Safety in The City

The Old City murmurs: Rest with me ... My streets are flecked with strange, sharp shadows, and sometimes the Shadow of Death falls upon them, but if thou wilt not fear, thou art safe.
Leaves from the Diary of an Impressionist - Lafcadio Hearn

Most of the living, their imaginations stoked by creepy movies and spooky, "gothic" tales, tend to assume that ghosts are far away from them.

Such people believe that ghosts are caused when people die badly in old, forlorn places that no one chooses to live in. So they think the dead live only within creaky old mansions, haunted forests and deserted cemeteries, all out in the overgrown, mostly-forgotten countryside.

Their modern, vibrant cities are seen as "safe," with their neon lights, glowing signs and police around every corner, whether you want them there or not. Death may happen in the cities and towns, but ghosts stay far, far away.

But nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, while one can find ghosts - and Wraiths - in lonely places, well out of the way, the majority of the Arisen are to be found in cities and towns. And they are not merely confined to the old, decaying and corpse-ridden areas of those places, either, but can be found out walking the streets, just as though they were alive.

There are three general reasons for this, all of which are applicable to almost any Necropolis.


Staying Safe

The Deadlands are simply not safe to be in, at times. The Damned are a constant threat, as are some of the more violent Lost. There is also the everpresent danger posed by Reapers, who have an uncanny knack of knowing when a Wraith is by herself. Or Dark Walkers. Or Storms.

And that's saying nothing of certain Concords, who like to brutalize "Solitaries," or attack small groups of their rivals for one reason or another. Some of the more violent or militaristic members aren't above making trips out to the boonies to look for "new meat."

What does living in numbers offer? Help, mostly: help watching your Anchors, your Shadow, and your back. Help with essential goods and services that you just won't get outside of a city, unless you're really lucky. Help surviving the Storms, the Reaping parties and other, stranger threats than no one's ever been able to put a name to.

Those who remain alone, either in the deserted places or even in the heart of the city, might just be able to hack out an existence. And those who do are amongst the toughest and most frightening of Wraiths to be found. However, for most of the dead, "solitude is suicide": those who stand apart don't tend to stand up for very long.


Staying Active

Ghosts can, due to their being Asleep, carry on solitary existences, doing the same thing over and over for decades, or even centuries. However, once they Wake Up, doing the same thing often becomes boring, and boredom leads to Ossification if it isn't alleviated, somehow.

By seeking out company, Wraiths can not only try to assuage their loneliness, but also find new things with which to keep active. Just having a Circle of friends - or at least allies - is enough to make a difference. And being part of a Concord or Unity may give meaning, or at least a job, to one's dead existence.

There's also the social life that the Necropolis provides, in and of itself. While the "entertainment" might not always be to one's taste, there's always something going on, somewhere. You just have to find it, and have the right friends to get in on the party.


Staying Sane

Every Wraith has her own ways of keeping it together, but being in the city offers two advantages that being outside doesn't: the living, and help with Shadows.

Being surrounded by living people is something of a double-edged sword. On one hand, the separation from the Liveworld is daunting and discouraging at best, and disheartening at worst. On the other hand, the ability to Manifest, coupled with Riding, or the use of other Numen, can help bridge that gap.

By creating helpers - and possibly even friends - amongst the living, loneliness can be further eased, and human aid can be secured. It's possible to find such partners, willing or otherwise, out in the sticks, but the possibility of finding the right partners increases in areas with denser populations.

As for Shadows: at its core, a Shadow seeks to end a Wraith's "torment" by getting her to give up. The best way to do that is to convince the Wraith that her existence just isn't worth continuing, and Shadows have numerous powers - known as Thorns - that they can employ to trick, fool and confuse the Wraith, with the ultimate hope of backing her into a corner she can't see a way out of.

As a result, Wraiths need to be amongst others of their kind, so that they can have a "safety net" of social contacts. If things start going weird, strange or really bad, then they can check with their friends to be certain they're not just imagining things. If they are, then they'll know that the Shadow needs some harsh medicine, and if they aren't, maybe they all can figure out what to do about the problem.


The Soul Police

Another reason to stay in the city, as opposed to being outside of it, is to have constant access to the Pardoners.

Inside the cities, the martial Concord is on near-constant patrol, looking for Wraiths whose Shadows are getting too powerful. Many Wraiths resent the Pardoners' heavy-handed tactics, but given their near-monopoly on being able to deal with Shadows, they tend to be the only thing standing between them and Damnation. And so they put up with the constant intrusion into their "lives," if only to stave off their inner demons.

While it's not unknown for Pardoners to make "mercy trips" into the wilderness, beyond the urban sprawl, they don't do it that often. And when they do, it's usually because they hear that some Lost soul is making too much trouble. In those cases, the "mercy" they bring is both violent and final, and not many Wraiths want to be met on the way to or from such a mission.