Wraith: The Forgotten/Chapter Two: Character Creation

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Character Creation[edit]

Wraiths have two “births” as it were, their birth into the Skin as a living human, and then their fall into the Shadowlands as a Wraith. Some Wraiths have a connection to death before they pass, many do not. A Wraith's first life is one of the most important things in determining how the Wraith lives in the Shadowlands, but life as a Wraith is undeniably different from life as a human.

The character creation process is a way of taking the abstract traits of a character, and putting it into terms that can be used for a relatively structured form of storytelling, where the players and the Storyteller cooperatively write the exploits of the characters of the game.

The basic rules for creating a character as per the World of Darkness core rulebook still apply, but they have been changed slightly to reflect the differences between Wraith and human.

Step One: Concept[edit]

The very first thing any character needs is a concept. This concept should be fairly basic, covering the general idea of your character. You can fill in the details later, as you need them. This concept can be as brief as “Dead cop solves cold cases,” or can be a whole sentence, like “I'm a journalist of the dead, who wants to finish her last story so she can pass on.”

Occupations are often a good place to start, as Wraiths often take up jobs in the Shadowlands similar to what they had in life, but starting with things like personality traits, or even just a favorite hobby can be a decent place to start.

At this point, you'll want to choose three Passions, driving forces that keep a Wraith going when everything else fails. These are mechanically similar to Aspirations, and replace them in the transition from human to Wraith. Out of these three Passions, place a star next to one. This Passion should be long-term and Chronicle-defining, and is your Primary Passion. The benefits of Passions will be expounded on later in this book.

A Wraith's Passions can define not only what they want from the world, but also how they interact with the world, and how a Circle of Wraiths behaves with each other.

In the end, though, Passions are engines of plot. When the story has come to a stop, and you don't know what to do next, ask yourself, “What are my passions?”

Step Two: Attributes[edit]

All Wraiths have three sets of three attributes. Usually, these attributes are split into Physical, Mental and Social attributes. They can also be split into Power (Strength, Intelligence and Presence), Finesse (Dexterity, Wits and Manipulation), and Resistance (Stamina, Composure and Resolve). These alternate categories aren't immediately important, but will be useful to keep in mind for building the Shadow, later. When you reach this step, prioritize physical, mental and social attributes in any order you choose.

Every attribute starts with one free dot, and then the categories receive 5, 4 or 3 dots to spend across them, as appropriate for their priority. The way you spend your attribute points is a good way to determine how your character operates. A boxer that focuses on physical attributes, for example, is probably all about the sport for its own sake, while a boxer who puts mental attributes first fights very strategically, and one who focuses on social attributes is probably focused on self-promotion.

An Attribute is limited to a maximum of 5, which represents the greatest reaches of natural human ability. One dot represents a deficiency, and 2 dots represents average human ability.

Step Three: Skills[edit]

Where Attributes represent raw talent, skills represent a level of training in a task or set of tasks. Like attributes, skills are divided into physical, mental and social categories. When it comes to your character's skills, prioritize them, similarly to attributes, in any order you choose, independently of how you prioritized your attributes. Skills receive no free dots, and you receive 11, 7 and 4 dots for your primary, secondary and tertiary categories, respectively. Skills are a good place to fill in your character's background. Did they focus on a narrow set of skills, or did they dabble in a bit of everything? Perhaps the construction worker was a bit of a science enthusiast, with a dot or two in Science. Maybe the detective favors talking to people over Investigation, and focuses more on Social skills. A low dot rating in a skill represents somebody who has only rudimentary knowledge of that field, or is just starting out, while 5 dots implies world-class skill and expertise.

Step Four: Skill Specialties[edit]

After selecting Skills, you get another way to refine your character's abilities: Specialties. A Specialty is roughly what it sounds like, a narrow application of a skill that your character has more focus or expertise in than the skill in general. For example, a neurosurgeon might have a high Medicine skill rating, and a specialty in Neurology. In order to take a specialty in a skill, you need dots in that skill, and the specialty has to be broad enough that it seems like something one could reasonably specialize in, but narrow enough that you're not applying it constantly. “Cars” is not suitable as a specialty for Drive, but “Formula-One Racing” is.

A starting character receives three Specialties, which can be used to further fill in your character's background. A doctor with a Specialty in Pediatrics is a very different kind of doctor than one with a Specialty in Field Medicine.

Step Five: Wraith Template[edit]

At this point, you have your character's life. Now it's time to kill them.

Lamentation[edit]

The Lamentation is a broad description of how a Wraith came to the Shadowlands. The way a Wraith dies has a profound metaphysical effect on them, and often colors their perceptions of the Shadowlands.

There are five different Laments:

  • The Black Cat: Those whose deaths were simply a product of a sequence of unlikely events.
  • The Diligent: Those who died at work, be it from overworking or an on-the-job incident
  • The Martyr: Those who chose to die on behalf of a cause or another person.
  • The Resigned: Those who saw death coming and knew it was unavoidable.
  • The Wrath-Stricken: Those who died as a result of another person's violence.

Elegy[edit]

The Elegy is how the Wraith decides to spend their undeath, as well as how they fit into the Shadowlands. While Lamentation is placed upon a Wraith when they Blink, Wraiths choose their Elegy.

  • Body Snatchers: These Wraiths feel alive by possessing the living, as symbiotes or parasites.
  • Mystics: The Mystikoi investigate the mysteries of the Shadowlands, seeking to understand them.
  • Poltergeist: Poltergeister take delight in interacting with the Skin, most famously by causing messes.
  • Reapers: Reapers are warriors who choose to fight other Wraiths and Ghosts, whether for good or ill.
  • Watcher: Watchers are those who choose to silently observe those they left behind.
  • Traitors: Those that willingly collude with their Shadow and Specters.

Psyche and Shadow[edit]

The Psyche is how your Wraith defines his or herself. It's who they consider themselves to be, as well as what they aspire to and the face they show to the world. Acting in accordance with one's Psyche can help avoid acquiring Angst and recover Willpower.

The Shadow, however, is what your character doesn't like about themselves. This Shadow represents every ignored urge, every crazy messed-up thing in your character's head, whether it's negative or just unwanted. The Shadow can have valuable instincts and information, but listening to it is fraught with danger. Unlike the Psyche, choosing a Shadow doesn't just mean describing your character, but it also gives a name to the monster within.

Anchors[edit]

Each starting Wraith three Anchors. Anchors are valuable sources of Pathos, as well as providing shelter during dangerous times. Like Passions, Anchors can be resolved, but this is a much more involved process than resolving Passions that involves coming to truly understand your connection to not only the Anchor, but also how that connection defines who you are. An Anchor can be a person, and object, or even a location to which the Wraith had a deep connection in life.

Arcanoi[edit]

Arcanoi are the varied and powerful magical abilities at the disposal of the Wraiths, granting them power over death the very fabric of the Shadowlands. The Wraith starts with three dots in Arcanoi, two dots of which must Arcanoi favored by the Wraith's Lament or Elegy.

Ego[edit]

Ego is the basic measure of a Wraith's mystical power. Higher Ego allows you to hold and use more Pathos, and at six or higher, can raise the limits on a Wraith's attributes. You can gain extra Ego at character creation by spending 3 Merit dots per Ego, and you starts with Pathos equal to half their maximum at character creation.

Ego
Ego Attribute Maximum Pathos/Per Turn
1 5 10/1
2 5 11/2
3 5 12/3
4 5 13/4
5 5 15/5
6 6 20/6
7 7 25/7
8 8 30/8
9 9 50/10
10 10 75/15

Step Six: Merits[edit]

Merits define the specific quirks and traits of your character, from their background to the people they know to any special talents or techniques they possess. A Wraith starts with 10 dots wort of merits, and may choose any merit in the Chronicles of Darkness core rulebook whose prerequisites they meet, except for Supernatural merits and the Vice-ridden and Virtuous merits, seeing as Wraiths' Vices and Virtues are no longer strictly relevant. Additionally, some Wraith-specific merits are expounded upon on in Chapter Three, and some mortal merits behave differently for Wraiths.

Step Seven: Advantages[edit]

  • Willpower: Equal to Resolve + Compsure
  • Angst: The replacement for mortal Integrity. This starts at three dots, increasing with Breaking Points. You may choose to give your character up to two additional Angst dots in exchange for 1 extra Experience each, representing a traumatic life that spurred personal growth as a Wraith.
  • Defense: Athletics + The lesser of Wits or Dexterity
  • Size: 5 by default
  • Health: Size + Stamina
  • Speed: Size + Strength + Dexterity + Outrage
  • Initiative: Dexterity + Composure

Step Eight: The Shadow[edit]

The Shadow is a creature in every Wraith. It acts to preserve the Wraith at times, but it also seeks to undermine their Wraith's psyche and take complete control. It is everything the Wraith doesn't like about themself, manifest in a single creature.

Attributes[edit]

Prioritize Power, Finesse and Resistance.

The primary Attribute is equal to the highest of its Wraith's attributes in that category.

The Secondary attribute is equal to the middle of its Wraith's attributes in that category.

The remaining attribute is equal to the lowest of its Wraith's attributes in that category.

Skills[edit]

The Wraith has the same skills as the Wraith.

Specialties[edit]

The Wraith has its own specialties, independent of the Wraith's.

Rank[edit]

A Shadow has a Rank of one-half the Wraith's Angst, rounded down.

Arcanoi[edit]

The Shadow starts with 3 dots of Arcanoi, like the Wraith. These can be any Arcanoi, including Dark Arcanoi.

Merits[edit]

The Wraith starts with 7 Merit Dots, and may choose any non-supernatural merit, plus certain specific merits available to Shadows and Specters.

Merits[edit]

The following are merits that have been added or modified for use by Wraiths:

Modified Merits[edit]

These merits behave differently for Wraiths than for normal humans, having different restrictions or effects.

Alternate Identity (• to •••) Effect: The benefits of Alternate Identity remain roughly the same, but when gaining a 2- or 3-dot Alternate Identity, you can choose to have it apply in the Shadowlands or the Skin. If it applies the Skin, you no longer have limits imposed on your level of available Resources, but only as that Identity.

Anonymity (• to •••••) Effect: This merit only applies in the Shadowlands. However, all Wraiths not using an Alternate Identity in the Skin benefit from Anonymity at 5 dots at all times, unless the target has access to sufficient occult knowledge. Effectively, subtract Occult from the Wraith's effective Anonymity when trying to research them as a Wraith. Unless they had Anonymity in life, their lives are no more difficult to research than before.

Fame (• to •••) Effect: This merit still functions as normal, but in order for a Wraith to have fame in the Skin, they need to have Alternate Identity at at least two dots. A human with Fame who becomes a Wraith converts the dots into Legacy or Memoriam, as appropriate.

Resources (• or ••) Prerequisites: Special Effect: This Merit functions the same as normal, but without an Alternate Identity of at least two dots, Wraiths are limited to two dots on the Skin, as they are forced to operate entirely in cash.

True Friend (•••) Effect: While functionally unchanged, it should be noted that a few Wraiths have True Friends who double as Anchors, and they are often the only people able to recognize them. Instead of Willpower, a Wraith can regain Pathos equal to their Ego dots from interacting with such a friend, as such a connection is full of intensely powerful emotions.

Wraith Merits[edit]

These merits are uniquely available to Wraiths, usually offering them a specific benefit that only Wraiths have a real use for.

Eidolon (• to •••)

Effect: You can more easily resist the temptations of your Shadow. Subtract your dots in Eidolon from your Angst when your Wraith attempts to influence you, and add your Eidolon dots to your dice pool when attempting to wrest control from your Shadow.

Haunt (•+)

Effect: You have a place to call your own, one reflected in the Shadowlands. This place is legally your home in the Gloom, but may have other occupants in the Skin. You can share a Haunt with other Wraiths, contributing dots to one of three aspects of your Haunt:

  • Size: More dots means a larger Haunt, from a tiny shack or a closet at zero dots, to a huge mansion at 5.
  • Protection: Dots in this allow your Haunt to double as a Safe Place (GMC 170) of equal dots.
  • Byway: This measure how reliable the Byway between the Gloom and the Skin is in the Haunt. At zero, there is no Byway, and you need to find some other way through. At one, it's open only under esoteric conditions, and at five, it's open at all times. The Byway opens on the Skin side into Twilight, so there's little risk of mortals stumbling upon it. If you don't want to worry about the conditions that the Byway is open under, then you can just roll dice equal to the dots placed in Byway, and the Byway is open on a success.

It's common for a Wraith to store its Anchors in a Haunt, and for a location Anchor to be a Haunt, but that can mean that an enemy with access to your Haunt also gains access to your Anchors.

Legacy (• to •••••)

Effect: You have left behind a legacy that the world remembers. When revisiting your Legacy, you can roll Ego + Legacy dots to regain 1 Pathos, once per scene. Merely coming to look at one your old paintings isn't enough, however. You need to hear somebody else talk about your achievement. A documentary about a string of murders you committed in life, a tour through a gallery of your works, or an impassioned lecture about one of your books can suffice, as much as an argument about how horribly your works have been misinterpreted.

Memoriam (• to •••••)

Effect: You may not have done something that will stand the test of time, but people still remember you in their hearts. Your beloved wife, who still leaves a lily by your grave each year. Your high school football team that you carried to victory. A detective who never stopped hunting you. Any time you hear or participate in a conversation of who you once were, you can roll Ego + 10 – Angst to gain 1 Pathos per Memoriam dot.

Spirit-toucher (••)

Effect: You have the unusual ability to touch spirits in Twilight as if you were one of them. Most with this merit either died at the hands of some sort of spiritual phenomenon, or else had some link to the world of Spirits. Effectively, you are on the spirit's ephemeral "frequency" in Twilight, in addition to those of Ghosts and Astrals. This allows you to interact with immaterial Spirits directly in the Skin, and even absorb Essence that resonates with death or memory like a Spirit might. Doing so requires you be in the presence of an event that releases such Essence, and then roll Ego, gaining 1 Pathos if the roll succeeds.

You do no gain the ability to cross the Gauntlet between the Shadow and the Skin, nor do you count as a spirit for any other effect or rule.

Drawback: Spirits can touch you in return, and that can be dangerous,especially if the spirit is hungry. Additionally, many beings in the Quick, from hunters to sorcerers to stranger monsters may have reason to kill or imprison you, mistaking you for a spirit.