Inner Structures

"You see... I keep thinking Greg's died, I've died. This has to be Hell or some Tibetan Bardo experience... and I keep thinking... if I was going through some sort of weird afterlife Purgatory? Would I know it?"
Officer Slade, from The Filth - Grant Morrison

While all Wraiths must start out as Ghosts, the change from one to the other is quite spectacular. The two beings still share many similarities, but also diverge in important ways - so much so that some are convinced that Ghosts are a separate species altogether, and that the act of Waking Up is more than just a burst of self-awareness. How else to explain that a Sleeping Ghost appears much like a mortal, when seen from the vantage point of the Wakeful dead?
In terms of their similarities, Wraiths and Ghosts both have Anchors: people, places and things that hold them back. Both spirits gain power and stability from their Anchors, and a Ghost cannot exist without them. Likewise, a Wraith with no Anchors quickly disappears into the Barrier, never to be seen again {except, perhaps, as one of the Damned}.
The difference between the spirits is in the numbers and limits of their Anchors. Ghosts are barred from moving too far from their Anchors, but Wraiths have a wider field of action. They are inconvenienced by their separation from them, rather than prohibited outright, and can teleport to their Anchors through force of will.
Ghosts also tend to have but one Anchor, while Wraiths may have several. It seems that the process of becoming a Wraith also "Awakens" one or more other Anchors that were dormant up until that point. 
Both Wraiths and Ghosts are made of up of Corpus: firm but pliable soulstuff that forms a reflection of the Wraith's own self-image.
Some appear more comely than they did in life, while others appear thinner, fatter, stronger or weaker. If a Wraith saw herself as being uglier than she was, then whatever features she didn't like about herself will be slightly exaggerated. Likewise, if she saw herself as being prettier than she was, her favorite aspects of her body will be slightly accentuated in her favor.
The differences are most often cosmetic, though it's not unknown for people to be slightly stronger, faster or more observant in death than they were in life. However, it is possible for a Wraith to radically change her appearance using the Shaping Numina, or various other means, and these changes are often substantial. Wraiths can impersonate other Wraiths, and make weapons, armor and other objects out of themselves by consciously rearranging their Corpus. They can even invest these objects with an existence separate from themselves, which is how most things in the Deadworld came to be.


There are other, more noticeable changes to a Wraith's Corpus, such as the odd, tell-tale signatures the manner of their death marks them with. These signs are known as Deathmarks, and while they can be Shaped away, or hidden by other means, a Wraith's "default" appearance always has these features.

Violence: The final act of violence against the person takes permanent and exaggerated form on the Wraith, forever marring her body. The "blood" from this wound continues to drip, but dissipates before it reaches the floor.

Sickness: The symptoms of the fatal malady are exaggerated, and permanent. Those who died from Jaundice have yellow skin, and those who died from fevers are sweaty and seem to radiate heat.

Starvation: Those who died from hunger or thirst are thin and gaunt, with skin stretched taut against the bone and eyes sunken deep in their sockets. They also look extremely hungry.
Happenstance: The wounds from the accident that killed such Wraiths stay upon them. But - unlike those who died from Violence - these wounds do not bleed, burn or break, except when the Deathmark's owner suffers a flashback.

Insanity: Wraiths who died as a result of their own madness have the unblinking, glassy stare of the lunatic.

Mystery: Those who have no idea how they died are unique in that they have no physical Deathmarks whatsoever. Only when they discover what killed them will the marks manifest, if at all.

Old Age: Wraiths who died from advanced age, or some of the "natural causes" such a state of being brings about, have stark white hair and a gray tint to their skin. They also have cobwebs about their bodies, as though they were falling victim to Ossification.
As for those who were Fated to die, they display one of the marks above, appropriate to the manner in which they left the world. However, they have another, truer mark: a strange, indescribable sigil upon their forehead that seems to change from moment to moment. This true mark is submerged, however, and visible only to others who were taken by Fate as well.

Both kinds of spirit are intangible and invisible to the living. They can walk right through walls, floors, ceilings, speeding cars and bullets - though not the ground - as though they weren't there. Some say this is because they're spirits, while other, more scientifically-minded Wraiths have posited that the Dead are in a different molecular state. Either way, Wraiths have to Manifest, or use various Numina, in order to be seen by the living, or to have any true physical contact with them, and take damage from their attacks
Wraiths and Ghosts share certain powers, which have been referred to as Numina since time out of mind. However, where a Ghost's Numina are halting, limited things that seem more of an afterthought, Wraiths have access to a frightening array of powers. Some Numina are rather common, and seem to come naturally - if anything can be said to be natural to the undead - while others are more arcane, and require study and a great deal of practice to fully master.
Both kinds of spirits can harvest and store a form of spiritual energy known as Essence. This energy can be used to power their Numina, and can also be used to heal their Corpus. Wraiths and Ghosts can collect Essence by being in close proximity to their Anchors, or when someone remembers them. But Wraiths have other ways to gain Essence, and other things to spend it on as well. Wraiths also tend to have much larger stores of Essence available to them, though this is largely dependent on the strength of their Anchors. 
 Wraiths also have access to small but potent abilities known as Affinities. These ghostly senses take advantage of Wraiths' status as dead, entropic entities, and let them see weaknesses in objects, flesh and the soul. They also allow for a small measure of foresight, both into their own immediate future and the far-off future of another, and allow them to keep track of their Anchors.
Ghosts cannot use most of their Affinities, most likely because they are Asleep, and unaware of their true potential. One important exception is the ability to Manifest, whereby the gulf between the living and the dead is breached by the spirits, allowing them to appear in physical form. Ghosts have a fairly limited repertoire when it comes to Manifesting, while Wraiths have a few choices on how fully they want to be felt, seen, or heard.


The mirrors always tell the truth
I love myself for hating you.
Everyone I Love Is Dead
- Type O Negative

And then there is one, final way in which Ghosts and Wraiths differ: the malign, split personality of the Wraith, known as the Shadow. These inner monsters wake up right alongside the Wraiths they belong to, and are quite unhappy to have been brought around to consciousness. So they spend their time trying to get their Wraiths to go back "Asleep" - willingly if they can, forcefully if they must.
Some say the most ironic thing about being a Wraith is that the most forceful advocate for a final, peaceful rest is also the most spiteful, hateful thing a Wraith will ever encounter, outside of the Damned. The Shadow detests the Wraith for existing past her death, and wishes death and destruction on the Anchors that hold her back. It loathes other Wraiths for giving her aid, companionship or a new purpose, and laughs at the promises of something more than this. Indeed, it hates the entire world for allowing the cruelty of extended, post-mortem existence to be heaped upon her, and it, and would not hesitate to destroy it all if something ever gave it a chance.
In short, the Shadow is the enemy; It exists to deceive, disenchant and destroy. It can use its special powers, known as Thorns, to trick its Wraith. It can also use them to tempt her into certain actions, or offer them to the Wraith for a short time {and a high price}. Failing that, it could talk the Wraith into giving up completely, or engineer the destruction of her Anchors.
Given time, the Shadow can lull a Wraith into a state of horrid delusion - known as being Lost  - or else  become so powerful as to destroy the Wraith, one fraction of her being at a time. Such deception and power take a long time to accumulate, but as it's been noted, time and again, Wraiths and their Shadows have nothing BUT time.
There is help available against the Shadow, but it is often as questionable as the Shadow, itself. Pardoners are especially skilled at dealing with them, but their ministrations are often intrusive and unwelcome, and are always painful. Ferrymen are also a source of salvation, but it's hard to persuade them to give it; They seem to take the stance that some souls are not worthy of their time.