Yes, Billingsworth, another brandy, and top up my cigar would you, there’s a good fellow. Oh hello, I didn’t see you come in to the lush parlour that I have, festooned in the most abundant finery my career as an adventurer has afforded me. Just give Billingsworth that peasanty rag you call a jacket and take a seat. No not the good seat, you’ll dirty it.
The reason I sent Billingsworth to tell the message boy to fetch you was that I think you’re old and fat enough now to learn the secrets I learned about beasties when I was your age and half your BMI. Have a supermarket-label scotch.
Vampires - Most people by now know about Vlad the Impaler, the supposed ‘first vampire’, prince of Wallachia and enemy of the Ottomans, but he was only a common-or-garden ultraviolent misanthropist who only earned the name ‘Impaler’ postuhumously, a good twenty years after the campaign that forged his reputation.
The true craze of vampire-sightings and hysteria grew in the early 18th century in eastern Europe, when a mixture of superstition, poor medical knowledge and good old fashioned foul play led to a generation’s-worth of exhumations and dubious burial ceremonies. Examples include having twin boys lead an ox to plough a furrow around the protected village; cracking an egg and driving a nail into the floor under the deceased’s back shed; having old ladies put hawthorn sticks into the grave at strategic points; and, my favourite, running up a hill backwards holding a candle and a turtle.
Much like the draugr it seems that with vampires prevention is better than cure. Known ways include placing a stone, clove of garlic or, in parts Saxon Germany, a lemon into the aggressive beast. Once incapacitated, remove the head and bury it between the vampire’s feet. Staking has remained popular in modern culture due partly to the belief that the vampire would simply burst, being as it was full of blood and little else.
They do not sparkle in sunlight. If you do this, you are not a vampire.
Werewolves - Or lycanthropes to the initiated, are easily identified in human form by their long fingernails, loping stride and – no kidding – monobrow. Werewolves also gained prominence around the 18th century and were most commonly associated with the consumption of recently-buried bodies.
They do not wax their chest hair. If you do not have chest hair, you are not a werewolf.
There are also reports in Scandanavia warg-wolf (warg, later werg or wero, cognate with the Old Norse vargr, meaning ‘rogue’) which would cause massive damage to a single herd without eating any of the livestock. Much like the werewolf it had a particular weakness to silver.
In 60 AD the Roman writer Gaius Petronius Arbiter documented a ritual in his work Satyricon in which a man strips down, puts his clothes in a pile and pees around them in a circle. The clothes turn to stone, and he turns into a wolf with the shadow of a man. The wolf then takes the shadow in its teeth and gnaws it off at the ankles. After speaking the necessary incantation, the shadow becomes the man and the wolf becomes a shadowless wolf, neither of whom remember the exchange.
Zombies - Ugh. If you don’t know I’m not telling you. Remove the head or destroy the brain.
I grow weary now. The dusk is settling in and I have much to ponder while staring broodily into my fireplace. Billingsworth will show you out. Billingsworth bring me a knife, a pumpkin and a picture of Wheatley from Portal 2. I have work to do.
It’s…to die for.
You will love it… until you die.
Where in the world do you want to go fully equipped for the supernatural? Let us know in ye comments section.