The Undead Depressive Pre-occupation Inventory: Trait Scale

      I recently had the pleasure of spending an hour shooting the breeze with sci-fi/fantasy author Michael Munz for a "Shadows on the Sound" podcast. His conversation was just as delightful as his writing, and I had a ton of fun geeking out on Greek mythology. Personally, I believe that to be a truly great writer* one must have at least a basic grounding in classic literature. That could be Aristotle, or the Bible, or the Epic of Gilgamesh, or all of the above--these are the stories that have molded civilization, they are the foundations of our understanding of humanity and the arch of a well-told tale. The fact that talented novelists can then turn them around and create hilarious works of fiction such as "Zeus is Dead" is just one of the cool results. 
      Anyway, Michael was kind enough to ask me to write a Guest Geek post for his blog! I'd been mulling over a concept for awhile that was a perfect fit. In preparation for an upcoming Con panel, I've been steeping myself in vampire fiction lately (if you've been listening to the podcast, you know what I'm talking about). It's been fun, but frankly the amount of brooding characters I'm encountering is taxing even my melodramatic sensibilities. I found myself pondering deep philosophical questions, such as: "In a brood-off, who would win: True Blood's 'Bill' a la season 3, or 'Angel' a la Angel season 2?" Apart from my gut reaction and conversations with girlfriends after too much riesling, there were no tools for reaching a definitive conclusion. So I decided it was time to put my psychology background to good use, and I created:

The Undead Depressive Pre-occupation Inventory

You may now applaud.

The full UDPI is posted on Michael's blog. It includes a thoroughly-researched, scientifically-based, in-no-ways-totally-absurd justification for this classification system. You should read it.
Here I have only the trait scale for the second piece of the three-part score, as follows:

      So you have a brooding vampire on your hands...but what kind? This 20 question assessment tool is to help determine which traits are expressed as the vampire dwells on unhappy, unresolved issues through decades (if not centuries) of his undead existence!** The assessment results are presented as four letters, and appear as the center part of the complete UDPI score (example: 2005/SGSP/4).


The scale is divided into four sections: Sad/Mad, Isolated/Grouped, Obsessive/Avoidant, and Pacifist/Violent. Each section has five questions. Go through each question, circling the answer you believe is the best fit (sometimes you may feel on the fence, but go with your gut). Then tally your answers in each section. 
Whichever letter was selected most often within the section, that indicates your final answer. For example, if you complete the Sad/Mad section as follows: a) M, b) M, c) S, d) M, e) S, then you have a total of three “mad” and only two “sad” traits, giving you an over-all score of “mad.” That means an “M” will appear as the first letter of your trait score.

Give it a try for yourself!

Sad/Mad – Whether the vampire’s emotional baseline is primarily melancholy or angry.
a.     When the vampire develops romantic attraction to someone, is he more likely to express this through:
          S: stalking and cryptic messages, or 
          M: killing the enemies of said love interest?
b.     When the vampire is rejected by a love interest, is he more likely to respond by: 
          S: isolating himself, or 
          M: going out and committing acts of violence?
c.     During free time, is the vampire more likely to: 
          S: read books, or 
          M: hunt or train for physical fights?
d.     When the vampire is drinking blood directly from a human, is he more likely to wear a facial expression denoting: 
          S: revulsion and sadness, or 
          M: desperate ferocity?
e.     When fighting mortal enemies, which of the following verbalizations is the vampire more likely to utter? 
          S: Poignant insights, spoken a quiet voice? 
          M: Pointed, witty threats offered in a growling tone?

Isolated/Grouped – Does the vampire typically live alone or with others?
a.     Does the vampire regularly allow others to sleep with him in his coffin? 
          I: No. 
          G: Yes.
b.     Does the vampire reside in a building where other beings – mortal or otherwise – also reside, and welcome the vampire’s presence? 
          I: No. 
          G: Yes.
c.     When the vampire changes residences, do other vampires move with him? 
          I: No. 
          G: Yes.
d.     Does the vampire keep moving to avoid being found by others? 
          I: Yes. 
          G: No.
e.     Is the vampire still tied in daily servitude to his Maker/Master? 
          I: No. 
          G: Yes.

Obsessive/Avoidant – Vampire brooding tends to fixate on an individual, either living or dead (or undead); for convenience, we will refer to this person as the Object Of Fixation, or “OOF” from hereon. This section of the assessment measures whether the vampire hangs around that individual (or, if said individual is dead, hangs around the grave, or places that remind him of the deceased), or prefers to distance himself, physically and/or mentally.
a.     Does the vampire currently reside on a different continent than that where his OOF was last seen? 
          O: No. 
          A: Yes.
b.     Does the vampire carry reminders of his OOF with him, such as photographs, handkerchiefs, locks of hair, dry and crumbling bones, etc? 
          O: Yes. 
          A: No.
c.     Does the vampire regularly visit his OOF’s place of residence while his OOF is asleep without the OOF's knowledge (otherwise known as “stalking”)? 
          O: Yes. 
          A: No.
d.     Has the vampire at any point deliberately sought out other beings who resemble his OOF, either as prey or company? 
          O: Yes. 
          A: No.
e.     If the OOF has told the vampire s/he no longer wants to see him, and later gets into some kind of danger, does the vampire: 
          O: Run to his/her defense, regardless of the OOF’s desires, bracing himself for the unpleasant scene likely to follow, or 
          A: Determinedly stay away, fists clenched, staring fixedly at nothing?

Pacifist/Violent – A brooding vampire is usually either penitent or vengeful. Or both. This may express itself in self-denial and pacifism, or through aggressive acts in the name of justice. Or both. But the primary state at the time of the assessment is to be recorded in the score.
a.     Does the vampire’s diet consist primarily of human blood from live humans? 
          P: No. 
          V: Yes.
b.     When the vampire drinks blood from living humans, does he usually: 
           P: Leave them alive, using his vampire powers to somehow heal and/or hypnotize his victim into tranquil forgetfulness? Or 
          V: Drain them to their death, and then dispose of the body in a dark, oppressive place?
c.     Does the vampire’s daily life consist mainly of: 
          P: academic, political, or otherwise peaceful pursuits to further the well-being of all living animated beings? Or 
          V: relentless hunting down the evil, and protecting those who cannot or will not fight for themselves?
d.     When selecting humans for blood consumption, does the vampire: 
          P: only feed off criminals or other socially abhorrent persons, turning his hateful appetite into a tool for good (despite the awful flavor)? Or 
          V: choose victims who tantalize his superior senses, providing the most satisfaction?
e.     When confronted by a violent enemy, is the vampire’s first response to: 
          P: use the power of words in an attempt to find a resolution where nobody gets hurt, preferably a win/win scenario? Or 
         V: fight with all the hateful powers he posses and attempt to destroy his enemy quickly?

      Check out the full UDPI, and if you apply it to any vampire characters I would LOVE to read your finished score--click on the "comment" button below and send it my way!

*Not saying that I AM a great writer, just that this - along with having a body comprised of approximately 80% H2O - is something great writers and I have in common.



  1. Replies
    1. Seems way over-due, in my opinion. I expect to be contacted by several Ivy League Universities with offers of honorary degrees any time now.


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