I first came across the term “Master Vampire” in the Laurell K. Hamilton books. This series focuses mostly on Master Vampires of the City, which is a vampire that controls the other vampires within a certain city. Master vampires seem to be quite different. Although, just like any other vampire legends, what actually defines a “Master Vampire” depends on what you choose to believe.
It’s generally accepted that Master vampires are vampires that have extremely supernatural abilities. They are always very powerful and usually they are also very old. This is because it usually takes a century or two for a “regular” vampire to emerge as a Master vampire. Some of the extreme powers that Master vampires may have include calling on animals for protection, causing damage to things or others from a very far distance, being able to decompose and recompose their own bodies with a simple snap of their fingers (or other way that they may have to do this), or exerting power and sharing a very special bond with a human servant. Unlike other vampires, who sometimes kill the person they are trying to turn into a vampire, Master vampires are quite talented at changing people. Even when a Master isn’t successful at changing a person into a vampire, that person will return to their normal life as a revenant vampire. These kinds of vampires are extremely violent and extremely evil. Things such as holy objects won’t affect them whatsoever.
Master vampires are thought to contribute to approximately 10% – 15% of the vampire population. If a vampire is becoming a Master vampire, it first becomes obvious when they display skills, talents, and abilities that aren’t found anywhere else in their bloodline.
Other schools of thought on the subject include theories that Master vampires are only those that are “born” with birth defects, such as an extra thumb or albino skin that is much whiter or much more translucent than other vampires. Still others believe that Master vampires are simply those that have a large vampire army that will stand behind them and fight to the death to protect the Master. This theory is usually most seen though with figures such as Master Vampires of a City.
Whichever theory you choose to believe, it’s quite clear that Master Vampires are quite powerful. Or at least have physical traits that make them appear more powerful or frightening. Because they’re also quite egotistical, the latter might be enough to make them even more intimidating, making them seem as though they have extreme supernatural abilities, even though they may not. Like every other vampire legend, this one is wide open to interpretation.