RE: Embody


J. Edward Tremlett


Embody is, without a doubt, one of the most utilitarian of all the Arcanoi. It is also one of the most unexplained. Given the amount of interplay that Embodied Wraiths could have with the living, one might well wonder what such a Wraith could and could not do while in that state.

This article seeks to explain some of that, as well as give some other systems goodies for you Proctor Players out there. Have fun playing live!

(If you're curious as to which Arcanoi work while Embodied (and why), please see The Proctor's Toybox, also by the author, at Ex Libris Nocturnis)

Life in Death

Most Proctors encountered in the Skinlands are using the Art known as Life In Death: a fairly low-cost power that produces a likeness of the body in life, only with paler skin and darker hair.

Such a form takes a reasonable amount of concentration to maintain, and is nowhere near as satisfying as what one would have with Materialize, which recreates the Wraith as she was in life for a very brief period of time. However, given how expensive Materialize is, Life in Death is the usual Art of choice for those Proctors who maintain daily contact with the Skinlands.

Proctors using Life-In-Death:

  • Do not need to breathe, but can do so in order to smoke or speak. They have no lungs, though, so they are unaffected by poison gas, cigarette smoke or dangerous fumes.
  • Do not need to eat, but can, though they cannot digest it. By extension, they are immune to poisons and drugs, and cannot get drunk or high.
  • Do not have a pulse, gut movement, or anything else that would be caused by the normal bodily functions of a biological organism.
  • Do not have constantly maintained body heat, and quite literally assume room temperature.
  • Will bleed if cut, but bleed plasm instead of blood (this can trigger The Fog)
  • Produce no natural scents, and do not sweat.
  • Can leave the Skinlands for the Shadowlands any time they care to.
  • Are still at the mercy of their Shadows.
  • Do not invoke The Fog unless they are revealed to be something other than human (being cut open will do that) or use Arcanoi with obvious, otherworldly or terrifying results (Pandemonium, Moliate, etc.)
  • Don't get along well with animals, who tend to treat them like they do Vampires.


Bare Bones:

The body of a Proctor using Life in Death is much like the body of a Wraith in the Shadowlands. Her clothes are part of her Corpus and cannot be fully removed, though zippers and buttons can undone, and what was under the clothing in life tends to be there in death as well. Her inner anatomy is usually just liquid plasm contained in a sturdy shell of "skin" and "clothing."

As for what's revealed when one gets ripped open, that really depends on the Wraith. Some folks come across with a very specific sense of what went where, and may indeed have something approximating "normal" anatomy in their chest, right down to their appendix. Many really have no real concept of what they had on board while alive, and might manifest only sausage-like intestines, a ribcage and an oversized, goofy-looking heart.


Peculiar Problems:

While Embodied in this fashion, Proctors are very pale. Between that and their lack of heat and life signs, they are often confused for Vampires by those who know what to look for. One major difference is that they have a flickering, pale aura as opposed to the steady, pale one that would indicate a Vampire. That and they can go out in the Sunlight, too.

Another problem is that their eyes, skin and hair doesn't quite reflect the light correctly. Many of them complain of having "backlit" eyes (just like the Replicants from the movie "Blade Runner"), dull and lusterless tresses and skin that looks almost cartoony. Many apply contact lenses, makeup and hairspray to correct these problems: some revel in the difference.


Sharpened Senses, Lifesight and Deathsight:

While Embodied, Proctors still enjoy their Sharpened Senses, which is one of the best reasons for them to Embody. Everything looks, feels, hears, smells and tastes much more intense than it did in life, and for many Proctors these sensations are as much of a drug as Skinriding is for Puppeteers. The power "Hidden Sight" will work, but whatever Difficulty would be assigned to it is +2 while Embodied.

While Embodied, Wraiths see the Skinlands as they really are. Their Deathsight powers are cut off at this time, and all Lifesight powers are at +1 Difficulty (which raises the Difficulty to 10 for the ones listed in the Wraith Players Guide). In addition, the Lifesight power "Spirit Sense" will not work while Embodied.


Food and drink and... that other thing:

Proctors can eat and drink but they cannot digest or excrete what they eat or drink: it sits in their gut and sloshes around where a stomach ought to be, and can sometimes make a lot of noise. When they disembody this mess falls out onto the ground, leaving a yucky splotch of undigested food that looks a lot like chunky vomit. Stray animals and birds usually make short work of such a mess.

As for sex? Yes, it happens. This is often achieved by judicious unzipping and unbuttoning, unless you have Moliate, which makes things so much easier. Unfortunately, natural lubricants are not produced, erections are not created except via Moliate, and physical orgasm is not possible, which can be real hell for one partner, or both.


Shadowlands Sunglasses: Level 3 Powered Relic; Uncommon:

One of the more recent developments to come out of the Guild in some time, this wily invention - made by empowering a pair of Relic sunglasses with a certain Embody variant - makes it possible for Wraiths using Embody to see what's going on back in the Shadowlands. These are extremely handy: without them, Embodied Proctors have no idea if they're being followed or watched, and could unwittingly blunder into an ambush.

In order to use them, the Proctor must put them on and expend one point of Pathos. The charge lasts for as long as the Proctor has them on, or when she Disembodies next. If she takes them off for any reason, or has them knocked off, the charge is lost and she has to put them back on and spend another point of Pathos to get them working again.

Merits and Flaws

Secret Death: +2 or +3:

When your wraith died, she died in such a way that no one ever found her body. As a result, no one has listed her as officially "dead," thus beginning a large paper trail of death certificates, canceled credit cards and insurance policies, etc.

In the +2 version, your character's absence has been noticed and a search for her whereabouts may have been instituted (ST and Player's discretion as to how this goes). This may leave the wraith with some explaining to do when the need to do something official happens. In the case of the +3 merit, your character's disappearance was not even registered. Except for some unpaid bills, she could pick her life back up again with no major problems.


Pale Aura: +3:

When embodied, the aura of your wraith is a steady, pale thing as opposed to a ghostly, flickering one. This makes it easier to fool those who can read auras. It can even help a wraith blend in to Vampiric society, at least from a surface inspection; there are still those nagging questions about who her sire was...

Easier Attunement: +4:

Getting the Quick used to your character's attentions is easier than it is with most Wraiths. For any Attunement, the number of temporary Willpower points that would have to be spent would be one less, but, no matter who it is or how close the mortal was to the character, at least one point of temporary Willpower must be spent for the Attunement to take place. This Merit can also be used for other Arcanoi requiring Attunement, such as Puppetry and Inhabit.

Clean Complexion: +5:

Unlike most other Proctors, the effects of Embody usage are either only evident in certain places, most notably NOT the hands or face. With this merit, the dapples can be hidden by relic or artifact clothing or have their effects muted by judicious Moliation: the marks could used to make a dappled skirt, for instance. The dapples will still continue to grow and become more noticeable in time.

Botched Moliation: -2 to -4:

The same flaw as in the Wraith Player's Guide, but worse because the botched Moliation will appear on the wraith's body when Embodied. The exact penalty to social situations should be decided by the Player and Storyteller. Wraiths who take this flaw cannot substitute their Manipulation for their Appearance when Embodying.

Psychosomatic Shock: -3 or -5:

When embodied, Wraiths normally have their full corpus level embody right along with them, and can lose up to that amount without any dice penalties. However, a wraith suffering from this problem is so wrapped up in the idea of being "mortal" again that she loses dice when wounded, just as a mortal would.

For the -3 flaw, subtract six from the levels of permanent corpus the wraith has left. The result is how many Bruised levels she has. Any damage done within Bruised causes no dice penalties. After that, the scale is Hurt -1, Injured -1 , Wounded - 2, Mauled -2 , Crippled -5, and then Incapacitated, where all dice are lost. If the levels of permanent Corpus are less than ten, the wraith will have fewer Bruised levels, and may even start at Hurt, or worse, if her Permanent Corpus is low enough.

For the -5 flaw, subtract six from the levels of permanent corpus the wraith has left, as above. However, instead of putting the result into Bruised, they are placed into Incapacitated. The wraith will only have one Bruised level before going into the normal progression outlined above, but will have a certain number of Incapacitated levels to go through before being dissolved. If the levels of Permanent Corpus are less than ten, the subtractions are made starting with the Bruised level, as above, and will put the wraith at a damaged Health level.

Those wraiths who have less than 10 levels of permanent corpus, no matter which level the flaw is taken at, will have an appearance that mirrors the way in which they died when they Embody. The severity of the appearance will depend on how much Permanent Corpus has been lost: a person who was run over by a truck might look a little bruised at 9 Permanent Corpus, but would be a squished, dragged, crushed and dripping red ruin at 5. The exact appearance, and any penalties to social situations, are up to the Player and the Storyteller to decide.

A wraith who is Incapacitated can take no action requiring movement or a dice pool. The wraith may still use Pathos to heal herself of normal injuries, as outlined on page 232 of Wraith: The Oblivion 2nd Ed.. Aggravated damage cannot be healed in this fashion.

Wraiths who take this flaw cannot substitute their Manipulation for their Appearance when Embodying.

Alternate Arts

These are special techniques that the Proctor's Guild has developed over the years. Some were intermediary steps towards better Arts, and some were experiments that "failed" but were written down for possible use. The likelihood of any Wraiths outside the Guild knowing or being taught these Arts is highly unlikely.

(These Arts are unofficial. Be sure to check out the ones listed in Wraith: the Great War, too. Unless stated otherwise, all difficulties are equal to the local Shroud.)

Basic Ability: Living Senses

This Art provides a shortcut for the fledgling Proctor who wants to see the lands of the Living without the horrid miasma of Deathsight getting in the way. Though the Wraith is not "Embodied," per se, the Wraith is able to use her highly-attuned senses on the Skinlands side of the Shroud and not be beset by the normal gloom and doom that Wraiths must wade through. It may not be the most utilitarian Art, but it does bring some relief to those who need a kind reminder of what their lives were like, once.

System: The player rolls Perception + Embody. Each success gives the Wraith one turn of being able to hear, see and smell (but not taste nor touch) the Skinlands as they appear to mortals. The Wraith is not Embodied for this, so only those beings who could already see a non-Embodied Wraith would see her at this time. Also, while this is in effect, the Wraith's senses are cut off from the Shadowlands, making her effectively blind and deaf to any Wraithly threats.


* Flicker Flash

Some have sworn that, just for a moment, they saw a vision of a dead friend or relative, standing right before them. This Art allows for such a thing to happen: a doppler image of the Wraith appears in the Skinlands for a split second, right where the Wraith is standing. While it's not enough time to convey much of a message or communicate in any sense of the word - much less invoke The Fog - it has its uses: particularly in scaring off weaker-willed Quick...

System: The player rolls Strength + Embody. Success means that she has made an image of herself appear in the Skinlands, however briefly. This is not true embodiment, and any damage that might be done to the image only causes Incorporeality in the Wraith.

This Art does not cause The Fog, due to its brevity. However, if the intent of "flashing" the mortals is to scare them, then each success past the first on the roll subtracts one die from the witnesses' pool to resist fear, or the like.

Flicker Flash costs 1 Pathos, and if the intent is to scare it generates 1 Angst.

* * Will O' the Wisp

Legend and folklore tells of small, floating motes of light that lead mortals to their doom, or get them lost. A Proctor using this will manifest as a small, hazy ball of indistinct light, making her body a beacon of sorts for mortal onlookers. It's also useful for eluding capture in the Shadowlands, provided one turns down the luminosity.

System: The player rolls Charisma + Embody. Each success is one turn that the Wraith will Embody as a small, glowing ball of light of varying size and intensity. The wraith can sacrifice size for brightness, becoming a very small ball that creates enough light to read by, a larger but hazy glowing, circular cloud, or a wide, oddly-circular patch of peculiar phosphorescence that is barely detectable.

While using Will O' the Wisp the Wraith can move at the rate of a slow-walking person and can go no faster, and can float off the ground only as high as she normally is tall. She cannot manipulate anything in this form nor speak. She has as many levels of Corpus as she normally does, but must make a Stamina roll at a difficulty of 6 any time she's hit to avoid sputtering out, ending the Art's effect. When Embodied in this form, the wraith can attempt to hide from Shadowlands pursuers by becoming the large patch of odd phosphorescence. The pursuers roll Perception + Awareness roll against the Wraith's roll of Manipulation + Stealth.

Will O' the Wisp costs 1 Pathos

* * * Apparition

This Art is a lot like the commonly-taught Phantom Art, but where a Phantom is a fuzzy, hazy and translucent figure, an Apparition is a crisp, three-dimensional and clearly-defined presence. Mortals seeing this will not be subjected to The Fog unless they know the Wraith to be dead.

System: the player rolls Charisma + Embody, and manifests for one turn per success. No matter what the Wraith has Moliated herself into, she will always look as she pictured herself while alive when using Apparition. Likewise, any attempt to use Moliate while using Apparition breaks the Embody effect immediately. As with Phantom, the Wraith cannot touch anything, but can speak.

Apparition costs 2 Pathos.

* * * * Phantom Object

Wraiths who Moliate themselves into inhuman forms - solid objects, demonic figures, large monstrosities - cannot use Embody. At least that's what the Proctors all say. The truth is that it is possible, but it's a secret that the Proctors like to keep to themselves. This may account for sightings of famous monsters, driverless vehicles or everyday objects that appear and then disappear, like directional signs which lead travelers to the wrong neck of the woods...

System: The player must make a Manipulation + Embody roll against the local Shroud. Each success grants one scene that the Moliated Wraith may be Embodied. Objects can be damaged just as though the wraith had taken human form, and any human who sees a teapot or road sign start bleeding plasm will be subject to The Fog. Monstrous shapes or horrid beings also cause one to succumb to The Fog.

Phantom Object costs one Pathos for small objects, two for human sized ones, and three for anything larger.