[world ruled by vampires] (needs setting name)

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[world ruled by vampires] (needs setting name)

Postby Kappa » Tue Jul 10, 2018 11:34 am

Gather round, children, and let's have a little chat about blood magic!

In this world, the foundation of the magic system is a mystical power inherent in the blood of living things, specifically sapient living things. (Animal blood might have a little bit of power, but it's basically negligible and no serious practitioner bothers with it.)

By default, any sapient being who has blood of their own can learn blood magic in this world. However, there are some inconvenient limitations on the basic capabilities of a beginner blood mage who hasn't spelled up any useful goodies for themselves yet. You can't store blood magic until you invent a way to do that, so all your magic has to involve mass slaughter right there on the spot, and many of the things you might want to do with blood magic require so much power that you literally couldn't kill enough people fast enough without, like, a factory full of industrial equipment.

It's possible to invent a way to store power, though, and once you do you will find a lot of options opening up to you. There are still some rituals that require real live blood to be physically present, but even then you've got a lot more leeway in how you use it, because you only need to depend on physical blood for exactly those things that specifically require it.

So what do you do, as a fledgling blood mage who only just invented power storage, if you want to get more serious about your craft?

... You invent vampirism, obviously.

And that is exactly what the local Serg did.

Because he was inventing vampirism all by himself with no external assistance or input, he invented a kind of vampirism that caters to his preferences on a number of levels. Some of the characteristics of this type of vampire are determined by constraints of the magic system - for example, the fact that in order to turn someone into a vampire you must literally drown them in fresh blood, including fully submerging their body in a tub or pool of the stuff - but a lot of them are determined by the Serg template's kinks.

For example: Vampires are not reproductively fertile, with each other or with humans - but a male vampire having sex with a human woman can choose to "impregnate" her with a magical parasite that continually drains her blood to feed him, and once it's there, he can at any time choose to have it messily kill her. This was not at all necessary, and in fact required a lot of extra design work, but the inventor of vampirism thought it was hot so here we are. (Female vampires can also give people blood parasites, and male humans can also receive blood parasites, but both of those scenarios introduce extra complications into the process. And a male human has to keep his blood parasite in his stomach, which is not the location it was designed for and so runs a significant risk of it just spontaneously killing him one day if not carefully managed.)

Also, the experience of being bitten by a vampire can range anywhere from agonizingly painful through very uncomfortable to mind-breakingly pleasurable, depending on the vampire's preferences and how much attention they're paying to the process. By default, it just feels like having someone bite you and then suck your blood, with a little extra from the fact that there's blood magic going on; the more the vampire cares about shaping your experience, the more they can decide to make it hurt more or feel nicer or, if they're into that, both at once.

The process of inventing vampirism went something like: first he invented power storage, then he gradually accumulated enough power to successfully design the turning process, experimenting with incremental steps toward vampirism along the way; it was obvious to him that becoming the sort of thing that stores and runs on blood power was the most straightforward way to become more powerful. Once he had the foundations set up, he traveled to a remote village of a thousand people or so, killed 200 of them for his Literal Bloodbath plus some extra for the power to make sure he survived turning, and ate the rest when he woke up. (The turning process has been significantly streamlined since then.)

For the first few centuries of being a vampire, he didn't turn anyone else and mostly kept to himself, but people kept being understandably upset about having a blood-magic-fueled monster hanging around abducting innocent citizens to do horrific things to them, and they tried to kill him a lot, and he got fed up with this, so he found some likely-looking folks and turned them and suggested that they take over the world for him. Once the world was ruled by vampires and he was nominally in charge of it in a very hands-off way, everything got much more convenient.

In the 'modern day', it's been a long time since then, and vampire society has had a chance to develop customs and institutions around the practice of keeping humans as livestock. There are three basic types of human in the world, each with its own legal status.

  • Unchosen are humans who are considered candidates for possibly being turned into vampires. They have real legal rights, although not as many as full vampires, and are allowed to own property and travel freely and so forth. Most of them live rich, idle lives, especially if they have any close relatives who were turned, but they can also occupy themselves productively if they prefer. They more or less resemble normal humans from other worlds, although they tend to be taller and stronger and smarter because of the selection pressures inherent in living among vampires, and a certain amount of magical enhancement.
  • Food are humans who are bred and kept for the purpose of being eaten. Some food breeders also specialize in other things, such as sex appeal, decorative potential, or useful skills. Food are exclusively property: there is no such thing as manumission of your food. They may be treated more or less horribly depending on the whims of their owners; there are virtually no legal protections on their well-being. They produce blood faster than baseline humans, heal small injuries faster and more cleanly, and may become uncomfortable if not bled regularly; they also smell very different to vampire senses, as even the most decorative and impractical specimens ultimately descend from stock that was optimized for deliciousness.
  • Halfcaste are humans who are the result of unchosen breeding with food, or the descendants of those humans. Some are free, but most are owned. They have more rights than food, but much less than unchosen, let alone vampires. If you own a halfcaste, you can do pretty much whatever you like with them, but torturing them to death for no reason is frowned upon in a way that it isn't at all with food. Halfcaste humans are usually used for tasks/occupations that would be beneath a vampire or unchosen, but pointless or difficult to breed specialized food for, or require enough education/training that it would be awkward to train a food for the job and then have someone come along and eat them not realizing how valuable they were. Individual halfcaste may take after either part of their ancestry, so they vary widely in how foodlike they seem on casual inspection.

It is technically possible to turn a food or halfcaste into a vampire, and in fact turning halfcaste does happen every so often, but turning your food is considered silly and antisocial and almost no one has ever tried it.

Turning one person into a vampire requires the sacrifice, on the spot, of enough other people to entirely fill a spacious tub with blood: usually around 100-150, although it would be closer to 200 if you had to use baseline humans. For this among other reasons, unchosen tend not to sympathize very much with food. 'I will have to kill a hundred of these if I ever want to become a real person' is just not a thought that's very conducive to a deep and lasting friendship.

It's technically possible to turn yourself into a vampire with nothing but your own magic and the appropriate volume of fresh blood, if you're good enough at blood magic, but it's much, much easier to turn someone else into a vampire, and much, much easier to do that if you are a vampire yourself.

By custom, choosing is usually done by individual sponsorship: a specific vampire selects a specific unchosen and turns them personally or has them turned. It's also possible to have a 'family sponsorship', in which an entire household or clan of unchosen is given a certain number of turning permissions which they may distribute internally however they please, or various forms of automatic sponsorship such as turning anyone who successfully does a particular job for 30 years without dying or getting fired. Buying a sponsorship is not uncommon, but in most places they're not explicitly offered for sale and you have to find an individual vampire to bribe.

Unchosen are sometimes taught blood magic; halfcaste very rarely; food almost never.

Various vampire societies deal differently with marking ownership of particular humans, but it's nearly universal for food to be tattooed or otherwise marked with an indication of where they were bred, and somewhat less pervasive but still very common for food and owned halfcastes to be tattooed or otherwise marked with an indication of who currently owns them.

More details on vampiric death pregnancy and related phenomena:

The thing male vampires do that results in vampiric death pregnancy isn't actually a form of reproduction at all. References to pregnancy are by way of analogy. What you actually get is a horrible squiggly red parasite that swells over the course of a few weeks until it makes the person look visibly pregnant. If the 'father' is feeling impatient, he (or she) can accelerate that timeline, and the parasite will reach a fully developed state within a few hours; but this is somewhat dangerous for the host.

Female vampires cannot get pregnant the normal way at all - vampiric bodies do not contain or produce viable gametes - but even if you somehow put a fetus into a female vampire, her body would near-instantly eat it.

It is very obvious to a vampire when they have an active parasite out there in some human somewhere - it's like getting a continuous slow sip of blood out of nowhere without having to do anything - and if the vampire is any good at blood magic, they'll be able to track anyone who has one of their parasites attached. One vampire can have a pretty much arbitrary number of active parasites going at once, within practical limitations related to the low but nonzero amount of maintenance they require.

It is not possible to safely remove a vampiric death pregnancy without the use of blood magic, and it's difficult and dangerous unless you have the cooperation of the vampire who put it there. If a human you care about has been vampirically parasitized, your best bet is to find the vampire who did it and convince them to undo it, and you probably shouldn't try removing it yourself unless you're very good at blood magic. Physically extracting the parasite without magically destroying it will disturb its connection to the host's bloodstream and cause them to rapidly bleed out.

For the most part, having a blood parasite is 'safe' in the sense that you're not likely to spontaneously die of it unless the relevant vampire deliberately kills you. But if the parasite is left alone too long, it might eventually kill you all by itself. The vampire can stabilize the parasite with a pretty trivial effort, and as long as they remember to do that once every few months (or once every month or so in a male host), you'll almost certainly be fine; but if you've got a blood parasite and you run away, or the vampire who gave it to you forgets to do the requisite maintenance, you will probably be dead in less than a year. For this reason, blood parasites are sometimes used to discourage escape attempts among humans who are considered particular flight risks.

Having a blood parasite is incompatible with getting pregnant the normal way: the parasite will eat the competition. This makes blood parasites a very reliable method of birth control, if you're concerned about that; it also means that if you're a food breeder, you can't keep blood parasites in all your stock. (They don't affect reproductive viability in male humans at all, though, so those are still fine.)

The same way it's possible for a vampire to control the experience of feeding, making it more pleasant or painful for the human depending on their whim, it's possible for a vampire to use their blood parasites to deliver sensations to parasitized humans. If you're carrying a blood parasite, the relevant vampire can make you experience pain or pleasure at any time, to whatever intensity they desire. For the most part this is limited to immediate applications - the vampire can only control the host's sensations in the moment when they are thinking about it - but it's possible to learn advanced techniques that let you leave someone in a constant state of pain or pleasure or both.

It's also possible to change the parasite's drain rate, temporarily or permanently: the default is a slow sip, hardly enough to affect most foods' sustainable feeding schedule at all, but if the vampire wants to have the parasite drain all a food's excess blood right up to the edge of the standard safety margin, or even beyond that, they can do it. A vampire who was particularly displeased with a specific human might infest them with a blood parasite, set it to drain them faster than they can recover but not fast enough to kill them immediately, tune the experience to be especially painful, and then watch them waste away in agony over the next few weeks.

A single human can host blood parasites from multiple vampires, in theory, but it's very dangerous and usually more of a fun way to kill your food than something you'd try to sustain in the long term.

Vampires are not biologically alive: their bodies are sustained by magic, not biochemistry. They can eat solid food, but only in very small quantities; a full meal would make them sick. Their lungs function only as sources of air for speech, and provide no practical benefit to their survival. Their blood circulates, but slowly, by magic; their heart might beat very infrequently or not beat at all. Their body temperature runs a little cooler than a living human's by default, but it's tied to how well-fed they are: a vampire who has just drunk a lot of blood may seem downright feverish, and a vampire who is on the edge of outright starvation will be as cold as an ordinary corpse.

In order to sustain their life, a vampire must drink a certain minimum amount of blood per week. A vampire who habitually kills their food will tend to go through about one per week, and will find that they can't eat more than one or two a day without getting uncomfortably full; a vampire who habitually leaves their food alive will have the same requirements and limitations but may find it more convenient to drink more frequently rather than lining up a dozen foods to sip from in an hours-long weekly feeding session. Having more active parasites reduces the amount you need to drink in order to live, but doesn't contribute to the feeling of fullness at all, even if your parasitized humans are regularly dying and feeding you all their remaining blood at once.

(The above numbers are of course measured in proper food-caste humans. If you're trapped on a desert island with a colony of unchosen, you'll have to eat more of them to live.)

Vampires have supernaturally enhanced speed, strength, and senses. They can see easily in the dark, and prefer dimmer over brighter conditions. They do not have any significant weakness to sunlight, though, and in fact many vampires find it convenient to maintain diurnal schedules in order to better accomodate their unchosen friends and relatives.

Vampires are more difficult to injure than humans, heal faster and more thoroughly, and cannot catch or transmit any mundane infectious diseases. They also do not age. Vampires who have at least a decent education in the fundamentals of blood magic can fairly trivially regenerate lost limbs and organs; vampires who don't know any blood magic at all have to wait a few months or years before a lost appendage will fully regrow on its own. (Drinking more blood fuels better healing.) Vampires who are very, very good at blood magic can enhance their regeneration to truly staggering levels, as long as they have access to enough blood to fuel the magic.

The process of turning will heal most conceivable forms of physical injury, including lost limbs, regardless of how old the injury is; it will also adjust the new vampire's apparent age toward something in the 20-40 range, although if you turn when younger than 20 you will probably be stuck at an apparent age slightly older than the age you were turned at for the rest of your life. Healing-by-turning is very effective: you could decant a brain-in-a-jar, dump it in a turning pool, and as long as it was alive when it went under the surface it would probably emerge from the process as a fully functional vampire.

Because of the combination of enhanced senses and ability to eat solid food in small amounts, quality cuisine is a highly sought-after luxury in many vampiric societies. Prestigious vampire households will employ well-paid chefs, who might be halfcaste or unchosen or even vampires themselves, to produce exquisitely crafted dishes in amounts suited to the vampiric appetite. An upscale party might involve sitting down at a banquet table for a ten-course meal of which each course is only a single bite, with bland drinks for palate cleansers between each one, ending in a tiny, beautifully decorated cupcake or chocolate truffle for dessert; after which the host might offer their guests a selection of their finest real food to nibble on, because you can hardly let people go home hungry after all that.

Having sex with one's food is a normal and unremarkable lifestyle choice for a vampire to make, because the local Serg got there first and by the time there were any other vampires the norm was pretty well established. Some vampires aren't into that, though, and that's considered equally acceptable in most circles. Generally, however, the closer you are to the Emperor socially, the more it's expected that you're probably into that sort of thing.

Speaking of the Emperor: the structure of global vampire society is approximately feudal, with the local Serg standing at the top of a hierarchy of vampires and unchosen.

A new vampire is considered somewhat indebted to the vampire who turned them and/or those who ordered for them to be turned, but also gains status by association with those individuals if they're anyone important. There's a sort of patronage relationship there that can last for centuries, or even indefinitely, before the new vampire gains enough power and status of their own to stand on an equal footing with their sponsor(s). The Emperor, as the literal first vampire in the world, is sometimes called by the title 'Eldest' as a term of respect.

Feudal relationships are intertwined with sponsor relationships. It's very common for a vampire with responsibilities to sponsor someone they intend to designate as their heir, or sponsor someone they intend to delegate authority to, or combine both of those things.

You would think that vampires, being unaging and remarkably difficult to kill, wouldn't have much need for social institutions like inheritance. But in fact vampire society tends to be kind of violent sometimes, and it's not uncommon for vampires to get into fights that escalate to murder, or longer-term conflicts that escalate to assassination. The only person totally exempt from that sort of danger is the Emperor, because trying to kill him is a stupid idea and nearly everyone is smart enough to avoid it, and the ones who do make that mistake don't generally get the opportunity to make it twice.

Breeding food for specific traits isn't just a matter of applying unnatural selection until you get the result you want; it's also possible to use magic to directly alter a human's biology. This kind of customization is how the food caste ended up such rampant overproducers of blood; it's also how breeders manage so many specialized projects so successfully, and it contributes to how unchosen ended up lowkey superhuman.

There are many types of specialized food that are commonly bred for. Here are a few of them:

  • "hugfood" (an OOC nickname, I haven't decided what they're called in-universe but it's probably not that) - cozy soft huggable humans with pleasantly squishable bodies and soft pettable hair and smooth pettable skin. Please enjoy the mental image, contributed by Alicorn in an earlier discussion, of a food breeder proceeding through a dormful of hugfoods and flopping on each of them like a mattress tester. Particularly sensual vampires might prefer to keep these around, and unchosen might buy them as companions for their children, like walking talking stuffed animals.
  • courtesan types, bred and trained for sex, in numerous flavours and styles
  • entertainer types, bred and trained for skill at dance or music or theater or acrobatics
  • decorative types, bred for aesthetics but not necessarily sexual attractiveness, and not necessarily trained to do anything but stand around and look pretty
  • extremely specific flavour projects; there's an entire industry dedicated to breeding food whose blood tastes reminiscent of specific non-blood flavours, with mixed success, plus a more successful and well-established industry of breeding food for specific blood flavours which discerning vampires might prefer over the standard tastes
  • 'mass-produced' food with high fertility and rapid maturation, to meet the demand of vampires who aren't particularly discerning taste-wise but do want to be able to eat somebody once a week for the rest of eternity
  • 'reusable' food, magically enhanced with unusually thorough and rapid healing, to meet the demand of vampires who like getting violent with their food but don't want to have to buy a new one every week
  • food breeds specialized for producing useful halfcastes; there are some breeding enterprises run by unchosen whose primary output is halfcastes
  • combinations of the above, such as sexy hugfood, flavourful courtesans, or decorative reusables

Apart from healing and other biomantic applications, blood magic can do plenty of other interesting things. Conjuring matter is comparatively difficult, but reshaping it is no big deal if you know what you're doing, and transmutation is tricky but workable. Telekinesis is fairly straightforward, although a little too expensive to use casually unless you are the Eldest and don't give a single shit about wasting power. Shapeshifting is difficult, and expensive enough that even the Eldest won't do it on a whim, but it's possible and once you've done it a few times it does get easier. (Of course, if you mess it up too badly, you have to either get a better blood mage to fix you or keep your accidental alterations indefinitely.)

The system is fairly light on permanent stable ongoing magical effects such as wards or artifacts, but it's possible to create them, it's just not straightforward. Vampirism itself is an example of such an effect, after all. Permanent magical effects are best anchored on a person, ideally a vampire or a blood mage, most ideally both: it is straightforwardly easier and more effective to magically enhance a vampire than a human.
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