n all human cities there’s one part of town (barren, rusted section, where miasmal odors befoul the air and even the poor do not venture) that, when mentioned by the living, inevitably produces the reaction, “You don’t want to go there.” Odds are, that’s the local Necropolis.
A Necropolis is a city of the dead; a place where wraiths gather and Nihils open more frequently. In the Shadowlands, it is a teeming, bustling center of activity, as most of a city’s wraiths can be found here at some point during the day – or night. To the living, however, the streets and crumbling buildings that correspond to the Necropolis are unwelcoming and desolate, spotted with abandoned lots and filled with the cries of scuttling rats and other vermin.
A Necropolis is a colony of Stygia, and is part and parcel of the Hierarchy. It is the political and social center of local wraith existence. The politics and intrigues inherent to existence in a Necropolis occupy much of the attention of those wraiths dwelling within it. Centered on a Citadel and divvied up into Domain, Hierarchy Necropoli are relatively stable places for the dead to dwell. Most wraiths native to a given Necropolis will know one another by either name or reputation. To a stranger, however, a Necropolis is a wasteland of crumbling buildings, dark streets, and peering eyes.
Renegade Necropoli, on the other hand, tend to be more along rough-and-tumble lines, where any service can be purchased (for a price) and unwary wraiths always run the risk of being enslaved or annihilated.
A Domain is defined as the amount of territory a wraith or a Circle of wraiths can control. The Hierarchy does officially parcel out Domains in Necropoli, often marking the borders of the territories controlled by the local Citadel with immobilized Thralls Moliated into flaming torches.
Unofficially, most wraiths claim the areas around their Haunts (in the Skinlands and Shadowlands) as their Domains (or “turf”), and can back it up de facto if not de jure. While many of these Renegade Domains aren’t recognized by the local Hierarchy authorities, most Legionnaires have the intelligence to go into them in force, or not at all. Many Legionnaires have found themselves devoid of support when they wandered from Hierarchy-controlled streets into the back alleys of the Renegades.
Haunts are earthly connections between the worlds of the living and the dead. Great passions – terror, agony, betrayal, lost love – have weakened the Shroud so completely in these places that the Shadowlands and Skinlands nearly overlap. In Haunts, more than in any other place, wraiths feel at home.
Ironically, the darkest emotions thin the Shroud most readily. Loss and torment of all kinds seep through the membrane and soak into the very existence of the place where they transpired. Ghosts, many of whom may have died near the Haunt itself, journey through the Shadowlands to savor these passions and to touch the living world again. Back alleys, battlefields, morgues, graveyards, crumbling houses, serial killers’ torture rooms, accident-prone crossroads or treacherous curves, bars and nightclubs where despair and desperation gather – all of these locations make good Haunts.
Many wraith groups seek out a common Haunt; once there, they stake their claims and hold them against all comers. Visitors, both living and dead, are usually discouraged. In the living world, haunts seethe with gloom and despair; people avoid them unless they’re depressed, insane, or just plain stupid. These areas are also often superstitiously called “haunted” by the living. In the Shadowlands, Haunts are prime real estate, and the “owners” guard their territory well.
Other wraiths prefer to use their Arcanoi to wear on the Shroud, creating Haunts in places of their choosing. Recently, some enterprising ghosts have experimented with taking their Haunts online, though whether or not they’ve succeeded is a matter of conjecture.
Domains are almost entirely based around Haunts; the more powerful the haunt, the larger and more important the domain. While the buildings and streets around the Haunt might be patrolled, the only thing of true import is the haunt itself. If pressed, wraiths will give up every inch of the rest of their Domain before they give up; their Haunt. After all, it is both strength and shelter.
The largest and strongest Haunt in a Necropolis is called a Citadel, and it serves much the same function as a medieval castle. Strong points of defense against invasion and centers of commerce, Citadels are the hearts and minds of their Necropoli and form the political and social center. While most Citadels don’t actually appear as castles or fortresses, they still stand as barriers against assaults by Spectres, Renegades and Heretics.
Usually a Citadel will correspond in the Skinlands to an abandoned warehouse or series of buildings, burned out tenements, a strip mine, a dump or some other expanse devoted to decay and destruction. In the Shadowlands, however, Citadels are often fortified with relic beams and timbers, or reinforced with soulforged buttresses and bricks. Every citadel is constructed with Maelstroms in mind; a Citadel that can’t survive the fury of the storm is no Citadel at all. They serve as safe points for hundreds or even thousands of wraiths during the deadliest storms.
Most Citadels are held by the Hierarchy, and have a strong presence from one or more of the Legions’ military side. Various Legions constantly vie for control of the Citadels, and often one or another has dominance. Theoretically, Hierarchy Citadels are exclusive to Hierarchy citizens, but in the Shadowlands hard-and-fast rules can get conveniently blurry. After all, every hand that can hold a weapon is welcome when the Spectres come calling. Renegade and Heretic wraiths are often allowed in Citadel gates for purposes of commerce, if someone can be found to vouch for them. The Hierarchy sets out beacons, often-chained Thralls who have been Moliated into flaming torches, to mark the boundaries of the Necropolis and to establish the sphere of influence of a Citadel. These beacons are commonly used as navigation points and are sometimes the only lights available. Some Citadels charge tariffs and fees for admission. Most simply require a wraith to possess a Hierarchy brand or be accompanied by someone who does.
There are Renegade and Heretic Citadels scattered throughout the Shadowlands. Most are captured Hierarchy Citadels refurbished by their new owner; others are raised in areas so desolate and barren that it’s not worth the Hierarchy’s effort to come knock them down.