"Death is the one predator we can't escape. But vampires have found the loophole so many of us crave. I think that's the allure of vampirism."
One of the only incarnations of Vampires that doesn't suck so badly that other Vampires are sucked into it, the Vampire Counts are Warhammer Fantasy Battle's version of the classic Vampire - and in a bit of irony that catches most off-guard, are total fucking badasses who almost took over the entire fucking world before the armies of man got their shit together. Powerful as all fuck and just as evil, the Vampire Counts in the Warhammer universe long to plunge the entire world into a holocaust of darkness and despair, ensuring that the entire land is wholly under their thumb and those mummy sons of bitches and filthy mortals know their place as slaves and food.
Basically it's an entire army of Gothic Horror vampire lords, seeking to conquer the lands not just to appease their own massive egos and pride, but to ensure their all-encompassing need to feed. The classic intelligent monsters and consummate overlords of evil, WHFB's Vampire Counts are pretty much the best of what Vampires can be, and sure as fuck a welcome departure from this shit.
It's worth noting that in a world where vampire fiction is a dime a dozen, the Vampire Counts of WHFB manage to be real genre-setters. The WHFB formula is frequently duplicated by other works, but rarely well; in only one case - the fluff for the recent Castlevania games (and most-assuredly not the crunch) - has this emulation ever really been successful for vidya, though a number of books and book series have. WHFB's Vampires are thus a precious rare case of doing it right. And Emprah bless 'em for that.
A long-as-hell time ago, even by Warhammer Fantasy standards, there was a powerful Priest of Khemri named Nagash, who was such a thorough badass that he became not only the first Necromancer in Warhammer Fantasy's universe, but literally created the first undead. He learned his Dark Arts from a trio of Dark Elven Sorceresses, who taught him how to manipulate the energies of Chaos using dark rituals involving heresy and human sacrifice. He killed them in a magical duel, poisoning one, ripping another to shreds, and crushing the third before consuming their souls; many on /tg/ would say this is the way to deal with an Elf.
After this, there was no stopping the guy - he communed with Daemons and the spirits of the dead, seized the kingdom for himself from his brother, and used his Necromantic magic to greatly expand his own lifespan. During his tenure as King of Khemri, Nagash decided it would be an awesome idea to run the kingdom as a real-life version of Dwarf Fortress, and all that it implies. He soon had the idea for the creation of a massive megaproject: a necropolis that came to be known as the Black Pyramid, so named for the black stone that made it up. This is arguably the coolest-named monolith in history, second only to the fabled Prismatic Pyramid or Pyramid of Fire-Sharks. Suffice to say, his blatant evil scared the shit out of the other kingdoms around Khemri, and -undoubtedly jealous of his epic pyramid- they attempted to kill him. Despite having an army of the dead and loyal followers, Nagash was finally deposed, though he fled and would eventually emerge once more as a lich, continuing to, as many threats in the Warhammer universe have, be a constant thorn in the side of the armies of man forever until the end of fucking time.
After the fall of Nagash, the Black Pyramid went undisturbed for years, since nobody wanted anything to do with a giant monolith that was related to a man who pretty much came within striking distance of ruling the desert kingdoms. Eventually a spoiled princess from one of the neighboring kingdoms named Neferata channeled her inner Tomb Raider, breaking in and making off with some of Nagash's magic books, which were later called the Nine Books of Nagash (guess how many there were). Delving into the corrupt lore she found within the tome, Neferata discovered a recipe for the Elixir of Life, a blood-draught that would extend one's lifespan. Doing her own research on it and "refining" it, she eventually created a new version of the Elixir -called the Elixir of Damnation- and then downed it, and, ultimately, shared it with many of her most powerful followers, before they slowly converted the entire court. With this new blood-fueled longevity, they became the world's first Vampires, and each would become the founder of their own bloodline.
Naturally, this led to problems. The seeming eternal youthfulness of Neferata and her ilk were hard enough to ignore, but the rampant feeding of their followers quickly became too much to turn a blind eye to. When confronted Neferata herself tried to forcefully convert her cousin, Khalida, and failed. Suffice to say, the other armies of the desert kingdoms of Nehekhara eventually fell upon the vampires of Lahmia like sacks of thunder, and they wound up scattering, regrouping only when they met up with the now-undead Nagash in his new undead warpstone Dwarf Fortress megaproject of Nagashizzar. The Vampires quickly became generals of Nagash's armies, and, with the overpowering forces they added to Nagash's cause, turned on the combined armies of Nehekhara in vengeance, poisoning the land itself, transforming it into a realm of eternal death and began to systematically usher in what would have led to a global zombie apocalypse if not for the intervention of Skaven-brand dickery. With Nagash out of the picture -albeit temporarily- the Vampires swiftly turned to in-fighting and scattered to the far corners of the world.
But not being one to let death keep him down for long, Nagash came back, weakened, but still 1,000 years more pissed off than last time. Losing was not fun to Nagash, and so he went skele-balls deep into Reclaim Fortress Mode to retake Nagashizzar in a single night. But all of his cool artifacts, their craftundeadship being of the highest quality, had been stolen while he has napping. Marshaling another huge undead army to repossess everything that had been pilfered, he sent out word to his Vampire peeps that he was going to fuck up the Empire next. This advance was short-lived - as Sigmar showed up, and, when Nagash called for their aid, the Vampires were too arrogant to actually help out, and Sigmar smashed him down in short order. In retaliation for this double-dickery, Nagash laid out a curse on the Vampires for this offense: for their refusal to come to his aid, they would forever be weak against the power of Sigmar. Since that time, they've been vulnerable to both sunlight and the power of faith. The Undead advance fell apart quicker than Boatmurdered, and the bulk of the Vampires retreated to the lands of Sylvania, where the various Vampires would continue to follow their own agendas, not unlike several unrelated groups in the Warhammer 40,000 universe.
There they continued to menace the armies of man with periodic invasions of undead, death, and horror for over 2,500 years. With potentially eternal life to bide their time, all they had to do was quit fucking each other over and amass their forces to wait for a supreme leader to unite the armies of undeath under one banner once more. I mean, what could possibly go wrong?
Here be Sparkles
One important thing about WHFB vampires is that being turned into a vampire does not change your personality. Like at all. Of course, feeding on humans, having magical powers, superhuman strength, speed and immortality eventually change most, pretty much the same way normal people get mad with power, but if one just wants to live peacefully with human society and buy the blood to feed upon, nothing stops him. Well, except Witch Hunters and angry mobs with torches and pitchforks, so it could take a bit of finesse to hide your vampirism. There are hundreds of vampires living peacefully in the Empire and pretty much all other human nations (except Norskans and Kurgan) - and in some places they even built their own secret societies with a thriving blood market. These vampires are not actually the part of the Vampire Count factions, and some of the bloodlines view them as traitors to vampire cause, adding one more reason for them to lay low.
Even when it comes to the "evil" vampires, most of them have much more humanity left in them than your average Chaos Lord, and are capable of acts of true selflessness and compassion, especially if it concerns their loved ones or faithful subjects. Neferata herself originally did all that fucked up shit she did out of love for her motherland, as did Ushoran, and Vlad von Karstein even sacrificed himself to save his wife. This does not, however, change the fact that they see humans as pets at best and would not mind slaughtering thousands of them to further their own goals. Still, even Manfred, who's most undoubtedly the most irredeemably evil vampire ever, is nowhere close to the kinds of evil Nagash did while he was still human.
- Von Carsteins
The Von Carsteins are your old-school Vampires of the Dracula-inspired variety, and their members are more or less parodies of nobility. Since their roots are very recent as opposed to the other major bloodlines which all began at the beginning of the vampire race, they're sort of the nouveau riche of the vampires. Vlad von Carstein, the head of the family, was the one who first tainted the human aristocracy of Sylvania with undeath leading them to become the badass European Vampires they'd eventually become. Vlad took a wife (willingly) named Isabella von Carstein and set out on the first vampire offensive to conquer the Empire. The Von Carsteins are kind of unusual in that they realized that keeping the living populace safe meant easier meals. This didn't mean they eased up on being badass, however - instead, Vlad, and his first and second "sons", violently and/or politically brought a lot of the rebellious nobles in line and actually managed to unify much of Sylvania's vampire nobility for a while during their reigns. When Vlad himself was killed by Wilhelm the Third, his wife Isabella could only keep things together for so long before Konrad, who is in many respects analogous to a WHFB version of Kharn, quickly caused the advance to grind to a screeching halt. Konrad eventually got killed (ridiculously), and Mannfred arose, and managed to come back after two major defeats and continue trying to claim the Empire- before changing his mind and resurrecting Nagash, becoming one of his Mortarchs. Von Carsteins use all Vampire Count models in their army, making them the default faction.
The Lahmians, named for the monster that drinks the blood of Children, are an almost entirely-female (although there ARE males) vampire clan, who descended from Queen Neferata, the woman who started the vampires off in the first place. They are the spy bloodline, keeping humans as happy pets and living in comfortable heated estates instead of crumbling castles. They don't tend to be directly involved in big events, primarily spending their time controlling every government in the world through spies and politics and focusing on maintaining the status quo of happy, stupid, pretty humans. Having pissed off just about every other Vampire clan due to their involvement with this nonsense, Neferata's openly-vampiric followers currently occupy the once-dwarven lands of the World's Edge Mountains (Erryone is getting grudged!). Lahmian groups tend to rely more on psychological effects like Beguile as well as spellcasting, and any non-vampires in the army are ghosts that can be dismissed or skeletons that can be buried or told to lay still until given orders and be told to sit in the crypt to be passed off as inanimate ancestors when Witch Hunters come to investigate them.
- Blood Dragons
Formed by Abhorash, the fuckingest of Vampire Warriors, the Blood Dragons are the martial vampires, and fucking awesome. Honorable to a fault, though still mostly evil-as-hell, they will never refuse a challenge and excel at absolutely curb-stomping anything put against them in combat. Consummate warriors, they live to fight, and they believe that only cowards feed upon the weak - the only ones that Blood Dragons will willingly feed on are powerful warriors and monsters (from both Destruction and the Order alignments of the game). As such, they are capable of resisting the thirst better than the other clans, and, due to their badassery, are arguably one of the two favorite factions of Vampires for /tg/ in the setting.
Following distantly in the footsteps of Nagash, the Necrarchs are Necromancer vampires and loremasters. Whereas other Vampires focus on sorcery, martial pride, or a mix of the two, the Necrarchs focus entirely on Necromancy and thus have vast armies of the undead at their disposal. A common joke is that they'd be studious gits and/or faggots.... If they didn't GET SHIT DONE. They give even less shit about the thirst than the Blood Dragons, often being too consumed in their researches and experiments to remember about it, and as a result they look like withered corpses most of the time, and for most of them this becomes the permanent state, so even if the do start feeding properly they would not revert to human-like looks.
The Strigoi are horrid-looking mutant Vampires, closer to Ghouls than traditional Vampire-kind. They not only drink their prey's blood - they go all the fuck out and devour their prey's flesh as well. They eat anything alive or un-alive, including other vampires and each other. Hated and feared even by their own kind, they are easily the kings of ripping and Tearing and have more Ghouls at their disposal than any other bloodline. Do not let the fact that they are freakish abominations convince you that they are not FUCKING BADASS. They tend to rampage wherever the fuck they want, and as a result they step on the toes of the other bloodlines a fair amount. A common tactic is for the bloodline finding them inconvenient is to send them to another bloodline to be dealt with, killing a bird and annoying another with one stone.
There are other, smaller bloodlines. All of them are recent and not strong enough to warrant much attention. Among them are a group of vampire pirates, vampire Norsemen, and bloodsucking Brits living in Albion. There are also two more major bloodlines that live in Ind and Cathay. The Cathayan vampires are the closest we get to "good guys" among the undead, being on generally good terms with the Dragon Emperor as long as they stay out of his way. Many of them are nobles and heroes, though they take great pains to conceal their undead nature. The Indan Vampires are worshiped as one of the many gods of that strange land, and are said to resemble wampyres.
On the Tabletop
Originally vampires were but just a cog in the greater Undead army. But come sixth edition Undead had been schismed into two armies, with the Vampire Counts getting the lion's share while those fucking mummies made off with what scant few ranged options Undead ever had. But we all know who got the last laugh in the end.
- Abhorash, the most badass Vampire in all of Warhammer.
- Vlad von Carstein
- Isabella von Carstein
- Konrad von Carstein
- Mannfred von Carstein