Life In Death

Default Abilities:

The Risen might be in the flesh, but they are dead within that flesh, and still have most of their Default Abilities as a result. Their improved, ghostly senses follow them into the meat world, and Dead Eyes works as well as it ever did, too. Likewise, they can give and take Vitality from the other members of their Crucible ­ corporeal or not ­ and gain a bonus when using Thievery: the Difficulty to use it on the living is 5, rather than 6. They can also Yoke their Horrors to other members of their Crucible, as long as they can employ the Horror in question while Risen {See 'Horrors,' below}.

The only Default Abilities that are denied to the Risen are Incorporeal & Invisible and Manifestation. They're physical, now, which makes the former impossible and the second superfluous. But should a Hue leave her body to go back to the spirit realm, she can use them, too {See 'Leaving So Soon,' below, for more info on leaving the body at will}.



In spite of being back in the flesh, after a fashion, Risen do not have Health Levels, only Vitality. Just as when they were ghosts, their Vitality is both a measure of their spiritual power and their physical togetherness.

As a result, Risen have to be careful not to spend too much Vitality on Horrors, lest they leave themselves vulnerable to damage. This leads many careless Risen to adopt dangerous behaviors ­ such as constantly spending Willpower or Tapping Spite ­ to make up the shortfall.

While a Risen will lose Vitality both from being damaged and from spending it, spending it doesn't make the body fall apart, decay or become wounded: only actual damage does that. A Risen who's spent her Vitality down to one looks the same as a Risen with ten Vitality, but she'll seem to be more sluggish and zombielike in her movements than one with a full tank of spiritual power. That appearance is deceiving, though, as many would-be zombie stalkers have found out to their cost.

Also, in spite of being "dead," the Risen usually appear to be living creatures in the eyes of the incorporeal dead. This camouflage works no matter what their current Vitality is at. However, the moment a Risen spends three or more Vitality, she creates the "blip" described on pg. 191 of Orpheus, and any ghosts and spectres in the area could discern them for what they truly are.


Corporal Matters:

The body might be up and about, but it is completely and irrevocably dead. It will not do anything but move, "breathe" and heal, and it does these things only begrudgingly. It's as if the body desperately wants to lie back down and stop moving; Indeed, Risen have described being back in their bodies as wearing a cold and hateful suit of dry, dead meat.

This state of being can be good news, of a sort, as it renders the Risen impervious to many things that would kill or maim the living. They won't catch a disease, or be infected. They can't be poisoned or drugged, and extremes of heat and cold won't bother them. Drowning is not a danger, and exposure to a total vacuum does nothing at all.

They also never tire, and can keep going without having to make Stamina rolls for exertion or exhaustion. The flip side of this is that they don't need to sleep, and can't make themselves do it, either. At best they can have a good, long daydream, but it doesn't satisfy one the way a proper dream should. Fortunately, they are immune to the psychological damage that not dreaming can cause.

Certain "earthly" pleasures are now a bad scene. Eating and drinking is particularly awful: they can taste food and drink just fine, and "swallow" them, too. But anything put in the gullet will not digest; Instead, it will just rot there, and Risen then have to tip all the way over and let the chewed and fermented gunk run back up their throats and out their mouths to get rid of it. This gross hassle makes all but the most epicurean of ghosts swear off even trying, unless they don't mind spitting mouthfuls out into a slop bucket.

Also, just as Risen can't be drugged, they can't take any pleasure from drugs, if that's their thing. Alcohol just sits in the gut and ferments a little more. Cigarettes look cool and edgy but won't ease the mental need for nicotine. And anything else that could be inhaled, popped, snorted, injected or inserted is less than useless, now.

And that goes for Pigment, as well. Whatever its spiritual qualities, the drug needs a living system to be properly activated, rendering it just as useless as any other drug. Any Hues who came back to get another hit of Black Heroin are in for an unpleasant surprise.

Oh, Necrophilia? Up yours!

Speaking of that one, "other" earthly pleasure, it's flat-out impossible for a Risen to really get it on. Still blood will not suffuse the male organ, and no clitoral engorgement or lubrication will occur in the female. And no one's going to get pregnant from dead sperm, or fertilize a dead egg.

Further, while orgasm might take place in the brain, and the ghost's improved senses are such that erotic sensations are magnified, the body just isn't going to cooperate, leaving sex a very stunted and restrained affair, indeed.

{Of course, if being stunted and restrained was your Risen's thing in the first place, that might not be so bad.}



Being back in dead flesh gives Risen ghosts an edge in combat. They don't react the same way to pain that the living do, so it won't slow them down. And as their bodies are dead, they can take a lot of damage.

The upshot of this is that the Risen do not suffer any penalties to their dice pool for losing Vitality. And while they can soak both Bashing and Lethal damage, as they could when they were ghosts, all Bashing damage is halved after the soak, and all Lethal damage takes one dot of Vitality, rather than two.

{Aggravated damage is still unsoakable, though it may be a while before they encounter that kind of punishment, depending on what the ST has in mind for her Chronicle.}

Risen subtract two dice of damage from electrocution, since their hearts won't stop and their organs won't fry. And they subtract three dice of damage from falling, since they can shrug off broken bones and have no fear of burst organs or crushed blood vessels. On the other hand fire causes an extra die of damage: their dead flesh, and the semi-decayed junk that coats it, can be fairly flammable.



For the Risen, "healing" comes with an increase in Vitality. Risen Spirits can gain it back in keeping with all the conditions on pg.191 of Orpheus. And although proper sleep is denied to them, eight hours of inactive "downtime" will do the trick, eyes closed or not.

Hues, however, are incapable of naturally regaining Vitality through rest. They can still gain it through the other methods mentioned on pg. 191, though the temptation to get it back by Tapping Spite is always at the forefront of their minds, oddly enough...

Risen who are in combat and need to heal injuries they can take it from someone {willingly or no}, spend Willpower, or Tap Spite to get it back. Spending Willpower and Tapping Spite act as Reflexive actions, while Thievery takes an action to perform.



While back in the flesh, Risen aren't able to use all the Horrors that they normally have access to. They can still use Wail, Forbode, Juggernaut, Contaminate, Unearthly Repose and Pandemonium as normal. Uses of Juggernaut by the Risen are especially formidable, as they don't have to waste Vitality manifesting and then pump their stats ­ they're already here.

Risen can use Inhabit, but at +1 Difficulty, and they must not only be in physical contact with whatever they're trying to Inhabit, but cannot take any other actions with their body while they're maintaining the effect. They are fully conscious of their bodies' surroundings, though, and can break the effect at any time.

Risen are also capable of using Puppetry, but under severe handicap, as the ghost isn't entering the other person so much as she's messing with her from outside. All rolls are at +1 Difficulty, as with Inhabit, and they must also be in contact with the person, and cannot take any other actions. In addition, the Risen can only achieve effects up to three Vitality.

Example: Roger Guillard, returned corporate creep, is at a board meeting with the people who thought he disappeared, and the self-appointed CEO who ­ unbeknownst to all but he and Roger ­ tried to do the "disappearing." Roger has his hand on the CEO's thigh, under the table, and is intent on using his would-be usurper as his mouthpiece to announce Roger's return to the position.

Roger decides he doesn't want the meathead to remember too much of this, much less snap back and freak out, so he spends three Vitality on the effect. Then his player rolls his Charisma + Leadership (7 dice) against the CEO's Willpower of 4, +1 for the added Difficulty.

He gets 1,3,4,5,6,8,9: three successes, which give him control for up to a Scene if he wants it. Fortunately, the "good news" of his return to the company, along with the CEO's announcement of taking a much needed vacation, shouldn't take more than a few minutes to resolve...

As a side note, Risen can use Puppetry to force someone out of a body, if and only if they are spending more than, or equal to, the Vitality that the current possessor spent to activate it. Since Risen can spend no more than three Vitality on Puppetry in the first place, they'll have to hope the other ghost went cheap.



Becoming a Risen might sound like a good deal to a ghost, but once she's back in her body it becomes apparent that it wasn't all it was cracked up to be.

The state of walking undeath isn't just uncomfortable and smelly, it's the height of the unnatural. Every day a ghost spends in the suit of dead meat that used to be warm, used to be soft and used to be... well, alive, dammit, is a constant reminder of her own death. And on top of that, there is the Spirit's uncomfortable proximity to her Doppleganger, and the Hue's constant reminder that she died a junkie ­ hooked on a spiritual poison.

As a result of these feelings, not to mention the dark energy the Risen used to get there, gaining Spite is much easier for Risen. Any time that a Risen's Spite Pool increases, for whatever reason, an extra dot is added on. This goes for such things as Tapping Spite, as well as the Spite that can be gained from using Thievery to take Vitality or Spite, or performing any action that the ST deems worthy of an increase.

And so long as the ghost is a Risen ­ or connected to the body, in the case of a Hue ­ she will never be able to lose Spite. No matter what she does, or why she does it, her Spite Pool and Spite Rating can only ever stay stable, or go up.

And it will most likely do the latter, only.



While the Risen's "health" is equal to her Vitality, she is wrapped in flesh, and not gauze. The dead flesh can be surged with power, and the ghost's spiritual presence can be slid out to control things with Horrors, but the flesh can only be repaired, and not radically altered.

As such, it is impossible for Stains to manifest while a Risen, and this can be something of a mixed blessing. Ghosts who have visible Stains still have them, as Risen, but have no access to the benefits and drawbacks those Stains provide when in the flesh. And while Hues who leave their Risen bodies can access their Stains as normal, they become "dormant" the moment they re-enter the corpse.

If a Risen should raise her Spite Rating enough to manifest a new Stain, she'll know it's appeared, but she won't have it available until she returns to spirit form, somehow.


The Doppleganger:

Spirits who become Risen must drag their dark halves along. This coupling can be rather uncomfortable, as previously mentioned. But at least the Spirit can be sure that the Doppleganger is trapped in the meat along with her, and unable to mess with her life ­ or death ­ while in this condition.

Unfortunately, the Spirit would be wrong. While the two halves are made "whole" in the Risen, the dark half can do quite a bit to mess with the Spirit's agenda. Risen must be careful, lest they be tricked into doing what their Doppleganger secretly wanted all along...

* Talk, Talk: The Doppleganger is in the back seat while the Spirit's driving, and can make a real back seat driver of itself. If it wants, it can hector the Spirit 24/7, constantly providing negative feedback, sick suggestions or "advice" that sounds oddly sensible at times. The Risen can spend a point of Willpower to "tune out" the whisper in her ear for a scene, but this can get rather expensive after a while.

* Dark Demands: Not only is the Doppleganger capable of providing a running commentary, but it also has its own agenda. A condition or two might have been partially fulfilled in order to become Risen in the first place, or the dark half might have left a "favor" hanging.

Either way, the Doppleganger can always ask its Spirit to do little "favors" for it, from time to time. And if the Spirit complies then the dark half rewards her with between 1 - 3 points of Vitality: in theory, anyway ­ it could always renege on the deal.

Clever Dopplegangers use this ability as a "carrot," and clever Storytellers use this as an opportunity to test the character's limits. How low will the Risen sink before she realizes she's playing into her worst enemy's hands? {And, yes, the Doppleganger can ask the Risen to do things that would give her Spite, either now or later, when she realizes exactly what she's done.}

As for how often the Dark Demands can be made: the dark half has a pool of... something, and that pool goes between one and ten, just like Vitality. And it takes the Doppleganger exactly as long to get this something back as it takes a Spirit to regain a point of Vitality through rest. For the Doppleganger, "rest" means shutting the hell up, and Risen will sometimes give into such demands just for some peace and quiet.

* The Push: The "stick" to Dark Demands' "carrot," this is the Doppleganger's ability to try and get out of the bargain, and force both it and its Spirit out of the body. This is a costly thing to pull off, but a Risen's dark half might well do it if it realizes that the do-gooder it shacked up with just isn't going to get with the program.

While the Spirit can leave at will ­ severing the connection with the body in the process ­ the Doppleganger can't automatically leave: it's chained to the body, in a certain respect, and has to lead where the Spirit follows. So if it's decided it's time to go, then it actually has to push the Spirit out, allowing it to follow thereafter.

To do this, the Doppleganger must spend her entire pool of energy, and make a contested Willpower roll against the Spirit {Difficulty 6}. This roll cannot be botched, only won or lost; Nothing happens on a tie.

If the Doppleganger wins, then the Spirit is rudely shoved right out of the body, and the dark half follows after. It's completely drained, though, and can't do anything more than gloat, say "I told you," or run for the hills. If the Spirit wins, then nothing happens, but the Spirit feels very strange, as though she was floating back out of the body for a moment. Also, the Doppleganger must "rest," until its entire pool of energy is replenished, for having tried it and failed.

That Sounds Kind of Familiar...

Storytellers who want to play up the relationship between the Spirit and the Doppleganger while a Risen might want to check out Wraith: the Oblivion's rules for Shadowguiding.

While giving the Doppleganger the option of taking over the body, adding in Thorns or the like might complicate things, it might also add a creepy new dimension to the bargain the Spirit thought she was getting.

On the other hand, having so many variables to work with may slow down play, and deprive other players' characters of attention. When in doubt, Keep It Simple, Storyteller.


Leaving So Soon:

Now that the ghost has re-entered her body, it is possible to leave it and go back to spirit form for a jaunt in the Underworld. However, this isn't a terribly good idea for Spirits, and while Hues have a much easier time of it, the process brings its own risks.

Spirits who wish to abandon their corpse simply slip out of it. This is done just as if the Spirit was abandoning a Puppetry effect. And while outside the body, the Spirit can act as though she were a normal Spirit, again, changing Laments from Risen back to Spirit once more.

However, once the Spirit leaves her body, the corpse returns to the state it was in, pre-Rising, and the Spirit loses all connection to it. It is as if the ghost never was a Risen, and the condition of getting an extra dot of Spite for every gain no longer exists for her. All Spite previously gained in that manner is still kept, though.

If and when the Spirit returns to her corpse, she must perform the roll to Rise all over again. And she will not only have to spend the five Vitality to do this, but get the Doppleganger to agree to go back in, too. This is a proposition that may require an even worse "favor" for her dark half, or something else.

There's also another danger, as the moment she leaves the corpse, the Doppleganger follows after. It can then attack her, threaten to destroy the body, or try to mess with other members of the Crucible. And it might be doing so with a full tank of power {provided it hasn't given any Vitality, or tried to push the Spirit out, lately}. As such, ex-Risen Spirits need to consider well the places where they leave their bodies.

Hues, on the other hand, can maintain a constant level of connection with the corpse. In fact, Risen Hues act a lot like Skimmers: not only can they port out after a minute's concentration, but they can slip back into their bodies and "wake up" without needing to perform another Rising roll. And they can ripcord right back to their bodies, too, which happens without the Skimmer's level of automatic Bashing damage.

But, much like Skimmers, there is a price to pay for the time spent out of the body, and it's a risky one indeed. For every hour that the Hue is outside of her regained flesh, she must tap a point of Spite in order to maintain the connection to the corpse.

Unlike most Spite Taps for the Risen, failing this particular roll doesn't give an extra dot to the Spite Pool. Failing the roll will still feed the corpse the dark energy it needs, but adds one to the Hue's Spite Pool. Botching gives two dots of Spite, and might possibly cause some horrific consequence {At the ST's discretion, of course}

On the other hand, any damage that the Hue suffers while out of the body is not shunted back to that body, as the only Vitality the corpse has is that of the Hue that has reanimated it. Any damage taken by the Hue is soaked as normal for a ghost, and shows up on the inactive body.

Any damage that might be done to the inactive body is immediately taken out of the Hue, though damage done to the body, itself, is subject to its improved Soak roll. If damage is done to the corpse, the Hue will know where the damage has come from, but won't know all the details: questions of how many attackers, who they are, exactly what they're doing, and so on will have to be settled when she gets back to the body's vicinity.

Should the Hue choose to stop Tapping Spite every hour to feed the corpse, the connection to it is broken. The body will return to the state it was before Rising, and the Hue will have to make the Rising roll all over again in order to re-enter it.


Final Death and the Risen

While Risen are tougher than normal humans while in the flesh, that isn't to say that they can't be worn down and killed. Any ghost in the body may be overwhelmed by damage, and those outside the body might eventually be worn down to nothing by running out of Willpower.

If a Hue or Spirit is destroyed while in the body of a Risen, then the ghost dies again. The body goes back to being an ordinary corpse, and returns to the state it was in, prior to Rising, within the hour. Such a corpse makes a tempting target for a possessing Spectre, though: if a Spectre with Puppetry or Virus comes by before the hour's up, there's a good chance the body may "Rise" again.

Likewise, if a Hue should be truly destroyed while out of the body, then the waiting corpse may be targeted by a Spectre. Fortunately for the friends of truly-dead Spirits, there is no danger of this happening. The empty shell of such a ghost will have already returned to the state it was in, prior to Rising, and is simply so much dead meat.