I've read all the books several times (well, listened via Audible). I recall that there have been comparisons of how strong e.g. Thomas is compared to Black Court vampires, but I can't for the life of me recall where it was mentioned or what was said.

UPDATE for clarity: To be clear I'm talking physical strength, not overall capability / toughness / threat level.

Specific question: In Dresden Files books, how does Vampire strength stack up when comparing between the major Courts (Red, White, Black)?

  • I'd suspect the RPG books based on the series address this directly. Would those be acceptable or do you want something specifically from the novels? (I don't have the RPG books handy, regardless, but someone might.)
    – eshier
    Commented Jun 13, 2017 at 19:39
  • No, it doesn't actually. There was specific narration in the books that did, but the RPG (I've got it) does not actually directly address the physical strength of the vampire types relative to each other; they give other powers and abilities to differentiate them which also are covered in the books, however.
    – Paul
    Commented Jun 13, 2017 at 19:45
  • It's inversely proportional to their vulnerability to the magical cleansing effect of sunlight (Black Court is the strongest and most vulnerable, White Court is the weakest and depends on magic the least).
    – Gaultheria
    Commented Jun 13, 2017 at 19:46
  • Thanks, @Gaultheria I recall that the spectrum generally goes Black -> Red -> White -> Human (with the Infected Red and Pre-kill White being somewhere greater than human), what I'm looking for is the actual quotes and references.
    – Paul
    Commented Jun 13, 2017 at 19:47

3 Answers 3


Of the three main vampire courts, Black has the greatest physical strength, and White has the least:

The Whites weren't as physically formidable or aggressively organized as the Red Court, and they didn't have the raw, terrifying power of the Black Court, but they didn't have all the usual vampire weaknesses, either.

Blood Rites (2004), chapter 1

Among the White Court (and presumably the Red Court, who similarly steal life force from humans), physical strength draws from the same power as a vampire's other abilities:

"White Court vamps don't soak up gunshots as well as Red Court vampires do, or ignore them like the Black Court, but they can get over them in a hurry."


"They have a kind of reserve of stolen life-energy. They tap into it to be stronger or faster, to recover from injuries, forcibly manipulate the sensations of police lieutenants, that kind of thing. They don't run around being as tough as the Black Court all the time, but they can rev the engine when they need to do it. It's probably safe to assume that Lord Raith has a great big honking tank of reserve energy."

"We'd have to run him out of gas in order to get to him long-term."


Blood Rites (2004), chapter 41

The Courts' strength depends on how much humanity they retain:

The White Court were the most human of the vampires and in some ways the weakest.

Death Masks (2003), chapter 18

Wizard counter-offensives in recent centuries have skewed the results in favour of Black Court members:

...the near-extermination of the Black Court had meant that only the smartest, strongest, and most deadly of its members had survived.

Blood Rites (2004), chapter 18

  • Hm. This may be the best quote available, but is a bit vague. "physically formidable" could refer to speed or stamina rather than strength and "raw terrifying power" could be just about anything from strength to dark magic and necromancy.
    – Paul
    Commented Jun 13, 2017 at 20:18
  • The first quote is what I was thinking of when I saw the question. I doubt there's much of anything more conclusive; I remember a huge argument about quantifying vampire strength on the Dresden Files forums a couple of years back, if there were anything specific it would have come up. Commented Jun 14, 2017 at 3:42

It doesn't really matter what aspect you're talking about. Whether brute strength, speed, mental domination, or magic, Black Courts beat all others hands down.

I don't have something quoting a direct comparison, but here's a segment from It's My Birthday, Too, one of the side stories.

What is it?” slurred one of them. His voice was ragged but not the horrible parody Drulinda’s was.

Her hand blurred, its movement too fast to see. The newborn vampire reacted with inhuman speed, but not nearly enough of it, and the blow threw him from his feet to land on the floor, shattered teeth scattering out from him like coins from a dropped purse. “You can talk,” Drulinda rasped, “when I say you can talk.

From the same story, comparing his brother Thomas to these things:

My brother could go toe-to-toe with a vampire of the Black Court, if he had to, but the last time he’d done it, the effort had nearly killed both him and the woman he’d had to feed from in order to recover

So a White can ramp up to the power level of a Black, but it's more or less open season for their Hunger at that point. It's also noted later that Thomas can only match the flunky Black Court - when he goes toe to toe with a master Vampire that can raise it's own children, he's completely defensive from second one, and he manages to last less than a minute.

The caveat to this is that as long as you can sucker punch them with one of their weaknesses, they go down pretty easy.

  • Thanks for the answer, but this still doesn't show anything about strength (even though your lead-in implies Black Court wins on all counts). You show one scene where an older BC vamp smacks down a younger one, and another statement that Thomas (a WC) can match a BC for short periods in combat and with difficulty. The fact that he can't "match" a more senior BC vamp doesn't speak at all to why he can't match them. You say it's across all attributes, but there's no evidence presented to that effect.
    – Paul
    Commented Jun 13, 2017 at 20:28
  • @Paul - Well, they dont' have a scene where they bench press side-by-side, and the why is pretty much going to come down to "the writer decided he liked it that way". I'll let my answer stand as-is unless I can think of a better source, but the Blacks have mostly stayed out of the main plot, so this and the other answer are about all you're going to get, as far as I know.
    – Radhil
    Commented Jun 13, 2017 at 20:32
  • Yeah, I'm not trying to be a jerk about it; if this ends up being the best I'll accept. I just thought that there was a more clear-cut comparison at some point. Not like having an all-phage deadlift contest or anything but I had thought Dresden had made some snarky comment like, "Sure the Black Court is stronger than the White, but if you can throw a motorcycle or throw a truck it doesn't matter too much to the guy who gets hit".
    – Paul
    Commented Jun 13, 2017 at 20:49
  • Does the Black Court really beat the Red Court when it comes to magic intrinsically, or is it more a selection effect (as mentioned in the other answer)? The stronger Red Court vampires that we’ve seen have an able grasp of magic (able to pose a serious threat to Harry), and the strongest ones (the Lords of Outer Night or whatever) are much stronger than the Black Court vampires that we’ve seen. It just seems like the rank and file Red Court vampires are weak.
    – Adamant
    Commented Jun 14, 2017 at 3:01
  • 1
    @Adamant - we're having some trouble with basic mook comparison and you want me to bring the Physical Gods in to settle it? I'll pass on the nuclear option, thank you
    – Radhil
    Commented Jun 14, 2017 at 10:10

In an arm wrestling or lifting competition Black > Red > White > vanilla mortal assuming they are all the same age with the same training. (Probably)

Lets look at the distance they could throw a baseball. Assuming perfect skill and accuracy and identical throwing angle we can reduce this to a measurement of strength. (Kind of - put more force behind a baseball and it will go farther.) This would measure maximum strength at a single instant. If you compare an average example of each court, you get Black>Red>White>Mortal (probably).

The most significant problem here is trying to figure out where the White Court fit in. The White Court can enhance different physical aspects at will by varying degrees. They could become incredibly strong for an instant, or less so for a longer amount of time. However since we don't know the actual equation for scaling strength (is in linear, quadratic, logarithmic?) we don't know how much a fully fed WC vamp with the strongest recorded Hunger (White Court vampires have a symbiotic relationship with the Hunger that resides in the same physical space as them and they draw power from the Hunger).

A White Court vampire could use 100% of the reserve energy to strengthen the throw of said baseball. That should out perform the ability of a Red, and maybe even a Black.

Trying to reduce a comparison just down to physical strength will end up giving odd results. There are very few instances where measuring strength will not include what is commonly thought of as endurance.

If we don't remove the idea of endurance but instead assume that all parties have an equal amount, and that greater strength --> less endurance 'used' / minute we can posit the question: How long can they hold something twice their body weight above their head. This would lead to Black > Red > White > Vanilla Mortal.

At some point Harry makes a comment (or has a thought) about the difference between "can bench press a truck" and "juggle refrigerators" - but it wasn't with respect to the different vampire courts. It was more along the lines of "that things sufficiently stronger that that how much stronger than I am doesn't matter.

Sources incoming when I can get home and get page numbers.

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