Old Zebediah was one of the first three characters that popped into my head when thinking about a Wraith write up. He is a physically powerful and combat oriented character on paper but then has a deeper and richer history for role playing purposes. Zebediah is, despite being not a terribly social character, looked at as a possible “leader” just because of his Age in death.
I found the form fillable page Sheet, and linked to them below, but I will be including some information in the write up that didn’t fit on the single page design of the sheet.
I’ve always liked the aspect of having character sin Wraith who died in wildly different eras that have to interact and work together. Unlike all of the other World of Darkness games, Wraith provides the least “prompts” in character design. While there are Guilds and Legions, neither provide the sort of template to work from that a Vampire Clan, Mage Tradition, or even Changeling Kith do. For Zebediah’s Nature, I choose Bon Vivant. He very much in his Death is looking for and hunting after the sorts of experiences he never let himself have in life. He is the grizzly but warm and indulgent archetype, not unlike Stoli Kilaim in our Starfinder write up. His Demeanor, or how he orients himself to the outside world, is Explorer. This works hand in hand with the Bon Vivant, but from his curiosity’s standpoint.
His Life is best summed up as a Pioneer that the world left behind. Unsurprisingly, over 150 years ago, he fell to Sickness and expired of Consumption, becoming a member of the Skeletal Legion once reaped.
His Physical Attributes will be primary, followed by Mental and lastly Social. This break down for a reluctant warrior leader is one I enjoy where the classic warrior leader may have Social as Secondary for OWOD characters. His Strength and Dexterity will both be a 3 and is Stamina a 4 to start. While Dexterity may be more useful a lot of times, I think Stamina is better suited to his life. A 3 Perception and Wits with a 2 Intelligence provide for a sharp eyed and quick thinking Character who is not book smart but could be considered “street smart” or “frontier smart” in this instance. His Social Attributes will be an unimpressive or remarkable 2 across the board.
Similar to the Denys, who is a similar concept, Zebediah will have Primary Talents (13), Secondary Skills (9), and Tertiary Knowledges (5). It is important to note that the default 10 Abilities in each category do vary slightly between games. Since I forsee Zebediah doing a good bit of combat, a maximum of 3 ranks out of 5 in each of Athletics, Brawl and Dodge put him down as combat oriented. His Talents are rounded out with a 2 in Alertness and a 2 in Intimidation as a good set of complementary Abilities. Similarly, his Firearms will start at a 3 in Skills with a 2 in each of Crafts, Melee, and Stealth to reflect his pioneer life of hunting and crafting. Finally, a single rank each in Enigmas, Linguistics for Spanish, Medicine, Occult, and Politics finishes his Abilities off. The Politics is one ability he has distinctly picked up since Death just by being around the Hierarchy and watching the Anacreons play their games.
Wraith has a Background to reflect an older Wraith, one who is able to recall when things happened in the Deadlands but without it being an overpowering bump in capability so Zebediah starts with an Old Soul of 3. Since I want him to have a Ghost Rifle, I also provide him a Background for Artifact of 3 and finish the Backgrounds out with a Rank of Hierarchy Status to show how he is known around the Necropolis and even perhaps one or two works in Stygia.
The Arcanoi are still some of my favorite parts of Wraith Building because they are all so useful and balanced across levels. I know that I want Zebediah to have been able to navigate a Maelstrom for his history, so a starting rank of Argos provides the abilities to handle that. Specifically, Harbingers (the name for the Guild that specialized in Argos) could not only Orient in the Maelstrom, but also peek into the Tempest or enter the Tempest without a Nihil allowing them unparalleled ability to move across the Deadlands. The specific power Zeb has on top of that is the ability to Enshroud or otherwise vanish from the perceptions of Wraiths and Spectres. Moliate is an Arcanos that I think appeals to both his combat use by the Hierarchy (and the Party) but also his Nature where he is looking for things he denied himself in life, so 2 Ranks there. Moliate is all about manipulations of the Corpus of a Wraith and begins with the powers to cause a Wraith to glow and to return them to their state of Death. The Ranks of Moliate allow Zeb to Imitate another Wraith as well as to Sculpt his own or another’s Corpus in any way imagined. Finally, LifeWeb is about the relationship of a Wraith to their Fetters and Zebediah has 2 Ranks of this. First, this allows Zeb to be able to Locate his own Fetters at any time and no matter where they are. Additionally, he can Sense a Strand to determine whether any object is a Fetter and finally once a Fetter has been Sensed, Zeb may affect the area surrounding a Fetter communicating to a present Wraith or using any Mental of Physical roll to affect the area.
We now turn to Passions and Fetters for our Wraith. Because I have Zeb as an older Wraith, I want to have fewer Passions and Fetters but with a higher value to reflect how he has survived thus far. His most overriding Passion matches up with his Nature and regret – Explore the Sensations Left to Him (Greed) as a 4 Rank Passion. This also highlights how the emotion that is used with the Passion can make for complex storytelling possibilities – His drive to feel things isn’t about selflessness but instead about hoarding what he missed in life. A straightforward Protect the Frontier (Hope) reflects his belief that the fringes can allow people to be themselves and the Frontier could be a fun concept to play with in a campaign. Finally, his time in the Deadlands has him with a Deadlands focused Passion now – Maintain the Hierarchy (Pride). That’s right, Zeb became a true believer or at least has bought the party line since it gets him attention and acclaim. For Fetters, I think a 5 Point Fetter is important for this old of a Wraith so I am going to have his Cabin as a Fetter. He built it himself and it holds a lot of fear, joy, and well Power over him. A 3 Point Fetter to follow that up is a Love Poem that became separate from that Cabin and it’s historical maintenance over the years. It is currently in the hands of a private collector while Pieces of his Rifle are a 2 Point Fetter that are in an Academic setting, stored and cataloged amongst the detritus of other imperfectly preserved historical artifacts.
For the Virtues, Corpus is Health and all Wraiths Start with a full 10 Ranks. Willpower and Pathos both start at 5 each reflecting a sense of control and emotional fulfillment respectively. Nothing in Zeb’s choices yet would have those be any different.
Finally, we get to Freebie Points, Merits, and Flaws. Freebie Points let you customize your character beyond what we’ve done already. Merits are other bonuses or traits that don’t fit elsewhere and cost Freebie points while Flaws are the inverse providing a handful more Freebie points to spend. Immediately, I know that I will raise the Artifact Background to 4 because the book even uses a gun that doesn’t need Artifact bullets as an example of a Rank 4 Artifact. I am also looking at his abilities and I want him to be a better sharpshooter, so two ranks of Firearms is another 4 points. A third rank of Moliate would allow him access to Martialry which means he can moliate his corpus into actual usable weapons or armor …. Yeah we will also go with that to help him be a frontline combatant. In that respect, his Dexterity going to 4 is a good idea. I like Notoriety as a 2 Point Merit to further his reputation in the Hierarchy. I am now at 17 points spent, though, so I need to take some Flaws to help balance that out.
Disembodied Shadow looks like a good choice for 3 points. Zeb’s Shadow will take the form of a small animal and require Zeb to actually talk outloud to it and can otherwise actually interact with the world. An added touch for Wraith is that you can get extra Freebie points by letting your shadow have some extra as well to get to your maximum of 7 points so I will accede to a single additional Freebie point so I can up Zeb’s Willpower to 6.
Now we look to designing the Shadow, a sort of mini character creation session where in the classic instructions, the Shadowguide would take over with input from the regular player. A shadow will have an Archetype that guide’s the actions, Angst, 7 points of Dark Passions that subvert the Psyche’s Passions, and then 10 Freebie points to spend on these or additional powers called Thorns.
As a Shadow theme, Zebediah’s Shadow that likes to float around like a grackle outside of him sounds best suited to be a Monster. This is a shadow about greed and about lashing out. Truly a dark reflection of Zeb’s Bon Vivant Nature.
Angst is determined by rolling the Psyche’s Willpower rating against a difficulty of 6 to determine starting Angst, so it can never be more than the starting Willpower. Here, I rolled the dice and Zebediah’s Shadow has a statistical average 3 Permanent Angst to start.
First and Foremost, the Shadow wants to get that preserved cabin burned down. The Cabin itself is actually a symbol of everything both good and bad about Zebediah’s life so the Shadow’s goal is to help Zebediah give in to Oblivion by removing that very personal connection to quite a lot. Similarly, the Shadow pushes conformity where Zebediah only in death found his freedom from expectations. Finally, Undermining the Skeletal Legion seems to drive this Shadow as it took Zeb and forced him into a role he already knew while Dead.
With 10 Freebie Points, I looked first to see if any of the Thorns jumped out to me as a good choice before spending the points elsewhere. I take 2 ranks of Dark Allies to reflect Zeb’s own Noteriety in the Hierarchy also being mirrored by his Shadow’s prominence amongst Spectres. I also take Shadowplay, a 5 point Thorn , that allows the Psyche to take another action at the cost of turning a point of Pathos into Angst each time … which the Shadow can refuse. Finally, I increase the power of the Undermining the Legion Dark Passion and a Shadow Trait rank of Manipulation so his Shadow is far more cunning than he is.
Zeb woke up angry and fighting as soon as his Caul was Reaped from his newly Dead Corpus. He had always been a fighter – stubborn and tough by all appearances but norn more of fear and need. Zeb turned and saw the fading reflection of his cabin and his wife as he was pulled into the Skinlands by his Reaper.
You finally couldn’t hack it! Well, you hacked it all up and gave up again, didn’t you?
Zebediah Wilhelm Schmidt was many things, and many more things in his own world, but he was not a quitter. The Consumption laid him low and he died in his own bed, unable to tell his wife what he truly thought. Unable to tell his love, either, how he truly felt. Left on the outskirts of what was then society, Zebediah had hunter, farmed, and otherwise tried to escape the pressure of the East and the cities. He didn’t fit there and he knew it, so he came out here and built a cabin, married a girl, and even fell in love but not with the same person.
Couldn’t keep yourself content, eh? Couldn’t even tell them what you wanted? What’s wrong? Too scared?
In Death, Zeb swore he was done hiding from what he wanted and dove in with a gusto looking for something new, something different, something to feel. He would be pulled, every so often, to a love letter left behind and unseen by his wife. A love letter found not by his love either, but a scrap of paper destined for the footnotes of history. He would cry sometimes and tears of his corpus could almost be felt in the Cabin where he lived, he loved, he died, and he was forgotten.
The hedonistic ways wouldn’t last in the Necropolis, though, as the Great War came upon the Shadowlands just as it did the land of the Quick.
Sure, *you* made that choice. It wasn’t me. Listen to me, you loser, and stop doing this half way!
In War, the Skeletal Legion was pleased to have someone who could handle a Rifle like Zeb. In fact, his own Rifle that came with him made him an important part of the defense of the Necropolis. Not his soul. Not his skill with his hands. His ability to shoot things and his talent for Lifeweb had him leading squads of Legionnaires …. To find the Fetters of rebellious ghosts serving the Grim Legion. The Smiling Lord may have taken over Stygia as spectral bi-planes soared the Fourth Great Maelstrom, but the Loyalists kept to Charon’s way and Zeb’s skill didn’t go without notice.
Without notice? Hah! You took your damn time snuffing out other Wraiths and sending them into Harrowings! Why wait for you own? You’ve done more than enough for Oblivion already either go get what you want or let me walk you into the Tempest where we belong.
The little bird that landed on Zeb’s shoulder during the War coincided with his Cabin being moved to a museum. He was lucky, they said, to have such a large Fetter being preserved. And the bird was clearly there to help him towards Transcendence. Hah! They can’t hear me, and you know it.
It’s been decades since. Decades have come and gone, but Zebediah is still no closer to letting go or giving up. A strange ennui is setting in as there are only so many things a ghost to experience and slowly growing more and more apt to listen to his ME. TO LISTEN TO ME! You can’t even find the right way to break this fourth wall you incompetent moron! You couldn’t admit who you loved when you were alive! You can’t tell a story when your dead! Hercule, the Skeletal Anacreon, made good use of both sides of Zebediah. Recognizing when his Shadow was in control, and sending him out to enforce the Hierarchy, or at least Hercule’s, will while letting Zebediah’s Psyche contentedly do nothing more than bask in words of praise and Sandmens’ theatres.
Being tapped to this Circle, touched by the power of Fate, maybe he isn’t quite done yet. These other Wraiths are a rather crazy mix, especially that new artificer Declyn. Maybe he can stop chasing in Death the feeling of Love he tried to hide in Life.
Zebediah – Old Soul Skeletal Legionnaire Character Sheet
Wraith: The Oblivion and the Springfield Fated Circle Overview Here.
Character Sheet from Mr. Gone’s Character Sheets. https://mrgone.rocksolidshells.com/