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  • What is a Shade?

    So....cosmologically speaking, what do you think causes a soul to become a shade vs a ghost? Is a shade a incarnate piece of the soul (an, ren, ba. ka, etc?) that separates from the rest? Is it a being whose life and death were fundamentally different from what would create a ghost? An entity rich in Sekhem or cursed by fate? What “causes” someone to die in a way that binds them to Duat when there isn’t some asshole god thing performing a Rite to send them there? Canon and theories welcome.

  • #2
    Explicit canon:
    Souls don't become ghosts. Ghosts are left behind by things that die (sometimes even when they die incompletely or for only a moment – Geist 2e introduces the ghosts of lost body parts and ghosts left by near-death experiences while the original person still lives). Dying is when the soul moves on from the body, but the ghost is not the soul.

    Extrapolation/theory:
    Dreams of Avarice and Mummy 2e seem together to strongly suggest, but not explicitly assert, that all souls progress to Duat and that the pilgrimage of shades accomplishes this in some way. Souls found worthy by the Judges are meant to progress to starry A'aru, the home of the Scroll of Ages where all truths have already been recorded, and a place the Heretic describes as barren and empty..

    Mage has batted around the idea that souls are meant to join with supernal truth and then to reincarnate, but that in the Fallen World, this nature is somehow damaged.

    The ghost, by contrast, can be thought of as the memory or impression left on the world in a thing's absence, like the shape a heavy object imprints on a soft surface remaining after it is removed. This is metaphysically a bit more complicated when that impression itself has thoughts, feelings, and personhood.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Stupid Loserman View Post
      Explicit canon:
      Souls don't become ghosts. Ghosts are left behind by things that die (sometimes even when they die incompletely or for only a moment – Geist 2e introduces the ghosts of lost body parts and ghosts left by near-death experiences while the original person still lives). Dying is when the soul moves on from the body, but the ghost is not the soul.

      .
      Yeeeah. I remember hearing that somewhere. Still underwhelmed by the concept. "Hi all you soul eaters out there! Are you tired of feasting on the delicious ectoplasmic filling of the recently departed only to gain ephermeral girth? Are manifesting in the physical realm and maintaining a regular exorcise program conflicting with your inscrutable agendas! The underworld has the solution for you! Introducing GHOST(tm), a new delicious artificial soul substitute with the same great taste with none of the empty ectocalories!"

      My own misgivings and refusal to use ghosts as I-Can't-Believe-they-aren't-Souls in my own games aside....do you believe Shades are something similar? Another form of spirit "echo"? Or something completely different? Do we consider ghosts and shades as two subtypes of the same phenomena or wholly independent manifestations that happen to have memories of a mortal life in common? If a ghost manifests after someone dies, could that same death manifest a shade with the same memories as the ghost, for example, or does the manifestation of one preclude manifestation of the other?

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      • #4
        It seems like you're ascribing common properties to souls and ghosts that really aren't shared. "I-Can't-Believe-They- Aren't-Souls" implies a similarity that simply doesn't exist. The divide makes much more sense if you don't work from the assumption that they're the same thing (which they rarely are in RL religions, mythologies and folk lores).
        For starters, the soul does not house the seat of consciousness, while most ghosts are basically defined by the personality of the original person.

        Shades and ghosts occupy the same "frequency" of Twilight, but Twilight "frequencies" are actually different types of ephemera, each type only able to interact with itself. Since ghosts and shades inhabit the same "frequency" and can interact, they're made from the same type of ephemera (unlike that of spirits/idigam, or angels of the G-M). That implies ghosts and shades are tightly related and certainly not incidental to each other. How they're related, I don't know.
        On the same topic, it also means that dead (or otherwise disembodied) Arisen also are made from the same type of ephemera.


        Bloodline: The Stygians
        Ordo Dracul Mysteries: Mystery of Smoke, Revised Mystery of Živa
        Mage The Awakening: Spell Quick Reference (single page and landscape for computer screens)

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        • #5
          Originally posted by nothri View Post

          Yeeeah. I remember hearing that somewhere. Still underwhelmed by the concept. "Hi all you soul eaters out there! Are you tired of feasting on the delicious ectoplasmic filling of the recently departed only to gain ephermeral girth? Are manifesting in the physical realm and maintaining a regular exorcise program conflicting with your inscrutable agendas! The underworld has the solution for you! Introducing GHOST(tm), a new delicious artificial soul substitute with the same great taste with none of the empty ectocalories!"
          I think what you have a problem with here is not really the nature of ghosts in Chronicles of Darkness, but the nature of souls, since long before Mummy's shades were introduced. CofD games consistently characterize the soul as not being identical with a person (or, well, the parts of a person that aren't the body). You can remove the soul from a person and put a different person's soul in them. This will change them, but it won't be like replacing them with an entirely different person in their body. Their memories are the same, their long-term emotional attachments. The soul is more like a living energy which is necessary for a healthy person, which lives within the person and experiences their life and influences their nature and choices, but which is not simply an ephemeral brain or nervous system but something broader and less specific.

          The ghost is honestly more like what you're shooting for with the typical St. Peter at the Pearly Gates pop culture depiction of the soul as the person-without-the-body.

          The metaphysics of what make up a person, and the consequences of creatures being able to sever and reassemble those parts, are mysterious and unsettling in the Chronicles of Darkness.

          Originally posted by nothri View Post
          My own misgivings and refusal to use ghosts as I-Can't-Believe-they-aren't-Souls in my own games aside....do you believe Shades are something similar? Another form of spirit "echo"? Or something completely different? Do we consider ghosts and shades as two subtypes of the same phenomena or wholly independent manifestations that happen to have memories of a mortal life in common? If a ghost manifests after someone dies, could that same death manifest a shade with the same memories as the ghost, for example, or does the manifestation of one preclude manifestation of the other?
          What do *I* think? Working off of what information we currently have, at least, I think the shade is a vehicle for the soul, the attachments and remembrance of living within your life become a thinking vessel to carry it to Duat. I don't think either the ghost or the shade encompasses everything that made a living person who she was; they are parts of the whole, and who you were in life was the result of a complicated interplay between many factors, the nature of your soul and the memories and feelings that form into your ghost being some (but not all!) of them. I think that likely every human who has not somehow lost their soul probably exudes a shade when they die (though perhaps not at the time and place where they die?), while many but not all humans who die (including those who are soulless?) leave ghosts.

          The soul and the ghost are parts of you, the living person, drifting apart into space after you die. Neither of them are you, the living person; you ceased to exist when you died. Both of them carry the mark of who you were and how you lived, in different ways.

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          • #6
            You're right about the soul in CofD. I don't think it corresponds to any IRL beliefs since anything that isn't intrinsically linked to a person (which the CofD soul isn't considering its plug'n'play nature), being that person's essence in some way, would ever be translated to "soul". Calling it a soul is a bit of a misnomer.

            On top of that the ghosts in CofD comes from the modern paranatural belief that ghosts are basically psychic imprints or echoes of intense or dramatic emotions and moments, rather than any direct continuation of the person living on beyond their death; hence why less cognizant ghosts are stuck in loops and such behavious. Such ghosts have never been connected to souls IRL so it'd be weird if they were in CofD if CofD souls even did correspond to any RL beliefs.
            Reading CofD books with the pressumption that they should be connected or be the same thing is doing yourself a huge disservice since that isn't how it works in the "source material", so to speak.


            Bloodline: The Stygians
            Ordo Dracul Mysteries: Mystery of Smoke, Revised Mystery of Živa
            Mage The Awakening: Spell Quick Reference (single page and landscape for computer screens)

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            • #7
              There isn’t a canon answer for what a shade is at the moment. When writing them, I chose to leave it open for interpretation by individual groups. If I ever get the opportunity to tackle them in more depth, I might give a more concrete answer. I’ve actually considered several different answers to the question, and I’ve had a hard time picking a favorite. I think the simplest answer I’ve considered would be to make them the Sheut of the deceased. I would probably favor a more complex answer if I was to write it up, but it fits well enough.


              Jason Ross Inczauskis, Freelance Writer
              Projects: Dark Eras 2, Mummy: The Curse 2e, Book of Lasting Death, DtR The Clades Companion, Pirates of Pugmire, They Came From Beyond the Grave!, TC Aeon: Mission Statements, TC In Media Res, DtD Night Horrors: Enemy Action, C20 Anthology of Dreams
              Masculine pronouns preferred.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by White Oak Dragon View Post
                There isn’t a canon answer for what a shade is at the moment. When writing them, I chose to leave it open for interpretation by individual groups. If I ever get the opportunity to tackle them in more depth, I might give a more concrete answer. I’ve actually considered several different answers to the question, and I’ve had a hard time picking a favorite. I think the simplest answer I’ve considered would be to make them the Sheut of the deceased. I would probably favor a more complex answer if I was to write it up, but it fits well enough.
                It would be very interesting to hear more about some of those ideas. Also, your thoughts on any potential relationship between vampires (specifically the Hollow Mekhet and their Ba) and shades, whatwith the whole gaining sustenance from blood.


                Bloodline: The Stygians
                Ordo Dracul Mysteries: Mystery of Smoke, Revised Mystery of Živa
                Mage The Awakening: Spell Quick Reference (single page and landscape for computer screens)

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                • #9
                  Shades do go to Duat to be judged, so they might be "the part of soul that must be weighed for the Devourer."* Certainly they are more closely aligned with the occult forces of Sekhem than the Underworld.

                  Mind you the Underworld is rather closely aligned with Memory, so that is a thing.

                  *This is what I think the Iremite in-universe explanation is, not the canonical truth.


                  Thoughts ripple out, birthing others

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Tessie View Post

                    It would be very interesting to hear more about some of those ideas. Also, your thoughts on any potential relationship between vampires (specifically the Hollow Mekhet and their Ba) and shades, whatwith the whole gaining sustenance from blood.
                    I’m not going to go into too much depth, since I don’t yet know whether I’ll ever get the chance to expand on them officially. I might even do something for the Vault for them eventually, if I have the time and nothing seems to be forthcoming about them in an official capacity.
                    That said, many of the ideas still involve the Sheut, but with more complexity. For example, the Sheut bearing the Ab Pillar into Duat for judgment.
                    As far as the vampires go, I gave exactly zero thought to them when writing the shades. The use of blood was a nod to the Odyssey.


                    Jason Ross Inczauskis, Freelance Writer
                    Projects: Dark Eras 2, Mummy: The Curse 2e, Book of Lasting Death, DtR The Clades Companion, Pirates of Pugmire, They Came From Beyond the Grave!, TC Aeon: Mission Statements, TC In Media Res, DtD Night Horrors: Enemy Action, C20 Anthology of Dreams
                    Masculine pronouns preferred.

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                    • #11
                      This article had some interesting thoughts on Bronze Age cultures and their ghosts.

                      https://www.ancient.eu/ghost/

                      Rereading Dreams of Avarice I noted this passage: "If you walk against the flow of
                      Nebtet’s blood it will dissolve you, and we five will fly to separate destinies. Your Shadow will howl in Neter-Khertet and the living will curse you. Your Spirit will invade your body and raise it to hunt the living who will burn you as an abomination. Your Essence will flow between Keb and Duat, to mingle in oases and holy places, and witches and unnatural things will devour it. Your Name will be forgotten and your Heart will sink alone to Duat, with no advocate, where She of the Countless Teeth will consume it."

                      So if we assume the book accurately describes the fate that befalls non-Iremite educated souls, the Shadow seems like the best candidate for these Shades. The Ba survives, but seemingly animates the living corpse or otherwise lingers on in the physical remains. The Ka, perhaps playing of the similarity in names, seems to dissolve into magical energy that gets consumed by sorcerers, ghosts and spirits. No word about the fate of the Ren (odd) and the Ab falls into Duat and faces the Devourer. By this text a Shade could be the remnant of the Sheut, the Ren, or the Ab (since Shades are supposedly drawn slowly into Duat). Again, the shadowy nature seems to fit the Sheut best. That does beg the question if there are other ghostly entities out there born from the other pieces of the mortal. Also, I wonder about the general "population" of Shades- they presumably are fairly rare since Mummies alone know of them (likely because Shades are drawn to Sekhem).

                      I also wonder if Shades ever serve cults the way the Blessed ghosts do/did in 1st edition. Do any serve the Devourer? How exactly are Shades "drawn" to Duat? Like ghosts and the Underworld? A yearning? A feeling of pain if they linger too long in Neter Khertet?

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by nothri View Post
                        This article had some interesting thoughts on Bronze Age cultures and their ghosts.

                        https://www.ancient.eu/ghost/

                        Rereading Dreams of Avarice I noted this passage: "If you walk against the flow of
                        Nebtet’s blood it will dissolve you, and we five will fly to separate destinies. Your Shadow will howl in Neter-Khertet and the living will curse you. Your Spirit will invade your body and raise it to hunt the living who will burn you as an abomination. Your Essence will flow between Keb and Duat, to mingle in oases and holy places, and witches and unnatural things will devour it. Your Name will be forgotten and your Heart will sink alone to Duat, with no advocate, where She of the Countless Teeth will consume it."

                        So if we assume the book accurately describes the fate that befalls non-Iremite educated souls, the Shadow seems like the best candidate for these Shades. The Ba survives, but seemingly animates the living corpse or otherwise lingers on in the physical remains. The Ka, perhaps playing of the similarity in names, seems to dissolve into magical energy that gets consumed by sorcerers, ghosts and spirits. No word about the fate of the Ren (odd) and the Ab falls into Duat and faces the Devourer. By this text a Shade could be the remnant of the Sheut, the Ren, or the Ab (since Shades are supposedly drawn slowly into Duat). Again, the shadowy nature seems to fit the Sheut best. That does beg the question if there are other ghostly entities out there born from the other pieces of the mortal. Also, I wonder about the general "population" of Shades- they presumably are fairly rare since Mummies alone know of them (likely because Shades are drawn to Sekhem).

                        I also wonder if Shades ever serve cults the way the Blessed ghosts do/did in 1st edition. Do any serve the Devourer? How exactly are Shades "drawn" to Duat? Like ghosts and the Underworld? A yearning? A feeling of pain if they linger too long in Neter Khertet?
                        On other ghostly soul parts: I would like to think so. I have some ideas for Ba spirits that I might tackle at some point, probably for the Vault.
                        On shade populations: Shades are as common or as rare as you would like for your games. Shades are easily mistaken for ghosts when others encounter them, especially since most ghost powers work just fine on them. Shades also experience Neter-Khertet as a realm the way mummies do, and can use that to hide as well.
                        Shade cultists: Maybe. Do you want shade cultists for your game?
                        On being drawn to Duat: The pull of Duat isn’t as strong as the Underworld’s pull on ghosts. It’s kind of like Duat is “downhill” from them. Gravity pulls them in that direction, but they don’t have to go right away. I would say that the hill becomes steeper the closer they get to the river or to a gateway into Duat, making it harder to fight gravity’s pull.


                        Jason Ross Inczauskis, Freelance Writer
                        Projects: Dark Eras 2, Mummy: The Curse 2e, Book of Lasting Death, DtR The Clades Companion, Pirates of Pugmire, They Came From Beyond the Grave!, TC Aeon: Mission Statements, TC In Media Res, DtD Night Horrors: Enemy Action, C20 Anthology of Dreams
                        Masculine pronouns preferred.

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                        • #13
                          I suppose first and foremost I just want to learn more about Shades and how they operate in Twilight and the Underworld. They seem a bit more sinister than Ghosts, given the preference for darkness and need for blood to be spilled, but their mindset is a little vague beyond "like ghosts but not". The implication is that they don't obsess over objects and places or people from their living days, but they do seem to crave or need suffering to impose themselves on the living world. And they need some form of Sekhem to "advance" in power. Beyond this its all a bit vague what role they play in the lives of Mummies. And other denizens of the afterlife, for that matter.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by nothri View Post
                            I suppose first and foremost I just want to learn more about Shades and how they operate in Twilight and the Underworld. They seem a bit more sinister than Ghosts, given the preference for darkness and need for blood to be spilled, but their mindset is a little vague beyond "like ghosts but not". The implication is that they don't obsess over objects and places or people from their living days, but they do seem to crave or need suffering to impose themselves on the living world. And they need some form of Sekhem to "advance" in power. Beyond this its all a bit vague what role they play in the lives of Mummies. And other denizens of the afterlife, for that matter.
                            They’re deliberately left vague for now, so that each group can use them in the way that fits best for their game. That said, I’d love the opportunity to expand upon them in the future.


                            Jason Ross Inczauskis, Freelance Writer
                            Projects: Dark Eras 2, Mummy: The Curse 2e, Book of Lasting Death, DtR The Clades Companion, Pirates of Pugmire, They Came From Beyond the Grave!, TC Aeon: Mission Statements, TC In Media Res, DtD Night Horrors: Enemy Action, C20 Anthology of Dreams
                            Masculine pronouns preferred.

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                            • #15
                              I find myself how Hollow Mekhet are affected by all this and whether it would be possible to make one whole again? I definitely want to get Mummy next.

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