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1001 Wraith Story Hooks

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  • 1001 Wraith Story Hooks

    Reposting my old 1001 Wraith Story Hooks thread here, because that sort of thread tends to be useful.

    Please be aware that the numbers won't be consecutive - I created this thread on three separate fora.

    1) A PC belonging to the Hierarchy discovers that his death has been orchestrated by the Legions themselves, so as to get a new recruit with special skills known only to few (insert something only the PC knows about here).

    2) The PCs died in a Necropolis entirely owned by the Renegades, where the Hierarchy are an underground movement, ostracised and hunted by most Wraiths.

    The Necropolis embodies everything that's great and terrible about the Renegades. There are no laws. Every wraith is free to do with the Skinlands and Shadowlands as she pleases. There is no safety and only very little organized protection against Spectres.

    3) All of the characters are killed in the same plane crash and shake off the caul in the Shadowlands at the helm of a Stygian Galleon on the Dead Seas. The ship is composed of player’s fetters and bits and pieces of charred 747.

    4) The characters are ritually killed by a cult and come to the Shadowlands at the head of a group of heretics, the cult's shadowlands followers.

    5) You've just about come to peace with your untimely demise. You've come to some measure of acceptance.

    Then your murderer dies, and you find them in their Caul.

    6) One of those awful television shows where those dorks come to a haunted house and make fools of themselves is filming an episode in the Haunt of a local Wraith. He comes to the player characters' Circle begging for help to sabotage the film crew's efforts before they can film anything interesting--apparently his Shadow has the Shadow Life Thorn, and arranged the whole thing during his last Catharsis as a gambit to get the poor guy in trouble with the Hierarchy, the kind of trouble that ends at a Soulforge. Unfortunately an unbalanced local Haunter has gotten wind of the planned filming, and decided that it's showtime...

    7) A gambling tourism bus has crashed just outside of town, killing over a dozen people. The Drones left behind are just kind of shambling around the site of the accident. As far as the local Wraiths are concerned, it's open season--Drones are easy money just waiting to be harvested. Greedy Centurions, Renegade Slavers and the local member of the Artificer's Guild all converge on the scene to get a piece of the action. Unfortunately, one of the Drones was a family member of a PC--how does she feel about that?

    8) Halloween is usually a pretty good Pathos-gathering opportunity; all the local Wraiths look forward to it. Unfortunately, this year an uninvited guest has popped up through a Nihil in the middle of the Necropolis--the Kraken...

    9) The local hospital has been swarming with members of the Masquers' Guild for the last week. Apparently a prominent local plastic surgeon is due for a massive stroke any day now (thanks Fatalism), and a muckety-muck high up in the Guild wants to recruit him in the worst way.

    10) A Sandman has fallen to his Shadow and has started murdering his favorite dreamers one by one, all in their sleep. The Sandmen's Guild will pay any price to stop him--if his first victim, fresh from her Caul and on the verge of falling to her own Shadow, doesn't find him first.

    11) My contribution: the (low-ranking Hierarchy PCs find out that a football player is going to die on the field, at a match that is important to the local Renegades. Can they get in there and reap him while the crowd's going nuts on both sides of the shroud?

    12) One of the PC's Renegade allies is manipulating a local street gang for his own ends. The gang's enemies start showing up dead for inexplicable reasons - it is obvious that the Renegade is involved.

    The Hierarchy is furious and considering to start a crackdown on all Renegades. Your friend needs to be shown the error of his ways.

    13) The Circle's Pardoner has recently turned into a Doppelganger. Instead of helping the PCs to keep their shadows in check, she is now subtly feeding the PC's shadows during her sessions.

    14) An old and powerful Heretic intends to leave the Necropolis behind for the Far Shores in search of wisdom. His leaving will result in a power vacuum that must be filled. Other Heretic cults are already jockeying for position.

    15) Computer-savy Artificers have created a porn site that feeds on the Pathos - and life energy - of its fans.

    16) For no discernable reason, the Shroud is decreasing in power slowly but steadily in pretty much the entire city. It's getting easier and easier for ghosts to affect the Skinlands with their Arcanoi.

    17) A Renegade claims to have the power to "wake up" drones, turning them into full-fledged Wraiths. But the process involves sacrificing another wraith. And the newly sentient drone usually becomes a spectre...

    18) An Inquisitor of the Magisterium Veritatis shows up in town to 'audit' the current state of the Necropolis. Everyone scrambles to make a good impression or, more importantly, not make a bad one.
    19) Someone stole the Mask of the local Anacreon of the Grim Legion. And he's pissed about it.
    20) (Works in a town with a large Chinatown) Rebel wraiths from the Yellow Springs are in town looking for an artifact they could use in their fight against Yu Huang. The local Hierarchy orders the rebels found and handed over to Dark Kingdom of jade to not cause a diplomatic problem, but also quietly orders the artifact to be given over to them.

    21) Something terrible happened, and the entire PC circle has been sent into a Harrowing together. And after the Harrowing - no matter the outcome - they can't seem to be able to get back into the Shadowlands. Something went wrong, and now they're stuck all the way down the Labyrinth, surrounded by Spectres.

    22) A powerful Spectre, whose influence reaches even into the Skinland, promises not to kill the PC's living relatives ... if the PC helps him turn the Anacreon into a Doppelganger.

    23) A mass murder in a high rise office building has created a kind of localized maelstrom centered on the building. The place has been belching up every kind of spectre for days and the city's wraith population is taking huge losses. The hierarchy calls on every able-corpused wraith to join together for one last assault on the building. They've got to fight their way to the top where the murder took place so a skilled Argos master can close the rift. The Raid: Redemption: Wraith Style.

    24) A writer finally finished writing the book he couldn't finish before dying. Now he only has to find a way to publish it from beyond the grave.

    25) For a few weeks now, random Maelstroms have attacked the Necropolis regularly, and every time when the storm calms down a Wraith has been violently sent into an Harrowing. Someone is attack wraiths every time the storm comes, and has to be stopped.

    26) An old veteran of the first World War has remembered something no one should, and now he's got the Hierarchy after him. There's a huge bounty for his head, but the remnants of the old Mnemoi guild are ready to offer their service if he is delivered to them instead.

    27) A powerful Proctor has set herself up as a messiah of a cult of mortals, in which he is revered as an immortal goddess incarnate.

    This in and itself wouldn't be a problem, if the cult wasn't powerful and/or well-connected; but it is. It also has excellent marketing.

    Very soon, cult members and indeed even the wraith herself start having public appearances on local TV and radio stations, spreading the word and gaining new followers by the hour. After only a couple months, the cult is a trend religion, to which all the cool modern kids belong to.

    The Hierarchy doesn't approve, for obvious reasons - and neither do the guilds, who don't particularly like the attention. Something has to be done.

    28) One of the PC has lost his Shadow. Literally.

    This is not a good thing. The Shadow has found some way to create a Corpus of its own, looking exactly as the PC. Now there's an evil twin of the PC in the Necropolis, doing bad things in his name.

    29) One of the major authorities of the Heretics, a friend and confidante of the PCs, has lost its faith. Something terrible has happened, and now he doesn't believe in Transcendence any more.

    It is time for a Heretic PC to to rekindle her faith and make her a believer again.

    30) It's a talking obolus. Apparently, something went wrong with the process of soulforging this wraith into an obolus. Which is why it's talking. Or rather, screaming - its existence certainly isn't exactly a pleasant one.
    Something needs to be done about that.

    31) The American government knows about Stygia, and is in diplomatic relations with the Grim Lord.

    32) One of the players is being hit for protection money by the Monitors. What are you going to do about the fetter Protection racket?

    33) Envoys from the Dark Kingdom of Wire have come for a wraith they claim was a Nazi war criminal who got away with it. Unfortunately, it seems as if the local Hierarchy don't want to part with their new member, as he possess a rare arcanoi. And of course the wraith claims they are mistaken. Who is right?

    34) A group of Renegades have kidnapped one of the Anacréons. They will only talk with the player's circle as intermediates to negotiate with the Hierarchy.

    EDIT: 35) Don't pay the Ferryman. Don't even fix a price, until you get to the other side.

    36) Members of the Necropolis start disappearing and not coming back. Upon investigation, it turns out that they are all marked by Fate (recognisably so by wraith skilled in the art of Fatalism) in some way.

    37) After having returned from a trip to the Tempest, the PCs find that their home Necropolis has changed. The Legions do their work to protect the populace from spectres. The Hierarchy assists wraiths in resolving passions and fetters and publicly supports the quest for Transcendence. There's no corruption; no mistreatment of non-Hierarchy wraiths.

    Something is very wrong here.

    38) Something went horribly wrong, and the PCs are now in a Stygian prison, about to be forged into something like an Obolus or an ashtray or something. It's time to drastic measures.

    39) One of the PCs finds that he is slowly but inevitably losing precious memories of his time as a living person. It's all slipping away. He'll need the other PCs to help him and to keep him sane.

    40) There's rumors, recently, that the spectres have learned a new set of tricks. Things go their way. Wraiths who oppose them are the victims of every misfortune possible. And the word among the Renegades is that they've devised a new Dark Arcanos - a hellish mirror of Fatalism...

    41) The PCs are a Hierarchy patrol, sent to seize a shipment of bootleg pathos crystals. All pretty simple, right? When they get there and chase off the low-level renegades, however, they find that they're not smuggling pathos.

    It's bombs. About twenty barrowbombs.

    19) Two new wraiths awake together, having no memory of their deaths or each other. They died young, and are soon reported missing. What happened and why did they come together? What secret motives do the that decide to help truly have?
    (Maybe they killed each other and must eventually come to terms with it?)

    20) Some of the local wraiths are acting very strangely. The PC's are worried, but things are elevated to a whole new level when a long-time friend of the Circle disappears one night and re-appears later, acting out orders that he has no control over. A necromancer is at work, and needs to be dealt with!

    42) A particularly radical Christian Heretic faction takes over the Necropolis by superior military ability.

    The survivors - Hierarchy, Renegades and guilds alike - all agree that the Heretics need to go. It's just that, without their cooperation, the Heretics will simply be too powerful go get rid of.

    43) There's a traitor in the PC's guild. The PCs are charged with the task of uncovering his identity and bringing him to justice.

    44) An amoral Monitor (is there any other kind?) attaches a powerful spectre to one of the PC's fetters. The Nephwrack then goes on a rampage. It's too powerful to confront directly, and the fetter is right there...

    45) An Artifact that is actually a beloved object from one of the characters' lives is in the hands of someone that PC hates. Not even necessarily a villain, they may just hate each other.

    46) A rich and powerful Hierarch approaches the player, who is a Masquer, and asks him to moliate a thrall to match the likeness of his long deceased wife. A little research reveals that this is something he asks for frequently, and that his intentions are to abuse and torture the moliated thrall until she discorporates. Previously he had a regular masquer who carried out this task for him, but said Masquer's shadow got the better of him and he turned doppelganger. Now the hierarch is looking for a new craftsman. It is also rumoured that he has offered the job to another Masuqer already, who declined the job, and winded up in chains and - you guessed it - as the next planned subject for moliation.

    47) A Heretic cult spreads the word that they have found the path to Transcendence. When they appear to prove it, wraiths flock to the cult, inciting a breakdown of law and order and forcing the hand of the Hierarchy.

    47a) The PCs are agents of the Hierarchy, tasked to find out the truth behind the cult and expose them for the frauds that they are...if they are.

    47b) The PCs are wraiths who have joined the cult after the 'demonstration'. They have to protect their new brothers and sisters from the ravages of the Hierarchy while trying to fulfill the requirements for Transcendence themselves.

    48) A player who has a Passion (or strong motivation) to find the ghost of someone who was important to him in life (maybe his wife, or brother, or friend - its a common enough passion choice for players) manages to track through the bureaucracy to find he/she was taken as a thrall to Stygia. When she follows the papertrail to Stygia (which involves literal travel to Stygia, as there's no electronic records) she finds that the artificer has meticulously recorded exactly where the soul went: into a brick that is on the very byway that the wraith travelled along to get to Stygia. The meticulous artificer numbered every brick, and they were used in order, so said brick shouldn't be hard to find.
    Finally, when the player catches up to this brick (should they choose to do so) they get a momentary flare of a strange feeling of recognition and connection, suggesting that some vague vestige of sentience still exists within that soulforged item. Now the real quest begins: can they find a way to restore a forged soul?

    49) The Lady of Fate requests a personal audience with the PCs. The PCs are, according to her, fated to play instrumental roles in the prognosticated destruction of Stygia.

  • #2
    50. Back when you were a kid, like all kids, you had a monster in your closet. His name was Mr. Grinkle. You had completely forgotten him, until just now when you saw him climb out of some child's bedroom window carrying something and jumping into a nihil. You remember your dad gave you a special flashlight that kept Mr. Grinkle away. You wonder what ever happened to that flashlight...


    • #3
      51) The Shroud is getting weaker every day. The entire city appears to be affected by this particular phenomenon.


      • #4
        52) Spectral forces are targeting Legionnaires of Fate for some reason. A substantial force of the local Legion of Fate has already been Harrowed, for some reason. There must be some reason as for why the Spectres are targeting the Legion of Fate.


        • #5
          53) A serial killer is the reason one (or all) of the members of the circle are dead. Some wraithly detective work reveals the killer's identity; a man dead long before they met their ends, who was well-known for his skill with Fatalism. How did a dead man kill them, and why did he do it? (As the plot goes on, they find out he was one of the Risen; what could drive him to bargain with his Shadow, just to kill them? What mysteries of Fate were unveiled to him about the characters? Where is he now?)

          54) The circle gets into a jam - maybe some Spectres are spilling out of a nihil and won't stop coming, maybe a Tempest storm catches them by surprise, maybe slavers are trying to capture them to sell them into thralldom - and has little hope of escaping. Enter a group of kindly saviors who rescue them almost for free; all they ask is that the circle join their Heretic cult.

          55) There's a medium in town, and they're legit; the problem is, they hate their gift and want nothing to do with the dead. This is a wraith's best chance to talk to the living, but convincing the medium to listen to be one hell of an ordeal. The easiest way forward is to get nasty...

          Remi. she/her. game designer.


          • #6
            Right. Contest time.

            Best story hook in the thread wins an autographed book out of my personal collection. Go to it, folks.


            • #7
              56) You get up off the ground. You're surrounded by people you've never met. You're standing around a burning car wreck. You're all dead. None of you have any memory of how you ended up together, in that car. The only clues are the things in you carried in your pockets. A pack of cigarettes (none of you smoke), a pair of dice (with no sixes), a picture locket (of another stranger), and a pocket watch (that never ticks but reads a different time whenever checked).


              • #8
                57) You had been reaped out of your Caul by a well dressed woman who says you have a year to make good on your deal or she'll come to claim your soul. She says she is the devil. Now everyone else says there's no such thing, but there's some things about your life you should really know and don't, and you still can't figure out what deal you made. But do you want to risk her threat? You've heard there are a few others who supposedly made deals with her too. Maybe it's time to get moving.

                ​When noise turns to silence, when colors dull and pale, when reality no longer makes sense, there shall you find me. There, in the dreams of the River of Faceless Millions, do I dwell.

       for my art.


                • #9
                  58) "One more day," the man in the hat had said to you. "No cost for you; just time." You accepted for shits and giggles. How could you have known that it would work? That you would wake up in the Skinlands solid and fleshy and warm again. That you'd have one last day to do everything you had missed. It was a miracle.
                  Little did you know the cost that others would pay upon your return.


                  • #10
                    59) A couple fall in love. They are beyond devoted to each other, they are soul mates. But then, the male half of the pair is struck down. An accident. Leaving the living female half of the pair in longing and despair.

                    But, as it turns out, their love truly is eternal. The dead lover returns to haunt his beloved, and instead of being afraid she rejoices. They are together again. But he is ephemeral, and they cannot touch. It is agony.

                    Until she begins to look for people who look like her dear departed. She finds them, and stalks them, and then he puppeteers them. And in stolen flesh, they are together for the span of a night. Or a breath, until again and again the illusion is destroyed by his host's confusion and anger. The pair grow more desperate.

                    They begin to look for a permanent solution. He can feel his shadow growing stronger with each tryst, and she begins to realize that being with her beloved is only an open wrist away. But he can already see the cold pall of Oblivion behind her eyes.

                    60) You were a roman senator, or a Celtic chieftain, or a simple boatman, before the fall of Rome. Then you died, and found yourself on a shadowed riverbank. Your friend, a friend long dead, offers you a hand and helps you up out of your caul up onto his raft, and you begin to sail.

                    He says this is the land of the dead, and it can be more than what it is. And he says you will build a shining empire to help all those lonesome phantoms who find themselves in your care. You will be the Lords of Death. You agree, though he tells you the path will be hard and unyielding. You can't say no to your old friend Charon.

                    61) Mediums are dying. Everywhere. Every basement seance ends with a new corpse, as the land of the living distances itself from the lands of the dead. Not a single one of these dead mediums ends up a Wraith or a Spectre. Something is terribly wrong...

                    62) You died in the camps, in the shadow of Birkenau along with hundreds of others. When you awoke in the Enclaves of Wire, the world you found yourself in was no better than the one you left. The Shadowlands here are poisoned and tainted, but you will not let yourself give up.

                    Your circle-mates are Wraiths, Haints, Mortwights and whatever else they want to be. You don't judge. You will not let anyone define who you are. You will flourish. You you build a future, even in the midst of unimaginable horror.

                    63) A ghost haunts the old cottage on the hills, it is said you can hear him there at night, telling stories to no one. But then, one day, a young child decides to listen.

                    Every night, the child sneaks out of their home and listens to the wraith speak. The old ghost is a better parent than the child has ever known. the ghost is kind, patient, and has all the time in the world. The child learns about times gone past, and comes into their adolescence under the guidance of their wraithly guardian.

                    Over time, strange things haunt the child, from their close proximity to death. The child becomes a living haunt, a sink in the shroud, which draws all kinds of ghostly attention to them. And the old ghost will have to work hard to keep them safe.

                    64) You and your family were lost at sea. You were traveling across the atlantic when a storm unlike any you had ever seen rose up and demolished your ship, drowning you and everyone you cared about. Except one person.

                    Your child, one of your fetters, is lost at sea, stranded in a dinghy clinging to life. What will you do? What can you do to save them?

                    65) You loved the kindred. You were an addict, enslaved by their commanding presence and their blood. The only thing you ever wanted was to join their ranks. And then one night, you were embraced.

                    And when you died, your soul was banished from your body. As a wraith, you watched in horror as your body spasmed back to unlife, and rose from your grave, without you. Your body still thought it was you, and walked and talked and pretended like it still had a soul.

                    Now free from the blood and entrancing effect of your old masters, you begin to see what a parasite your new body is. Every day, you watch, impotently, as your kindred corpse destroys the lives of your friends and family, as it flies into terrible rages and murders those you cared about. You've watched it weep tears of blood after slaughtering your son, and you are done watching.

                    You will turn every kindred in your city into ashes.

                    66) Harrowings do not happen by themselves. They are carved out of the chaos of the labyrinth. There is an art to it. And just like any art, there are master practitioners.

                    The Carver is an ancient Spectre, who does not concern herself with warring against Stygia or fighting the petty battles of the shadow-eaten. The Carver is the Nhudri of Harrowings. She has performed hundreds of thousands of them over the centuries, and has perfected her craft beyond reproach.

                    But Oblivion eats away at her, she can feel herself fading more every day. She will not allow this. She has labored too long, given too much, worshiped too long at the altar of dissolution to simply no longer exist.

                    One day, you fall into a harrowing and into the Carver's cruches. And the Carver, using every ounce of learning and craft and power she has, breaches the barrier of the Harrowing and forces herself into your psychodrama. She has tresspassed into your soul, and left a gaping wound in the fabric of the labyrinth. She will parasitically try to ride your soul to redemption. Even if she has to cast you down into the Maw to do it.

                    67) You are a squad of soldiers who died in the great war, who suffered untold horrors in the trenches, only to emerge from your cauls to learn the war accomplished nothing but death and destruction. Will you let it stand, or will your vengeance lead to make sure your deaths meant something?

                    68) It is decided. The day has come. The Ferrymen call a summit and declare that Stygia has become a dark and terrible entity. Its corruption and tyranny serve only to strengthen Oblivion. Without transcendence, Stygia became a morass of darkness and stagnation, designed only to perpetuate its reign.

                    The Ferrymen agree: Stygia must fall.

                    For the good of all Wraiths, it must be torn down and made anew, if the underworld is ever have any hope at all.

                    So the Ferrymen journey to the Far Shores. Those that have stayed pure and true to their purpose. They find the few Shining Ones who have not surrendered to their shadows or to despotism, and propose an alliance. With these Wraiths, some as old as Charon, these Far Shores bind together into a new nation, and rise up to challenge Stygia with all the might of Dis by their side.

                    Before the war starts, the Ferrymen make their intentions clear, and give Stygia the option of dissolving itself. But of course, Stygia refuses. But every battle strengthens Oblivion and deepens the Ferrymen's regret. Can they save the underworld before they destroy it?


                    • #11
                      69) 'Ole Crassus, the richest man in Stygia, is suddenly giving away his fortune. All of it. This philanthropic act is throwing the Wraith economy into utter chaos as speculation explodes and new magnates appear from nowhere. Things only get worse as it becomes clear 'why' he had this charitable impulse. The thousands upon thousands of soul-forged coins in his vaults, now lining the pockets of every fool in Stygia, are regaining their will and self... and they aren't happy.

                      70) The old Whitaker place has always been spooky. Even when you were alive you heard stories about it. Now that you're dead those stories have only gotten worse. A maze of false doors and trick hallways that trap Wraiths in the churning guts of its architecture. Why was it built? What becomes of the Wraiths it ensnares? You need those answers soon, since you're stuck inside with Wraiths you don't know, some angry Spectres, and a group of meddling kids from the Skinlands.


                      • #12
                        71) The wraiths of a number of abuse victims have taken a vigilante streak, using their Arcanoi to punish a number of violent boyfriends, drunk parents, sexual predators, and other wretched people. Their intentions are noble, and the people they protect grateful, but they are flagrantly violating the Dictum Mortuum and sending a number of their victims straight into the underworld as Spectres. Worst of all, there's rumors that their leader is Risen and losing the fight with her Shadow, killing somewhat indiscriminately.

                        Remi. she/her. game designer.


                        • #13
                          Keep 'em coming, folks - I'll declare a winner on Friday at midnight, EDT.

                          Deadguy out!


                          • #14
                            72) The Walled City of Kowloon was a thorn in the side of the government of Hong Kong for decades. Massively overpopulated and largely run by vicious Triads, Kowloon was a cesspool of crime and violence - criminals on the run often fled to Kowloon, where they knew they wouldn't be pursued by the authorities. The vertical construction and literal walls blocked out most sunlight, creating a dark maze of pipes and cabling that hid drug smuggling, sex slavery, and worse from prying eyes. Life expectancy was short; if gang violence didn't spill over and end your life prematurely, the unsanitary conditions almost certainly would. The government grew tired of the Walled City's continued existence and had it bulldozed to the ground in 1994.

                            Kowloon popped up almost entirely intact in the Shadowlands and grew to serve almost the exact same purpose in death that it had in life. The city is a haven for those who chafe under the rule of the Yellow Springs, flooded with all number of renegades, exiles, criminals, revolutionaries, and non-native Wraiths hoping to avoid a fate as White Jade. The pervasive taint of violence, corruption, and death has tainted Kowloon, allowing Oblivion a hold on the very walls of the city itself; no light reaches within unless artificially created (most often by lanterns or neon), and walking the halls alone is a good way to go missing. The city is aggressively claustrophobic, sometimes described as feeling like the insides of a hungry beast.

                            Yu Huang is furious beyond belief at the continued existence of Kowloon, but both overt invasion attempts and subtle infiltration have met with fail every time. It prospers as release valve of sorts for the Dark Kingdom of Jade, where anything imaginable can be bought for the right price. It also prospers as a prison of sorts; many of those inside would be arrested and forged if they ever left. For those who can brave the gangs of the dead and the occasional nihil, the Walled City makes a great home within the Yellow Springs.

                            Remi. she/her. game designer.


                            • #15
                              73) Welcome aboard the Stygian relic submarine Ictineo II. Perhaps you fell overboard on a pleasure cruise, or your fishing boat was became lost in a storm. The circumstances leading to your death are far less concerning than the immediate aftermath. You cross the Shroud wrapped in your caul miles from shore with a Maelstrom brewing. The Captain is a water logged corpse of a ghost that is the stuff of nightmares for Specters, and you are the new deckhand. Tempest-bound to parts unknown, this ship is taking the fight to the Specters and you are coming along for the ride.