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How to work in ghosts for necromancers?

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  • How to work in ghosts for necromancers?

    What are the capabilities of a ghost? I do not feel the V20 corebook does an adequate job approaching the topic, I think storytellers should have better knowledge of it without an in depth knowledge of wraith the oblivion?

    -How easily can they be found in the material world

    - How many of them can interact with the material world and how. I'm aware they can puppet or embody, but how many of them can puppet and embody, or do other tricks which affect the real world. If we were to make a roll-table for ghosts, what would the numbers be?

    -How effectively can they move across the shroud or whatever?

    -How likely are ghosts to be bothered by ghostly matters whilst under your service? Will the ghost cops come at our necromancer's ghosts anytime soon?

    Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two make four. If that is granted, all else follows.

  • #2
    -Wraiths and Spectres by large can cross the other side depending how weak the Shroud level is in the area. The Shroud represents how deathly and morbid a particular area is. If you have a Wraith ally or just lackey and you want them to do a task, they aren't going to manifest in a highly developed shopping mall or a high pop University early in the morning. Its not that they CAN'T though, but the difficulty rating against the Shroud to Embody will be to hard to get through. Have them do tasks at night or if they need to do something in the morning, send them to Embody in a particularly decrepit and melancholic place, or just anywhere in general where the Shroud level is really low.

    -Any number of Wraiths can attempt to "interact with the material world" depending how adept in Arcanos they are and the circumstance of the Shroud or if the target they want to Puppet is weak willed enough to be possessed. For Puppetry generally you'll want to ally or get a loyal subservient Wraith with up to loyal 4 in Puppetry so they can possess people. A Wraith servant with level 5 of Puppetry can kill the soul inside the victim IIRC then inhabit it indefinitely. The problem is your ally could get a bunch of Angst (the thing that can turn a Wraith into a Spectre) and if they don't really get that, the body their Puppeting will rot after a few months, making long-term espionage unfeasible unless you have Vicissitude to cover up the maladies or use Thaumaturgy (maybe some homebrewed ritual, because I don't know if Thaumaturgy has a spell or ritual like that) to find some unique magical way to hide the rot.

    Now, rolls for Wraiths?


    1- Skinride- Dextery + Skinride (DC victim's Willpower): Not a possession by any means, but the Wraith or Spectre that uses this can inhabit the skin (not the full body as Rein the Mind does) of a material entity. Generally this is just for spying or just following someone or something if its your Fetter, but in a pinch Skrinriding is the one the last defenses in case of a Maelstorm.

    2- Sudden Movement- Strength + Puppetry (DC victim's Willpower): At this level of understanding, the Puppeter can make the person its Skinriding do very minor things. If you have a Wraith ally or servant and your rival Kindred has a corporate holding in form of a factory, you can have a Wraith with this minor aspect of Puppetry just sabotage almost everything regarding operations. Have Foremen push the wrong buttons on purpose to cause massive production mishaps, get common workers injured and needing insurance by making them trip, etc. Also the manipulation is subtle enough that the possessed doesn't know how its happening.

    3- Master's Voice- Intelligence + Puppetry (DC victim's Willpower): This one is a little self-explanatory, allows the Wraith to takeover the speech sector of the inhabited person's mind and begin speaking through them. The possibilities with this is endless and its just like Sudden Movement in subtlety, the victim doesn't recognize that what is being said is not meant by him or herself. It isn't unlimited though because people who know the victim well might get a clue if something is up.

    4- Rein in the Mind- Manipulation + Puppetry (DC victim's Willpower): This is the one mentioned earlier. When used the possessed victim is basically "blacked out" and doesn't know what's going on at all. Useful for murdering someone through proxy and getting some random or just the exact person you want being embroiled in the murder without any implication back to you or your retinue. It also is very good for espionage.

    5- Obliterate the Soul- Strength + Puppetry (DC victim's Willpower): The single most abusable and evil part of Puppetry. Allows the Wraith or Spectre (if your crazy enough to recruit one into your retinue) to consume the Soul of the victim entirely, making it a braindead doll entirely. High cost in the form the Wraith getting FIVE Angst and the expenditure of 2 Willpower. Once the body is secure however, the sky is the limit in what the Puppeter can do with the new body.


    1- Whispers- Manipulation + Embody (DC Shroud rating): Simple ability that allows the projection of speech across the Shroud. Useful for if your Ghoul is undercover and needs quick information from an entity that can't be seen by your enemies. Note that supernaturals that naturally can observe across the Shroud make this ability moot, because they can speak to Wraiths or Spectres at anytime they want.

    2- Phantom- Charisma + Embody (DC Shroud rating): The weakest part of what will become a very OP Arcanos as we go further along with this, but allows the Wraith to manifest as the classic "hazy translucent" ghost trope. This is good for scaring off mortals.

    3- Statue- Stamina + Embody (DC Shroud rating): This is when the Arcanos starts getting crazy. It allows the Wraith to finally manifest in some solid form across the Shroud, but they cannot move, speak, or breath. I don't really know what situations they can be useful in however.

    4- Life in Death- Manipulation + Embody (DC Shroud rating): Allows the Wraith to finally materialize past the Shroud. The only caveat is that they would look very deathlike and look off to anyone paying distinct attention. At this form however they can begin fully interacting with the world, talk, and fight other entities. Very OP if your Wraith brings over Soulsteel weapons to fight with (of which does flat Aggravated damage). Also another block of OP because Wraiths have a base 10 levels of Health than the regular 7.

    5- Materialie- Manipulation + Embody (DC Shroud rating): Same as Life in Death, but the Wraith will look completely human. Can breath, bleed, sweat, and takes damage normally (Wraiths can soak some attacks that would be Lethal for humans just like Vampires or Mages with active Effects). Good for espionage or if you want someone from your retinue to contact someone no else can get to (say the contactee is in prison).

    Now, effectiveness of crossing the Shroud? It depends how adept the Wraith is at the aforementioned Attributes and level of Arcanos they are in. They also have to be in a area with a low or mild Shroud rating (low being some like 3 and mild being the average 6. Though 7 or 8 is definitely possible, but a place like a 9 will be hard, and an area of 10 is basically something like a Church in the middle of mass).

    The only ghosts that will be bothered indepth by some very brazen actions will be the Hierarchy per the Mortem Dictuum. I'd imagine if the Wraith in your retinue gets notorious enough, they'll send a hit squad after them. Also if they become even more notorious, your Wraith might not even be able to safely inhabit the Shadowland reflection of the city your in, inhibiting any future planned operations if your Wraith isn't the stealth type. Also expect that if your a known Necromancer who's continuing to use Wraiths to break the Mortem Dictuum, those hit squads will be coming after you from the other side as well (and probably quite easily since Necromancers always do things in places of low Shroud rating).

    Though that all hinges as I said before on NOTORIETY. If your Wraith is good and stealthy, they can be a part of your retinue for centuries and never have anything go back to them at all. Unlike how some people who make it out to be when they read the surface level stuff about the Hierarchy, it isn't some uber centralized and organized Empire. Every Necropolis (name of the mirror reflection of the Shadow aspect of the city you might be in.. or generally a settlement of Wraiths in the Shadowlands) is run differently depending on the Anaecreon that currently is running it.

    Some are very incompetent, only getting there through favors, some just don't care and only hold the Anaecreon position for power, or some might be bureaucratic busybodies who only care about ensuring the efficiency of Soul tithes sent back to Stygia.. though in the same breath some could be very bellicose or justice adhering and WILL investigate continued oddities if your to active- though that only depends if the information network of the Hierarchy in the region is even good enough. EDIT: or if the Wraith just gets genuinely unlucky and gets witnessed doing something iffy.

    Hell, if the Necropolis isn't even Hierarchy aligned or there are too many factions vying for control for the Hierarchy to exhibit significant jurisdiction, that means all bets are off and you can freely order your Wraith(s) to do anything you please.
    Last edited by Shakanaka; 09-14-2020, 10:24 PM.

    Jade Kingdom Warrior


    • #3
      But, say, how many wraiths have puppetry, or embody, or any other power that can interact with the living? And of those how many have the power to do the big stuff?

      Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two make four. If that is granted, all else follows.


      • #4
        That is basically your own ST fiat. If you need a good guide though I'd rule it like this: large century long cities with the obvious that many people have live and died in it for a long time have an enormous pool of the Wraith specialized in what your need (because remember out all the supernatural splats in WoD, Wraiths are the most numerous). Mid to Large Towns could have a moderate to small amount, but expect them to want some things in return for any services rendered (that is if you don't just attempt to enslave them with Necromancy, but that could spark the ire of the Circle (think Coterie, but for Wraiths) the Wraith could be part of) because unlike city Necropoli, Towns are a place where information and possible witnesses are much more in kind. Disregard that tidbit I laid down though if its a non-Hierarchy necropolis Town since no Dictum Mortuum would be enforced.

        If you want to do business with a Wraith with ENSURED high spec in an Arcanos to get something done, you can always contact the Guilds. Each Guild specifically specializes in one Arcanos to mastery with unique subdisciplines tied to them. Guilds unlike other Wraiths are very organized with high influence so trying to enslave a member won't go well.

        If you really want a servant very good in Arcanos, just nab one that is atleast halfway getting to that point. Another way is just simply waiting (or orchestrating :-) ) some to die, cross the Shroud, remove them from their Caul and press them to your service immediately. When a Wraith gets out from there Caul its basically a lottery- some a little to know Arcanos to even begin with, some are middling but nothing exception, and some while have no dots in any other Arcanoi at the start, somehow have one particular Arcanoi maxed out from the beginning.

        Jade Kingdom Warrior


        • #5
          The real world actually has a lot of ghost lore and sightings. The World of Darkness probably has that ramped up several degrees so there are more ghost sightings, but not enough that it is still a fringe phenomenon, and the masses still discount things. So I'd use that as a base for how frequently wraiths may materialize, visit someone in dreams, or possess them.

          The Arcanoi that allows wraiths to cross the Shroud is heavily regulated by the Hierarchy. So its not supposed to be known widespread among Wraiths. The wraiths who do so either operate with the Hierarchy's permission (official or informally), or keep a low enough profile that the Hierarchy safely ignores them.

          Having said that, I imagine that there are well armed and trained "strike teams" of the Legions who can cross the Shroud when needed and deal with threats (albeit preferring subtle methods whenever possible with ordinary humans, but more blatantly with supernatural opponents). Likewise, any well organized Heretic cults or Renegade groups have the same, though smaller in number and less well equipped. Just enough to protect their own members.

          When I ST Vampire with PCs/NPCs who have Necromancy (mainly Giovanni), this is how I handle it. As long as the Giovanni (or similar group) keep their enslaved wraiths and limit the use of necromancy to compel wraiths to those wraiths who "belong" to the Giovanni (the Giovanni mortal family, family servants, and anyone stupid enough to make occult deals with them), the Hierarchy leaves them alone. They have better things to do than kick the hornet's nest.

          However, should the Giovanni attempt to expand and enslave free wraiths (anyone not already tied to the Giovanni when alive) or interfere with the Hierarchy's domain (Giovanni attempt to interfere in wraithly politics, recruit agents, disrupt the Dictum Mortum, etc.), then they hit back hard at some point (the sooner the better, but not all Necropoli are equipped to deal with such matters and it may take some time for the bureaucracy to send the necessary troops) with significant troops with high levels of arcanoi, stygian steel swords, artifacts, etc. The Giovanni in question is either destroyed in mysterious house fires, or manages to bid a hasty retreat and promise not to do anything again after being appropriately terrorized.

          I imagine Giovanni "house" wraiths to essentially be their own local Circle and left alone by the Hierarchy (and other groups) provided they keep their head low and don't cause trouble. If they do cause trouble, then those wraiths mysteriously vanish (soulforged, kidnapped by spectres, lost to the Tempest) without the Giovanni knowing what happened.

          Given the procilivites of the Giovanni, I suspect most of their problems with wraiths come from Spectres, not any Wraithly faction. And Spectres have their own issues with dealing with the Shroud and their own Dark Arcanoi to deal with it. However, that does not prevent Giovanni enslaved wraiths from succumbing to their Shadows in catharsis and using their Arcanoi against their own masters, or skilled Dopplegangers from doing so.


          • #6
            Are wraith politics actually big enough and encompassing enough to reach the wraiths one may find visiting a haunted spot?

            Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two make four. If that is granted, all else follows.


            • #7
              Originally posted by MyWifeIsScary View Post
              Are wraith politics actually big enough and encompassing enough to reach the wraiths one may find visiting a haunted spot?
              I believe that the Hierarchy of the Underworld definitely keeps a tight grasp on new wraiths. New wraiths are one of the most important resources in the WoD afterlife, since not only can they be made into soldiers for the various Legions, but also made into goods or currency through soulforging.

              In my current game, which includes a Necromancer PC, I have been basing the rarity of the various Arcanoi on their respective legality within the Hierarchy. So the most used and most important Arcanoi are really common, and the ones that influence our world are much rarer.

              I also made sure to get an idea of what kind of wraithly services my player was more interested in. He was intrigued by the dream-based powers, since it fits his theme of voodoo necromancer. I let him have a wraith with like 2 levels of that particular Arcanoi for the cost of a 2 dot retainer, or 2 dots of the spirit slaves v20 background, if you're using it.


              • #8
                Depends on where the haunted spot is at. The Hierarchy's administrative centers in the Shadowlands are the Necropoli. Every major city is going to have a Citadel, and some smaller cities as well. Less populated areas may still have some kind of local administration that reports to one of the nearest Necropoli, and they handle the reapings and enforcement of the Dictum Mortum.

                So if there is a haunted area in a major city, the Hierarchy likely knows about it or will discover it at some point. That doesn't mean they're going to send a Patrol to it on a regular basis. Only if there are known troublemakers or some other obvious reason will the Hierarchy decide that's the best use of their limited resources. If the area doesn't have any disturbances, they'll likely leave it alone. But that doesn't mean there aren't local Circles of Wraiths around who might report something in or request help if bad things happen. But people who keep their head low, don't cause trouble, and perform minimum civic duties will likely get away with a lot.

                If the haunted area is out in some small town far away from the administration, things are much more likely to go unreported. And even if there are reports, the local admin center may not have the resources to do anything about it. Of course, those are just the areas that Renegade groups and Heretic cults would like to be at. So even if an area is "safe" from the Hierarchy doesn't mean one of the other groups won't be there.

                In short, there is a large enough population of wraiths that known Haunts should attract one of the major power groups. And any "independent" Circles of wraiths bound to a Necromancer will likely need to make some kind of arrangement with that local power group. I think there would be exceptions of course. The Giovanni based in Venice likely have enough power that they comprise a sufficient stronghold of their own which exists alongside the Hierarchy. But that is definitely an outlier.

                Remember that the Hierarchy actually has a real, functioning bureaucracy which makes Wraith unique among the major game lines. Wraiths actually have a real economy and real money. These are large numbers, and the dominant power keeps track of them. It's not like a modern bureaucracy, but something equivalent to Roman Empire, one of the better run late Medieval states like England, or early Modern Europe. Enough to conduct census, collect taxes, perform law enforcement, build infrastructure (Citadels, beacon lights, Byways, the Midnight Express, arsenals, mints, manufacturing centers, etc.) and maintain a standing army.