Another Wraith hack (The Underworld as post-apocalyptic setting)

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Another Wraith hack (The Underworld as post-apocalyptic setting)
« on: November 23, 2011, 12:43:05 PM »
I loved Wraith: The Oblivion when it came out and it still has a special place in my gamer heart, so I was intrigued by the Necrology hack by fnord3125 (Brian Peters) and read through all of the posts yesterday. It's rekindled my interest in running a Wraith campaign and I think that Apocalypse World would work well for the type of stories I want to do with Wraith these days.

Fnord3125 mentions in his hack that he chose to focus on the interactions with the living world and so chose to cut a lot of the Wraith politics, etc. I really like the direction he's going, but it got me thinking about running a Wraith campaign in the opposite direction: Instead of focusing on Wraith as a way to tell ghost stories, I want to use the Wraith setting for a dark, fantastic quasi-"post apocalyptic" game (with your own death being the "apocalypse" and the necropoli, Shadowlands, Tempest, etc. being the fucked-up post-apoc world you're in now). Really, it's the setting (especially the Tempest, Labyrinth, Oblivion, Malfeans, etc., plus the epic scope of some of the storylines) that really grabbed me. Though (like Necrology), I'm planning on lessening or cutting the influence of Stygia and the Hierarchy because I want it to be more local and about the characters in the campaign...

In many ways I'm keeping it very close to Apocalypse World--even keeping many of the same playbooks with cosmetic re-skinning. There's also a lot of great stuff in Necrology that I plan on stealing liberally (with grateful acknowledgements to fnord3125).

I'll be adding more posts soon as I continue to work on this. I just started thinking about it yesterday and am still in early phases.

Also, I admit that I may not ever finish this. I'm in the middle of another campaign right now and haven't run the idea by my players yet. We've only played one Wraith game. It was a smaller story arc within a larger Changeling campaign. It's still talked about fondly over a decade later, but it's also made the group nervous about ever playing Wraith again since I went straight for the jugular--it was a classic "underworld descent" right before the climax of a long, epic campaign and I made it very dark and intense (even for Wraith)...

-John B.

Re: Another Wraith hack (The Underworld as post-apocalyptic setting)
« Reply #1 on: November 23, 2011, 05:28:45 PM »

For a couple reasons (including being new to AW and also because I like the creative challenge/boost that comes from constraints), I'm planning on re-skinning AW with as little changes as possible. Whenever I can, I want to take what is already in AW and just change the names and flavor text.

Therefore, for the playbooks I'm starting by taking the standard AW playbooks (plus the Hoarder limited edition playbook) and thinking how I can re-skin them to create the kind of Wraith characters and setting that I want.

Also, while I'm using the Wraith Arcanoi as a starting point, I tore several of them apart and split up the powers among several playbooks. I also have no playbooks based around powers focused on interacting with the living or skinlands. Every playbook will have one move for dealing with the skinlands or living.

  • Angel (Angel): Death is hard. Your corpus can be torn apart, your shadow gains in strength, and (perhaps worst of all) your self-image warps and deteriorates over time. Angels can heal your corpus, soothe your shadow, and restore you to yourself, at least temporarily. Of course, they can also change other things while they're mucking around in there.
  • Masquer (Battlebabe): Any ghost can shape their own corpus to some extent, but the masquers make it an art form. Whether beautiful or grotesque, these fascinating wraiths are sought out as bodyguards, assassins, and spies.
  • Oracle (Brainer):The Tempest (and Oblivion underneath) howl at the edges of every wraith's awareness. While most wraiths occasionally open themselves to the madness in hopes of gaining secrets, the oracles turn it into a vocation. They claim to gain glimpses of the weaves of fate in the madness. They also have the ability to peek right into your soul and shadow and then... twist.
  • Hellhound (Chopper): The Necropolis is a chaotic and dangerous place, swarming with slavers, heretics, spectres, and worse. Some wraiths hammer together gangs and wander the Necropolis in strength. Whether they are slavers, renegades, a makeshift legion, or just a ragged group looking out for their own, they are a force to be reckoned with.
  • Harbinger (Driver): While the Oracles open themselves to the Tempest, only the Harbingers have the skill and balls to travel through the Tempest regularly. It's a dangerous job, and the Harbingers have a reputation as unstable at best, but they are the only ones that keep the necropolis even slightly connected and the only hope of safely reaching Stygia or the fabled Far Shores (except, of course, for the rarely seen Ferrymen).
  • Reaver (Gunlugger): Many wraiths are dangerous, able to channel passion and spite into tangible form, but the reaver are in a league of their own. A reaver has a weapon beyond the norm. Perhaps they have a rare artifact gun and an even rarer sack of bullets--each an extremely rare artifact bullet or a complete soul forged into a single bullet. Or perhaps they can channel their outrage into blasts far more devastating or wide-reaching than other wraiths. Or perhaps they can shape their corpus quickly into particularly wicked weaponry. Whatever the nature of their weapon, they are dangerous and feared for good reason.
  • Hardholder (Hardholder): The necropolis is far more empty than it seems, largely filled with the distorted reflections of things from the skinlands. When the Maelstroms rage through the necropolis or Tempest, there are few places to take shelter. Those few places are the hardholds and they are held by rugged, hard wraiths. Many wraiths congregate to the hardholds, making them tempting targets for slavers and rivals. A hardholder has to be strong enough to hold what they've claimed.
  • Fisher (Hocus): There are many stories and explanations given for why things are the way they are in the Underworld, as well as what lies beyond and how to get there. Most wraiths fear Oblivion and attempt to shore themselves up against it, clinging to what they can't let go. The Fishers offer a different, religious or quasi-religious view of things. These heretics preach about the Far Shores or Transcendence and gather followers. They are growing in number and gain significant power from their followers--both strength in numbers and strange glimpses into Oblivion itself. Are they liars, fools, or the last and best source of hope?
  • Spook (Operator): It's a dangerous world divided among dangerous and feuding factions. In such a setting there is great opportunity and great danger for those enterprising wraiths willing to do what others need done.
  • Artificer (Savvyhead): To forge souls into objects, you have to have a soulfire and tools. That soulfire has to be forged out of your own flesh. Soulsteel is the most valuable commodity in the Underworld, forming the basis of barter. The Artificers are those half-crazed soul-smiths who can shape and repair items made of soulsteel. They can also forge wraiths into soulsteel (officially destroying their consciousness in the process--at least everyone hopes that's true). In their forges and workshops, the caul between the shadowlands and the tempest is often thinner and artificers get glimpses into the Tempest, and even the Labyrinth or Oblivion itself.
  • Chanteur (Skinner): The chanteurs can use sound (usually music) to make other wraiths feel something again. It's something beautiful and moving and intense in an ugly world and the arrogant chanteur is well aware that there are wraiths who would give their unlives to experience that again.
  • Hoarder (Hoarder): Artifacts (items from the skinlands infused with so much significance or emotion that they crossed over when destroyed) are a rare and valued commodity--in some ways more sought after than soulsteel forged from wraiths. The hoarder can't ever have enough and they use their shrewd appraisal and bargaining prowess to gather everything they can into their possession. Their singular obsession also gives them a rare insight into the connections between other wraiths and their chains. They can sense and follow these connections, as well as severing, splicing, or strengthening them. They are both valued and feared by other wraiths, for a wraith's chains are quite literally at the core of their unlives.

I've started looking through the moves for the various AW playbooks. I have a couple ideas about which ones I can just re-skin or tweak a little and where I'm going to have to cut existing moves and/or add new moves, but I'm just getting started with that.

Anyway, does anyone have any thoughts so far? I realize there's nothing mechanical so far so there's not much to comment on yet. Stay tuned.

Re: Another Wraith hack (The Underworld as post-apocalyptic setting)
« Reply #2 on: December 04, 2011, 10:18:02 PM »
Whoa, Wraith was a game I loved to read, but I only ever played it once.
I'm impressed that you managed to make so many of those factions fit reasonably well with playbooks.
How's it coming along?

Oh, and scarcity is already a theme in Wraith. I think it has a lot of potential to be an awesome setting for an AW hack! :)



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Re: Another Wraith hack (The Underworld as post-apocalyptic setting)
« Reply #3 on: December 08, 2011, 03:00:57 PM »
I really dig this, I think the re-skinned playbooks drip with all kinds of great weird color and makes me want to play this. Really looking forward to seeing more of this.

- Colin

Re: Another Wraith hack (The Underworld as post-apocalyptic setting)
« Reply #4 on: December 09, 2011, 12:27:20 PM »
Thanks for the comments, guys. I haven't really worked on this since my last post because I suddenly got busier than I expected. Plus, with the time I've had I've been reading a lot of threads about AW and about hacking AW and trying to get a better basic understanding of the blood and guts of AW so I can do a wraith hack more justice.

But I am still working on this so stay tuned... :-)

Re: Another Wraith hack (The Underworld as post-apocalyptic setting)
« Reply #5 on: December 30, 2011, 01:32:29 AM »
My group is pretty lukewarm to the idea of running a wraith campaign, so this wraith hack has moved to the back-burner. I still love Wraith: The Oblivion and I still think it would really well as an AW hack. I expect I'll come back to this at some point, but it's pretty much dead for now. If/when I pick it up again, I'll share what I'm doing.

Sorry... :-(