The Phantom Compendium:
“Nameless; faceless; formless.”
The Spectral State
There are those who had experienced death worse than others; those that were shocked by its traumas and broken harder by its cold grip. So severe were their horrors that soul parted from body and remained anchored to the earth — because the nature of their expiration was so wretched, so malformative, that it was capable of piercing the spirit and pinning it to limbo like a shackle. These woes are bound to the roots of the world. When men perish in great anguish, something dark stirs within them that manifests as a refusal to pass on. They become shadows of themselves while their once warm vessel rots atop, or within, the forsaken earth — a spectre, the spiritual undead.
Spectral beings do not arise from any dead alone, but those who have experienced great trauma — whether it be grave betrayals, inhumane deaths, or a deep emotional scarring — though to no certain rule. Detailed by the proto-Mystics of the First Synod in the Grimoire of Phantoms and studied at length by their inheritors, the spectral state of undeath exists in several different categories to no pertinent rule though each possess general likeness.
Within the makeup of spectral undead and those attuned to use it is the curious ethereal substance known as ectoplasm. Ectoplasm exists as an inbetween of lifeforce and mana, a primal substance yielded in the soul itself rather than the flesh. This quasi-gelatinous substance compose all ghosts, gravens, wights, apparitions, or any other likewise similar spectral entity. Typically, only capable of being seen within those capable of wielding it, it ranges from a paleness of sickly verdant green or ghastly cobalt, and those insidious shades in between.
Ectoplasm in the material world is a bewildering substance. Outside of spectres and Mystics, it has little potential to exist on its own and is of no discernable consequence or use. When it does manifest, it largely exists as an intangible and invisible substance, though has been known to be visible in what some can only describe as a murky, impermeable fog.
Though generally incorporeal in its composition, ectoplasm itself holds the potential to exist in solid states. These solid forms, like the ethereal variants, exist in no particular color, ranging from the spectrum of visibility of ghastly blues and smoggy grays to appearing incomprehensible.
The nature of any and all spectres varies from being to being. To no hard rule will an Apparition or Black Spirit be inherently evil, nor do the seemingly benign White Spirits follow a perfect moral compass. The affinity of spectral beings is as wild and ranging as the mortal souls they are composed of. Rather, spectres are classified into the nature of how they came into existence and their capabilities rather than any attempt to arbitrarily define their morality.
Overview of Spectrals
Most, if not all, phantoms follow a particular set of rules and shared characteristics due to their shared makeup of ectoplasm. Unless otherwise specified, spectres all share the following traits, abilities, and drawbacks.
Often just dubbed “ghosts,” newly risen phantoms are remnants of a mortal churned into incorporeal shape as a result of traumatic demise, the terrible events surrounding them, or because the victim was the vessel of so much willpower that they rose again to finish what they could not in life. Though they initially take shape as the ailing Gray Spirit, they may make use of their new immaterial capabilities to either follow the path of redemption as a White Spirit, or forsake their second chance by succumbing to the innate darkness of mortalkind — to become a Black Spirit, a scourge upon mortality that echoes relation to the forsaken geists of Ebrietaes.
To transition from the realm of the living to the purgatory of spectrality means to become an entity that is disconnected from the physical world in a manner where they cannot rightly influence it. Gray Spirits linger some form of unnamed plane between the material world and Ebrietaes, hampered by some unseen shackle that completely deprives them of interaction with the corporeal realm, but prevents them the release of death.
Distinct from any other spectre, a Gray Spirit is as the name suggests: gray. A Gray Spirit will typically appear similarly as they did in life or before their death, though shaded in depressing grayscale hues. There is no certain rule as to what age a Gray Spirit chooses to don as their primary appearance, though this usually favors the form they felt most confident with in life.
Notably, they bear the same proficiencies as the ghosts of yore: incorporeality. Gray Spirits are immune to most mundane forms of attack; for instance, trying to cut them with a ferrum sword will simply pass through them and leave their bodies unharmed. Equally so, these beings possess limited way to interact with the world around them beyond small feats of strength such as opening and closing a door or pressing switches. The exception to this being that Gray Spirits are extremely vulnerable to even the slightest amount of aurum — moderate sums of gold dust or lines of gold will prevent ghosts from crossing less they risk hasty demanifestation.
Unlike how ghosts once functioned, any sort of raw energy — be it arcanism, electric evocation, holy fire, or the raw flame — also run the risk of destroying these entities. However, magic that utilizes a physical component to try and harm these spectres will often be shirked off with ease, such as druidic manipulation of vines or telekinetic weapons.
Upon coming to undeath, a Gray Spirit does not inherently realize they are dead. Many of these entities will helplessly wander the remnants of their old life, going about their former tasks as if they were still alive. These delusions of life tend to continue unabated; ghosts of a farmer past will attempt to till their fields and live at home with their widowed wife until they come to the shocking realization of what they are.
When a Gray Spirit does reach an awareness of their new existence it can cause them to lash out in an unpredictable nature. As such, one can expect a Gray Spirit to become increasingly unstable as they adjust to their new state. While dubbed “gray” in reference to their form, these spirits exist in that way in more than color; they carry a potential to shift from friendly to malicious in an instant.
Every Gray Spirit passively siphons the emotional vigor of those they are around and are largely influenced by this. For this reason, these “newborn” spectres are largely impressionable by those who either choose to lash out at their presence or guide them. And like all undead, Gray Spirits experience a numbness to life itself. They cannot feel pain or warmth — instead they feel a disembodied chill constantly lingering within them, as some have described, which aches them onto madness that seeks to pull them towards a dark, insatiable hunger.
The Redemptive Path
Beginning down a journey of redemption, a path of serenity and peace of mind — a Gray Spirit must turn away from the debase hunger for mortal essence and focus on a purer existence. Rather than turn away from the humanity that made them, a Gray Spirit embraces the legacy of death and the person they once were. When they were confronted with the allure of darkness and violence, they chose restraint over vice. Gray Spirits who have chosen honor the mortality they once bore, those who have idealized sainthood and refrain from dark desires, bear some resemblance of the beings they once were or that they had once aspired to be.
Tales of the White Spirits speak of their magical grace and zealous nature; of saints who rose from death not to forsake, but to guide man toward righteousness, and suppress the darkness of curses hexed upon their souls. Such is the way of the White Spirit, and though they are bound to the shadow of undeath, the fire of justice and virtue burns within an ethereal hearts.
Though not necessarily white in color, a White Spirit’s form bears color to its ectoplasm and subsequently its passive appearance — soft, bleached shades of cerulean and blue. White Spirits, having had at least a full year to grow accomodated to their new form, control their appearance to greater degrees than their weaker predecessors, bearing the ability to morph their body into different variants of their pre-death racial form or even into smaller forms of fauna.
Like the Gray Spirit it is yielded from, a White Spirit possesses full incorporeality with its form, to no greater degree. Despite being more proficient with the capabilities of their ectoplasmic bodies, the nature of ectoplasm itself does not change for these entities as it does for other variants of phantoms — a White Spirit still is as vulnerable to fire, raw energies, and aurum in any quantity.
The hunger that once lured the Gray Spirits towards the Ravening Path is something that White Spirits have grown to suppress and even ignore the negative gnawing at their mind. What is left is a sort of mental clarity, a conciseness — wholeness.
Upon transitioning from a Gray Spirit into a White Spirit, these beings have trouble differentiating themselves from the mortal life they desperately linger away from. White Spirits often congregate in towns and civilization, yearning to be a part of life that rejects them.
Those who have been born of the blade seldom find solace in anything but. Once knights, crusaders, fallen clerics and paladins, a Revenant is the result of a spirit who has chosen to continue their righteous path when damned with the insufferable fate of undeath. To no rule, these spectres are bound to a code of chivalry. Unlike their kin of the Redemptive Path, the White Spirits, Revenants have forsaken the weaving of ectoplasm for dredging forth in damnation the martial prowess to harness the sword and shield.
Whereas spiritual beings are found lacking in prominence of their form, a Revenant is whole, in the physical sense. This wholeness takes the color of milky white to bleached blue hued “skin,” glowing vibrantly with an otherworldly aura to the eye. Unlike both the Gray and White Spirit, a Revenant finds themselves lacking in the traditional capabilities of the ghostly types of beings. Instead, Revenants are fully capable of wearing protective armor and wielding swords like they once did in mortal fashion.
For the cost of their physical strength, Revenants find themselves weakened to all forms of mundane weaponry as mortalkind would. Though a Revenant cannot bleed, limbs can be severed without causing a mortal wound. Only by delivering a mortal strike to the skull of a Revenant or stabbing it in its chest where a heart would be can end such a thing, until it later reforms and rises again.
To no rule, Revenants are kindred souls and warriors who have found themselves scorned with undeath. Many of these creatures were once the fervent and zealous holy soldier who found themselves afraid of death or simply wish to enact the last will of their God upon the earth. Subsequently, many Revenants find themselves conflicted with the duality of their existence: an undead abomination yet a soldier of their Holy ways.
The hunger that had once plagued the nature of the Gray Spirit no longer ails those who have become Revenant; they have made some peace with their new undeath and work towards their own self-righteous goals. Yet, as all spectres before them, a Revenant finds themselves unable to connect, to fully empathize, or experience a lover’s touch. Instead, they feel the constant chill of death, a constant, frigid coldness in each limb and in their minds, aching.
The Ravening Path
Peering into the oblivion of death does not bode well for those forever out of the graces of light. Beyond the shadow of redemption, there exists a hunger, a thirst, a lust in darkness and amoral fiber of mortalkind to violence and debauchery — the Ravening Path. When faced with a path of fortitude, charity and semblance of virtue, not all Gray Spirits are capable of passing through unscathed. Falling to the ravenous hunger and corrosiveness of power, these beings of terrible disposition find themselves addicted to feasting on the mortality they were once a part of.
Likened to the mischievous and tortured Geists of Ebrietaes, these soulsucking, maddened spectres who have given into addictive hunger and vice of the Ravening Path, a Black Spirit exists as a ghost who has moved on from forms of restraint to indulging in vice. Often violent, cruel, and sadistic, Black Spirits have perverted their undeath into the hunger that had consumed them, making use of their twisted composition and ectoplasm to fuel their will.
Unable to experience the peaceful slumber of death, Black Spirits take on a vindictive appearance typically as unrestful as they were in their last moments: mangled corpses holding their decapitated heads, heinous bodies oozing tar-like blood and the grotesqueness of a gore ridden face shown to the bone. Unlike the typically more benign White Spirit, Black Spirits range in color from bloody reds to deathly blacks, and anything in between.
Just as its spiritual cousins, the Black Spirit exists in a state of incorporeality and are unable to be struck with more mundane attacks. However, they are just as susceptible to aurum alloys, fire, and energy-based magic attacks.
A Black Spirit is largely defined by their lack of restraint rather than the makeup of their color. They have found no solace and peace in their undeath, often turning to vengeance towards the living for the unjustness of their demise. Unlike those who have managed to quench their thirst for life and blood, Black Spirits know no such boundaries. Instead, they crave the milk of life itself, desperate and addicted to it in their addled, broken state.
These beings are not inherently evil, nor do they exist hellbent on seeing the world burn. Despite how Black Spirits have earned a name as vengeful, murderous amalgamations of death, many exist with convictions and a semblance of morality. It is not unheard of for former mothers as Black Spirits to engage in saving children or women, though it is often the case that they would needlessly kill and sacrifice other innocents to achieve their cause.
Spoken only in the hushed whispers of folklore, banshees, faceless brigands, and the result of the fallen depravity of a spirit, wraiths exist as a spectre unlike their redeemed counterpart. Within the torment and suffering of all mortalkind, there has always been a form of wraithdom to emerge as the pinnacle of all ire and hatred. Unlike the wraiths of necromancy or the Abyss, the Witch Wraith exists as a lesser kindred soul, but one of much equal demented mind.
Donning wispy cloaks of black and eldritch fabrics, twisted black metal designs, the faceless Witch Wraiths exist nearly identical to the disposition they had in yore. Wraiths exist without any definitive true shape beyond a shadow of what they were in life; instead, they bind themselves in cloaks of blackened death and maintain their uncanny, nameless visage.
Strictly, the Witch Wraiths are bound in darkness that permeates any and everything that they wear. Color, unnaturally so, is drained from every garment, gauntlet, cloak, and cowl. Outside of this attire, Wraiths exist as shadowy figures and amorphous clouds of ectoplasm that only somewhat bear humanoid semblance and corporeality that allows them to enact the twisted depravity of their mind. Unlike any other form of spectre, a Witch Wraith’s voice is characteristically limited to speaking in incessant shrieking and heinous, grating whispers.
Volatile, angry, and irrational hatred — all these are characteristics of wraiths of past and present. The ectoplasmic variant, the Witch Wraith, is no different in this regard. Within the minds and torment of the Witch Wraith, these spectres are damned. Their minds are doomed with the prospect of never being able to touch, to love, to feel, or be at peace — for their mind always stirs with murderous intent and delusions of grandeur.
Most wraiths tend to be former kings and nobility that have been scorned, assassinated, and driven into exile by politics and the facade of kinship. Such prospects of working with others or banding together seldom happens, even among wraiths themselves: for they find something to loathe in every creature, both living and dead.
The Path of Perdition
There are those who have been damned by unspeakable magics, those who have been cursed for a fate beyond the sanity of a simple undeath. These beings live in perdition, a place far outside the stretches of the mind; beings who have been marked to live out the remainder their deaths in the furthest, deepest reaches and innermost circles of Ebrietaes. Some manage to claw their way out, though most have the mantle of the damned thrust upon them.
Inside of the realm of the occult and supernatural, there exist beings who have been cursed in such fashion in their mortal life that they are damned to carry out an eternal task for the remainder of their existence. These beings, outside of the realm of normal spectres, are classified as Gravens. Eternal scholars left to ruinous citadels, the lost gravekeepers in the unbidden planes of Asulon, forsaken sailors in empty ships — any manner of a Graven’s task is bound is their life, death, and damnation.
Gravens are as numerous in form as the many races that exist; they abide to no specific shape and standard, and many more lack any distinct rule for how they appear presently compared to their final moments in death: a slayed king with a spear protruding out of his torso; a scholar with decapitated head and in hand; a sacrificed virgin whose skin appears smoldered and charred. Additionally, their bodies are distinctly shades of roughed over cobalt and moldy greens, bearing some affliction regarding the manner in which they were killed.
All Gravens are distinctly uniform in one manner: corporeality. Similar to the Revenants and Witch Wraiths, Gravens possess an innate physical manifestation of their ectoplasm. They bear an uncanny resilience that their brethren lack, a fortitude and capacity to bear and weather much more damage than any other spectre, lest their curse be short lived in the event of a merciful stranger.
Gravens are consumed with only one thing: the task they have been cursed to complete. Gravens do not reason, nor do they think in the degree to which a Descendant can. Such things only exist to reason whether something will help them towards their task and or hinder it.
Many Gravens have existed for upwards of hundreds of years, their minds have corroded away and they feel a constant yearning and pain to complete their task sherely for the reason that it will release them from their curse.
Most Gravens lack an affinity towards direct violence. Many, instead, opt to carry out their task peacefully and without any regard for the nearby living or dead. The tasks a Graven can range from and many and far between distinct from more aggressive and dark acts, such as being a bookkeeper, fisherman, or librarian — though it is not unheard of for a Graven to be cursed with a task of defending a bridge until they die, or searching for the most honorable fight, for instance.
Greater Physical Spectrality
The Graven Stare
Fallen legions, crews, rioters — all in death shared. The vast plains of the realm are littered with the scourge of mass casualties, some deserving and some innocent, those who swelled in such shared horror and misery that all became both the one and many: an Apparition. They come to be where souls have been bound together with foul magic or a shared angst. Most often, this is the shape of an eerie obelisk known as a “menhir” — an ominous, discolored phallic spire. Apparitions are twisted amalgamations of souls, warped in mind, appearance, and nature — holding malice and hatred for those who disturb whatever semblance of eternal rest they can manage in the world that has forsaken them.
As the Gravens, ghosts, wraiths and every manner in between, the shape and skew of Apparitions range from shadowy denizens to damned, lost children. An Apparition holds no true shape, mainly settling on a form that the many melded souls have agreed upon, one that is ever shifting like the tides with the moods, the deigns and desires that the entity feels at the time. Apparitions appear as smokey silhouettes and amalgamated black smog and tar, only roughly humanoid in shape.
Though most tend to vary, Apparitions all speak in a multitude of combined voices, a chorus of the many that they once were all as the one they have become. They hold access to control each and every woeful spirit that formed them; their characteristics, their shape, their memories of loved ones and their voices, and it is not unheard of for these unfortunate beings to mimic and pretend to be the meekest among them.
Apparitions themselves hold a selective incorporeality, able to choose when and if they wish to have a physical presence in the realm. With the prominence of their ectoplasmic shape, they find themselves wholly adverse to the nature of aurum alloys, fire, and energy-based magics. Unlike their ghostly kin, an Apparition exists in the world as a behemoth, titan-esque fortified souls; where a torch could demanifest a Gray Spirit, much more is required for those who have a special place in Ebrietaes.
Apparitions themselves exist in a predominantly conflicted state due to the makeup of the souls that compromise them, however shared their death, and the individuality that comes with them. An Apparition exists as anything but a sane being, often many recluses in woe and depression, keeping isolated from the world as they feel the slow lingering chill of undeath. Other grow resentment for the very thing that they have become, though the most worrysome is when an Apparition is united in purpose and a common threat.
Though not all bound to pillars and menhirs, the longest lasting and eldermost of the Apparitions are have had their minds and purposes weathered away like the sands upon a shore. It is for this reason that the most conflicted Apparitions are among the youngest, where the eldermost ones were bound to some forsaken obelisk in the ruins of a long lost catacomb with a semblance of sanity and total mastery over their form.
The foremost objective of an Apparition is the defense of the land or place they were formed in, as many wish to slumber than to be reminded of the horrors of their now past life, many resorting acts of malevolence. Though, it has been known for the eldermost of these creatures to seek ambitions of their own.
Most every spectre possesses the means of blessing or cursing mortal souls. From unnamed ghosts to Apparitions, phantoms can imbibe the ephemeral essence of a person’s very soul, leaving behind a residue that can be either beneficial or detrimental. The nature of what is bestowed is dependent on the strength of a ghost and its affinity to subsume positive or negative esoteric vitality.
For a period of three narrative days, a victim will find themselves stricken with a positive emotion of the user’s choosing. The afflicted feel an affinity towards this emotion, sometimes connected to a past trauma or a cherished memory, and it slowly consumes them. Typically, this comes in the form of the afflicted experiencing the voices of past loved ones, flashback to cherished moments, and otherwise an event that the victim looks back on with a smile. The most generic use of this ability feeds a person boons of confidence, respite from depression or sadness, or an overall calmness. Generic White Omens have no bearing on combat.
For a period of three narrative days, a victim will find themselves stricken with a negative emotion of the user’s choosing. The afflicted feel an affinity towards this emotion, sometimes connected to a past trauma or a long-forgotten memory, and it slowly consumes them. Typically, this comes in the form of the afflicted experiencing the screams of past loved ones, flashbacks to warfare and torture, and otherwise an event that the victim looks back on with disgust. The most generic use of this ability stokes a person with fear, anger, and spite onwards to depression and sadness. Generic Black Omens have no bearing on combat.
Though the above are the most generic forms of uses of Omens, it has been known far outside of the scape of phantoms to discover their own unique variants of these blessings and curses, using them as a sort of “calling card” and symbol of notoriety.
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