Powers and Limitations of Vampires

Dracula's powers and weaknesses: This is a series of quotations from the book Dracula by Bram Stoker (the Signet Classic version). I hope through these quotations from the book to help interested parties get some ideas of the powers of vampires, for Stoker basically introduced the myth of the vampire to the masses (in other words, he made it more widespread than it had ever been before).

Dracula ComicI hope that you guys enjoy it (REMEMBER -- this is only one version of the myth and writers were made to expand on things like this as many writers have done before! :[ )

Also I will enclose in this some notes from Vampires, published by Mayfair Games, on Dracula's abilities in order to clear up some of his abilities that remain unclear from the quotations. Enjoy!

Chapter 18 - excerpts from Mina Harker's journal
(words of Van Helsing): The nosferatu do not die like the bee when he sting once. He is stronger; and being stronger, yet have more power to work evil. This vampire which is amongst us is of himself so strong in person as twenty men; he is of cunning more than mortal, for his cunning be the growth of ages; he have still the aids of necromancy, which is, as his etymology imply, the divination of the dead, and all the dead that he can come nigh to are for him at command; he is brute, and more than brute; he is devil in callous, and the heart of him is not; he can, within limitations, appear at will when, and where, and in any of the forms that are to him; he can, within his range, direct the elements; the storm, the fog, the thunder; he can command all the meaner things: the rat, and the owl, and the bat - the moth, and the fox, and the wolf; he can grow and become small; and he can at times vanish and come unknown. . . . But to fail here, is not mere life or death. It is that we became as him; 'Take it, then, that the vampire, and the belief in his limitations and his cure, rest for the moment on the same base. For, let me tell you, he is known everywhere that men have been. In old Greece, in old Rome; he flourish in Germany all over, in France, in India, even in the Chernosese; and in China, so far from us in all ways, there even he is, and the peoples fear him at this day. He have follow the wake of the berserker Icelander, the devil-begotten Hun, the Slav, the Saxon, the Magyar. So far, then, we have all we may act upon; and let me tell you that very much of the beliefs are justified by what we have seen in our own unhappy experience. The vampire live on, and cannot die by mere passing of time; he can flourish when that he can fatten on the blood of the living. Even more, we have seen amongst us that he can even grow younger; that his vital faculties grow strenuous, and seem as though they refresh themselves when his special pabulum is plenty. But he cannot flourish without his diet;

In the records are such words as 'stregoica' - witch, 'ordog,' and 'pokol' - Satan and hell; and in one manuscript this very Dracula is spoken of as 'wampyr,' which we all understand too well. There have been from the loins of this very one great men and good women, and their graves make sacred the earth where alone this foulness can dwell. For it is not the least of its terrors that this evil thing is rooted deep in all good; in soil barren of holy memories it cannot rest.

Chapter 24 - excerpt from Dr. John Seward's diary
(words of Van Helsing): She did not speak, even when she wrote that which she wished to be known later. Now my fear is this. If it be that she can, by our hypnotic trance, tell what the Count see and hear, is it not more true that he who have hypnotize her first, and have drink of her very blood and make her drink of his, should, if he will, compel her mind to disclose to him that which she know?

Chapter 26 - excerpt from Dr. John Seward's diary
(words of Van Helsing): But he has to get on shore. In the night he may lay hidden somewhere; but if he be not carried on shore, or if the ship do not touch it, he cannot achieve the land. If such case he can, if it be in the night, change his form and can jump or fly on shore, as he did at Whitby. But if the day before he get on shore, then, unless he be carried he cannot escape.

Chapter 27 - excerpts from Dr. Van Helsing's memorandum
Ah, I doubt not that in old time, when such things were, many a man who set forth to do such a task as mine, found at last his heart fail him, and then his nerve. So he delay, and delay, and delay, till the mere beauty and the fascination of the wanton Un-Dead have hypnotize him; and he remain on and on, till sunset come, and the Vampire sleep be over. Then the beautiful eyes of the fair woman open and look for love, and the voluptuous mouth present to a kiss - and man is weak. And there remain one more victim in the Vampire fold; one more to swell the grim and grisly ranks of the Un-Dead!

Before I began to restore these women to their dead selves through my awful work, I laid in Dracula's tomb some of the Wafer, and so banished him from it, Un-Dead, for ever.

Well folks, that's the end of the quotations from Stoker. . . here are some quotations from the game Chill, the supplement called Vampire on Dracula's powers and weaknesses:


Dracula cannot cast a reflection. This also means that his image does not appear on film or any other device that requires a light (or heat) source to produce and image. A flame can be seen through his body. The sight of human blood excites and enrages Dracula. Dracula does not die when exposed to sunlight; he is able to move about during the day. Sunlight does weaken him, however [ he can't use his supernatural powers] except at noon (exactly at noon, not a second before or after) and for a few moments after sunrise and before sunset. Although Dracula looks to be dead or asleep when in his coffin, he is actually in a light trance. He can still hear the sounds near his coffin.

The following items offer protection against Dracula:

A crucifix. (It can be made of virtually any solid material. A crucifix does not include a regular cross, or any item or image in the shape of a cross). Upon seeing this item, Dracula cowers and withdraws, leaving the area quickly and in any manner possible. The crucifix doesn't diminish his powers except that he can't enter the area within a 2 1/2 foot radius from it. A blessed crucifix placed inside his empty coffin prevents Dracula from returning to rest there.
Garlic. The odor of the bulb causes Dracula to leave the room or immediate area.
A wild rose. This flower has the same effect as garlic. It also immobilizes the vampire when placed on him.
Mountain ash. When placed upon the Count, the leaf has the same effect as a wild rose.

According to Dr. Van Helsing, there are two steps in destroying Dracula: first drive a wooden stake through or burn his heart. Then, decapitate him. If someone uses the stake or burns the heart, but fails to sever Dracula's head, the Count turns into a cloud of fog. This reaction occurs automatically.'


The information that I just added from that game, I think has been slightly spiced up for the game itself; but it is still interesting stuff to ponder. I hope you guys enjoy this fluff legend/source for vampire stories and use it to add some 'historical sense of facts to your stories! :[



The following is an attempt to recreate an essay I submitted to VAMPYRES sometime ago. It should serve to summarize and clarify the information provided above by Ghostdancer.

Bram Stoker's _Dracula_ was not the first fictional work involving vampires. It was, however, the best known and most widely read vampire novel (at least before Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles) and the image of the vampire held by the general public was largely shaped by Stoker's vampire. The impact has been so great that the name Dracula has almost become synonymous with the vampire myth. Most of the films concerning vampires were (and continue to be) heavily dependent on Stoker's work. Most of the fictional vampires created since 1896 were largely derived from Stoker's writing (with a few very significant exceptions). Consequently, we are justified in spending some time examining the nature of the vampire as delineated in the pages of _Dracula_.

The vampire is essentially an evil spirit with some corporeal characteristics. It is an animated corpse that survives by drinking the blood of the living. It also has a demonic nature and is a servant of Satan, dedicated to spreading its evil throughout the world. As a creature that partakes of both the spiritual and physical worlds the vampire wields great powers. It is also subject to severe limitations. Note that most of the vampire's powers increase with age and experience.

The vampire does not age nor will it die from the passing of time, though it may appear to age if it goes sometime without feeding. When Johnathan Harker first met Dracula in Transylvania, the Count appeared to be an old man with white hair. However, the vampire could also undergo a rejuvenation when the blood supply was plentiful. When Harker later encountered the Count in London his hair had turned iron gray and he appeared many years younger. The vampire is also immune to all the diseases that normally prey upon humanity.

The vampire's physical strength greatly exceeds that of mortals. Dracula is described as having the strength of twenty strong men. His other physical abilities are also elevated. During the encounter in the house in Picadilly, when the vampire hunters think they have trapped Dracula during the day, the Count is described as moving with preternatural speed to avoid their weapons and leaping from a second story window to escape. He is unharmed by the drop and flees laughing at his frustrated enemies.

Under most conditions the vampire is immune to mortal weapons. At night, when his powers are at their fullest, he is practically invincible. Only when moving about during the day or when resting in his coffin is he subject to physical harm. The only method of destroying the vampire permanently is to drive a stake through its heart, cut off its head and fill the mouth with garlic or Holy Wafer, and cut out and burn the heart.

This is a point of inconsistency in Stoker's writing. The method of killing a vampire described above is stated by van Helsing to be the only sure method of permanently destroying the vampire and it is the method used to end the existence of all the vampires in the novel but Dracula himself. Dracula is destroyed when his heart is pierced by a knife and he is simultaneously decapitated. This is not inconsistent with the vampire legends of Europe since simple decapitation is the preferred method of vampire destruction in many areas of the Continent. However, it does conflict with van Helsing's statements earlier in the novel. Perhaps this conflict can be explained by the fact that Dracula was exposed to the direct rays of the sun at the moment the vampire hunters struck. It is also possible (though unclear from the text) that the Count had been thrown from his coffin- box when it was thrown off its wagon. This would remove the Count from the protective layer of hallowed native soil upon which he must rest.

The vampire may command the creatures of the night. The wolf, the rat, the fox, the owl, the bat and the moth must all obey the summons and commands of the vampire lord. This power is demonstrated at several points in the novel. Early in the novel Johnathan Harker sees his coach driver (the Count in disguise) disperse a closing circle of hunting wolves. A short time later the Count summons wolves to kill a peasant woman who has come to the castle seeking her infant (a recent victim of the Count). When the Count is attempting to subdue Renfield to his will he summons hundreds of rats, promising to give them all to the madman.

The vampire is a shape shifter. He may assume the form of a wolf or a bat and possibly any of the other animals subject to his command. The vampire may also transform himself into a mist or dust motes drifting in the air. When Harker first sees the vampire women in Castle Dracula they appear as motes of dust dancing on the moon beams. They gradually coalesce into human form, though by that time Harker is completely under their hypnotic spell. Only the sudden appearance of the Count saves Harker from becoming a victim. When the Count arrives in England he assumes that shape of a wolf to leap from the bow of his ship to the shore.

Within a limited range, the Count has the power to control the weather. During the long voyage from Transylvania to England he keeps his ship surrounded by a dense cloud of fog. Upon arrival off the shore of England he summons a great storm to cover his entry into the country. He often uses fog or mist to cover his movements.

The vampire may alter his size within certain limits, becoming either larger or smaller. The clearest demonstration of this power is seen when the newly created vampire Lucy enters her crypt by becoming thin enough to pass through the crack in the door.

Dracula has the power to become invisible and to pass unseen among his enemies. He also appears to have some powers of teleportation within a limited range. Both of these abilities are based entirely on the statements of van Helsing. Dracula is never shown using these powers at any point in the novel.

One of the most deadly powers of the vampire is his hypnotic ability. Much like the snake and the bird, the vampire may exert his will over the will of his victim, even to the point of inducing a catatonic state. This power explains why victims often have no memory of being attacked. One of the clearest demonstrations of this power comes when the heroes break into the Harker bedroom to discover the Count forcing the helpless Mina to drink from the open vein in his chest. Johnathan lies in the bed next to Mina, entranced and unable to awaken and come to the aid of his wife.

Dracula apparently also had some necromantic abilities. Van Helsing states that all the dead that Dracula can come near are his to command. These abilities may be specific to Dracula and not generally available to other vampires. Van Helsing implies at one point that during life Dracula was a practitioner of the Black Arts. In fact, it is implied that it was the practice of Black Magic that led to Dracula's transformation into a vampire. The Count would have retained this arcane knowledge after death.

The vampire may climb walls much like a large insect. He may climb normally or with his head toward the ground. Dracula is seen using this ability when he leaves his quarters in Castle Dracula. Lastly, the vampire has the power to create others of its kind. This is not automatic; every victim who dies from the attack of the vampire does not in turn rise from the dead as a vampire. It requires a special act on the part of the vampire to create a new vampire. Specifically, the victim must be forced to drink the blood of the vampire. This is the act that van Helsing calls 'the vampire's baptism of blood.' From this moment onward the victim is cursed and will eventually, whether death results from vampire attack or natural causes, become a vampire following death. The victim is under the mental domination of the master vampire and can only exert an independent will during the daylight hours or when the master vampire consciously releases his control. This is a two-way linkage and under the proper conditions the victim can determine something about the whereabouts of the vampire. Only the death of the master vampire can free the victim from the threat of becoming one of the undead.

This is an impressive array of powers. It would seem that such a creature would be invincible. However, there are severe restrictions on the vampire's powers. We now pass to a discussion of these limitations.

The first limitation upon the vampire is his restriction during the hours of daylight. Contrary to popular belief, Dracula is not destroyed by the light of the sun. He is, however, severely weakened. When moving about during the day the vampire is unable to use any of his supernatural powers except for the precise moment of noon and for a few moments after sunrise and before sunset. Only his strength and agility remain unchanged during the day. Further, he may be harmed by mortal weapons when moving about during the hours of daylight.

It is possible that this ability comes only with age and that newly created vampires lack the strength to withstand the light of day. The vampire must rest in hallowed ground from its native land. Usually the vampire will rest in its coffin during the day in a light trance- like state that mimics true death. However, the vampire is aware of things happening around it when in this state. The vampire may only leave its resting place at sunrise, noon or sunset. This is clearly the vampire's time of greatest vulnerability since it is helpless when resting within its coffin. Dracula shipped fifty boxes of Transylvanian soil to England to provide himself with a variety of resting places. It is unclear whether the vampire must rest every day or may remain 'awake' for several days in a row.

The vampire may not cross running water. He may be carried over or at certain times he may change shape and fly or jump over. If the vampire becomes immersed in running water he is completely helpless and will be destroyed.

The vampire may not enter a home unless he is freely invited in by one of the residents. Dracula required and invitation from Renfield before he could enter Seward's Sanitarium. However, once he has been invited in he may come and go at will.

Holy or sacred objects will repel the vampire. The most potent such object is the crucifix. Contact with the crucifix will actually burn the vampire (see the scarring of Mina Harker in the novel). Holy wafer placed in the vampire's coffin will prevent him from using it as a resting place. Garlic will also repel the vampire though it is not nearly as efficacious as the Holy objects. A branch of wild rose placed atop the vampire's coffin while he is within will imprison him. A consecrated bullet fired through the coffin at this time will kill him.

Originally posted to the VAMPYRES list by Ghostdancer (rollins@athena.cs.uga.edu)

Fanged Films

From the Library

As the 20th century evolved, rational man turned to science to explain mythology that had pervaded for thousands of years. How could a man be mistaken for a vampire? How could someone appear to have been the victim of a vampire attack? Science, in time, came back with answers that may surprise you.Anemia
A million fancies strike you when you hear the name: Nosferatu!N O S F E R A T Udoes not die!What do you expect of the first showing of this great work?Aren't you afraid? - Men must die. But legend has it that a vampire, Nosferatu, 'der Untote' (the Undead), lives on men's blood! You want to see a symphony of horror? You may expect more. Be careful. Nosferatu is not just fun, not something to be taken lightly. Once more: beware.- Publicity for Nosferatu in the German magazine Buhne und Film, 1922  

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