our storyteller must approve all background purchases. Players must have a reasonable explanation for all their character's Backgrounds. The backgrounds from Prime 5.1 have not been included because – "The following backgrounds are from Laws of the Night and are appropriate for all characters, except for Wraiths and Specters."

Artifact: Level four Artifacts require Domain Storyteller approval, and level five require Regional Storyteller approval. Commonly fueled by Pathos, Artifacts have certain functions or powers that aid the wraiths who carry them. Artifacts are highly valuable, and greedily sought after by the vast majority of wraiths. Any Restless who chooses the Artifact Background must create (in conjunction with the Storyteller) a story explaining reasonably where and how she obtained the Artifact, and how she managed to hang onto it. Characters who take this Background can purchase it more than once with each purchase representing one Artifact of the appropriate level. Conversely, multiple points spent on Artifacts can instead grant a character a more valuable and potent item.

  • 1. A seemingly insignificant Artifact, such as soulforged jewelry or some oboli (wraith money).
  • 2. A minor Artifact, such as a Moliated Torch or a soulsteel mask.
  • 3. An Artifact of some purpose, like a sword of Stygian steel. Others include armor, homing beacons for travel in the Tempest, and Nihil in a bottle.
  • 4. A major and useful Artifact, which the Hierarchy would dearly love to possess. Examples include a gun that doesn’t need relic bullets, nets for fishing relics out of the Tempest and the like.
  • 5. The most useful and powerful of objects, the envy of all other wraiths. Charon’s sickle and mask, the raft of a Ferryman and other such objects of power qualify as level five Artifacts.

These generally require Pathos expenditure to power them for a scene, the cost of which is equal to the Background rating of the Artifact.

Eidolon: A character cannot have a rating higher than five in Eidolon. Characters with five levels of Eidolon are candidates for Transcendence. Just as a wraith’s Shadow is her baser self, her Eidolon is her higher self. However, while all Shadows have voices, most wraiths’ Eidolons are mute. They exist as a simple urge toward goodness, if at all. Some wraith’s, however, have stronger moral senses than the average. The Eidolon of such a wraith, while never achieving the terrible strength of the Shadow, can directly impact matters and foil the Shadows’ machinations. Each Trait in Eidolon can be spent once per game to foil the stratagem of a wraith’s Shadow. This does not mean retest; it means that the Shadow has been decisively defeated for the moment, and cannot act again for another hour. On the other hand, once an Eidolon Trait is used, it is gone for the duration of the game.

Haunt: There are some places in the Skinlands where for some reason the Shroud is not as strong as it should be. Whether the place is old and spooky or actually haunted, Wraiths in that place find it easier to cross the Shroud or use Arcanoi. A circle of Wraiths can create a Haunt by crossing the Shroud repeatedly and using their Arcanoi to suspend the disbelief of the Quick (usually by scaring them), but this takes many years of time. Most Haunts are found by a lucky few, taken over by an ambitious circle, or given to a Wraith by one of the factions.

  • 0. You’re homeless, and have only your Fetters for refuge.
  • 1. It's so small you have to sleep standing up.
  • 2. It's not too fancy, but at least you have room to breathe. Too bad you can't do that any more. (A small studio)
  • 3. You finally have room for some guests. (An apartment or a tiny house)
  • 4. You're living in luxury (or as close to it as you can get in the Shadowlands), or you have an unusual or fortified Haunt. (A large house or mobile home)
  • 5. Your Haunt's in Deader Homes and Gardens. (A mansion)

Each rating of Haunt lowers the Shroud rating in the area by one. For example, if the Shroud rating would normally be eight, a second level Haunt would lower it to six. While performing Arcanoi in the Haunt, a Wraith gets one free retest per Haunt rating. These retests can only be performed once per session. While anyone may receive the benefits of the lowered Shroud rating, the Haunt’s owner can only use the retests. A circle of Wraiths can share the benefits of a Haunt, but they must put in enough Background Traits to make the Haunt rating equal to three or higher. They must also provide ample background justification for it. While anyone in the Haunt can share the lowered Shroud rating, only those who put background points into it can share the free retests for Arcanoi. In this case, the number of retests for Arcanoi for any particular character is the number of Background points that character invested, plus one. If a player character donated Background Traits to Haunt and is destroyed or otherwise is put out of the game, then the Haunt rating is made of the background points of the remaining Player Characters. If the new Haunt rating or number of remaining circle members is less than three, then the circle will not receive free retests for Arcanoi until the situation is remedied. Regardless of the combined rating of the Haunt, the shroud can never be lowered more than five levels with this Background. Domain Storyteller approval is required for Haunts rated at four or higher.

Legacy: People dedicate their lives to leaving something behind to mark their existence after they're dead and gone. A Legacy is not the memories that people have about a Wraith (see Memorandum) or things that represent their ties to the Skinlands (see Fetters), but rather it is a measure of the accomplishments that they have left behind. A Wraith's Legacy can be just about anything such as a work of art, a term of slang, or a scientific formula.

  • 1. Somebody printed a poem you wrote in an obscure journal.
  • 2. They still have your paintings in an art gallery.
  • 3. You helped found a charity.
  • 4. You drafted important laws during your tenure at public office
  • 5. You started the disco craze.

Once per story a Wraith can travel to the site of her legacy (or some representation of it) and engage in a Simple Test for each level of the Legacy. Each success (win only) heals a normal wound instantly, or an aggravated wound (with an additional half an hour spent at the legacy). For example, a Wraith with a Legacy of two makes two Simple Tests, but wins only one. In this case, the Wraith can only heal one wound in that one sitting at their Legacy. A Wraith can only use a Legacy for himself; he can't use the Legacy to heal others. Wraiths cannot combine Legacies like Haunts, nor can a Wraith have a Legacy rated four or higher without Domain Storyteller approval.

Memoriam: The power of the memories of the living can be intense indeed, strong enough to feed the appetites of the dead. Memoriam is a measure of how well the living world remembers a particular wraith, and how much strength he can draw from that. During gameplay Memoriam is useless, but at the start of each evening’s gameplay, wraiths with Memoriam make a Static Test for each Memoriam Trait they possess. Memoriam traits cannot be bid.

Relics: Relics are the ghosts of items that somehow crossed over to the Shadowlands after their destruction, or items so loved by their owners that they crossed over after their owners died. Unlike Artifacts, Relics have no special powers; they're just useful in and of themselves.

  • 1. Something useless but with sentimental value. (A wedding ring)
  • 2. Something you might trade or find some use. (A pair of sunglasses)
  • 3. Something useful, but simple. (A knife)
  • 4. Something with moving parts. (A gun)
  • 5. Something powerful or really useful (A car)

Complex Relics (or Relics with moving parts) require a Pathos Trait to power them for a scene. It should be noted that some relics need more than Pathos to work (example, relic guns need relic bullets).

Status: Characters no longer receive free Status Traits based on their Power Class. This does not remove status from characters already in play before the release of this revision. Status is more of recognition of authority than anything else. It does not, however, measure actual worth or achievement. Many in the bureaucracies of the Underworld, just as in the Skinlands, have done little to deserve the power they have. However, whether Status is earned or not is irrelevant; wraiths who have it can use it in a variety of ways. A wraith can purchase status in any of the 3 major factions of the Underworld: Hierarchy, Heretics or Renegades. This indicates the wraith’s initial affiliation. It is possible for a wraith to have Status in multiple factions – perhaps the wraith is a spy, or has been serving as an emissary – but not common. The more Status a wraith has within a group, the more respected she wields in that organization, and the more favors she can call in. With Status also come duty and responsibility, and wraiths with high Status find themselves responsible for decisions, which affect the existences of many lesser Restless. The Status Background is obtained by taking Negative Traits at a ratio of one Trait per one level of Status. Storytellers will sometimes hand out extra Status or increase a type of Status Trait’s cost, depending upon the needs of the chronicle.

  • 1. Get a restraining order against a character from a higher-up; Call for and receive basic help from fellow faction members.
  • 2. Order around recent inductees into the faction (within reason); Acquire basic equipment from other faction members.
  • 3. Obtain financial resources or useful relics from the faction; Lead faction members into conflict or in negotiations; Have Authority to cut deals with other factions and make them stick.
  • 4. Lead large numbers of co-factionists; Obtain Artifacts; weapons and powerful relics from the faction; Temporarily reduce others’ Status within the faction.
  • 5. Temporarily bar others from the faction; Obtain potent Artifacts from the faction (on loan); Plan and implement strategy for the faction; Call on faction members with lesser Status and have them respond.

Status Traits are not usually bid, though they can be used in Intimidation or similar Challenges. Losing a challenge where a Status Trait has been bid causes a temporary loss of face, and the Status Trait Bid is lost until the next game (at which time it returns).

In Oblivion, Status is primarily a roleplaying tool. Saying, "I’ve got three Hierarchy Status Traits," when arguing with someone over where to send the Legionnaires is another way of saying, "I have authority in this situation; do you?" At Storyteller discretion, Status Traits used in this matter are considered to be gone temporarily and are regained at the rate of one per night of play. By using Status in this manner, the wraith is considered to have called in her favors, bullied her underlings, pulled her strings, and temporarily exhausted some or all of her resources.

Guild Status: Domain Storyteller approval is needed to gain or purchase Guild Status, which may only be acquired with Free Traits or earned in game. Membership in a Guild is quite uncommon, and players should be encouraged to avoid it at character creation. There is yet another kind of Status that wraiths can obtain: Status within the shadowy organizations called the Guilds. Guild Status can be purchased during character creation for two Negative Traits per level. To belong to a Guild is to belong to an illegal organization, and the Guilds take their secrecy very seriously. Guild Status is harder to obtain than regular Status, and the benefits of being in a Guild are not necessarily as tangible as those that come with belonging to, say, the Hierarchy. Guild Status Traits can be used to, among other things:

  • 1. Learn Guild signs with which members of the Guild identify themselves to others.
  • 2. Receive help with or tutoring in an Arcanos (a.k.a. apprenticeship).
  • 3. Receive financial assistance or relics form fellow Guild members.
  • 4. Be granted sanctuary at a Guild-owned Haunt.
  • 5. Acquire the physical assistance of other Guild members, or get an apprentice.

Guild Status can also be used for a variety of other things at Storyteller discretion. Membership in the Guilds stretches across factional lines, and being able to identify oneself as a Guild member can be helpful in staving off many conflicts. Guild Status is Guild-Specific. Status in the Artificers’ Guild does not carry over to the Pardoners’ Guild, and so on. It is extremely uncommon for a wraith to have Status in more than one Guild.