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  • Getting players interested in Wraith

    "What do you do?"

    "This sounds like an interesting setting and all, but what would we do?"

    "So you're saying there's violence and horror and underworld politics but also you're trying to manage the life you've lost. I don't understand how those things could lead to us doing things. Do we just float around going woooo who wants to do that"

    "So we're playing ghosts, but like rolling dice and stuff? My head hurts."

    ​"I literally have no idea what we would do if we played Wraith. Would we balance dice on our heads or something?"

    "What are things? What are words? <uninteligible mumbling, drooling>"


    I'm probably being unfair to all the players I've tried to entice into playing Wraith. But the appeal of Wraith seems obvious to me, and I haven't been successful conveying it. Any suggestions?

  • #2
    "Do you want to play an art game that uses the experiences of ghosts as a metaphor for mental illness, primarily depression and anxiety?"

    Be honest from the start and understand that 99% don't want to play the only oWoD game that comes close to actually being personal horror. The average group is not going to enjoy Wraith, and that's okay.


    Call me Regina or Lex.

    Female pronouns for me, please.

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    • #3
      Ripping off the plot of a ghost movie, and using it for a one-shot, is probably the best tactic. Defending a haunt (and your physical fetters) from a would-be interior designer (think Beetlejuice) or getting your murderer away from a loved one (as in Ghost), or convincing the local Scrooge of the value of Christmas . . . Things like that serve as an excellent introduction to the game: the powers, the constraints, the tactics. And if they need some more action, you can always through in a brawl with some of the local Hierarchs or Renegades

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      • #4
        @atamajakki: While Wraith does involve elements like you mention, I think there is more to it than that. Wraith is more about hope and struggle than mental illness itself. Also murdering Spectres and/or fighting The Man.

        @One Vorlon: Are you suggesting just leaving it at the one-shot, or using that as an introduction to get people interested in playing a longer game? Because I could see that working possibly.
        Last edited by Faradn; 04-09-2016, 11:15 AM.

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        • #5
          I've managed to get two wraith games up and going (and completed and closed down as well) after years and years of pining to play but "knowing" that I never would. (Add in one slot of Wraith at GenCon playing in the Dark Kingdom of Wire... which was okay for certain values of okay - some players were totally into getting to play Wraith, others didn't get it for one reason or another and the ST was so-so - more enthusiasm than skill).

          I have had a long running group that has played many different games that has lasted over a decade and is verging over into two. It just became a matter of keeping it on the list of options and being a booster each time we changed games. I think they did it to humor me. (We also did Changeling chronicles - Dreaming and then, later, Lost, because it was the Heart's Desire of a player.) I managed to shoehorn one of the Wraith games as a "mini-chronicle" that ran alongside one our most successful and long-term Mage games, exploring parts of the plot that were more Wraith-relevant than Mage and also setting up some Easter Eggs - the Mage game later went to the past and met some of the important wraiths when they were still alive). Though it was a "mini-chronicle" it was a complete story and everyone enjoyed it. (We've also done a similarly situated Vampire mini-chronicles and the Werewolf and Changeling ones are still on the table)

          I have had some of the newer players say "Never" to playing Wraith when we tire of the current M20 game and (if) the Wr20 rules are out. But the biggest opponent has been investing heavily in Spirit with a specialization in the Low Umbra and using artifacts to spend time walking around in the Shadowlands and mess with the Hierarchy and Heretics in the city where the characters are currently doing Mage-y things (the usual instigation of complete chaos and massive property damage, no matter their intent). So I'm not so sure she will remain so opposed.

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          • #6
            I agree a one shot or short term campaign is the best option. A long term Wraith campaign seems hard to explain. Most players want to experience power vicariously, and being dead undermines that. However, even to those kind of players, a short term campaign can sound fun and interesting.

            You may also want to try another approach. I believe Wraith is the game that best approximates movies and books like The Exorcist and Hellraiser. You can probably think of other such pop culture. If your players like those kinds of movies and books, then it would be a good hook. "Hey, you said you always liked Clive Barker's books - I can run that kind of story in Wraith. Would you be interested in that?"

            Those prospective players are telling you they don't know what they'd do. Instead of giving them vague suggestions of what they might do, it would be better to give them story seeds of the plots you'd intend to run. "You'd be ghosts in a run down abandon part of town. The forces of hell (spectres from the Labyrinth) are entering it. Threatening not only your characters, but the living you care for who still reside there. You'd battling demons to free possessed children and eventually need to defeat one of the high priests of Oblivion, a cenobite. You'd need to find allies among the living like priests and mediums."

            So give them examples of the cool things you'd imagine them doing in your actual plots. It might make them interested,

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            • #7
              If nothing else works, put on a clip from Beetlejuice, and tell your players, "you get to do that"

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              • #8
                Also, forget the Skinlands. You can do a bug hunt in the Labyrinth and pitch it as Aliens meets Hellraiser 2.

                I think a one-shot is a good idea to start. You could even simplify character creation by having the ST create and run the Shadows in a minimalist way. If you want a quick-and-dirty game, generate the characters for them too, based on a brief concept they have.

                Passions and Fetters tend to be tricky for some first timers. You could reduce Passions to the core emotion and Fetters to one location (probably place of death or own home), one object and one person. Then they can flesh things out later on.

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                • #9
                  I was one of those people that needed convincing. One of VtM friends *loved!!* the premise of WtO but I was extremely skeptical. As someone who needed convincing, here’s my tale of interest-peeking-circumstances. It might help. It might not. As a spoiler to prevent the WoT.

                  Back in the day (way, waaaay back in the day) I was really skeptical of Wraith. When it was still marketed as Ghost, I use to make fun of the premise. “Ghost: the Booing” and “Ghost: the Bedsheeting” were two of many names I gave it. Even after the rebranding (which I remember liking much more than “Ghost”), I was still dead-set on absolutely hating the premise and no amount of cajoling or bribery was going to change my mind. Two unrelated things, however, did change my mind.

                  In the back of World of Darkness: Combat there’s a small illustration; a chained purple lady kicking the crap out of two green guys holding some badass-looking swords. At first I thought it was supposed to be something from CtD, but I my friend was certain those were wraiths with soulsteel swords. It didn’t have to get much more metal to appeal to an angsty 90’s teenager.

                  Oddly, the final thing that sold me was a discussion about a comic book, specifically Spawn #8. In that issue, the ghost (for lack of a better term) of a serial killer awakens in a bizarre and hellish afterlife (complete with Cauls!) and journeys through the different layers of the underworld. I was talking about this issue and I pitched [to my friends] a necromantic cross between Dante’s Inferno and Spelljammer; damned souls exploring a vast and treacherous underworld. The same wraith-friend replied with, “You basically just described Harbingers.”

                  Sold.


                  Originally posted by adambeyoncelowe View Post
                  Also, forget the Skinlands. You can do a bug hunt in the Labyrinth and pitch it as Aliens meets Hellraiser 2.

                  I think a one-shot is a good idea to start. You could even simplify character creation by having the ST create and run the Shadows in a minimalist way. If you want a quick-and-dirty game, generate the characters for them too, based on a brief concept they have.

                  Passions and Fetters tend to be tricky for some first timers. You could reduce Passions to the core emotion and Fetters to one location (probably place of death or own home), one object and one person. Then they can flesh things out later on.


                  This is all solid advice for introducing the concept of the game to your group.



                  This is what happens when an Abyssal Exalted ends up in H.o.L.
                  (Also known as "Derpwraith" and "PretentiousFontsGuy
                  ").

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                  • #10
                    Want to play Lord of the Rings in the land of ghosts, complete with a silmarillion history, an Undying Lands that not every ghost believes exists, and ghost orcs controlled by a force so powerful that it literally cannot be stopped? Want a murder mystery where the person who was murdered is yourself and your friends are helping you get revenge? Want to play a dark Space Opera where outer space is actually the dimensionless underworld of the Dead, and the small planets are islands of stability within that chaotic underworld? Want to be a navigator that helps people through that strange space?

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                    • #11
                      I've always approached Wraith as the game where you get a second chance to make up for whatever failures you feel you made in life, while facing your own weaknesses head on. This may incorporate anything from making peace with your own actions, helping people you hurt, becoming successful in a completely new and slightly alien socio-political structure, or making a valiant but doomed last stand against the forces of nihilism so that the universe gets to exist one day longer simply because of what you did.


                      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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                      • #12
                        Lot of good thoughts here.

                        I'm somewhat the kind of player mentioned in the OP. To me, Wraith is a very interesting setting and an important part of WoD, but I always wanted to use it as a background for the events in another splats' chronicles (or using Wraith characters as supplemental cast and sometimes switch to them, when the main thread of the chronicle needs a bit of shakeup) and never felt the inclination to actually play it on itself, especially long-term.

                        Ultimately, it's just too bleak for me, you're dead, you're being separated from the actual world and its going-ons there. Lot of the things Wraith does, Vampire also does, but there, you're a part of the real world. I can't even see it as a dark fantasy game in another dimension, there's just too much reminder about the real situation. That's why I found Geist much more interesting, because interacting with ghosts, the underworld and death are interesting concepts, but actually playing ghosts, for a prolonged period... Not my cup of tea.

                        However, i don't think it's the only game that actually managed to pull off personal horror, but yeah, it's the game, where it's the most central and pervasive. You could avoid it in Vampire, or minimize it, if you want, but in Wraith, it's just much, much harder. So, I agree, it's just too depressive for the majority of the payers.
                        Last edited by PMárk; 11-23-2017, 08:43 PM.


                        If nothing worked, then let's think!

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by PMárk View Post
                          Lot of good thoughts here.
                          So, I agree, it's just too depressive for the majority of the payers.
                          That's why you pitch it as a game of being the Poltergeist defending your favorite Haunt, or as D&D in the land of the dead

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                          • #14
                            My best friend and I are playing MtA 2e and it's going to be mostly all about the Underworld and ghosts and we're looking forward to Wraith 20th and Geist 2e. Personally, I am very fascinated with the concept of Wraith, it seems that in the Underworld, there's still danger and ghosts can still get hurt and even destroyed or pulled into the Oblivion and the characters must run for their afterlife. When I first read about it, I felt "trapped" with claustrophobia with the idea of being stuck as a ghost in the underworld and never coming back to life. I thought that sounded scary. This will be my first time to try Wraith. Totally excited.

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                            • #15
                              One of the things I wish had been part of Wraith's initial line of books was some sort of "Haunter's Handbook" (haunter in the general sense, not the Guild), about how and why wraiths interact with the Skinlands and the living, dealing with the Hierarchy's rules and laws on such things, living people as fetters or focus of passions, the Arcanoi that effect stuff on the other side of the shroud, and character concepts who focus on all of this.

                              You could always run a chronicle focused around a "Haunt Club", like Fight Club, but with wraiths who mess with the living for fun and profit.


                              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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