The last Wraith of the Circle was one I tried to touch upon the Heretical cults while staying grounded in the Hierarchy set up here. One of the things about Wraith was that the characters could escape this afterlife and Transcend. The characters had to not get distracted and of course the Storyteller had to run the stories but the appeal of the Heretics was that they embodied the ideals that you could get past this limbo like existence and maybe find a better place like all those who skipped the Shadowlands after death. Mark will at least try to get closer to that goal. An old age death, quietly in his sleep, is a start for a long and valued life that just didn’t see things as done.
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.
Mark Kilpatrick is designed around two ideas – the first is the movement towards transcendence as he tries to resolve his Fetters but the other is the idea that the Iron Legion has a Spy division where the unassuming wraith who has an old Psyche and is sweeping the stoop is actually part of a sophisticated intelligence gathering operation. Most of the Splat Books for Wraith were the fantastic Guildbooks, but the Book of Legions that fleshed out the Legions was one of my favorite publications. A quiet and peaceful death of Old Age left a ghost that was driven by what was done in life rather than what wasn’t – a job unfinished is different than a job never started. Accordingly, his Nature is that of Analyst, as he has spent his life and now Death looking critically at systems and finding their weak points, working towards what he saw as the most effective point of leverage. His Demeanor is Caregiver because he does project a caring about others and has spent his life working on that specific fix that helps the most people while in Death, it is his cover for sure while he spies for the Iron Legion.
While dying of Old Age isn’t disqualifying from having a strong Physical Attribute, Mark is certainly settled more into the Mental and Social realm so his Primary (7) Mental and Secondary (5) Social give him the best way to make a difference once he was past his physical prime. His Perception and Intelligence are both going to start at 4 with a Wits of 2 reflecting a sometimes common concern for older individuals who may not adapt as quickly or have the same neuroplasticity they once did. Similarly, it is a Charisma of 4 that makes people see their own grandfather in his caring with a 2 in each Manipulation and Appearance. While a 2 in Strength, Dexterity, and Stamina would normally be unremarkable, the 90 year old maintained himself well.
By the time Mark was done being an erudite activist, it is certain that his Knowledges will be the Primary (13) Ability category with Talents as Secondary (9) and leaving Skills Tertiary (5). As an environmental activist, Mark learned the underlying Science and has 3 Ranks with a pair of Ranks in each Enigmas, Investigation, and Occult. He was always up for a mystery and had lived long enough to believe in more than just what Science was claiming. His familiarity with Bureaucracy, Law, and Politics helped in the Hierarchy as much as in life while the knowledge of Chinese was a remnant from his time in World War II.
In Backgrounds, we begin to really identify and differentiate our Wraiths. I definitely want to look heavily at Memoriam and Eidolon for Mark. First, Memoriam gives him a stronger Pathos to start which helps with his concept as seeking Transcendence but also the Eidolon is like the psyche’s own defense against the Shadow. It’s how he guards himself. Three in each of those with a single Rank in Legacy give us a strong foundation for someone who isn’t immediately tumbling down to Oblivion.
Mark’s Arcanoi are a little more difficult in looking at his design. He certainly isn’t as heavily into the Guilds and may not need to be as focused so he may be a more effective broad based skill character. Argos is an easy option for the movement but also the Enshroud power to hide. Similarly, Fatalism is a great way to learn about a Wraith you meet and fits well with the theme for Mark allowing him to know what is vital to fate at a moment and also the basis for a Wraith’s deathmarks. Lifeweb seems almost de rigueur for a spy type character so that Mark can sense the Fetters of different wraiths and uncover their secrets. Pandemonium may be the wildcard here which channels some of the “Wilding” and chaos of the world, or Underworld, in the Haunter’s chosen Arcanos. With two Ranks, Mark can not only cause a weird happenstance to unnerve his target, but can also Befuddle them causing them to lose track of what they were doing. The ability for a series of low level powers to be as useful as going for a specialized high Rank power is another demonstration of the well designed and thought out parts of the Wraith: The Oblivion Game. A regret for Mark is going to be that he has not found a talent to impact the Skinlands like other Wraiths, but that is something he will have to come to terms with if he wants to let things truly go.
We now turn to Passions and Fetters for our Wraith. Mark has as his core a pure, but nearly quixotic Love. One of his main passions is to Clean the Springfield water basin after he saw how much ripple effect it could have for the whole community. It is larger than him and nearly impossible but something he strove for in life and as an unfinished business kept him here in death. The darker side is the Anger which drives him to Punish and Poison the Corrupt Leaders who let the water and world get so dirty that it chokes its own people. His Generosity lays claim to a third strong Fetter but that is to Lead the Next Generation. He lived through World War II and has a strong Never Again streak about him. Even in the Death, he is trying to keep another war from breaking out as he saw it bring only pain and suffering.
For a Rank 1 Fetter, Mark still is drawn to the Soldier’s Medal he was awarded in World War II for bravery and selflessness but which also represents for him the highest standards and ideals that the country aspires to – his idealism given form. A Rank 2 Fetter is his actual Grandson. Because mark had only had limited time with his Grandson, the strength of the bond is more limited but the hope for the future is something that he strives for. His Rank 3 Fetter is a Park bench, bu more than being any Park Bench, it is the place he spent every Sunday with his wife, and the place she spoke her last words to him. More than the pigeons in the park, the space was a constant and anchor across the years and decades for him. Finally, the River Basin itself ties Mark to the realm of the living. He spent his years fighting for the environment and he still fights on even after death. The river basin maintained and didn’t age in a way that his friends didn’t.
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. Because of the 3 Ranks in Memoriam, Mark has an additional 3 Ranks of Pathos to begin. And we then turn 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. I know that I want to give Mark a Heretical Boon (2) and Reputation (2) in certain Heretical Cults even as a member of the Hierarchy. That is 4 Points of Freebies spent right off the bat. Next, I know that Dexterity is part of the roll for the Enshroud power in Argos, so 5 points will buy a Dexterity of 3 to be a bit better at that part of his life. With 6 points left, I start taking a look at some of the Flaws that may flesh our Mark a little bit and give him some extra Freebies. None of them really fit for what I want for Mark, so I am going to concentrate on adding to his Backgrounds with the remaining 6 points. I add an extra Rank to Legacy & Memoriam but then add 2 Ranks each for Contacts and Allies. He has expanded his web a bit and has that innate warmth from his 4 Charisma that makes everyone seem to accept him.
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 guides 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.
I think that The Teacher is a good Shadow for Mark. For all he tried to help others, his Shadow could manifest in a way that it is cataloging and pushing him through lessons and mistakes to leave behind all that was good. It is another Archetype out of the Wraith Players Guide which expanded on the Shadow Archetypes early on in the product line.
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 Mark was within statistical averages so that his Shadow begins with 3 Permanent Angst.
For Dark Passions, Mark’s Shadow leans heavily on Revenge to try to Poison Everyone! They wouldn’t listen in life and now he will show them when they finally see what he was railing against. Those 3 Ranks are not all of the Dark Passions, though, as Jealousy also drives his dark side to try to Ruin the Preservation Society he chaired in Life while Loneliness creates the desire to push everyone away and fade into a slow and solitary wasting.
That leaves 10 Freebie Points to spend. For the Thorn Shadow Familiar, I spend 5 Points because I want the Shadow to have a little dark frog or toad that is watching Mark at all times. With the remaining points, I give the Shadow 2 Temporary Angst to start with and increase the Jealousy Dark Passion to 3 Ranks.
Mark knew his time was coming close to an end. His breathing, while not labored, had grown steadily more difficult for him. It had been a full life and so he shouldn’t feel like this. He fought in a war, came home, raised a family, found his voice, fought for the greater good, and saw that life crest and diminish, his wife pass away into the arms of dementia, and his children begin their own lives. He saw the world get better, and worse, over the course of his life. Just how much better had he really made it? Let’s look at the numbers, shall we.
Mark knew that the new factory being greenlit by the City Council would undo half of his life’s work in the river basin. He knew that the public wasn’t listening to the Preservation Society’s message. For all you had the endowment grown, you didn’t work on messaging? I expected you would know better, Mark. His children, his grandchildren, would soon not be able to play in that basin … but his time to fight that fight was through,.
In the Necropolis, Mark is not an unknown factor. He quietly came across the shroud, was quietly reaped, and there were no argument that his soul belonged with the Ashen Lady’s Legion. Mark was shockingly awake … and angry. He could still move to save the Basin, to protect his grandchildren, and hear his wife’s voice again. You were wrong about that last one, weren’t you? What else did you fail to understand? She was left fulfilled – you were enough for her, why wasn’t she enough for you? Just like in life, Mark slipped into a routine, wherever he went. He was well liked and quickly found a way to smile and slap the disembodied backs of his fellow Legionnaires. Minister Smeck heard reports and took notice. Before long, Mark was visited by the Masked and Shrouded Minister of Intelligence of the Legion of Iron.
Mark’s talents at blending in and his unassuming appearance were assets to Smeck and the Ashen Lady. His selflessness was honed in war in the Skinlands and his decades of fighting for a greater identity. It was a natural fit as the Iron Legion is quietly and competently fighting against Oblivion. Or so it seems. Mark would keep his eyes and ears out looking for things to interest Smeck and entire Legion. Your reports might make their way to the Ashen Lady’s ears, you know – have you checked your comma splices?
He never lost hope, though. Odd for a Wraith, but perhaps that was why an Eidolon buttressed Mark against his Shadow’s predations. Even in the Supplicant Cult he found, he saw something worthwhile. They weren’t dangerous to the Hierarchy – they preached nothing more than to do no harm and let these weights pass off your corpus until this temporary waystation can be left behind. They taught that hope was not dead and that Transcendance was still a way to find peace. What does the Legion think of Heretical Cults, young man? While he has quietly informed Smeck of the increase in Heretical activity, he has neglected to pinpoint just where his friends are. He has even led Zebediah on hunting expeditions to try to find these Renegades or Heretics, or whatever the Anacreons found distasteful that day.
His friends and contacts in the Legions and the Heretics still answer when Mark calls. If he could put on a kettle of tea, he would for all of them. None of these Wraiths are too terribly bad. They just want to go about their Death and find some meaning beyond being torn betwixt Oblivion and Insanity. Master Quillen recognizes that as much as Marshal de la Coeur.
Now, Mark is watching even more, the Wraiths in this new Circle. He knows Zebediah, who is as upfront and unambiguous as they can be, but the Pardoner’s Society seems to hold more of Linda Mary’s devotion than the Legion, Declyn is a shifty young thing, and Patricia is constantly bristling with violent energy. Why are they together? Minister Smeck is asking that as often as you are asking yourself. Why don’t we tell him this was a mistake of the Lady of Fate and that all of them are just renegades waiting for the forges?
Mark Kilpatrick – Heretical Iron Legion SpyCharacter Sheet
Character Sheet from Mr. Gone’s Character Sheets. https://mrgone.rocksolidshells.com/