In the course of overhauling this site, I ran across an old character sheet I’d done up for what I’d be like if I were a character in the game Wraith: The Oblivion, which was my favorite RPG game back in the old days. Which sounds both dorky and gloomy, since most characters in Wraith are ghosts, and, er, deceased.
But, hey, I think it’s kinda funny, so I did up a new one, up-to-date with my life now. For your geeky pleasure:
For those who would like to try this for themselves, Mr. Gone has a whole slew of interactive World of Darkness character sheets online, for now anyway.
For me, Wraith was the best game around, though, as Matthew McFarland notes in the course of a neat little summary of the game, it’s a bit like black licorice — you love it or you hate it. It was dark, but intelligent, and I remember the guy who first introduced me to the White Wolf Games series describing it — quite rightly — as D&D for grad students in philosophy. Well, I don’t know about that, but the undergrads in literature who made up most of my main gaming group sure had fun with it.
And like Matthew, I have very positive memories of the first group I played this with. The characters were a good mix: an abused housewife whose husband had pushed her into a form of self-defense that “took things too far” and ended up a widow; a former Soviet spy living in hiding in Canada, whose former partner (whom she had to betray to escape the USSR a decade before) had died and begun haunting her; a wealthy old businessman whose life was slowly falling apart in the wake of his wife’s death; and, I want to say, a feminist professor who had accidentally run over one of her students on the way to class. (That last player dropped out after a month or two, so I can’t recall her character as well as the others.)
It was fascinating times: watching my ex (who played the former Soviet spy) burst out of the bathroom in a fit of method-roleplaying, makeup all in disarray and playing a skinridden human victim to the hilt, was a shock. The woman who played the abused widow/husband-murderer always got deep into character, playing with compassion and empathy but also with a hard edge of guilt and sorrow, and often made us shudder. The rich man’s player had never played an RPG before, but he got into it so well when we were playing that eventually I started taking hints from him on how to make the game even creepier. (I remember once his character reaching to turn on a radio, then hesitating… the next time he came home to an empty house, the radio was on, and playing his recently-dead wife’s favorite song.) All these characters were brought together by their bereavement support group… which is to say, it was an unusual Wraith campaign in that all the characters were mortals.
But it was a great one, and I long to run another game like it, with a group as responsive and imaginative, again someday. Not for now — I don’t have time — but someday.
When that day comes, it probably won’t be Wraith I’ll be running, mind you: all my (many, expensive) White Wolf books got lost when I left Canada for Korea: a friend shipped them to my parents’ home, but they never arrived, and I learned this too late to make an insurance claim. I suppose I could always get the PDFs and run it using an iPad… but I have several other games I’d like to try, including both Orpheus and Geist: The Sin Eaters — two games descended from Wraith — and the SFnal White Wolf game Aeon: Trinity. But even so, I think it’s Wraith that always had the best supplements. Not just Charnel Houses of Europe, either: I think Wraith: The Great War is an excellent book, as I mentioned here.
Ooops, another post about that group is here. I leave the above as it stands, mainly because I find the shift in my memories interesting. Also, because that’s the first post in a series about RPG games I have played in the past, and what the hobby meant to me. Here’s hoping I’ll have more to write about it again someday…