Nightsdeep: 9 tribes of the damned
The damned may be imagined as man’s darker and more predatory urges given form. They are physically dead and yet they still live. This strange unlife is where a vampire exists until it is forced into the Long Sleep. Vampires must consume the blood of the living in order to remain strong. Some, like the Draugr must consume blood or their bodies begin to rot. Others have no such weakness and are driven to consume through the Hunger.
A vampire isn’t harmed by garlic or silver. They are typically not injured by holy symbols unless the wielder is one who exhibits true conviction. The are destroyed by decapitation and the sun. A vampire may forego human blood, and some do, but typically the potency of the blood becomes so low that they lose access to their tribe’s gifts. If the vampire forgoes all blood for too long, the weakness will give way to a type of slumber similar to the Long Sleep until they are fed blood once again.
Though technically once turned, a vampire swears allegiance to the vampire tribe and loses all connection to the house that they were once a member of (if they were noble), some vampires defy tradition by staying within their House. Some keep their vampirism hidden while they rise to prominence within their house. House Blackwater was once a house of mortals. Such infiltration made it into the mixed house that it is today.
“It is quite strange that we call all of the tribes by the same name, ‘vampire’ despite their pronounced differences. It is as if one gathered a fish, a bird and a worm and called them all by the same name, ‘beast’. Though certainly true in a technical sense, it trivializes the monumental differences between them. The Jotunnheimr is as different from a draugr as a fish is to a bird. To call them the same is to be blind.”
– The Nature of Vampires, Unknown Author
Jotunnheimr are vampires who never stop growing. When they feed, they typically also eat the flesh of their victim. Many Jotunn have grown to be twelve feet in height and some elder Jotunn have grown to be even larger. They have white skin and either white or blue hair. Often a Jotunn will wear simple animal pelts because of the difficulty in getting clothing. Their eye color often matches their hair color.
They claim to have originally come from beyond the Svell lands to the north. They claim that they were originally made of ice itself but when a human drank their blood, they started to become human. Jotunn believe that strength is best above all things. As such, they only change those who have gotten their attention in combat. The Jotunn change is a painful one. As the mortal dies, they undergo their first growth. Typically, the skin isn’t prepared for it and often breaks open leaving scars on the newly formed Jotunn.
Jotunn don’t have a real society in the typical sense of the word. They tend to congregate into groups based on strength. Often a Jotunn will challenge another for leadership of the group. Jotunn also tend to need more blood than a “typical” vampire. As such, they are known to go on binges that result in dozens of deaths. They also tend to undergo long periods of hibernation between feedings. These may last days or years. Older Jotunn seem to sleep for longer.
Jotunn are extremely averse to fire. It’s very presence causes them to lose what little control they have over the predator within them. This may result in the Jotunn fleeing in fear or it may cause the Jotunn to attack mindlessly.
Draugr are incredibly sensitive to sunlight and often spend the day sleeping in burial mounds or other underground areas. They look like corpses and must drink blood to stave off further rot. Elder draugr are fearsome looking things indeed. Animals flee any area where draugr are. The beasts seem to sense the draugr and want to get away as soon as possible.
They often possess quite potent abilities including the ability to temporarily change their looks, control the local weather and many receive visions of the future. They also heal faster than Skald unless the weapon that harmed them is made of iron. As such, they often do not allow the production of such items in their lands. Draugr value intelligence and draw new Draugr from those who are accomplished inventors and thinkers. They also value those who harbor secrets as Draugr are drawn to learning secrets. Druagr who see their own reflection are paralyzed with fear and self-loathing over the monster that they’ve become.
There are three different kind of Draugr. They claim that the different kinds are bloodlines similar to the Skald. That may not be quite true however as the different Draugr are quite dissimilar indeed. The true answer is hidden in myth and mystery.
Sea Draugr are said to originate from the lost souls of those who drowned at sea. Sea-Draugr tend to stick to watery areas as they must spend their days underwater. A Sea-Draugr that is kept out of water long enough will begin to dry out and rot at a faster rate.. Sea-Draugr are fearsome opponents who can bring storms upon the local area and can sink at will. Often, a Sea-Draugr will simply hold on to an opponent while they sink to the bottom of a body of water and just wait for them to drown.
The Beasts evoke the vision of the vampire as brutal predator. Their bodies warp and twist in bestial ways with age. Some have eyes like a mountain cat’s and claws like a bear. They hunt in the wilderness and areas abandoned by society such as ruins and old temples. Wild-Draugr must constantly keep their emotions in check as it is quite easy for them to lose control and become overwhelmed by the monster within them. The beasts are able to become invisible for a time. They use this ability to stalk their prey until just the right time.
The cities are filled with those who have lost everything and must live on the streets. It is those people who are most at risk and most likely to be changed by The Frozen. These urban Draugr stalk from dark alleyways, deep sewers and abandoned buildings. The Frozen seem especially adept at living in the cities, they blend into crowds and follow their prey or they lure their prey into an alleyway where they are never seen again. These Draugr have an uncanny ability to know things that they simply should not. To these Draugr, the secrets are simply whisperings of the mind. They are called The Frozen because their skin takes on a white pallor that makes them look like frozen corpses. When in the presence of any strong emotion, the Draugr gets drawn into the emotion as well. This causes an uncontrollable surge in the same emotion. Because of this, The Frozen value stoicism and self-control.
Skald tend to think quite highly of themselves. They are weakened greatly by the sun and as such tend to stay indoors during the day. They drink blood due to an intense hunger that they feel but when they drink too much, they lose their ability to think straight and act like an intoxicated person. Unlike a Draugr, a Skald who is well fed can easily pass for human. The Skald are cursed to be unable to enter a home unless invited by those who live within.
All Skald have superhuman stamina as a result of their undead existence. Other than that, the tribes are quite varied. Skald have a complicated society of five tribes all vying for power. The tribes don’t tend to fight literally among each other, they instead prefer to have their human thralls do the fighting for them. Often this is seen in economic and social overtures. In Parliament, there is a waiting audience for the Skald’s theatrics.
Vinrforad believe themselves to be the natural leaders of the world. It was their idea that brought the vampires out of the shadows and it was their leadership that wound up leaving vampires in charge. This gives them a certain sense of self importance that is sometimes difficult to deal with. They posses the ability to move objects without touching them. This can be as simple as parrying a sword or complex as moving a boulder. They are the wealthy backbone of Skald society and use it to their advantage at all times. This tribe would be even more dangerous if not for the fact that they spend about as much time outwitting each other as they do the other tribes. The Vinrforad are rejected by their own shadows as their curse. They cast no shadow and are unable to hide within the shadows.
Fridrbjorn are the sensual tempters and temptresses of the vampire world. They have the unique ability to compel a person to do something using only their voice. Rumors say that Fridrbjorn can even manipulate other vampires this way. Fridrbjorn claim that they love humans though, that love doesn’t mean that they aren’t prone to killing them. They tend to crave more passion, more excitement and more thrills as their undeath has deadened their capacity to feel. They are hauntingly beautiful, sinfully passionate and viciously manipulative. The passion of the Fridrbjorn is their weakness. They have a tendency to fall in obsessive, “love” for someone. Whether the subject of affection is vampire or mortal, this love is always cursed to end in tragedy.
Logi are irredeemably addicted to their unlife. They drink blood as much as they can, do things as fast as they can and fight as brutally as they can. To the Logi, life was extremely short and unlife is not promised and so one must take what they can, while they can. This zest for unlife ties directly into their ability to move at superhuman speeds. They often use it in battle to fight several foes at once or simply when acting as courier for another vampire. Strangely, they often have the closest ties to humanity. Sometimes going as far as keeping track and helping their living kin. This accelerated life style leads to an intense thirst that eclipses the hunger of other vampires.
It is difficult to say how the Iftiqad tribe fits into vampire society. These vampires from the far west travelled
to Nightsdeep along with the pilgrims and traders from Dahab Al Mamlakah. Once known for their strange customs, only the elders stick to the old ways now. They are in high demand for their ability to see the history of an object merely by touching it yet, they find themselves often cast out for their mental derangement. All Iftiqad suffer from some sort of mental derangement. Whether it’s an intense need to drink very specific people’s blood or speaking to their long dead brother, this derangement is often quite debilitating. At the same time, the Iftiqad are most likely to explore beyond the wall. It is thought that some elders actually know what lay beyond Nightsdeep.
It was often told to children “don’t stray too far into the dark, the Grima may be waiting” by those who lived blissfully before the rise of the vampires. Now, it’s known that the stories were true. The Grima are able to manipulate the very shadows themselves to perform all manner of things. Some Grima like to cause their prey’s own shadow to hold them down while the Grima feasts. Others manifest strange black tendrils from their own shadow to act as extra arms and legs in battle. All Grima are bound by the blood pacts of their maker’s lineage. As such, no Grima may consume another of his own tribe. All Grima must sleep during the day. Lastly and in secret, the Grima must yearly make a sacrifice to the goddess Marka. The Grima are in constant conflict with the Vinrforad for control while they get along best with the Fridrbjorn with whom they share a love of beauty. The beauty of the Grima however, tends toward the far more morbid.