Something in me - Dark and sticky
All the time it's getting strong
No way of dealing with this feeling
Can't go on like this too long

Digging in the Dirt - Peter Gabriel


The first division in undead society - at least past the matter of being Asleep or Awake - is caused by the last moments of every Wraith's mortal life.  

The means by which one dies mark the dead in ways that are both indelible and unquestionable. They provide Wraiths with with the source of their Deathmarks, and an affiliation towards certain Numen. And they also make each Wraith stronger in one regard, yet weaker in another, as though they were caught in some kind of spectral balancing act.


Deathmarks: Noticeable changes to a Wraith's Corpus that are a signature of the the manner of their death. These "Deathmarks" can be Shaped away, or hidden by other means, but a Wraith's "default" appearance will always have these features.

Numen Affiliation: Most Wraiths have a choice between two Numen to have an Affiliation with. This means that they pay less Experience to learn Arts in that Numen. They also may reroll two dice, rather than only one, for each die on a Numen roll that comes up 10.

Advantage: Upon dying, Wraiths get a one-dot bonus in a particular Attribute. This can take a Wraith above 5 dots.

Disadvantage: All Wraiths also gain a nasty reminder of their death. Sometimes these are negative Modifiers to certain rolls, and sometimes these are general conditions.

Death Trigger: The connection between the Wraith's current existence and the ghastly half-life of her time as a Ghost is more than just a bad memory of time lost. If the Wraith sees a particularly harsh reminder of how she died, her Shadow will take advantage of the psychic shock to attempt Catharsis. And when this happens, the Shadow may make its roll as though its Angst were 2 higher than it actually is.


Those slain by Violence are something of an angry breed, hence the nickname of "Ragers," "Redfaces" and "Bruisers." They know too well the cost of anger, and yet they are marked with an odd propensity towards it, reflecting in an increase in their strength. They also become attuned to either controlling fear in others, via the Numen of the same name, or channeling their rage and pain through the strains of Kinesis. And their anger will become all too clear if they are presented with a close reminder of how they, themselves, died, as they may slip into Shadowstate without meaning to.  

Deathmarks: 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.

Numen Affiliation: Fear or Kinesis

Advantage: Strength +1

Disadvantage: May go into Shadowstate involuntarily if they get extremely angry, or have an act of extreme violence done to them, their friends or their Anchors.

Death Trigger: Seeing someone die like they did, unless they intentionally cause the death.


Those who succumbed to Sickness or Starvation are conversely granted an increase in their stamina, as if to make up for their bodies' failure. These dead are known as "Sickies" and "Plaguebearers," even if they starved to death, due to the horrid miasma of disease and sickness that surrounds them. The experience of having died in this all-too-earthly fashion lends them an affinity towards either the Bios or Embody Numen, as they have either gained an insight into the workings of the human body, or forced themselves to be for so long that Embodying now seems second nature. 

Deathmarks: 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. 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.  

Numen Affiliation: Bios or Embody

Advantage: Stamina +1

Disadvantage: A sickly miasma of disease or look of terrible hunger causes them to lose dice from Presence and Manipulation rolls. These rolls all have a -2 modifier. Fellow sickies are not affected by this negative modifier.

Death Trigger: To see someone die from the same disease or condition. If the Wraith helped cause the infection, the roll is +2.

Old Age:

The ones taken by Old Age are often referred to as "Elders" or "Grandparents," when they're not being derided as "Antiques" or "Old Farts." Having forced themselves to live as long as they did increases their resolve, just as having gotten so old makes them more attuned to the Bios or Decay Numen. But they also face the danger of giving up too easily, or falling into a deadly rut - leading to easier Ossification if they're not careful about it.

Deathmarks: 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.

Numen Affiliation: Bios or Decay

Advantage: Resolve +1

Disadvantage: May Ossify if they remain inactive for too long. All their Ossification rolls have a -2 penalty unless they were being active at the time.

Death Trigger: Seeing mortals give up to mortality and old age without a fight. If they know the mortal well, it's +1.


Happenstance takes many a victim, and grants them an increase in their dexterity as if to make up for the whole thing. They are also granted affinities with Kinesis and Fate, which may give them a better chance the next time around. However, all "Accidents," "Whoopsies" and "Slip-Ups" are also cursed with suffering physical flashbacks to their deaths, both on important anniversaries and in eerily similar circumstances.

Deathmarks: 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.

Numen Affiliation: Fate or Kinesis

Advantage: Dexterity +1

Disadvantage: Can suffer physical flashbacks to their death. Anytime she sees someone die exactly like her, pass the place of her death, or comes upon the anniversary of her death, the Wraith must roll her Resolve + Composure or spend a Scene reliving the whole thing.

Death Trigger: Seeing people die because of a stupid accident that could have been prevented. If they could have reasonably helped to prevent it, but didn't, it's at +2.


The "weirdoes" and "lunatics" who died due to their own Insanity are not often popular, even if they might have a talent for the much-needed Castigate Numina as a result of wrestling with their inner demons. This may be because they can also have a talent for the Fear Numina, instead, or perhaps because their mania followed them even unto death, in the form of a post-mortem insanity that can never be healed. The fact that their composure is raised to help counter this handicap is often lost on those who would judge them.

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

Numen Affiliation: Fear or Castigate

Advantage: Composure +1

Disadvantage: Must begin play with a mild "Derangement" that can never be fixed. Pick one from The World of Darkness, pp. 96 - 100: ideally, it should have something to do with how the Wraith died, though not always.

Death Trigger: Seeing people surrender to insanity, whether permanent or temporary. {Unless the Wraith caused that insanity, of course.}


Also unpopular are those whose deaths are a Mystery, even to them. Bereft of Deathmarks, they stand out like sore thumbs, and could develop a talent for any Numina at all - including ones that are hard to come by, or possibly even unique. Their wits have been sharpened by the uncertainties of their death, but they will need them, for they are compelled to seek out any new evidence of what may have happened. And once the mystery is solved, their proper Deathmarks appear, and they can no longer be referred to as "blanks," "enigmas" or "questions."

Deathmarks: 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.

Numen Affiliation: One Common or Uncommon Numina of choice

Advantage: Wits +1

Disadvantage: These Wraiths are compelled to seek out new evidence concerning their deaths. If they find out any new evidence concerning their deaths - even a hint of it - they must make a Resolve + Composure roll at -3 to avoid dropping everything and following that lead up.

Death Trigger: To be harshly confronted by the fact that they don't know what happened to them.


The most unpopular Dead of all are those who died due to the hand of Fate in action - mostly because no one but the "Touched" know who one another are. The "Condemned" sport proper Deathmarks according to how they died, but the why of it revealed only to one another, in a special Deathmark only they can see. The hand of Fate upon them makes them more manipulative, perhaps because they are more attuned to how the world works, and they can have an affinity for either the Fate or Embody Numen along similar principles. But that hand can also be very controlling, and many of the "Puppets" find out that it can control them just as easily, occasionally turning them into automatons and sending them off on some unguessable errand.

Deathmarks: Those who were Fated to die 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.

Numen Affiliation: Fate or Embody

Advantage: Manipulation +1

Disadvantage: The Fated run a constant risk of becoming a puppet of Fate. Anytime the Story calls for it, the character will be hijacked and made to do something. The player will not know what this is, and the other Wraiths will have to discover this on their own - provided they know anything's happened at all.

Death Trigger: The same trigger as however they died: those who died because of violence will have the violent trigger, and so on.