Risen Abroad



The Risen have always been rare, so the chances of them meeting other supernatural creatures is statistically low. However, there is always the chance, especially since the activities of Risen draw a great deal of attention more often than not.

In the world the Risen are mostly focused in the West, giving credence to the zombie horror stories of pop culture fame; in other parts of the world they are more rare, but do make occasional appearances. Most denizens of the World of Darkness meet the Risen under terms of abject horror at worst and awkward disgust at the very best. There are, however, a few exceptional beings that could conceivably have some similarities with them. But when similarities and difference are nearly balanced, a gray area of variety is created and nothing is certain.

The underworld of Africa is a strangely unique one. This spiritual landscape for the burdened souls of men is shared with the animal spirits, which on every other continent, would be confined to a separate realm especially fitting for their somewhat simplistic spirits. Here, though, they compete for haunts and survival with some of the same men who poached them on the mortal plane. Another odd bit of trivia with the African continent is found in the Middle Eastern countries. In Mecca there is the reputed Black Stone of Islam, which drives away most supernatural creatures from the Arabian Peninsula with its penetrating Keening wail. There are also many areas wherein the Shroud is considerably thin that have long been laced together with a permeable spiritual energy, making them into a nearly tangible web. Very recently the connections have been greatly strengthened into what is called the "Web of Faith" and inhabited by an increasingly numerous group in the area: mummies.

The Amenti swept through Egypt from every different direction upon their inception; and they remain centered around it today. With the Web of Faith being their most significant source of power and located solely within the Middle East, Amenti flock to this region in great numbers from locations around the world. Due to the process of Resurrection, it is safe to assume that the mummies are more likely to meet their share of supernatural diversity in this area more than any other.

Being a Risen in Egypt is very unlikely to bring favor with the Amenti due to some similarities they have with other unsavory characters. Since the beginning of the Sixth Great Maelstrom there have been zombie-like creatures aptly named "Rots" all over the world drawing the attention of all manner of hunters by making life generally unpleasant for the living they encounter. The Amenti typically oppose them for their transgressions and because they believe that the dead do indeed belong on the other side of the Shroud, rather than in the Skinlands terrorizing the mortal masses. Since there is no practical way for the mummies to know the difference between the standard Rot and the Risen, these immortals seem destined to clash with all of the walking dead they meet. Risen aren't very hard to spot: they don't breathe or maintain vital signs, they tend to be very driven and when they cross their targets on this side of the Shroud they end up making a lot of noise. For this reason, they are easily associated with Rots, which are essentially decaying masses driven by instinct alone. On a less superficial scale the Risen do have the power to stave off rotting with much more efficiency than the shambling hordes of Rots and are also much tougher, more thoughtful opponents when confronted.

Unfortunately for the Risen, Amenti are even more indestructible in the long run and have ample power to oppose those they find offensive. Their magics are more diverse than the Arcanoi Risen enjoy and even the specialized Risen powers lend more towards physical confrontation than anything else. A smart mummy has a much better chance of striking down a Risen from afar, a sentiment that the undead cannot lay claim to so easily. The Passions of the Risen are another point of contention. Most Risen are driven to inhabit their bodies by an incredible penchant for violence. When these Passions draw the attention of the mummies, the potential for conflict is high enough for it to seem inevitable. Also, with their Shadows much more empowered in the Skinlands than in the Underworld, the Risen are that much more likely to run afoul of the harbingers of balance. Some Amenti who are more versed in the workings of wraithly existence, such as the masters of Necromancy, might be inspired to help the Risen resolve their issues in the Skinlands without resorting to a bloodbath, but the likelihood of this sort of encounter is rare and confrontation is unfortunately most likely outcome for chance Amenti encounters.

There are times when Amenti resemble the Risen more closely than they would like to admit. Upon receiving the Resurrection they become more imbued with life than any other creature; this fact is due to the nature of their Spell of Life. Despite the fact that they are more vibrant than even the humans, Amenti are essentially seen as very lively Risen. During some rare occasions, however, they are much less distinguishable from their undead counterparts. Before the Resurrection takes place, the Amenti somehow manage to Rise and inhabit the body for a trek to Egypt. While in this state, the vibrancy characteristic of the mummies has no presence in the body and he is essentially equal to a Risen. At other times the magical radiance of the Amenti can fail it and reduce it to this state once more.

This may seem like trivial knowledge for a Risen, but it's a fair assertion that any Risen will be curious about the practices of the Amenti if their Resurrection Cult allies mistake him for one of the souls seeking the Spell of Life. If such a misconception was to occur, the cult members would try to pacify the Risen and perform the Spell of Life upon him. This attempt would be utterly futile, of course, and nobody yet knows what the repercussions of trying to force the Spell of Life on an unsuitable candidate would be; there has, however, been fleeting postulation that a Risen could possibly become an Amenti spirit, even though the method for doing this can only be guessed at this point.

Interestingly enough, some Amenti also have strong alliances with the animal wraiths, whether through a long-term companionship or a mutual loyalty. These animals accompany the Amenti in the Underworld and empower them in the Skinlands. Unless a Risen wants to test the upper limits of his physical shell, it is most wise to avoid confronting mummies with such strong ties, for they may have the strength of the bull or the cunning of a lion, literally.

Folktales abound about the reason for the animal residence in the human underworld, but nothing conclusive is known. There is a theory that the animals found their way into the underworld through the oft-repeated rites of ancient Egypt; mummifications of domesticated animals by the thousands prepared them for the afterlife of their masters and might have eventually had the effect of sending them to the same landscape. This idea has some credence amongst Egyptian undead scholars. After all, the animals can speak the language of the dead to communicate with humans in the afterlife; maybe the intense manipulations on their corpses had lasting effects on their spiritual nature, making them more suited to interaction with humans post mortem. Such origin theories give the animal wraiths a special tie to the Egyptian souls of the Amenti. With so many similarities to the human dead, it has been wondered if animal wraiths can Rise. It is indeed a frightening prospect to imagine an undead rhinoceros or cheetah returning to hunt those who endanger their very species.

Asia has its own set of unique cosmological rules that aren't very conducive to Rising. While there are documented cases of Risen in this part of the globe, the local beliefs don't encourage their existences. Perhaps more than any other part of the world, Asian civilization holds the family much higher than the individual. Rising is a very personal experience; but when one has an entire society of family members to consider in the Underworld, setting out on a singular vendetta in the Skinlands will take second place to giving due considerations to the family that supports and nurtures his existence. On the other hand, perhaps the family could use a Risen agent; but the generalized desire to aid the family rarely measures up to the personal fury that causes one to go traipsing around in the mortal lands on a lone path of destruction.

Despite the unlikelihood of Rising, there are souls who climb back into their corpses after being thrust into the grave. After a horrible death or an improper burial the hungry dead "Kuei-jin" arise with demonic powers to fuel their universal need for human flesh and blood. It seems that the Kuei-jin shadow (or P'o, as they call it in Asia) is the prime determiner of their ability to return from the grave. Asian souls enter specifically delineated realms of the Underworld upon death and there receive punishment for any misdeeds carried out in life. Only the strength of their darker half allows them to escape this fate and as a consequence it tends to be much stronger in them than in normal wraiths. Indeed, Kuei-jin are said to be nothing more than raving lunatics at the moment of their earthly rebirth; they aren't called "demon people" for nothing. There are several diversities and weaknesses to be noted among their ranks but one stands out above the rest; Kuei-jin, for some unknown reason, rot upon contact with sunlight. This may be tied to their so-called demonic nature; indeed Chinese myths include a variety of demon spirits, some of which vaporize in the rays of the sun. Interestingly, these undead things can be very lively, not unlike the aforementioned Amenti, or stricken with the pallor of death like most Risen; there are certainly patterns to be noted here but nothing clear-cut that jabs out at the casual observer.

Unlike Risen, Kuei-jin order themselves into lasting courtly structured societies based on age and experience. Kuei-jin exist in structured group units designed to ease their nightly burdens, whereas Risen enter the Skinlands for a very final resolution to some thing. Therefore, the opinions of each are fairly exclusive. Indeed, the Kuei-jin might see the Risen as foolish or selfish for their driving attempts at personal fulfillment, though the differences between this and "enlightenment" are not readily obvious.

Additionally, the abilities of each are nothing alike. The Kuei-jin have more contacts in the spirit worlds than any other group and consequently have a very firm manipulative grasp upon the denizens therein. Their abilities to affect souls are manifold and their combat abilities can unleash incredible destructive powers that no one Risen should hope to stand against. Kuei-jin of sufficient power can force the P'o to the forefront of any being, devour souls, create Maelstroms and trap spirits in their snares; and this does not even take into account their physical might. Kuei-jin have more powers to make them physically mighty than any Risen could ever dream of and some are reputed to become literal demons in combat. When considering the fact that they fight in packs, staying out of their way is a more than reasonable option for Risen.

Finally, they have allies to rely upon as well. Some wraiths may aid these Kuei-jin through ages old bonds of loyalty while other spirits from realms unknown to the Restless Dead have similar connections to the Kuei-jin. There are also the typical dangers of the modern Rots to contend with in Asia, like in other lands.

The lands across the world are unfriendly to the Risen, whatever myriad wonders they hold. Traveling out in the open is a venture in danger, no matter how strong of conviction the Risen may be. The best advice is to tread lightly and keep a low profile until reaching the subject of focus. Otherwise, for all their power and hatred, the Risen might fall under the weight of the supernatural world.