THE OFFICIAL VAMPIRE LORE STANDARDS
(or OVLS for short)
III: Cool Powers?
*sigh* I really didn’t want to address the superpowers part of this issue. I was going to leave that up to creative license. BUT my editor is a stickler for making me stand behind my bold, if unfounded, claims, so I must complete the job. I’ll break cool powers down into subcategories: shape-shifting, super-strength, mental-powers and flight.
Shape-shifting? Yes. Of course. Don’t be silly. This stretches all the way back into ancient lore. Being able to turn into a bat is awesome. We can’t kill that. Nuff’ said. Currently in vampire fiction, most vampires are hampered by their corporeal bodies. Let’s change that!
Super-strength? Dracula had it. In fact, according to that handy Wikipedia chart, pretty much every vampire has super-strength, super-speed, etc. Underworld‘s Selene has this and the amazing superpower of using said strength without ripping her leather catsuit. And it pains me to say it, but the Twilight explanation of vampires being “hunters” who need these abilities to stay un-dead makes a lot of sense. Plus, a 98-lb weakling daemon isn’t really that scary, now is it?
Mental powers? By this I mean: mind-control, memory erasure, telekinesis, physic abilities, etc. If you think about it, mind-control seems pretty much like overkill when you can just overpower your unwilling victim. And it’s kind of cheating when vampires are supposed to be these “seductive” creatures. It’s like using alcohol or Rohypnol to get laid. But, again, almost every vampire has mind-control abilities (popular exception: Blade). And, when a lot of worlds require a human to be “wiped” post-feed, mind-control seems a must.
Supernatural, Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter, True Blood and the Argeneau Vampire series limit their mental-powers to mind-control, but lots of others allow telekinesis, physics abilities, etc. These, in my opinion, are lame. The vampire is already super-strong and has mind-control abilities. I don’t think he/she also needs to be able to move things with his/her mind, or predict the future, or anything else. That’s just getting silly.
Flight? Aside from being able to fly as a bat, crow, eagle, whatever, some vampires can fly about the place whenever they choose: Forever Knight, Moonlight, Laurell K . Hamilton’s Anita Blake series, the original Buffy movie, all have vamps that can fly; most can’t, however, and what a shame. Who wouldn’t want to fly, if given half a chance? On the other hand, I am as big a fan of physics as I am of math, and leaving aside the purely magical portion of the equation – the dead coming back to life, for a start – it is simply impossible for human bodies, be they made ever so strong, to fly without mechanical assistance. Our bones are too heavy, we’re not aerodynamic, and aside from anything else, having your vampire able to fly is such a cheaters way of getting them from A to B in a hurry. So, no flying! I mean it!
All of this, then, leads to the very simple rule:
RULE 3: Vampires must be able to shapeshift, have super-strength and mind-control abilities, but cannot fly. And leave the rest of the head-games out of it
Don’t worry, this still means there could be a cool X-Men vs. Vampires crossover. (Does that exist? Why not?)
The mirror thing.
I wasn’t sure if this was a cool power or a vulnerability or something else, but to keep this document from looking like the tax code, we’ll put the mirror thing under cool powers. Because it is sort of a cool power. Except that I can’t let it happen. Sure, Dracula didn’t have a reflection, and neither did Buffy‘s vamps, and *gasp* Twilight‘s do (how else could they get their hair to look that nice?). But, it comes down to physics. And just cause vamps are evil and don’t have a soul (the reason typically given for no reflection) doesn’t mean they can screw with photons. That’s a whole new level of control. Vampires can vanish from a mind through their cool mind-control abilities, but they can’t vanish from a mirror. This goes for photos, videos, etc. But, being un-dead, there is a chance they won’t show up on thermal scans due to lack of body heat (like in Aliens).
RULE 3a: Vampires have a reflection and can be caught on camera
IV: Vulnerabilities, or What Hurts a Vampire?
Everyone needs their kryptonite. This is how the world of heroes and villains works. Vampires should be no different. And, as mentioned, folklore was full of all sorts of methods to ward off vampires, the most popular being holy symbols, and for some reason, garlic. While these methods didn’t kill them, they worked to keep them at bay.
I agree with these “wards.” Vampires are essentially evil (we’ll get to morality later) and as such, holy objects should weaken them, though the original Fright Night‘s assertion that the holy objects only work when the people weilding them have actual faith has some merit. (And which cleverness the 2011 remake managed to completely overlook.) This carried over into Dracula and Carmilla. But, in a lot of modern worlds (Twilight, True Blood, Anne Rice, Blade, Supernatural, many romance worlds) this is not the case. Jack Fleming, P.I., of P.N. Elrod’s Vampire Files series has no problem with either crosses or garlic. Indeed, at least one Black Dagger Brother routinely runs around with a large, heavy cross around his neck, and is a regular at the local midnight mass. (That’s right: A vampire who is also a practicing Catholic, and yes, now you really have seen everything.)
No, I say! If we learned anything from Superman, everyone needs a weakness. (At least the Salvatore brothers from The Vampire Diaries have an issue with vervain.) And forget this silver crap, that’s reserved for werewolves. Stop cross-breeding fanciful creatures. Thus:
RULE 4: All vamps need a weakness, especially holy objects (and for good measure, garlic).
These are only weaknesses mind you, so putting crosses on bullets, a la From Dusk Till Dawn, or making bullets filled with sunlight, a la Underworld, is not an acceptable method of killing vampires.
Speaking of which, this brings us to the real kicker:
In reality, sunlight being bad for vamps should be a given. In pretty much all stories, sunlight at least weakens a vampire (Dracula and Carmilla, not to mention the government-built creatures in Justin Cronin’s insta-classic The Passage), if not outright kills it (Blade, Daybreakers, The Lost Boys, Van Helsing, Anne Rice, and True Blood). Alas, Twilight has them sparkling, Molly Harper’s Jane Jameson can go out in the sun as long as she slathers on the sunscreen (which we should all be doing anyway) and the Plain Fear series by Leanna Ellis just has them traipsing about in the sunlight without any explanation at all. That is terrible.Vampires are creatures of the night. Sunlight breathes purity and goodness into anything. Even if a vampire is “good” – they still must live without sunlight. Cause in the end they are still a daemon. Thus, no vitamin D for you, vampires. Without question:
RULE 4a: Sunlight is harmful to vampires and, unlike other weaknesses, it can kill in large enough quantities
This is pretty much the norm from the folkloric start.
Now: Must a vampire be invited in?
This snazzy little bit of lore exists in Dracula, Carmilla, Buffy and True Blood. Pretty much everyone else has ignored this bit of trivia and vampires can traipse in to your home as they please. I tend to agree with them. In ancient times people would do all sorts of things to keep vampires out. If it had been the case of simply refusing entry to Uncle Vigo when he showed up un-dead on a doorstep, people wouldn’t have been so scared of vampires and digging up corpses to impale them. Nope, vampires had the ability to just waltz right on in like they owned the place. Thus, garlic, holy water and twins pulling plows around the town by the light of the new moon (I sort of made that last one up).
RULE 4b: Vampires do not need to be “invited” anywhere
A note on both vulnerabilities and sunlight: These are weaknesses, and if we are going to creep into the larger heroes and villains world, a weakness can have an antidote. In terms of drama and suspense, it just makes sense: “Oh no! Bad guy A found the special amulet and now we can’t slow him down! Crikey!” This leads us to:
RULE 4c: All weaknesses must be acknowledged and an antidote is allowed
Tomorrow, in Part 3, we will finally finish with these rules! Now I see why this has never been done before…