The physical changes that take place when one becomes a vampire are apparent: their eyes become luminous, their skin pale and reflective, and their fingernails become translucent. Furthermore, if their hair or nails are cut, these things will grow back during their sleep, to the state they were in when the vampire died. Vampires are very attractive, and even beautiful, as the transformation of becoming a vampire perfects and refines their physical features; this makes vampires more efficient predators, as it allows them to attract and seduce humans. Upon transformation, they lose all natural bodily fluids (with the exception of blood) and their bodily functions cease to the extent that vampires cannot reproduce through pregnancy, do not produce bodily waste and have much lower body temperatures than humans.
Their hair, nails and skin are flawless and their entire bodies are textured with a sleek, marble-like substance which continues to smoothen over time. Vampires also develop two pairs of visible, elongated fangs along the upper canines and lateral incisors. Lastly, all vampires have been known to manifest a number supernatural abilities, such as superhuman speed and strength. Vampires also have incredibly keen senses and are able to hear a heartbeat from several feet away, smell a single drop of blood from a mile-long distance as well as see in complete and total darkness. Furthermore, it appears that the older a vampire becomes, the more powerful they will be.
It appears that when a vampire reaches a thousand years in age, they will manifest special abilities such as levitation, telekinesis and/or telepathy. However, it is known that some newborn vampires who were turned by "pure-blooded" vampires can develop unique abilities as soon as their first year as a vampire. Vampires are unharmed by garlic, holy items, as well as wooden stakes. All vampires have reflections and have been known to cast shadows. It appears that the main weakness of a vampire is their vulnerability to fire and ultraviolet light. However, as vampires become more powerful with time, their immunity to these substances will also increase, allowing millennial vampires to walk in the sunlight unharmed.
Furthermore, vampires also experience a compulsive "sleep" cycle in conjunction with the rising and setting of the Sun; as the dawn breaks, they become fatigued and eventually fall into a deathlike slumber only to rise again at dusk. Like sunlight, ancient vampires can overcome this weakness. They sleep during the day since Sun exposure causes them severe pain and, eventually, death. This differs from natural sleep, as they become fully dead, and the dawn often triggers their sleep against their will, forcing them to find shelter. Most opt to sleep in some form of coffin, like the archetypal vampire. It is during this time that they are most vulnerable.
Vampires need blood to survive. It has been implied that the need to feed gradually decreases as they age, as David Talbot suggests most newborn vampires must drink heavily every night, himself included, while extremely old vampires are known to be able to survive years without blood, although they still experience the same cravings as any vampire.
Human blood is preferred as it is more nutritious and tastes the best, but animal and vampire blood can also be drunk. When feeding on a person (or another vampire), a vampire's heartbeat begins to beat with theirs, effectively joining them as one shared pulse.
Because of this, the bite of a vampire and subsequent feeding is an intimate (almost sexual) and pleasurable experience for both participants. However, a vampire must take care never to drain a person completely to the point of death, as this would mean death for them as well; because vampires need the blood of the living to survive, by drinking "dead blood" they would effectively take their victims death into themselves.
The process of converting a human to a vampire is often refereed to as "the Dark Gift" and is regarded as a profoundly intimate act for both participants; akin to giving birth and nursing. The feeding act is highly sensual and described as deeper than sex. Because of this unique form of intimacy, and the fact that vampires are instinctively drawn to aesthetic beauty, it is not uncommon for vampires to sire those whom they find physically alluring or humans for whom they hold great affection such as friends, lovers, or relatives.
The process begins with a prolonged feeding period; sometimes over a span of a few days as the vampire drains the victim's arteries almost dry. It is normal for the victim to experience severe symptoms of fatigue after such a long feeding as their bodies grow sick from the significant blood loss. Once the heart begins to atrophy from lack of blood flow, the vampire then replaces this deficit with some of its own by allowing the human to feed from them in return. The victim then experiences excruciating pain as their body expires while their mind and spirit remains intact.
Upon their resurrection, newborn vampires are typically overwhelmed by their heightened abilities and perceptions. Their bodies undergo further changes as their features smooth out and their bowels expels its excess humors as a waste product, presumably through the mouth or anus. Because of their aversion to the sun, coffins or cemeteries - places hidden from any daylight - are a common resting place for young undead, a habit they carry with them into later years. Vampires may also burrow underground to find rest within the earth, especially to hibernate.
- Ancient Empowerment - Very old vampires or ones who have been made or strengthened by feeding on blood that is close to the root of the vampiric mother may have additional gifts like the ability to move matter with the mind and the ability to set things ablaze by the force of will.
- Innate Artist - They have many artistic talents, like singing, painting and acting, and a preternatural "understanding" of any type of problem, puzzle or machine.
- Mimicry Mastery - They also have the uncanny ability to almost perfectly mimic anything (movement, playing musical instruments, etc.).
- Enhanced Feelings - The main characteristic of vampires is that they feel more vividly than they did as humans and are all excessively emotional, sensitive, and sensual, being easy prey to intense suffering and aesthetic passions. They are supernaturally beautiful as vampires tend to make fledglings from humans they have grown to love, and the transformation from human to vampire enhances one's beauty.
Those who have lived for more than a thousand years are by far the most powerful of the vampires; they are called the Children of the Millennia (including Khayman, Mekare, Maharet, Marius, Pandora, and Mael). After several hundred years, and depending on the strength of their maker, vampires begin to exhibit special powers, referred to by most of them as "gifts".
- Mind Gift - (the combined abilities of telepathy and telekinesis).
- Telepathy - This is the ability to communicate and read thoughts, especially those of humans. This gift is used largely to obtain blood – since via telepathy a criminal or amoral human can be sensed, and many of Rice's vampires refuse to feed on the innocent, this allows them to identify their prey. It is impossible for a maker or fledgling to contact each other directly, although in some cases it is possible for a vampire to seek out their maker/fledgling by looking through the eyes of those near their fledgling, or by hearing the thoughts of their maker/fledgling through others in a relay effect. A vampire of sufficient power or age may also unwillingly 'hear' the thoughts of all the humans within range of this power, leading to an old vampire saying: "If you do not learn to silence the voices, they will drive you mad." Khayman of the First Brood possessed this level of telepathic power, but had trained himself to hear the multitude of thoughts as "one annoying noise."
- Telekinesis - Older vampires may also possess the ability to move objects with the mind, as witnessed through Akasha's destruction of the Elder, or Akasha's habit of opening the doors to the tabernacle, and Marius' opening and unlocking the doors to Akasha's shrine in Blood and Gold.
- Spell Gift - (Mind Control). Mentioned in Blood and Gold and The Queen of the Damned, this gift allows a vampire to cloud the mind of a human, bending the human to his or her will. Marius employs the Spell Gift often, especially when employing humans to move Enkil and Akasha to a new location. Armand is especially gifted in having the ability to bespell other vampires as well as humans and uses it almost exclusively to draw those who "wish to die" to him.
- Enhanced Physicality & Senses - All vampires possess heightened and refined senses (especially hearing and eyesight), as well as superhuman strength and speed that slowly increases with age; they are able to do things many times faster than humans can, with little or no effort. Eidetic memory from the moment of becoming a vampire seems to be natural, as Lestat tells David in Memnoch The Devil, however, memories of their human lives, particularly those relating to sensation, fade over the years. They can move faster than the human eye can detect, see in the darkest of nighttime, pick one sound out of even the noisiest area, and raise the volume of their voice to painfully loud levels. The physical strength of a vampire increases with age and also to be fed with the blood of ancient vampires or blood that is closer to that of Akasha.
- Superhuman Strength - The supernatural ability of abnormal strength equivalent the that of 10 to 20 or more strong men depending on the vampire's age and the purity of his or her Blood or Dark Gift. Fledglings are seen casually overpowering adult humans; including hoisting them high off the ground by the throat with only one hand with no visible effort or strain. Even newborn vampires must be careful when handling humans, as they can easily and accidentally break a human's bones or neck. Older vampires are as strong as 100 men and can overpower and harm younger vampires with little effort, as seen with both Lestat and Akasha in the Queen of the Damned film when Lestat single-handedly saves Jessica from a group of young vampires and later when Akasha rips a vampire's heart out and slices another one's neck with a swipe of her hand.
- Superhuman Speed - The supernatural ability to jump, move, react, run, and fly faster than the human eye can see. This allows vampires to cover long distances in short periods of time. They can cross a room in an instant; in Interview with the Vampire Louis used his speed to cross the room, turn on the light switch, and sit down all before the interviewer could even turn his head. They appear as blurs of motion and even sometimes become invisible when they use this ability to cover longer distances.
- Superhuman Senses - The supernatural ability to hear, see, smell, and taste beyond the human limit. They can see clearly in complete darkness.
- Superhuman Agility - The ability to adhere to sheer surfaces such as walls and ceilings as well as jump higher and further than humans.
- Fire Gift - (Pyrokinesis). Another power usually only developed by a Child of the Millennia. This gift is known to be possessed by Marius, Akasha, Eudoxia, Thorne, Khayman, Armand, Lestat, Mekare and Maharet, and later the vampires Merrick Mayfair and Quinn Blackwood. With the Fire Gift, a vampire can telekinetically set alight an object or being of their choice, for example, in Blood and Gold, when Akasha destroyed Eudoxia's body by fire, or in the film when she set fire to the vampires in bar and at the concert. Use of the gift on humans was performed by Lestat in Blood Canticle, when he set aflame gunmen on the tropical island. The Fire Gift is specially fatal to vampires, as the "changed" blood found within their bodies ignites easily, thus rendering them extremely vulnerable to fire. The gift requires that the vampire have line of sight on their target. The gift can be deflected by a more powerful or skilful blood drinker through the use of their own Fire Gift.
- Cloud Gift - (Flight). Depending on the novels or the cinematic depiction, not all vampires have this ability. According to the books, Lestat, though young by vampire standards, gains this ability after repeatedly drinking Akasha's blood, making him stronger. Quinn Blackwood was given the strength to use this gift by his maker, Petronia. Otherwise, flight is a power only exhibited by the Children of the Millennia. Louis, Gabrielle, and Santino are among a few that do not have this gift or are never mentioned having it. Most if not all vampires dislike or even hate flying, as they find it extremely unsettling due to it being a sign that they are truly no longer human.
- Killing Gift - Believed to be possessed by the eldest Children of the Millennia, like most gifts it comes with age. Known holders of this power are Akasha, Marius, Lestat, Maharet, Mekare, Khayman and Mael. This power was originally combined with the Fire Gift in The Queen of the Damned, but by Blood and Gold Rice had decided the two powers should be made separate abilities. The exact nature of the power is unknown, but it seems to cause numerous fatal ruptures in the entire cardiovascular system.
- Immortality - Unless killed by one of the vampire's weaknesses, namely sunlight and fire, or an elder vampire's powers, it is said that they have the potential to live eternally. Once turned, vampires cease to physically age in the way that humans do nor does age weaken them. Instead, they become more powerful and slowly their skin becomes whiter, smoother, and more reflective, resembling marble as seen with Akasha and Enkil as well as the Children of the Millennium. Lestat and Jesse Reeves share much of this ancient appearance due to receiving blood from Akasha and Maharet, respectively. During their immortality, vampires will sometimes go into a kind of hibernation, either because they have become mentally unbalanced from knowing what they have become or because their surroundings have changed too much for them to cope with. This is hinted to usually happen within 100–200 years of being created and is mentioned as the "dangerous time" by the elders. Many vampires commit suicide if they continually exist in the world, leading to Marius telling Lestat that he should live out one lifetime pretending to be human and watching the world change. Maharet is the only vampire explicitly said to have never "gone underground"; she has lived, night by night, for over six thousand years, mainly by keeping the records of her mortal daughter's descendants.
- Healing Factor - Vampires are immune to all forms of human diseases and illnesses as well as to most attacks other than their known weakness and even then are able to heal quickly, especially if they feed or are covered in vampire blood. All vampires can potentially heal from any non-fatal wound, including decapitation, as proved by Mael in Blood and Gold, but time and blood are needed. A bullet wound, for instance, would heal within seconds, but serious burns from a fire would require decades, if not centuries, to heal. However, the greater the damage done to them, the stronger they will be when they are fully healed. An influx of blood from a vampire, especially a powerful vampire, can greatly speed up the healing process. Vampires are unable to regenerate lost body parts, but are able to reattach them easily.
- Resilience to Daylight - Being thousands of years old one of the first vampires, Khayman's flesh was as hard, smooth and white as marble, providing great protection from direct sunlight that would otherwise instantly burn and kill younger vampires. Though it is not known if any of the other Children of the Milennia had this ability.
Despite their supernatural abilities as well as their immortality and regenerative capabilities, vampires do possess weaknesses that humans do not.
- Fire or Sunlight - Any exposure to fire or sunlight will cause intense pain and exposure for long enough will lead to the vampire's demise.
- Dead Blood - If a vampire drinks from a human after they are dead, the vampire will begin to grow weak. For example, Claudia lied to Lestat by claiming two dead boys she brought him were merely "drunk", when Lestat drank from them he then started to grow weak.
- Elder's Powers - If an elder (a vampire that is 1,000+) makes a fatal injury like ripping out the heart or slashing their throat the vampire will die.
- Exsanguination - Drained of blood by a vampire completely. Other methods of exsanguination like slashed throat, will only slow them down until they feed.