I'll start with a little bit about Lina/Leah/Lord Dragul. This is the bit I was typing up that I lost, so the details aren't going to be as good as the first time, but basically, I decided that there are two possible sources to her origin.
The first, which I had been using before, is that she's ~500 years old and is 100% Vladimir Tepes's daughter, a fullblooded vampire from birth, who is also quite experienced.
However, the alternative second idea I came up with was that she's Mina Harker's daughter, and she was born 75% vampire. She's 100% vampire now, of course, and her mother in this case would die a human, but to understand this, you have to understand the nature of vampires in my story.
(Still haven't decided which of the above I want. I'll cross that bridge when I come to it. The big difference is mainly the amount of centuries, with 500 being wiser than 125, and how prone she is to being insulted, given that not being born a pureblood makes the insult on her name more poignant. Basically, there's a tradeoff; I can't have both, but I like each as a potential aspect of her character.)
To put it in simplest terms, there's a whole percentage to being a vampire. Turning is a complicated, ritualistic process. It's a progression. Even at as little as 12%, you're still considered to be a "vampire", but you're not a true vampire at that point. This is, incidentally, true for both born vamps and turning vamps; offspring with humans will create vampires who're basically halfway through the transition. (In short, there is no difference between a born-half-vampire and a halfway-through-transition vampire.)
In this world, if I went with the second, then Mina Harker would have been halfway to being a vampire when giving birth to the daughter of Dracula, Leah, making Lina 3/4ths vampire at birth. Yet she later regressed into a full human.
To understand that...well, you have to know that once you're a vampire, you're a vampire. If you become 100% vamp, there's no going back; you're stuck as a vampire for all of eternity. But even if you are only at 90%, you can still turn back. Most that go down the road of being a vampire, though, don't. They become one.
And some end up regretting it. There are ways to suppress the vampire in them--Dion's contract with Ruby being the story-relevant example as magical girls are geared towards being anti-vampiric fighters anyway--but there's no cure for vampirism once you become a vampire, and again, most who go down the road of being a vampire become a vampire.
It's only those precious few that can have the chance to "cure" their vampirism. It's also highly ritualistic for this to happen, just as it is for a born-not-100%-vampire to discard their humanity and become 100% vampire.
The whole thing is something that I had worked out perfectly before, but I'm describing seriously sub-optimally right now. To cut a long story short, though, these details are canon regardless of whether they affect Leah or not:
-There's a percentage to becoming a vampire.
-Once at 100%, you're forever a vampire.
*You can suppress vampiric traits, but never get rid of them.
-If not born part-vampire and if not 100% a vampire, it's possible to cure vampirism.
-A born half-vampire is no different from a turned half-vampire except in this inability to be cured.
*Born half-vampires can undergo a ritual to discard their humanity and become 100% vamp.
-Vampirism's percentage tends to progress with time. This ritualistic process can take minutes or years, depending on the circumstances.
-A person is considered a vampire if they're any percent vampire, because they have the base bits of vampirism and can progress further.
For the record, Ruby is TECHNICALLY considered half-vampire, but is 0% vampire when in human and/or magical girl form, 75% vampire in Dark Ruby form, and 100% vampire in Lord form.
But while we're on the subject of vampires, we might as well cover the section I had entirely typed up and thus entirely lost, so this is again a reword that's going to be suboptimal.
Basically, all vampires have increased senses, speed, strength, toughness, and endurance. These, along with blood drinking obviously, are fundamental, universal, unconditional powers.
But beyond those base powers are a bunch of extras. For instance, they hold regenerative powers, conditional on a lack of contact with DIRECT sunlight. Contact with direct sunlight not only nullifies their regeneration, but keeps it shut off after they've left contact with the sun for some time. However, this must be direct; it takes very little filtration for them to be immune and still possess this regeneration.
All vampires also have hypnosis/suggestive/illusionary capabilities, to help ensnare prey and trick/evade hunters. It's possible to resist these powers, of course (magical girls have a built-in resistance), but they are still a nuisance to shake off, thus, occasionally see usage even against the immune.
Furthermore, vampires generally have some limited control of beasts, depending on the "pecking order" of the vampire, which the animals have an innate sense of: if the vamp's low-class, then the animals will barely respond, but a Lord-class vampire has practical complete dominion over the creatures, who will fearfully do the Lord's bidding.
Speaking of power-conditional abilities, all vampires have limited transformation capabilities, but only Lords hold the power of absolute transformation.
Then, there's vampires' ability to for a limited time assume a mist form (that can fly). The stronger the vampire, the greater their malleability of the mist is, both in controlling its form and in controlling its density. A Lord using their mist form can use it as a weapon, even. Mist, however, is the first vampiric ability to be limited by the day: for them to use it during the day, there must be heavy overcast and they must have at least respectable control of it.
There is an exception, though: vampires can cheat, by making the mist be powered by the humans--if every person in the mist's range is susceptible to illusions and/or hypnosis, then the vampire uses their minds to make the mist form be real, bypassing the daylight restriction.
The second ability limited by the day is dark powers: Dark blade, dark blast, black fire, black lighting, etc. These are abilities that are not universal, even though there are some general ones like the ones I just named. Highly customized vampire weapons, it's basically their special trait, their best weapon. But not all vampires have these; though all have the capacity for it, it takes training to actually use them.
As for the limitation, well, direct sunlight destroys the powers, no way around it. If there's indirect sunlight, then an extremely powerful vampire can use an extremely weakened version of the technique for a short period of time (a few seconds), but mostly, this is an ability that to be used during the day requires overcast, the heavier the better. (Now, mind you, Red Hood Rider started out as a story featuring ME as the main character. Ruby is ME. So as a result, the setting is in some generic Pacific Northwest town...so overcast a plenty, there is!)
It doesn't take nearly as much to use dark powers under overcast. The stronger the vampire, the less weak they are, but even a Lord can only use them at 75% strength during this overcast.
If you couldn't tell, sunlight obviously isn't that much of a hindrance to vampires. It nullifies their powers, and it comes with a couple of drawbacks for full vamps: they get sunburned easily (which, as discussed above, DOESN'T heal thanks to disabled regeneration), and they get sick to their stomach when in it. However, just as it's possible to build up resistance/immunity to their suggestion/illusion powers, it's possible for vampires to build up resistance to this affect of the sun.
In fact, most of the vampires in the setting are daywalkers: they're full-vamp, but stay in the daylight. Lords can gain complete immunity, lesser ranks can get rid of the sick stomach and use some basic SPF 30 sunscreen to stop the sunburn or just wear clothing like hoodies that keeps the sun off of their skin. Or they stay indoors in periods of sun in a location where sun only comes out an average of once or twice a week. You get the idea. It's an inconvenience, but one that can be managed, especially by vampire Lords.
Now all that said, where does this leave vampires in the setting? Well, as far as "monsters" go, they're on the lower end of the scale. They're mostly peaceful, and even when not, not that powerful especially not during the day. Most of them are noncombatants.
The few who are, well, while they have a few "parlor tricks" they employ in a fight, their main advantage is in physical combat. Though they theoretically have a greater edge during the night, most of the fights in the story are during the day, which limits them to being mostly melee combatants. They're fairly tough physical opponents, mind you--a low-level monster is still well above human abilities, and their speed/strength/endurance/toughness is nothing to laugh at.
It's just that, against a MAGICAL GIRL, this makes all but the strongest among them little more than cannon fodder, because they simply lack the special abilities needed; they're MOSTLY normal, with a few supernatural edges over base humanity.
Let's finish up my talk about vampires by talking about one particular vampire, again. (Hey, I have three days' worth of notes to talk about. This is going to be a LONG blog post, and filled with non-sequiturs.) In this case, Lord Darkblood, Ruby's sire. Basically, there's a duality in his posthumous character: both the most loving and most ruthless of the vampire lords, owing quite a bit to his age and "seen it all" attitude, and taking a somewhat-optimistic albeit not idealistic viewpoint of the world.
The result of this was that he became both loved and hated by his own coven, feared yet admired for his traits both good and bad. The most evil, yet the most good. He was like a father in some ways, but loosely speaking, the best equivalent to a father he'd be is the abusive kind, the father that loves his children and yet does these horrible things to them in the name of that 'love'. He would take away the things that were dear to them, often most dear, breaking them. He savagely beat them for any minor offense, and generally held a reputation of killing any who failed him.
...Yet at the same time, his punishments were always equal (even his whims), universal, and generally fair. His discipline, while very much not desired, did produce results: his coven was toughened up, making them stronger physically, mentally, and emotionally, and bonded them together as a family, as an actual family with a feeling of kinship, something few covens feel. He was, without a doubt, reviled for his nasty abuse...but at the same time, he's one of the 'softest' vampire Lords of all time, whose coven has suffered the fewest vampire fatalities of any clan...a feat made particularly admirable given that his is ALSO the oldest.
That's right. Every vampire coven after his has suffered more vampire losses throughout the ages than his own; he was THAT good a leader. Ruthless, providing mercy only on whims, and yet as despicable as he may have been...effective at creating then holding a family together for millennia.
It's not just his age of having been the oldest vampire that made him be the effective leader of the vampire council. No other vampire Lord can claim credit to having been nearly as great a leader, a dictator and tyrant seen as benevolent by his family and as fearsome by his foes.
It is widely believed that one of the main reasons he held as little territory as he did is that he simply got bored of being the effective king of the underworld for so long a time. For instance, all of Lord Dragul's territory could have been--and largely WAS--his own, but he gave it away when moving to America...not as a weakness, not as a favor, not as anything other than a gift to his good friend who he sired. Mainly because the Americas were the last frontier he had to challenge himself.
Back to actual story-relevant details, though, the other day (by which, I mean, Monday--vampire notes were made Sunday that I lost, the bit about Lord Darkblood was today, and now we're going back to two days ago) I made a realization about each of the Riders' contributions to the team, off of their fighting styles and what they mean. What I came up understanding was that each of the Elemental Eight have some trait they specialize at (slightly different in some cases from what their spirit totem may hint), and yet, they PREFER another.
-Ruby uses a bow; that is her preferred weapon. And yet, as her vampire foe finds out, her actual specialty is in melee combat, between her training and her abilities.
-Gary uses a sword and a shield, thus, is a defensive melee combatant. He has a few boomerang attacks originating from his shield and attack redirection skills from it, not to mention a few fundamental short-range magical sword slash attacks to strike from a slight distance away. This is where he is comfortable, because he likes to be in the zone. Yet his actual specialty, much to his chagrin, is as support...specifically, healing; he's The team Medic, who has an instinctive knowledge of the magical girl's wounds and how to treat them.
-Sky uses dual pistols, thus, like Ruby, fights at the midranged, focusing on speed rather than Ruby's power. She can even make her pistols morph into shortswords (really, more like long daggers), giving her melee capability, but her true specialty is when combining her two pistols into a rifle to snipe from afar. She even has a special outfit for it! (Her suit transforms from Power Rangersesque into Ghost In The Shellesque stealth gear, cloaking her body, while her helmet becomes an earpiece and a visor in her shooting eye.)
-D.D. fights using her magic wand, basically being one gigantic magician, as that's her preferred method of fighting. However, what she truly specializes in is raw strength, being the physically strongest magical girl and their TRUE melee specialist, because even without Amy, she can transfer this power to others, effectively granting them an extra oomph to their blows.
-Sally is, as covered in a previous blog post, known for her strength and speed, but her actual true specialty lies in her raw willpower, never giving up, and holding the highest endurance of any Rider in the group, exceeding all others in these traits. She's a tough cookie, and the main reason she's as strong/fast as she is, is because of sheer stubbornness at refusing to NOT be that strong. (Hey, there's a REASON she's TheRival to Ruby.)
-Amy's good at martial arts, effectively having her parents' combined methods in her head and muscles, thus defaulting to it in combat. Yet what she specializes in is sitting on the sidelines to give support, augmenting the others. It's not just her ability to allow the team to transform into the Warriors of Light; she can boost individual powers, too, making them more effective in every way.
-Vili shuts opponents down, breaking their weapons, breaching their defenses, drains their energy, basically using a magic/melee hybrid combat style similar to Amy, using her powers to tap into various little perks of electromagneticism. However, though this is a great power and not too far off of her specialty, what she's best at is sheer raw speed, and though SORT-OF using it, she generally doesn't make the most of it.
-Hannah is the closest of the Riders to using her specialty; she is the team's ACTUAL magician. But because she loathes combat, only the defensive half sees extensive use. In theory, because magic is a significant portion of magical girl powers (it's in their name!), and she's the greatest potential user of it, she's theoretically the strongest of all the Riders. But in practice, that mental block makes it so that she's mostly a support member of the group, who uses her powers to protect people from harm.
There's also one final thing I did today of note: began working out "episode"s, of sorts. More like chapters, though.
There's the prologue, which I'm currently working on writing. The first 'chapter' would be about TheRival, Sally, showing her life. The second, Monster, shows Ruby battling a vampire and eventually revealing part of her vampire powers. The third one, Weaponmaster, introduces us to him. The fourth, Dark Ruby, reveals Ruby's full transformed state. The fifth, Team, has her team up with Sally. The sixth, Day Off, has her take a day off of superhero stuff to go about her routine, including the first day at a part-time job, amongst other stuff. The seventh, Day of Vampires, shows her interacting with the vampire world. The eighth, New Rider, shows us Gary as Tux. The ninth, Trio, has Ruby, Gary, and Sally work together. Tenth, The Hunt, begins the search for the other Riders. Eleven is dealing with Hannah's birth. Twelve is Secret War, dealing with vampire politics and fallout. 13 is Beautiful Ride, introducing us to D.D.
I'm thinking that'd be the first 'season', and then we'd continue on. 14, UltraVigilante, gives us an introduction to Vili. 15, Ruby's Vacation, is her taking more time off. And that's as much as I got written down, though I brainstormed maybe beginning the traitor arc right about then (which would last quite a number of 'episodes').