Vampires are famous, undead creatures that look just like humans except for their long canine teeth and pale skin. They are usually portrayed as attractive, which is how they lure humans into becoming their prey. A vampire bite is fatal, and is believed to turn a human into a zombie or another vampire.
More than perhaps any other monster, the vampire tends to vary in appearance. The classic creatures from which the vampire legends came with often cadaverous, resembling more than zombie of modern fiction than anything else. That changed, though, with the introduction of Bram Stoker’s Dracula.
From his introduction onward, the vampire would become more human, more urbane, and more sophisticated. In fact, today’s vampire tends to be portrayed as an attractive if somewhat otherworldly human that tends to hide its true nature from others in the world. The vampire, it seems, could be virtually indistinguishable until the moment it descends upon its prey.
The primary physical characteristic that separates the average vampire from a human are its fangs. These large, sharp teeth are used to feed on the blood of the creature’s victims. The fangs may be present in the form of slightly elongated canine teeth, huge retractable teeth that only appear when feeding, or even as rows of sharpened, almost shark-like teeth. No matter what the portrayal, the teeth of the vampire will almost always end up being one of its defining characteristics.
As there are many types of vampire in mythology, so too are there many sources for the myth. Historians tend to point at the strega, or witch-spirit, of Italian folklore as a likely inspiration for the creature. There are likewise many other near-vampires and proto-vampires in Eastern European folklore, usually used as warnings against improper burial. Modern vampires tend to have little to do with their folkloric roots, though, outside of their tendency to be the recently returned deceased.
power and abilities
It’s hard to pin down the powers of a vampire, because these powers tend to vary depending on the story. There are, however, a few things that tend to be fairly common from iteration to iteration.
First and foremost, a they are very hard to kill. In almost every tale, they have to be destroyed in a specific way by a specific object. This is largely due to the fact that vampires are almost always humans who have been brought back to life through some kind of nefarious means. As they are no longer living, they tend not to share the same weaknesses as mortals.
Vampires also tend to be ageless. They may be able to live hundreds or even thousands of years, so long as they have a supply of blood and can stay away from the few things that kill them. Their weaknesses vary – sunlight is usually problematic for modern vampires, while many are also weak against things like fire and holy symbols.
Beyond those two factors, vampires may have many other powers. Many have the ability to hypnotize victims or control their minds. Shape-shifting into the form of a bat, wolf, or even smoke is also a common power. In some stories, vampires may also be able to fly in their current form or even have powers like telekinesis.
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