Wraith (specter)

Wraiths (2d6)

Spirits of fallen warriors, doomed to walk this realm in torment. These nebulous specters cling to the darkness, forever searching to absorb sustaining energy from life.

Might 3

Nature 6 (Depleting, Menacing, Dooming)

Kill: 13

  • Ghostly Charge +1s Feint
  • Decaying Destiny (special)

Banish: 9

  • Tortured Wail +1D Defend, -1D Attack

Flee: 6

  • Incorporeal +1D maneuver

Instinct: Drain every last hope from the living.

Armor: Spectralmail (as plate)

Wraiths can see in the dark, but suffer -1D in sunlight. The wraith is an ethereal being that is immune to ordinary weapons. Wraiths can only be harmed by silver, enchanted, or elven/dwarven weapons or by spells damage. Wraiths hold magical armor and weapons that cause the skin to chill upon contact.

The Decaying Destiny weapon provides no die bonus or unarmed penalty. Characters damaged by the weapon test Will vs. Nature. Suggested failure: reduce current nature by the margin of failure.


I wanted a classic 2e type of wraith. I noodled around with the specials quite a bit and settled on the above mechanics so far.

I ran six of these wraiths against a party of three 7th level characters last night. It went pretty well for the group, and it was a tough battle. The party lucked out and had some great strategies that paid off.

In our homebrew campaign, the Veil to the West has lifted, and the elves can no longer reach their afterlife. So, lots of crazy elves (both living and undead) running around.

The party’s elf ranger is motivated to better understand what is going on with this situation and is part of an elven death cult. She played her belief and heedlessly jumped down into the elven wraith’s chamber to put these spirits to rest.

The party went all out, and two characters blew all their rewards in the conflict. The elf had supernal vision up and cast a bunch of spells including destiny of heroes and eldritch darts to give the party an edge.

I thought they might open with a maneuver, so I started with a feint action because that fit the tricky nature of the monsters. The party had an interesting strategy where they counted on some spells to risk the Attack-Attack-Attack. In the first round, the servitor and elf took out two wraiths each, and the dwarf finished off the rest.

The big deal changer was the Simulacrum from the playtest spells:

Because the mirror-imaged Simulacra took the hits, the party did not lose any rewards or their disposition. Such a great spell!

Huh, interesting to see after the conflict. Honestly, I would go bigger with the Decaying Destiny and drain 2 fate or persona points. Level drain in D&D is no joke.

The dwarf didn’t finish off the rest either, he set the tone by killing 2 right off the bat! :slight_smile:

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What about removing Fate/Persona by a margin of success?

The Decaying Destiny weapon provides no die bonus or unarmed penalty. Instead of removing hit points, the wraith’s blade slashes through the skein of destiny: first removing unspent Fate points and then unspent Persona points. If the character has no unspent Fate or Persona remaining, test Will vs. Depleting Nature (Ob 6). Suggested failure: the wraith drains one level from the character.

This way, the severity of the hit directly affects how much of your urd gets whacked.

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I have couple of edit suggestions.

  • You might include weapons of elven/dwarven make in your list of weapons they are susceptible to.
  • “have Darkvision” should be replaced by “can see in darkness” as its a specific DnD term.
  • If you wanted to include a callback to the LotR you might include that non magical melee weapons that strike a wraith become to cold to handle and must be dropped.
  • I would suggest that the last line be changed to “Wraiths who died together often congregate in groups of 2d6 members.” An individual wraith seems like a tough monster for a mid level party.

With regards to the Decaying Destiny, I like MoS as a mechanic. I am wondering though if draining Nature rather than level makes more sense. Like, if you drain levels are you reseting the spend totals for fate and persona? That seems weird to me. You could go another route and “effectively remove” a level that can be restored by an action.

You could for example tax Nature and when a permanent nature rating is lost “remove access to the character’s highest level benefit, until their nature is restored to it’s previous rating.” This would allow you to tax temp nature by MoS the same as fate or persona. Not every hit from the wraith would mean lost nature on that hit, but it would sting and put a lot of fear into the players.

Made some edits.

Nature doesn’t feel right for the wraith. Some other monster that does stuff with nature could be interesting though.

Fate and Persona are the stuff of levels. Going for that 2e vibe, but just taking away a level per hit is too harsh. But, yeah, if you lose a level, you lose everything it entails, just like those old school wraiths.

Perhaps it should pull from the spent fate/persona pools, and if it lowers those enough it reduces levels? Either that or level drain should be part of the suggested compromises. Either way, it feels a bit too harsh for me right now.

Thanks for the feedback.

I did consider that, but the problem becomes record keeping. If you alternate between Fate and Persona, the GM has to keep track of all that for all the players. Or, solutions like starting on fate and then alternating seem too complicated.

Since the level drain is a suggested failure, it is up to the GM to invoke. That gives the GM options. Plus, there is a Will test to avoid. Plus, armor and helpers can take the hit so that the character is not damaged.

I imagine level drain could be part of the negotiations in a compromise. I am leaning toward this a little, but the D&D version was hit = drain. No save.

Fate and Persona are awarded to players and not to the characters they’re playing, so taking away a player resource like this feels a little antithetical to the game, but I suppose that’s what you’re going for so to each their own.

If I were using Wraiths in a game, I’d probably modify them to remove tests for advancement instead of Fate/Persona/Levels. I’d change the last paragraph to:

The Decaying Destiny weapon confers no bonus or unarmed penalty. Instead of removing hit points, the wraith’s blade slashes through an adventurer’s very essence: remove tests the character has logged for advancement. Start by removing skill tests, then Will, then Health, then Nature. If a character has no remaining tests for advancement, the character drops out of the conflict (their remaining disposition is lost) and they receive one of the following conditions: Alienated, Ashamed, Blinded, Deafened, Delusional (Mordite Press - Worsening Conditions). If a character already has the Afraid condition, the GM chooses the order in which skill tests are lost; otherwise, the player chooses the order.

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I’m late to this party. For what it’s worth, I agree with Kashain that going after player resources rather than character resources is a bad idea. I would include tests as part of that meta-currency though.

While I’m (obviously) in favor of looking to D&D for inspiration, I think there’s a danger in adhering to it too closely. Honestly, level drain was a bad design in D&D, IMO. I don’t have time to go hunting for the history, but IIRC the level drain design’s origin is in two things: 1. trying to frighten players rather than just the characters, and 2. taking down a notch players who were acting big in their britches because they were of a high level. I’m personally not a fan of either of those motivations.

I would much rather consider it in terms of what the design was trying to model in the first place rather than trying to create something that mirrors that design in Torchbearer.

My first instinct would be to drain current Nature or to simply apply conditions according to the margin of success.


Thanks for the feedback. Interesting stuff.

The draining of Nature seems like the best bet. That should generate some fun strategizing table chatter.

Edited to this:

The Decaying Destiny weapon provides no die bonus or unarmed penalty. Characters damaged by the weapon test Will vs. Nature. Suggested failure: reduce current nature by the margin of failure.

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