Posted on September 24, 2004 by Flames
True to the standard nature of player’s guides, Wraith’s adds in the usual mixture of extra detail and handy charts. It sets itself apart (like so many Wraith additions) by adding considerably more history and societal analysis than virtually any other player’s guide out there. For a breakdown of what’s added, let’s go to the chapters:
First we come to Traits. As expected, we find new Knowledges, Skills, Abilities, and Backgrounds, but we also come across what became a dominant methodology in Wraith: Merits and Flaws. These simple additions act as a two-fold improvement. Primarily, they give bonuses and/or free up some freebie points (you’ll never get enough of those, even if you’re the Storyteller), but they also aid in the development and growth of a character. New players can select a few Merits, counterbalance those with some Flaws, and by working with their Storyteller add much more depth to their characters.
Next is the Society. Rather than lightly brush over each of the main topics presented in Wraith: The Oblivion 2nd Edition, White Wolf decided to attack them. Hierarchs, Heretics, and Renegades are dissected and analyzed here in great detail, and players uncertain of where they want their character to fall can even take easy quizzes from the sidebars to help determine which faction they most closely align with. The history of each organization is touched on, as well as the stereotypical beliefs that each has about the other.
Then there are the Kingdoms, and they’re covered in almost too much depth. For those desiring a complete list, here goes: The Kingdom of Jade, The Kingdom of Obsidian, The Kingdom of Ivory, The Kingdom of Clay, Les Invisibles (Wraiths of the Caribbean), City of Delights (The Underground of India), and The Sea That Knows No Sun (Wraiths of Polynesia). Each Kingdom is described first in relation to its Skinlands counterpart, then analyzed for dominant social and religious beliefs, societal structure, infamous characters… get the idea?
The rules section, surprisingly, is rather sparse. Here we find the basic Wraith Powers (such as sensing life and death, going non-corporeal, etc.) and small sections of Fetters and Passions. The Fetters are handled mostly in regards to their maintenance and loss, and the resultant Harrowing. Passions include their resolve and adding new ones. This is good reading for Storytellers, but probably would have been better located in the core rule book.
At last, we come to the Arcanoi. If for no other reason, buy “Wraith: The Oblivion – Player’s Guide” for this small section. Although this once again would have made more sense in the core rule book (or perhaps “Buried Secrets” or “Ends of Empire”, if held off that long), it is here we find the lost Arcanoi: Flux, Intimation, and Mnemosynis. These so called “Forbidden Three” or “Lost Arts” can add quite a bit of flavor to a Chronicle, whether through their use by NPCs or the slow initiation of a PC to one of their heavily hidden guilds. Just reading about these Arcanoi should shoot about fifty new routes to take your players.
Almost done now. Next, White Wolf has placed a series of articles on the nature of the game itself, including guidance on how to act as the Storyteller, assistance in character development, the art of Shadowguiding, the duality of ghost stories, and many more. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… why was this not in the core rule book? It would have made more sense there. Then again, if everything I wanted to be in the core rule book was, there wouldn’t be much need for this book, so… Read it.
Finally, we have the quick reference charts to the Arcanoi. Can’t quite remember what “Tempus Fugit” does? Wondering how that Splice Strand works? Look it up with a quickness.
So should you buy this book? If you’re going to play or run a Wraith Chronicle, the answer is an inarguable “YES.” There is simply too much good information here to bypass, and aside from the core rule book, this is the only other “absolute must-have” to play Wraith. Ideally, some easier quick-reference charts would have been a nice add-on, but we don’t get everything we ask for, now do we?
Reviewer: Brian Mork