by: Belladonna for Sanguinus Curae
Due to a few debates that I have recently been a party to, a few more Vampire facts have come to light. Which I will share with you here.
Beyond the difficulty with fire, the truth is - some can, some can't, and most wouldn't.
The feigning of Humanity through the expenditure of Blood Points lasts for an entire scene - more than enough turns to finish a cigarette, and does not need to be repeated every turn.
White Wolf specifically states that vampires on a Path (i.e.: the Sabbat) cannot use their blood to feign Humanity (and furthermore - having abandoned the foibles and trappings of humanity - wouldn't). So while the image of a Sabbat vampire hanging out with a cigarette dangling between their lips may be appealing - it is also highly unlikely.
The reason vampires require blood expenditure to breathe should be obvious. As Benedira pointed out during the debate, the lungs (air containers) of a vampire have atrophied and become desiccated due to physical death. The blood is needed to temporarily rejuvenate the lungs and make them pliable, flexible, and useful again.
This quite naturally raised the question of how vampires can speak if they do not breathe. It was suggested by one individual that breathing was a simple muscular action, and since they believed that vampires still had the use of normal muscle function, they would therefore be able to breathe with ease.
This is not necessarily the case, however.
It is quite possible to speak or make noise without pushing air past your vocal chords, but this is not the answer as to how vampires manage to communicate, however. The flow of air through a vampire's vocal apparatus is a natural function that has nothing to do with breathing. Nature abhors a vacuum, and air always moves to fill any area devoid of it in order to equalize gaseous pressure. The fact that a vampire does not. inhale and exhale actually means that they can keep talking longer than a human being with ease. Consider this - does your voice weaken prior to needing a breath? Do you take another breath because your voice has died? Or is the normal flow of your speech interrupted by your lungs demanding air for the rest of your body? Try it - you will discover that you are able to maintain a precise volume and cadence in your voice right up to the time you begin to see spots for lack of air.
This is because speech is caused by air vibrating past the vocal chords and those sound waves being further shaped by the mouth and tongue - not by breathing past the vocal chords. As soon as a vampire speaks, a small amount of air leaves their mouth - true - but the sound wave vibrations they generate pass through the air, not with it. What little air they expend is replaced by air rushing in their nasal passages - since they are not breathing there is nothing to prevent this from happening - and air pressure is equalized. Since nature abhors a vacuum as we all know - there is a constant amount of air in the vampire's speech areas - the hollows of the mouth, nose, throat, and even the stomach. (Now that's an interesting thought - an overzealous vampire that feeds too quickly would burp, as trapped air in their throat and stomach rose to the surface of the vitae and escaped. *L*)
And - there is no need to assume that vampires experience or utilize normal muscle function to move, walk, gesture, or any of it - this is a trap that is easy to fall into. But since the vampire's muscles are dead like the rest of their body - normal muscle function is an erroneous assumption to leap to.
The cells of a vampire's muscles are dead - incapable of normal expansion and contraction - hence incapable of facilitating movement on their own
Look to the plant world, and you will find the answer - systolic and systemic pressure. Plants move, twist, and bend daily, without the benefit of muscles, by varying the amount of fluid in the cells and arteries of various parts of their structure. Vampires would be able to do the same through a subconscious control over the blood in their system. Remove the blood from a muscle, and it contracts (exactly as muscular contraction in the dead causes them to curl up if their bodies are allowed to dry with desiccation). Flood a muscle with blood, and it relaxes and expands. This theory supports the fact that a staked vampire is paralyzed - the heart is the center of the systolic system and the magical center of the body - interrupting its function by driving a piece of wood through it would render the vampire incapable of moving their blood - hence they would experience paralysis without unconsciousness if this theory is correct and the blood is the reason they can move in the first place.
In fact, it is interesting to theorize that the blood in a vampire's body takes the place of virtually every living systemic function of the human organism. The vitae of a vampire becomes their nervous system, the means by which they move, the means by which they exist entirely. The dead human shell simply becomes the host for a magical creature that is only nominally dependent on the structure of the shell to sustain existence. This might explain why a lack of blood brings on torpor. It might also explain why damaging vital areas of a vampire's body does nothing more than structural injury. A bullet through the brain is only a limited impairment to the vampire, whereas a mortal in their place would only continue to live by a phenomenal miracle.
If the consciousness of the vampire is spread throughout their vitae, this ability to shrug off debilitating damage to the head is a little easier to understand. This would also explain why vampires are so malleable to the effects of their own magic, able to change shape, transform into other substances, and even merge with the earth. Nothing about them is particularly centralized or dependent on form for function - the blood permeates their body, and so too does their mind, spirit, and magic. The body can then be free to change at will, without harming any of the vampire's higher functions.
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