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  • Wraith populations

    I may be dumb for only just thinking of this, but don't wraiths have the highest population of any supernatural by Far?

    I mean, even considering not every person becomes a wraith. just the simple fact everyone in recorded history who has ever lived has also died(barring supernatural shenanigans) and the shear amount of people living/dying today(current population estimated at 7.44 billion, with 151,500 people dying each day, 6,316 dying each hour, and 105 dying each minute) should all mean the underworld has a Very steady supply of wraiths. To the point I think there should be tens if not hundreds of millions at this point(even accounting for how fast they go pop).

    How is Stygia alone keeping up with what must be an unending tidal-wave of souls?

  • #2
    Easy answer, Stygia soul forges wraiths for supplies once they hit a certain threshold. There is also the chance Wraiths putter off into the Tempest and disappear or fall into the thrall of Oblivion.

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    • #3
      Not everyone who dies becomes a wraith. Most people don't. The Underworld isn't becoming inundated with a constant flood of enfants.

      And yes, many of those who do become wraiths are sent to the forges. Or the people/objects who are their fetters erode or die, causing them to at best be trapped in the Underworld, and at worst sent into a Harrowing from which they never return.

      So yeah, there's a decent number of new wraiths coming in, but the number of wraiths who can meaningfully interact with the Shadowlands or the Skinlands remains roughly on par(ish) with other supernaturals.
      Last edited by IanWatson; 08-28-2018, 07:59 PM.


      Ian A. A. Watson
      Onyx Path Community Manager

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Freederp92 View Post
        Easy answer, Stygia soul forges wraiths for supplies once they hit a certain threshold. There is also the chance Wraiths putter off into the Tempest and disappear or fall into the thrall of Oblivion.
        They some how manage to soul-forge All the extra wraiths? Isn't soulforging supposed to be Stygia's Capital-Punishment-but-worse? I don't think even the deathlords are powerful enough to just soul-forge random wraiths 24-7 without having literally every wraith mad at them.

        I get that Wraith is a dystopia, but even the worst dystopias make sure to de-educate and lull their populace into doing what they want before doing anything particularly bad. In a society where Highly educated and able-bodied citizens are unavoidable and impossible to stop, pissing off the population is just going to get the leaders murdered in a revolt French-Revolution style.

        Originally posted by IanWatson View Post
        Not everyone who dies becomes a wraith. Most people don't. The Underworld isn't becoming inundated with a constant flood of enfants.

        And yes, many of those who do become wraiths are sent to the forges
        I'd argue that there still would be. I can't imagine becoming a wraith is particularly rare either, as all that's required is you die in a tragic/horrible way or with unfinished business(of which, dying in a car accident at a young age fits, and their's 3,287 of those a day. mainly among 15-44 year olds, who are young enough to have unfinished buisness). That's a disturbingly common occurence in general, besides car wrecks, there's heart attacks(610,000 per year), cancer(100,000 per day), murder(estimated one every 60 seconds in the US Alone), suicide(123 per day), and a host of other horrible ways to die that happen constantly.

        This is also in our nice, normal every day world. Thinking of how bad the World of Darkness is, where at any given night you can be eaten by a vampire, mulched in a werewolf battle, or kidnapped and sacrificed to demons. The Wraiths seem like they'd have their hands full.
        Last edited by Prometheas; 08-28-2018, 08:13 PM.

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        • #5
          Youd be surprised, enfants are a resource in Stygia and if they outlive their usefulness they'll get soulforged, if not turned into White Jade for those in the East, or rendered down into Food stuff with Displace. Some Wraiths just give up to Oblivion or wander the byways in search of something more to the Underworld other than stasis. As for how people feel about it? Artifacts composed of Stygian Steel are sought after, Corpus of the creatures of the Tempest is nice for thing but hard to get at times. Hire a Reaper to collect a few enfants for your needs, Stygia needs more materials to expand? Collect enfants and heretics and soul forge them into wood, steel, etc. Like I said soul forged stuff makes the cities of the underworld. Even the First City is composed of soulforged wraiths. No one bats an eye at soul forging, in the Underworld its Me vs. the World mentality because youre food or fodder if you dont make your own path

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          • #6
            Also a hell of a lot of those who die in pain, despair etc. drop straight onto the Spectre track and never become wraiths. But the overwhelming majority of dead people just die....whether thats to immediate Oblivion or immediate Transcendance....who knows?

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            • #7
              Don't forget that Wraith, like any rpg, is flexible enough that the story teller and the players can decide for themselves. If you want a shadowlands teeming with the dead then that's a perfectly reasonable approach as is one devoid of almost any souls at all.

              The 'standard' approach simply has a relatively small number of the dead becoming wraiths. But there are good ways and bad ways to justify it and I think that assuming that they're mostly soulforged is a poor choice.

              There's probably some interesting thoughts to follow up on this based on the demographics of the dead and the 'conversion rate '. I'll try to fill this in later.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Prometheas View Post

                I'd argue that there still would be. I can't imagine becoming a wraith is particularly rare either, as all that's required is you die in a tragic/horrible way or with unfinished business(of which, dying in a car accident at a young age fits, and their's 3,287 of those a day. mainly among 15-44 year olds, who are young enough to have unfinished buisness). That's a disturbingly common occurence in general, besides car wrecks, there's heart attacks(610,000 per year), cancer(100,000 per day), murder(estimated one every 60 seconds in the US Alone), suicide(123 per day), and a host of other horrible ways to die that happen constantly.

                This is also in our nice, normal every day world. Thinking of how bad the World of Darkness is, where at any given night you can be eaten by a vampire, mulched in a werewolf battle, or kidnapped and sacrificed to demons. The Wraiths seem like they'd have their hands full.
                We can Drake's equation this if we want. People don't just become Wraiths because they have some unfinished business. It takes burning passion and a bitter refusal to move on. Most people who die do not have enough of either to resist the call of Transcendence or the pull of Oblivion, they never show up. So the first factor is the percentage of the dead who cross over, Cr.

                Many of those who do have enough Angst to immediately fall to spectrehood. The percentage that begin as wraiths will be Pa.

                Of those that do, many come over as drones or are otherwise too weak to perpetuate their existences for long. Part of the reason that Stygia embraces soulforging is because these guys so easily fall to Oblivion to become cannon fodder or weapons (legitimate fear) or actually strengthen the void itself (unsubstantiated fear). The percentage that are strong enough to last for considerable time will be Str.

                Wraith 20th introduced a new complication: that Wraiths lose that drive and willpower if they spend too much time in their cauls. So in addition to being strong enough a Wraith also has to be lucky enough to be reaped in time or be one of the rare few that free themselves. So we'll call the percentage that are round in time, Rt.

                Being found isn't enough. Plenty of reapers are willing to claim a fresh Enfant is a drone to sell them to the forges. They'll also lie to sell the Enfant as a thrall, but those guys still exist as wraiths. The percentage that aren't quickly forged will be Rf.

                And of course Wraiths aren't eternal. Though some will last thousands of years, most will fall to spectrehood or a destruction harrowing much sooner than that. So we'll call the average existence expectancy of Wraiths as L.

                So that's Wc(x) = Cr * Pa * Str * Rt * Rf for an estimate of how many cross over for a given number of deaths and Wt(x) = Cr * Pa * Str * Rt * Rf * L for the total number of wraiths from a population for a given death rate. Insert appropriate estimates, let's say 10% cross over, 50% fall immediately, 40% are strong enough to be functional Wraiths, 50% are reaped before they lose too much, and 50% aren't lied about. That's 0.1 * 0.5 * 0.4 * 0.5 * 0.5, which is 0.005 or 0.5% The US has 2.7 million deaths per year so given the above estimates there are 13,500 new wraiths per year across the entire country. If we estimate L to be 20 years, Wt will be 270,000 for the entire US.

                You can tweak those values however you like, but note that even if you assume only 10% of Wraiths are sent to the forges on a lie that's still only 24,300 new wraiths in the US a year and 486000 for the US. Which is a lot, but not as overwhelming as you would think.




                Mage: The Ice-ension: An Epic Game of Reality on the Rink

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Ramnesis View Post
                  snip
                  Eh, I'm going to be biased in this. I honestly like the idea of an overpopulated underworld and think that keeping the numbers low seems like an artificial way to make wraith like the other game lines.

                  I also don't personally see having the "personal strength" to refuse to die as an at-all uncommon thing, I'd say Most people have that. You see it anytime a patient is in critical condition. They're fighting mind and body to survive, actively refusing death with every fiber of their being to the point that they're actually putting it off. Thinking of those someone's also not being strong enough to become wraiths is a strange idea to me.

                  The only people you don't see an absolute refusal of death from are those so old or fulfilled that they accept it(something I've found to be pretty rare, most elderly patients I've seen actively need comfort in their final moments) or those that feel they have nothing to live for(I'm not a psyciatrist, I don't interact with these people and don't know the demographics). The fact that wraiths also come from the old and suicide victims tells me that's not what makes you a wraith. The fact that not just people, but items and possibly even animals(given the perplexing nature of plasms) become "wraithly" puts me more in the mind that Becoming a wraith is common and Not becoming one is rare(as it'd require you to make peace with your demons in life and except your coming death, regardless of the form it takes).

                  I do not proport my way of thinking as the one true canon(as if WOD had such a thing), I just wish to present that "Overpopulated Underworld" is a viable way to interpret the canon.
                  Last edited by Prometheas; 08-29-2018, 07:49 PM.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Prometheas View Post

                    Eh, I'm going to be biased in this. I honestly like the idea of an overpopulated underworld and think that keeping the numbers low seems like an artificial way to make wraith like the other game lines.

                    I also don't personally see having the "personal strength" to refuse to die as an at-all uncommon thing, I'd say Most people have that. You see it anytime a patient is in critical condition. They're fighting mind and body to survive, actively refusing death with every fiber of their being to the point that they're actually putting it off. Thinking of those someone's also not being strong enough to become wraiths is a strange idea to me.

                    The only people you don't see an absolute refusal of death from are those so old or fulfilled that they accept it(something I've found to be pretty rare, most elderly patients I've seen actively need comfort in their final moments) or those that feel they have nothing to live for(I'm not a psyciatrist, I don't interact with these people and don't know the demographics). The fact that wraiths also come from the old and suicide victims tells me that's not what makes you a wraith. The fact that not just people, but items and possibly even animals(given the perplexing nature of plasms) become "wraithly" puts me more in the mind that Becoming a wraith is common and Not becoming one is rare(as it'd require you to make peace with your demons in life and except your coming death, regardless of the form it takes).

                    I do not proport my way of thinking as the one true canon(as if WOD had such a thing), I just wish to present that "Overpopulated Underworld" is a viable way to interpret the canon.
                    Yes, it's a viable way of interpreting things. I'm sorry, your initial post read as if high population was something inevitable and setting breaking. I would say that it will take a bit of rethinking to run things that way (the Hierarchy is going to have a lot more resources to watch for Dictum Mortuum violators, as an example), but nothing you can't do.

                    I do want to clarify my thoughts on a few things though. I don't think becoming a wraith is about rejecting death. That ship sailed when they died. What Wraiths are rejecting is what comes after, be that Oblivion or Transcendence.

                    I also don't think it is a matter of personal strength. If someone doesn't cross over it isn't a sign that they were weak, or didn't care, or anything like that. The things that tie Wraiths to the world are more like obsessions. Very often they don't represent strong or healthy sides of the deceased.

                    If we're on the subject of not quite canon thoughts, my go to is that Wraiths and Spectres aren't the complete souls of the dead. They are the parts of the soul that can't untangle themselves from the world (or in the case of shadows the parts that would rather cease than endure the pain of trying). Most of the soul, once separated from the body, overwhelmingly wants to move on and is only waiting until the parts that refuse either resolve their issues or are destroyed.


                    Mage: The Ice-ension: An Epic Game of Reality on the Rink

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Ramnesis View Post
                      Yes, it's a viable way of interpreting things. I'm sorry, your initial post read as if high population was something inevitable and setting breaking. I would say that it will take a bit of rethinking to run things that way (the Hierarchy is going to have a lot more resources to watch for Dictum Mortuum violators, as an example), but nothing you can't do.
                      I honestly think the High population thing fits the setting more. It's far easier for disent and lawlessness to exist in a setting with more people, a wraith could more believably violate the dictuum mortis if Stygia is spread thin and having the same problems Living Rome had after they conquered too much(having far too many people with differing world views to actually be able to organize with the technology of the time). It actually seems far less believable to me for the hierchy, heretics, and guilds to all exist in a setting with only a few hundred or a few thousand wraiths.

                      Originally posted by Ramnesis View Post
                      I do want to clarify my thoughts on a few things though. I don't think becoming a wraith is about rejecting death. That ship sailed when they died. What Wraiths are rejecting is what comes after, be that Oblivion or Transcendence.

                      I also don't think it is a matter of personal strength. If someone doesn't cross over it isn't a sign that they were weak, or didn't care, or anything like that. The things that tie Wraiths to the world are more like obsessions. Very often they don't represent strong or healthy sides of the deceased.

                      If we're on the subject of not quite canon thoughts, my go to is that Wraiths and Spectres aren't the complete souls of the dead. They are the parts of the soul that can't untangle themselves from the world (or in the case of shadows the parts that would rather cease than endure the pain of trying). Most of the soul, once separated from the body, overwhelmingly wants to move on and is only waiting until the parts that refuse either resolve their issues or are destroyed.
                      That's an entirely reasonable way to look at it and nothing in setting contradicts your point. I just like the idea that becoming a wraith is about allowing everyone the chance to come to terms with death and resolve left-over baggage from life(or at least it Was.... Oblivion/Grandma/The Malfeans kinda screwed it up)

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Prometheas View Post

                        I honestly think the High population thing fits the setting more. It's far easier for disent and lawlessness to exist in a setting with more people, a wraith could more believably violate the dictuum mortis if Stygia is spread thin and having the same problems Living Rome had after they conquered too much(having far too many people with differing world views to actually be able to organize with the technology of the time). It actually seems far less believable to me for the hierchy, heretics, and guilds to all exist in a setting with only a few hundred or a few thousand wraiths.
                        It's also a matter of what the Hierarchy has to work with, though. A high population hierarchy quite literally has more eyes to watch out for problems and more Legionnaire's to have a visible presence. It may have the same power proportional to its enemies but it will better informed and more visible. As for organizing, that would be a massive problem given the lack of paper, but a higher population also makes a more robust messenger service possible. It doesn't weaken Stygia so much as change the challenges the Hierarchy faces.

                        Also note, the 'low population' version of Wraith still has ~270,000 wraiths in America alone and 5.5 million world wide using the estimates from earlier. That's significantly more than a few thousand wraiths and more than enough for the kind of factionalism we see.




                        Mage: The Ice-ension: An Epic Game of Reality on the Rink

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                        • #13
                          Interestingly i just did a quick search and the estimated total number of people that ever lived is over one hundred billion do the the majority being more recent. So a teeming land of the dead definitely feels more 'likely' and it's definitely the approach in going to take.

                          Also note that until recently a lot of the dead are babies and children, so the demographics of the dead are distinctly on the young side.
                          Last edited by Dogstar; 08-31-2018, 02:29 AM.

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                          • #14
                            I offer this thread for consideration and enjoyment.

                            Cheers!


                            If you don't use an Oxford comma, I feel bad for you, son,
                            'Cuz I got ninety-nine problems, but clarity ain't one.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Dogstar View Post
                              Interestingly i just did a quick search and the estimated total number of people that ever lived is over one hundred billion do the the majority being more recent. So a teeming land of the dead definitely feels more 'likely' and it's definitely the approach in going to take.

                              Also note that until recently a lot of the dead are babies and children, so the demographics of the dead are distinctly on the young side.
                              Throughout history, infant mortality has always been high. In fact that is something to watch for in statistics. When you hear that a population has a short average lifespan (like 40 years) check to see what the average is for those who make it past their first year.

                              However child wraiths are rare, and infant wraiths even rarer. Partly this is a matter of being less likely to have the strong bonds, drives, and goals necessary to become a wraith, and partly because few of them can hold off their shadows for long. Even when they fall, they don't usually stick around as Spectres. Striplings, aka child Spectres, only started getting numerous during the vicious child labor practices of the industrial revolution.


                              Mage: The Ice-ension: An Epic Game of Reality on the Rink

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