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The official WoD sources say that a vampire requires between 50,000 and 100,000 people to support them, giving an upper limit of about 50,000 vampires in the entire world. I've always found this answer to be unsatisfactory, mostly because it implies that the number of vampires in the world was very small until modern times, as there were so few cities with enough population density to feed them. Indeed, this implies that most vampires would have been solitary for most of history. It's hard to see how the complex covenants and social relations of the Requiem could come about from a society with so few people.

Has anyone considered alternate calculations for vampire population density, and can you back them up? My motivation is a campaign I'm working on that I'd like to set in a city of roughly 150,000 people, but I want more than the 1-3 vampires that the standard numbers would provide.

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As a long-time V:tM and V:tR fan, I have always thought the 1:50k and 1:100k ratios were unimaginative, unrealistic (well, as unrealistic as a game involving vampires could be) and poorly thought out. In fact, I generally think any set ratio of vampires:humans is arbitrary and silly because ratios fail to take into account numerous real world factors.

For example: Detroit has one of the highest murder and assault rates in the United States. It has a population of around 900,000. San Diego has a substantially-lower murder and assault rate, even though it has a population of over 1.2 million. Why would San Diego have more resident vampires than Detroit? Wouldn't it make some amount of sense for Detroit to attract more vampires, given that they could better conceal their habits in a city where crime is rampant?

Another example: ratios fail to take into consideration metropolitan populations and modern transportation. Modern cities are these sprawling things; the popular conception of a city as skyscraper-valleys, dark alleyways and narrow streets is a nineteenth-century idea of what constitutes "cities." Real cities have a dense inner core but sprawl out endlessly into exurbs and "edge cities." So, Boston has a year-round population of about 600,000 people, but you can drive 30 miles outside of Boston in less than 20 minutes at night. Wouldn't vampires do that to conceal their feeding habits? In that case, can't we take into consideration metropolitan statistics? 3 million people live within a 40-minute drive of Downtown Boston. Shouldn't they factor into our vampire:human ratio?

The set ratio also seems to be based on a "feeding equals killing" analysis, just like how crime is measured in most United States cities. But vampires don't always kill their victims. Hell, they don't always even feed from them in a hostile manner. I'm sure many vampires seduce their victims at bars, art events or at parties, feed from them back at their victim's apartment or hotel, and then leave the victim unconscious. The victim then wakes up the next morning feeling foolish for having a one night stand. Couldn't a city support more vampires if that were the case?

I could go on. Bottom line: use your common sense. In my games I put about 60 vampires in Boston; that's 1 for every 50k people who live in the Boston Metropolitan Area. That's a good number, I think: large enough for factions and internal squabbling, small enough that everyone knows everyone elses' name.

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One additional factor: isolation. Large, isolated cities will draw more vampires than cities that form megalopolii. Denver, Colorado is the largest city in a 1,000 miles. You've been turned into a vampire in Oklahoma. Makes sense you'd go to Denver, wouldn't it? Bigger cities, more of your kind, better concealment. By contrast, you've been made into a vampire in New Jersey. Do you go to Philadelphia, a large city with a high crime rate, or New York, right across the bridge? –  that_cad Sep 10 '10 at 15:59
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An interesting application of some of these ideas was a one-off that I played with my friends a few nights ago set in Yellowstone National Park. The permanent population in Yellowstone is very small, but huge numbers of tourists come through every year and then leave, most of them never to return. This created easy feeding opportunities. There were only 5 vamps in the park in our scenario, but I'd argue that you could probably support twice that many. –  JSBձոգչ Sep 10 '10 at 17:16
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My recommendation is to work from the other direction; instead of taking the mortal population and extrapolating how many vampires "should" be there, start with the number of vampires you want to have and decide how it is they survive on a fief that's overtaxed. Use the 50K-100K as a figure of stability; once you get twice as many Kindred in there, you've got a shortage of vitae or some cunning circumstances that allow them to stay hidden, and that leads to the tension that drives Requiem. Begin with the conclusion and work backward.

If that doesn't suit, use the smaller cities as personal or coterie domains, and the larger tri-city or metro area as the true scope of the campaign.

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+1 for both making a useful suggestion of how to populate a Chronicle, and linking it to the source material rather than attempting to change or void it. –  Runeslinger Sep 11 '10 at 5:47
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Real world: Safe donation rate is considered 1 pint per 56 days; 4 pints at once is fatal (without immediate treatment).

Thinking back to my WoD playing days...

10 blood points is fatal for mortals, so call it 3 per pint?

Given that a vampire doing nothing spectacular burns 1 BP per night. So he needs 56/3 (roughly 19) donors of 1 pint each for a minimum stable population. To not be noticed, however, he needs that to be under the violence rate, and to conceal his feeding... say 1% of the population. We're at about 1 vampire per 2000 mortals as a reasonable non-active vampyric population. But still, that assumes no use of blood other than simply surviving. If he uses his whole blood pool nightly, multiply by blood pool.

If we instead assume 2 BP per pint, we get 26 donors per vampire for survival. At 1%, that's 2600. If he burns 5 a night, however, we add another 5x26 victims left unharmed.

If, however, he's killing, he gets 3x as much, but the population has to grow considerably; a 0.5% population growth rate means that 1 per 2000 persons per year can be harvested; a vampire needs harvest 365/10=37 persons per year, for about 74000 people per vampire if he kills every victim, and maintains a stable population.

So a lot depends upon base assumptions of population rate, what % he can harvest from without notice, especially if killing. Note that, by draining the dying and aged, one can easily cover one's tracks by using odd locations or simply draining them to frailty.

Edit: One other thing to remember: Any vampire with a herd doesn't count against local total, but then his herd doesn't count towards the general population, either. They willingly give, and he safely takes from them, at the roughly 20 people needed, without the 1% population to hide rate.

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10 blood points is not "fatal, hence 4 pints". 10 blood points is the total blood in a human, that is 5L. AFAIK a human can suffer up to 1L blood loss without needing medical treatment, I'm not sure about 3 blood points, and unless I'm mistaken anything more than 2L would kill them. –  Lohoris Jan 2 '12 at 16:48
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@Lohoris remember 1 pint = 0.47L or so... 6 blood points is roughly 1L. And no, 10 blood points is the total extractable blood - which might be 2.5L before blood stops flowing, and you can no longer suck it out, as by 3L, arterial collapse is normal. Since we know from rules that 9 blood points is survivable sans treatment, it can't exceed 2L, and probably is under 1.75L. At 3 blood points per pint (0.47L), 10 BP is 3.333 pints, or 1.667L, a dangerous amount. At 2 BP per pint, it's 5 pints,(Roughly 2.5L) which is well past the majority fatality rate. –  aramis Feb 29 '12 at 1:59
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I think we may consider the 1:50k ratio a "current" one that describes the 20th and 21st centuries. Like most societies, vampires' one has gone through changes (let's not dwell on the speed of these changes now), adapting to its environment. Consider how the jump in human population (and the human tech level) has made humanity more and more dangerous to vampires, and decide how the ratio might have changed over the centuries in view of this and other factors. Today a "wolf" needs a bigger "herd" to hide in from said herd itself than it did a thousand years ago, as sheep in general have become more ready, combative and dangerous.

You're the storyteller, it's your WoD, modify the ratio as you wish. (I'd say 1:1k in the middle ages sounds reasonable, for example.)

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Don't forgot that medieval and classical societies had a raw death rate of 40 in 1000 and a similar birthrate. Not to be callous while there was low population there was considerable turnover that a vampire could take a advantage of. And who to say that in the WoD part of the high death rate was a result of vampire preying on the populace. –  RS Conley Sep 10 '10 at 12:27
    
Very well said, but also remember that vampires were much less particular about hiding the existence of vampires (even if most did try to hide the fact they personally were vampires) until the inquisition....And also that these ratios are talking about active vampires. Many vampires, especially older ones go into torpor for years or even centuries at a time. –  TimothyAWiseman Jan 6 '12 at 23:08
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For my campaigns, I looked at the setting city's Combined Metropolitan Statistical Area & it's population. Then I determined my vampire population. For my Tampa: City of Blood setting, Tampa proper has a population of 330k but the CMSA has a population of over 4 mil. I then took the population of each of the smaller metro areas of Tampa and used that to determine where the various vamps live. Some areas, where the population was so low that it only supported 1 or 2 kindred, I assumed there were no vamps living there. I moved these vamps to the more populous areas. I also used a 1:45k ratio to represent Kindred in hiding or who were secretly in the city. Of course, I didn't create stats for ALL of these kindred, just for about 30 or so. The others represent the various "minions" that I might have to throw at the PCs in the campaign.

Maybe you can find some variation of that which will work for you.

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I think it all depends on what you want your setting to be like.

I'd like to set [a campaign] in a city of roughly 150,000 people, but I want more than the 1-3 vampires that the standard numbers would provide.

If we look at some stories in movies and TV shows wecan see how they deal with vampire population.

Few total Vampires

Settings like Twilight (Ignore the sparkliness for now, it's not relevant here) and Lost boys have relatively few vampires. These stories tend to rely more on personal drama, not on faction drama or action specifically. They also deal with non-vampires as an integral part of the story, bulking up the cast of characters. This isn't what you're after but noting this down might help inform your choices.

Few established Vampires

The only setting that comes to mind here is Buffy. I can only count a handful of established vampires that make a prominent appearance last more than a few scenes/episodes; Spike, Angel/Angelus, Drew, Harmony, Dracula. Sunny dale is quoted as having 38,500 inhabitants (dropping to around 32K later in the series) and it revealed to be near Santa Barbra city which has a population of about 90K rising to ~200K for the surrounding local. This should indicate that at most sunny dale should have 1 vampire, about two in Santa Barbra and around 4 overal for the county. One could argue that Spike is the only long-standing, established vampire in the town of Sunnydale. So how do we account for the others?

  • Transient Vampires - Drew, Angel(us)

    None of these two hang around for long, and when they do it is a serious focal point of the series. It's probably them taxing the population so much that makes this the focal point (in a larger city it wouldn't matter so much if a few people got drained), and thus is an unusual point in the story.

  • Vampires in Torpor - Dracula

    Not much to say here. I didn't see much of the episode but it appears that Drac was in torpor so his presence doesn't really effect the town until he awakens. When he does it creates another unusual situation that leads to story.

  • Useless vampires - Harmony, most other vampires

    This is the category where most of the vampires seem to live. They are either ineffectual, or extremely short lived (one leading to the other). It does mean a high turn over of the living to create, but less so if they lived a few nights and killed. Harmony (if I recall correctly) rarely hunts and almost always gets Spike to feed her, so rather than leaving two people mortally injured, they share and kill one person. Which is surprisingly efficient, if you consider those two people would have a) threatened the masquerade b) probably would have died of blood loss anyway.

Other Differences in Buffy

There are a few more key differences that you need to note if you wish to take inspiration from Buffy

  • It's home to the hellmouth - Vampire magnet. The 4 Santa Barbra vamps probably live in sunnydale!

  • Vamps don't need to feed - Spike is seen not feeding for a long time, so it's possible that Vamps either don't need to feed or don't spend a blood point in waking up. That wake-up blood point is probably one of the most taxing things a vampire might do in a night, especially if he doesn't need to feed every night.

  • Other Supernatural causes - Lots of things in Sunnydale that could mask, or make light of vampire killings. "Some people got their blood drained? That's nothing compared to ..."

Hundreds of Vampires

The only source I can draw from here is Blade. In this setting dark machinations work to preserve the huge vampire populace, plus a large amount of hand-waving. Look to the were-wolf book "Shadows over the UK", and check out the blood-factory near southampton; hundreds of immigrants go missing in England everyday...that's a lot of potential blood. Lots of other potential explanations could cover this, such as very weak vampires (oWoD 14th gen vampires?) being the mainstay of the setting. If that's the case, look to the next heading up.


Hopefully this will give some ideas on how to wrangle a good in-world reason behind a higher than normal Vampire population. Please feel free to edit or comment if I've made some errors.


Here is a similar break down on the Sci-fi & fantasy boards.

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My approach probably isn't for everybody. I dropped the vamp cap to 1:10K. I've had people suggest that that's too low because of overpopulation. However, it has benefits.

First, I like highly political vamp campaigns. Since I like to have several special-interest groups, I need (not-so) warm bodies. This gives me a range of NPCs from the powers-that-be to cannon fodder.

Second, when I narrate I'm not as concerned about technical restrictions as I am story and interaction. Since I found the 1:50K rule to be non-conducive to the way I want to run the story, I have simply chosen to disregard/modify significantly that rule. In my mind, that high of a vamp:cattle ratio isn't a threat to the masquerade if I (as the narrator) say it isn't.

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+1 for strictly adhering to rule #0! –  Jon of All Trades May 6 '11 at 12:45
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Bear in mind that cities are not the only place where people live: there are smaller cities too. It would be dangerous for a vampire to feed regularly in a smaller city, of course, but everyone can easily travel nowadays.

When I built the setting for my campaign years ago, I calculated 1 vampire every 100k humans, but counting not only the humans of the city where it was settled (~600k): counting the humans of the whole region (~1.5M). This allowed me to set there more or less 15 vampires instead of just 6, assuming they don't mind a 1-2 hours ride to feed sometimes.


I agree with @OpaCitiZen about this being only a "current" rate: centuries ago, there were much more vampires per human.

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Im relatively new to Vampire, however what's clear to me is that the "density of darkness" should be the biggest factor in population. For a moment, separate the campaign setting from the rules and decide what sort of campaign you want to run.

The higher the population is, the more likely they are going to require the complex, feudal system presented in the books. That said, at least with nWOD, there are consequences for creating new vampires to the creator. For that reason, when I get around to running a Vampire game (based in North America), I would make some changes. Ive been weaned on oWOD so sorry that I am using old terms to describe this:

1) Assume that most new world are more recent generations. I see vampire populations following the lines of societal growth and expansion. Older vamps are going to be stopped along the way of their comfort zone, with a few exceptions (like Dracula moving to London, leaving his vamp babes at home).

2) Disasters could cause movement. Various sackings of Rome will push some out and destroy some in torpor, for example. And even then, they may have to contend with vamps in new locations, though its likely they will only move as far as necessary.

3) I dont see much interest in the new world until the industrial revolution (when sea travel is much more reliable), and even then, older vamps will be set in their ways. That said, old world vamps might be interested in visitors from the new world, and who knows, maybe Ben Franklin has a secret history we know nothing of.

4) An entity may grow to its largest area of influence, regardless of the food supply - but it will reflect its nature. A large population would then have very few vampires if any, but they'd also be dangerous mysteries to each other. The hierarchy set up by Ben Franklin Vampire would be alien to that of Wayne Newton Vampire, though the biological necessities would be similar to each other - up to the point when they have to feed on their own kind. There could also be local supernatural phenomenon that creates complications. Vampires as presented are opportunists and a rather European phenomenon. Locally "grown" ghosts or other entities are unknowns and therefore make interesting foes.

So in a round about way, I recommend tossing out any numerical calculations based on herd, unless you really want to focus on the highly stratified hierarchy as presented in the default campaign setting.

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Let's calculate it using established figures.

The total world population today is 7 billion: 7,000,000,000

Daily increase in population is about 211,000

7000000000/200000 = 35000

So the minimum number of people that a vampire needs in order to live sustainably is about 35000.

This means that in a large city like New York, there can only be about 200 vampires, maybe more if effects of immigration make up for low urban birth rates.

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Oh yeah, and this is assuming a vampire eats one person a day. –  Anon Aug 10 '12 at 11:22
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