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This time through the Card Catalog, we are looking at Star Frontiers – the 1982 Space Opera and Science Fiction game from TSR that has never had the chance to meet it’s full potential. Despite rather streamlined rules for a 1982 game and a truly inspiring setting, Star Frontiers still is oft overlooked except by a fervent online fan base.   The first character we will look at building is the ship Captain Telinia Bodaz. If you have not yet read the overview of the system, please click HERE to take a quick look before we start the build process.

I am also going to advance all the Star Frontier characters with about 50XP to show how you can optimize your chances or enrich your character as built.  Where I use some House Rules, I will let you know and explain why I made that choice! The PDF fillable character sheets were found at Starfrontiers.info.

Design Notes

Unsurprisingly, the TSR game started with random Ability generation, but Star Frontiers rolls percentile dice that are then provided a standardized value instead of just what is on the dice.  For Captain Bodaz, I rolled 32; 64; 76; and 93 which results in starting scores as follows:

  • Strength/Stamina 40
  • Dexterity/Reaction Speed 50
  • Intuition/Logic 55
  • Personality/Leadership 65

As a Human, Captain Bodaz can add 5 to any single Ability, but not the entire pair, so I add that to her Personality Physical Ability as a way to reflect her natural friendly charisma and attractiveness versus any imperious or command style leading.  Next, you can trade up to 10 points between these pairs, so I will shift 10 points from Strength to Stamina to make her more resilient but not necessarily a physically strong character and also shift 5 points from her Logic to Intuition to focus more on her “guts” than her “analytics.  This results in the following statistics:

  • STR/STA 30/50
  • DEX/RS 50/50
  • INT/LOG 60/50
  • PER/LDR 70/65

As far as Special Abilities go, humans are remarkably adaptable but have no other innate species based abilities or weaknesses.  

Abilities are fairly limited to start, and while there are some ideas for expanded Skill versions of Star Frontiers, I will stick with the Alpha Strike & Knight Hawks version of skills.  The Captain’s Primary Skill Area is going to be Biosocial. That means that she will have a discount or reduced cost to buy skills and skill levels of the Biosocial Area’s Skills. For her two starting skills, the first is going to be Biosocial because she is the leader and this covers the range of communication, empathy, and social skills you want from a leader. For her second skill, I will go with Beam Weapons in the Military Group because she needs to have something to do in Combat.

This covers most of the character generation requirements because we have already decided that Captain Bodaz is female, I’ll make her right handed, and redhead leaving us with equipment to select … but since I’m giving her another 50 Experience Points, we will look at equipment and weapons in the Advancement section that follows.

Advancement Notes

The great simplicity of Star Frontiers is that there are only two places for a human to spend experience points – abilities and skills.  The Abilities can range up to 100 and are a simple 1 XP for 1 Point expenditure. Straightforward and because the skill checks are percentile based easy to understand what your investment nets you. Skills are bought per level, from 1 to a maximum of 6.   

In the Biosocial Skill Area, the Captain is going to increase her Psychosocial Ranking from 1 to 3 for 25 total XP.  Also, she picks up Rank 1 of the Medical Skill for a mere 5 XP. Also, she adds a single rank of Melee Weapons to use a stun baton and dabbles enough on a computer to pick up the Technical Skill Area skill of Computer at Level 1. The 6 XP to get the Melee Weapon Skill adds 10% to her chance to hit and makes it the best investment on her training for now, though she is still not a front line combatant. That leaves 6 XP.

For the Captain, it’s her Personality that matters the most and I am going to drop all 6 into her Personality to raise it to 76.  

Now I am going to look at equipment, weapons, and defenses … which I may not pay too much attention to the cost because it’s a lot more fun just to get them outfitted. Also, she has the ship under a Charter Letter with Streel Corp. that has secured their loan and employment just in case I forget to mention it later.  

With a Beam Weapon Skill, our intrepid Captain definitely has a Sonic Stunner pistol that can stun a target that doesn’t roll below their Stamina when hit.  Similarly, for heavier needs, she has a Laser Rifle on the G’lunk. Finally, a Stun Stick to try to shock and stun melee attackers sounds like a good plan. Her main weapons work around regular defenses by trying to stun opponents which can be very helpful if the defenses are not the appropriate match up.

For defenses, Star Frontiers provides two “slots” – a suit and a screen.  Each type chosen will shield the character from incoming damage of a particular type and eventually need repair or replacement. Captain Bodaz has a Skeinsuit which protects against inertia and physical attacks be they ranged or melee absorbing up to 50 points of damage before it is destroyed.  An Albedo Screen is a force field like defense that will absorb laser and beam attacks sapping power at a rate of 1 Standard Energy Unit per 5 points of damage.

A small assortment of fairly standard equipment follows! In fact, a Standard Equipment Pack is an item that is used to provide the basic adventuring gear one would expect. Additionally, the Medical skill means that the Capt. is also going to be handling some of the care and healing requirements so I grab a few items like a Medical Kit to round out her standard items.  There isn’t a line for her to have fancy clothes and other accouterments, so we will just take them as read.

Character Notes

The Bodaz family lived a rather fantastic life on the planet Yaert. While the UPF was representative, it didn’t require any of the member planets have a specific government.  This means that the neo-feudal system of Yaert left those at the top in power year over year and generation over generation.  Tenilia was born in the Duchy of Bodaz at the advent of the Second Sathar War and grew up as insulated as she could be from the ongoing war.  

Sadly, for the Bodaz, Telinia’s older siblings died in the war protecting the UPF form the slithering and sly Sathar.  It took some time for Telinia to realize that she had become the heir to the Duchy or more precisely what that meant. Her time in her teenage years was spent learning social systems and what was expected of her as a leader.  Her time in her teenage years bristled with rebellion.

When she was of legal age, and with the Second Sathar War well and truly years behind the UPF, she exercised her noble powers in the Duchy – she appointed a Seneschal and declared that she was taking a sabbatical for the next decade. She knew enough to know she had the power to take a ship, the G’lunk, with her and that she could find her own fortune and fame without the fancy trappings her parents had left her.  It didn’t take long to find a crew, or really the first true friends in her life. She hadn’t been given the opportunity to have equals as friends growing up – peers for sure, but with the attendant social requirements that meant. Kratog, Drichu, and Ghrilham were fast friends and she learned more from them in two short years than an entire decade of training. She wasn’t sure about Kevin, but Drichu convinced her that a strong arm and a clear mind would help

Her fortune and fame appeared to be on a majestic trajectory, until Frilkium. He G’lunk had been working on the fringes of the Corporate War retrieving expensive or unique equipment left behind, selling star charts to uncharted planets, and even some light corporate espionage to fill the coffers. Frilkium appeared to be an uncharted planet near the Frontier. It was rich with biological density and didn’t appear to have any intelligent inhabitants. What none of the G’lunk crew knew was that the Frillites had buried and reclaimed the last two corporate ships with their plants.

The Frillites sprung a trap, and Telinia watched with horror as the planet’s trees and vines dragged Ghrilham away to die and Kratog could barely get the G’lunk fired up. Kevin’s injury slowed him down and was slowing them down to the exfil site when Drichu gave in to his Battlerage. Telinia knew her friend wouldn’t come back and that she was losing someone else. She cried as they freed themselves from the green entanglement. The repairs to the G’lunk were extraordinary as the Frillites had been eating away as much of the ship as their vines could. Telinia could go home … Accept the money but also the responsibility of her family and title. Instead, she was not ready to give up her freedom just yet. A charter from Streel would float their repairs and give her time to plan the next stage of her career.

Telinia found new crew members to replace those she failed – though it is unproven whether their loyalties lie with Streel or her – and the Bodaz G’lunk flies again! Telinia has enjoyed the exploration and prospecting almost as much as she has been terrified of GODCo’s terraforming tech. As she looks forward, Telinia is also looking over her shoulder to Drichu’s memory and because she isn’t sure if she can trust her new crew with Sathars slithering about the Frontier space.

Capt. Tenilia Bodaz Character Sheet

Star Frontiers Setting and System Overview Here.

Star Frontiers © 1982 TSR Hobbies. All names and marks associated with Star Frontiers held by successors in interest to TSR Hobbies, Wizards of the Coast.  Wizards of the Coast, Star Frontier, and their logos are trademarks of Wizards of the Coast LLC in the United States and other countries. © Wizards. All Rights Reserved. Seize the GM is not affiliated with, endorsed, sponsored, or specifically approved by Wizards of the Coast LLC. No claim of ownership is intended or implied.  

Welcome back to card catalog where we continue with our 2018 look into science fiction games and setting! It was completely unintentional, but seems to be the recurring theme this year so we will just dive right in! Did you know that TSR made a science fiction game in the early 80s??  Not the zany and madcap Gamma World, but Star Frontiers? I remember the ads in old comic books well and it looked really cool! The eighth of the games developed by TSR over the years, it has a system wholly unlike what you may expect from a game that shares the legacy of Dungeons & Dragons … and a setting that if ripe for exploration and GM world building.  The last of the Supplements was released in 1985, in what was supposed to be book 1 of a three book revamp of the entire system. Generally, we’ll look at the Star Frontier – Alpha Manual for our rules with one or two little house rules along the way using the original rule set rather than the attempted switch over later in production to a set not dissimilar to the Marvel Super Heroes FASERIP style. That was introduced in the Zebulon’s Guide to the Frontier Volume I as the beginning of a revamp of the system and setting … that never quite finished.  Besides the Boxed Set called Alpha Strike, with its Larry Elmore cover, the Knight Hawks Supplement and Zebulon’s Guide to the Frontier Vol. I provide the vast majority of the rules and settings for Star Frontiers. Less than a dozen adventures were published, most of which are now available through Drive Thru RPG!

The game has a strong fan following and even TSR and Wizards of the Coast have acknowledged that.  A brief setting blurb in the 2004 d20 Modern Expansion provided the outline of the Frontier and put the main species into d20 stats but otherwise it’s maintenance has been the province of online fans. In the past year, Wizards of the Coast reasserted the overall rights to the trademarks after Evil Hat tried to get attention to take over the setting and publish new material which has paired back some of the fan developed work but maybe means that we will see new products developed for Star Frontiers soon.  I stumbled across several Star Frontiers fan websites that has been a labor of love for Star Frontiers and I heartily recommend checking them out, including the Starfrontiers.info site that had the fillable PDF character sheet.

System Overview

Star Frontier is a classless system in it’s original form.  Yes, a classless system but also a system that relies more heavily on attributes than skills. It is a rather innovative system especially for the era in which it was released and I expect you may see some of the derivatives of it to this day! The basic mechanic is a percentile dice roll with an attempt to get under the target number determined from the Ability and Skill combinations.  

Abilities come in four pairs – Strength/Stamina; Dexterity/Reaction; Intuition/Logic; and Personality/Leadership. One intriguing part of character development is that the attributes are linked in pairs so that Strength and Stamina begin with a shared roll as Abilities that are closely related to each other.  The scores range from 30 to 70 based on a percentile dice roll that is converted by chart to a score.

Once you have then selected your species, which are not what you might expect (though several would prove to be used in later TSR games with different names), you modify your abilities and add any specific powers of the race. Humans may modify one attribute in a pair by 5 while the other three player species each receive a zero sum set of modifiers usually as a +5 and -5.  Zebulon’s Guide added three more species to choose and another NPC option for flavor.

You now customize your attributes within the pair, so that you can trade up to 10 points between Abilities in each pair, such as between Personality and Leadership.

Skills are next – Star Frontiers begins with three Primary Skill Areas – Military, Technical, and Biosocial.  Each of these Skill Areas has a number of skills grouped beneath them – from 7 Military Skills to 3 in the other two Areas.  Military skills represent combat and military training ranging from unarmed combat through Demolitions, while Technical Skills are the mechanical and technical skills used in a tech driven society. Biosocial skills are how you deal with the surrounding races and environments.  In the Knight Hawks supplement, Spaceship skills were added – these were skills that were not part of a PSA but could be added to any character meeting the prerequisites … which were steep. Star Frontiers certainly left the piloting to the equivalent of Astronauts who were over 100 XP into a character and beyond starting character reaches.  For a House Rule, I am going to make Spaceship Skills a fourth Primary Skill Area with the XP Cost of the Biosocial Skills. This keeps them the most expensive of the skills but allows PCs to get to them.

Each Character chooses one PSA as their career focus and then selects 2 skills, one of which must be from the PSA chosen.  Skill levels range from 1 to 6 and represent a +10% bonus to the needed roll when using them. For example, the weapon skills chances to hit are all ½ Dexterity + skill level, so an average success chance with one Rank is 35%.  Rounded up Ability Roll to a 50 as a result with no modifications. Half of the 50 is 25% plus the Level 1 Skill to get to 35%.

Spend your starting credits, from 250-350 total, on equipment and gear and finish fleshing out your character.

Advancement with experience points, XP, could be used to increase Abilities on a 1 for 1 basis up to a maximum of 100.  This also applies to certain special abilities of the other player species, such as the Dralasites’ Lie Detection ability or the Yazirian’s Battle Rage. The other option is to purchase increases in Skills.  Military skills are the cheapest to purchase and increase, either because the designers valued combat in the game design or maybe because there were twice as many of them as the others, requiring 6 x Level in XP to purchase, while Technical are 8 x Level, and Biosocial 10 x Level.  You get to halve those numbers in your Primary Skill Area, so 3 x , 4 x, and 5 x respectively.

The Main Book goes through a number of rules specifics, as is the way of games in the early 1980s, that provide for how to handle different situations and the bonuses or penalties that come from it. Overall, you see a system that provides a great deal of flexibility by being Ability heavy and classless, but that is also an internally consistent system built around percentile dice.  For example, we have already noted that combat is built around the standard percentile test for Star Frontiers to attack. Damage is based on the weapon, as laid out in the equipment section, which is applied against the Stamina Ability score. It is a smart design move, compared to other TSR games, to use the same score for more than one thing and prevents additional complications! Defenses are based on the equipment that will reduce damage from different kinds of attacks, but usually will use up power cells when on.  Area of Effect and pure stunning weapons have Avoidance rolls that are set forth on page 28, but again it is an Ability Roll, either Stamina or Reaction, like every other roll in the game.

Zebulon’s Guide, which effectively began an unfinished Second Edition of the game made some radical shifts to the game play.  As noted above, it had a column shift style resolution system that seemed to go back to the Marvel FASERIP system that TSR had also worked on.  It also added more express classes. While the Primary Skill Areas could be seen as a form of Classes, since Abilities were more common, they didn’t feel as constrictive .  TSR tried to expand the possibilities of character creation and did that by adding 4 “Classes” with specific skill lists they could choose and by significantly expanding the skills available to create more differentiation in characters.  The combat system was also greatly changed, though whether it was improved is best left for the players who played both back to back. It lines up a bit more with the direction that other TSR games were going in the mid to late 1980s in design.  The addition of Mentalists is also indicative of the Psionic focus or craze from the mid 1980s which, while intriguing are not going to be a system I will go into for this Card Catalog.

Setting Overview

Star Frontiers starts with a straightforward fictional setting. The Frontier Sector originally showed 17 star systems, with a total of 23 colonized planets but another 21 star systems that hadn’t been explored.  Even the planets themselves were not fully explored leaving a great deal of leeway to any Referee to write their own adventures, worlds, and settings. The United Planetary Federation made up of the four United Races had formed in the wake of the First Sathar War.

In times past, humans, the ameoba-like Dralasites, nocturnal predator Yizarians, and insectoid Vrusk had not been united in the exploration of space and the star systems. It was the Sathar that we have to thank for bringing us all together – the worm or snake like Sathar and their expansionist but devious plans required the four races to unite to repel them.  It proved the beginning of a strong, but loosely organized alliance. Nothing in the UPF Charter changes how each planet governs itself, and they range from direct democracy to autocracy, so long as the taxes are collected to keep the Star Law Rangers and Spacefleet in good stead.

The past century has seen a rise of mega corporations that control entire planets and spread their commercial interests into far flung systems.  The Pan Galactic is the largest corporation in Frontier Space, and also the most powerful. This power leaves it under attack at all turns from its competitors and the new upstarts like Streel Corp., the Greater Vrusk Mutual Prosperity Institutions, and Interplanetary Industries.  Each of these mega corps offers charters and hires on ships full of the best and brightest of the Frontier to seek glory, and more importantly riches, for the company! These Charters are used as independent contractors to undertake prospecting, exploration, and other speculative activities as often as bolstering the corporate strengths. The pirates that raid the space lanes became more and more brazen even in the face of the Star Law Rangers.  The world was becoming busy and the UPF had dispatched it’s resources to face down the pirates and and stem off a potential corporate war.

Then the Sathar returned.  Their ships larger and in greater numbers.  Their cunning and ruthlessness was on full display in the Second Sathar War.  A full decade of warfare not only strengthened the opposition to the Sathar’s involvement in conquest of Frontier space, but also brought several more species into the UPF that had been part of the Rim for centuries – the quadrapedal and scaled Osakar; Ifshnits – herbivorous and independent hirsute humanoids; and the violent fatalistic warrior Humma.  We still don’t know where the Sathar come from. We still don’t know what motivates them to expand. What we do know is that they are intelligent, patient, and ferocious.

The Frontier Space had to face an extended Corporate War after the conclusion of the Second Sathar War.  As the UPF had spent many of its resources in repelling the invaders, it was not well set up to take additional authority and megacorporations saw opportunity in rebuilding across the UPF and Rim to turn a tidy profit.  The UPF had agreed to laws and compacts that prevented mergers and limited consolidation of companies after a certain size to prevent the Sathar from having a single supply chain target, but now that meant the new companies had grown large enough to get the attention of Pan Galactic and Streel. This hot war turned into a war of intelligence and sabotage as time went on and society truly rebuilt across the different planets ravaged by the Sathar.  In time, the Corporate War went cold as as the memory of the Sathar faded. Only to see Sathar biotech controlling potential assassins on the eve of the 111th Anniversary of the UPF Treaty. Star Frontiers is thus set on the precipice of the unknown – between tense governmental relations as the UPF abuts the Rim Worlds while a Corporate Cold War bubbles just below the surface and the twice beaten back invaders have shown a new and terrifying technology to use against the UPF.  You are part of this world, part of the Military, the Civil Service, or a Private Contractor who is seeking out not only the known worlds of the UPF & Rim but finding unexplored star systems and uncharted planets exploring the Future!

‘Bodaz G’lunk Chartered Ship

In Frontier Year 110, the Rim Coalition and the United Planetary Federation are still recovering from the Second Sathar War twenty years ago.  The victory over the Sathar was hard fought, and cost both dearly in the horrors of war. The Corporate War that followed has receded to a Cold War, and that is where the Streel Corporation finds itself.  The darling number 2 Megacorporation, rivaling Pan Galactic for breadth from shrewd real estate investments, is poised to upstage Pan Galactic in the 111 Grand Celebration of the UPF next year. Slowly absorbing competitors, the Streel Corporation’s heavy reliance on Dralasite, Yazirian, and Vrusk input has positioned it well to solidify its importance in the new Rim worlds that have opened up.

That is where the Chartered Ship, ‘Bodaz’ G’lunk comes in.  

Originally, the ‘Bodaz G’lunk wasn’t a chartered ship.  Captain Bodaz had her shot at fame and fortune striking out with her crew, and for a while it was a good time and good money.  It went sideways on a planet towards the Rim a few years ago, Frilkium. The planet hadn’t been tagged as having an intelligent native species, and the Corporate War had left these unnoticed natives rather nonplussed with the invaders from space.  When the Bodaz G’lunk came around, there wasn’t much they could do. The caught the fury and ire of the plant like Frillites that were facing the poisoning and exploitation of the planet by Corporations. They didn’t all make it out alive. Drichu sacrificed himself deep in his Rage to give the rest time to escape Frilkium. The irony is that as the Corporate War has gone cold, the only way to repair the ship and get back on her feat had Captain Bodaz sign a corporate charter.   

The ‘Bodaz’ G’lunk signed a charter with Streel and is being dispatched to complete survey and exploration tasks in the Rim – tasks geared towards expanding the ownership of new planets with an eye to agricultural supplies trying to block off the GODCo Terraforming of habitable, but less lucrative, worlds backed by the Cassidine Development Corp and the Capellan Free Merchants.  It is a heady time to explore – dangers abound, corporations wage a shadow war, and every corner could hide a Sathar agent fitted with biotechnology and spying for the ever feared invaders.

Captain Telinia Bodaz
Human Aristocratic Captain

Ever on the charming side of things, Captain Bodaz even got away with naming the ship after herself.  Why else would you have a ship of your own if it can’t carry your name? Sure, it made sense to follow the bleeding edge of the Corporate War and pick up the literal pieces.  Left behind tech, planets that were valuable but not lucrative, and the chance to ignore the UPF’s bickering after the Second Sathar War were great. Until that gigantic misstep on Frilkium.  It cost lives, including Drichu, and while the new crew members from Streel makeup for the loss of hands, it won’t make up for the loss of her Yazirian friend and confidant.

Kratog Gotark
Irreverent Dralasite Pilot

Yeah.  So, have you heard the one about the Human and the stick shift? No? That’s too bad.  You’ll hear it a dozen times over on the ‘Bodaz G’lunk as long as Kratog is the pilot.  The Dralisite lives up to the species reputation for bad puns and even worse jokes, but it is worth it when the ship gets where it needs to go.  Kratog comes from a long line of Dralisite pilots, but the problem is that Kratog knows this and is maybe a bit too sure of its skills. And the puns.  The puns just hurt.

Jorgein of Clan Abene
Ifshnit Exploratory Scientist

Streel Corp. “offered” Capt. Bodunk several potential crew members to make up for the loss of crew when they signed her Charter, and Jorgein impressed her.  Like many of Ifshnit, Jorgein is a warm and friendly soul. As he likes to say, Ifshnit just condense all the good in the tall races to a more handy and convenient package. An oddity for sure, in that Jorgein left the Capellan Free Merchants and signed on with Streel Corp.  Streel seems to trust him, but what had him leave his old life is a mystery that even V’orz Untisp has yet to know.

Streel V’orz Untisp
Vrusk Company Engineer

V’orz Untirk has been quietly and competently performing what was asked of her by the Greater Vrusk Mutual Prosperity Institution.  This bug grew up as part of a Company, and part of the greater whole that the V’rusk aspire to. Both a competent poet and an inspired engineer, V’orz Untisp exemplified the hard work and focus of the V’rusk as well as the aspirational parts of the V’rusk culture to be able to quietly collect art, sip tea, and remove themselves from the hustle and bustle.  This was not to happen, though. Streel Corp bought out the GVMPI, as companies are want to do, and the new Company not only found a home for V’orz, but promoted her until she began to chafe at the attention and rules. It was the perfect time for her to be sent by Streel Corp. to the ‘Bodaz G’lunk to get away from the strictures of the new Corporation’s Rules but also to ensure that the chartered investment in the G’lunk pays off.

Kevin O’Kilkirk
Human ex-Soldier Enforcer

The last member of the original crew left, Kevin O’Kilkirk started his life in the UPF Fleet, but in a nearly stereotypical fashion bristled at what the authority sought of him in training.  He made it through, but didn’t last long as found himself unceremoniously discharged. The UPF may have been down bodies, but he was a grunt not a pilot and when the Corporate War turned cold, they didn’t even want to take the chance on Kevin.  Drichu took the chance on him, convincing Capt. Telinia that he’d be a good pair of strong hands and sharp eyes. Drichu paid the price for that decision on Frilkium. Kevin is still haunted, having held him as the blood seeped from his body and across the extended patagia – he couldn’t keep his friend safe and his friend chose not to be safe to save him.  He’s still here, without any other real direction to go, but he has a weight on his shoulders he didn’t before.

Star Frontiers © 1982 TSR Hobbies. All names and marks associated with Star Frontiers held by successors in interest to TSR Hobbies, Wizards of the Coast.  Wizards of the Coast, Star Frontier, and their logos are trademarks of Wizards of the Coast LLC in the United States and other countries. © Wizards. All Rights Reserved. Seize the GM is not affiliated with, endorsed, sponsored, or specifically approved by Wizards of the Coast LLC. No claim of ownership is intended or implied.  

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.

Design Notes

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.

Shadow Notes

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.

Character Notes

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

Wraith: The Oblivion and the Springfield Fated Circle Overview Here.


Character Sheet from Mr. Gone’s Character Sheets. https://mrgone.rocksolidshells.com/


World of Darkness, Vampire: The Masquerade, Vampire: The Dark Ages, Werewolf: The Apocalypse, Mage: The Ascension, Wraith: The Oblivion, Changeling: The Dreaming, Hunter: The Reckoning, Demon: The Fallen, Mummy: The Resurrection, Orpheus, Exalted, Chronicles of Darkness, White Wolf, and their respective logos, icons and symbols are trademarks or registered trademarks of White Wolf Entertainment. ©2018 White Wolf Entertainment AB, Västgötagatan 5, SE-118 27 Stockholm, Sweden.  Seize the GM is a fan work and is not affiliated with White Wolf Entertainment. This work is made as criticism and review of the published work – no claim of ownership is intended or implied.  Please visit https://www.white-wolf.com/ or http://theonyxpath.com/category/worlds/classicworldofdarkness/ for more information.

Episode 64: How to Choose a System- Fantasy
Regular Shows

00:00 / 55:05

Main Topic

Say “RPG” and most people first go to Fantasy as the setting. The first major RPG was Dungeons & Dragons, and it’s descendants continue to this day drawing inspiration directly from and often in contrast to the D & D Ethos that started this hobby’s rise to prominence.


Consideration the First – Setting! Do you want to play a game or run a campaign in an established Fantasy setting? First and foremost, look to see whether there is a game that is already published in that setting.  It could, as we discuss further, be uniquely suited for its purpose. If you want to play in Middle Earth, do you use Middle Earth Role Playing System, or MERPS? The Forgotten Realms are the flagship setting for Dungeons & Dragons for the last 30 years while Golarion is Pathfinder’s home.  Want to visit Westeros? There is an ASOIAF Roleplaying game out there.


Consideration the Second – Campaign Flavor! We’ve talked about this in other contacts before, but are you looking for high fantasy? Gritty and ‘realistic’ adventures? Is this swashbuckling piracy or tactical wargames?  Each of these choices helps make your next set of decisions about choosing a game well suited to the campaign you want to run or your players want to play. Pathfinder and Fantasy HERO are games where the crunch takes the forefront and the precisely defined abilities of each character are fit into the world. In contrast, Dungeons & Dragons 5e is much more narrative in its design creating more fluidity or play in the joints to allow more swashbuckling style adventures.  


Consideration the Third – Player Familiarity! How much of your group knows this campaign setting or the system you are looking at?  Way back in Episode 38, we talked about how to introduce players to new games and it seems like a good time to revisit! It’s the old chestnut of communication – do your players want to play in a game set in a particular world? You may have a great idea and drive to run a campaign in Mythic Egypt where the players would be the catspaws [ha!] of Bast in her campaign against Apep, but if the players want to sail the ocean blue it could be a hard sell.


Consideration the Fourth – GM Familiarity! Do you know this game? This world? Does the system and setting appeal to you?  If you are not jazzed about it, your game will suffer and your players interest flag.


None of these present obstacles that cannot be overcome, but all should be considered.  When we did the 1 Archer, 3 Ways Card Catalog series, you could see how each system would diverge.  


Stat Blocks

Zendead-  Book of Pale Light

The tapestry begins to unfold and waver in the wind. It is a thin sheet of vellum long and wide. This is just the cover to the true evil within. What could be so evil? Catching a glimpse of the cover underneath the outer cover white like the fresh fallen snow. Once you catch the glimpse of the cover the runes and sigils of containment shimmer into being, just in the range of colors you are able to see.  

The book is nothing if not simple and elegant, at least until you crack the cover open. But the scrawling text and images cover every inch of the work. The more you read the harder it gets to stop. As you read more the words spark new ideas in your mind, but where to put these thoughts oh there is a small spot open in the margin. You start to fill it and the ideas grow and blossom like a cancer in your mind and need to get put down. Here in this spot, and this spot. The Ideas won’t stop coming. The open area on your arm could hold that idea and this diagram. Here let’s put this in the book.

The book slips closed as the last of the flesh goes in. Nothing maring its wonderfully clean cover. The dried husk with its hand twitching as the owner of the book slips in to retrieve it and take it back to the lost and dangerous book collection. Till once again it finds a new helper to add to the Book of Endless Flesh or the Book of Pale Light as it is called by those uninitiated.


nulloperations – The Wheel of Chance
It’s divided into eight sections, each one a separate but vibrant color. In the middle of each section is a circle the width of the segment. Regardless of distance from the wheel, the face of the closest eight humanoids will appear in these circles. The expression on these faces vary from wildly happy to suspicious, to fearful and enraged.
When in the presence of the wheel, humanoids will find a compulsion to spin the wheel. If multiple people are in the room, this compulsion seems to take a turn, one by one until each person has spun the wheel at least once. Alone, the spinning wheel does nothing beyond evoking this compulsion to spin it again and again in turns. Whoever’s turn it will not want to leave the room, and often the last person must be dragged out as they claw at every surface until they spin the wheel once more.
But if a token is added to the wheel, a sigil or marker to indicate a section for the wheel to land on, the wheel becomes active. Anyone who has spun and whose presence is still on the wheel will immediately seek out the face the sigil points toward and drag that person back, so they may spin. If they land on another’s face, then the cycle continues. A new player must spin. Again, and again, until someone lands on their own face. At that point, they’ve won, and the real game can begin.


Guard-a-Manger – Undreaming Sigil

Memories hold fast to the form they have fixed.  Every day, every place, every one sees something that is a fixed point of emotions and weight left in this world.  Every one of you passes by something that holds the power of hearts, the powers of dreams, and terror of fear every day.  

It was supposed to hold back the darkness.  The sigil and the shield was meant to keep us all safe.  Nobody could say just how … only that it was all we had left.  Nobody could say just what it was … only that is was what was left.  A time before, but one that we didn’t know. A time before that wasn’t recorded.  Why did we think that this would work?

Because the memories held fast in the glyph.  The memories were the way. It wasn’t until the very end, when the walls fell and the planet was lost, that the truth was apparent – we had to send out memories, hopes, and fears into the sigil’s pattern.  We had to hide from the world for thousands of years.

Now, we feel it.  The sigil is reformed in these buildings and these plants.  The glyph is being brought back … to free us? Or for you to join us in our repose?


Verdigris  noun ver·​di·​gris | \ˈvər-də-ˌgrēs, -ˌgris, -grəs also -ˌgrē


Definition of verdigris (Entry 1 of 2)
1a : a green or greenish-blue poisonous pigment resulting from the action of acetic acid on   copper and consisting of one or more basic copper acetates
  b : normal copper acetate Cu(C2H3O2)2·H2O
2 : a green or bluish deposit especially of copper carbonates formed on copper, brass, or bronze surfaces


History and Etymology for verdigris

Middle English vertegrese, borrowed from Anglo-French verdegrece, vert de Grece, literally, “green of Greece”

NOTE: The current form reflects French vert-de-gris, with the final syllable assimilated to gris “gray.”


First Known Use of verdigris

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a



Bottom 30% of words


Closing remarks

Zendead- Starfinder Corebook

Looking like a fun Sci-Fantasy interpretation of the Pathfinder ruleset. Check out Guard-a-manger’s look at this in the Card Catalog.


nulloperations – The Dragon Prince

Created by some of the main writers of Avatar: The Last Airbender. Fun, a little weird animation, and everyone is Sokka.


Remark 2: Get Your Flu Shot…


Guard-a-Manger- Magic Kingdom for Sale – SOLD

Terry Brooks novel starting the magic kingdom of Landover series and an excellent example of fantasy world building.  Bunion & Parsnip in particular.


Music is courtesy of The Enigma TNG you can find his music on YouTube or on Bandcamp


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Zendead- Email, Twitter, Facebook

Joules- Email, Twitter, Facebook

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Guard-a-manger- Email, Twitter


And Thanks to Merriam-Webster for our Lexicon segment

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Originally, I had conceived of this character as really stuck in the Skinlands and all of her Arcanoi revolving around that as a Proctor, or a Wraith particularly skilled with Embody.  When I was looking over my notes and rereading some of the Guildbook: Spooks, I realized that the Bully inside Patricia may be better suited to Outrage. She isn’t particularly tied into the Renegades or the Legion or the Guild but could end up going in any direction.  Or perhaps has a Mentor who is pushing her in a direction she hasn’t realized yet.

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.

Design Notes

Patricia Wilson is going to tie some things together first as a contemporary of Linda’s daughter, actually a bully, but also as someone who is still focused very much on the Skinlands and the Quick.  She, even more so than Declyn, has not yet turned her attention to the Shadowlands. Pushing into a death in the 1980s, I decided to go with a failed Savings & Loan Investment peddler but one that was nearly a stereotype of 1980s excess – shoulder pads, big hair, and all.  Patricia has benefitted from her privilege, and her inner Nature is that of a Follower – she isn’t very good at leading and honestly doesn’t want to. Similarly, she protects herself with a Demeanor of Traditionalist relying on how things have always been done to insulate herself from being responsible. For her Death, I choose suicide in the wake of the S & L Failures.  She needed to fail before she got to the Necropolis so that she can realize she should try again.

Despite being a white collar financial services or real estate professional in life, Patricia has Primary (7) Physical Attributes and Secondary (5) Social Attributes.  Her Mental Attributes are Tertiary(3). She spent a decade failing upward until she got caught too deep. I think Patricia has an older established sort of feel – hence the derivative name from Patrician – so she was heavily involved in Crew when alive resulting in her 4 Strength, 2 Dexterity, and 4 Stamina.  Similarly, her 3 Appearance and 3 Manipulation let her get away with a lot of things that her 2 Charisma wouldn’t have supported. She isn’t dumb, so a 3 Intelligence provides enough insight to support her background, but the 1 Perception shows her myopic tendencies and a 2 Wits is unremarkable.

Patricia will have Talents as Primary (13) Ability selection with Knowledges as Secondary (9) leaving Skills as Tertiary (5).  Patricia is very much someone who was a bully but also someone who got to the top in less than honorable way.s She starts out with 3 Ranks in Brawl and Subterfuge backed up by 2 Ranks each in Athletics and Intimidation.  A token amount of Alertness, Dodge, and Streetwise round out her Talents. While Declyn had 3 Ranks of Computer, Patricia has 3 Ranks of Bureaucracy because she was better at greasing wheels and knowing who could make something happen than actually doing it herself.  Her 2 Ranks of Investigation and passing familiarity with Computers, Enigmas, Politics, and Linguistics (Japanese) are all that’s left for her Knowledges. A single rank for Drive, Etiquette, Firearms, Leadership, and Performance finish out the Ability choices reflecting her broad but often shallow way she skated by life.   

In Backgrounds, we begin to really identify and differentiate our Wraiths.  This one of the harder parts for Patricia but I start with a single Rank of Status to give her something like her Privilege from life, but not enough to really lord it over any Wraith. Similarly, a single Rank of Legacy, Memoriam, and Haunt also marks her as a Wraith that doesn’t have anything truly special about her. I think, however, that 3 Ranks of Mentor begins to give us something interesting.  This is a Wraith who will provide leadership, guidance, and even a little bit of their own influence in Patricia’s favor but does this Mentor want for her?

Patricia is a dilettante in many ways where she is spread thin rather than focused.  Here, I know that I want to focus on Arcanoi that have an effect on the Skinlands. Declyn also showed similar tendencies, but his Inhabit focus limits him somewhat  We’ve mentioned Outrage before, but this is focusing the wraithly powers to impact, literally, the Skinlands and sometimes Wraithly targets as well. The Guild that used it the most, Spooks, were known for threatening, or bullying Wraiths over their Fetters.  Patricia can fully and effectively move things across the Shroud more than a mere whisper actually picking up heavy objects to drop when needed. She may not be an artist, but her desire to get back across the Shroud means that Phantasm is the second Arcanos to select with two Ranks here as well allowing her to not only see but alter the dreams of the Quick.  Since Declyn was already showing an inclination for Puppetry, to do to the Quick what he can do to devices, I am going to go with Embody – what I had originally thought of for Patricia. Embody is literally forcing your Wraithly form into the world of the living. A single Rank only means that she can whisper across the Shroud, but it is a start.

We now turn to Passions and Fetters for our Wraith.  After she took her own life, Patricia realized how angry she was.  One of her two main fetters if Crash the Mortgage Bubble (Revenge).  She sees the existing mortgage bubble and speculation as a reflection of her own failures and wants to see the banks take the same hit S & Ls did.  Her daughter, Kathryn deserves protection as well but Patricia has this at it’s core as Protect Kathryn (Pride). She sees her daughter as a way to build on her future in the Quick and showing that she did accomplish something. Her emotions are not straightforward because Save the Springfield Mission Center (Guilt) would look to be about protecting the less fortunate and those who lost their homes, but it isn’t for Compassion or Love, but for Guilt for causing some of the problems that underlie the Mission’s existence.  As I kept Patricia to three Passions, I will also keep her to three Fetters with the most important one being a Rank 4 Fetter to the actual S & L Building where she worked, she lived, she ignored Kathryn, and eventually she died. Despite not showing Kathryn enough love in life, she is a Rank 3 Fetter but as Kathryn heads towards middle age, she won’t be around forever. Finally, Patricia is one of those people who never left her youth behind and still clings to her identity as a college athlete – a Macon blade from Crew that still hangs in the college from when they won also still draws her to the Quick as a Rank 3 Fetter.

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. The Rank of Memoriam provides an additional starting Pathos for Patricia.  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. I like to use Freebie points to make a real impact on Arcanoi,especially because they are only 5 points compared to the supernatural advantages of other games where they were 7.  I will take Outrage to 3 Ranks to to let Patricia use the violent expression of Stonehand Fist to damage the Quick and the Dead alike. Since she is a violent character, I take her Brawl to 4 Ranks, but leave her Dodge at 2. She is going to need Linda Mary’s help quite often. There are 8 points left, and the potential for Flaws to increase that. Patricia didn’t learn her lesson in life, so the Overconfident (2pt) flaw seems apt. Similarly, her strong emotions make me think the Bright (4pt) Merit is a good one which provides for a stronger Skinlands presence making it harder for her to avoid ghost hunters.  I’ll finish spending the Freebie points by making Patricia quite stubborn – buying 3 more Ranks of Willpower.

Shadow Notes

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.

The Bully is the obvious choice for Patricia’s Shadow.  She was a bully and deserves the same to come from Oblivion after her.  This is an archetype that could be misused in play and often served as an example of being careful about not letting a player who was abusive have control of a  Shadow in play. We will move forward with that note in mind for future players – it is a game; abuse is not acceptable even if you are playing a Shadow in Wraith. Patricia’s Bully has to show that she is better, or stronger, than the other Wraiths around and that she isn’t going to back down.  This Bully will remind Patricia when she isn’t acting, when she isn’t being forceful, when she hasn’t taken control.

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 Patricia was very unlucky because of the 6 dice that I rolled, it resulted in 4 Permanent Angst to start.

Mirroring the Guilt in Patricia’s Psyche, the Shadow Passion of Destroy the Wilson Home (Guilt) is significant because her family kept their home when so many others lost theirs. It’s been even worse in the last few years as she saw the foreclosures again push people to the brink while Kathryn remained safe.  Her Anger also manifests in knowing the executives who didn’t die deserve to be brought over … and Moliated into Oboli or otherwise face themselves the same way she did. It isn’t revenge, but Anger that is motivating this Shadow.

That leaves 10 Freebie Points to spend.  First, I want to give her Shadow Infamy, which is the dark reflection of Memoriam.  There are still being who remember her name and her role in their family’s tragedies so 3 Ranks of it is a good start.  For one Freebie Point, I even up the Dark Passions so they are 4 each and then spend 2 points on Shadow Trait so the Shadow can buy a 5 Rank of Strength to bolster its use of Outrage.    

Character Notes

The numbers didn’t lie. Patricia was responsible for for a lot of families losing everything they had.  The Savings & Loans system was on the way out – everybody knew that in the 1980s but until the legislation passed, a lot of people made a lot of money taking advantage of the loose oversight and limited capitalization of these Thrift Institutions.  They didn’t have the will to do anything.  You just showed them what you could do.  

It started as a kid for Patricia – little Becky Johnson was her target.  Pulling her hair and pushing her down. It didn’t matter if she cried, Patricia liked that rush and feeling of power she got.  I’ve been with you the whole time. Without her Mom to answer her crying, Patricia just laughed at the poor girl.   In college, she didn’t get any better. Tall, strong, and with an athletic disposition, Patricia could bully men as well as women and her professors sometimes just let her pass so her temper, and her family’s money, wouldn’t cause problems.  The world of Finance seemed like a fun time in the late 1970s, and the rise of the “Me” Generation suited Patricia just fine.

She married, had a daughter, and went to work in banking and finance.  The cracks in the Savings & Loan Institutions were showing and Federal regulation was being discussed.  That didn’t stop Patricia from forging ahead and convincing S & Ls besides her own to invest in speculative land deals.  To put the money of hard working blue collar members into what can only be called a developers pipe dream. Raked in the money hand over fist! You showed all those boys laughing at you! Time spent at the office making money was time not spent with Kathryn.  Time not spent with life.

Until it crashed.  A lot of people lost their way.  A lot of people lost their houses.  A lot of families lost everything.

Patricia found her conscience that day. And her shame.  She jumped. She landed. Her caul was ripped off and Stygia was her new home. A normal Reaper hadn’t found her, but instead she was Reaped by Cynthia, just Cynthia.  Known as one of the older wraiths in the Necropolis, few understood why she was regarded well by the Hierarchy. Because she is a BOSS like you. But she took Patricia under her wings and led her to the Hierarchy.

Quietly working in the Legion, a clerk pushing the equivalent of paper; a nobody who blends in with the rest of the corpus of ghosts.  Away from them, though, Patricia reaches across the Shroud to see her daughter. She speaks to her in her dreams. She dreams of holding her one more time. And sees Kathryn doing the same things she did.  See’s the Granddaughter she never held bullied at school. She needs to toughen up if she wants to get ahead.

This Circle she has been pulled into, almost pushed by Cynthia, is like nothing she has seen before.  Here broad shoulders, not needing the shoulderpads from her blazer and teased hair set her apart from the less concerned members.  Zebediah already stood out as a hero, much as there are any in Death, while Linda Mary is Pardoner – everybody needs a Pardoner but does she know what Patricia did?  It’s time for Frank perhaps to help Patricia but is that what Fate had in store for them all?


Patricia Wilson – Forlorn Spook Character Sheet

Wraith: The Oblivion and the Springfield Fated Circle Overview Here.


Character Sheet from Mr. Gone’s Character Sheets. https://mrgone.rocksolidshells.com/


World of Darkness, Vampire: The Masquerade, Vampire: The Dark Ages, Werewolf: The Apocalypse, Mage: The Ascension, Wraith: The Oblivion, Changeling: The Dreaming, Hunter: The Reckoning, Demon: The Fallen, Mummy: The Resurrection, Orpheus, Exalted, Chronicles of Darkness, White Wolf, and their respective logos, icons and symbols are trademarks or registered trademarks of White Wolf Entertainment. ©2018 White Wolf Entertainment AB, Västgötagatan 5, SE-118 27 Stockholm, Sweden.  Seize the GM is a fan work and is not affiliated with White Wolf Entertainment. This work is made as criticism and review of the published work – no claim of ownership is intended or implied.  Please visit https://www.white-wolf.com/ or http://theonyxpath.com/category/worlds/classicworldofdarkness/ for more information.

In designing this Circle for the Card Catalog, I knew I needed a character to give a little insight into Renegades and a recently deceased character.  The Hierarchy may have come from a place that Charon thought was noble, but even his Shadow influenced him. The Hierarchy should always be a mixed bag of corruption but noble intent; a macrolevel reflection of the fight between the Psyche & Shadow.  In that vein, the Renegades are the iconoclastic rebellious wraiths who see the authoritarianism, soulforging, and corruption as a bigger problem than the bulwark against Oblivion Stygia claims to be. That isn’t to say that Renegade bands aren’t also potentially flawed or subverted by Spectres.  Declyn is a character built around the populism of the U.S. political movements and the discontent seen across the entire spectrum with existing political structures. He is primed to be a Renegade.

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.

Design Notes

Declyn is recently Dead.  He only has a few years under his Death and has been startlingly well received since then.  I focus on a “Hactivist” type because it also lets me play with a few other parts of the Wraith game.  Specifically, since Linda is our entry into the Guild culture and world, Declyn is a way to look at the Renegades.  As a Hactivist, he also shows a reason to focus on the Inhabit Arcanos below. His Nature is Critic – at his core, Declyn is about finding holes and flaws in the world around him.  His Demeanor is Bravo. In Death, as in Life, Declyn would show off and puff himself up as a way to preemptively shield himself. His Death is one of Mystery – He doesn’t recall his death and the Coroner says Natural Causes, but neither the Skeletal nor Grim Legion appeared interested in claiming him.  He belongs to the Legion of Paupers.

Unsuprisingly, Declyn has his Mental attributes as Primary (7), but it is his Physical Attributes as Secondary (5) leaving Social Attributes as Tertiary (3).  I know last week Linda was also a Primary Mental character, but Zeb was Primary Physical so I’ll roll with it. I will focus Declyn on raw Intellect so a 3 Perception, 4 Intelligence, and 3 Wits gives him a broad utility.  For his Physical Attributes, I go with a 3 Strength, 3 Dexterity, and 2 Stamina. I am leaning a little into the stereotypical hacker with the low Stamina, but I like him as a wiry and flexible guy over a tough guy. Finally, he wasn’t that great a people person but he could get his way: 1 Charisma, 3 Manipulation, and a 2 Appearance.   

Knowledges will definitely be Primary (13) and a similar method as the Attributes for Talents to be Secondary (9) and Skills as Tertiary (5). Three Ranks of Computer is a given, but add to that 3 Ranks of Politics and Investigation.  I will round that out with a single Rank in Bureaucracy (so he understand the Politics or reasoning behind certain things but doesn’t understand how to work within the system to affect change), Enigmas, Law, and Occult. For the Talents, I spread 2 Ranks each to Athletics, Brawl, and Dodge because I want him to be a little bit scrappy.  A single Rank each of Alertness, Intimidation, and Streetwise rounds out his life pretty well. For his Skills, 2 Ranks of Firearms and one each of Etiquette, Repair, and Stealth. I was tempted to give him more Repair, but I like him less attached to his gear.

In Backgrounds, we begin to really identify and differentiate our Wraiths.  I start with two Ranks of Notoriety – as a new Wraith who is exceptional with Computers, he is going to set himself apart very quickly amongst these restless dead.  Status (Renegades) is going to provide the reflection of his actions on behalf of the Renegades under the nose of the Hierarchy! Needing a place of his own to hide, 2 Ranks of Haunt helps and then a single rank of Relic.  

Similar to Linda, I’m going to load Declyn up for his primary Arcanos – Inhabit! Inhabit allows Declyn to … well Inhabit inanimate objects and in the modern age is geared very much towards the computer age! There are older version of the Art which predate this but it is what matters to the newly dead! Declyn will be able to disrupt an electronic device by passing through it, transmit himself across the SKinlands by riding along the telephone and internet connections of the world, and even take control of machines from across the Shroud! His closeness to the SKinlands leads me to finish his Arcanoi out with Outrage and Puppetry at one Rank each! He can only barely move items in the Skinlands through Outrage, but he is able to reach across the Shroud there as well! Puppetry is the Ghostly Art of possession and he has begun to explore that!  

We now turn to Passions and Fetters for our Wraith.  Having grown up a little guy and then having found meaning in his life fighting against a corrupt system, I am going to start with a Passion to Fight Injustice against the LIttle Man (Pride) at 4 Ranks from his background and his own fights.  Similarly, he took something from his life and has transitioned it in Death to Topple This Corrupt Regime (Anger) at 4 Ranks. Not only did a Corrupt System win when he died, but he was thrust into the middle of another Corrupt System. Finally, his last Passion is 2 Ranks of Find a Place to Belong (Love).  He may be well recognized and garnering acclaim and attention while Dead, but he doesn’t really fit in with the Renegades. Maybe he should be part of this system, corruption and all. For Fetters, and because I want Declyn to have some very insecure Fetters, I start with a Rank 3 Battered Laptop. This is something that may not last much longer with planned obsolescence and it could get thrown into the dump at any moment.  How does he protect it? From his political hactivist background, a Book called the “Neo-Anarchists Guide to Super Delegates” anchors him to the Skinlands reflecting where some of his anger and his passions were focused during the end of his life. A 2 Rank Fetter that is the Polaroid of his Parents matches up with the 2 Rank Fetter of the Row House where he grew up.

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.  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. I am going to raise Declyn’s Inhabit to 4.  Remember that in Wraith 5 is the maximum rank for an Arcanos and no books ever published greater rankings marking Declyn as truly exceptional to have a Rank 4 this young in Death. Similarly, I raise his Computers to 4 Ranks and pick up a Computer Aptitude Merit. That puts Declyn at 8 Points spent so far. I think I will add to his dissonance by giving him 2 Ranks of Status in the Paupers Legion further embedding him in the Corrupt System in front of him. A quick scan through the Renegades book doesn’t reveal any Renegade specific merits or flaws, so with 10 Points spent, and no Flaws yet, I turn back to Declyn’s sheet.  

Flipping back through the Wraith Players Guide, I decide that Echoes of the Past for a full 3 Point Flaw fits Declyn.  All his Arcanoi are about interacting with the Skinlands and he hasn’t let go yet so the idea that things are noticeable in his Haunt when he is there fits. I then add three more Ranks to his Willpower, as a stubborn and scrappy Wraith and put his POlitics Ability at 4 as well.  

Shadow Notes

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.

Declyn has been searching for acceptance, both at a macro level evidenced by his life and death, and the micro level shown by how he clings to his childhood in his Fetters.  The Parent is the appropriate Shadow for him. The Parent will accept Declyn and try to protect him reminding him that it’s love is unconditional no matter how many faults he has.

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 Declyn was lucky because of the slightly below average 2 Permanent Angst to start.

The Shadow Passions for Declyn play into both The Parent’s own nature and the other themes Delcyn has thus far – first his Shadow pushes Declyn to Leave the Fight to Someone Else out of Sadness and almost Hopelessness with 3 Ranks.  Similarly, for comfort Declyn’s Jealousy feeds the Passion to Buy in and Reap the System’s Rewards at 4 Ranks. Abandoning what he strove to fight for, or even buying in to a system he claimed to hate would take him closer to Oblivion … and perhaps being a Renegade is a system no better than the Hierarchy.

That leaves 10 Freebie Points to spend and with that below average Angst roll, I am going to dump them all into raising the Permanent Angst to 4.    


Character Notes

Nobody ‘blogs’ any more, but this is the only way I can record what I know.  This computer is all I can reach from where I am. That’s okay, dear.  I am sure that this will be just fine even if you can’t find a better place to write.  My name is Declyn and I am Dead.  

I don’t know what killed me – natural causes but what does that mean when you are young and reasonably healthy? There there.  I can help you find out what happened.  That is just the start of the real story.  Growing up in a row house, my parents being taken away when I was 10, all I have left is a polaroid You have me too Declyn.  Never forget that I won’t leave you no matter what you do. I was good … am still good with computers.  I can still reach them even being a ghost, or wraith, or whatever I am.  It didn’t take too long for me to see that the world had lost it’s way. At the least, our country had! Corrupt politicians who couldn’t hear what someone like me or like you needed were making all the choices.  And you just had to do something, didn’t you? I am still here, even though you couldn’t make a difference. I got caught up in the moment and the anger.  

Now I’m Dead.  I don’t know why. And the systems here are even more Corrupt Dead than alive! You just had to do something, didn’t you?  You didn’t learn your lesson when alive? A Hierarchy with Legions of the Dead tries to put their fascist stamp over everything. They enslave Dead who can’t speak for themselves, hammer them into this soulstuff that becomes part of their cities.  Centuries dead ‘Anacreons’ lord over a City while Deathlords in Stygia can’t bring themselves to even care about those of us down here! It’ll be alright, Declyn.  Let me take care of you.

The Pauper Legion, the Hierarchy faction that claimed me, loved that I could hop into a computer and do things like this.  The Hierarchy’s own law, the Dictum Mortuum, forbidding Ghosts from coming here to the Living was ignored by those with power…. Just like the living world. I do enough for them that they don’t ask.  I found Wraiths like me, Wraiths like you! You found some little friends? I am so proud of you! These are the Renegades of the the Dead. People who know that Freedom is how we fight Oblivion. Oblivion? Yeah. There is this entropic force of death and doom slowly creeping into the Dead and we are all trying to stop it.  Stygia started as something to protect Wraiths against it … but power corrupts.

I’m deep cover for the Renegade Band, a gang of Wraiths trying to undercut the Empire that controls these Shadowlands. They know me as D-l33t. Probably too close for comfort but it’sll do.  You never were the brightest, were you? The Legion looks the other way because I help them play their games in the Skinlands.  Anacreon Lorenzi has a strange look he gives me at times, but he’s a nearly 100 year old Ghost of an Italian immigrant. What does he know? You really don’t see it do you?

The Pardoner, Linda, she seems to be a good one but that’s something I didn’t tell you.  We all have a dark side pulling us towards Oblivion. Pardoners are ghosts like Linda who help keep that side at bay … but it means they know what’s in your soul. I don’t know if she sees the masked face of Ovid, the Renegade head here when she Castigates me.  Taking a page from the Deathlords hiding their face behind masks, Ovid has been more than one Ghost, I can tell. I know he’s planning something big, but I don’t know what yet. They’ll tell you if you are needed.

I don’t know what the Fates are up to, but this Circle I’ve been forced into is a powderkeg.  Linda knows too many of our secrets, Zeb’s a Hierarchy stooge who just wants to cut loose, Patricia can’t keep her own story straight, and Frank should have been one of us.  You can’t convince him? Oh well.  Your talents can’t be for everything. I’ll see where this goes, and get across the Shroud to type this out … don’t forget to read this. And share it.



Declyn – Renegade Artificer Activist Character Sheet

Wraith: The Oblivion and the Springfield Fated Circle Overview Here.


Character Sheet from Mr. Gone’s Character Sheets. https://mrgone.rocksolidshells.com/


World of Darkness, Vampire: The Masquerade, Vampire: The Dark Ages, Werewolf: The Apocalypse, Mage: The Ascension, Wraith: The Oblivion, Changeling: The Dreaming, Hunter: The Reckoning, Demon: The Fallen, Mummy: The Resurrection, Orpheus, Exalted, Chronicles of Darkness, White Wolf, and their respective logos, icons and symbols are trademarks or registered trademarks of White Wolf Entertainment. ©2018 White Wolf Entertainment AB, Västgötagatan 5, SE-118 27 Stockholm, Sweden.  Seize the GM is a fan work and is not affiliated with White Wolf Entertainment. This work is made as criticism and review of the published work – no claim of ownership is intended or implied.  Please visit https://www.white-wolf.com/ or http://theonyxpath.com/category/worlds/classicworldofdarkness/ for more information.

Episode 63: Horror Themes in Other Games
Regular Shows

00:00 / 56:48

Main Topic

How to incorporate Horror Themes into other non-Horror games?


Fantasy – Resource Restriction and isolation are strong ways to introduce the element of horror to a Fantasy Game.  You may want to reference Episode 61 about house rules, but when a Fantasy setting character is trapped away from their usual resources, and can’t just Teleport away, horror themes are simple to add.  Being stalked by a creature that is well suited to the island environment, while you are trying to keep up with enough food & water becomes frightening.


Super Heroes – There are a lot of Super-Mages in superheroic settings, and the obvious horror introduction can come through Magic, especially if it is a setting where the Magic is unknown and unknowable.  Mechanically, powers that “break the rules” are useful for these sorts of Cthonic horrors. In HERO system Parlance, Transforms and AVLDs that bypass normal defenses with awkward special effects or Psionic based powers in Heroes Unlimited can be used to frighten players when their normal defenses can’t be used.  


Sci-Fi – Sci-Fi tropes include the sort of body horror that comes from nanite based body snatchers and the loss of humanity.  2001 is one excellent example of how to incorporate horror into Sci-Fi in a subtle way while Event Horizon ends up quite the opposite. The inhumanity of the AI Alice in the Resident Evil movies is a way to use parts of the Sci-Fi Horror entries and the human frailty in the Espionage genre.


Espionage – The horror themes that flow from low grade cults and humanity’s own failing can easily be used in an Espionage or other modern game.  Scientists that go too far, cults that have corrupted a local town’s leadership, the banality of bureaucratic evil can all create horrifying stories and themes.


Stat Blocks

Zendead- Dead in the Water

It’s a deep feeling of dread that takes over you.  The rolling and dank cloud of mist and fog envelops you and your entire ship.  It is a feeling you have not felt before as every breath you take, each breath of life that you draw in, sucks your life force back out.  You are Dead in the Water as the very hunger of the sea claims your life.

It’s been around for so long that the maps will even track the patterns of this bank of fog’s movement’ they are sold in every port.  It’s very existence is known and feared. It’s origin, though, is lost in time. Lost to the depths of the very tears that make up the sea.  Only a great sadness and loss can fill the basin of the world, and only your sacrifice on the waves will ever bring that sacrifice to a close.


Joules- Akasha

Ashaka.  The name spoke barely above a whisper.  Her name is synonymous with oblivion.

Ashaka the cold. Ashaka the primordial. Ashaka the unmaker.


No one knows her true origins.  There are rumors she was once a sublime dancer and warrior whose hypnotic movements would immobilize a target before she took his head.  Others say she is a rogue goddess. Banished from paradise because the Old Gods feared her. No one knows for sure. But it is said, in hushed tones, that she turned her own power on her past.  Obliterating it. Thus severing any ties to the world of men and the realms of gods. Erasing all of her prior existence. Removing her thread of fate from the fabric of the world.


And this is why she is feared.


For what is it that defines a god?  What is it that makes us human?

The lives we live.  The deeds we do. It is the past that shapes the future.


Akasha is has none of this. Her memories unmade, her past nonexistent.  She has never experienced existence. And thus cannot understand it. Therefore it has no value.  She sees all of history, all memory as extraneous. For a life lived can be weighty. The past can be a heavy burden.  Memories can suffocate a man.


So out of a strange sense of benevolence she seeks to ease our burden.  Eliminate our history. Leaving us to drift aimlessly through a universe in which we never existed.


Guard-a-Manger – BYTE_M3_F@NB0Y.CSV

Great.  Another spreadsheet in the old email.  Another excuse to make charts and tables for some meeting you’ll never be invited to attend.  Another chance to actually dig into the bits and pieces of the job but never get the credit.

But this is different.  Somebody has a sense of humor with “Bite Me Fanboy” as the File Name.  You don’t think about it. It’s from Chad down in Accounts Receivable, so you know it ought to be fine.  Maybe he got his girlfriend to put it together for him and he hasn’t even realized that the name is a bit of a joke at his expense.  You open it … and it seems empty. Until you notice a window quickly opening and closing almost too fast to see.

You call IT.  You made a simple mistake, sure, but everybody gets phished now and again these days.  At least you caught it, right? Right? Surprisingly, IT comes back with a clean bill of health.  They are sure the computer is clean and the system is fine. Weird. Even weirder is when Chad asks you help with a presentation … and do it with him to the middle management.

Things are going great. Chad is being friendly and the bosses like your work.  There is even a bank error in your favor where they pay you back for overcharging your account for the past two years.  Chad may have slipped up and gotten himself in hot water with HR, but you weren’t at the office that day. Luck has turned around for you.

Chad’s ex even came into your life.  Getting coffee one morning, she took a bit of trip and while you caught her, she spilled coffee on your jacket. She insisted on getting your number and paying for the dry cleaning.  How could you say no? She was … enticing. Long, black hair pulled tightly in a ponytail, like it was slicked to her head and those sparkling green eyes drew you in. A quick beer and a quick bite, and it starts to turn to something more.

Her love of water and swimming is almost as enticing as that slight accent she has … Greece when you finally ask her where she is from … as she pulls you close in the tidal pools if the beach



Liniment   noun lin·i·ment | \ˈli-nə-mənt


Definition of liniment
1: a liquid or semiliquid preparation that is applied to the skin as an anodyne or a counterirritant

2: a liquid that is rubbed on your skin to relieve pain or stiffness in your muscles


History and Etymology for liniment
Middle English, from Late Latin linimentum, from Latin linere to smear


First Known Use
15th century


Bottom 40% of words


Closing remarks

Zendead- Paul E. Cooley


   Get out and Vote if you are able to.


Joules- Ge Ge Ge no Kitaro


Guard-a-Manger- The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires (Hammer Films) – Crossing Martial Arts with Horror, Hammer Films teamed up with the legendary Shaw Brothers for this critical flop of a movie.


Music is courtesy of The Enigma TNG you can find his music on YouTube or on Bandcamp


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Show- Email, Twitter, Facebook

Zendead- Email, Twitter, Facebook

Joules- Email, Twitter, Facebook

Nulloperations-Email, Twitter, Facebook

Guard-a-manger- Email, Twitter


And Thanks to Merriam-Webster for our Lexicon segment

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Linda Mary Johnson, the reborn Pardoner, could be my favorite of the characters for this Circle of Wraiths.  One one hand, she is a subversion of existing tropes, but she also fills a distinct role in the Circle both as a Pardoner who can help Wraiths manage their Angst and as an connection to the still extant but nominally underground Guilds.  

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.

Design Notes

While Linda Mary Johnson, or just Linda for short, is going to have a good nearly 60 years of Death under her belt, I am not going with an Old Soul style background for her. I am looking more closely at the Pardoners Guild for Linda and the chance to see what different kinds of directions I can take the Castigate Arcanos. Pardoners are the confessors and psychoanlaysts of the Wraiths and their ability to help control and manage Shadows is why even know there is a knowing nod whenever a Wraith hangs out an Iron Lantern without saying they are a Guild member.  Linda’s Nature, then, needs to reflect in some way how she will fulfill that protective or caring role for other Wraiths. Because I don’t plan to use the actual castigation method of flailing for her Castigate, I go with the Follower Nature. She is many ways is happy helping others and never knew when alive or now dead how to move herself forward. Her Demeanor is similar, and is not a surprise for someone who was part of the 1960s U.S. culture – she presents herself as a Traditionalist and uses that as her shield.

She was a picture perfect stay at home PTA housewife and mother.  A housewife and mother who was growing bored but didn’t have long enough left to live to face that dear.  She died a violent death from a horrible car wreck and was claimed by the Grim Legion after much haggling.

Linda’s Primary (7) Attribute section will be Mental, followed by Social as Secondary (5), and Physical as Tertiary (3).  She never was very active even in Life. Her keen eye is best reflected with a 4 Perception and a 3 in both Intelligence and Wits.  She is more likely to have noticed something than to have figured it out on her own, though she is no intellectual slouch. She is, in my head, a bit of a Trophy wife and so her Social Attributes reflect that with a 3 in both Charisma and Appearance but only a 2 in Manipulation.  She was charming, warm, and a bit of a looker but not very good at tricking her way out of a traffic ticket. Physically, she was a dainty lady with only a 1 Strength and a 2 Dexterity, but raising a few kids left her with a 3 Stamina just trying to keep up with them.

For her Abilities, Skills will be Primary (13) with Talents as Secondary (9) and not a terribly schooled person so Tertiary (5) Knowledges. Obviously, with the description so far you won’t be surprised to see 3 ranks in Etiquette, but I am also going to put 3 Ranks in Crafts and Meditation.  Crafts for Linda covers the myriad household duties that were expected, such as the cleaning, the sewing (especially the sewing), and the decorating that came with being a housewife The Meditation isn’t something she knew she had learned so much as something she found when doing the housework. Her ability to reconnect with herself when she was able to shut out the outside world helped her get along as far as she did. Finally, 2 Ranks in Drive means she can drive a stick shift and the 2 Ranks in Leadership come from her time helming the Springfield High School PTA. In the Talents, 3 Ranks of Empathy is apparent but also will be helpful as a Pardoner as will her slowly growing attempts at being sly with 3 Ranks of Subterfuge.  A rank of Dodge and 2 of Expression round that out while a smattering of Politics (also from the PTA), Occult, and Enigmas are all her Knowledges hold.

For her Backgrounds, I start with Status (Pardoners) to reflect her full membership and acceptance into the Guild at 2 Ranks.  I also add 2 Ranks of Eidolon, which is the Wraith’s higher purpose that can help fight the Shadow, a 2 Point Relic Martini Set that is going to matter a great deal, and a single point of Haunt so she at least has a ghostly apartment to call her own for Castigation purposes.  

With the Pardoner background, I’ll start with three ranks of Castigate, but then a Rank each of Fatalism and Usury.  Pardoners use Castigate to quell and control the Shadow, in themselves and in other Wraiths! Linda not only can see what a Shadow is offering a Wraith, but with time and effort can strip Angst from a Wraith treading too close to that line.  Fatalism, primarily he domain of the Oracles and the Lady of Fate, is just a small bit of Linda’s abilities but still the Fatalism power to see the Deathmarks of other Wraiths marks her as an unusual Wraith herself. Where Castigate deals with the Shadow and it’s Angst, Usury can allow Corpus and Pathos to be used for different purposes.  Here, Linda can lend or steal Pathos from others. Linda very much is a caretaker in the making but one who has been touched with some terrible destiny it would seem.

We now turn to Passions and Fetters for our Wraith.  I have written Linda’s Passions fairly broadly. Because she has a bit of a dilettante background, I have given her some broad Passions that she could refine and change in play.  Linda is very much rooted in self discovery of herself after her death. I only put 3 Ranks in each of the following Passions – (Jealousy) Build a Legacy in the Land of the Dead; (Generosity) Inspire Excellence in your Circle; and (Self-Sacrifice) Bear your Friends Burdens.  She has only a single Rank in (Love) Comfort the Bullied Children. You can see how even negative emotions can be used in the Wraith: The Oblivion system to provide a dramatic impetus. Linda doesn’t necessarily come at this unlife she has from the best of places but she could be on her way there.  For Fetters, there is an almost cliche 3 Rank Fetter in her preserved wedding dress. It just carries so much of what she found herself defined as in life which is paired with where she started defining herself. A 3 Rank Fetter in her Annotated PTA Handbook is the flip side of the Dress where she created meaning versus where she was given meaning by society.  Similarly, the aging school cafeteria she helped get built provides a 2 Rank Fetter while the Ouija Board that opened her eyes to the possibility beyond death is a 2 Rank Fetter as well. There is a lot of danger for her moving forward as these are all things that could easily be destroyed in the Skinlands and she isn’t necessarily paying that much attention to them.

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.  I’m looking at some Freebies to spend on the Memoriam Background, so I will go ahead and add that 6th Rank of Pathos now that comes along with it.

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. First, I am going to raise Linda’s Charisma to 4 because several Castigate Arcanos use Charisma for the die pool.  Next, I will add a second Rank in Usury which will allow her to transfer her own Corpus to another Wraith to heal them. I add a rank of the aforementioned Memoriam Background which is her plaque in the cafeteria that thanks her for raising the money.That is only 11 points so far leaving me with 4 points plus any Flaws that make sense.   Digging into the Pardoner Guildbook, there are several traits that appeal to me including the alternate Arcanos art for rank 1 Castigate called Attunement which makes it easier to Castigate particular Shadows over the long term and the Storm Warning 1 Pt Merit. Using the Wraith: The Great War notes, by learning Attunement as the Alternate Art, the Basic Art may be picked up for a single Experience Point but I will go with 3 Points to start it as if it were the “Basic Abilities” that come before an first Rank.  Yes, Alternate Arts *can* be confusing, but just go with it for now. That’s another 4 points and is my total of 15. We need to turn to flaws to see if any jump out for Linda.

Flipping through the Wraith Players Guide, I am first drawn to Life Saver – a 3 Point Flaw that means Linda wouldn’t take a human’s life or send a Wraith to Oblivion.  Perhaps it’s her nurturing nature, or her chance to stare down Shadows with Castigate, but this one appeals to me. I am tempted to add Easily Sensed as well which is another 3 Point Flaw that causes more disturbing inthe Skinlands if Linda is ever present. Even dead and passed on, she still isn’t really accepted.  With these 6 Points, I will add a 4th Rank in Empathy, another Willpower Rank, and increase the rankings for both Haunt and Eidolon as backgrounds.

Shadow Notes

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.

For Linda, her Shadow is less blunt, and more critical perhaps in what you might see as a passive-aggressive manner.  The Rationalist is a perfect archetype for this slowly explaining and nonconfrontationally going through your every day.  

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 Linda’s Shadow has a slightly above average 3 Permanent Angst to start.

The Shadow Passions are also broad and more vaguely defined but this also allows the Shadow to meet them with the same facility as Linda’s Psyche. As a mirror of Linda’s attempts to care for others, her Shadow is focused on Getting Ahead at the Expense of Others (Jealousy).  This has the same core emotion of one of Linda’s Passions, but shows how it can be twisted into something that wants to betray the Pardoner’s oath. A similar emotion is Envy which implores the Shadow to Undercut Other’s Legacy.  These two obviously can feed each other but one is about trying to pull herself ahead while the other is only focused on bringing someone else down. Finally, a single Rank of Prepare the Children for a Tough Life (Love) is an abusive reflection of motherly love.

That leaves 10 Freebie Points to spend and I know one Thorn will be Bad Luck for 3 Points.  It is just too easy for her Shadow to undermine her because things went wrong, even if not her fault. I also think that I will keep the Shadow straightforward here – another Permanent point of Angst for 5 Points and starting off with 2 points of Temporary Angst to fuel things is a pretty good bulwark against this high Eidolon Pardoner.  


Character Notes

She was late getting home again and it ate at her.  She knew that Peter expected her home quickly after letting her go to the PTA meeting.  Strange, isn’t it? That he didn’t quibble with your evening outings?  He seems like he enjoyed having you out of the house.  It wouldn’t be long before Katherine was in High School and she had to make sure that the school district and the schools were going to take care of her.  Maybe running for school board would be something she could do?

It’s hard to see, late at night, her car scarcely keeping on the asphalt in the warm rain.  It’s hard to see, late in life, when everything seems to be spinning faster and faster.  You felt it then, didn’t you? It was Guilt.  Let us ask ourselves, however, what was it you were guilty over? She didn’t see the muscle car on the side street, but the driver saw her.  She was too caught up in her own mind and keeping her car on the road to hear the engine rev as he bore down on her.  

Linda woke up, even in death, from that dream.  She could recount the moments that ticked up to her death and her Reaping.  She didn’t know how confused the Reapers were when trying to find her Deathmarks … for who should claim her in the Hierarchy.  You were aimless in life, dear.  Why would Death have any more of a home for you? Eventually, ti was determined that there was Violence at Linda’s death, though she still doesn’t know why.

It was a nice service for her.  Her husband widower was there as were her two children.  Even her fellow PTA members showed up. It was a testament to a suburban white picket fence life … one that Linda had never really known what to do with. Get married, as an attractive young woman.  Her husband would bring in the money to support a family so all she had to do was keep the home and the kids. It was a simple life.  Yes.  Quite simple,  You do see where you were already slipping even then? Linda was bored.

Martini lunches with her neighbors and fellow housewives were something that she grew to love … and her leadership in the PTA became something that is remembered.  You were better at raising money for that cafeteria than cleaning the house, weren’t you? She even felt guilty coming home so late.  She felt guilty she couldn’t have stayed at the meeting longer.

Fate’s hand brought her to the Hierarchy, but more importantly it brought her to the Pardoner’s Society. Her fingers showed the beginnings of a black stain showing for all to see that she had a gift for Castigation. Perhaps we should look at what sort of darkness you touched in your life to come to your Death with that gift? Her inculcation to the Pardoners was complete when she was shown the truth that the Guilds still existed.  Her natural skill to forge a connection with the Relic Martini set she still clung to marked her early as destined for great things.  An Ablutionist, a Pardoner seeking to obliterate the Shadows in us all, her method did not lend itself to confessions or flayings. She made drinks.  And you talked. And you cried. And she refilled your glass. Her Iron Lantern hanging meant that she was ready to sit on the couches of her haunt and hear you and me out.   

Quietly doing her job for the Legions, overlooked by Anacreon Kidson who was newer to the Necropolis than she was, until her fated past was revived.  A bit uncomfortable – she knew Patricia was her daughter’s age and suspected there was more. Zeb had been to her before … professionally. Linda doesn’t know why she was chosen. And likely never will.


Linda Mary Johnson – Reborn Pardoner Character Sheet

Wraith: The Oblivion and the Springfield Fated Circle Overview Here.


Character Sheet from Mr. Gone’s Character Sheets. https://mrgone.rocksolidshells.com/


World of Darkness, Vampire: The Masquerade, Vampire: The Dark Ages, Werewolf: The Apocalypse, Mage: The Ascension, Wraith: The Oblivion, Changeling: The Dreaming, Hunter: The Reckoning, Demon: The Fallen, Mummy: The Resurrection, Orpheus, Exalted, Chronicles of Darkness, White Wolf, and their respective logos, icons and symbols are trademarks or registered trademarks of White Wolf Entertainment. ©2018 White Wolf Entertainment AB, Västgötagatan 5, SE-118 27 Stockholm, Sweden.  Seize the GM is a fan work and is not affiliated with White Wolf Entertainment. This work is made as criticism and review of the published work – no claim of ownership is intended or implied.  Please visit https://www.white-wolf.com/ or http://theonyxpath.com/category/worlds/classicworldofdarkness/ for more information.

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.

Design Notes

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.

Shadow Notes

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.


Character Notes

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/


World of Darkness, Vampire: The Masquerade, Vampire: The Dark Ages, Werewolf: The Apocalypse, Mage: The Ascension, Wraith: The Oblivion, Changeling: The Dreaming, Hunter: The Reckoning, Demon: The Fallen, Mummy: The Resurrection, Orpheus, Exalted, Chronicles of Darkness, White Wolf, and their respective logos, icons and symbols are trademarks or registered trademarks of White Wolf Entertainment. ©2018 White Wolf Entertainment AB, Västgötagatan 5, SE-118 27 Stockholm, Sweden.  Seize the GM is a fan work and is not affiliated with White Wolf Entertainment. This work is made as criticism and review of the published work – no claim of ownership is intended or implied.  Please visit https://www.white-wolf.com/ or http://theonyxpath.com/category/worlds/classicworldofdarkness/ for more information.

After our recent foray through Changeling: The Dreaming, I am going to extend our time in the 90s and the World of Darkness by looking at what is Zen’s favorite of the World of Darkness quintet – Wraith: The Oblivion

Wraith: The Oblivion was the fourth of the five World of Darkness core games put out by White Wolf Game Studio in the 90s which began with Vampire: The Masquerade. Wraith is one of the most tonally consistent and artistically cohesive of all the White Wolf lines and created a fervent fan base from its inception.  Despite this devoted fanbase, Wraith: The Oblivion was the first of the five core lines to fall and it closed up shop in a truly remarkable fashion – The last book of the game Ends of Empire pulled together unfinished plot threads in the metaplot that had been unraveling from the beginning, included long sought after answers about a key part of the setting, and acted as a splat book for one of the “Guilds”.  It went out with style. Like our discussion of Changeling, Onyx Path Publishing has put out a Wraith 20th Anniversary edition that you can buy, and the books that were once near impossible to get copies of are now available as Print of Demand options from Drive Thru. I expect that I will be picking that up with along with the Changeling 20th Anniversary.

Similar to Changeling, Wraith had some truly unique components at the time and also was not as wildly popular as the “Big Three” – Vampire, Werewolf, and Mage.  Wraith was one of the hardest games to run and make a character for with reasons we will explore and it’s decidedly bleak and fatalistic overtones may have been too much for the general fanbase.  It is a shame, because it is the best produced and most cohesive of the World of Darkness lines but it’s brevity could have something to do with it. Wraith: The Oblivion was a game that espoused desperation as opposed to hope – you began from a position of failure and in that frame of mind you are set against a complex social backdrop too often shorthanded by playing groups and running between the Skinlands, Deadlands, and deep in the Tempest like Stygia itself to find some way to keep going even though you have already lost.   


System Notes

If you just read our overview of Changeling: The Dreaming, you can skip ahead to the Arcanoi and Advantages section! As a refresher, if you don’t want to go reread my magnum opus of street fighter stables, the Storyteller System builds dice pools by combining a an Attribute with an Ability for a number of d10s.  In the first edition of the Storyteller System games, the target numbers were variable allowing a Storyteller to set the difficulty but in the Second Edition, White Wolf streamlined the system by setting a static target number and having Storytellers adjust how many successes were needed. Wraith, however, kept with dynamic target numbers through all three of their Core Books.  A ranking of 5 is considered the best a normal human could achieve in an attribute or an ability.

Before you reach your actual traits to score, the game asks you to consider your Nature & Demeanor.  Like Vampire and Werewolf, your character has a nature and a demeanor – these are aspects of your roleplaying and characterization.  The former is who you are inside and who you know yourself to be while the latter is how you tend to orient to the rest of the world or the face that you choose to show to the rest of us.  This is also where you make some initial choices that reflect your Wraithly self – Who were you when you were alive? How did you die? And what is the regret that kept you in this nether-state? How you died is a significant choice because the main setting of Stygia, the Dark Kingdom of Iron that encompasses the North American and European Underworlds, is divided into Legions based on how you died.  

There is one more question in this section, but we will take a look at it last ….

Attributes are divided into three categories, with three attributes in each.  Your physical Attributes encompass Strength, Dexterity, and Stamina while your Mental Attributes included Perception, Intelligence, and Wits.  The Social Attributes were Charisma, Manipulation, and Appearance. The OWOD Storyteller System games had a set of 10 Abilities in each of the three classifications of Abilities – Talents, Skills, and Knowledges.  The specific Abilities would change from game to game, as the core focus of the game may have different concerns but they could all be used together or imported between games easily. Because we just looked at Changeling, this is where I am going to point out that the different games had slightly different skill lists to reflect their different games. Additionally, you have a host of optional Abilities or Secondary Abilities you could enrich your game with if you so desired, which we are not going to use for Card Catalog.  

Each of the five OWOD Games differentiated the greatest in the Advantages Section.  This includes the Backgrounds, special powers, and virtues that changed from game to game.  Where a Vampire would have a Blood Pool and a measure of Humanity and a Changeling tracked both Glamour (imagination and inspiration) as well as Banality (the mundane day to day dreariness), Wraiths keep track of their Passions(What emotional intensities still motivate them) and their Fetters (which physical remembrances of their mortal life help tie them to the skinlands still) along with their Pathos (Emotional fuel that drives the Arcanoi and heals the Corpus of a Wraith).

The Passions and Fetters of a Wraith are in many ways the most definitive parts of the role playing character.  The Passions are the only things that can provide a way for the Wraith to continue in this balancing act of existence between remembrance and Oblivion. Something fuels the wraith and the emotional draw and power of these passions are what helps stave off falling into Oblivion and hastening it’s all consuming power.  

The Fetters are the ties that bind – literally they are what allows Wraiths to have a connection to their skinland life and represent a person, place, or thing of great importance to them. Losing your Fetters makes it harder if not eventually impossible to visit the Skinlands, or even the near shores of the underworld.  The great old wraiths of Stygia, the Deathlords themselves, have had all of their fetters destroyed over the passage of time, and some underhanded plot reasons and are therefore unable to leave the deeper Shadowlands and must remain in Stygia which is constantly surrounded by the Tempest which is the tangible representation of the emotions and passions that cordon off the .  

Similar to Vampiric Disciplines, Wraiths have Acanoi (S. Arcanos) to reflect their preternatural powers.  Each of the different Arcanoi could provided a different suite of powers that reflected the Wraith’s unnatural state such as Moliate’s ability to warp and form the Corpus of a Wraith into different shapes for good or ill or Keening which channels the banshee’s legendary powers.  From a design standpoint, the Arcanoi were well balanced against each other and had some really good power curves. It was advantageous to have them at each level, and it wasn’t always only the highest level that mattered. Wraith was a game that never showed what sort of abilities would come from going beyond the 5 Rank system, as opposed to Vampire’s extensive tracking of the powers of the elders. Arcanoi were also each tied to a historical Guild of Wraiths, that were supposedly banished and destroyed but still existed some more openly than others in Stygia.  And so, the Arcanoi also provide marks and possible allegiance with certain Guilds, though that is not nearly as certain as other OWOD game affiliations.

We’ve mentioned the Freebie Points before, and like Changeling, Wraith provided the Advantages at a different cost – Arcanoi were only 5 Freebie pointers per rank and also allowed characters to get the basic powers, a 0 rank rating effectively, in an Arcanos creating great flexibility. You have 15 Freebie points, but can increase that by taking up to 7 points worth of Flaws.


The Shadow

Finally we come to the most innovative part of the Wraith: The Oblivion Character – The Shadow. You were just trying to put this off, weren’t you? Scared about what would happen when you let me loose? What we have been describing is the Wraith’s Psyche – their main character and the part of them that is avoiding Oblivion and taking part in the continued existence.  Their is a flip side to this coin which is the Shadow embodying every petty, hurtful, and dangerous part of the character coaxing them towards Oblivion.  That’s not … okay, maybe that’s mostly true but the thing is that I am as much a part of you as this face you put out.  You don’t really want to teach these readers anything – you just want to show off and have them praise them. And now we need to make that Shadow to bedevil, harangue, and seduce your character from their path. Traditionally, you would make this Shadow with the help and input of another player at the table who is the Shadowguide – they will play your darker side so that some actual conflict can happen.  Admittedly, this is where some groups can go off the rails and a lot of trust and mature players are required to not abuse this relationship. Pshaw.  If you can’t handle the idea, why’d you even pick up a game called Oblivion?

First things first – you need to choose an Archetype for the Shadow. Just like the Nature and Demeanor of the Psyche have single word descriptors that encapsulate the ideas, so to are there Archetypes for a Shadow.  These range from the examples in the Core Rule Book like the Director’s quiet and organized whittling down of your power keeping track and cataloguing every mistake for later use to The Monster’s immediacy of vulgar outrage and even The Pusher’s friendly offers to help you through this time with just a little boost .. and she’s glad to help until you haven’t been appreciating her enough.  It’s not that bad.  There is a part of you that you hide from the world and yourself – I am just here to remind you that the Underworld and Oblivion could always see it.  And I’ll always be here with you, a part of you, as you.

A shadow then gets it’s own Angst rating.  The Same way that Pathos fuels a Wraith, or more properly a Psyche with it’s emotional energy that drives that Psyche forward, the Angst of a Shadow weighs them down and holds the “fear, pain, and alienation” of a Wraith. Angst is rated on a permanent and temporary scale, like other Virtues, but can have a Temporary Rating to exceed the permanent rating.  Importantly, when the Temporary Angst score hits 10, the Shadow can turn that into a new Permanent Angst point and when the Permanent rating becomes 10, they are no longer playable as a Spectre of Oblivion. More importantly, if the Temporary Angst of the Shadow exceeds the Psyche’s Willpower, the Shadow can roll to take over the Wraith. It’s a chance for me to show you that even your ‘friends’ don’t see a difference between the two of us.  They won’t even notice I’m the one in charge. They don’t really know you at all … only I do. That’s right.  The game was built to make you hand your character sheet over to your own worst aspects of the character.

Thankfully, Shadows have Thorns that they spend Angst on and don’t just sit around accumulating Angst to take over your sheet. Angst is a fluid system, and only the Shadowguide should know exactly where that rating is.  As certain Arcanoi provide Angst, the Shadow is always going to be fed.  It’s the way of the world, even the Underworld – humanity is a dark and wounded creature full of hatred and loathing.  I’ll never go hungry no matter how much you want to starve me. Dark Passions need to be created that act contrary to the Psyche’s Passions.  These are not always the opposite of the Passions, but they can also represent a desire to fail or push the Wraith closer to Oblivion.  These are the darker emotions and the destructive side of everyone given form.

A Shadow’s Freebie points are spent on Angst, Dark Passions (though never more Dark Passions than the Psyche has Passions), and the Thorns mentioned before.  Thorns are special powers and tricks the Shadow can do like Calling nearby Spectres to attack the Wraith, creating an Aura of Corruption around the Wraith, or even having a separate face when he Psyche is in a Harrowing.Hearing me in your head like this isn’t a thorn, though, that’s just how I show up from time to time because you need to be reminded – I’m your Shadow, or maybe that i am YOUR shadow.  


Setting Notes

Sitting underneath the world you and I know has been an Underworld, for as long as humans have died, some became Wraiths and failed to cross over or Transcend.  You have now become one such human, one such failed being, who holds too much left to leave it behind. You had your caul torn from you, the thinnest of membranes of Corpus that shielded you from the what you now call the Shadowlands and awoke as Enfant, dead but not gone. You found your real voice at the same time — Me!   

In the Shadowlands, you can see the living – The Quick if you will – and their world but with the eyes of decay and Oblivion because as a Wraith you are a step closer to Not Being, to Oblivion, and ever will it lap at your heels or send it’s spectres to trap you completely. In the Shadowlands, you see the world of the living but with it’s emotional impact – burned down buildings still stand tall and are as real to you as other Wraiths.  It is a hard thing to realize that the only things you can touch have either been emotionally invested or are a wraith, soul forged by an Artificer into something else. Even in Stygia, deeper in the Underworld safely set apart from the Skinland’s reflection of the Quick, there is little left to drive you forward. The Dark Kingdom of Iron, Stygia, was what bought you from that Reaper who pulled your Caul off. You are lucky that you had a generally helpful Reaper, and not one that was in a Harrowing or ready to melt you into soulforged goods.  You’ll see what a Harrowing is, soon enough. Don’t worry, every wraith faces down Oblivion and every Wraith’s Shadow takes over … eventually. You saw your first Necropolis – the dark twisted shadow of the Skinland’s buildings with the echoes of construction long gone.  A city for the dead befitting the title “Necropolis” – but you wouldn’t stay here. An Anacreon in the Legions of Stygia decided you should be processed in Great Stygia itself and you again were not allowed to rest.

On that journey, you saw the Tempest, the neverending tumult of memory and emotion that separates the Skinlands from the deeper Underworld, and the different Dark Kingdoms that populate the Underworld. You felt what Stygia was intended to repel and stave off – the pain and terror of the darkest sides of humanity and the yawning emptiness of Oblivion.  It called you at the same time.  Your very existence here is part of Oblivion and you carry a piece in your soul.  Hi, that’s me. We don’t have to make this too hard. We can just put things where they were meant to go. You saw too the reason the Heretics draw so many to them – the promise of Transcendence and the escape from this view.  If there is Oblivion, there must be something balancing it, right? Why would there be? Nothing in your life was fair, why would it be any different in your Death?  

In Stygia, you saw why the Renegades persist, opposing Stygia and the Deathlords – For all that Stygia began nobly and Charon guided it as best he could, the Stygia of today has fallen to backbiting and competition between the Deathlords as they claim their souls and jockey for position.  Stygia isn’t any safer than from Oblivion.  No matter what they tell you, those walls will only last so long when the next Great Maelstrom comes. The ability for power to corrupt becomes even stronger when Oblivion is at the door. Stygia may never have been perfect, but before Charon was sucked into a Nihil in the Maelstrom with the Malfean monster Gorool, it at least hewed to his best side to create order and safety for Wraiths in the face of Oblivion and the Maelstrom.

Yes, Wraiths not strong enough or with enough Passions were soulforged into oboli for currency and the raw stuff of the Dark Kingdom – Corpus was all there was.  Yes, these Thralls were put in a state of near slavery. But this stopped Oblivion from claiming them and prevented their being from adding to the Dark. Yes, the Heretics were outlawed and banished after cheating Stygian wraiths – in two ways according to Charon – by withholding the tax on relics they had acquired but more damningly by peddling hope of Far Shores that was a lie; by promising Transcendence and delivering only a trap for Oblivion. Who can say how true that was? Who can say hope should be sent out of the walls of the Dark Kingdom of Iron?

Yes, the GUilds that provided Wraiths training in Arcanoi are long since broken and outlawed.  The Legions can provide training and fulfil those duties. The Guilds sought to usurp power for themselves, or did they? Pardoners and their use of Castigate still have that Guild symbol of the Lantern and the forges are worked by Wraiths marked like the history says Artificers should… maybe things have not changed. A series of secret societies under the nose of and with the tacit approval of the powers that be?! Why would Stygia lie to you, a loyal member of the Hierarchy?

You were claimed by a Legion, according to the method of your death, and officially entered onto the rolls of the Hierarchy.  You returned to the Necropolis where you were first reaped … and felt the tug of your Fetters across the Shroud.  They survived and you didn’t but you could even the score. Stygia forbids interfering with The Quick and has outlawed travelling to the Skinlands … what would it hurt to see your husband one more time and pay him back but what would it hurt to see your husband one more time?


Necropolis Springfield

It has never been easy in the Shadowlands after the Veil cut off the Skinlands.  It was even worse when Stygia and the deeper Shadowlands were isolated by the Maelstrom.  Sure, the new world was great! It opened up new places for a Necropolis and a new base for Stygia to find souls to forge … to ward of Oblivion required the sacrifice of the soulstuff after all.   But the Anacreons of the Legions left in charge were more and more left to their own devices – Charon’s absence and the infighting of the Deathlords has left Stygia caring little for its colonies … so long as the corpus needed to forging is sent; so long as the tithe is met.

Recently, the local Springfield Anacreons needed to find a way to strike back. Renegade bands were becoming more and more brazen in their predations.  All in the name of Freedom from Stygia, Freedom for Oblivion if you ask the Hierarchy. This danger, these upstarts, necessitated looking the other way just a bit and paying more attention to the Skinlands than perhaps Stygia would prefer. The Springfield Anacreons took part in an experiment and found themselves creating a Circle of Wraiths where normally they would be formed naturally from Wraiths in the Shadowlands.

Each member was culled from the Legions rolls, some appearing exceptional and some appearing ordinary as far as a Wraith may go.  The Fates had smiled on these Wraiths, or at least a reading from a Delphic Oracle deemed that these five were bound to be together in one way or another.  Fatalism does work it’s way strangely it seems, though none of the Anacreons would admit to more than a cursory consultation with the Lady of Fate’s chosen representative.  

From the Gaunt Legion, Anacreon Hercule d’Avignon had to release Zebediah from his daily duties.  A Wraith that had survived over a Century and a half, Zebediah had weathered The Great War and the Fourth Maelstrom leaving him with more notoriety than he may like while chasing every experience he missed in life.  Linda Mary Johnson was no surprise, for she seems to have been touched by Fate all along – unfulfilled in her life as a mother and PTA Parent, Linda Mary has been given new purpose in her death as a Pardoner carrying others burdens for them.  Declyn has been touched a bit by radical political philosophy of the 21st Century, like Democracy. The Emerald Legion had been excited to see his deep connection to Inhabit but his inclusion in this Circle leaves many questions for other Wraiths.   Patricia hadn’t amounted to much. A victim of Despair having taken her own life in the wake of the Savings & Loan Scandals of the 1980s, her quiet role in the hierarchy of the Hierarchy belied her inability to leave the Skinlands behind. Finally, Mark was dispatched under the theoretical purview of the Iron Legion having died in his old age.  Seemingly like Patricia, he was a quiet clerk in the Ministry of Planning for the Iron Legion … all the while hiding his true position in the Ministry of Intelligence and his ongoing quest for Transcendence.

Skeletal Legion Pioneer and Old Soul

Zebediah never planned for any of this.  He had always been a little odd for his family and his time with a touch of the libertine about him.  He took to the frontier to explore as best he could and get away from Society’s mores and judging. It was here, where Springfield would come to be, that he made a life and a living … but never a life he found worth living.  When he crossed the shroud from a particularly virulent outbreak of the Chicken Pox, the Skeletal Legion put him to work quickly with his martial talents and physical gifts. Archery is all well and good, but Zeb’s eye with a Rifle set him apart. Zeb’s death has been marked by chasing out every sensation and emotion left to him in an attempt to make up for what he never did in life.  His passion and fiery defense of Stygia against The Smiling Lord’s insurrection during The Great War have left him known to this day in Springfield.

Linda Mary Johnson
Pardoner and Nominal Grim Legionnaire

Linda Mary Johnson came from a life you know today from it’s almost stereotypical nature.  Born on the cusp of World War II, she found a husband while at school, and became a stay at home Mom for their two precious children. Somewhat disaffected, her preference for Martinis distinguished her as she would always have a pitcher ready for visitors, and more so her work with the PTA.  She began to find that she could do more when she began working with the Springfield High PTA. She was making a real difference and getting a new cafeteria, auditorium, and gym building built through almost nothing but the force of her bake sales. Until the car wreck. Who was to blame isn’t something settled, and several Legions laid claim over her corpus until finally the Grim Legion was successful.  Since then, she has continued her turn to service in Death having found a knack for Castigate, and a full fledged Pardoner when she puts out her lantern.

Declyn D-L33T
Renegade Antiestablishment Artificer

What’s a political activist to do when he finds himself dead … and worse part that a machine as corrupt as the one in the Skinlands is laying claim to his soul? It isn’t really a surprise that Declyn is a Renegade, or that the Hierarchy was closing in on sufficient proof to soulforge him into Oboli – he railed against a corrupt system in life.  The Pauper’s Legion had given him a great deal of leeway as a sassy and smart Wraith skilled in Inhabit could further Anacreon Lorenzi plans in the Necropolis. He seems to have missed the warning signs and now, part of this Springfield Fated Circle, he is trying to conceal his true leanings.

Patricia Wilson
Homesick and forlorn Spook

Maybe the Oracle’s hands are beginning to be seen, as Patricia knew Linda’s daughter in school – she was Patricia’s favorite victim.  Ever a Bully, and never an exceptional student, Pat got involved in finance in the 1980s, and it took over her life. Always fit, and with a passion for crew, she was perfectly situated to just stumble through the Savings and Loan boom … and subsequent bust.  All her hairspray couldn’t keep her life together as she saw it crashing down. All she had sought, in the accolades and recognition, the money and the goods, were evaporating. She took her own life. In Death, she seemed to be even less than in life. Quietly working as a clerk for the Silent Legion.  Her lack of true abilities in Finance didn’t preclude the ability to push papers, and do the basic office politicking that every Necropolis has. And it keeps people from seeing her reaching back into the Skinlands. It keeps them from knowing she still sees her own children … thirty years later, they still remember her.      


Mark Kilpatrick
Iron Spy Hunting Transcendance

It’s a stereotype because it is true.  The old guy, the Iron Legion death just sitting there wishing he could feed some dead squirrels, is actually a spy for the Ministry of Intelligence.  Sometimes, not being done is a blessing as much as a curse, at least that is what Mark tries to hold on to. While life saw him as a successful Environmental Activist, helping as much as he could, in his Death he hadn’t finished what he set before him.  He saw World War II, and he found that he needed to change how people treated each other, and the planet. Instead, in his Death, his kind soul has maintained and he keeps pushing. The Skinlands still need fixing, as garbage keeps spewing, and The Shadowlands need fixing, as Oblivion persists.  The Iron Legion seems as good a place as any to push back against Oblivion which poisons the Deadlands.


World of Darkness, Vampire: The Masquerade, Vampire: The Dark Ages, Werewolf: The Apocalypse, Mage: The Ascension, Wraith: The Oblivion, Changeling: The Dreaming, Hunter: The Reckoning, Demon: The Fallen, Mummy: The Resurrection, Orpheus, Exalted, Chronicles of Darkness, White Wolf, and their respective logos, icons and symbols are trademarks or registered trademarks of White Wolf Entertainment. © held by White Wolf Entertainment AB, Västgötagatan 5, SE-118 27 Stockholm, Sweden.  Seize the GM is a fan work and is not affiliated with White Wolf Entertainment. This work is made as criticism and review of the published work – no claim of ownership is intended or implied.  Please visit https://www.white-wolf.com/ or http://theonyxpath.com/category/worlds/classicworldofdarkness/ for more information.