Step One: Concept
The first thing you as a player need to do in creating a character is coming up with a basic concept for her. At this point you dont need to know all the details of her life and death, just a few highlights that will give you a rough idea of who she is. You can fill in the whats and wherefors later on in the character process. The more time you spend creating and playing your character, the more fully fleshed out shell be.
However, for right now youre just interested in the very basics. Your character can be from any culture or time period (though if youre playing a wraith whos a thousand years old, you should have a pretty good explanation for why shes no more powerful than someone who crossed the Shroud yesterday). Playing characters who havent been wraiths all that long is generally easier, but if you want to play the ghost of a Civil War soldier or a medieval alchemist, theres nothing stopping you.
All you really need at this stage in character creation is the answer to a series of three questions: Who were you, how did you die, and what is keeping you a wraith?
Who Were You?
What did you do when you were alive? How did you live your life from day to day? Its usually best to play characters who were relatively normal- rock stars or actors can create problems- but in the end it comes down to what you want and what your Storyteller will permit. Among the possibilities are:
Artist - There was one truly great work of art in you that would have amazed the world (if youd lived long enough to complete it).
Blank Slate - A real tabula rasa, your life is a mystery to you.
Cop - Perhaps you were a beat cop who watched his beloved neighborhood hit the skids. Or, you could have been with the narcotics squad, a SWAT team or even trapped behind a desk in a precinct house.
Crook - Crime certainly did pay for you, at least for a while. Then again, maybe you got caught.
Dabbler - There wasnt enough time when you were alive for you to follow all of your interests. So you did a little of this and a little of that, and never found a true calling.
Disestablishmentarian - You lived to subvert the system however you could. Maybe you were a hacker, or perhaps you though you were the new Robin Hood.
Drifter - Nothing held you down for long. Maybe a hobo, maybe an artist looking for inspiration, maybe just a free spirit, you didnt stay long enough to put down roots.
Politician - You went to Washington with a mandate for change, and got changed instead. Perhaps you never even got elected, or were drummed out of office.
Punk - Anarchy! If it stood up, you knocked it down; you saw the way it was looking at you!
Slacker - You never did much of anything in your breathing days.
True Believer - Your faith sustained you in life, but this isnt the heaven you were promised.
Victim - You just let life happen to you, always reacting instead of acting.
Workaholic - 80-hour workweeks and 2 a.m. planning meetings swallowed your life; now youre wondering what you missed.
How Did You Die?
The way in which you died determines a lot about your perspective across the Shroud. After all, a wraith who slipped away peacefully and one who has his own murder to avenge are likely to have very different viewpoints on dealings with the living. Here are a few possibilities:
Accident - Maybe the drivers side air bag on your new car didnt inflate, or the power wasnt shut off before you tried to rewire your apartment. At the funeral everyone said that it was just one of those things, and wasnt it a shame .
Illness - Maybe it was sudden, or it could have been a slow spiral down to death. Perhaps you were given cancer by that chemical plant on the outskirts of town, or youre convinced the government tested a new biological warfare agent on you.
Mystery - You dont know what happened to you, and you have sneaking suspicion youre better of that way.
Old Age - You lived a long, full life and went gently. Then again, maybe you kicked and screamed for just one more minute.
Overdose - You went looking for oblivion in the form of drugs or alcohol. They took you a lot closer to Oblivion than you though possible.
Something Strange - You were a one-in-a-million victim. Perhaps you were struck by lightning, or had a rare allergic reaction to your cold medication. Either way, you never saw it coming.
Suicide - Everyone said that you were just trying to get attention, but what you were really trying to find was help. Its too late now, though .
Violence - From the battlefield to home, violence claims victims everywhere. Perhaps you were a soldier, or were killed during a mugging. Someone might even have had you killed.
Why Are You Still Here?
You Regret sums up why you became a wraith, instead of quietly moving on to the next level of existence. What is it that you never said or did that means so much to you now that youve moved on? Here are a few ideas:
Failure -You died knowing that youd failed at something youd set your hand to. Maybe it was lack of confidence, or perhaps just a lack of talent, but you werent good enough then. Now, though, its a different story.
Guilt - Your sins were too great, and they wont let you rest.
Legacy - You wanted to leave something behind you, and now you feel obligated to protect it from the other side. Perhaps its your children, perhaps its the company you founded, but you will see your legacy live on.
Love - Maybe you never told the one you loved how you felt, and you need to rectify this from beyond the grave. Or, perhaps there are still those left alive whom you loved more than life-or death.
Missed Chances -All the trips you postponed, the lovers you never took, the opportunities you passed up; you want a second chance at them.
Mission Possible - You had a mission in life-maybe an environmental crusade, or a mandate to take back your government - and youre not going to let a little thing like death stop you now.
Revenge - Someone made your life a living hell, or even ended it. Now its payback time, and youve got all eternity.
Unfinished Business - You never got a chance to take back those last harsh words you spoke before your death, and now its too late to heal the wounds. Or is it?
Unfulfilled Destiny - You were mean tfor great things which you never quite achieved while you were alive.
Nature and Demeanor
Next comes choosing personality Archetypes that best suit how you view the world, and how you present yourself. They may or may not be the same thing.
Architect: The Creation of lasting works is your goal.
Avant-Guard: If its not new and exciting, youre not interested.
Bon Vivant: Death doesnt have to end your party.
Bravo: Bullying others isnt a habit, its a calling.
Bureaucrat: Everything according to proper procedure.
Caregiver: Even the Restless- especially the Restless- need your love.
Child: You never grew up, and look to a parent figure for direction.
Conniver: Theres got to be an easier way to do everything.
Critic: Nothings perfect, and thats just not good enough for you.
Explorer: New Deadlands, new wraiths, new civilizations
Follower: Youre happy not making and decisions.
Gambler: Death may have upped the ante, but the game isnt over.
Jester: Whats so funny about being dead? Everything!
Leader: When you speak, you expect others to listen.
Martyr: Youll sacrifice for others, but wont suffer in silence.
Mediator: You believe an agreement can always be reached.
Rebel: Authority just rubs you the wrong way.
Scientist: You look at the universe rationally, even if you are dead.
Survivor: You think this existence is worth hanging on to, no matter what.
Traditionalist: As far as youre concerned, the old ways are the best ways.
Visionary: You have a dream for something better that only you can see.
Your Nature is the Archetype that best fits your true personality. This is how you really see the world, and also how you regain Willpower. By acting in accordance with your deepest-seated beliefs and feelings (your Nature), you can refuel your belief in yourself and your determination (your Willpower). Your Nature shouldnt be restrictive, as a character with the Nature Critic can still have a nice thing to say on occasion. Rather, it should serve as a basic guide to your perspective on the world of Wraith, and how you act in and react to that world.
Your Demeanor is the public face you wear, the mask that you show to the world. For some wraiths, their Natures and Demeanors are identical. Others feel the need to hide their true feelings behind false facades for purposes of idly, and have no effect on the rules of Wraith. Rather, theyre intended to serve simply as an aid to role-playing.
Step Two: Choosing Attributes
Your Attributes are your innate potentials, how strong you are, how quickly you think, how good you are at getting people to do what you want - these are all examples of Attributes. Although you no longer have a living body, you still have a physical form with physical - not to mention mental and social - capabilities. This is the part of character creation where you determine those capabilities.
Attributes are broken down into three categories: Physical, Social and Mental. You must prioritize those categories for your wraith. Which is the most important? Which is least? This determines how many points you have to spend in each of those categories.
Physical - Physical Attributes determine how strong you are, how much endurance you have, and how dexterous you are. They are the primary Attributes for characters built for action - cat burglars, bouncers, soldiers and the like. These Attributes detail the strengths and weaknesses of your Corpus. Strength describes how physically strong you are, and also tells you how much damage you do in hand-to-hand combat. Dexterity is a measure of how agile you are and how fast you move, and is useful for acrobatic situations and using firearms. Stamina details how well you endure trauma and pain, and lets you resist damage via soak rolls.
Social - Social Attributes are the measure of how well you function in social situations. They indicate how well you manipulate and coerce them. Charisma is the rating of your personal charm and force of personality. Manipulation describes how good you are at getting others to do what you want. Appearance is a measure of how good - or impressive - you look. Social Attributes are primary for characters coming from political or high society backgrounds, and are useful in chronicles that focus on intrigue.
Mental - Mental Attributes are the rating of your brainpower and ability to think quickly. Used to determind what you might know and what you can deduce from your surroundings. Mental Attributes are primary for scientists and other intellectual characters, as well as for street hustlers and anyone who has to think on thier feet. Perception lets you know how well you can assess your environment - everything from hearing a tell-tale floorboard creak to noticing a clue that others have missed. Intelligence is the rating of how much brainpower you have, and how efficiently you can put your knowledge to work. Wits measures how quickly and efficiently you react to new or rapidly changing situations, such as combat.
The concept youve chosen should be of some help in determining which of your Attribute categories is primary, which is secondary, and which is tertiary. However, your concept should be more of a rough outline than a strict character map, and any combination that makes sense to you is fine.
Each character starts with one dot in each Attribute. Prioritizing the Attribute categories details how many more dots you have to spend in each of the Attribute breakdowns. You have seven dots to distribute among your primary Attributes, five dots for your secondary Attributes, and three dots for your tertiary. However, you dont have to spread the dots out evenly. Instead, choose them as you see fit. If youve chosen Physical Attributes as your tertiary, you may want to give each one dot, or you could put all three in Strength and not put any more in Stamina or Dexterity, or you could put two in Strength, one in Dexterity, and none in Stamina. Its up to you.
If you dont have as many dots in Attributes as you want, dont worry. Later on, youll have the oppourtunity to raise your Attributes with what are called freebie points. For the moment, just go with what seems right and worry about rounding the numbers out later.
Step Three: Choosing Abilities
Just as Attributes are your innate capabilities, Abilities are the things you picked up along the way in your life (or afterward). As Attributes are divided into three categories, so are Abilities. In this case, theyre called Talents, Skills and Knowledges
Your rating in any given Ability determines how good you are at it; four dots in Dodge means that you might have been a matador, while a single dot in Repair means that you probably gave your local auto mechanic a lot of business.
Talents - These are intuitive Abilities, knacks that youve honed through experience. Talents arent picked up from books, nor are they generally the sort of thing that you can practice. Usually, theyre picked up over time, as opposed to being taught.
Skills - Skills are Abilities that you can learn from rigorous training. Anything that can be taught, studied and practiced falls under the heading of Skills.
Knowledges - Knowledges tend to be the more classically intellectual Abilities. Theyre learned from books, classes and rigorous studies, but can also come from experience in ones chosen field.
Abilities get prioritized just as Attributes do. The difference here is that you have 13 points to put into your primary Abilities, nine points for your secondary, and five points for your tertiary. Again, there will be the oppourtunty to boost your Ability ratings through freebie points later on, so fill out your character as best you can at this point and worry about the fine details later.
You are not permitted to put more than three dots in any Ability during this aspect of character generation. If you wish to raise an Ability rating above 3 with freebie points later, that is allowed, but for the moment no Ability can have a rating of more than 3.
Step Four: Advantages
Unlike Attributes and Abilities, you dont have to prioritize your Advantages. Rather, youve got a set numb points to spread out in each one. Again, you can increase this number later through the use of freebie points.
Arcanoi are the unique powers that wraiths possess. You have five dots with which to purchase Arcanoi, though a starting character cant have more than three dots in any given Arcanos. More Arcanoi can be purchased later with freebies.
Backgrounds measure your place in Restless society and culture. Theyre a measure of who you know, what resources you can draw upon and what other wraiths think of you. You have seven dots to allocate among your Backgrounds, but your choices should reflect your character concept.
Passions are what fuel a wraiths existence. Each Passion has three parts to it: A statement of the Passion (i.e., Protect my lover or Avenge my death); a core emotion for the Passion (such as Love or Vengeace); and a rating from one to five.
You have 10 points to divvy up among your Passions however you see fit. You can choose to have 10 Passions, each with a rating of one, or two Passions that have ratings of five. As your Passions are very much tied into who you are as well as what you can do, the Passions that are most important to you should have higher ratings than general or incidental ones.
Fetters re the physical things that tie you to your former existence. A Fetter is a person, place or thing that has special importance to you, and that will continue to anchor you to the Shadowlands until either it is destroyed by outside forces, or it loses its meaning to you.
You have 10 points to assign to your Fetters, which can have ratings from one to five. The more important the Fetter is the higher its rating, and vice versa. Fetters can have some some mystery to them - you may not remember why they are so important to you, and whole chronicles can be built around the quest to uncover a Fetters significance.
Your passions and Fetters can work together. For example, you can have the Passion Finish My Novel (Determination) 5, and the Fetter Incomplete Manuscript: 4.
Step Five: Finishing It Off
The devils in the details, it is often said, but other things can be found there as well. It is the finishing touches that really humanize a character, giving her the quirks and personality that truely bring her to life (or as close as a ghost can get).
This is where you detail your characters Pathos and Willpower, as well as spending your 15 freebie points. Thake the time to look things over before spending your points, however. Youll find that there a lot of things youll want to spend them on, and nowhere near enough to go around. Besides, Pathos and Willpower come first.
Pathos is the pool of emotional energy that you can call upon to power your Arcanoi or to heal your Corpus. Your initial Pathos rating is 5, plus however many dots you have in the background Memoriam. This is just your starting rating, and your Pathos pool will go up and down throughout your chronicle. You can add to your Pathos with freebies, but your rating in this Trait can never exceed 10.
By accomplishing it's goals, a wraith can regain Pathos points. Roll the appropriate Passion in situations where the wraith is fulfilling that Passion (difficulty 7), and addone point of Pathos for every success. When the wraith forces the emotion underlying a Passion on someone else instead of fulfilling the purpose, the difficulty is 9.
Willpower is the measure of how much determination and force of will you have, somtimes enabling you to will a success on a roll. In addition, your Willpower is instrumental in helping you resist the effects of your Shadow. Your base Willpower rating is 5, and can be increased with freebies, but your rating in this Trait can never exceed 10.
Paradoxically, wraiths are both fragile and incredibly resilient. Though the swat of a cat's paw can disperse them, they can be riddled with Skinlands bullets and barely feel it. Only one Trait deals with injury inflicted upon a wraith: Corpus. A wraith's Corpus is the shell of plasm that houses his Psyche - and Shadow. A player records injuries by marking off levels of Corpus, signifying damage to her character's "body."
Unlike humans, who lose vital organs or blood when they are wounded, wraiths lose substantiality - physical coherence. The less Corpus a wraith has remaining, the thinner and more fragile his form becomes, and thus the more susceptible he becomes to Oblivion's deadly pull. A wraith who loses all of his Corpus falls into a Harrowing, as there is no longer anything left to him that can physically resist Oblivion's pull.
A wraith has two Traits to measure how solid her Corpus is. A wraith's permanent Corpus indicates the maximum number of temporary Corpus Levels a wraith can have. A wraith with a permanent Corpus rating of eight could never have more than eight temporary Corpus Levels, even if she had enough Pathos to try to heal more. In other words, temporary Corpus can never exceed permanent.
All wraiths start with a permanent Corpus rating of 10, but this can be reduced by Harrowings.
Luckily for wraiths, their ghostly shells require little maintenance,
and they may convert their own Pathos energy into Corpus. By spending
a point of Pathos, a wraith can regain one of ihs lost Corpus
Levels (only one point per turn may be spent this way). The Usury
Arcanos can also restore a wraith's Corpus. A wraith may also
heal Corpus Levels by Slumbering. A Slumbering character fades
into one of his Fetters for eight hours. At the end of this time,
assuming the Slumber was uninterupted, the player rolls the character's
Stamina (difficulty 6). Each success heals one level of non-aggravated
There are two basic ways to lose Corpus: from combat and other violent interactions with Underworld denizens or phenomena, or from interaction with the world of the living.
In combat, each success on an opponent's damage roll indicates a loss of one Corpus Level.
When dealing with the real world, it is assumed that one Corpus Level is lost every time the real world "violates" the space occupied by the Corpus of the wraith. A Corpus Level is lost whenever a living person would have been hurt, impaled on or juxtaposed by a real-world object. For instance, if a door suddenly opened while a wraith was standing in front of it, a Corpus Level would be lost. Only one Corpus Level is lost per event, and it is assumed that the wraith becomes Incorporeal during that turn.
Your 30 freebie points are used to fill in the blanks left during basic character generation. You can spend them on any Traits you desire, though the cost of different Traits varies. Freebies can raise an Ability over 3, but cant raise an Ability or Attribute above 5.
You can use freebies to purchase Arcanos Basic Abilities at this stage. Each Arcanos has Basic Abilites, not as powerful as the one-dot art for that Arcanos. If you wish, you can purchase just the Basic Abilities for an Arcanos at reduced point cost, which also makes it easier to purchase the regular levels of the Arcanos with experience.
Freebie points can also be used to subtract points from your Shadows freebie pool on a one-for-one basic, or you can take up to seven extra freebies by also granting those extras to your Shadow. Once youre done creating your character, youll need to turn your attention to creating your dark side, and now is the time to begin thinking about it.
States of Being
Wraiths can exist in four Corpus states: Material, Corporeal, Incoporeal and Harrowed.
Material - This state is made possible only through use of the Embody Arcanos. A Material wraith is made of solidified energy, and can be said to be physically present in the Skinlands. When in this state, the wraith takes normal damage from attacks by physical objects. However, he does not suffer penalties to his Dice Pool because of damage. Material wraiths may make soak rolls and engage in physical (hand-to-hand) combat.
Corporeal - This is the normal state of a wraith as he exists in the Shadowlands. When in this state, the wraith can suffer damage "through the Shroud." Any object - a bullet, a speeding car, a forcefully thrown baseball - that collides with the wraith that would normally cause damage to a human inflicts one level of Corpus damage and turns the wraith Incorporeal for a number of rounds equal to his Stamina rating. Thus a rock hurled though the space a wraith is standing in would inflict one level of Corpus and turn him Incorporeal. A soda can, however, absently tossed at the wraith would not inflict Corpus damage, nore would it send him Incorporeal. Wraiths can also voluntarily inflict Corpus on themselves and become Incorporeal by walking through a wall or other solid object. This is how wraiths can walk through locked doors, barred gates, walls, etc.
A wraith only loses Corporeality if damage by something in the Skinlands. Shadowlands damage does not cause a wraith to become Incorporeal.
Incorporeal - When a wraith is Corporeal and suffers damage from an object in the living world, he becomes Incorporeal with respect to the Skinlands. This always causes the wraith to lose a level of Corpus. His form immediatly becomes misty and indistinct. During this time, no further damage can be inflicted from the Skinlands. This state lasts for a number of turns equal to the wraith's Stamina. Incorporeal wraiths are still solid with respect to the Shadowlands; a wraith can be run over by a truck and rendered Incorporeal one turn, then impaled on a Legionnaire's sword for three leves of Corpus the next.
Harrowed - When a wraith loses all her Corpus, she is immediately sucked into the Tempest (possibly even the Labyrinth) and put through the nightmarish experience called a Harrowing. If a wraith survives her Harrowing, she is drawn back to one of her Fetters, where her Corpus re-forms. If she has no more Fetters, she will find herself instead floating in the Tempest near a Byway.
A wraith who survives a Harrowing caused by loss of Corpus will re-form with a number of Corpus Levels equal to her Stamina rating or her Permanent Corpus, whichever is lower.
Wraith Basic Abilities
Although every wraith has differing Arcanos and other traits, there are some traits that every wraith has in common with each other.
Deathsight is often considered the bane of a wraith's sensory existence. It colors everything the wraiths sees with a fatalistic hue. Its no wonder so many of the Restless quickly grow cynical and depressed with their lot in the afterlife. This sensitivity is a double-edged sword, however; much of what Deathsight reveals has a basis in truth and a perceptive wraith can discern much about a subject by careful examination. The following are a few suggestions for ways to utilise Deathsight, though the Storyteller must approve any of them before incorporating them into play.
The wraith can scan a subject or item located in either the Skinlands or the Shadowlands for the innate weaknesses, and possibly strike at these vulnerable points. This use requires a Perception + Awareness roll (difficulty assigned by the Storyteller to reflect the quality and relative strength of the item or subject). If Deathsight is used to coordinate an attack, the wraith may add one die to her potential damage pool. It should be noted that this application of Deathsight can only reveal physical weaknesses - not mental weaknesses, natures or the like.
The wraith can fine tune her Deathsight to determine the damage, disabilities or ailments a subject is suffering from. This requires a Perception + Medicine roll (difficulty from 4 to 8, depending on how apparent the ailment is). Success can reveal information on such things as ailments as disease, extent of damage or disability, handicaps and blood loss. It should be noted that unless the wraith has significant, up-to-date knowledge of medicine, it will be difficult to distinguish between similar illness. This power is intended to give an indication of general health, not to provide automatic state-if-the-art diagnoses.
By closely examining broken or otherwise nonfunctional items, the wraith can occasionally glean information about the cause of the problem. A Perception + Repair roll (difficulty 4 to 8, depending on the complexity of the device and damage) is required. Success means the wraith has isolated the problem, and perhaps obtained a helpful idea or two on how to repair the item.
Deathsight has been known to provide unusual and even bizarre results under certain circumstances. In particular, vampires, although they still possess discernible weaknesses, seem to remain untouched by the ravages of time that batter so many other denizens of the Shadowlands. However, in their wake normally fresh and vital things appear unwarrentedly aged and touched by death. The effect usually passes quickly, but in areas heavily trafficked or long occupied by these creatures the effect lingers on. On the other hand, werewolves appear ablaze with the energy of life. Sites frequented by these man-beasts, such as their gathering places and holy spots, seem almost perpetually verdant and lively.
On the other end of the wraith's sensory spectrum from Deathsight is Lifesight. While useless on other wraiths, it is not without its uses. Many of the Restless become dangerously fascinated by the interplay of color and design found surrounding all living and even many unliving creatures. Wraiths dabbling with Lifesight have stumbled onto and refined a few tricks or special uses for it. The following are a few suggestions.
When two individuals become aware of each other in the Skinlands there is a momentary flare in the life energy surrounding them that a vigilant wraith can interpret. This gives a brief but piercing insight into the true feelings held by each of the subjects for the other. Roll Perception + Empathy (difficulty 9).
By singling out a single "wavelength" of life energy, a wraith can attune herself to a particular Passion or emotion in others. Whenever another wraith passes near a mortal with a similar emotion the mortal's aura clings ever so slightly. In this way, the wraith can uncover information on another wraith's Passions. Only a single emotion can be focused on at one time. This is a very difficult feat, requiring excellent timing and a high degree of sensitivity. Roll Perception + Awareness (difficulty 9).
The spirits and denizens of the Middle Umbra make slight impressions
on the fabric of the Shadowlands that are even further dampened
by the Shroud, so few wraiths are even aware of the potential
for this application of Lifesight. Only wraiths with a considerable
knowledge of Garou and their relation to the Umbra can attempt
this. The wraith can vaguely detect the presence of Umbral entities,
such as Garou, spirits and Banes with a roll of Perception + Occult
(difficulty equal to the local Shroud +2, but no greater than
10). It should be noted that this requires concentration, and
therefore is not something that someone completely ignorant of
werewolf cosmology would "accidently" notice.
As starved as they are for the rich flavor of the Skinlands, wraiths possess a particular sensitivity to stimuli in general that develops quickly upon their arrival in the Shadowlands. This power is easily employed by wraiths to keep tabs on the Quick, as well as to uncover all manner of otherwise hidden aspects of the Shadowlands.
Hidden Sight can be used to try and reveal supernaturally hidden beings (those using Obfuscate, Blur of the Milky Eye, Enshroud and similar powers). however, when employing Sharpened Senses in this manner, the wraith must spend a point of Pathos and roll Perception + Awareness (difficulty determined by the Storyteller). It should be noted that any limitations stated in the description of the power being used to hide the target (i.e.: Obfuscate) must be taken into account when determining difficulty.
Wraiths have the ability to pass through solid objects in the
Shadowlands. However, to do so requires the wraith to expand a
small amount of her essence, or Corpus. In this way, wraiths can
pass through walls, people, or barrages of machine-gun fire relatively