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Vampirism. There are benefits and drawbacks, but one of the benefits is not aging. Great if you get turned in your early twenties, but... what happens if you are turned earlier?

Being turned as an infant would probably not be fun, but how early can we push things? (For simplicity, let's call our hypothetical child-vampire "George".)

Rules:

  • George should be at least somewhat self sufficient and able to perform physical feats "comparable" to an adult, adjusted for size. In particular:
    • Can stand upright, walk, run, climb up or down stairs, and generally move about.
    • Can eat food, bath, and put on clothing without assistance.
    • Can walk/run with comparable endurance (similar length of time, not necessarily similar distance). Can perform physical exertion (proportionally scaled; for example, body-only exercises) with comparable endurance.
    • Can lift at least¹ a proportional amount. (For example, at 33", or roughly half the height of an "average" adult in the US, George should be able to lift about an eighth or more¹ what the same "average" adult could lift.)
  • Physiological development isn't "necessarily" halted; George just has to look, from the outside, like he is the same age as when he was turned. (So, no bone growth or shape changes, but composition is allowed to change.)
  • George should be able to develop mentally to an adult or near-adult state.
  • No ongoing magic. (You can hand-wave how George gets to wherever he's physiologically going, but he can't rely on supernatural abilities once he gets there.)

It should be at least somewhat plausible to go fairly early; after all, the world's shortest adult was a mere 21½". How small could you go, especially dealing with child proportions, and still accomplish the above objectives?

(¹ I think that, due to the way the square-cube law works, we might actually expect George's proportional abilities to exceed those of an adult... but I'm not sure.)


For the purposes of this question, ignore the issues that George will have strictly because of a) height or b) apparent "legal" age. People with dwarfism can be self-sufficient by just about any definition. What I'm really asking is what (insurmountable, given the above wiggle-room) problems, if any, George will have from having the body of a child rather than an adult with dwarfism (AwD). In particular, at what point (in development, or rather lack thereof) do the above limitations necessitate a debilitating difference in physical or mental ability when compared to a same-height AwD who definitely does meet the stated objectives?

I'm confident there is an answer, since I'm pretty sure that no amount of hand-waving of "outwardly invisible development" is going to permit a "functional" person by these standards that visually appears to be a newborn infant. (And at the far end, well, if he's turned as an adult, obviously he can function as an adult. This puts both a lower and upper limit on an answer.)

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  • $\begingroup$ "somewhat self sufficient" is a very vague definition. Think about 1, 2, 3 year old humans with an adult mind. Can you call them "self sufficient"? $\endgroup$ – Alexander May 1 at 18:11
  • $\begingroup$ I am wondering why an infant would be turned an not devoured, this is making me think of Angel the tv series but that aside lol, I cant imagine a mini me can exist in the normal world without someone to help them be their pretend parent. $\endgroup$ – user69935 May 1 at 18:45
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    $\begingroup$ Anne Rice explored this idea. One character was an ancient pre-pubescent girl. If I recall correctly, she encountered lots of annoyances quite regularly. $\endgroup$ – user535733 May 1 at 18:50
  • $\begingroup$ @Alexander, 3yo? Maybe. An adult with dwarfism may be shorter than said 3yo, but can be self-sufficient by just about any definition (at least in modern society). Does the difference in body proportions matter? Well... I don't know; that's what I'm asking. If we go smaller, same thing. I also gave several criteria for what I consider the cutoff between "acceptable" and "not acceptable" self-sufficiency. $\endgroup$ – Matthew May 1 at 19:28
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I would expect the answer to be when the child is physically capable of walking. Physically capable is not the same as the age that the skill is learned, though, so probably younger than the average walking age of 8-12mo. The youngest children have been known to walk is around 6mo, so I'd assume a 4-5mo vampire-baby could manage it.

I want to worry about cartilage-bone ratios, but walking is probably a safe threshold for that not being so much of an issue.

However, psychological development is kinda complicated. Between hormones and the limbic system, etc, I'd expect that an adult mind transported into a toddler body would find emotional incontinence and impulsiveness to be increased. How does synaptic pruning work without aging? Etc. Yes, mental development is explicitly handwaved in the question, but it is a complex enough subject that I'd still wonder about the details.

Generally speaking, though, demonstrated ability tends to lag behind physical development, between learning and environment, so it seems safe to say that being physically capable of walking and manipulating objects is the bare minimum, and those can come quite early.

Having said all that, proportions, lung capacity, and things like that will dramatically affect running, stamina, and the like. Size puts upper bounds on some of these. So while I'd accept the minimum being a few months, erring on the side of a little later (a year or two) might be playing it safer.

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  • $\begingroup$ BTW, "cartilage-bone ratios" is the sort of thing covered by "composition is allowed to change", so I should be okay there. $\endgroup$ – Matthew May 11 at 18:10
  • $\begingroup$ I'm accepting this, but... it was really something of a toss-up between this and Willk's answer; this one covers the physical aspects, and Willk (albeit after some nudging on a related question 😉) covered the critical mental aspect. $\endgroup$ – Matthew May 11 at 18:26
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Going out on a limb, I would say 6 is the youngest George can be while retaining self-sufficiency. At that age, he's large enough to operate in a society mostly by himself(though he will probably need to carry around a foldable stepping stool). Six-year-olds can run for a surprising amount of time, they can jump, and virtually all of them love to show off how strong they are. They can do a few pull-ups and around as many push-ups as an adult. Plus, if he stays at that age forever(i.e a very long time) his muscles will continue to become denser and more capable of endurance, even if they don't grow more than looking like a jacked six-year-old.

Heck, George may actually be faster than adults after ten years of being a six-year-old because his lighter mass would take significantly less energy to move around. He could even become the pull-up world record holder!

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  • $\begingroup$ Okay, so I can go as young as six... why not five? Is there a reason you picked six? $\endgroup$ – Matthew May 1 at 23:23
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    $\begingroup$ @Matthew Honestly, I think the only actual limiting factor is height, in this case. A six-year-old can pretty easily reach things like the faucet, and at an average of 45 pounds, they're heavy enough to maintain balance while lifting hefty things. I don't think there's an exact cut-off, it just gets progressively more difficult to thrive. If their muscles and brain still develop, a newborn-sized human could survive, they'd just have may have to bring a grappling hook to get into bed or wash the dishes. $\endgroup$ – chase leffers May 2 at 1:01
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Very young children function very well, when cared for.

Your toddler vampire would not be fighting werewolves or working kung fu, though it might help if it were cute. It would look and act like a toddler. It would live in densely populated and poor areas of the world, or areas torn by war and genocide. People would find it, and assume it to have been abandoned or lost. They would bring it to a place for such children where it could be cared for until its family showed up or until it could find a new home.

Once taken into a dwelling, the 1 year old vampire is set. It is cared for as a child, and it can feed on other persons living there. An orphanage or refugee camp would be perfect as it can feed on other abandoned children. If some of these die it is no great surprise; many are sick already. Maybe the vampire prefers them.

The toddler vampire must move on from time to time. It might not have to move far.


Of note, toddler skulls can hold adult sized brains. If it helps the story you could have the brain mature while the vampire keeps the appearance of a toddler. It would need to be careful to maintain toddler behavior when watched.

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  • $\begingroup$ Being known as a vampire is not a problem. (I'm actually fudging a bunch of details because "ageless vampire" is a concept that a) I've seen before and b) I don't have to explain too much. IOW, don't get too hung up on George being a "vampire".) I did explicitly say that continued development that is not visibly obvious is allowed (and indeed, expected), so knowing that I'm okay brain-wise is really helpful! $\endgroup$ – Matthew May 5 at 18:17
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Well... depending on what physiological changes your vampirism brings with it I'd say very early. In modern use most forms bring heightened strength and speed. If body strength is heightened then one could argue that even a newborn would easily be able to fulfill all your definitions. Especially when you'd consider that a proportionate growth in muscle potential would benefit a small body much more than a larger one and might allow it to jump higher than a grown body would. I don't see a reason why brain development would be affected as generally neural elasticity doesn't seem to be changed through vampirism and alls limitations regarding walking are due to missing grasp of how to move, muscle strength and dexterity (which results from the former two). The huge head definitely would look weird and creepy but wouldn't necessarily mean, that it wouldn't be able to move well. I would argue a well trained body would be able to work with the offset of center of gravity. It probably may not be able to run (very well), but it might be easier for a body like that to make huge jumps. For practical reasons I'd suggest to wait for the hole in the head to close though.

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  • $\begingroup$ Derp. Sorry, I forgot to mention that George isn't allowed to rely on magical enhancement on an ongoing basis. So, no super-strength unless you can justify it working within the normal laws of physics. (How he obtains it, on the other hand, is fair game.) I won't downvote, though, because a) that was my bad, and b) you also make some other good points. I generally agree that a lot of the issues e.g. toddlers have are due to lack of neurological development, and not having your body change constantly would significantly mitigate that. $\endgroup$ – Matthew May 1 at 20:24
  • $\begingroup$ I'll also mention that children have a comparatively higher strength-to-weight ratio than adults. Muscle strength is proportional to cross-sectional area, so according to the square-cube law, someone doubling in size will have their strength increase 4x but their mass increase by 8x, halving their strength-to-weight overall. If an infant had the time to develop their muscles while remaining the same size, they'd be extremely strong for their size. $\endgroup$ – Nuclear Wang May 1 at 20:29
  • $\begingroup$ @NuclearWang, right, as noted in my square-cube-law comment, I was actually thinking about that 🙂. Which raises the question; am I wrong that someone trapped in a proportionally infantile body wouldn't be able to develop to the point of meeting my self-sufficiency criteria? (If yes, that would be awesome, because it would mean I can effectively say the answer is "as young as I want".) $\endgroup$ – Matthew May 1 at 20:32
  • $\begingroup$ I'd say you are right to assume "as young as you want" would be feasible even if nobody would be able to tell you exactly if it isn't. Neurologically speaking it entirely depends on certain factors as well. One could argue that the neural plasticity doesn't change over time due to vampirism (or there would be vampires with alzheimers) and therefore a newborn or child might go/be crazy and/or smarter than average due to the ability to learn much faster even after they developed a personality and so on. Depends on your take on the change of brain chemistry. $\endgroup$ – Geus May 1 at 20:44
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    $\begingroup$ @Matthew I don't know enough to provide a full answer, but there are some additional changes in physiology in the first year of life, like a straightening of the legs and spine, which might change things a bit. There might be a lower age limit where the skeleton wouldn't support greater muscle development, or at least wouldn't be as mechanically efficient. $\endgroup$ – Nuclear Wang May 4 at 15:54
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Several vampire story lines have come up with various explanations of how this works, but turning children is almost always considered illegal or at least taboo in vampire culture.

Interview With the Vampire had an interesting take in that Claudia, a child vampire, would age mentally despite her physical appearance being totally unchanged. This was a major driving point in the story as it drastically affected her relationship with her fathers (the vampires that turned her) and lead to her taking increasingly more radical actions. Of course that is just the movie, I have never read the books (The Vampire Chronicles) myself.

The Twilight Saga (hold the groans) took the opposite direction in that child vampires do not mentally age, so their new found abilities made them incredibly dangerous given to underdeveloped minds. Temper tantrums could slaughter a village, which of course risked revealing vampire kind to humanity.

Over all though, I don't usually see many vampire stories showing functional child vampires outside of cartoons and anime, in which vampires usually age like any other creature, just very very slowly, and are often immune to natural causes of death, allowing them to be several thousand years old. I suspect this is usually more of a simple way to allow for child vampires, as the audience in this medium is often (but not always) children or teens, which of course need to relate to the characters.

If you are wanting to stick to the traditional, un-aging immortality version of vampires, then it seems puberty is kind of the rough line. Younger than this usually results in chaos, and is therefore generally avoided by all vampires. If you want to really push it though, I might argue that 7 or 8 years old is when children seem to start really comprehending more complex ideas about the world beyond their immediate environment, but it is also not horribly uncommon for puberty to start that young, so same argument.

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  • $\begingroup$ Yeah... not sure this is helpful. I'm definitely specifying that mental development is not halted, so most of the problems you cite aren't an issue, and since "not aging" is the only overtly supernatural ability I'm handing out, he's going to be controllable until... well, he's going to be pretty controllable, period. He may be proportionally stronger than an adult, but he's not absolutely stronger. That all said, fair point about where the mental turning point might be. $\endgroup$ – Matthew May 1 at 20:28
  • $\begingroup$ I happen to think that there is no reason to think that there would be a mental turning point a puberty. From what I remember, children in primary school are taught to behave in a reasonably adult manner, including behaving in a civilized way. I don't remember prepubescent children behaving chaotically. Instead they seemed to have been controlled by adults with reasonable ease. $\endgroup$ – M. A. Golding May 2 at 16:55
  • $\begingroup$ @M.A.Golding from experience with my own children. Tantrums are already very difficult to manage despite my greater size and strength. Things would be immensely more difficult if they could run faster than a car and then pick it up and throw it at me. Not to mention the literal blood lust... $\endgroup$ – TitaniumTurtle May 4 at 14:59
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I once went to a first birthday party for a kid that I had never met before. At the party I didn't see the baby I expected to see, and eventually I asked where the birthday boy was. And they pointed to a little kid running around, and I was shocked by how big and active that one year old kid was.

An expert on child development can tell you at what age ranges a typical child begins to learn and later master various abilities, and I expect that a typical child will master some of the listed functions years before others.

I have an idea for a character who becomes immortal at the age of 12. I think that at a height of about 0.83 to 0.9 of a typical adult, and with a weight & strength of about 0.5 to 0.7 of a a typical adult, they can function fairly well in a physical environment designed much more for typical adults than for children.

I think that a much younger and smaller child might also be physically capable of functioning normally if they became a vampire that didn't grow. I think that most children master walking, and running, and climbing, and dressing themselves, and eating, and taking baths, and of course talking fairly well before entering primary school around age six.

I also note that there are examples of kids who develop physically much faster or slower than typical kids. A vampire brat who is precocious physically before becoming a vampire might be able to do things that most kids their age couldn't. For example, when Robert Wadlow was 9 years old, he was 6 feet 2.5 inches tall and weighed 180 pounds, and could carry his father, seated in a chair, up the stars to the second floor.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Wadlow[1]

So I would guess that the minimum age for a physically functional vampire brat would be somewhere between about one year old and about 6 years old.

As for the mental development of your kid, there is absolutely no scientific evidence about the mental development of vampires. There is no evidence that a child that was made a vampire would regress to a younger mental age, and no evidence how much they might possibly develop and grow mentally.

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    $\begingroup$ for the mental aspect, I'm mostly worried whether there are any physical issues that would preclude development. The human brain roughly triples in weight during maturation. If George is stuck with, say, a 500-750g brain, is that a problem? $\endgroup$ – Matthew May 3 at 0:16
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What type of powers are you allowing your vampire?

Let Me In (2010)

If you can mesmerize your ghouls to bring you victims to feed on, you don't need much physical power at all. You just swap out ghouls every 20 years / when they get caught.

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