The half-living children of Vampires birthed by Human females, dhampirs are progenies of both horror and tragedy. The circumstances of a dhampir’s conception are often called into question but scarcely understood, as few mortal mothers survive the childbirth. Those who do often abandon their monstrous children and refuse to speak of the matter. While some speculate that dhampirs result when mortal women couple with vampires, others claim that they form when a pregnant woman suffers a vampire bite. Some particularly zealous scholars even contest dhampirs’ status as a unique race, instead viewing them as humans suffering from an unholy affliction. Indeed, this hypothesis is strengthened by dhampirs’ seeming inability to reproduce, their offspring inevitably humans (usually sorcerers with the undead bloodline). Regardless, they live and die just like any other mortal creatures, despite possessing a supernatural longevity akin to that of elves. Hardship and suffering fill a dhampir’s formative years. Most grow up as orphans, and despite their exquisite features and innate charm, they face a lifetime of prejudice, mistrust, fear, and persecution. Humans who witness the seemingly sinister nature of a dhampir child’s supernatural powers or sensitivity to daylight display an array of reactions ranging from awe to terror to outright hatred. Eventually, a dhampir must learn to cope with these difficulties in order to find his place in the world. While most dhampirs succumb to the innate evil of their undead heritage and devolve into the monstrous fiends depicted by society, a few reject their unholy conceptions, instead vowing to avenge their mothers by hunting the very creatures that sired them. Dhampirs keep few, if any, close companions. Ultimately, the majority of evil dhampirs regard their allies as little more than tools or fodder. Those whom they deem useful are judged by their merits as individuals, not by their race. However, even with those they feel attached to, most dhampirs are sullen and reserved. Some fear the persecution heaped upon them may be transferred to their companions, whereas others worry their own bloodlust will one day overwhelm them and they’ll inadvertently turn upon their friends. In any case, an alliance with a dhampir almost always leads to an ill-fated conclusion.
Tall and slender and with well-defined musculature, dhampirs look like statuesque humans of unearthly beauty. Their hair, eye, and skin colors resemble unnerving versions of their mothers’; many possess a ghastly pallor, particularly in the sunlight, while those with dark complexions often possess skin the color of a bruise. While many dhampirs can pass as humans in ideal conditions, their features are inevitably more pronounced and they move with an unnaturally fluid grace. All dhampirs have elongated incisors. While not true fangs, these teeth are sharp enough to draw blood, and many suffer a reprehensible desire to indulge in sanguinary delights, despite the fact that the act provides most no physical benefit.
Dhampirs have no culture of their own, nor do they have any known lands or even communities. Often born in secret and abandoned at orphanages or left to die on the outskirts of town, they tend to live solitary lives as exiles and outcasts. Individuals acquire the cultural beliefs and teachings of the regions in which they grew up, and adopt additional philosophies over the course of their complex lives. This ability to adapt to a verity of circumstances provides dhampirs with a social camouflage that hides them from both predators and prey. In rare instances, dhampirs might gather to form small groups or cabals dedicated to resolving their joint issues. Even so, the philosophies of such groups reflect the interests of the individuals involved, not any common dhampir culture.
Types of Dhampir
Vampire Lineage- Jiang-Shi “Hopping” Vampire
Also called a ru-shi, a jiang-shi-born i s usually the result of some foul ritual or a magically possessed father rather than direct congress between a human and jiang-shi. Jiang-shis lack any natural desire for physical contact or procreation, and their putrefying internal organs make most unable to conceive. Ru-shis’ skin remains gray, regardless of exposure to the sun, and their eyes have unusually light irises and pupils. Their movements are typically stiff and awkward. Ru-shis are often mathematically or linguistically gifted, though some cast aside such natural gifts, bitter and scornful as they are of anything that might remind them of their monstrous forebears. Most ru-shi are found in Ka’len’ma, though the technology of Yemnack often draws them.
Vampire Lineage- Moroi
Dhampirs who can trace their heritage t o moroi are known as svetochers, and they inherit much of the unnatural charm and beauty exhibited by their vampiric forebears. Svetochers tend to have an easier time than other dhampirs when associating with mortals, though they must be careful that their relatively wanton social interactions do not breed jealousy, resentment, or disdain. They are more often hunted out of covetousness or spite than outright prejudice, so they typically develop social skills that allow them to soothe wounds caused by accidental slights or careless acts. Since their undead progenitors often deal with royalty, svetochers have a fair chance of being born into nobility. Though some aristocrats are content to raise their moroiborn children in the shadowy corners of high society, less scrupulous nobles have few qualms about leaving their disgraceful offspring on the doorsteps of unfortunate commoners. Moroi rarely care for their half-breed progeny any more than the nobles forced to bear them, but those who do feel a sense of possession over misbegotten children might seek them out in the village they were abandoned in.
Vampire Lineage- Nosferatu
The union that results in an ancient-born is too horrific for most to imagine. Even in relative youth a nosferatu is so terrible to behold that any such coupling must be the result of arcane manipulation or insanity. Ancient-born’s hatred for humanity is reflected in their appearance; from birth they are misshapen, sallow, and painfully thin. Abuse from their disgusted peers wears deep on ancient-born’s skin thanks to their physical weakness. Lacking the gift of immortality to offset the wasting effect of the curse they are born with, their chalky complexion scars easily and bruises like an overripe peach. Ancient-born’s unsettling appearance makes their participation in society challenging. If they are not chased from their homes by the time they hit puberty, nosferatuborn usually leave of their own volition as soon as possible. Some seek isolation, some revenge, and some even their own glorification-or destruction-as adventurers.
Vampire Lineage- Vetala
More often the result of curiosity or experimentation than mating, the dhampir offspring of vetalas are born with sharp minds and are inclined to ask questions. Known as ajibachanas, they are forceful and precocious, but their progenitors’ distaste for the devout is mirrored in their weakness around holy or unholy sites. Just like their vampire parents, ajibachanas yearn for knowledge and often engage in scholarly pursuits, but their mortality drives them to work harder and learn faster. In a few short decades, they might gain a better understanding of themselves and their accumulated knowledge than their eternally childish parents ever could have. Unable to change bodies like vetalas, ajibachanas lack the variation of their vampire parents, but many excel at dance or contortion, turning their lithe forms into works of art, and possibly earning money through performance. Ajibachanas understand how avaricious vetalas and mortals can be, and thus many of the wiser ones become ascetics, preferring knowledge over gold and ever fearful of becoming as covetous as their ancestors. Ajibachana are most commonly found in the sandy villages of Quin’shet.