The Dim Wastes
From the introductory text to the course on Advanced Undead Ecology, as taught within the Order of Alhena.
There are many treatises that document the biology and classification of physically different types of vampires. Some allocate these as being differences in kind, but the truly knowledgeable understand these to be differences in state. Over its life span, an individual vampire may take on characteristics of any number of different vampire “types” in response to environmental or social stimuli. This is not to entirely dismiss the body of knowledge on different classifications, as the observed capabilities, limits, and vulnerabilities will still apply at that point in time, and are useful to the fledgling vampire hunter. The expert will note, however, that a vampire faced decades ago may present an entirely different set of characteristics when encountered later.
Mentioned above are certain social pressures a vampire may face. These have little to do with the social pressures and structures familiar to humans. First, one must understand that any given vampire was made by another vampire in almost all circumstances. This is properly termed the “maker”, and this maker vampire will exert real power over its spawn for a period of time ranging from a few days (long enough only for the transition to completely run its course) to decades. That power is termed “social pressure” here, but it reflects not so much willfully curtailing one’s own behavior so much as physical and mental changes enforced upon a vampire by its superior within vampire society.
For almost all vampires, that life starts when they are made by another vampire. The details of each making are highly variable, but the process always involves two key steps: injuring a living, sapient being to the point of imminent death without intervention, followed by the introduction of blood from the maker vampire. A weaker version of vampire can be made hastily in a truncated process, but these are regarded as disposable minions by vampire society at large. From the moment of making, a vampire still subject to the will of its maker is referred to as a “thrall.” These make up the lowest rank of vampire society, possessing no rights of their own and being completely regarded as the property of their maker.
Once released from the blood covenant with their maker, a vampire whose free will has been completely restored is commonly referred to as simply a “vampire” by others within their ranks. Those that regard them specially may refer to them as “brother” or “sister”, but such terms would never pass between vampires of unequal social rank. Among clerical orders, we often refer to these types of vampires as “soldier” vampires. They tend to vary little in capability for their given type when encountered, and are usually acting in the interests of an as yet unseen master.
Those unseen masters are known as “Lord” or “Lady” within vampire culture. These are elder vampires that often possess significant power. Most have taken the time to utterly master one or more aspects of more mundane society. Those that focus on combat arts are often amazingly difficult opponents even without drawing upon the gifts of their curse. Vampire lords vary wildly in individual strength, and almost as much in aggressiveness. Many are content to remain an unseen influence upon other civilizations, while a few become warmongering conquerors. Those of recent rank may command only a handful of other vampires. The more ancient variety might command legions of undead.
Thus far, we have discussed only social ranks within the society of vampires. There also exist certain natural ranks, these being totally dependent of the figurative proximity of the vampire in question to the source of its particular bloodline. So far as can be determined, every bloodline of vampires has an original source, called the Primarch. This is the vampire that was not turned by another vampire, but instead bears the curse directly bestowed by some demonic influence or hellish entity. Given the ability to spread their curse, and the need to seek out humans to feed upon, these Primarchs are the source of all things vampire that walk Geosa. Primarchs, by nature, are very suspicious of others. Most other beings they might view simply as a food source or a passing entertainment. Every other vampire is a potential future adversary to them, as immortality tends to breed boredom, and vampires usually resolve their boredom by clawing at each other for status.
On the rare occasion that a Primarch decides to convert a meal into a potential companion, the vampire they create is known as their “First.” Contrary to the name, a Primarch can have more than one First “alive” at a time, but such an act would lead only to both Firsts being consumed with the other’s destruction to earn favor in their maker’s eyes. As such, it is exceedingly rare.
As it is with other vampire classes, so it is with Primarchs and Firsts. They tend to covet each others’ destruction, and will often quest to make themselves unique by killing others like them until a more direct threat happens along. Entire civilizations have fallen in wars between vampire Primarchs. The cycle is continuous, as the death of a Primarch invariably leads to his or her First claiming the title of Primarch of their bloodline, and acting as such, even if they are not truly a Primarch. In scholarly texts, it is common to refer to these as “primarch,” with a small “p” to denote the difference, where such an occurrence is known.
These wars of succession and retribution were common and easily tracked by historians until about 2225ER, when they abruptly ended with the disappearance of Jovacho, a Primarch known to have existed since well before the Era of Reprieve. Originally hailing from the Thrush Islands, he pursued the First of his rival to the continent of Riyaqa after a particularly bitter war that spread from the Thrush Islands into modern-day Quo Lao. The rival Primarch was named Andrago, and had been a very quiet presence in history until he came to the attention of Jovacho. Although we have record of Jovacho successfully destroying Andrago’s First while in Riyaqa, he never returned from there. There are hints that his First disappeared in Riyaqa with him. Although various vampire Lords have tried to fill the power vacuum left by the disappearance of the last known Primarch, they have thus far been successfully contained by the Order and allied organizations abroad.
Stay vigilant, as a new Primarch could emerge from the darkness at any time (except noon, lol). Worse yet, there may be one as yet undetected by our vigil.