Strengths: Destruction of their "bodies" doesn't kill them. Immune to disease, hunger, etc, though their bodies may not be. Resistance (but not immunity) to mental magics.
Weaknesses: A wraith who loses his grip on his mind may lose control of his body. Thus, things which cause insanity, psychological, or spiritual trauma are of special concern to the Wraiths.
Lifespan: Virtually immortal.
Part of the Consortium: Yes
Susceptible to D13: No. In fact, sometimes a wraith can 'skinride' an infected person and override the disease, thus controlling the person.
Race Leader: The Imperator of the Wraiths is currently Khufu, the once-living Pharaoh and commissioner of the Great Pyramid at Giza. It's known, generally only by the Wraiths, that he is the force protecting Cairo from destruction. Beneath the Imperator are the High Tribunes, judges and war-chiefs of large areas. The High Tribunes of North America are Hettanashi in the east and Locust in the west. Each local area tends to have a Praetor who reports to the High Tribune.
Background: The Pale Empire is as old as humanity. These creatures, known as the "Restless Dead" or just in simpler terms, "ghosts" are typically known as those disembodied beings who play tricks on or frighten the living. However, having any effect on the world whilst in an incorporeal form is a draining experience. Little can be accomplished in this manner, for most ghosts are stuck in the Pale Lands, a realm of death which overlays our own, but never quite touches it. That is why most Wraiths worth their salt become Skinriders.
Skinriding is very akin to possession. A Wraith binds their essence to a person, and takes control of their mind as well as their body. Unless the person has a particularly strong spirit (as most Wraiths live on in this world through their own force of spirit), the person who once inhabited the body will rapidly become less and less evident (sort of like letting the air out of a balloon), until they no longer exist. On rare occasions, Wraiths are forced to share the bodies they have taken, or even do so out of their own sense of fairness or because of a pact with the person. But, 9 times out of 10, the original personality and spirit of the skinridden person is overwritten by the wraith's.
Some Wraiths choose their host by looking for someone strong, or with certain traits. Others choose based on desires in their former life. If they were previously someone rich, they might look for a millionaire to possess. If they were a mother, they might look for a woman with children about the same ages as theirs. Other wraiths choose people who are completely opposite of who they were in real life. One of the most famous wraiths of all time, known as Hettanashi, had been a 90 year old woman confined to a wheelchair when she witnessed some war atrocities before subsequently dying, herself. She returned to Skinride a famous boxer, and after avenging her village, went on to serve as the Tribune of North America.
Not everyone who dies can or will become a Wraith. Vampires, Fae, Robots, Underkin, Elohim, Nephilim, Sylvani and Shifters do not generally have the ability to become Wraiths upon final death. Mages, Mutants, and Cyborgs can become Wraiths, but obviously retain none of their original powers. However most Wraiths were human in life.
Once bound to a person, a Wraith can not become fully incorporeal again until the person dies UNLESS they are willing to sacrifice a large portion of their magical reserves, thus leaving them vulnerable when they take on another body. After the skinridden's death, however, the Wraith is released, but the process of ripping the Wraith away from the body can be incredibly traumatic. Depending on how long they've been bound to the person, they may not be able to bind with another host for several days up to several years. It is possible for a Wraith to "manifest", or to partially detach from their host, revealing their true form. When manifest, their host is dormant, and can be left behind, but it is still psychically connected to them. Both beings exist in physical form, but damage done to the wraith is transferred to the host. If a manifest Wraith takes enough damage, the host will die, and the link between wraith and host will be severed, but any damage at all accrued in this manner is twice as hard to heal. For the Ghede Legion, this damage is translated into rot that is not easily healable without another performing Necromancy.
A wraith is most powerful in manifest form. Their magic is raw and powerful, as they have a direct link to the Pale Lands. Their magic in this form rivals that of the fae. They gain the ability to levitate, even fly. Their ectoplasm becomes stronger. Wraiths in manifest form additionally gain the first level of empathy, and after casting, can feed off of the emotions of humans, using those emotions as fuel for their other powers OR to heal damage to their manifested form (but never both at the same time). This feeding does not have any effect on the humans. Wraiths are also very vulnerable in this form. They take damage easily, both from magic and from physical attacks and (as said above), that damage is twice as hard to heal.
It is difficult to kill a Wraith, because they are, in fact, already dead. However, it is possible to put a magical "ban" on a wraith, preventing them from entering another host after their current one dies. The magic school of Necromancy contains this particular power, though it is a difficult one to perform. There are ritual magics which can bind a wraith to a location, or banish a wraith from a location, as well. It is also possible to use spectral magic to drain a wraith to a dangerous degree. If this is done, and then their host is killed, it significantly lengthens how long it will take them to move to another host -- even for a Ghede. Lastly, the art of Ectoforging can be used to permanently transfigure a wraith into a physical object. A wraith who becomes mentally damaged through certain magics, or too insane, will also no longer be able to Skinride.
Most ghosts remain in this world to accomplish some task or seek some vengeance. Some, after completing that task, no longer have the willpower to remain in this world. They simply expire and their soul continues the natural path to the afterlife. Those who remain become either denizens of the Pale Empire or join the Gray Crusade. The Gray Crusade (restricted in-game) seeks to break open the spirit world so that there is no longer a barrier between the dead and the living, and if that can not be accomplished, they will simply make all of the living....dead. They are forces of destruction, chaos, and insanity. The Grey Crusade, however, is often too insane to skinride. Only 10-15% of Grey Crusade ghosts can manage the feat. However, considering there are many more Grey Crusaders than Pale Empire, there are more skinriding Grey Crusaders than one might think.
The Pale Empire, however, retains their connections to the living, and believe that life, ultimately, is valuable in some way. For as long as there have been wraiths, the Pale Empire has been fighting the Grey Crusade, trying to keep in check their malicious destruction of the world. This doesn't really mean the Pale Empire are all nice guys - if they believe the ends justify the means, they will often do some pretty horrendous things. However, their tactics are generally more reasonable than the Gray Crusade.
The Pale Empire has several law codes, but central among them is that Wraiths should not reveal their existence to those who knew them in life. They may interact with them, and often do, but they may not reveal their true identity. For instance, if a woman dies and comes back as a Wraith, she may skinride her son's teacher, but she may not, as that teacher, reveal that she's actually his mother. It is also accepted that should a wraith do something that causes a person to die and become a wraith, they are then responsible for that other wraith's behavior -- to the point where they'll often be punished if the new wraith does not follow the laws of the Pale Empire.
The current Imperator, Khufu (yes, the one who commissioned the great pyramid at Giza) attended the Consortium out of the concern that, should humanity die off, the Pale Empire would no longer be able to utilize hosts. While the Consortium was highly critical of the way Wraiths use humans, and established some guidelines for which humans could be chosen (with a preference given to those who knowingly enter deals with Wraiths), in the end the Consortium found there was just no way they could exclude the Wraiths. Due to the enormous death toll of humanity via D13, the ranks of the Gray Crusade have swollen (mostly because those people who die tend to be violently insane), and in order to support the Pale Empire in their fight against the destruction of all life, the Consortium tends to "look the other way" on the few humans they have to use in order to effect change in the world.
Update: As of mid 2023, a huge push by the Grey Crusade drove back the Pale Empire, requiring many garrisons to retreat from their posts. Many pulled back to Cairo and other Empire-held locations. However, since then, the Pale Empire has managed to reclaim ground. All of the High Tribunes have returned to their headquarters, and the Pale Empire once again has pushed back the Crusade. Convergence's garrison, abandoned during this time, remains empty. But, wraiths continue to be under the control of the Pale Empire and are beholden to their laws. Failure to uphold said laws can result in consequences.
Legions: The various subraces of Wraiths are known as Legions. It is not known why certain Wraiths end up in certain Legions, but it is believed to have to do with the essence of their soul. All Wraiths can excrete "ectoplasm", which has different effects depending on the Legion. Additional Legions may be added by approval of the admins.
Specters:There are few things more monstrous or twisted in the world than a Specter. Even the agents of the Grey Crusade give Specters a wide berth when they know they are nearby. Spirits of pure vengeance, hatred, or anger, in their manifest form, Specters tend to be hideous...monstrous beings of pure nightmare intended to terrify. Within the Pale Empire, Specters tend to be excessively loyal and honorable despite their terrifying nature, usually because they often exist as Wraiths due to betrayal of some sort. They are, therefore, often trusted with quite sensitive jobs, such as rooting out Grey Crusade spies, hunting and torturing the Pale Empire's enemies, and acting as assassins or mercenaries. (The ectoplasm of a Specter is a poison, and the more that is applied, the more ill a person will become. A manifest Specter strikes fear into the hearts of all sentient creatures, but they can increase this effect with the expenditure of magical energy. Skinriding Specters can also cause fear, though to a more mild degree.)
Phantasms: If a famous place or thing is said to be haunted, it's most likely the domain of a phantasm. Often clinging to the world due to unfulfilled desires, Phantasms range from beautiful ghosts haunting old mirrors to jilted brides haunting churches to artists clinging to unfinished masterpieces. Destruction of a Phantasm's "link" can often cripple them for a time, until they find another item or place to link to. (Phantasms can always sense what's going on (to some degree) within 10m of their link. They can hear some of the conversation there, and watch some of what's happening there, but things will fade in and out like an old radio. But, no matter where they are in the world, they can sense if their link is in trouble. They can also use their link to heal at a faster rate. Staring into that old mirror, walking that church aisle, or playing that violin allows them to heal their wounds very quickly. Phantasm ectoplasm causes a low-level temporary "link" with a secondary thing or place. They can only have one temporary link at a time.)
Poltergeists: Poltergeists, or just "Geists" as other Wraiths have nicknamed them, have a reputation for being mischievous pranksters to downright violently unhinged. Many of them don't even know why they have clung to the world of the living past their deaths. They remain just this side of sane enough to not fall to the Grey Crusade's crippling nihilistic psychosis. It's been difficult for the Geists since the onslaught of D13. When skinriding, they are often accused of being infected with the virus. Although a simple bloodtest can prove this theory wrong, Geists now tend to take more care in hiding their eccentricities from the world. (Ectoplasm of a Geist can cause moderate hallucinations of one sense at a time -- the target may choose of these hallucinations are visual, auditory, tactile, etc. A Geist also gains an extra level of Kinetic Magic, should they take that magic at creation.)
Yurei: Once mostly Wraiths from east Asia, Yureiare now more widespread and common in the west. Yureitend to be Wraiths that are particularly concerned with the protection of a person or group. Some Yureicome back to protect families or children, and others come back to take vengeance for wrongdoing done to a family or village. It's also common that Yureiare venerated ancestors or important personages within their lineage. Veneration of a Yurei, after death, can help fuel that wraith's powers. Yureiare particularly concerned with family values, though those values may be a bit skewed as compared to human values. (When scorned or angered, a Yurei can become a dangerous thing. Their claws and mouths full of sharp teeth manifest in the real world, allowing them to not only inflict physical damage, but damage to a person's essence or soul resulting in lethargy and a lack of will to thrive. The ectoplasm of a Yurei is a numbing agent, both for physical and emotional pain. The more that is applied, over a longer amount of time the more it will numb them.)
Ghede: The Ghedes claim a relation to the Ghede family of loa, voodoo spirits of the dead. They additionally claim that their Legion is led by Baron Samedi, though it's not clear if this is literal or metaphorical. The Ghede are often tasked with the protection of those places of interest to Wraiths: cemeteries, morgues, and funeral homes, and often work directly with the dead in some capacity. They typically have a somewhat morose sense of humor, are considered charmingly eccentric or, at worst, creepy and insane. (Ghede can only skinride the recently deceased, sparing the living, something no other Legion can do. They find it much easier to move between one host and the next, taking no damage as they move from corpse to corpse. However, this also means those they possess in this fashion are...always decomposing, though at a slower rate than they otherwise would. The ectoplasm of the Ghedes can be used as a low-level ward, protecting a place from intrusion by other wraiths or entities. The more days they apply their ectoplasm to the perimeter, the stronger the ward becomes.)
Spooks: There may be a reason why CIA agents are often referred to as "Spooks". The Legion of Spooks have always been involved in espionage. They often choose to skinride people who are somewhat plain, somewhat ordinary, allowing them to just blend in with the crowd. Information, the obtaining of it, and the trading or selling of it has always been the business of the Spooks. After all, even when they don't have bodies, they still have the information that they obtained. There are those Spooks who will go beyond common decency to obtain information, as well, so it is always a little dangerous to dangle a morsel of info in front of a Spook and then not give it to them. (The ectoplasm of a Spook is used like invisible ink, allowing them to leave messages which can only be read by their target or targets. If ingested, it acts like a truth serum. Spooks also have full control over their auras, allowing them to adapt their aura to mimic any supernatural or human that they've met, or to hide their aura completely, thus allowing them to pass race-only wards, though only temporarily...within ten minutes to an hour, that ward will begin to reject them. Spooks, and those in their immediate vicinity (a room) can not be scryed upon or tracked by any magical means, including supernaturally heightened senses. Conventional methods of spying and tracking still work.)
Liches:Liches tend to be created when a supernatural creature, usually a Necromancer, performs a Necromancy ritual in which they sacrifice themselves to become a more powerful Necromancer. Occasionally, Liches are humans, who simply have managed to gather an incredible knowledge of the occult and manage to 'connect' with something in the Pale Realm, usually a ghost, who assists them in becoming a Lich. Although Liches have, on occasion, worked for the Pale Empire, the vast majority of them joined the Gray Crusade, because of far fewer laws and restrictions to hamper their quest for power. However, recently Liches have either been switching sides, or declaring themselves neutral (or rather, on their own sides). Although it is said that a Lich would kill its own mother for magical knowledge, some Liches do this out of megalomania, and some out of a more understandable need -- such as wanting to find a way to bring someone back to life (in fact, occasionally the sacrifice to become a Lich is tied with changing places with a dead loved one, to varying degrees of success). The most interesting aspect of the Lich is that they are bound to their phylactery, an object to which they have anchored their soul. While this seems similar to a Phantasm, there are some pointed differences. The phylactery is created specifically to house a portion of the Lich's soul. For a long time, Liches could not skinride, because they are connected to these Phylacteries. However, in recent times, and with the cleverness of technology, Liches have begun to find ways to put their phylacteries into a person, through implants, or utilize a worn Phylactery to control a person for skinriding. However, if this internal (or worn) phylactery is destroyed, the Lich is immediately "kicked" to the nearest Phylactery and must figure out how to make a new worn Phylactery to skinride again, which takes at least a full moon cycle. If all phylacteries are destroyed, the Lich is destroyed. There is also a way, both through Necromancy and Ritual magic, to "seal" a phylactery so it can not be used by the Lich, and instead use it to have some control over a Lich. Thus they protect the locations and identities of their phylacteries carefully. (While it might seem like needing to use a phylactery is an incredible disadvantage, the pure power of the phylactery makes it seductive to some. Liches can call upon the power of their Phylactery to heal themselves incredibly fast (advanced regeneration fast). Though they can only do this once per phylactery per week. They can also "activate" their Phylactery to transfer their wounds to someone else, whole or in part. It takes two rounds to activate, and each additional round it is activated they can transfer 25% of their wounds, up to 100%. They must be touching the person to transfer the wounds. These wounds may heal or be healed regularly, but can also be healed with Necromancy as well. Lastly, in manifest form, a Lich may touch any of their phylacteries to transfer themselves to any other phylactery over the course of two post rounds. They obviously leave their body behind, if they transfer away from their body, leaving the body defenseless. Their ectoplasm does nothing special, though they can produce Paleplasm. All power is stored in the phylactery. Liches start with two phylacteries, one on or in their skinridden body, and one additional. They may only have one worn phylactery at a time. Additional phylacteries may be purchased at 4xp each.) (Suggested by Thatguy176 Ball)
Revenants:Hollywood would have you believe that Revenants are a bit like zombies...shuffling, mindless dead reanimated by magic or necromancy. Or, perhaps, chattering and insane creatures with no real will of their own, serving a powerful master. They're...close, and yet so very far. Typically members of the Gray Crusade, the Revenants are not, on their own, powerful enough to skinride. However, most Revenants start out as strong ghosts who are clever negotiators and deal-makers. They begin to make deals with other ghosts to lend them their power for a time. Those ghosts begin to cling to and coat the Revenant, so to speak, adding their power to make the Revenant more powerful. What they don't realize is that once they have done so...they really never are released. They fuse to the Revenant. In this fashion, a moderately powerful ghost can become powerful enough to skinride, and become a wraith. While this is a great way to amass power, it also has a downside for the Revenant. They tend to not only absorb the power of the ghosts, but some of their personality as well, often losing their own identity after some time, or even becoming unstable in their insanity. The Gray Crusade loved having the Revenants on their side, for their power to draw ghosts to the cause and utilize latent power, but not all Revenants are madly power hungry. Some just wanted the ability to walk in the living world again. Following the war with the Pale Empire, some Revenants began to strike out on their own, or to switch sides, hoping to 'find themselves' within the confusion of their conglomerated personalities. One thing to note is that due to some of their magic having "a mind of its own" so to speak, sometimes Revenants' bodies do things against their will, or learning to use those bodies can cause for odd twitches or a strange gait, thus producing the "zombielike" vision of how they move. Most can master it, in time, but many retain twitches and quirks indefinitely. (Revenants can often draw from the abilities and knowledge of ghosts attached to them. This means that once a day, they can make a journeyman roll in something, anything, not even on their sheet. Revenants can create magical pacts, in much the same way as Underkin Imps, though their pacts often end with the other person forfeiting their soul, whole or in part, to become part of the Revenant should the pact be broken. Unlike imps, however, Revenants can only have one magical pact at a time, so theirs tend to be more short term. The ectoplasm of a Revenant, when applied to or touched by another, makes them feel more inclined to obey the Revenant. The first application may do very little, but if they come into repeated contact with the ectoplasm they essentially end up a thrall of the Revenant, in much the same way as ghouls are to Vampires, or Blessed/Damned are to Elohim/Nephilim. They can only maintain three "ecto-bound" subjects at a time. This will register as magical enchantment to those with abilities such as Luminous Gaze.) (Idea adapted from suggestion by Ascilia Enoch)
(In addition to their Legion powers, Wraiths start out with two beginner magics.)