How to use wraiths in your Vampire: The Masquerade chronicle

2021-05-20

This month, we celebrated the long-awaited release of Wraith: The Oblivion – Afterlife, which marked a lot of “firsts” in the history of the World of Darkness setting. First Wraith: The Oblivion video game, first World of Darkness VR game – and with the help of Fast Travel Games, it turned out to be truly great. As we still gather positive reviews and testimonies from very scared, but satisfied players, we also observe more interest in Wraith setting in general. With that, and the recent release of Cults of the Blood Gods supplement which introduced the Hecata – very much tied to death and all things! – it might be the best time to consider acquainting your Kindred with the unknown. If you’re interested in bringing some of that Restless Dead spooky energy into your Vampire: The Masquerade roleplay, this article will serve you some inspiration.

If you’re completely new to the setting, Wraith: the Oblivion – Afterlife serves as a great introduction. Wraiths follow many archetypes of “ghosts”, and represent entities still bound to this world after death. They are tied to their Fetters – items, places or people they feel the most powerful connection to. With their many varied abilities, wraiths can act similar to poltergeists, materialize and communicate with mortals or Kindred, or even attack and deal damage if provoked.

Including wraiths in a Vampire: The Masquerade chronicle can provide additional, exciting conflicts in the story and affect its theme, adding more mystery and horror to the mix. Wraiths are almost as unknown and alien to Kindred as they are to mortals, and even in the eyes of supernatural creatures, dealing with the entities from the Shadowlands may bring a frightening experience. Wraiths support storylines focused on investigation, mystery-solving and relationships. You and your storyteller can find inspirations for that in seasons 2 and 3 of LA by Night!   

The most common ways of incorporating ghosts in Vampire: The Masquerade chronicles is to introduce them as antagonists or servants. At the point of character creation, if you’re interested in using wraiths in your character’s background, it’s good to think whether you aim to use them as a Flaw, a Merit, or maybe both! Either way provides great opportunities for the story unfolding. 

The Haunted Haven (V5 Corebook) flaw seems quite appealing in theory – after all, it doesn’t bother your character anywhere else, right? Unfortunately, your character still needs to daysleep somewhere, and having their own place haunted by a bothersome spirit poses both a security risk and a cause of more personal problems. What if the wraith is somehow related to the Kindred in question? Think of the ways wraiths can enhance the personal drama of your character, and share your ideas with your Storyteller – they will know best when to strike with the sudden ghostly appearance, sending chills down the spines of your whole Coterie.

Many options of wraith interaction open once you have a Hecata (Cults of the Blood Gods), or any other Oblivion user in your Coterie. Their discipline powers strongly tie them to the dead, even allowing the Coterie to cross the Shroud – a thin line in between a “regular” plane of existence (known in Wraith: The Oblivion setting as the “Skinlands”) and the Shadowlands, the realm where wraiths and spectres reside. Most Kindred do not have that power; instead, they summon ghosts here, and if they’re powerful enough – bend them to their will as supernatural servants. Those allies can be helpful both in completely non-harmful ways, like sharing information, supporting the Coterie in their investigations, or maybe keeping the strangers out of the Coterie’s haven – but they can also be used to strike your enemies directly. 

Wraiths can also possess a vampire character temporarily, with different outcomes that range from assuming total control over the Kindred’s body for a night or something less complete, like access to memories or physical enhancement.. For more rules and mechanics involving Oblivion and the dead, check Cults of the Blood Gods! 

You may think that only clan Hecata (or Lasombra) have an upper hand when it comes to dealing with wraiths, and the potential to interact with them more than others. As much as every Kindred can interact with ghosts in some way, either through the usage of Sense the Unseen ability of Auspex discipline or in other ways specific to a particular chronicle, Tremere need an honorary mention here as well. They can ward off a location to protect it from spirits – which turns amazingly useful to protect the bedroom of the Haunted Haven. Some Warlocks can gain a close connection to one particular wraith through the Descendant of Karl Schrekt loresheet (V5 Corebook)). Its four-dot merit allows Tremere to have a powerful wraith Ally, coming to their aid once per story. 

Interested in using wraiths more as allies than as enemies or neutral entities in your chronicle? Consider your Kindred Coterie to be the Gatekeepers – a new Coterie Type introduced in Cults of the Blood Gods. This group of vampires uses their connection with wraiths more often, even having a one dedicated wraith spy or servant. They do get Notorious flaw for their obvious dealings with dark entities, but it’s a low price to pay for their prestigious powers.

We hope this article inspired you to give your Vampire character connections to ghosts in ways that create opportunities for dramatic roleplaying! Get more inspiration from Wraith: The Oblivion – Afterlife, out on  Oculus Rift and Quest now, out on SteamVR on May 25th, and later this year – on PSVR!