Undead Week: More Blood Conventions

So yesterday, we were talking about blood and social ritual from the perspective of the vampire and the willing blood donor. It’s not the only way these things can go, of course.

For one thing, not everything that drinks blood has fangs. Most of them, sure, but every so often there are counterexamples: the ghosts in Exalted’s Underworld come to mind. For these, the standard bite may not be entirely appropriate; their teeth just aren’t made for it. So one might just go for a slash-and-slurp sort of method instead. Or—particularly in the case of the aforementioned ghosts—a volunteer could bleed into any of a number of possible vessels and offer those instead. This allows for an additional ritual element, making it a more appropriate method than direct sipping for ceremonies and similar formal occasions. It also allows more sheer variety of possible situations than a simple bite might. Can you imagine the blood donation equivalent of a Japanese tea ceremony? (Or, for that matter, a British high tea?)

Then there’s the flip side of there being a social code for drinking blood from willing victims. The communication element is probably going to work its way back into unwilling blood removal at some point, as the drinker decides that feeding isn’t enough and that he may as well leave a message while he’s at it. (Or, for that matter, that he wants to leave a message and he may as well get a bit to eat in the process.) Most normal blood-drinking assailants will go for the throat, for the convenience reasons discussed yesterday. That doesn’t say anything. Except maybe “I was hungry.”

But biting somewhere else does. Going for the thigh, due to its associations with intimacy of several varieties, would tend to give a number of potentially nasty overtones to the situation. (Add the fact that it’s going to take longer to access than the other locations, a way of dragging out the experience.) Wrist-draining an unwilling target, on the other hand, would give a considerably different image—a sort of mockery of respect, perhaps, particularly if it’s not the drinker’s usual modus operandi. It might also cast doubts on how actively the victim was resisting, as conventional wisdom would state that it’s easier to remove someone’s fangs from your wrist than from your throat. And then there’s going for the inside of the knee, if you’re keeping the submissive aspects mentioned yesterday—I’m thinking creepy hero-worshiping stalker, but ironic turning of the tables on someone who was in a position of power could work just as well. If nothing else, it’s one kinky way to go. Either way, the deliberate choice signals premeditation and purpose—and that in itself might be more unnerving than another near-death, or yet another bloodless corpse in an alley.

Blood ritual itself can go in a number of different directions, ones that don’t necessarily require the participants to be undead. The most logical, of course, is offering it to something hungry, like blood sacrifices to appease gods or summon demons. But that’s easy; why stop there? What about demonstrating fealty to a blood-drinking noble by offering him one’s throat? How about if you’ve got a race or a group that can learn about someone by tasting their blood; might that not give a whole new meaning to offering one of them your hand at the beginning of a social event? Imagine the turns of phrase that could come of this, as evening parties with large numbers of unfamiliar people rapidly become a leading cause of anemia.

Can you think of anything else?

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