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Underworld-focused wraiths

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  • Underworld-focused wraiths

    A topic that came to my attention with skimming the Wraith20 book and doing a little self-insertion: apparently the game tends to assume the default attitude of 'young' wraiths is to be focused on Skinlands concerns, the vast majority of their Passions, Fetters, and other Traits being related to some unresolved issue or another of their old lives. Only with considerable, time, experience, and the inevitable decay of their bonds with the Skinlands, they may shift their focus to Underworld matters and resources, provided they skip Transcendence and withstand the battle with Obilivion. Now, this certainly has solid roots in the ghost stories genre (especially when they are usually told from the PoV of living witnesses), but given the wraith-centered PoV of the game, I tend to find it too limiting an approach if stretched too far and used all the time. It seems rather stifling and arbitary to assume each and every non-Gaunt wraith should be expected to be obsessed on stuff like lost loved ones, missed revenge, or their lingering legacy among the living, and look back instead of looking forward to find a compelling reason for continued existence.

    I imagine and expect there should inevitably be a sizable number of wraiths that find their basic reason for defying death in their compelling desire for continued existence and self-actualization, rather than caring much about anything they left behind in their old lives. Such characters could easily find their Passions essentially focused on exploring the features of their new world, developing the mystical potential of wraithly nature, defying the threats to their continued existence, grasping the opportunities they missed in their old lives, or finding a way to evolve beyond their new condition. These wraiths may have such Passions as Discover the Secrets of the Underworld (Curiosity) and be an intrepid explorer of the Tempest and the realms beyond, Master the Powers of the Afterlife (Pride) and be a dedicated Arcanoi scholar, Defy Oblivion and its Minions (Anger) and be an heroic Doomslayer, Protect my Existence (Fear) and be a ruthless survivor, Enjoy the Pleasures I Missed in Life (Lust/Joy) and be a sensual hedonist on both sides of the Shroud, Build my Kingdom in Death (Lust for Power) and be a mover and shaker in wraithly society, quite possibly any mix or combination of the above, and so on. Another obvious avenue for this kind of concept would be the quest for Transcendence or becoming a Ferryman.

    Such a character may be expected to show fairly little attention to Fetters, and let them decay by neglect or Resolve them relatively quickly. Perhaps even to the point of bargaining with the ST to sell out part of their default Fetter dots to buy resources elsewhere. They should also be expected to invest most of their dots and Xp in Attributes, Skills useful to wraiths, Arcanoi, and Underworld Backgrounds, rather than Skills and Backgrounds tied to the Skinlands. Although of course to some degree their Abilities would necessarily reflect their living background. Not sure how this kind of character concept should be expected to express in terms of Shadow building. This kind of wraith may be expected to have little or no interest in becoming a Risen in most cases.
    Last edited by Irioth; 02-13-2018, 05:19 PM.

  • #2
    I think this is already represented in both the old and the 20th-year editions. Wraith of the Silent Legion have a tendency to want to start life anew and leave behind Skinland concerns, hence their predilection for resolving Fetters, and thus having an easier time Transcending, if that's their desire. Emerald wraiths are also described as being all about starting a new life in the Underworld. Gaunt wraiths have a history of looking down on sentimentality due to how horrific their passings were, or because they had time to put their affairs in order during a lengthy illness. It specifically says in Wraith20 that, as a result, the Skeletal wraiths tend to have weaker Passions and Fetters. By implication, they're the ones most suited to developing Underworld connections. What do you think?

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Callishka View Post
      I think this is already represented in both the old and the 20th-year editions. Wraith of the Silent Legion have a tendency to want to start life anew and leave behind Skinland concerns, hence their predilection for resolving Fetters, and thus having an easier time Transcending, if that's their desire. Emerald wraiths are also described as being all about starting a new life in the Underworld. Gaunt wraiths have a history of looking down on sentimentality due to how horrific their passings were, or because they had time to put their affairs in order during a lengthy illness. It specifically says in Wraith20 that, as a result, the Skeletal wraiths tend to have weaker Passions and Fetters. By implication, they're the ones most suited to developing Underworld connections. What do you think?
      I'm largely in agreement now that you bring my attention to this setting detail (as a rule, I tend to have little interest in playing Hierarchy characters, and hence I pay all but the most cursory and peripheral attention to the features of Legions organization and lore). I only balk at the possible implication that Underworld-oriented wraiths would tend to have Passions any weaker than Skinland-oriented ones. As a matter of fact, one of my main concerns in examining this kind of concept has been to devise proper Passions for these characters that may be as strong, and burn as fierce, as the Skinland-looking alternative, and possibly be even more enduring given the facts of Underworld existence. Weaker Fetters, yes, of course, this is only natural.

      As far as I can tell, however, apart from the Legion angle you highlight and I was largely oblivious of, this kind of concept tends to have little representation in the way the game tends to discuss and make assumptions about the typical concerns and interests of young wraiths. If you pay attention to the way it reviews Passions, it seems almost everyone and their plasmic dog is supposed to be obessing about something or another in their old life as the reason(s) to cling to existence, every bloody time, most stereotypically doing a bad Patrick Swayze impersonation.
      Last edited by Irioth; 02-13-2018, 08:51 PM.

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      • #4
        Couple of points. First, I wasn't clear about this, but I wasn't really talking about Hierarchs when discussing the Legions. I meant "Legion" in the technical sense of "one of the broad categories of manner of death." A Quiet wraith may not be a Hierarch, but she still died of despair, which suggests certain traits she may share with wraiths who died under similar circumstances. Consequently, victims of Silent, Emerald, and Skeletal deaths have canonical reasons to look "downward" rather than "up" to the world of the living, as compared to their brethren.

        Now, I sympathize with your concern. I too want young wraiths to have basically unlimited Passion options. But there's a reality of wraith existence that seems pretty hard to avoid: to cling to life against all the odds, you need an intense, consuming reason, something to hold on to--but how does a brand new wraith "hold on" to a realm they've never even seen before? I have no problem with the Passion "Resist my ending" or "Reinvent myself", or anything related to "continued existence and self-actualization". But how can a living person, at the moment of death, have an intense, epic need to study the secret arts of the death of which she has no knowledge?

        The trick here is to craft Passions that do not depend on specifics of ghost life, but express a need to continue, resist, persist, discover, explore, or something like that; not to explore the Underworld, but to explore the unknown. The latter Passion makes complete sense to me, and would make a great non-Living Lands Passion.

        The new book does express related concepts. One of their Silent wraith concepts is someone who lived a life of quiet desperation, someone who left no mark in life and dies needing to be someone. That sounds like the sort of thing you're thinking of. I lean toward feeling satisfied with the presentation of ghost "business" in the books, because I think it's a tall order to expect a Circle of brand new wraiths to have vivid, all-consuming needs that tie them to an unfamiliar universe of death.

        As for Skeletal wraiths, their weak Passions is great for building up Underworld-focused Passions ASAP. It doesn't make them weak people, just people who immediately need some other reason to exist besides whatever business they had on Earth.

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        • #5
          Also, Iron wraiths. Those old fogies want one more shot at life, despite having lived a long one, and they seem like prime candidates for Passions that translate well to the Underworld

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Callishka View Post
            Couple of points. First, I wasn't clear about this, but I wasn't really talking about Hierarchs when discussing the Legions. I meant "Legion" in the technical sense of "one of the broad categories of manner of death." A Quiet wraith may not be a Hierarch, but she still died of despair, which suggests certain traits she may share with wraiths who died under similar circumstances. Consequently, victims of Silent, Emerald, and Skeletal deaths have canonical reasons to look "downward" rather than "up" to the world of the living, as compared to their brethren.
            Ahh, now I see your point and it makes sense. Mine is I'm so accustomed to think of CotD/WoD 'class' splats in negative terms, as stifling and burdensome limits and enforced niches for character creation to be ignored and houseruled away in favor of individualized freeform concepts, that I may automatically sweep manner of death of wraiths away in the same way, regardless of its merits. I usually much prefer to think of which larger supernatural groups the character might associate with, if any, beyond the individual PC coterie/cabal/circle etc., rather than to give any concern the manner they might have been 'born' according to the canon splat system.

            Now, I sympathize with your concern. I too want young wraiths to have basically unlimited Passion options. But there's a reality of wraith existence that seems pretty hard to avoid: to cling to life against all the odds, you need an intense, consuming reason, something to hold on to--but how does a brand new wraith "hold on" to a realm they've never even seen before? I have no problem with the Passion "Resist my ending" or "Reinvent myself", or anything related to "continued existence and self-actualization". But how can a living person, at the moment of death, have an intense, epic need to study the secret arts of the death of which she has no knowledge?

            The trick here is to craft Passions that do not depend on specifics of ghost life, but express a need to continue, resist, persist, discover, explore, or something like that; not to explore the Underworld, but to explore the unknown. The latter Passion makes complete sense to me, and would make a great non-Living Lands Passion.
            This is a great idea, it makes a lot of sense, and it complements my own ideas nicely. Thanks! According to your suggestions, I may then adjust the examples I made for non-Living Lands Passions and related potential interests thusly:
            - Explore/Discover the Unknown (Curiosity/Novelty Seeking) to be an explorer of the Underworld.
            - Master the Mystical/Supernatural (Pride/Curiosity/Lust for Power) to be an Arcanoi savant and scholar of supernatural lore.
            - Protect my Existence/Resist my Ending (Anger/Fear/Zest for Life) to be a survivor and immortality-seeker.
            - Enjoy Pleasure/Sample Sensations (Lust/Joy) to be a sensual hedonist on both sides of the Shroud.
            - Reinvent Myself (Any of the above) may express as a variable mix of possible new interests and callings, or possibly become a 'Renaissance Man' polymath.






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            • #7
              Really, we could do with an optional system for starting play as a Domem or Gaunt in a later supplement. Even Lemures aren't well represented, unless they're still focused on the Skinlands.

              You suggested the easiest solution, though: cash in your dots in Fetters for freebies which can be spent elsewhere. Fetters cost one freebie point, so it's up to 10 extra freebies to spend on Backgrounds, Arcanoi, etc.

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