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Seeking Inspiration from Zombie Movies - Are Spectres Analogous to Zombies?

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  • Seeking Inspiration from Zombie Movies - Are Spectres Analogous to Zombies?

    I've had Wraith on my mind a lot recently as I prepare to run a campaign so as I was watching a trailer for the latest zombie movies (Army of the Dead) it struck me that perhaps Spectres could be treated like zombies without too much of a change.

    i.e. we have a small band of survivors (wraiths) who have to battle swathes of evil zombies (spectres). I think this would also work if the wraiths were part of a Legion - after all there are plenty of stories of small bands of soldiers holding off vast swathes of the enemy.

    What do you forum folk think, is it close enough of an analogy to use some zombie movies and tropes for inspiration in Wraith campaigns? After all there's been a lot of zombie action in the last decade so it might help ease players into a Wraith mindset...?

  • #2
    No, most Spectres aren't mindless like zombies. Yes, they (mostly those on the lower end of their hierarchy) can be short tempered and prone to acting in moment, even borderline feral at times but they are intelligent, thinking beings. Even Striplings, Spectres born of dead child, have a sinister if child-like intelligence to them.

    Closest thing we would have to zombies among the Spectres are Shades which are mindless but viciously violent, seeking to destroy everything in front of them regardless of what that is. Even other Spectres loath them for their unpredictable behavior. More akin to a sudden, violent tornado than the slow, overwhelming tide that zombies tend to be depicted as.


    Homo sapiens. What an inventive, invincible species. It's only a few million years since they crawled up out of the mud and learned to walk. Puny, defenceless bipeds. They've survived flood, famine and plague. They've survived cosmic wars and holocausts. And now, here they are, out among the stars, waiting to begin a new life. Ready to outsit eternity. They're indomitable. Indomitable.

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    • #3
      Hmmm I'm not really agreeing with your assessment of zombies as not all zombies are mindless shambling Romeros. If you look at GoT for instance the undead are in no way mindless. Savage, yes, driven by exterior forces, yes, but not mindless. Certainly the Romero style zombies aren't a good match for spectres but there's plenty of other zombie action we can draw on - Resident Evil. GoT, iZombie(!), etc.

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      • #4
        If you are careful with how you draw on them you can use just about anything for inspiration, but I wouldn't say zombies are normally a good fit for Spectres. While it is easy to think of spectres as a horde, each of them is a suffering and tantruming personality in their own right. If you strip that part out what is left is a good match for zombies, but I don't think you are actually easing people into Wraith by stripping that out.

        If I were to use horror movies for inspiration for a group of spectres I would have each of them be a unique slasher movie villain. Jason Vorhees, Freddy Krueger, Michael Myers, and Charles Lee Ray as a part of a squad hunting the characters. That's just if I want to play up the alien side of Spectres. Any normal movie villain who causes suffering for the fun of it (or in hollywood tradition, because they are the bad guy) works as well. No outwardly monstrous features necessary.

        You don't even have to give each one a full personality and backstory. Just take a couple of unique characteristics and have them on standby. This one likes to strike from behind. That one will always take the time to twist the knife. The one in the back will not harm one of the characters for some reason. Etc.

        The only circumstance I would use zombies for is a maelstrom (small m or large M) and the Shades that come with it. As AkatsukiLeader13 said Shades have lost a lot of their personality and uniqueness. Given that this is a


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

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        • #5
          If you want to go for that classic zombie horde in wraith, I'd have some Nephwrack or other powerful wraith (Maybe a Dark Spirit from Book of Oblivion) mind-controlling a bunch of Shades, Mortwights, and Haints using the Dark Arcanoi Collogue. That leader could have chosen only the most unthinking, furious, rage-filled spectres to compose his horde!

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          • #6
            I will mention that, structurally, the film Aliens is a zombie movie, as are From Dusk Til Dawn and Assault on Precinct 13 (1976). So it's not all that difficult to adapt the idea of a mass of Spectres - even fast moving, intelligent ones - besieging a haunt or citadel to follow the same story beats.


            What is tolerance? It is the consequence of humanity. We are all formed of frailty and error; let us pardon reciprocally each other's folly. That is the first law of nature.
            Voltaire, "Tolerance" (1764)

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            • #7
              I would add to that that the “hive mind” that spectres sometimes display, while not precisely mindlessness, does tend to resonate with the loss of agency that zombies are generally known for.


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              • #8
                Originally posted by No One of Consequence View Post
                I will mention that, structurally, the film Aliens is a zombie movie, as are From Dusk Til Dawn and Assault on Precinct 13 (1976). So it's not all that difficult to adapt the idea of a mass of Spectres - even fast moving, intelligent ones - besieging a haunt or citadel to follow the same story beats.

                Perfect, thanks again.

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