t times, vast storms known as Maelstroms will emerge from the Tempest and wash over the Shadowlands. Maelstroms sweep away all that lies before them: unprotected wraiths, isolated Haunts, all those not properly sheltered or bound in Stygian chains. Everything. Citadels and strong Haunts can withstand the assault, but pity any wraith caught outside the Citadel gates when the winds from the Tempest start to howl. Maelstroms reaffirm the almighty power of Oblivion. These storms are feared not only for their destructive power, but also for the terrible Spectres they bring with them. The Spectres use the shrieking winds as a sort of monstrous steed, riding them in order to make war upon the Citadels and Necropoli. In many ways, a Maelstrom is as much an invasion as a storm, for the invading souls pillage and destroy all they encounter. Only if the invaders are fought and bested can the storm be calmed.
Maelstroms resemble massive, roiling storms. Their impenetrable black mists constantly whirl and seethe; things, faces or beings can often be seen within. Being caught in a Maelstrom is akin to traveling through the worst sections of the Tempest. Soot fills the air, and a wraith’s very Corpus is abraded away by the sandblasting force of the winds. The storm’s “inhabitants” often seem to scream in time to the roar of the storm’s winds. A Maelstrom’s fog contains motes of soot and skin, and is greasy and slightly nauseating to any who breathe or touch it. The stench of the fog is difficult to remove, often clinging to a wraith’s Corpus for months or even years.
In the Skinlands, a Maelstrom often heralds a particularly bad storm or other natural disaster. Seldom is the Maelstrom’s passing unnoticed by the living. Among wraiths, Maelstroms have assumed vast cultural importance. Great Maelstroms are used to mark “eras” in the Underworld; time is typically counted from the last Great Maelstrom.