- torpor: A state of mental or physical inactivity or insensibility. Lethargy; apathy. The dormant, inactive state of a hibernating or estivating animal.
In both Vampire: The Masquerade and Vampire: The Requiem, the word torpor refers to the state of deep slumber that vampires enter into for prolonged periods of time. Torpor may be entered into voluntarily, such as when one seeks to escape the monotony of eternal life and awaken in a different age, or, more commonly, involuntarily, as when a vampire starves, is staked, or suffers damage sufficient to kill a mortal. The amount of time one spends in torpor depends on the reason for hibernating and the vampire's strength against the Beast. Torpor is particularly common among elders, who often feel a great ennui after centuries of unlife or who wish to sleep through certain ages and rise again during more "interesting" times.
Differences between VtM and VtREdit
In VtM, torpor is merely a deeper state of stasis compared to the sleep vampires normally experience during daylight hours. The length of torpor depends on the vampire's Humanity or Path rating, and can last from a day to over a millennium. Though it is stated that ancient vampires often feel the need to enter voluntary torpor, or the sleep of ages, rules for this were not described until the Dark Ages Storytellers Companion page 75. Torpor is described as a relatively dreamless state where the vampire's body is preserved (unless suffering from lack of blood) and does not require sustenance. Sufficiently strong-willed individuals may maintain some degree of consciousness, and a few high-level Disciplines can be used from torpor.
In VtR, torpor is often a disturbing experience where the vampire's mind wanders through memories of one's requiem and her mortal existence. These events are relived over and over, each time seeing different outcomes, different participants, different precedents. This can cloud a vampire's memory to such an extent that they cannot clearly remember events that occurred before their last stint of torpor, an effect called the Fog of Eternity.
During this time the body swiftly dries out and takes on the appearance of being mummified. The skin contracts around the bones, the eyes dry out and sink into their sockets, hair become fine and brittle. The muscles of one's mouth retreat, forming a rictus around the teeth. To all appearances, the vampire is a long dead corpse.