Close-quarters combat is the most treacherous range to engage any opponent, be they living or undead. Unfortunately, it is also the most common range at which vampire combat occurs. A vampire’s ultimate objective in any human engagement is to position itself as close as possible to the target, open a blood line, and commence its feeding session. In order to successfully defend yourself against a vampire’s onslaught and launch a counterattack of your own, you will need to not only be skilled at close-quarters techniques, but also prepared with the appropriate weapon. And against a vampire in close quarters, the most appropriate weapon is the stake.
Nothing more than a sharpened length of wood, this primal and seemingly unimpressive weapon strikes fear into the heart of every vampire, and should be the cornerstone of your combat arsenal and weapons training. As such, we will spend a significant portion of this section articulating the properties, uses, and finer details that make the stake an effective close-combat weapon in a vampire engagement.
The stake is such an ordinary weapon that its subtleties are often lost on the untrained citizen. Although mundane in nature, there are several factors you must consider when preparing your staking weapon for vampire combat:
Material Composition—What is the specific element present within wood that initiates the neutralization process when thrust into the heart of the vampire? The reasons are still unclear. Some have attributed it to the natural resins contained within the cellulose fibers. Others have hypothesized that wood’s primary function as a transport system for minerals and nutrients from the earth throughout a plant’s vascular system is what triggers the self-detonating reaction in the undead. What has been established is that regardless of the type, structure, or chemistry, all wood will cause the same violent reaction in the undead once the stake has penetrated the creature’s heart.
Wood Types — While any type of wood will work in crafting your staking implement, certain types that are preferable to others. Different varieties of trees produce wood of varying densities. Should you have the time to select particular materials, construct your stakes from the hardest wood possible. Do not be confused by the terms “softwood” and “hardwood” in your search for materials, as these categories are related more to the plant’s scientific classification than the density of the wood itself, with some hardwoods being softer in density than certain softwood varietals.