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Vampires are night creatures that feed on blood, cursed during world generation by profaning against their gods. In fortress mode, they occasionally appear in migrant waves and hide themselves amongst your dwarves. Vampirism can be further spread by drinking either vampire blood or water contaminated by said vampire blood.
Vampires, like other night creatures, are created during world generation. Every once in a while a deity will curse a worshiper who smites their temple or otherwise offends them, cursing them to become either a vampire or werebeast. Only the major races can have gods, and thus only they can become vampires. The amount of vampires created during world generation is closely related with world size, population, and history.
Vampires are much more powerful than normal humanoids, possessing enhanced speed, strength, stamina, and pain resistance in combat, are inediate, do not need to breathe (and thus cannot drown), and never get drowsy. They do, however, get thirsty, albeit not in the normal way; vampires thirst for warm fresh blood, and will suck unconscious creatures (usually others of their own kind) dry given the chance, usually killing them. In the rare case that the victims survive and recover, they will not remember what happened to them, and may very well fall victim once more. It appears that when a vampire feeds successfully they receive a large happiness boost. This can be used to keep your vampire workers happy and sane.
Vampires do not age, and most vampires live for hundreds or even thousands of years. Thus all but the youngest vampires are more skilled and more experienced than their peers, spurred on by the countless lives detailed on their kill lists and they are hiding their true identities. This makes them natural candidates for leadership, and thus vampiric monarchs are a not uncommon sight atop civilizations, which do not seem to wonder as to how their king has been alive for so many centuries.
Younger vampires stalk the streets of towns and cities, indistinguishable from the average mortal, and drink the blood of unsuspecting innocents. Elder vampires, those with power and ambition, mislead the gullible and power-hungry into forming vampire cults dedicated to worshipping and feeding their master. Should a vampire rise to a position of power in mortal society, it may deign to expose itself and impose a rule of tyranny upon the subjects who so unknowingly elevated it to power.
None of your seven starting dwarves will ever be vampires, nor will children or babies, caravans, siegesVerify, ambushesVerify, outpost liaisonsVerify, or thievesVerify, but any of the rest of your dwarves can be. (Foreign diplomats can be vampires, and will be labeled as such.)
Vampires are secretive and, for better or for worse, a fairly common occurrence. Many fortresses can expect to see a vampire resident by the time they hit a population of 80, and some may see two or more. Vampires arrive with a false name and hide their true name and kill list until they are discovered. They act as do any other dwarves, except for differences too small to notice easily in any sizable population, performing jobs which are assigned to them and generally acting as expected. They can be drafted, assigned to burrows, be given rooms (but do not claim themVerify), and possess items. They do however not eat, drink or sleep.
The most important difference is that when they go on breaks they will use them for drinking the blood of dwarves that they catch sleeping. If any tame animals somehow fall asleep (for instance, via a syndrome), vampires will drink their blood as willingly as they will a dwarf's. If a vampire is in the military and has current station orders he may ignore them and search out a victim, still displaying 'station'. If the orders are canceled they will switch to 'on break'.
If vampires are caught in the act of draining a victim, their crime will be reported in the justice screen as murder (they will not, however, stop drinking when caught). If only the corpse is discovered, the crime will be labeled as a murder sans suspects, and the player can accuse dwarves of the act. Even in the case that someone is accused, be aware that the deceitful vampire is capable of framing others for its crimes to send suspicion away for a time.
If a vampire is killed, the corpse will bear the original name of the creature rather than that of the dwarf who was seen to die, which might lead to some confusion among managers of such things. A coffin will be designated for burial of the vampire's cover identity, with the corpse bearing the original name entombed in it. Memorial slabs will be dedicated to the vampire's original name.
It might be smart to scan the thoughts and preferences screens of incoming migrants before welcoming them to their new home, as a safety measure; it really sucks when you don't discover you have a vampire until after they've drained your only legendary armorsmith of blood.
A dwarf who is suddenly pale or faint for no explained reason is a good but rare indicator that a vampire is around. He was most likely fed upon by a vampire, but survived. Dwarven corpses being discovered "drained of blood" are more common; a vampire fed upon them and killed them, and their body was discovered. These dwarves should be buried well, lest an axe-crazy ghost arise from their death. Dwarves inexplicably going missing for more than a week are another indicator, although this might be the result of dwarven stupidity (e.g. falling down a well, walking off a waterfall, etc.) as well.
Once you suspect you have a vampire, you probably want to know who it is. There are a number of good indicators of a vampire and the more points a dwarf hits, the more likely he is, indeed, a vampire. The difficult vampires to identify are young ones, as they have not had time to build up the indicators that are obvious on older bloodsuckers.
Firstly, there are the consequences of their age. Vampires tend to be high in social and military skills, and Great or better in at least one domestic skill. They are almost always more skilled, in total, than any of your other migrants. They also tend to have very long lists of group associations, on the order of dozens, far more than your normal dwarves. They have abnormally long lists of relations and often many, many children, but none of them are present in the fortress (in stark contrast to the spouses, children and siblings whom most dwarves will share their home with). If they are married to a dwarf that is not present in the fortress, this should be treated as especially strong evidence. Note, however, that lacking relatives within the fortress is not a good indicator of being a vampire.
Their personality can also be scrutinized for abnormalities. Their biographies may indicate that they "have the appearance of somebody who is (x) years old," a very good indicator of a vampire in cases where they have too many children or too many civilization associations to be that young. As vampires do not eat, sleep, or drink, they will never have recent thoughts about meals, drinks, beds, dining rooms, or chairs, leaving their thoughts especially bare and suspicious. In the case of vampires who have been in the fort for a while, a comment may be added to the effect that "s/he could really use a drink," "s/he has not had a drink in far, far too long," or "can't even remember the last time s/he had some." This is either indicating that they need blood or that they have been sober of alcohol for quite some time.Verify In any case, if alcohol is available, it makes an excellent distinguishing mark.
There are two "normal" ways to be absolutely sure a dwarf is a vampire. The first is to catch them in the act; the dwarf will be clearly marked for the duration of the attack (i.e. Urist McUrist, Vampire on the unit list, in red). A vampire does not mind if the player is currently "watching" or even following it. The second is to have a dwarf witness the event happening. This will permanently uncover their identities, but almost always results in a dead dwarf first. More arcane are indicators based on their physical abilities; vampires with injured guts do not vomit, vampires with injured lungs have no problem "breathing", and submerged vampires will not drown (evoking the concept of an olden witch test for finding vampirism). Technically being undead, animated corpses will not evoke cancellation spam when a vampire sees them. An easy (albeit, cheap) way of screening migrants is to send them through a hallway with a zombie on the other side of fortifications/windows in clear sight. Normal dwarves will run away from the horrible sight of a harmless zombie but vampire dwarves will walk right through.
Feeding is treated as a job by the game, and thus appears in the Job List with the text 'On Break' in cyan. It is possible that the genuine 'On Break' (teal) and the fake 'On Break' (cyan) occupy different positions in the Job List.
Looking at the deities that the dwarf believes in (in the elationships screen) can be quite helpful. As long as only "cursed" vampires immigrate (and not blood drinking ones), one of the deities of a vampire should have a "cursed the dwarf [untrue alias] . . ." Lacking this clause in their deities seems to be a clear sign that you do not have a vampire. This non-bugged way of checking a vampire is linked to the "cheap" bugged way of checking of vampires.
Then there are the (in Dwarf Fortress, inevitable) bugged ways. As mentioned in the bugs section, vampires can be discovered and identified in statues and engraving, through their refusal to claim bedrooms, through adoption events, and through weapon kill lists.
There are a few "cheap" ways as well. If you use Dwarf Therapist, dwarves will be listed by their true name there, and if you find a dwarf on the games' unit screen that is not in the Dwarf Therapist list, or the other way round, you know you've got a vampire. DFHack has a special command, "cursecheck," which returns the count of cursed creatures on a tile, and will report vampires. Checking out a drained dwarf in Legends mode will tell you that "In the year Z X was drained by of all blood by Y."
To see if a vampire was cursed by a deity that it worships, look under the
vampire's dwarf's relationships and view the deities that are listed. Give the dwarf a nickname and, when viewing the deity relationship, it will say: "In the [season description] of [year], [deity] cursed the dwarf vampire [nickname you chose] [dwarf's original name] to prowl the night in search of blood in [original location]". Since the nickname applies retroactively, this is a sure way to identify a vampire that happens to worship the deity that cursed it. This method is very tedious when looking at many suspects, and may apply to only a small fraction of vampires, so you should probably use it after trying the more obvious signs (like many former associations, or tags after "needs alcohol to get through the working day").
Vampires attack and drink from dwarves who are sleeping, so one defense is to force all dwarves to sleep and meet in the same room, increasing the likelihood of eyewitnesses catching the monster in the act. Curiously, even if convicted of a vampiric murder, a vampire will not necessarily be killed, but given a normal justice penalty such as temporary imprisonment. If you want to get rid of her you will have to take justice into your own hands and introduce the leech to a pit of lava, bottomless pit, arena fight, dropping tower, or other elimination method of your choice. This can be facilitated through the use of burrows. However, one must take care that the vampire is properly memorialized because even the ghosts of vampires will seek out your sleeping citizens and kill them.
If you can correctly identify a vampire and isolate it from the rest of your population, you can make use of them without fear of blood feedings. A lone vampire in a sealed room will never die of hunger or thirst, doesn't need to sleep, and will never age. The only way a vampire can die (without your vengeful intervention) is in combat, through syndromes, or through insanity. Sealing it somewhere prevents the first two, and early detection will prevent the vampire from making friends whom he will obviously outlive. Since a vampire wants for so little it is difficult for him to fall into insanity without relationships.
Once you have your sealed emotionally detached vampire, your fortress becomes effectively eternal, since the vampire will always be alive even if horrible FUN claims your entire population. Be wary of ghosts, though, as they are the only being capable of reaching your vampire's eternal prison. Simply wait for the fun to pass and new immigrants to repopulate your otherwise abandoned fort.
Consider placing a chair and table in your vampire's sealed room and making them an undead accountant. As they have nothing to do but sit around for eternity, once they get their skills up, they may make exceedingly effective managers/record keepers. Work orders and stockpile updates currently seem to be psychically transmitted from the desk of the dwarf assigned to those labors, so entombing them in their office isn't an issue. However, vampire dwarves are still alcoholics, yet cannot drink anything but blood; the resulting job performance penalty from the "can't even remember the last time he/she had some" level of alcohol withdrawal significantly reduces the usefulness of vampires in this sort of role.
A cloistered vampire can also be used as a sleepless, un-eating and drinking dwarf who is always ready for some lever pulling, even if the rest of your dwarves die. With all that said, having an eternally cloistered vampire is not without drawbacks. As vampires do not drink, yet are still alcohol-dependent, they will eventually suffer performance penalties and take longer breaks. This can have fatal consequences if you need the lever to keep the goblin siege outside pulled now. Since dwarves get unhappy thoughts from having their clothes rot away, a vampire that's been naked for years is quite prone to tantruming or going insane, which can lead to even worse outcomes should he be assigned to the lever room. Of course, you could drop him some clothes from a chute, but what fun is that when there are other things to drop from above? Another way to mitigate cloistered vampire unhappiness is to convict them of one or more of their murders after they've been sealed in; they will eventually derive happiness from having their punishment "delayed".
Vampires do increase their stats like other dwarves, so that a weak vampire may be easily upgraded into a mighty one by using him as a miner or easily trained into a legendary swimmer. A vampire craftsdwarf may be burrow-limited to his workshop plus a stockpile or a miner restricted to specific mining levels, avoiding any other miners. It will be safe, if all of the miners have separate, assigned bedrooms.
If a vampire gets injured enough to lose teeth and control of their limbs, the vampire may be in and out of the hospital frequently for a long time which gives your medical team lots experience fast. This can be very useful if the biome and surroundings make it so the hospital doesn't see too many patients.
If you have no better idea you can use a vampire to explore the caverns; they are usually good fighters with military experience and will not run off to refill their waterskin.
So, in general, when under control, vampires tend to be much more useful and valuable than most of your non-bloodsucking dwarves. Without access to any sleeping places or hospitals, they tend to be totally harmless to other dwarves.
 Vampire fortress
It is possible to turn one vampire into many vampires by forcing your dwarves to drink water contaminated by vampire blood. This effect can be achieved by building an upright spear trap, filling the tile with water, having the vampire walk over the tile (or else dropping the vampire inside), then pulling the lever a few times to get them to bleed into the water. Once the water is bloodied, the booze supply can be cut off or forbidden, and your dwarves will have no choice but to drink the contaminated water and become vampires.
This has a few disadvantages, however. First of all, eating fine food, drinking good drink, and dining in a fine setting are some of the biggest happiness modifiers in the game, and their absence will have a severe negative effect on your fortress's contentedness. Secondly, some of your residents probably won't make the change, as they will choose to sleep before drinking and will be drunk by some of your newly cursed lieges. Finally, the process must be repeated for all migrant waves, with the same issue of probable death. These factors combined make a vampiric fortress very hard to keep happy for very long.
 Unfortunate accidents
Although keeping a single vampire in eternal solitary confinement can be a bonus for any fortress, it is always important to be capable of killing them whenever necessary (especially if the peasants unwittingly elect one as their leader and an unfortunate accident becomes necessary). However, vampires have certain abilities which will make it more difficult to properly take care of them - they cannot drown, and their physical strengths could make them tougher to kill with regular weapons. Fortunately, they are not resistant to high-tech particle physics experimentation.
 Playing as a vampire
By drinking the blood of a vampire in adventure mode, you immediately become a vampire. You will be able to feed on other creatures by usingand choosing the "Feed" option on an unconscious target. On becoming a vampire, Strength, Agility and Toughness are doubled. Physical attributes such as endurance are still able to increase after becoming a vampire.
- Note: The game does not give you any confirmation that you have become a vampire.v0.34.11 The only way to make sure that you have transformed is to wait for twenty-four hours (enough time for any regular mortal to hunger for food.) until you get thirsty, which should show up eventually. To get rid of the thirsty tag, you MUST drink directly from another living knocked out, unconscious or sleeping creature. This could lead to hazardous mishaps if you're discovered/if the victim awakes, unless you beat your victim senseless first. Once you have fed on an unsuspecting victim, you will have a red icon denoting you are a vampire next to your name.
Due to such conditions, it is relatively impossible to quench your thirst (on any member of a civilization) without antagonizing any of your companions, and even if you don't have any, there's still that chance that your victim might wake up in the middle of your feast and effectively set a whole civilization against you. One way to counter this is to raid goblin/bandit camps, concentrating on one lone weak unit far from any of his comrades, beat him till he gives in to pain (but not to death) and then feed on him directly. You can do the same with wildlife, although some of them may be more aggressive and most might die too quickly. You can also try to strangle your foes; they have no chance to die and instantly pass out. For instructions on chokeholds, see the relevant article.
After becoming a vampire, you become invincible to zombies, since you're now a night creature. It is usually preferred to raid a necromancer tower alone, because bringing companions will only get them killed, and your agility when you become a vampire will rise drastically anyway, causing you to outrun them. This increased agility will also give you better odds against bogeymen and night trolls, since you'll be quicker than both.
Playing as a vampire is a strong advantage, assuming you can manage your bloodthirst. The most convenient method of drinking blood is to wield a blunt weapon such as a mace: as long as you don't strike the head, enemies rarely bleed out or suffocate from blunt damage and it's easy to force them to give into the pain. Interestingly, your allies don't seem to care if you drink blood from enemies, and blood can be drunk in a single turn in combat (occasionally killing the creature, depending on its size and your thirst). Vampire bloodthirst shows up less often than normal thirst, and can usually be sated in a single feeding from a human-sized opponent. Feeding from smaller animals, such as dingos, is possible but multiple feedings may be necessary.
Vampires, as noted before, do not need to eat, nor drink (normal fluids), nor sleep. As an adventurer, this is a huge advantage, as you don't need to stop, or worry about carrying consumables. As long as there's living, pain-feeling enemies, you can feed. Vampires also do not need to breathe and do not tire. They can swim as long as necessary and cannot drown, even to the extent of being able to swim oceans. A sufficiently skilled and armed vampire is essentially immortal for all intents and purposes.
- Although vampires don't drink anything except blood in fortress mode, they still appear to suffer from symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. This has not been acknowledged as a bug. Bug:5189
- Statues and engravings may identify dwarves as vampires before it is common knowledge, and may even depict them sucking blood.Bug:5209
- Likewise, pets adopted by vampires will identify them as vampires in the adoption announcement.Bug:5942
- Vampires do not bother claiming bedrooms, which doesn't help their disguise.Bug:5642
- Weapon kill lists identify vampires.Bug:5635
- Soldiers will not attack vampires caught red-handed, and can be fooled by their counter-accusations.Bug:5087