal. One of these abilities is the Vampire’s alleged ability to scale sheer surfaces, vertically or horizontally, much like a spider. This ability would allow the revenant to access places that would be otherwise impossible for a human to reach. However, this ability may have its roots in fiction, perhaps due to Bram Stoker’s Dracula. It likely came from the observation that the common vampire bat (desmodus rotundus) is highly agile compared to most other species of bats, able to cling to and scale sheer surfaces like mentioned above. However, the Vampire predated the discovery of the vampire bat, and hence this ability’s origins lay in fictional accounts.
Other abilities, more rooted in folklore than anything else, that the Vampire possesses includes causing crop blights (destroying food sources), causing a drought, causing impotence in men, or even stealing vital organs (like the heart or the liver).