No, really - I don't want to join your gang. And I don't want to hear the initiation speech, either. I'm just passing through, and that's all I'll ever be doing here.

You leave me alone, and I'll extend you the same courtesy. Deal?

(illus. by Lost Soul)

As long as there have been Wraiths to have a society - of sorts - there have been Wraiths who do not wish to belong to that society, or remain largely unaware of it. The latter can usually be blamed on naivete, and is often fixed by dragging such Wraiths off to the nearest Haunt to meet some new "friends." But there is little cure for chronic malcontents, loners, or those who refuse to bow to anyone - no matter how well-meaning - and thusly eschew membership in the Concords.

Such Wraiths are referred to as Solitaries, and tend to be considered the dregs of Deadlands society. In fact, even the most rulebound members of The Order would rather deal with a Haunter than one of these loners - at least you know what you're getting with one of the Haunters.

But while the Solitaries are without Concords, and don't hold to any specific organizational patterns, it would be wrong to write them off as complete loners. They do fraternize with other Wraiths - most often one another - and seek social contact, help and kinship. They just do so on their terms, and not anyone else's, which makes most of the difference.



Legend has it that the first Solitaries were headstrong Wraiths who utterly refused to follow the words of Charun, as spoken by the Ferrymen during the time of the Concord. Some versions of the tales say that they refused to believe the Ferrymen truly spoke in His name, while others say that they had no desire to bow to anyone, and might have even spat in the face of Charun, Himself.

As it was, they could only spit in the face of His servants, but that was more than enough. As punishment, they were declared outcast, and banished from the early Necropoli. Rings were permanently bound around the base of their thumbs, so that all might know them, and none were allowed to sell to them, buy from them, nor give them shelter or aid of any kind. To even speak their names was to commit treason against the Emperor.

This state of affairs only lasted as long as the Concord, as the "New World" soon crushed Charun's proxy rule underfoot. But while His laws were soon reduced to suggestions, Charun's disdain for those who would not join the first Concord - later called The Order - was to transfer over to all Concords as they evolved, or were created. And to this day, Solitaries are still reviled, or at least avoided, for their refusal to kneel to the Ferrymen.

While these stories are quaint, they don't explain why members of Concords who would rather die all over again than kneel to the Ferrymen - much less Charun - seek to avoid the Solitaries as well. The more realistic explanation is that, given how Wraiths see social contact with one another as essential, those who willingly cut themselves off from society are seen as crazy and untrustworthy, if not Damned waiting to happen.

Get Lost, Weirdo

Of course, the surest way to keep someone outside of the circle around the fire is to tell them they're not welcome, which is part of what perpetuates the Solitaries. If they're already on the social black list for having told someone "no," then why bother to join up with anyone else?

Such close-minded attitudes on the part of other Concords helps continue the cycle of avoidance that Solitaries find themselves caught up in

Solitary culture tends to be made up of small knots and whorls of Wraiths, all living independently of one another. These groups often hole up in small Ghost Haunts, nestled in the extreme peripheries of the Necropolis, where the only regular visitors are Pardoners on a mission of mercy, Freewraiths seeking Essence or the genuinely curious. Some of them do congregate around an Anchor, but realize that doing so will just make them stand out all the more, thus bringing unwanted attention from Concord recruiters.

Solitaries in a group are often close to one another in post-mortem age, and when they died. This is because most people, if presented with a choice of companions, tend to want to face death with those they share a cultural understanding with, rather than a hodge-podge of times and places. That said, it's not unknown for a few younger Wraiths to hook up with an old-timer, or a group of more experienced Wraiths to "adopt" a newcomer, but these are exceptions rather than the rule.

There's no absolute sense of hospitality at work when new Solitaries come into a group: its members generally have to carry their weight, and share the load, if they want to stay. Being accepted, then, is no little deal, and this helps create a bond of loyalty and trust within the group. {It goes without saying, though, that the loyalty and trust can sometimes be grossly misplaced, on either end.}



Solitaries are a widely-varied bunch, but most of the ones who stick with being "loners" for any period of time tend to have one or more things in common: a notable distrust and/or disgust of Wraithly society, an extreme dislike for being told what to do, or crippling anti-social tendencies. Of the latter, little needs to be said, other than such Wraiths often accounting for tales of "hermit ghosts," most of whom disappear into the wilderness for lengthy periods of time.

A significant number of Solitaries are young Wraiths, most of whom were taken by violence or accidents, or are unsure of how they got into the Deadlands. The sense of betrayal, unkind fate or utter uncertainty can keep a Wraith from feeling at ease around would-be "friends" who want them to join a Concord. After all, how do they know it wasn't some kind of scam to bring them here? {A question that, in the case of the Haunters, may not be complete paranoia...}

As for those Solitaries who've been around for a long while, a number of them actually do become Solitary by name and inclination. These Wraiths tend to cut off contact with others altogether, and coming around only when they need something. And as they tend to be more powerful than most, it's rare that they truly need anyone else, which makes their reappearance into the Necropolis something of an event.

Not that they tend to appreciate the attention...

"Honorary" Members

There are small towns, outlying suburbs and unincorporated areas where the Concords have never been able to establish a real presence. Those towns' Wraiths have their own ways of dealing with "life" after death, and may or may not have a social structure all their own. But in the eyes of the other Concords, anyone who isn't in a Concord is a Solitary, which makes these Wraiths Solitaries... even if they aren't.

This only becomes a problem if one of these "Solitaries" has one or two Anchors inside a Necropolis, and must come inside it once in a while to visit that Anchor. Once she's encountered, and unable to account for who she's "with," she's in danger of being tagged as a Solitary, and treated accordingly.



If the Solitaries have a central belief, amongst their many different viewpoints, it would probably boil down to the Luciferian credo I Will Not Serve. Their distrust and/or disgust of other Concords may be what marks them as Solitaries, but it's their unwillingness to dance to any tune other than their own that keeps them that way. They may one day "see the light," and join up with a Concord, but until then they will stay with the other outsiders, well beyond the bounds of "civilization."