21
$\begingroup$

A certain part of the continent is currently dealing with a plague of undeath. It takes many forms, with corpses rising from their graves, strange creatures roaming in the night, seemingly driven by some unknown malicious presence. To the humans who have the bad luck of calling these lands their home, the most dangerous strain is possibly vampirism, which some would call a curse and others a disease - both correct in essence - and which differs by the manner that this infection affects the living rather the dead.

Of course it would be easiest if the cities could just shut their gates and its people cower behind their walls (the village folk not having such an opportunity), but alas that is not possible. People must eat,and for that they need farmlands and other resources that cannot be found or produced inside the walls. Trade must happen and travellers must take the dangerous journeys between cities and villages. And as the undeath looms for years in the lands, so do the cities and people survive it.

That however brings forth the question: How do cities protect themselves from vampirism?

And to clarify, how to protect from vampirism - the curse/disease getting into the city, threatening to infect the people (and cause deaths through vampires that it will inevitably create). The question is NOT about how to protect the city from vampires - individuals who have contracted vampirism, have already turned and may or may not intend to get into the city.

Setting

  • Tech level would be comparable to late medieval ages, no gunpowder
  • Medicine slightly more advanced than late medieval, there are actually some plants and materials with magical properties, which can be used in medicine to some extent
  • Magic does exist but is generally rare and has limited capabilities (in human hands). One can assume each of the cities in question will have one mage, possibly with an apprentice
  • The cities will have city walls, but not the entirety of buildings can be encompassed by them.
  • The cities may have sewers
  • Scholars and mages are well aware of vampirism and its characteristics, the common folk are less educated and can have some misconceptions, but are aware of vampirism.

Vampirism

So a few more words about vampirism and vampires, so everyone know what we're dealing with.

How can one be infected?

The infection can be contracted in two ways. One is to be bitten, but not killed, by a vampire (typically that only happens if a vampire is forcefully removed from the victim, as a feeding vampire will have the instinct/compulsion to suck the victim dry. A person who dies during the feeding will be, well, dead and not turn into a vampire.

Second way of becoming infected is to be bitten by an animal that carries vampirism. While animals themselves do not become vampires, all mammals can act as hosts for vampirism and infect through bite. Being the carrier of vampirism also makes them more aggressive and more likely to bite, a bit like rabies.

Once a person is bitten there is one last resort to attempt to avoid infection - if the bite is on a limb, removing the limb might save the person if done quickly enough. And since we're dealing with slightly better than medieval-ish levels of medicine, well...

What happens after infection takes toll?

An infected individual enters a period which we can call incubation or which the scholars would call penumbra. At this stage they're still human and alive. Penumbra may last from a couple days to a few weeks, depending on the individual, with factors impacting that time not being fully known. During that time the person may experience brief episodes of photophobia, or sensory overload from their senses becoming enhanced for short while. At the same time they will gain immunity to other diseases and will gradually become less and less sensitive to pain. There is no cure, but the infection can be "stopped" - if the person in penumbra is killed, they will NOT turn into a vampire.

Penumbra ends with the process called umbra, which is a fancy way of saying "vampirism-induced agony". And that's exactly what it is - the person will feel a lot of pain and eventually die as their heart stops and a few minutes later they will reawaken as a vampire. It is important to note that once a person enters umbra, there is no way to stop the turning, even if they are killed by some other measures, they will still rise as a vampire.

Vampirism Stage I

And so we have our vampire. For the purposes of this question all I consider important is the following (ask in comments if something is important that I didnt think to list):

  • The vampire retains their memories, intelligence and personality they had in life.

  • The vampire must feed on human blood. It is necessary for surival, but is also an addiction. As the vampire drinks when not thirsty, the vampirism will progress, further twisting their mind and body.

  • The vampire in the first stage exhibits following external traits: pale skin, red eyes, fangs. They also do not have a heartbeat and they only need to breathe in order to speak. As it progresses they will become increasingly deformed and inhuman (with final stages of vampirism leading to becoming a feral beast of the night)

  • The vampire has improved senses, strength and endurance. Later on, they can also gain limited magical capabilities - these typically only work at night and are mostly magic that is useful in combat. Some other examples include creating illusions or control over undead.In any case, these abilities will not be present in newly turned vampire so are less of a concern when it comes to that.

  • The vampire is immortal and their wounds will regenerate. It is only vulnerable to magic, certain enchanted items and wraithwood (understandably valuable material in these parts). They are also somewhat vulnerable to silver, as it will cause pain and wounds that are hard or impossible to regenerate, but will not kill them outright. While suffering from photophobia, vampires can still walk in daylight during the early stages of vampirism, it is only as it progresses that sunlight becomes deadly to them.

Considerations

There are a couple things to consider when coming up with answer to this question. In my mind the most likely ways of infection getting into the city is either by an infected traveler - be it a member of trading caravan or a villager looking to sell their products - or animals which carry the disease, such as rats or bats. While thinking of using cats to get rid of rats I realized that cats themselves are vulnerable to being bit and spreading infection, so I thought that perhaps snakes can be kept as pets instead for pest control (being reptiles and not mammals, they cannot be hosts to vampirism).

Anyway, with all that, let me reiterate the question: What measures can be taken by the cities to prevent or at least significantly reduce the risk of vampirism getting into the city and protect the population?

In response to comments:

How long can a vampire feed before starving?

Well strictly the answer to that would be about 2-3 weeks when talking strictly about starvation. The thirst, however, will become very hard to ignore as soon as one week has passed, driving the vampire to feed. And of course the temptation of drinking blood, that never really goes away, even if the vampire isnt thirsty in the moment.

$\endgroup$
4
  • $\begingroup$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. $\endgroup$
    – Monty Wild
    Nov 8, 2022 at 2:28
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Please list the restrictions to vampires. Do religious items restrict them? Dos Sunlight burn them? Are they blocked from entering a home unless invited, etc.? $\endgroup$
    – ShadoCat
    Nov 8, 2022 at 20:12
  • $\begingroup$ @ShadoCat All restrictions are already in the question. If it's not there, its not a restriction. So no on religious items and invitations, yes on sunlight but only after the vampirism progresses enough. Newly turned vampires are uncomfortable in sunlight but it isn't deadly. $\endgroup$
    – JANXOL
    Nov 8, 2022 at 21:13
  • $\begingroup$ @JANXOL, then my only answer would be paranoia that kills more innocent people than real vampires. Kind of like our witch hunts. $\endgroup$
    – ShadoCat
    Nov 9, 2022 at 17:57

10 Answers 10

26
$\begingroup$
  • Surround the city with walls and moat, close the gates at night, while keeping a watch on them during the day. This strongly reduces the chances that someone might sneak into the city unnoticed.
  • For whoever is a foreigner or is returning from having been outside for more than 1 day, quarantine is mandatory. During the quarantine, they will be tested with light and silver, to ascertain if they are infected or not.
  • Same testing is applied to the resident population: whenever the sun shines, participating in a public gathering in the sunny square is mandatory, and so is being checked with silver every week (or day). Who fails to show up for the gathering or doesn't pass the silver test is placed in quarantine.
  • The quarantined who show clear symptoms are executed.
$\endgroup$
3
  • 7
    $\begingroup$ Lol the post reminds me exactly how China government deal with COVID. Borders are strictly closed except allowing a countable amount of flight going in and out. Abroad travellers needs to take pcr tests before and after arriving. 2 weeks Quarantine is a non-negotiable must do. Citizens needs to take pcr test every 72 days in order to use any public facilities. Quarantined are not executed of course, but are transferred to hospital. The actions are not 100% successful since COVID is far more contagious and less vital. $\endgroup$
    – RioAraki
    Nov 7, 2022 at 7:44
  • 11
    $\begingroup$ @RioAraki yes, this might remind you of other things, since it's more or less the basics of quarantine protocol. It's about restricting access and monitoring people who come in, as they are the riskiest ones to introduce a disease. And yes, that's not 100% effective but it still tends to drastically reduce infections. With COVID or similarly contagious deseses, the risk is higher since even one person let in who carries it, can infect many. It would actually work with the vampires described, as even if a carrier is let into the city, it's easier to mitigate their spread. $\endgroup$
    – VLAZ
    Nov 7, 2022 at 7:51
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ I'll add more to it also based on covid protocols, tracking teams. After someone is found to be infected and is executed have a team of people specialized in investigating their life and finding anyone they might have had contact with and quarentine those people, if you are really worried and have the man power repeat the process with those people so if you discovered it late there is no chance a third vampire will flee the net. $\endgroup$
    – TurtleTail
    Nov 7, 2022 at 12:43
19
$\begingroup$

Vampire Corps!

/The vampire retains their memories, intelligence and personality they had in life./

Some vampires were bad people in life. Many were good people or ordinary people. To protect their families and help their city, such as these will form your vampire corps. They will track down and capture rogue vampires and infected animals. Bad vampires will be imprisoned until they are vulnerable to sunlight and then so dispatched. Members of the vampire corps who lose their humanity and begin the slide into degenerate monsters willingly submit to the same fate (sad music plays)

The vampire corps is also useful against other forms of the undead some of which rival the vampires in power. Most importantly the vampires of the corps might have insight into the /unknown malicious presence/ behind the plague of the undead, which true to anime form will turn out to be a lich king or ancient god that is then fought by the heroic vampire corps. To defeat the lich king, one of the corps must become the lich king and then submit to being imprisoned (sad music plays).

The vampire corps persists. With one of their own now the lich king, they no longer degenerate into monsters and stay as they are. Which is good because the corps has work to do. The anime only covers the first 7 books of the manga, and there are 33 more.

In book 27 they bust the lich king back out, because they need his help.


I did not mention the vampire twins! You have to have some kid characters in an anime. These are vampire kids and in charge of rounding up the infected cats and dogs. They were told to kill them but it turns out they are catching them and keeping them in a pound instead of killing them. They do get bit but they are vampires and it doesn't hurt. The infected animals eventually figure it out and come to love the kids. They infected animals come in handy. The kids say the animals are going to be cured when they find the cure.

Man this just writes itself! Or maybe it has already been written? Did I see this somewhere?

$\endgroup$
2
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Interesting idea with the vampire corps, though I'm not sure if they would be treated like heroes or more like a convict squad. After all, even if they are genuinely good people, they're still vampires. While it's not their fault, you can trust them to cause no harm as much as you can trust a cleptomaniac who promised not to steal. $\endgroup$
    – JANXOL
    Nov 7, 2022 at 11:24
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Exactly! And there is the drama! $\endgroup$
    – Willk
    Nov 7, 2022 at 13:27
11
$\begingroup$

Religion!

Vampirism is not only deadly but an ungodly disease. Anyone who dies while infected by it is going straight to Hell, no matter how many indulgences they've bought.

The only way to save yourself from Damnation is through the Sacrament of the Cleansing. You can save your soul if you turn yourself in while still within the "Penumbra". A priest will perform a ceremony, at the end of which you'll die - but you were dying anyway. However, your are now put back into a state of grace and you may ascend to Heaven.

As an added bonus, during this ceremony, other sins you may have committed can also be forgiven.

For this to work it must be made clear to the public:

  • Someone bitten by a vampire is dying. They are not just turning into a supernatural immortal being. The creature that emerges is not the person, it's just a demon or some other unholy being having taken their body.
  • The sacrament might not work if they willingly allow themselves to be bitten.
  • You could add a bit of propaganda that vampires prefer the blood of their host's friends and family. This might encourage people to turn themselves in to protect their kin.
$\endgroup$
1
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Religion also allows to quickly test everyone present with silver to prove their faith and health. Anyone, who doesn't appear in the church, will immediately become suspicious. $\endgroup$ Nov 7, 2022 at 16:09
9
$\begingroup$

Curfew

People only travel and work during daylight hours and return to secure homes at night and lock themselves in. Traders have secure wagons they sleep in at night or they have rest stops close enough apart to make it there safely before night. If possible, traders use boat/ships and park well offshore where possible at night.

Quarantine

If someone starts showing the signs, they're locked up until certain and then executed and the body burnt. Personally I'd suspect they'd lock them in a silvered cage somewhere sunny and just wait.

Animals

This is the real problem. Rats are pretty unstoppable. We've been trying to kill them for thousands of years. They can swim, climb, hide, dig, crawl through tiny gaps and chew holes in walls. If rats can spread the disease, they're all screwed. There is nowhere safe. A farmer can't even harvest his crop during the day if the rats in his field are infected.

Vulnerabilities

You should add fire and garlic to their vulnerabilities if you want people to survive against immortals. Magic and silver is too rare for a farmer to keep himself and his family safe.

$\endgroup$
5
$\begingroup$

Put a bounty on all animals that can be infected.

Animals are a huge danger, and you can't really risk any of them being close to you. Have bounties on them and kill every one you can.

The one exception is animals you put a silver collar on. This will cause pain to vampiric animals, and so allows you to be fairly sure who is a vampire and who is not.

Test all travelers.

Any traveling group will need to be tested before entering a city. This can be done by having them touch silver, holding blood in front of their face, and checking their heartbeat.

They would also be expected to regularly check themselves.

Build steam engines and powerful fire weapons using corpses.

While you can't kill them, you can use them as sources of fire. Stick them in engines and use their burning corpses to power tools and useful items. They regenerate, so you have an effectively endless source of fire and energy for all purposes. This should help with the excess vampire animals.

$\endgroup$
1
  • $\begingroup$ Ah, a Dwarf Fortress player. $\endgroup$
    – KEY_ABRADE
    Jun 3, 2023 at 5:08
5
$\begingroup$

Magical biological filter

Vampirism is clearly a disease spread by some microbiological agent. It has very similar spread and development to the rabies virus. Without loss of generality, let's assume it's a virus. Now all you need to do is cast a filter for that virus on the city walls.

Step 1: Isolate the vampirism virus. Get tissue samples from several people in the penumbra stage and several normal humans (the virus doesn't necessarily travel through the blood; rabies moves through nerves). Use a magical comparison spell to identify the things in the proto-vampire tissue that is not in normal human tissue. This is going to take a lot of trials to get right, especially without knowledge of microbiology. Layered enhanced vision spells can substitute for a microscope.

Step 2: Create a filter spell for the vampirism virus. This should be easy once you've isolated a pure sample of the virus, but you may need to do this as a fairly rapid follow-on to a successful isolation because I assume that the virus would degrade rapidly in open air (since it does not appear to have airborne spread). To aid in this, the isolation process should probably be combined with a time slow spell or a time stop spell to prevent the degradation of the isolated virus for long enough to craft the filter spell.

Step 3: Cast the filter spell on the boundary of the city. This will require the city to have a continuous boundary. This is easy to do on walled cities or cities that use a combination of walls and rivers. For other cities, or for cities with gaps, you need to make a nominal perimeter to hold the spell and inspect the perimeter regularly for integrity. A continuous fence with gates should be sufficient and within the technological means, so long as each gate has a top piece (preventing the perimeter from "breaking" every time the gate is opened).

Following this, any vampire that tries to enter the city will have the virus ripped out of them. This would likely be excruciatingly painful and almost certainly fatal, but the most important detail is that they would not be able to infect anyone following this process. Additionally, infected animals will be cleansed upon crossing the barrier. This is likely the origin of the myth that vampires can't cross running water; it's because of the number of vampirism virus filter spells that were cast on the rivers around major cities.

This has the added benefit of allowing infected country-folk in the penumbra stage to visit a protected city and get cured without needing individual attention from the city's mage. It will likely be very painful, as virus is ripped from their body, but also likely not fatal, as at this point they are still alive by their own biology. This keeps the city from starving due to it's surrounding farmers all becoming vampires. So long as the farmers make a trip to the city once a week, they should be fine. Wagons with the filter spell could also be made and enterprising folk could take them on tours of rural villages and charge a fee for people to get their weekly vampire cleanse.

There is an added logistical problem if this can affect any mammal, namely infected livestock. For this, you'd need to find some way to produce filter spells in larger quantities. At a minimum, every farmer would need to install a new barn door frame enchanted with the vampire filter. As long as you're doing this, you might as well sell personal door frames with this too, thus allowing richer folk to remain protected. This also explains where the myth that vampires can't cross a threshold comes from; if enough houses had door frames enchanted with the vamprism virus filter, that would certainly start to spread as a rumor. Note that under this construction, the vampire being "invited in" wouldn't suddenly grant them the ability to cross the threshold.

Non-magical solutions won't work

You've made spread by animals overpowered. We can't even manage to keep rats out of cities in the modern era, and the medieval era was even worse. If rats can spread it, cats (the top medieval rat defense) can spread it, and livestock can spread it, you get the Black Death times 3, namely total destruction of the population.

$\endgroup$
3
$\begingroup$

You're going with supernatural vampires, but were vague on details. The oldest myths are also vague on details, as it turns out.

Whatever those happen to be, a medieval town is ill-equipped to deal with. They lack most of the modern insights we have into city management and disaster management. Their ideas about quarantine are primitive or even non-existent. The population will be even more prone to panic (they have never heard of a city that was able to deal with disasters, unlike you and I), and you will have petty feuds boiling over into accusations of either being vampires or harboring them.

Supposing that the individuals in this city have some idea how to go about the business of either killing or excluding vampires, and assuming this knowledge is widespread, then a singular leader with enough power and the resolve to see the city through this ongoing crisis is absolutely necessary. When others start to panic or misbehave, he will put a stop to it immediately and, I think, not so gently.

However poor their protocols are at first, they should see some success, and having survived long enough might yet survive longer and refine those.

But be not fooled, this is very much a problem of city/disaster management, and not a problem of sparkly bloodsuckers and their disdain for those who can still safely sunbathe.

$\endgroup$
2
$\begingroup$

Surrender.

Offer a powerful vampire, or faction of vampires, lordship of the city. Strike a deal with them whereby the cityfolk will volunteer their blood for the vampires' consumption, in exchange the vampires agree to limit the number of people they will kill, perhaps only condemned criminals are open game for vampires, or human citizens have to submit to a lottery, where the unlucky winners are sacrificed to the vampires.

If the vampires retain their human intelligence, they should recognise that this arrangement would be mutually beneficial. The human cityfolk gain stability, and the vampires get a regular supply of blood, without having to worry about overexploiting the supply and wiping the city population out.

$\endgroup$
1
$\begingroup$

Mandatory daily public nude inspections of everyone at noon. The threat will overcome any nudity taboos that might have existed. Anyone photosensitive is immediately killed.

$\endgroup$
2
  • $\begingroup$ I'm confused why being nude would be a factor. $\endgroup$
    – JANXOL
    Nov 9, 2022 at 19:47
  • $\begingroup$ @JANXOL makes it impossible to hide photosensitivity, even at early stages. $\endgroup$
    – Eugene
    Nov 10, 2022 at 15:31
-1
$\begingroup$

Garlic

If the vampires are repulsed by garlic, force everyone entering to submit to eating a piece of garlic bread for admittance

UV Light

If your mage can create something akin to sunlight, the gates (and possibly the tops of the walls) can be protected by them

Religion

Carve crosses at all the entrances, assume they work against your particular variety of vampires

Silver

Some types of vampires (and werewolves) are burned by silver, so along with the garlic bread, you can have them touch metal to gain admittance

Tame Vampires

A crew of vampires can help the city guard detect other vampires... if they can be trusted

$\endgroup$

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .