There are two branches of Night Children, but both stem from Notte, as he was the first.
Their abilities and strengths/weaknesses vary slightly from generation to generation.
To become one of the Night Children, one needs to start out human. (There have been exactly three exceptions.) An exchange of blood starts the process, but the human must lose so much blood that they’re near death.
- Initially, all “baby” vampires are mad. Their hunger – which, according to Notte, is called The Beast and is strong enough that it might as well be alive – takes over. New vamps usually need to be locked away for a while until they can gain control of themselves again.
- All vampires, regardless of genetics, have green eyes after changing. It’s been referred to as “vampire green,” and occasionally, it glows.
- Vampire magic can make a bite feel pleasant (to put it mildly) or painful (to understate). It’s considered “kind” hunting to give prey some pleasure before sending them on their way – not that the prey will remember. Night Children are trained to remove the memory of any feeding from their prey, unless there is some reason to let those people keep the encounter.
- They can all perform an ability they call “going to dust,” in which their physical forms disintegrate into what looks like dust motes, like the kind one might spot floating in a beam of moonlight. Whatever this form is, it isn’t dust. They can enter and exit even airproofed containers in this form. However, they can’t attack; while no physical barriers can stop them, they can’t affect the physical world, either.
- Night Children have a special relationship with the wind, largely because the wind itself seems to view Notte as a friend. They say the wind tells him things – things no one else could possibly know.
- Vampires do not age. When turned, that is their physical age forever.
- They DO have a heartbeat, but it is very slow.
- They seem to have no limit to the blood they can drink, which is deeply confusing. So far, science has failed to reveal just where all the blood goes when swallowed.
- Vampires do not need a full physical form to function. While removing (or damaging) the head can kill them, it’s not a guarantee. Loss of limbs or organs or even much of the torso is no guarantee of death, either. If the vampire is able to go to dust, they will heal.
- Wood is their primary weakness. It enters their system, burns, damages, and prevents healing. If there’s too much wood in a vampire’s body, they can’t even go to dust.
- Sunlight only affects vampires far down the bloodline from Notte. Usually, around the fourth generation, sunburns make an appearance. By the time we reach the tenth generation, vampires must avoid the bright sunlight or face burns.
- Any blood will do in a pinch, but the Night Children need human blood. They were designed to drink it, and when deprived of it – even if given other blood – they will eventually lose control of the Beast and rip through whatever stands between them and human blood. (Fortunately, that blood-thirsty madness takes a while to form.)
Notte’s children follow specific rules. He forbids random hunting; there are no mad monster vampires running around on his watch. He also forbids his children from turning anyone they wish, instead choosing to approve each and every human his children want to bring into the fold. Most of the time, he says no.
During the First War, his second child Ravena created her own army of Night Children, and they entered into terrible conflict with Notte. The experience of having to kill his own family was traumatizing; Notte is connected to each and every vampire, their soul moorings linked invisibly. As a result, he’s very careful about whom he allows his children to turn – with one exception.
Ravena runs her own family differently. She has to abide by Notte’s rules to some extent, but he gives her a lot of freedom – some say too much. As long as she isn’t wildly violating his rules, he won’t interfere with her.
However, if he finds any of his children – even in her line – suffering, he’ll step in and take them away. If he finds she’s let any of them loose before they control their Beast, or she’s failed to teach them proper law and they’re running around killing people, he’ll step in and take them away.
This seems controlling, but it’s weirdly balanced by his otherwise complete hands-off policy.
Self-control is the most important aspect of a Night Child’s life. Because of this, the early years of vampirism are carefully and strictly controlled, down to the clothing they’re allowed to wear.
They almost never complain about it. They feel the Beast, and with very few exceptions, are well aware they need his help to keep themselves in control.