Higher Vampires are an incredibly rare form of vampire and are often mistaken for their lesser brethren.
True higher vampires can look exactly like a human being and can even evade detection from a witcher's medallion, only revealing themselves at their own convenience. Higher vampires are also incredibly intelligent, and possess numerous - and often unique- abilities. Unlike their lesser cousins, higher vampires do not need to drink blood to survive; however, the consumption of blood offers an experience not unlike the consumption of alcohol.
They have an ancient and distinct culture, but the exact details are well hidden from the gaze of mortals. What can be said for sure, however, is that all intelligent vampires celebrate the full moons as an important holiday during which they tend to raid villages and get drunk on blood.
Because of the rarity of higher vampires, as well as the unique abilities they often possess, classification can be extremely difficult. Fortunately, encountering one is an incredibly rare occurrence, with most people going their entire lives without encountering one knowingly. Not all higher vampires are dangerous to humans either; many even avoid human contact altogether, and some even work altruistically, if clandestinely, to aid humanity.
One of their greatest abilities is true immortality where only another higher vampire can truly end the existence of another higher vampire; no other means, not even the efforts of a witcher or powerful magic, can end their lives for good. Instead, they enter a regenerative state akin to a coma, slowly healing over a protracted period of time.
Even with this ability, a sufficient degree of bodily destruction can put them down for a extended period of time, from years to decades, and leave them much weakened even following full regeneration.
Another higher vampire can shorten this regenerative period, albeit at significant cost to themselves, by feeding the wounded vampire copious amounts of their own blood.
- Men, the polite ones, at least, would call me a monster. A blood-drinking freak.
– Emiel Regis, higher vampire
- Only a mutual thirst for blood links higher vampires to their distant and much more primitive cousins: ekimmaras, alps, katakans and the like. Higher vampires are, in fact, much more similar to humans than to those bat-like blood slurpers. They not only resemble us in appearance, but also share our intelligence and behavioral patterns. This means they do not squat in distant forest or hide in the shadows. On the contrary, they are particularly fond of cities, where they live out deceivingly normal lives. Even witchers are not capable of recognizing them at once, for their medallions remain perfectly motionless in the presence of higher vampires. Yet all these similarities should not blind us to an essential difference: unlike men, higher vampires are immortal. Those who have faced them in combat and survived can be counted on one hand.
- It is a witcher's good fortune that higher vampires are extremely rare – and not all are dangerous to humans. Though they do have a taste for blood, they do not need to drink it to survive. Some higher vampires have renounced feeding on humans altogether and do no harm to anyone, but others give in to their desires. A witcher who braves fighting a higher vampire must bear in mind that he faces a monster endowed with incredible strength, one able to manipulate men and animals, turn invisible and transform into a giant bat - and furthermore one which it is nearly impossible to kill. In other words, even an experienced monster slayer should think twice before accepting a contract on one of these creatures, even if half a kingdom and a princess' hand is in the offing.
An exceedingly rare opponent for a witcher, higher vampires possess nearly unmatched strength and intelligence among all foes one could face. When they are transformed into their bestial state, evasion is key to surviving the encounter, but this is made difficult due to their speed.
Higher vampires also favor striking while invisible, appearing only when they are an eye blink away from sinking their claws into a victim. This makes Yrden absolutely vital both for revealing the vampire, and also keeping it in place long enough to cut it down with a silver sword, ideally coated in vampire oil. Igni is one of the few real weaknesses a higher vampire possesses. Use it if you can; if it catches on fire, it will be stunned for a brief moment.
Black blood is useful, but comes with the obvious risk of allowing the vampire to draw blood in the first place. Do not rely on it to save you. It is best to have Quen prepared to absorb a blow, then cast yrden to keep the monster in place for your silver sword. Drink a tawny owl potion to make it possible for faster sign usage.
Even defeating a higher vampire in combat does not guarantee it will stay dead, as wounds, even critical, will heal in given time. Higher vampires cannot be truly killed by just anyone. The vampire Regis suffered several deaths, each time regenerating over a period of decades. Only a higher vampire can truly kill another of its kind, without the risk of regeneration. This is pointed out in conversations between Geralt and Regis in the main story of the Blood and Wine expansion.
Behavior and classification
Unlike their more lesser cousins/equivalents, true higher vampires are notoriously difficult to classify, even amongst witchers and academics. Specialists in post-conjunction species at Oxenfurt Academy gave the name Vampires Superiores to such beings, and while many tomes and books were written about the existence of the beings, the true nature of higher vampires varies greatly between individuals. However, most of the higher vampires do share some traits that makes them truly higher vampires: incredible intelligence, immunity to silver, fire and most mainstream ways of extermination, advanced regeneration.
Because of the unique nature of each higher vampires, each may show significantly different behavioral traits: Regis, a higher vampire, shows a more even tempered personality and increased intelligence, and able to associate himself with humans. Others can do so to either a similar or lesser scale, rare individuals don't even associate themselves with humans. Some vampires even show some form of respect to humans and other races, acknowledging that the world that they occupy belong to other races, a trait that is shared amongst very few individuals.
The rare individuals that do not associate themselves with humans, or even other vampires are called the Unseen Elders, a group of ancient higher vampires that are even stronger than normal higher vampires, having inconceivable powers and is regarded as an authoritative figure amongst the Vampire race. Unseen Elders are rarely visited, with even Higher Vampires rarely disturbing the Elders unless it's under extreme circumstances, and for non-vampiric beings, having an audience with an Unseen Elder requires a very specific ritual of sacrifice to be performed, and even then it is not a given that an Unseen Elder would speak.
Genuine higher vampires are a separate, extremely powerful breed, commanding great powers are sometimes unique to particular specimens. They are masters of the art of camouflage and in most cases appear nearly identical to humans. Only their teeth, and the fact that they cast no shadows and have no reflections in mirrors, can reveal their true nature. I have even met one higher vampire whose presence did not trigger a reaction from my witcher medallion. Besides being supernaturally fast and agile, higher vampires can also assume the form of a giant bat, become invisible, and use their gaze to mesmerize their victims or put them to sleep. They are invulnerable to sunlight, fire, and silver, and have unbelievable regenerative powers which allow them to return to life even after beheading, dismemberment, or incineration- though in such cases the process may take many decades.
Known Higher Vampires
- In The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, a bestiary entry can be obtained from reading My Evening with a Vampire.
- In the Blood and Wine expansion, it is stated that Syanna deduced that Dettlaff was a vampire when he pawned a silver candlestick and brought it into the shop by holding it in cloth to prevent touching it, yet in the books it's stated silver has no effect on higher vampires.