Statement of Intent


Wraith: the Arising


J. Edward Tremlett

In the beginning was The Word.
The Word was Light - The Light was Life.
The Gods found them Good and Gold.

Nothing Good and Gold can stay.

- The Book of Old Times, first Stanza -


Speaking of beginnings, here we are at yet another one.

By the time you're reading this, it's been about two months since White Wolf Gaming Studios unveiled its new World of Darkness, which a lot of us have taken to calling WOD 2.0. This new world represents a rehauling of rules and reimagining of core settings, with what worked - and what didn't work - all taken into account.

Reaction from fans seems to be overwhelmingly positive, both for the Core rulebook, The World of Darkness, and the first "new" game down the pipe, Vampire: the Requiem. The remade Vampire has emerged as something very interesting, with a feeling of being new, yet fairly familiar.

One of the better changes is the increased emphasis on the characters and their night-to-night existence. Rather than focusing on necro-archaeological adventures and the signature characters' reaction to them, or power struggles from far away, the book encourages players to focus on their characters' immediate concerns.

So, in the spirit of Vampire: the Requiem, which is looking around at the current, moribund situation, rather than some enigmatic threat, ahead {or within}, the patch formerly known as Wraith: the Something Or Other shall henceforth be named Wraith: the Arising.

And so it begins...

Kill Not The Living

Save The Lost - Destroy The Damned

Wake Not The Sleepers


Await the Day of Dominion

- The Injunction -

Wraith: the Arising is a "patch," designed to be placed on top of the rules in The World of Darkness. It is a reworking of Wraith: the Oblivion, taking the new Ghosts of the WOD 2.0 into account, but departing from the new rules in certain spots.

This departure from the new rules will be to turn the broad outlines of the new ghosts into fully-formed, playable characters. These characters the same range of action that a vampire, werewolf or mage might have, and take them away from just being "antagonists." It will also allow for the templating of Wraiths, so that mortal {or other} characters who die and can't completely let go of their lives can come back to haunt us all.

To that end, the patch will be a combination of the new ghost rules, the old rules from Wraith: the Oblivion, and a bit of the backdrop from it as well. It will also have some of the backdrop, rules and innovations from Orpheus and Exalted: the Abyssals thrown in there as well.

The basic idea is that there are Ghosts, and then there are Wraiths. Ghosts are mostly as presented in The World of Darkness: stunted, incomplete presences that are hopelessly bound to their Anchors, and might not even be aware of their being dead. They go about their routines, slowly disintegrating as the ages go by and their Morality spirals downward, until they either go away for good, or someone puts them down.

Wraiths, on the other hand, are fully-aware Ghosts. In the language of the dead, they have Arisen: "woken up," for want of a better term.

And therein lies all the difference...

I remember thinking how strange the world looked - how surreal and distorted. Things seemed to be behind warped glass, and the air was heavy and wet. Humid.

Then I realized that it wasn't the air that was heavy and wet. I was caught up in that something, and found it repellent, like an unwanted hand on my shoulder. So I sought to tear it from myself as quickly as I could.

My Shroud came apart as easily as tissue paper, and fell to my feet in tatters. I felt the cold, night air on my face, and saw no trace of the man who'd been killing me all those years. I saw bright park lights that hadn't been there just moments ago, and a new set of benches, right on the way to the trees...

And I knew, at long last, that I was dead.

Some might ask "Why bother with a reworking? Why not just adapt the new rules to work with the old setting, and let the rest of the new World of Darkness go on its merry way?"

All arguments about what "did" or "didn't" work put aside, Wraith: the Oblivion was very much a product of its time. And in the time since its first publication, back in 1994, the field and the backdrop have undergone some heavy additions. It would be criminal to not take this chance and consider them.

The popular notion of ghosts - and what it means to be one - has been seriously challenged. Excellent movies like "The Ring," "The Sixth Sense" and "The Others," just to name a few, have posed questions that need answers. Chiefly amongst these are whether ghosts always know that they're dead, and if they'll really just go away peacefully when you "help" them.

Meanwhile, the World of Darkness, itself, went through second editions, and then Revised editions. A lot of the really crazy, over the top stuff from the first and second editions was either retconned, represented or done away with entirely. Likewise, the mechanics for some things were changed, making some things easier and some things more "realistic."

The end result were games that were redone and well done, allowing for a smoother, less jarring ride. They were mature games made wiser for the passage of time.

And on a more familiar note, White Wolf presented a marvelous gift to Wraith fans in the form of Orpheus. This limited series game, which presented a world where people could spiritually interact with ghosts, opened a whole new chapter in human/ghost relations in RPGs. It also took a lot of what "needed work/fixing" from Wraith and either fixed it, reworked it, or did away with it entirely, making for a whole new vibe on being dead.

Whether Orpheus was a part of the "proper" World of Darkness is debatable. However, there were more than enough homages to Wraith {or were those "Easter Eggs?"} in the game to keep everyone guessing right up until the end. And then both the proper WOD and the Orpheus game were shook down to their foundations, right around the same time - complete with a major cameo from Grandmother in Apocalypse for Werewolf: the Apocalypse.

In short, the playing field has been rearranged. The bar's been set a lot higher than it was when Wraith: the Oblivion first came out, and folks coming back to Wraith after all this have a new, and higher, set of expectations.

And who would want to disappoint?

They call themselves the Messengers, yes they do.

They say they're guardian angels, indeed. And they spend their afterlives looking after people, yes they do. The helpless, the hopeless and the aimless, folks like that, they are. Just trying to keep them alive, the Messengers say, yes they do.

Or so they say. So they say!

Me, now, I've got my own ideas.

You, I bet you notice how those people they watch always die. Those stories never have a happy ending, no they don't. One day the angel isn't there, and that's when it happens, yes it does.

The little boy falls down the well, yes he does. The junkie takes the fall, yes he does. The kid eats the gun, yes he does.

And they always become ghosts, yes they do. Isn't it funny, that is? Always always always ghosts. Always, yes I say!

And when they wake up... they always become Messengers.

Yes they do.

Keeping all that in mind, my personal goals for this patch are as follows:

1) To present Wraiths in much the same way that they were before. They are tortured souls who are still bound to the world they left behind, and have a tenacious hold both on it, their ethics and their own sanity. Do they cling to what they had, risk it all for a chance at what lies beyond, or find some way to make this new existence work for them? If death is not the end, but only the beginning, then what will you do with the rest of eternity?

2) To simplify some matters, both in keeping with the new rules and on reflection of the old. This involves condensing some things, getting rid of others, and trying to cut down on anything that would make a player and Storyteller have to grind mental gears to figure it all out.

3) To change the previous backdrop of the game. I'd like to get away from the old history, the old structures and the old cosmology as much as possible. Some of the more evocative ideas {and a few Easter Eggs} will be left behind, but they'll be radically changed and/or under a new name. The question is what new angle can we show it from?

4) To bring in a renewed sense of mystery, danger and dread. There are going to be a lot of unknowns, in this game - a lot of enigmas, ancient questions and really bad news lurking in the dark corners. What your characters don't know can hurt them... very, very badly.

5) To keep the angle of passion and horror that made the Wraith: the Oblivion the great game it was, and still is.

6) To keep the Shadow, in spite of all the changes, because that's always been one of the major selling factors for the game, itself.

7) And lastly...

Vanth, I invoke thee.


Vanth, I hold your torch which lights the darkness.
Vanth, I hold your key which opens the door.
Vanth, I am your serpent, holding the key and the torch.


From the darkness of the Underworld, Vanth, I call thee.
Thou who sees all that is, all that was, all that is yet to come, Vanth, I abjure thee.
Thou who art the healer of life and the taker of it, Vanth, I supplicate myself before thee.


Come to us from beyond the Barrier, noble Goddess.
Heed the words of thy true servants.
Show us your favor on this, your day.


- Prayer of The Order to the Herald of Death -

... to keep the hope.

One person I knew said that a good game of Wraith makes you want to kill yourself, but that was wrong: flat out dead wrong. A good game of Wraith makes you want to get up from that table, get back out into the world and live.

Why? Because after dealing with the hopes and horrors of a fictional persona who'd fallen down the life ladder and can't get back up again, the question of why you're going in circles and leaving things undone becomes a damned good one. It's a rare game that can get you to really reexamine your own priorities in life: Wraith is one of them.

And that's one of the major reasons why Wraith's always been one of my favorite games. That's also one of the major reasons why I've always pitched for it in the way I have. It's a great game that deserves a second or third chance at life, and even if it never becomes "economically viable," it'll still be out there, teaching us something valuable about life and how we live it...

...but enough fatuous self-indulgence and pretension. You came for a game, and it shall be given unto you, piece by piece over the next few months.

We hope you enjoy it.