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Trouble with the Underworld

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  • Trouble with the Underworld

    So I've recently started running a Geist game, but I'm struggling to really 'grok' the Underworld.

    I get that the upper reaches are cold and damp and require strange methods to navigate. That's fine.
    I'm struggling with the ghosts mostly.

    Lets say you find a ghost down there. They aren't really ghosts anymore, right? They walk around, and are either starving and might attack out of animalistic desperation OR they've managed to settle in at one of the River Cities or other such gatherings.

    So what is 'life' like in the river cities? Are these lost souls just dredging through the motions without much thought or personality? Or are they basically people again? What I get from the books is that they are basically 'people' again, but then how do you convey the haunted nature of their lives? How is it different from visiting a tent city or third world slum?

    If a Sin-Eater comes wandering into a River Town looking for some lost heirloom then what would a ghost WANT from the Sin-Eater in trade? Food from the surface that doesn't taste like ash? A message taken to a loved one up above? Can a ghost be taken back out of the Underworld by a Sin-Eater when they leave?

    Any help or advice would be appreciated.

  • #2
    Originally posted by Sloanathan View Post
    So what is 'life' like in the river cities? Are these lost souls just dredging through the motions without much thought or personality? Or are they basically people again? What I get from the books is that they are basically 'people' again, but then how do you convey the haunted nature of their lives? How is it different from visiting a tent city or third world slum?
    Well, for starters, even with the majority of long-term-viable Underworld ghosts being Rank 2 personlike actors, all of them are marked by death, invert the priorities of their Anchor Traits, and have notional access to Numina in addition to no longer having a regular supply of Essence to their names.

    If a Sin-Eater comes wandering into a River Town looking for some lost heirloom then what would a ghost WANT from the Sin-Eater in trade? Food from the surface that doesn't taste like ash? A message taken to a loved one up above? Can a ghost be taken back out of the Underworld by a Sin-Eater when they leave?
    Ghostly priorities away from the land of the living are going to vary by individuals based on personality and their time Below, but as above, the inversion of Virtue and Vice and the need for Essence beyond subsistence-level will tilt things in one way or another, as might the circumstances in which they died. A chthonic fishmonger with a hole in his head probably has someone he wants dead or ruined, and a former closet gourmand could almost definitely go for some novel ofrendas.

    Between the effects of Essence Bleed on the unAnchored and the fact of Reapers existing, I don't think there's anything technically stopping a ghost from being retrieved from the Underworld without a ready-made Anchor standing by, particularly given how the Liminal Aura works, but establishing a new foothold then becomes a pretty high priority.


    Resident Lore-Hound
    Currently Consuming: Hunter: the Vigil 1e

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    • #3
      Remember that underworld is a cold and dark place.
      Some ghosts could just want a color pencil set or a warm hug to experience again the FEELING of those things

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      • #4
        Okay so I get that ghostly priorities will "vary by individuals based on personality and their time Below" but what does that encompass?
        Do things carried through the gate feed ghosts like other items do? Do they provide essence? If a sin-eater brings a ghost a happy meal can the ghost even eat the burger? Does it just taste good or does it provide essence nourishment because now it's been brought below and is now considered a "dead thing"? Can the ghost eat the happy meal toy for essence like they can consume the memories of inedible objects that they fish out of the rivers?

        I get that some ghosts might want revenge on people or things that have wronged them, but can ghosts trade for things like "your memories of friendships" to take a dot from someone's Socialize skill?

        And what sorts of things would ferry men ask for in payment for passage? And I got the impression that the ferrymen don't really talk? So how would someone know what to offer as payment, unless the ferryman just starts pointing at things the person is carrying?

        I'm sorry if I seem obtuse, I'm not trying to be. And I really appreciate the answers so far.
        Like I said I just don't seem to be grokking the place very well and it's making it difficult to get my own creative juices flowing for the place.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Sloanathan View Post
          Okay so I get that ghostly priorities will "vary by individuals based on personality and their time Below" but what does that encompass?
          The same things that random living people with an agenda in a scarcity-stricken hell-pit will want, except that if they want medicine it's probably not for life-saving purposes. Ghostly priorities varying by individual encompasses their being individuals with different life/death experiences.

          Do things carried through the gate feed ghosts like other items do? Do they provide essence? If a sin-eater brings a ghost a happy meal can the ghost even eat the burger? Does it just taste good or does it provide essence nourishment because now it's been brought below and is now considered a "dead thing"? Can the ghost eat the happy meal toy for essence like they can consume the memories of inedible objects that they fish out of the rivers?
          Are they the ghosts of destroyed items? Because that's the main form of cruelty-free ectophagia that Underworld ghosts rely on, and most food isn't going to leave a Castoff without some kind of preparatory measures.

          I get that some ghosts might want revenge on people or things that have wronged them, but can ghosts trade for things like "your memories of friendships" to take a dot from someone's Socialize skill?
          That seems within the scope of the Absent and/or Sin-Eaters with the Well to facilitate.

          And what sorts of things would ferry men ask for in payment for passage?
          Stuff you would miss. Stuff that's hard to come by. Stuff that would give pause to a ghost struggling to scrape by on foraging and contemplating the promise of free board as long as you follow the rules of a Dominion. Stuff that would make someone appropriate to the Dominion the Ferryman is taking them to. Sacrifices.

          And I got the impression that the ferrymen don't really talk?
          The Grim Fandango reference would be really out of place if that were the case. Some are nonverbal and most of them have had a dunk in the Ocean, but mutism is by no means a requirement for the job.

          So how would someone know what to offer as payment, unless the ferryman just starts pointing at things the person is carrying?
          Signs can go pretty far, particularly given how some Ferrymen seem to take specific coin, and folks in the River Cities can probably tell you by reputation.
          Last edited by Satchel; 09-11-2020, 11:34 AM.


          Resident Lore-Hound
          Currently Consuming: Hunter: the Vigil 1e

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Satchel View Post
            The Grim Fandango reference would be really out of place if that were the case. Some are nonverbal and most of them have had a dunk in the Ocean, but mutism is by no means a requirement for the job.
            "No thanks. I don't want people to ask me about Grim Fandango."


            Sean K.I.W./Kelly R.A. Steele, Freelance Writer(Feel free to call me Sean, Kelly, Arcane, or Arc)
            The world is not beautiful, therefore it is.-Keiichi Sigsawa, Kino's Journey
            Feminine pronouns, please.

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