Orpheus Errata


Sean Smith and J. Edward Tremlett


~ Updated! 12/5/2003 ~

This list is based off of questions asked - and answered - both on White Wolf's Orpheus forum or by private email. Many thanks go to those who asked, and to Lucien Soulban, C. A. Suleiman and Matt McFarland for taking the time to answer.

If you manage to come across an officially-answered question whose answer isn't anywhere to be found in an Orpheus product, or else get an official clarification to a rule, or explanation of a less than clear rule, please email Sean and J at mistersake@msn.com and reggies_ghost@hotmail.com. respectively, so we can put it up here.

Q. Orpheus states explicitly that a character's starting Vitality is set at the end of the character creation process. However, if I spend experience points later on to raise my permanent Vitality score, is the new, higher permanent Vitality my new 'starting Vitality'? Or is my starting Vitality always going to be where it started from, no matter how high I raise it?

A. The new, higher Vitality rating is your new 'starting' or baseline Vitality.


Q. In that vein: if my Spite Rating goes two higher than my Starting Vitality, then all my character's Stains are manifested. If I was to buy up my Starting Vitality with experience, thus decreasing the distance between my Spite Rating and Starting Vitality, then do the Stains submerge once more, or do they remain visible?

A. They submerge and vanish because your new Vitality Rating is now offsetting the Spite differential. If you gain another Spite rating, however, they return full bloom.


Q. What Backgrounds are unavailable to Ghosts? There's some confusion in Chapter Three, as it says one thing in one place and another thing in another place.

A. Ghosts cannot take Health Insurance or Personal Trainer - final answer. Detective License slipped through as a mistake, but frankly, a ghost that can manifest should still be able to use his detective license to snoop around as long as someone carries his credentials when he ghosts. He has to get the license before dying, however. Health Insurance is unavailable because of... well, death! Trying to fake an injury as a manifest ghost isn't going to work because you can't really pass a doctor's exam.


Q. Is it be possible to use the Forebode Horror while NOT Projecting?

A. Not the way the rule is written, but frankly, it's good Storytelling to let a Banshee's Forebode Horror "leak" into her living life. Most psychics have little control over what they see or experience, so it's perfectly reasonable that the player controls the Horror when her character is a spook, but the Storyteller controls the moments Forebode might leak into the course of one's living life.


Q. Can Hues call up their Stains by spending Vitality no matter what their Spite Rating is, or do they have to wait until it gets to 4, just like everyone else?

A. Yes, they can use Stains, regardless of their Spite Rating. They are already touched by Spite through their pigment addiction, so they don't have to wait until hitting a Spite Rating of 4


Q. The Scythe stats for Grimm the Reaper in the main book use Aggravated Damage. I thought it was a typo, but the same stats are used for Valentino in Shades of Gray. Could you fill us in as to why the Reapers' Scythes have these stats?

A. It's a typo... of sorts. It wasn't supposed to be there, but End Game will have a write-up on Aggravated Damage and why it doesn't really appear until that book. That said, the damage should have been listed at Lethal (because I don't believe on deliberately depriving the players and Storytellers of immediately relevant information), but that's the difficulty of editing books (oh, say
Difficulty 8). Sometimes the text requires macro edits, and you occasionally miss the micro-edits.


Q. Were there ever plans for other Laments?

A. We were planning on including a fifth lament up to the point after the promo sheets went out. We then decided that the fifth lament ended up by being too cheesy, the way certain products try jamming inane classes or spells just to fill content (you know, spells like Bigby's Grand Slam Breakfast or classes like the Rancor Jedi).

Each book, however, does have something new for character generation or playability, so there's always crunchy stuff for players to enjoy and material for Storytellers to use to turn those new toys against the players : )


Q. What was the 5th Lament going to be?

A. I was thinking about a projector who could only project within a hundred feet of his body, but retained enough control over his body that he could guide it as well. Then that opened up a nasty can of worms on whether this constituted splitting of dice pool or if it detracted from the other players (with one player controlling two characters). Ken Cliffe had his reservations about the Lament, and I kept having flashes of "me and my pet zombie" jokes, so the idea got nixed in favor of more stuff to encourage group cohesion.


Q. I can't seem to find solid rules as for how long Manifesting lasts. Is everything scene based?

A. Pretty much. Because Vitality is both your health (as a spook) and your ability to manifest and use Horrors, it gets drained fairly quickly. So, manifest and many powers use scene-based durations to prolong their effectiveness.


Q. I couldn't find out how much damage is inflicted on living victims of a Banshee. It isn't listed in the description of the Horror's system, but there is a line implying it was supposed to be in there.

A. Ack! Well, it was in the final files, so what probably happened was that the conversion of the files from me, to Ed Hall, to Production, probably resulted in the snafu. Still, here's what you folks need to know starting with the paragraph in which it's included:

"If a character spends two or more Vitality points, then she may use this Horror to physically wound one or more people directly in front of her, and within ten yards of her. If attacking a group of people, she may not distinguish between them; everyone in the group risks taking damage since they are all within range of her scream of fury. Victims may roll Stamina to soak damage, with an appropriate soak roll being (difficulty number of Vitality expended + 3). Failing this, the targets suffer lethal damage equal to the number of successes scored by the character."


Q. Why did you go with single tract notation as opposed to dots and boxes for Vitality? It seems to me that you do essentially have temporary and permanent (starting) Vitality.

A. Unfortunately, this again a fault on my end. Partially, it's because your starting Vitality never changes, so it's essentially dead space on the character sheet that was better served making space for other things like the Default Abilities. Unfortunately, I should have included a space for registering Starting Vitality. It's one of the curses of Development. Your nose is often so deep in the project that you miss the tiny details or overlook things in the rush. Sorry about that.

(Note: you can get a corrected character sheet PDF here, courtesy of Orton)


Q. It's stated several times that a skimmer's body could be taken over by a Spectre while he's 'out', but if that happens then what happens to the Skimmer's spirit? Does it immediately become a ghost, or just trapped outside its body until either the body is killed or the Spectre is somehow forced out? Can the Skimmer try and take his body back in some way?

A. Well, we kind of left that open for interpretation and future developments, but frankly, I dislike including material that "automatically" changes the state of your character without his involvement. Good horror shouldn't be capricious.

If a Spectre takes over your body, your status as Skimmer doesn't change. You just need to find a way of pulling the Spectre from your meat before he does lasting damage or does, in fact, get you killed.

That said, you could also say that a possessed body is lost to the Skimmer, thus changing him into a hue or spirit, because the true horror of Skimming is the danger inherent in leaving your body unprotected.


Q. So is it only skimmers that can be possessed or are sleepers at risk too?

A. Again, play as you will, but frankly, that's trickier. The body is "dead" until the cradle starts reversing the process for reanimation. Once the reanimation sequence begins, the Spectre likely has a short window of opportunity to jump in once the heart starts again. Usually, by that time, the sleeper's spirit is back and will likely fight the Spectre off. One on one, the character is likelier to win, unless facing a Reaper.


Q. How would someone get Spite points if they have zero? It seems that by default your character starts with a given Spite rating but no Spite points, and also if you hit ten you roll back to zero after upping your Rating.

A. As far as Spite is concerned, tapping Spite isn't the only way of raising it. If you pursue a malicious act or ignore someone in distress, the Storyteller has the option of hitting you with Spite points or even a rating.


Q. How do you get more Spite by tapping it?

A. Every time you tap Spite, you have to roll as many dice as points tapped. (Or one die in the case of tapping rating.) The difficulty is 7, and for each success, you manage to avoid gaining a new Spite point/rating.

The example shows Ben, my poltergeist signature character, tapping three Spite points. After rolling a 2, 5 and 8 - only one success - he'd gain two temporary Spite points.


Q. What are Stains, and how do they work?

A. Stains are negative qualifiers: things you hate or dislike about yourself, but taken to the extreme. You choose three at character creation, and can choose an additional two for freebies if the Storyteller allows.

Stains don't manifest on you until you will them to appear - embracing a negative aspect of yourself to gain an advantage ("Okay, so I'm an angry guy... but I'm going to draw on that anger to beat the shit out you!")

Your three Stains automatically appear when your Spite exceeds your Vitality by +2. You also gain new Stains for the difference in Spite and Vitality, thus manifesting at least five different Stains. These stay until your Spite is lowered. By that point, you're damn near a Spectre anyway.

And, it also indicates why Spite is so dangerous. You often don't know how close someone is to the edge until it's almost too late (great for their characters hiding their condition or those supporting characters about to dive hard).

You can access your Stains, as mentioned previously, by tapping Spite, but that runs the risk of increasing your Spite points or Spite rating. We call it tap instead of spend, because we didn't want players thinking they could commit all the harm in the world and then drain their Spite by spending it on powers. The chief use of Stains isn't as a marker for high Spite, but as encouragement to pursue nastier paths.


Q. Juggernaut is unclear in its use when giving bonuses to Stamina. The success chart says that it adds to your armor rating. But the bullet-pointed description (p112) says that it "acts like one dot of armor, canceling one health level of damage against the character." So which is it?

A. It's supposed to be one die of damage soaked.


Q. What about Dead Eyes? Is that on all the time?

A. Dead Eyes is always active and does work when you're in flesh. You can see PLEs, Spectres and projected entities at all times, except when the aforementioned are inhabiting an object or skinriding someone else, or they're using a special Thorn like Chameleon (which pops up in a later book). Then, you can't see them.