The race of Vampires first appeared in the pre-cataclysmic era (before the sinking Atlantis and Lemuria), circa 18,500 B.C., when the Atlantean cult of Darkholders used the power of the Chthon Scrolls in order to oppose King Kull, who had slain their leader, Thulsa Doom. The result was Varnae, one of their own raised as the world's first vampire. Varnae quickly slew the other Darkholders and used them to found the vampire race, with himself as Vampire Lord. Other races of vampires—the Adze, Ancients, Charniputra, Huskies, Jumlin, Nosferati, Purebloods, Tryks, and Yiki Onna—either diverged from this original Varnaean line, or else arose out of other circumstances.
When Atlantis sank 500 years later after his creation, Varnae went into hibernation, emerging from time to time to confront threats (such as that posed by Conan in 10,000 B.C.) and to coerce the sorceress Aamshed into creating a ritual to increase his power. This Ritual of Ascendance could only be performed once every 2000 years on the vampire's home soil, however, and twice Varnae failed to complete the ritual before he gave up and resolved to instead seek an heir. Varnae reigned as the unchallenged leader of Earth's vampires for many thousands of years before ceding the title and position to Vlad Dracul in the year 1459.
Dracula retained this title in a nearly unbroken reign until Earth's Sorcerer Supreme, Dr. Stephen Strange, uncovered a mystical spell called the Montesi Formula that would banish all vampires from this dimension. Ironically, this spell was found within the Darkhold, the same mystical text containing the spell used to create vampires in the first place. Like most spells, the Montesi Formula contained a counter-spell, and within a few short years, vampires began to appear across the world once again. Dracula himself rose from the grave and reclaimed his title as Lord of the Vampires.
The only known substances which could cause a vampire pain were silver and, to a lesser extent, unless it penetrated the vampire's heart, wood. The surest way to kill a vampire was to drive a wooden stake or a silver blade through his or her heart. The stake or blade prevented the heart from supplying ichor to the rest of the body. If the stake or blade was removed, however, even if the vampire's body had crumbled to dust, the vampire's mystical vitality would restore his or her body to the condition it had before the vampire was slain, and return him or her to vampiric "life." Beheading a vampire would also kill him or her.
However, there were only three methods of making sure of destroying a vampire permanently. One was to expose the vampire to direct sunlight and then to scatter the ashes. Another was to pierce the vampire's heart with wood or silver, sever his or her head, burn the head and body in separate places and scatter the two resulting piles of ash in separate locations. The third was mystically, most notably by using the incantation known as the Montesi Formula (after the monk who first realized its significance). Montesi created the incantation by studying fragmentary copies of the Darkhold. It was lost amid many other documents copied by various anonymous monks over the centuries. Research by various vampire hunters over the past few decades revealed its significance, and it was sought by both those hunters and by Dracula, who wished to destroy all copies of it. The incantation apparently canceled the mystic curse that allowed any vampire within earshot to exist, causing it to crumple to dust. The danger is that, as the Montesi Formula was created from black magic theory from the Darkhold, using it untrained (in the mystic arts) causes the user to lose his soul.
At one point, a cult who worshipped the elder demon gods apparently fixated on Dracula as a recipient of their power. Dracula gave them the fragments of the Darkhold he had discovered; the cultists (who were low level mystics) repeatedly recast the original spells that created the first vampires. This increased Draculas powers considerably, and he lost his vulnerably to sunlight and others. Dracula was able to take full control of their minds (as well as anyone around the world that Dracula had ever hypnotized in the past, at will).
Doctor Strange (who at the time was in a great battle with Dracula) was aware of the Montesi Formula. He tracked down the Darkhold and using the original source material to study the spells that created vampires, Doctor Strange created a massive version of the Montesi Formula (backed by his power as Sorcerer Supreme) to wipe out all of the vampires in the Marvel Universe.
The Vampire Sects are diverse as human religions and Vampires from different sects might have different characteristics of abilities:
- Kreiger Sect: Western European type warriors, one of the strongest sects.
- Claw Sect: Middle Eastern type warriors, rivals of the Krieger.
- Mystikos Sect: American Vampires embraced the modem world. They are Businessmen, with skill at technology.
- Anchorite Sect: American rural outcasts who prefer to hide from humanity and live in peace, similar to the lifestyle of the Amish.
- Purebloods: Born as Vampires.
- Nosferati: Eastern European, similar to Count Orlock, their need for powerful blood sometimes drives them to attack other Vampires.
- Moksha Sect: Seers who gain their powers by feeding as little as possible.
- Siren Sect: All beautiful female Vampires with powers of seduction.
- Adze: African Vampires who are able to survive the usually instantaneous methods of Vampire destruction for ten minutes.
- Ancients: Italian Vampires with superior superhuman speed and healing factor compared to that of other Vampires.
- Yiki Onna: Japanese Vampires with the power to turn into ice storms rather than fog as most Vampires can.
- Jumlin: Native American Vampires.
- Huskie: Vampires who are brought back brain dead and are basically human husks. They only follow their base instinct and feed on small animals. They will not rest until they have completed a task from their human life.
- Charniputra: Gargoyle like Vampires that reside in the Himalayas
- Aqueos: Atlantean (Homo mermanus) converted Vampires
- Tryks: A powerful, parasitic race that prefers the blood of other Vampires.
The followers of Ba'al exhibited many of the same properties as traditional vampires, but were not in fact true vampires. They wore false fangs and were not inhibited by ultraviolet radiation, but they did partake in the consumption of human blood. Ba'al bestowed power to his underlings, making them stronger, faster and more durable, but they did not possess characteristics that could be defined as superhuman. The Baalist vampires originate from the region known as Gehenna and have followed the edicts of Ba'al since about 13,000 BCE.
Morg was stated to be a "standard Class-2 Vampire", without clear explanation of the classification.