There was something provocatively fascinating in the tree-girt, decrepit pile before me, for it spoke of the graces and spaciousness of a bygone era ... As I mounted the broad stone steps to the low porch and the carved and fanlighted doorway I felt distinctly nervous...
Medusa's Coil - Zealia Bishop

So-called "Haunted Houses" are most often the setting for most ghost stories. Spectral literature is rife with old mansions, lonely roads and condemned tenements where untold horrors took place, and multiple tragedies occurred. Their attics are full of wispy presences, their basements are filled with long-buried corpses, and anything could have happened on the floors inbetween. Anything at all.

Such places just feel wrong. There is a palpable feeling of dread, as though anything could happen at any moment. The rooms alternate between crushing silence, and being filled with sounds that shouldn't be made at all. Suspicious liquids pool on the floor, faces appear at the windows, and doors have a habit of opening and closing all by themselves...

The living say these buildings are haunted. They say that the boundaries between life and death are reduced, and anything could be waiting - and watching - in there. So the living wisely avoid them, or enter them only with the utmost care, lest they disturb something best left alone.

The dead like it that way.


The Importance of Haunts

Haunts have both a practical and social importance to Wraiths. On one hand, they provide protection from Storms, can be used to harvest Essence, and make a nice, quiet "home base" to operate out of, given that the living prefer not to go there. However, the lure of a haunted house might attract ghost hunters, psychics and other mortal nuisances, so this degree of separation can bring trouble as well.

In terms of Wraithly society, Haunts form the "building blocks" of Domains, by which a Concord's general strength within a Necropolis may be judged. The more Haunts a Concord has, the greater its "share" in a city, and the less likely other Concords are to openly challenge its right to rule. Gathering and keeping Haunts, then, is a primary political goal of most Concords within any city.

Types of Haunts:

There are three types of Haunts, each of which provides certain advantages and disadvantages to the Wraiths who live there.


Ghost Haunts

Possibly the most common sort of Haunt is a place that's home to one or more Ghosts. It may or may not be an Anchor, in and of itself, and might or might not contain any Anchors. But it is the place that the Ghost seems compelled to haunt, and that's enough to keep the living away, as well as serve as a source of Essence.

Wraiths who reside in such a place - often called a "Haunted Mansion" by younger folks - have to walk something of a tightrope act. On one hand, it's free room and board, and they don't have to do much of the upkeep, thanks to their "landlord." They also don't have to worry about their own Anchors being compromised by their presence, there.

On the other hand, a lack of personal Anchors means that the place might be useless in a Storm, unless the house, itself, is the Ghost's Anchor. Plus, the residing Ghost is capable of noticing them if they make too much noise, or drain too much of its Essence.

If the Ghost decides it's had enough, and picks a fight, it might be powerful enough to give them some real problems. Of course, once it's frightened them off, it's probably going to go back to Sleep and forget the whole thing. But it might Wake up, too, which causes its own set of complications - most notably, the possible need to get a new Haunt.

There's also the danger of Reapers stopping by, hoping to catch some easy prey. If they find out the place is crawling with Wraiths they might break off and molest someone else. Then again, discovering a mother lode of ghostflesh might be enough to make them chance an attack, or go back where they came from and bring more Reapers along for the hunt...


Wraith Haunts

Another, more "proper" type of Haunt is one where a Wraith has one or more powerful Anchors in the building, or else the building, itself, is the Anchor. Such places provide protection and a source of Essence, but must be defended at all costs, lest the Anchor be damaged by the living, or something else. The Wraith's direct ownership comes with the need to manage the property, and see to its upkeep.

There are also cases where a single house, or apartment, might be the Anchor of several different Wraiths. These "Shared Haunts" are quite valuable, as a lot of Essence can be gained there by several different people, and more hands are available to keep it safe. This makes them more secure from takeovers, and less likely to be raided by Reapers, or the Damned.

On the other hand, a shared Anchor does not always a happy Circle make. Such Haunts are sometimes brimming with tension, hurt feelings and outright hostility to one another. There's also the danger of someone getting Lost on the premises, and no one realizing it until it's too late, and the afflicted is trying to burn down the house.



There are also those dark blots on the psychic landscape that produce metaphysical overlap between the world of the Living and the Dead. These Shadowlands can be anywhere, but as they are most often caused by generations of suffering, or a great burst of horrid atrocity, they tend to be centered on places where people lived. And these are, perhaps, the archetypical "Haunted Houses" that have given rise to those ghastly stories of old.

Most Wraiths choose not to live in these "Shadowhaunts," unless one or more of their Anchors are inside of one. Those Shadowlands without Anchors provide no Essence, and while the Storms will not rage inside of them, the Damned are often drawn right to them, sensing the ability to deal with foolish mortals.

{Then again, Reapers won't go anywhere near a Shadowland, for some odd reason, which makes them good places to fall back to if all else fails.}


Unusual Haunts

Musty old houses, drowning pools and creepy graveyards aren't the only places that people die in, or get attached to.

There have been records of Haunted trains, airplanes, submarines, boats, subway cars and other such vehicles. The "L" in Chicago reportedly has a battery of Ghosts and Wraiths attached to various trains. They even say that the Titanic could be its very own Necropolis - and a powerful one at that - but no Wraith's ever been down there to look.

There have even been stories of: Haunted doll houses, where the Wraiths all assumed tiny size and lived amongst the doll furniture; Haunted videotapes, whose Wraiths fattened like ticks off of the emotions being "watched" gave them; Haunted beds that offered dreams of passion, or heart-stopping fear; and Haunted animals, who lived much longer than they should have, and were always at the center of terrifying occurrences...