A Personal Demon
Every wraith has his own worst enemy living in the back of his head. Though the wraiths original personality, the Psyche, is the face that a wraith presents to the world, his Shadow is always there, seeking to twist and defile all that it can. The whisperer in the dark, the bringer of temptation and scorn, a wraiths Shadow is all of the malice and selfishness in his soul given a voice that can never be stilled.
Just as the Psyche strives to follow its Passions, the Shadow has Dark Passions to fulfill. A wraiths existence is fueled by the pure emotional energy of Pathos, but his Shadow feeds on its opposite, Angst. While Shadows arent exactly evil, they are relentlessly negative and destructive. A combination of the classic Freudian id and the bully from the elementary school playground, the Shadow is possibly the worst thing about being a wraith. After all, external voices can be drowned out somehow. No one can quiet the tempter within.
The Shadows Face
A wraiths Shadow is an implacable, inescapable foe, common to all of the Restless but uniquely personal. Selfish in its desires, the Shadow is all of the malice, hate, greed and darkness that is part of all of us, but refined, distilled and allowed to stand on its own. It wants what it wants, selfishly and it chooses to act without concern for the fact that its actions will inevitably drag both Psyche and Shadow down to the Void. Indeed, most Shadows would rather face annihilation than pay the piper for what theyve done.
In the meantime, however, there are other goals to achieve: perverting and corrupting the Psyche; taking over from the Psyche when circumstances permits; feeding other wraiths to Oblivion; spreading negative emotion; and thwarting the Psyches goals whenever possible. A Shadow has reserves of strength that can offer to the Psyche in times of need, but this help often comes with a terrible price, and the wraith who starts to count on his Shadows assistance may find that aid revoked at the worst possible time.
A Shadow is a personality distinct from the Psyche, and many go so far as to give themselves a name. It is a personality without conscience or restraint, though it can fake both of these should the need arise. There is also a definite sadistic streak in most Shadows, and some will forgo a quick and easy victory in order to prolong the Psyches agony.
Character creation isnt finished when youre done with your characters Psyche. The Shadow is just as important a part of a wraiths persona as the Psyche, and deservers as much consideration and attention in its creation. A Shadow whos an afterthought wont be interesting to play, and without a strong Psyche/Shadow interaction, some of what makes Wraith unique is lost.
Shadow creation should take place in conjunction with your Storyteller. Its difficult to judge how strong your dark side should be, and a Storytellers assistance in balancing Psyche and Shadow is invaluable. Still, its your characters Shadow; nobody knows his dark secrets better than you do.
Step One: Archetype
The first step in creating a believable Shadow is coming up with a character concept. Merely taking your Psyches concept and turning it upside down doesnt always work; after all, the Shadow is its own personality. A characters Prelude is often a good time to garner clues as to what sort of Shadow she will have, as whatever negative traits she displays in real life will literally take on a life of their own in the Underworld.
Below are a few sample Archetypes for Shadows. Some are variations of existing Psyche Archetypes, others are unique to a wraiths dark side. It is quite possible for a wraith to have the same Nature and Shadow Nature; Psyche and Shadow can share an attitude toward the world even with wildly differing perspectives.
These are just some of the most common Shadow Archetypes, and players should feel free to modify these or create ones of their own. When it comes to this sort of thing, the darkness holds infinite variety.
A Shadows Archetype serves as a method of interpreting how that Shadow will assault its Psyche. A Shadow with the Leech Archetype will whine and cajole in order to get its way, while a Monster Shadow will be obscene and direct.
The Abuser - Hurt terribly once, this impatient and jealous Shadow exists to inflict his pain on others. He scrutinizes the failures of everyone around him, heaping scorn upon them whenever he can. This is done partially in order to bolster his own self-image, but primarily to make everyone else hurt just as much as he does. The Abuser will often goad you to attempt the impossible, just to watch you fail so that he can dine upon the self-loathing failure engenders. Chaotic and crazed, the Abuser will lash out at any target other than his favorite one: himself.
When dominate, the Abuser will spew his vitriol in all directions. Any excuse will set him off, and if no excuse is provided, he will create one. Demands for obedience, absurd requests and systematic verbal or physical abuse are this Shadows hallmarks. After all, why should the rest of the world hurt less than he does?
The Director - Quiet and organized, the Director will take you apart with clockwork precision. Icy in her hatred, she will strip your defenses away layer by layer, taking pleasure in the surgical nature of the torment she inflicts. Theres nothing personal in what the Director does; shes just setting the record straight by removing any delusions you might have about goodness, sanity or any other worthwhile qualities you thought you had.
The Directors usual modus operandi is to rifle through the back drawers of your mind, cataloging every weakness, every painful memory and every personality flaw, no matter how minor. This ammunition isnt randomly flung about, either, but is hoarded for special occasions. When you grasp on reality starts to falter, the Director knows just how much pressure to apply in order to push you over.
When in control, the Director likes to lay long-range plans for the next time she is dominant, and to prepare nasty little revelations for you to discover at carefully timed intervals. She also enjoys picking apart your companions, making cutting observations that will poison any friendships you had made on the other side. The fact that the Director is usually quite accurate doesnt help matters, either.
The Freak - Everything that you ever were ashamed of wantig to do is what the Freak lives for. Gleefully perverse, the Freak is an expression of pure self-hatred. It revels in taking each of your imperfections and holding it up to the light, so that it can be ridiculed by the rest of the world. Anything youre ashamed of doing, the Freak will encourage you to do, and the more you resist the more insistent hell become. Once you give in, though, hell turn around and point out how perverted you are, how sick your wants are, and how no one else would sink as low as you. This wont keep him, however, from reminding you how good all of those perversions felt, and how enjoyable it would be to taste their pleasures again . Shame and abandon are the Freaks favorite weapons, and he uses them as often as he can.
A Freak in control is a frightening thing. Hell take your darkest desires and play them out for the rest of the world, leaving you to explain your actions when his control fades. Of course, excavating others dirty little secrets is almost as much fun, as far as the Freak is concerned.
The Leech - Wearing on the will and nerves like sandpaper, the Leech gets its way through whining and cajoling, begging and throwing tantrums. Its a black hole for attention and affection, and no matter how often you give in to its demands, its never enough. No matter how much you give the Leech, it will want more, and wont relent until its wants are satisfied for the moment. Of course, the price of givin in again- and again, and again, and again- is to go deeper and deeper in debt, sliding slowly into Oblivion. Childish and selfish, the Leech can never be satisfied, and every time you give it what it wants, its that much harder to say no the next time.
When the Leech takes control, it attempts to work its wiles on others in order to extract whatever sustenance they offer. If permitted, it will drain everyone around it dry, then discard the husks and set out to look for new victims. As far as the Leech is concerned, everything others have and more is just its rightful due. Its owed the world on a silver platter and more besides, and woe betide any who try to tell a Leech otherwise.
The Martyr - noble self-sacrifice has its place, but what the Martyr offers is a shallow mocker instead. By constantly demanding that you give of yourself because you can take the pain better than anyone else, the Martyr cheapens your faith and indulges your arrogance. Claiming your sacrifice will bring about a greater good, the Martyr will then take pleasure in demonstrating that your pain didnt do anything at all, and that all of your suffering was pointless. Still, that wont keep it from urging you to give up yourself for others every chance it gets. After all, its just looking for a good excuse to take the easy way out.
When the Martyr takes control, it will attempt to maneuver you into situations where, no matter what, in order to escape youll have to give up something important. The Martyr also tries to arrange for witnesses whenever possible, so that its very public sacrifices can be used to shame others into similarly self-destructive acts.
The Monster - Brutally direct, the Monster is all about pain and greed. Whatever it wants, it will command you to take. Whatever it hates, it will demand that you destroy. If you refuse, it will try to destroy you as well, for it cannot stand to be balked in any way. Theres no compromise or subtlety in the Monster, and often its the most dignified and delicate wraiths who have a Monster lurking behind their eyes.
To see the Monster dominant is to see a foreshadowing of Spectrehood. It will lay waste to anything in its path, taking what it wants and destroying everything else out of sheer spite. Gutteral and vulgar, the Monster rarely has anything to say that isnt an obscenity. Why bother being polite to anyone else when theyre nothing more than obstacles to your pleasure?
The Parent - No one else can love you as much, or as well, as the Parent. No one else can take care of you aw well, or make you as happy. The Parent even accepts all of your little imperfections, which shell harp on endlessly in order to prove to you that she loves you despite your nearly infinite flays. Shell protect you from people who dont have your best interests at heart, and only she can decide who those are (usually, its everyone else you know). Youre her darkling baby, so naturally shell help you with those hard decisions, and even make them fro you. Mother knows best, even if you break her heart by never listening to her and running around with those Renegade hooligans .
When in command, the Parent will seek to insulate you from any corrupting or dangerous influences (i.e., anyone and anything else). To accomplish this, it will do and say anything to alienate those who care about you, using the fat that they could be driven off as proof that they werent really your friends anyways. It just goes to show that shes right, and that no one else can love you the way she does.
The Perfectionist - Nothing you do will ever be good enough for the Perfectionist. Perform seven impossible things before breakfast, and hell be screaming at you for not having pulled off eight. Any imperfection can serve as a launching point for a tirade; any flaw will be a magnet for withering sarcasm. By playing up your inevitable errors, the Perfectionist inspires your self-hatred and saps your confidence in your own abilities. Then, once your confidence is shot, hell be more than happy to step in and show you haw to do things right. If you had any sense at all, youd turn things over to him permanently and make sure that everything got done properly the first time. Its not like youre capable of it, after all.
When in control, the Perfectionist will take every example to criticize whatever or whoever catches his eye. Hell also take the opportunity to embroil you in impossible scenarios, anxiously awaiting your inevitable failure. Still, at least he doesnt play favorites. When everyone around him is equally flawed, one targets as good as the next.
The Pusher - The Pusher will always be glad to help you achieve the impossible. He wants you to think of him as a friend, a friend you can always ask for help. Of course, the price for the Pushers help is always too high, and if you dont pay, hell extract it with interest. Every so often when youre counting on him, hell decide that you need to appreciate him more, and hell withhold that support you were counting on so desperately.
When the Pusher is in charge, hell do everything he can to put you into situations youll need his help to escape. The quicker he can make you rack up a debt to him, the happier he is. Then again, an unhappy Pusher can be unpleasant indeed .
The Rationalist - The Rationalist will give you all of the right reasons for all of the wrong decisions. Calmly leading you down the path to Oblivion, it offers rationales and explanations for why you should do what it says. It offers proofs for the wisdom of everything it tells you, making all of its suggestions seem so sensible. The more you argue, the tighter its bonds of logic become, and the more foolish you feel for resisting. In many ways the Rationalist is similar to the Director, but without the Directors personal involvement. As far as the Rationalist is concerned, sending the Psyche to Oblivion is an intellectual exercise, albeit a challenging one.
When dominant, the Rationalist takes precise, well-organized steps toward the Void. It will sabotage your long-range plans and set in motion ones that superficially look better; it will systematically make you enemies and alienate or eliminate your friends. Theres no sense in taking ones time giving in to Oblivion, is there, when its assured of winning in the end? The Rationalist is just making the surrender more efficient.
Step Two: Angst
Just as Pathos fuels a wraith, Angst powers her Shadow. A wraiths Angst rating is indicative of the amount of negative emotional energy she is carrying around with her. Angst is the measure of a wraiths fear, pain and alienation, and the more of these counterproductive energies a wraith harbors, the higher her Angst score is. The higher the Angst score, of course, the more powerful the Shadow is.
A wraiths permanent Angst score always starts less than or equal to her permanent Willpower score. To determine a Shadows starting Angst, roll a number of dice equivalent to the wraiths Willpower against difficulty 6. The number of successes indicates the number of permanent Angst points the wraith starts play with. For purposes of this roll only, 1s do not cancel out successes, and every wraith must start play with at least one point of permanent Angst. Wraiths without permanent Angst immediately Transcend, leading to very short chronicles.
Like Willpower, Angst can be spent (by the Shadow only) in order to achieve automatic successes. Unlike Willpower, however, temporary Angst can exceed its permanent rating, up to a maximum of 10. When a wraiths temporary Angst exceeds her Willpower, the Shadow can attempt to usurp control of the Corpus by means of a Catharsis roll (see Catharsis). On the other hand, the Shadow can elect to keep stockpiling temporary Angst. When temporary Angst reaches 10, the Shadow assumes command permanently, and the wraith becomes a Spectre. Of course, the change may not always be obvious to her friends .
Temporary Angst ratings tend to vary wildly during play. Shadows use Angst to power their special abilities (Thorns), and can expend vast amounts of energy in their war against the Psyche. On the other hand, a great many Arcanoi give their wielders temporary Angst, and all Shadows have Dark Passions which can be fed as well.
Step Three: Dark Passions
Just as a wraith has Passions, her dark side has Dark Passions. These function in roughly the same manner that Passions do, feeding the Shadow instead of the Psyche. Each Dark Passion should be phrased in the same way a Passion is, with a brief imperative description of the Dark Passion and its core emotion following in parentheses. Dark Passion also has a rating to indicate how strong the obsession is. For example, a wraith who was a frustrated artist in life might have the Dark Passion Destroy works of art better than those I could have made (Envy) 3. Dark Passions often reverse a wraiths regular Passions, driving the Shadow to hurt those the Psyche wants to protect, etc. On the other hand, some Dark Passions can parallel normal Passions, and may have nothing to do with a wraiths Passions at all.
Dark Passions can be increased during the freebie points section of Shadow creation, but each wraith starts with seven points.
Creating Dark Passions
One of the most difficult aspects of creating a Shadow is coming up with appropriate Dark Passions. Often, its enough to take a wraiths normal Passions and invert them. A wraith whose Passion is to Protect my wife (love) 5 might well have a Dark Passion of Destroy my wife (Hate) 4 to reflect both that the Psyche is stronger than the Shadow, and that the Shadow usually wishes to counter the Psyches desires on a general principle.
On the other hand, not all Dark Passions are linked directly to Passions. A Dark Passion based around the emotion of Self-Hatred, for example, could be Dive into a Nihil (Self-Hatred) 2, while a Rage-based Dark Passion could simply be Cause random destruction (Rage) 3. Other emotions that commonly serve as the core for Dark Passions include Engy, Lust, Twisted Love, Greed, Hate and Fear.
Some Dark Passions stem instead from what the character does. A wraith skilled in Argos might have a Dark Passion that reads Lose people in the Tempest (Hate) 3. An Artificer could have a Dark Passion like Soulforge all of my Circlemates (Greed) 3. In the end, the most important thing is to draw an emotion that the character is likely to feel a suppress, and a logical action for them to take in connection to this emotion.
Step Four: Freebie Points
When the basics of Shadow creation are finished, there are still 10 freebie points left with which you can round out your Shadows's personality and abilities. Freebies can purchase additional Angst (permanent or temporary), new or stronger Dark Passions, or special abilities Shadows have, called Thorns. A wraith's permanent Angst score can never exceed her permanent Willpower score at the start of play, but temporary Angst can be bought up to nine. Furthermore, while additional dots in Dark Passions can be purchansed with freebies, the number of dots in Dark Passions can never exceed the number of dots a wraith has in her regular Passions.
Thorns are certain, unique powers the Shadow has at its disposal. These range from minor tricks to potent abilities that can threaten a wraith's very existence, and their use is entirely up to the Shadowguide. The Shadow can also use Thorns (when applicable) during Catharsis.
Spectre Prestige: (1 point/level)
Many Spectres have the ability to communicate with wraiths' Shadows. Shadows with this Thorn have garnered the respect of the Shadow-Eaten, and will be treated accordingly.
Dark Allies: (1 point/level)
A Shadow with Dark Allies regularly communicates and plots with Spectres, and can call on them for aid.
Tainted Relic: (1 point/level)
The Shadow has an important relic that manifests only when it is in power. This relic could be a mask, a weapon or some other item. The character should be able to recognze its origin if it is described to him or if he sees it in a mirror; the relic usually had some some significance to the character in life, whether she admits it or not. The manifestation of this relic demonstrates to others in the wraith's Circle that the Shadow is in control.
Infamy: (1 point/level)
Memoriam for the Shadow, Infamy is the measure of how much feat and loathing the wraith still inspires in the living. Just as Pathos can accumulate for the Psyche, Angst can collect for the Shadow.
Every time a wraith with Infamy falls into Slumber, the Shadowguide rolls one point for each point of the Thorn possessed. The difficulty on this roll is 6, and each success gives the Shadow a point of Temporary Angst. Botches remove temporary Angst, and just might cause the living to think more kindly of the wraith. . . .
No more than five points of Infamy can be taken, and an Infamous wraith had best be prepared to deal with the consequences of the hatred of the living.
Death's Sigil: (1 to 3 points)
Death's Sigil is a prominent sign of Oblivion's touch on a character that manifests no matter where she goes. Each Sigil is unique; one wraith might have wings of choking smoke, another might leave footprints of seawater in the Skinlands, and a third could exude the odor of a charnel house. This Thorn naturally makes a wraith very distinctive, with all of the advantages and disadvantages this offers. Only by spending a Willpower point can a wraith turn off the effects of this Thorn for a scene.
The more points put into the Thorn, the more pronounced the effect is. A one-point Sigil might not be that noticable, while the three-point version could go so far as to alter the effects of the wraith's Arcanoi.
Shadow Traits: (2 points)
The Shadow can purchase one dot of any Attribute or Ability that the Shadow can bestow as a bonus to the Dice Pool for that Trait. The Attribute or Ability must be specified when the Thorn is bought during the creation of the Shadow. The character may access the Shadow Trait at will, but the Shadow gains one temporary Angst each time the character accepts help and makes a roll using the Shadow Trait.
Aura of Corruption: (2 points)
Through this Thorn's effects, the Shadow somehow defiles the wraith's presentation of herself, making her presence unpleasant to other wraiths. The effect of Aura of Corruption is generally not grotesque; instead it is subtly disturbing. Indeed, it may have no overt impact, merely serving to make other uncomfortable.
If a wraith has Aura of Corruption, all difficulties on social interaction rolls are raised by +2. This Thorn can be purchased only once.
Shadow Call: (2 points)
Shadow Call allows a wraith's Shadow to summon nearby Spectres. This Thorn can only be used when a wraith is in the Tempest or standing at the mouth of a Nihil, otherwise it has no effect. The Shadow Call is audible on the edge of a wraith's consciousness as a thin, piercing shriek; in time most wraiths will come to recognize its significance.
To make a Shadow Call, the Shadowguide spends a temporary Angst point and rolls against his permanent Angst score (difficulty 7). The number of successes indicates the number of Spectres summoned, however, the type of Spectre that answers the Shadow Call is entirely up to the Storyteller.
Pact of Doom: (3 points)
The Shadow can make a pact with its host, granting increased knowledge of Arcanos in exchange for greater control. Each pact spells out the host's duties and exactly how much Arcanos knowledge is granted. A pact cannot be forced on a character - she must accpet it knowingly . When a pact is made, the Shadow gains a number of permanent Angst points equal to the level or levels of Arcanos it teaches. A Shadow doesn't have to know the Arcanos to teach it: it may simply access that information from the body of arcane knowledge all creatures of Oblivion can access. This Thorn can be purchased only once.
Tainted Touch: (3 points)
Whenever the character touches something or someone, there is a chance the thing or person will become tainted with Oblivion. Roll three dice (difficulty 6). The number of successes equals the number of Angst points or Health Levels that the Shadow inflicts on the target. The character can fight this Thorn by spending a Willpower point and making a Willpower roll (difficulty 6); the number of successes on the roll must equal or exceed the Taint roll. This Thorn mat be purchased only once.
Trick of the Light: (3 points)
The Shadow can subtly alter the perceptions of a character to fit its needs. This is a very, very subtle power of the Shadow, but is extremely potent when used correctly. The Shadow spends one Angst point per scene to maintain the perception-shift. Note that this tool only covers one sense per use: multiple senses require multiple expenditures of Angst. The Shadowguide, not the Storyteller, describes what the character senses.
Bad Luck: (3 points)
The Shadow can spend Angst points to reduce the number of successes gained by its host character, just as the player can spend Willpower to increase the number of successes.
Doppleganger: (3 points)
The Shadow can appear as one completely different person. The person can be known or unknown. This makes it difficult for the character's friends to recognize him if his Shadow takes over.
Shadow Familiar: (5 points)
The Shadow has a smaller spirit of Oblivion that acts as its familiar spirit. This familiar can be the Shadow's eyes, ears and voice. It is usually relatively harmless, for it is not menat to be anything more than a spy. The familiar is small, but may be any shape desired by the Shadow.
Freudian Slip: (5 points)
By spending an Angst point, the Shadow may cause the character to take an involuntary, sudden, action, or may insert a single, unbidden thought into the character's head. This can be resisted by the character spending a Willpower point and making a Willpower roll (difficulty 7). One success is needed to resist.
Shadow Life: (5 points)
The Shadow lives a parallel life. Whenever the character Slumbers, the Shadow takes over and acts without her knowledge. This can lead to some vey interesting problems as the character meets people whom the Shadow has wronged or attacked in some way. The character may not even know about this property of his Shadow. For two more points of Thorn, the character suffers a mental block about the fact. This Thorn may be purchased only once.
Devil's Dare: (7 points)
By investing a number of Angst points into a single command and writing that command on a note to be passed to a player, the Shadowguide can stipulate some action that the Psyche must take. The Devil's Dare must be very specifically defined, and must be something that the character can actually do. The angst points are immediately spent. Each point of Angst so spent represents the severity of the action: if the action is very severe, the player may petition the Storyteller to have it lowered. If, by the end of the session, the dare isn't somehow worked into the character's actions, then the character loses the number of Willpower points equal to the Angst invested in the dare.
Whenever temporary Angst exceeds the Psyche's permanent Willpower, the Shadow can attempt to dominate the wraith. If this happens, the Shadow controls all the wraith's actions. The player, not the Shaodwguide, runs the character, but conform to the Shadow personality.
The Catharsis Roll
The Shadow makes a control roll by one temporary Angst point and rolling a number of dice equal to its temporary Angst. The Psyche may resist with a (permanent) Willpower roll, adding Eidolon dice if apporpriate. Both rolls are at a difficulty of 6. The Shadow stays in control for an entire scene, at which time it returns control to the Psyche.
When the Shadow is dominant, it interacts with the world the only way it knows how. It can gain Angst through its Dark Passions. It may utilize any of the Psyche's Arcanos. It may use Thorns, such as Doppleganger, Shadow Relic and Infamy. It may not cause the Psyche to regain Pathos, nor can it refuel the Pathos of the Pysche once it is spent. The Shadpw cannot expend Willpower, nor can it reduce the character's PAthos below 1.
The Shadow uses Catharsis as a threat: it is the ultimate attack against the Psyche. Durring Catharsis, the Shadow can choose to "cut off" a Psyche from his senses, thereby performing things in secret that will later come back to haunt the character. This eefect can only be resisted with Eidolon dice.
Angst represents the degree of pain and isolation a wraith feels, and indicates the relative strength of the Shadow. Again. if the Shadow has 10 points of temporary Angst while it is dominant, it can trade these for one point of permanent Angst. As permanent Angst grows, the character slips ever closer to Oblivion.
There are several ways the Shadow can gain Angst:
Shadow Dice - The shadow can offer her Psyche extra dice on any roll that the player makes. One point of Angst is gained for eacjh botch that occurs omn the Shadow Dice. (for each "1" rolled on Shadow Dice, subtract one success, but only from the Shadow Dice.) The Shadow can offer a maximum of five extra dice to any roll.
The Shadow's Passions - By accomplishing its goals, the Shadow can gain Angst points. Roll the appropriate Dark Passion in situations where the Shadow is fulfilling that Passion (difficulty 7), and add one point of Angst for evey success. When the Shadow forces the emotion underlying a Drak PAssion on someone else instead of fulfilling the purpose, the difficulty is 9.
Arcanos - Some Arcanos give the Shadow Angst even when the Psyche is dominant.
Important Note: If the Shadow is dominant, it can still use Arcanos, but powers that normally give the user Angst will instead cost the Shadow Angst. Regardless of which "side" is dominant, Arcanos must be fueled by Pathos.
There are several wys the Shadow can lose Angst:
Castigation by another wraith - This Arcanos is specifically designed to reduce the Angst of another wraith. Note, however, that unless a wraith is using the Arcanos: Defiance, he may not Castigate himself.
Using certain Arcanos while the shadow is dominant - When the Pysche is dominant, some Arcanos give a wraith Angst if he fails or botches a roll. If the Shadow is dominant, these Arcanos instead reduce Angst. Arcanos that normally cost Willpower actually increase Willpower if the Shadow is dominant.
Botching any roll when the shadow is Dominant - The Shadow cannot stand to see its own failure. If the Shadow botches any roll while domiant, it loses a point of temporary Angst.
Because wraiths do not have to fear death, many of them act with impunity in the Underworld, thinking that they are somehow immortal in their Restless state. This is not true. When a wraith loses all of her Corpus, she immediately plunges into the Tempest. Here, she experiences a nightmare staged for her by her Shadow. This process is called the Harrowing.
The Harrowing is like a theatre of torture, a highly ritualistic challenge. It is designed to empower the Shadow and rip apart those things so dear to the wraith: her own Passions and Fetters.
The stage is set in the Labyrinth, a twisted network of tunnels and caverns, chambers and endless stairs that the Spectres use to move about the Tempest. The Labyrinth responds to the Shadow's ministrations, evoking scenery of stark nightmare at a moment's whim. The players are Shades and other dread creatures of the Labyrinth. The star is the fallen wraith, bodiless, without a shell to surround her fragile Psyche. The director is the Shadow, who whispers the wraith's darkest secrets to the assembled hordes, and who manipulates them like a maestro.
The result is horror created expressly for the wraith. And the last act, the Shadow hopes, will be the wraith's plunge into Oblivion (IE. No more wraith).
It is important to establish a sense of normalcy for the begiing of the Harrowing. The character regains a semblance of a body, although this is not his Corpus: it is merely a mental projection. Usually, the Shadow chooses a typical scene from the life of the wraith, thus giving the wraith a sense of deja vu, although some Shadows start with the gore right away. In some cases, the Shadow will choose the Quarry of the Harrowing, an aspect ofthe character that it will attempt to destroy. This is either a particular Passion (in which case the Harrowing is infused with a motif, mood or tone representing that Passion) or a particular Fetter (in which case the Quarry is part of the scenery or one of the players in the dark drama). If the Harrowing began because the character lost all his levels of Corpus or all his Willpower, there is no Quarry. The character is on the verge of Oblivion.
If a Fetter or Passion is targeted, the Shadowguide should choose it with care. The Quarry should be a PAssion or Fetter that the character has neglected, or one that has troubled the character. It is easier to destroy a weak Passion or Fetter than it is to destroy a strong one.
The Shadow must spend six temporary Angst points in order to initiate a Harrowing for the purpose of severing a Fetter orextinguishing a Passion. If a Shadow doesn't have six temporary Angst points to spend, it cannot initiate a Harrowing, although it can still try to call Shades to the wraith's location. In this case, the wraith's Psyche simply floats helplessly in the Tempest for a number of scenes equal to his Fetter rating, at which point it snaps back to that fetter in the Shadowlands, and the wraith's Corpus re-forms.
Next, you advance the plot of the nightmare along simple lines and introduce other characters. These characters will be played either by the Shadow (in most cases) or by various Spectres. Build the mood and tone of the story and add some repulsive elements.
System: You may want to let the character involved in the story make Ability rolls. This is also the stage where the character may make Eidolon rolls (difficulty 9) to change aspects of the nightmare. The change must make sense in terms of the story being told, and it can only serve to defend and help the wraith escape the Harrowing. In general, even successful Ability rolls should only prolong the terror, merely giving the character the illusion of control over an inexorable force.
During the climax of the Harrowing, the wraith is presented with a dilemma. The outcome of the dilemma dtermines whether or not the wraith loses the target of the Harrowing, which must be included as part of the nightmare.
System: The dilemma shouldn't be a simple roll. You should either make it a decision on the part of the character, which you then judge in terms of a "successful" decision, a "failure" decision or a "botch" decision; or make the dilemma's outcome dependent on roleplaying culminating in a single, modified roll.
Success - Successfully solving a dilemma lets a wraith escape from the Harrowing. He is snapped back to a Fetter, where his Corpus re-forms (the wraith regains a number of Corpus Levels equal to Stamina). No Willpower is lost (any spent during the Harrowing is regained), nor does the wraith lose a Fetter or Passion.
Failure - When a wraith fails to solve a dilemma, he must roll the rating of his Fetter or Passion (difficulty 8). He loses a number of points from the rating equal to his number of failures or botches. Still, he escapes the Harrowing and can roll for Corpus renewal normally.
Botch - If a wraith botches the dilemma, he loses the Passion or Fetter outright. Additionally, he plays right into the Shadow's clutches and experiences a moment of weakness as it triumphs. The Shadow rolls its Angst versus the wraith's Willpower: if the Shadow wins, the character is dead forever.
If the Harrowing began because the character was reduced to zero Corpus, zero Passion or zero Willpower, no one Fetter or Passion is applicable, so no such roll is made. The character is directly confronted by the possibility of her own death. The end of the Harrowing results in an opposed roll between permanent Willpower and permanent Angst. If the Shadow wins, the character is utterly consumed by Oblivion.