slideshow_large Sometime around the end of the last ice age, early vampires broke off from their human evolutionary path. While some early humans hunted and drank the blood of animals they'd slain believing it would endow them with the animal's powers, the progenitors of the vampire race believed the same - but they hunted humans. Over time, this ingestion of blood and the subsequent life force energy (ki in Japanese or chi in Chinese) endowed vampires with several heightened abilities including a much longer life span than humans.

Early vampire society was nomadic and tended to be scattered across the globe in small pockets that were reasonably safe from persecution. At the end of the Renaissance, however, representatives from several major vampire communities in Boston, London, Lhasa, Alexandria, Berlin, Paris, Rome came together to discuss the formation of a vampire governing body, to be known as the Council.

The Council's first act was to lay down a series of laws and establish an elite group of vampires charged with enforcing them. Known simply as Fixers, these specially-trained male vampires would have the responsibility of protecting the Balance - the secret existence of the vampire race, by upholding its laws. Criminals would be judged by the Council and in the event that their crimes were deemed serious enough to compromise the Balance, a Fixer would be dispatched to execute the criminal.

The official badge of the Fixer Service is a sword with a crosspiece of scales - justice balanced on the tip of a blade.

As the vampire race continued to expand and connect with other communities across the globe, efforts were made to insert vampires into every level of human society. Indistinguishable from their human counterparts, vampires hold jobs in every career field today. This penetration has enabled them vampire race to further secure itself.

Vampires today enjoy a good standard of living and want for very little. Blood requirements are furnished through a series of blood banks that dispense the necessary amounts required by each member of the race. Some vampires choose to carry on the hunting traditions of the past and this is legal, provided they do not drain a victim or take the blood by force. Given the subculture of vampirism and its followers, finding a willing victim is never difficult. For other vampires, it is simply easier to rely on the Council blood subsidies to survive and flourish.

slideshow_large Due to the life force energy they ingest from the blood they drink, vampires have above-human strength and endurance. Their reflexes are also superior, resulting in faster movements. Nocturnal eyesight is excellent due to the increased number of rods and cones in their eyes and pupil dilation control. A properly "juiced" vampire, that is one who has just ingested a serving of blood, is a truly formidable opponent.

As the life force energy wears off, however, a vampire's abilities return to a much more human level of performance. Most vampires will need to ingest blood at least once every thirty-six hours. If they go beyond three days without blood, they will begin to grow sick. After five days, their bodies will slowly start to feast on their own dwindling life force, eventually killing them.

slideshow_large Vampires are vulnerable to wood and wood distillates. Based on the five elemental cycle of destruction in Asian philosophy, the wood upsets the earth cycle of life and therefore can kill vampires in small quantities. Ideally, Fixer bullets fragment wooden shards of the hardwood lignum vitae into the heart, spreading the destruction at the source, which then courses through the bloodstream effecting a rapid death.

Other methods of death have been dealt using turpentine laced throwing stars, which have punctured the skin. Hypodermic attacks with certain tree sap distillates have also proven effective.

Explosives, by and large, do not affect vampires unless there is wooden fragmentation involved.

Vampires routinely live to be approximately 500 years old, although certain classes like Elders may live for almost 800 years.

slideshow_large Taluk (TAH-look) is the vampire language that has evolved much the way the vampire race has. A melange of assorted tongues and dialects, Taluk contains tidbits of almost every human language on Earth. There are two distinct writing systems, an ancient script language and a more modern block print system that closely resembles the English alphabet.

Taluk Phrases of Importance: Fyar Chuldoc Erim: "Duty, Loyalty, Honor" - Motto of The Fixer Service

Malang dol hachvem: "Before all, the Balance" - Response to standard recognition code for Fixers

Mav kola an gurok: "How goes the hunt?" - Everyday greeting similar to "hello" or "good day"

slideshow_large Along with the vampires, there are several other races that inhabit the planet.

Lycanthropes are among the most well-known, although their population is roughly one half that of the vampires. Unlike the legends, they are not strictly "werewolves," but rather shape shifters who can approximate their appearance into either an animal or human of comparable size and shape. Most lycanthropes will choose a particular animal as their "Preda" or fighting figure if they must engage in combat. Lycanthropes speak their own guttural language called "Geralach."

N'yak Tul are a race of subterranean dwellers who worship an ancient dark god. Very little is known about them at this time.

Rumors abound of other races said to exist outside the realm of human awareness.

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