Necromancy

The Black Art in the Sixth World

> Chummers, check out this latest on some of the deepest and darkest magics on the streets and in the shadows of the Sixth World. This is necromancy, the magic of the dead: of spirits, souls and undead. Take a look, because it explodes some of the popular notions of "the blackest art" and introduces some valuable information you might need the next time a Johnson wants you to collect a handful of graveyard dirt by the dark of the moon. You have been warned.
> Talon

Questions of life and death have long been a focus of metahumanity’s quest for enlightenment. All human cultures have wondered what lies beyond the veil of death, what awaits us on our final journey? Those questions have led to the development of numerous arts that attempt to learn more about the mysteries of death and the dead, to honor the spirits of those who have gone before us and, perhaps, to secure the afterlife or even immortality for those who follow the advice of the people in the know.

The Awakening has done nothing to end the debate on the nature of death and the existence of some kind of life-after-death existence. If anything, it’s only intensified it, creating new ways for metahumanity to explore the questions of life and death and adding fuel to the fire in the form of ghosts, zombies, vampires and the magical arts of necromancy.

Literally, necromancy is the “magic of the dead.” For most modern magical theorists (those who do no scoff at the mere mention of necromancy) the term has been extended to cover a wide and disparate range of magic, from the souls/spirits of living beings to the summoning of the dead to animating corpses and even the investigation of the so-called “undead” and “demons.”

In truth, necromancy is not a “school” of magic or even a branch of magical organization as many think. It is a loosely organized collection of spells, rituals, enchantments and theories having to do with spirits and the dead. The only “necromantic spells” are those that users and armchair magical experts choose to define as such. A manipulation spell is a manipulation, whether it manipulates dead flesh or unliving matter. One is not more “necromantic” than another. Likewise a mana spell that pours damaging energy into a target’s aura is no more “necromantic” than a spell that explodes a ferrocrete wall. The characterization of some spells as “necromantic” is largely a subjective one.

> True, but a subjective judgment has some actual weight in matters of magic. A magician who considers his manabolt to be a means of "shattering a target's soul" can produce some nasty signature effects and lingering traces. Style can be substance sometimes.
> Miss Tick

> This guy dances around the question: are they necromancers or not?
> Raker

> Depends, Raker old son, on what you mean by "necromancer." Are there magicians who are investigating the frontiers of life and death using magic? Yes. Are there magicians who animate corpses? Yes. Are there magicians who seem to be able to summon ghosts? Yes. But if you mean, are there magicians who are skeletal-thin, dress in black robes and live in haunted towers where they perform terrible experiments and have legions of skeletons and zombies as servants, I'm afraid you've been slotting too much kid-trid.
> Silicon Mage

Spirits and Survivals

The primary issues that the necromantic arts concern themselves with is the question of survivals; of life-after-death and the continued existence of the living spirit/soul following the death of the body.

Certainly many have pointed to astral projection as proof of the existence of a “spirit” that can exist apart from the body and some believe that astral forms are the souls of the living beings they represent.

> What jetwash. Astral projection proves absolutely nothing about the existence of the soul. It could just as easily be a mental projection created by the magician's mind and the whole astral plane a kind of veridical hallucination. Once the body dies, the astral body doesn't last long.
> Magister

> Yes, but the fact that the astral form can outlive the body at all is an interesting factoid about the nature of the spirit and astral space, no?
> Druid Lass

The most common manifestation of potential survival-phenomena is that of ghosts (larva valida), a class of spirits that are believed to be the remnants of a dead person. Whether or not the ghost is actually the spirit of the deceased bound to the material plane or an “astral echo” created by an especially traumatic death is still hotly debated by magical theoreticians and parazoologists.

It’s a well-established magical theory that strong emotions can leave a lasting “impression” on the local fabric of astral space. The strength, intensity and duration of the emotions relate directly to how long the emotional “imprint” is retained by a particular place or object. This background count can take the form of a lingering emotional presence, like a sound echoing through a canyon or a scent lingering in a room.

It is speculated that certain extraordinary cases of death-trauma can create a powerful astral impression, an “echo” that mimics many of the characteristics of the deceased at the moment of death, and that it is these lingering astral impressions that form the basis of many types of ghost phenomena.

> This theory denies the existence of the (meta)human soul and diminishes us in ways I can't even begin to describe. Magic should be a humanizing force in the world, not another tool of those soulless corporate bastards!
> Mr. X

> Whoa! Damp down, X. The "astral echo" theory doesn't say one way or another if people have souls. It just assumes that, if they do, they don't hang around on the astral plane after death. It's quite possible that we all do have souls (well, most of us <grin>) but that the soul goes on to its Final Reward (or whatever) while an "astral echo" lingers behind as a ghost. The two are not mutually incompatible.
> Blackstone

The majority of ghostly phenomena seem to take the form of lingering impressions, sometimes accompanied by strong emotional presences and even visual or other sensory impressions. Witnesses may see a ghostly image of the deceased, hear whispering voices or feel sensations of cold or even a phantom touch. All of these can be interpreted as sensory experiences of the unusual astral impressions.

Most ghosts seem to be “automatic” in a fashion, the manifestation always produces the same impressions or the same images over and over again. Many famous ghosts appear and act out the same events like clockwork and have become attractions for the curious and those interested in learning more about ghostly phenomena. It appears that these images are nothing more than mindless automatons, acting out the same events over and over.

> Or tormented souls doomed to re-enact events from their lives over and over for eternity.
> Mr. X

Some ghosts, on the other hand, exhibit qualities more like other spirits and astral entities. These ghosts are able to manipulate mana to produce magical effects and they appear to have intelligence and wills of their own. Some of these “specters” (as they have been dubbed) have considerable powers equal to those of an elemental, nature spirit or other independent astral entity. Some are even speculated to be as powerful as free-willed spirits.

There have been many cases of astral entities appearing in different metahuman forms. Common nature spirits (particularly Spirits of Man) can assume humanoid forms, as can elementals, although these forms are typically imperfect and not likely to be confused with a real person.

Other spirits, like the Brocken Bow, Man-of-the-Woods, Wraith or loa travail of Voudoun appear in very human-like forms and, in some cases, act like classical ghosts would be expected to, but whether or not these spirits are actually metahuman spirits that return to the etheric plane or spirits that look (meta)human remains a mystery.

Most ghosts, specters and similar spirits can be banished with the appropriate rites and rituals, just as other spirits can be. Some of these spirits exhibit unusually strong ties to the material plane and are difficult to exorcise.

> That's for sure. Many ghosts and specters are tied to some particular place or object that seems to serve as an "anchor" for them on this plane. As long as their anchor remains intact, they're damned near impossible to banish. The anchor first has to be destroyed or, in some cases, cleansed of the psychic impressions of the ghost, for the spirit to be sent away. I know some magical consultants who specialize in this kind of "ghost busting" for ornery spirits.
> Golddigger

> Ghosts are often an occupational hazard of shadowrunning. In addition to the possibility of having a mage whose body you've geeked come at you an hour or two later in astral form looking for revenge, there are some long-term ghost problems, too. I know of some runners who ended up going against this Yakuza kobun who was out the avenge his brother's death on a rival oyabun. They greased the kobun but it seems that his desire for revenge wasn't going to be kept down by death. When the oyabun turned up dead, the runners were the first suspects and the gumi had them killed in retaliation, but there are some people who think that the kobun's ghost came to finish the job he started.
> Yoshi

> What a load of drek. I know the dust-up you're talking about and it wasn't no fraggin spook who did the oyabun. Those runners got greedy and stupid and they paid for it. Evolution in action, plain and simple.
> D-Con

> Don't think the Yakuza clan agrees with you, D-Con. Buzz out on the streets is that they're looking to hire some more runners with a little more than average magical muscle for a very hush-hush job. Naturally their rep for working with runners is in the drekker right now, but it sounds to me like there's some ghost-hunting work out there.
> Walker

The Undead

In addition to ghosts and specters as examples of survivals are often lumped the various “undead” such as zombies, vampires and ghouls.

Unfortunately, zombies are generally little more than corpses animated through the power of magic, no more alive than a table made to walk through the power of a spell or a statue inhabited and animated by a familiar spirit. Such “undead” are little more than fleshy puppets of the magician that created them.

> Not entirely accurate. Some zombies are just puppets animated through manipulation spells and drek like that, but there are others the come out of the Voudoun of the islands and New Orleans area that are different. Some of them are animated by spirits summoned by the houngan, and who's to say that those spirits are the original ones who inhabited those bodies before they died? Not a pleasant thought.
> Decker del Sur

As for vampires and other so-called “undead” they are merely the victims of old world mythology applied to the Sixth World. Vampires, ghouls and others are metahumans infected with strains of the Human-Metahuman Vampiric Virus (HMHVV) a retrovirus that alters the genetics of its host, providing them with various magical abilities and the need to feed on the energy of other living beings to survive. These altered metahumans feed directly on life-energy through some medium such as flesh or blood to sustain them.

Vampires and their related kin are no more dead than anyone else. They are victims of a disease whose cause and cure have yet to be unraveled.

> That depends on your definition of "dead." Yeah, vampires and banshees can walk around, think, talk and do most of the other things that you or I can, but they can't reproduce and they can only survive by draining living essence from other beings. Without it, they slowly waste away. Sounds mighty undead to me.
> Jaxom

> Maybe so, but we have to feed on other life to survive too, chummer. We eat living things as food and we starve to dead if we don't eat just the same. Sounds to me like we're more alike than not.
> Gardener

> Where do ghouls fit into the equation? I thought they were a metahuman race?
> Hart

> That's a good question that's looking for an answer. Originally, it was believed that ghouls were a meta-human race like orks or trolls, who goblinized around the same time. More recently, it looks like ghouls are able to make otherwise normal humans become ghouls by infecting them with a strain of HMHVV. Some scientists are guessing that the original ghouls might have simply been humans with a dormant HMHVV retrovirus in their DNA. When the magic came back, the virus re-activated and people with a strong enough concentration of it became ghouls with the ability to infect other people. Because the transformation looked a lot like Goblinization, people figured that ghouls were metas like orks and trolls.
> Doc

> Right idea, Doc. Now take it to its logical conclusion. If ghouls are actually the result of a virus, couldn't it be that orks and trolls are, too? In fact, isn't it possible that all metahumans are the result of some kind of genetic virus and that our governments have know that fact all along and kept the information from us? What do you say to that?
> Buzz

> I'm not sure I should dignify such Humanis trash with an answer, Buzz, but to stay rational about it, metahumans have displayed no retroviral characteristics and clearly do not have the ability to infect humans like vampires and ghouls do. Medical science has long-since established that metahumanity is not a "disease" nor is it transmittable.
> Doc

Returning to Life

One thing that we cannot currently know for certain is what lies on the other side of the gulf that separates life and death. Although our abilities, both magical and technological, to stave off death have increased dramatically, we are still mortal and there is nothing that will keep death at bay forever.

> Speak for yourself, old man.
> A-mortal

One means we do have of gaining some information about the hereafter is through near-death experiences (NDEs) that have been reported. Thousands of NDE cases have been documented over the years and modern magical theory is expanding the frontiers of investigations in near-death experience.

Interestingly enough, reports of NDE strongly resemble metaplanar and astral projection experiences reported by magicians, leading to the possibility of a connection between the astral and the experience of those undergoing a NDE.

> Duh. That's because the astral is the realm of Spirit. In the distant depths of the spirit world are the Summerlands where our spirits go after death to await reincarnation to begin the wheel of life anew.
> Sereena

> Not that Elven drek again.
> Thorn

> Not elven, chummer, neo-pagan. Sorry to say that there's no definitive proof that the Summerlands, Heaven, Hell, Tartarus or the Happy Hunting Grounds are out there among the metaplanes. There are certainly magicians who have visited places like these and more on astral quests, but who can say for sure what they really are? Are they the realms of the afterlife or simply projections of our beliefs on the astral? Both? Neither?
> Miss Tick

Despite its considerable power to restore health and vigor to the injured and ill, magic is still not able to break the barrier of death and cannot be used to restore life to those who have died.

> At least, not yet. And of course the definition of "dead" can be a bit flexible. No life signs doesn't necessarily mean that you're done these days and a good combo of magic and tech can still bring you back more often than not.
> Spook

Goetia and Demons

Calling demons from ancient texts has been a work of many magicians since long before the Awakening. Since magic has come more into the public eye certain aspects of the Art, like the summoning of demons, has fallen by the wayside or been pushed into a dark closet where it is never talked about. Magical theoreticians talk long and loud about how there are no such things as demons to be summoned, as if their voices could drown out their own fears and concerns about the truth.

The truth is that some spirits like those found in different goetic texts have been summoned by magicians, and these spirits often have many of the abilities they are fabled to have, but they are also of keen intelligence and cunning. Calling upon the spirit of a “demon” is riding a magical tiger that can well devour the magician who summons it. Little wonder that the magical community wants to keep such things under wraps.

> Such so-called "demons" are nothing more than free spirits with a sense of humor and some knowledge of goetia. They appear in forms like the Dukes of Hell and their courts because it amuses them and strikes fear into superstitious mortals.
> Lyaster

> I'm not so sure. Such demons may indeed be free spirits-they are bound by their True Names in the same manner- but who is to say that they aren't really creatures of Hell or some similar astral realm? After all, plenty of magical lore proved true after the Awakening. Why not demons?
> Aethyr-smith

> That's just the kind of talk that the academics and the spin-doctors are afraid of. Start telling the mundos you're summoning "demons" and they'll be burning crosses on your lawn as a warm-up to burning you. Frag, it took years to convince most people that fraggin fire elementals and drek weren't creatures from Hell.
> Garnet

> Putting aside whether or not they are the genuine article, there are definitely freebies out there that play the demon's part. They appear in forms from the harmless to the hideous, and offer magicians deals involving the spirit's service in exchange for something. Usually it's rituals and rites that the magician has to invest in to increase the spirit's power. Then the spirit increases his, etc. This cycle can be mutually beneficial, so long as neither side tries to renege on the deal. Some mages also try to simply bind these freebies to their will as slaves. They get a powerful spirit-servant, but bound freebies are treacherous critters, always looking for a way out. Preferably one that involves a slow, painful death for their former master.
> Blackstone

> Dabbling in the summoning of demons is not recommended for living a long and sane life. Magicians who go this route sooner or later end up dead themselves or totally of their rocker, little more than creatures to be hunted down and destroyed by other practitioners of the Art.
> Westwood

Game Information

Gamemasters who want to introduce some different, darker spins on magic in their Shadowrun campaigns can try some of the ideas mentioned in this article to put necromancers and necromantic magic on the streets of the Sixth World.

Ghosts

An anchor is a physical object that holds a ghost or specter in the etheric plane near the physical world. Often it is some item that had strong emotional significance to the ghost in life. A magician who holds a ghost’s anchor can attempt to banish it. Ghost’s with anchors cannot be banished otherwise: their anchor holds them too firmly to this plane. The concept of Fetters from White Wolf’s Wraith: the Oblivion, is similar and can provide additional inspiration.

Specters are ghosts that have paranormal powers that can affect the physical world. They can be treated in much the same way as other spirits; they have a Force, which is used to determine their abilities, and they have various critter powers at their disposal. Powerful ghosts can be considered free spirits, with some of those powers, especially the Hidden Life power connected to a particular anchor of the ghost’s. They can also be summoned and bound, like free spirits, by someone who knows their True Name and/or possesses their anchor.

It remains unknown whether or not specters are actually the spirits of the dead or simply astral shadows molded in their image by powerful emotional impressions. In truth, it may be impossible to know for sure either way.

Necromancers

Like toxic shamans twist and pervert the way of their totem, necromancers are mages who have gone the route of corruption and power for its own sake. Not all who study the Black Art become evil and corrupt, but those who practice it for too long are subject to falling into a darkness of the spirit that never lifts.

Like other Magical Threats, necromancers can be given a Potency Rating that measures the additional power their twisted magical perceptions grant them. The Potency Rating is added directly to the necromancer’s Magical Threat Rating for determining their power level. Certain obscure rites and rituals can increase Potency, and necromancers will pursue those goals. Thwarting a necromancer can reduce Potency.

Essence Draining

A metamagical technique similar to the vampiric power. It allows a magician to tap into and drain a living being of its Essence to increase the magician’s own life-force.

The potential victim must be in an excited emotional state (terror, lust, anger, etc.) and in physical contact with the magician for the ability to work. Initiating an Essence drain requires at least 30 seconds (10 Combat Turns). The magician uses the Sorcery skill and makes a test against the victim’s Willpower. A single success is enough to begin the process of draining Essence.

The magician can drain as many Essence points as the victim has at a rate of 1 point per minute of contact. The Essence loss is permanent for the victim. The magician then adds the stolen essence to his own, up to a maximum of 12 points of Essence.

The side-effect of this Essence drain destabilizes the user’s own Essence. It begins to “bleed” away, causing the user to suffer from Essence Loss immediately after using the technique for the first time. This causes a permanent alteration in the user’s aura. They must now steal Essence in order to survive, like a vampire. On the up side, the Essence-drainer gains the critter powers of Immunity to Age, Immunity to Pathogens and Immunity to Toxins. So long as he continues to drain Essence, the magician is effectively immortal. Essence-drainers do not gain any of the other abilities of vampires, although they are similar. But they do not have any of a vampire’s traditional weaknesses to wood or sunlight, either.

Any magician can potentially learn how to Essence drain, but the technique is extremely rare and most magical paths consider it forbidden knowledge that is best left alone. Once an initiate steps onto the path of draining the life-force from others, there is no turning back.

Demons

Whether or not “real” demons exist in the Sixth World is up to individual gamemasters, but there can still be spirits in Shadowrun that are the functional equivalent of the demons of magical lore.

Demons are basically Shadow free spirits that are reflections of the dark side of humanity and human nature. These spirits take forms out of myth and legend much like demons and they are demons in nearly all practical ways.

These spirits can be summoned like other free spirit, using their true names to bind them to service. Some magicians use ancient texts and names of demons written down by occultists centuries ago to try and call something to their wills. Some of them even succeed, although they often find that the Names they have used do not bind the spirit like they thought they did. Some shadow-spirits even allow foolish magicians or mundanes to think that they are bound to them when in fact the spirits choose to serve their “masters” for reasons of their own.

Other magicians will try and bargain with a shadow-spirit in exchange for its service. The coin of the realm with shadows is generally Karma that the spirit can use to increase its power, but sometimes shadows will desire other things from supplicants. Some can even teach initiates the secrets of Essence Draining (above) and will take a “cut” of the Essence stolen from the magician, converting it into an equal amount of Karma for themselves. Other shadows have goals and desires that can only be barely comprehended by sane (meta)humans and demand payments that seem to have no logical purpose.

In addition to free spirits, there seem to be other things in the depths of the metaplanes. Spirits like Tutor from the Threats sourcebook, are prime examples of “demonic” spirits.

There are also deadly spirits that feed on living Essence and other things of the material world: the mysterious Enemy. These dark spirits are powerful beyond that of nearly any Shadowrun free spirit and they are best used as puppet-masters or background elements if they are used at all. Gamemasters familiar with the Earthdawn setting can adapt some of the Horrors from that game for Shadowrun, but even the least of the Horrors would likely annihilate a group of shadowrunners, so they are best used only in high-powered games or campaigns that are looking to create a feeling of hopeless terror, a la Call of Cthulhu.

Given here are a couple of sample “demon” free spirits for gamemaster to use in their campaigns:

The King of Pain

The King of Pain is a strange spirit that manifests as a tall figure covered in a dark, tattered and shapeless hooded robe. From beneath the robe protrude many different metallic probes and blades, all wickedly sharp and barbed, many attached to pulsating flesh or dripping blood or ichor. It speaks in a terrible whisper and carries and odor like a charnel house with it. In short, it’s just as many imagine a demon might be.

The spirit seems to have its own agenda and dislikes being summoned. It always appears to the call of it’s True Name, but it is difficult to bind (having a very high Force). It often bargains with summoners and offers them magical knowledge or power in exchange for service (and Karma). The spirit’s followers may have infiltrated many existing magical groups and orders, giving the King of Pain extensive influence in the magical world.

Mordel

Mordel appears to be a fairly harmless creature, which is an often fatal misconception by those who see him. The spirit appears as a small, demonic imp: childlike body and features with reddish skin, small horns and a barbed tail. His voice and laugh are high-pitched and malevolent, but almost too comical to be threatening.

Mordel prefers to play the part of the “demonic servant” and appears at the summons of a magician to obey his “master’s” wishes. Usually Mordel does his best to draw out the most depraved and hidden desires of his masters and then fulfills them, usually in exchange for Karma that he himself can use. Those who believe they are in control of Mordel quickly become totally dependent on the little demon for advice and assistance. Eventually Mordel tires of the game and abandons his former master and leaves them to the mercy of the authorities or their angry victims and goes off seeking another “master” to serve.

The World of Shadow

How it came to be

The Storyteller games from White Wolf describe an alternate “gothic punk” world were creatures of the night are engaged in their own secret struggles right under the very noses of the mortals they co-exist with. They all maintain their own veil of secrecy of one kind or another, existing in the shadows of the night, just out of sight.

In the world of Shadowrun the forces of magic have stepped out of the mists of legend and into the neon of the city lights. The Awkened are no longer hidden… or are they?

The World of Shadow starts out much like the story presented by White Wolf. The mad forces of Order, embodied by the Technocracy, work to smother the power of magic and wonder in the world, entrapping everything in their cold, crystaline vision. The power of Corruption, of the Wyrm, twists the plans of these utopians and threatens to brings about the destruction of all that live.

In the early years of the 21st Century, it appeared that these forces were about to achieve their final victory. Powerful corporations backed by the Technocracy and influenced by the power of the Wyrm grew to eclipse national governments. The Seretech Decision of 1999 gave them extraterritorial rights and powers that allowed them to expand unchecked. The Pogrom of the Technocracy began to ruthlessly root out renegade mages and execute them and the Garou were losing their battle against the coming Apocalypse.

A reprive came from an unexpected source. A group of Marauders, acting in concert, were sowing the seeds of the return of the mythic age of magic and chaos. They instructed their acolytes and acted with cooperation previously unknown among their kind until the time was right.

On December 24, 2011, a time of power fortold in prophecy, the Marauder’s acted. In an incredible display of magick that consumed its wielders, the paradox-immune mages sundered the Technocracy’s carefully built gauntlet like tissue and sent the power of magick flooding across the world. Dragons appeared in the skies and mythic beasts in the land and sea. Humanity felt the call of magic once again. The Awakening had come.

The World of Darkness gave way to a World of Shadow. The forces of the light gained a ray of hope, a foothold on the slippery slope. The shadows are dark, but there is a chance that the meeting of man, machine, and magic can offer hope.

The Kindred

The Vampires have benefited from the Awakening by a slight loosening of the Masquerade. The kine are now aware that vampires exist, but they do not know how long they have lived among us or how much influence they truly wield.

Powerful Kindred have infiltrated all of the major corporations. Several of them are actually totally Kindred controlled, such as Haven Industries. The Masquerade is still ruthlessly enforced to protect their deepest secrets from the kine.

The Tremere have taken advantage of the Awakening to allow them to practice many of their magics in the open, although their more esoteric blood magics are still hidden from mortal eyes.

The Garou

The tribes of the Changing Folk have gained new hope from the Awakening. Garou forces reclaimed the Amazon Basin in their greatest victory against the forces of the Wyrm. The government of Amazonia is secretly controlled by a council of Garou and their magical allies. The Garou are also strongly influencial in the Native American Nations, especially the Wendigo and the Uktena. Wendigo Garou often agitate behind the scenes for the Ghost Dance to continue and drive the non-natives forever from the shores of the Americas, but the other tribes have held them in check.

Some of the Garou have taken to guerilla warfare in the depths of the sprawls: dark strongholds of the Wyrm. The Glass Walkers have become masterful deckers and shadowrunners, as have the Bone Gnawers. The Shadow Lords are influencial with many megacorporations, often fighting secret struggles with the Vampires and Mages who control them.

Magi

The Technocracy has been struck a powerful blow by the Awakening, but they have by no means surrendered their grip on Reality. The plan has simply changed. The Technomancers have altered the reality they seek to impose upon the masses to include the hedge magic permitted by the Awakening.

They continue along with their program, controlling the major corporations and working to make magic just another part of “ordinary” reality: a cold science with no passion or wonder left in it. They have even begun experimenting with bizzare meldings of science and sorcery like cybermancy.

Most magicians of the Sixth World use hedge magic, unaware of the larger nature of reality and True Magick. The more outlandish forces of magick are still suppressed by Reality and still summon the forces of Paradox to punish offenders. Tossing a fireball invokes little paradox, but re-shaping space and time is still an affort to the will of the Technomancers.

The Dreamspeakers are strongly involved in the government of the Native American Nations and have been encouraging the revival of shamanic traditions around the world. The Verbena are tied to Amazonia and have allied with the Garou. The Order of Hermes is behind the revival of the hermetic tradition and looks forward to re-establishing the power they once had in the Mythic Age.

The Virtual Adepts have come into their own with the creation of the Matrix. When a Adept/Iteration X war crashed the worldwide telecomm system in 2029, a truce was established that allowed for the creation of the Matrix, the mundane shadow of the Digital Web, increasing the Web’s influence all over the world and becoming a new battleground for the forces of the Awakened.

The Nephandi still lurk in the shadows and hope to bring about their day when their demonic masters will be able to enter the Earth’s dimension en masse. They have already taken control of the Aztechnology corporation with their vampire and bane allies and are using the Aztec blood rituals to speed the time of their masters’ arrival.

The Restless Dead

The existance of wraiths is a debated topic among scholars in the Sixth World. Some of the Awakened know of the restless dead and respect their powers and influence. The Technomancers and their allies work to maintain the belief that appearances of wraiths are no more than “astral echoes” with no real substance.

The heirarchy of the Shadowlands has also been altered by the weakening of the Shroud that accompanied the Awakenings. Wraiths can have greater effect on the mortal world and many of them have become more involved in the affairs of the Quick using their various Arcanos powers. A Wraith subculture known as “nomads” has developed, based on skinridding and taking over various mortal bodies to experience the joys of life again, at least for a brief time.

The Faerie

With the Awakening, the gates of Faerie are open once again, sort of.

Before 2011, the forces of Banality all but overcame the Changelings. The progress of the Technocracy’s program brought on the endless Winter that faerie seers and soothsayers had predicted. Most of the fae fell into forgetting their Dreaming natures and became mundanes.

The Awakening brought about the new Spring that some had hoped would follow the Banal Winter. Changelings and faeries cast off their mortal guise once again and assumed their true forms. But all was not well with the fair folk.

The long winter had robbed most of the faerie of the knowledge of the Dreaming. When they awoke again to their true natures, their memories did not. The vast majority of changelings in the world are ignorant of their origins and have taken on a modern conception of themselves as “metahumans” perhaps mutations of the human form.

Some of the few elite changelings still remember their true selves. They have established nations where their brethern can be safe and the power of Glamor can be protected against the tide of Banality that is rising again. The Elven Nations of Tir Tairngire and Tir na n’Og are mortal enemies of the banality of the Technocracy as well as the blood-soaked madness of the Nephandi and their puppets in Aztlan. The High Princes and true faerie of those nations have been forced to act covertly against their enemies, because the crushing force of banal disbelief destroys the delicate structure of their glamors.

Now between the Awakened Light and the Stygian Darkness is a World of Shadow. In that twilight realm dwell those forgotten by the rigid corporate world, the last hope of change and freedom, the Shadowrunners…

A Change for the Better

A look at shapechanging in Shadowrun

In most Shadowrun campaigns, magician characters will have a fairly “standard” assortment of spells, including some of the old stand-bys like manabolt, heal and armor. However, there is a virtually limitless range of possible spell in the Shadowrun magic system and many effects are overlooked by magician players. One of these effects is shapeshifting.

There are two primary spells for shapeshifting: shapeshift and critter form. Critter form is just a limited version of shapeshift that only allows the magician to assume a single animal form.

Limits on Shapeshifting

There is no mention in the spell of any limit of size or other abilities for the critter form beyond the fact that it must be a “normal” critter (that is to say, a non-Awakened “real world” animal). To quote Madame Mim from Disney’s Sword in the Stone, “no purple crocodiles or pink dragons allowed.”

However, there are still many “normal” animal forms that can be quite powerful. An elephant must have Strength and Body well into double digits, not to mention what the abilities of, say, a blue whale must be (easily Strength 40 or more). There is also the possibility of turning into a very tiny form, like an insect. What about microscopic life-forms like amoebas or Merlin’s trick (again from Sword in the Stone) of turning into an invisible germ?

Obviously some sort of limit on the forms that magician can assume is probably needed to keep things under control. A simple rule is to limit the change based on the Body of the desired animal form (which is also a rough guideline as to its mass), say no more than plus or minus three to the magician’s original Body score. This would allow most magicians to assume animal forms with mass a few times greater than human, such as a horse, but nothing as massive as an elephant or whale.

Likewise, the magician is not allowed to reduce Body to lower than 1, and so cannot assume the form of anything much smaller than a rat. Of course, with the attribute bonus generated from the spellcasting test, it could be one tough rat!

Naturally, the gamemaster can vary these limitations as needed for the campaign. Perhaps he feels that the larger forms are not too great of a concern because of their limited utility (you can’t become an elephant in an enclosed space nor would you want to become a whale on land) and only very tiny forms are restricted.

Another question to consider is whether or not the shapechange spell allows a character to assume (meta)human forms as well as animals. This is probably better covered by the mask spell, but it might be allowed by some gamemasters.

Animal Fighting

The ability or attribute used by a character in animal form to make attacks is also not given by the spell description. Would the human-oriented skill of unarmed combat even apply to fighting in the form of an eagle or a tiger?

Normal animals use their Reaction as their attack score and I would suggest that characters in animal form would do the same. This makes a shapechanged combatant formidable, because the animal Reaction is increased by the Intelligence of the subject of the spell, but this seems to well represent the terrible power of a creature like a bear or tiger controlled by a human intellect. This seems to reflect the fantasy-genre fiction where shapeshifting magicians who are quite combat inept become fearsome fighters in animal form. Keep in mind that all tests (including attack tests) made in animal form may still suffer a target number penalty from sustaining the shapechange spell.

Alternately, the gamemaster might require a specialization of Unarmed Combat for animal forms. This could even be a different skill for each species or even each type of animal! This is generally too restrictive, but it is a good way to limit the combat abilities of a shapechanger, if desired. If Unarmed Combat skill is required, then the shapeshifted character can also default to Quickness or Reaction, which will likely be fairly high in the beast form.

Can’t Take It With You

One of the limits of the shapechange spell given above is that it doesn’t affect clothing or equipment. Anything the character is carrying or wearing will either fall to the ground or might possibly even be destroyed by the shapeshift if the character doesn’t bother to remove his clothing first.

This can be a nuisance (not to mention embarrassment) for a shapeshifter. Armor, in particular, can be lost when changing into a very large form and there is always the possibility of the character becoming entangled in their clothing when assuming certain animal and (especially) avian forms. There are several possible solutions for this problem.

The first, and simplest, is to create a version of the shapechange spell that is a physical spell and transforms anything that the character is wearing (but not carrying). The character’s clothing disappears when the spell is cast and reappears when they assume human form. The clothing might be displaced into astral space, be changed along with the character (see below) or perhaps it is a mystery that magical theorists are still working on.

An option within the existing system is for the magician to stack a Fashion spell (Grimoire, p.131) along with the shapechange spell to transform his clothing into a collar, leg band or something similar on the person of the animal form, then reverse the spell upon changing back to human form. This allows the shapeshifter to carry “compressed” clothing along with him. The drawback is that the multiple spellcastings can be become very draining, especially if multiple changes in form are called for.

A third option is to take a page from White Wolf Games’ Werewolf and allow magicians to spend karma to “bond” items much in the way they bond foci. This allows the items so enchanted (and only them) to change shape with the character. A normal set of clothes might cost a point of Karma or two, while something like a weapon or other item might cost more. If this option is used, magical foci should automatically have this ability as part of their normal bonding cost.

Character with cyberware who are the subject of a shapechange spell need not worry. Although cybernetics are not “living,” the character has expended Essence to tie those implants to his personal aura, allowing them to change form along with the rest of the character. It is worth noting that the various bonuses granted by cyberware do not apply while the character is in animal form but return to normal when the spell ends.

Once Through Quickly

One thing a shapeshifting magician might want to do that is common in the source literature is change directly from one form to another without assuming human form. This is common in shapeshifter’s duels and similar situations. For example, a magician in seagull form flying over the ocean spots something faint under the water. She wants to assume dolphin form to dive down and take a look. Does she have to re-cast the shapechange spell? There are several options.

The gamemaster could require that a character assume human form (i.e., drop any existing shapechange spell) before assuming another form. This would prohibit changes like the one described above, and the magician would have to dive into the water in human form, then become a dolphin.

The gamemaster can allow another shapechange spell to be cast while in animal form. This assumes the magician has no geasa or fetishes required for the spell that the animal form does not have or is not capable of. For example, if the magician needed to speak to cast the spell, she would have to be in the form of a parrot -not a gull-to pull it off.

Lastly, the gamemaster can allow a single shapechange spell to grant multiple changes of form, with the same number of successes as the original casting. Whether or not these additional changes cause any additional drain is up to the gamemaster. This option makes shapechange a highly flexible spell and should be considered carefully before being adopted.

Going Over to the Beast

A common danger of shapeshifting in the source literature is losing one’s own personality in the mind of the animal form. The longer the shapeshifter remains in animal form, the more likely they will become the animal in mind as well as body.

If the gamemaster wants to include this possibility, a shapechanged character must make a Willpower test every hour against a target number of 4. A failed test reduces the characters Intelligence by 1. When the character’s Intelligence drops to the normal level for that animal (as listed in the critter descriptions) the character mentally becomes that animal and the shapechange spell is effectively Quickened at the force it was cast at (at no Karma cost to the magician, unless the gamemaster is especially cruel).

The only way the character can assume their normal form again is if the shapechange spell is dispelled or overcome in astral combat by another magician. This ends the spell and returns the character to normal with no adverse effects.

A Changeling Primer

Listed here are some useful forms for a shapechanging magician to keep in mind.

Combat: Most predatory animals are useful combat forms, especially tigers, bears, and wolves. Gorillas have great Strength and Body as well as the ability to handle equipment when directed by a human intelligence. A shark form in the water can be frighteningly effective.

Disguise: Any breed of domestic dog is good for this in the city (remember the Thing, directed by John Carpenter?) as are rats, pigeons and other critters that are omnipresent in the city.

Flyers: Bird forms of all kinds are useful for aerial scouting and spying. Pigeons and seagulls are common enough in most cities as not to be noticed by anyone, while falcons and eagles have extraordinary distance vision and also make useful combat forms. Bats are an excellent aerial form at night, providing natural sonar. Owls make a good nighttime form as well.

Poisonous: Some small forms can be highly effective in combat because they are also poisonous. This includes most poisonous snakes like cobras and vipers.

Runners: Swift land animals like deer, antelope and cheetahs are superb for fast pursuit or escape, especially in wilderness areas. They are less effective in the metroplex where smaller forms like rats and domestic cats allow one to disappear more easily into dark alleys and small nooks and crannies.

Swimmers: Useful aquatic forms include otters, seals and small cetaceans like dolphins. Shark forms can be very frightening and strange ones like manta rays and jellyfish (especially poisonous ones) have their uses as well, and don’t forget electric eels.

Lycanthropic Adepts

A specialized “shapechanger” adept would make an interesting character to play. The character (most likely a sorcery adept) would specialize in spells like shapechange and mask that allowed him to assume different forms and the various support spells (such as fashion, mentioned above). The character might even be unaware of his abilities and believe himself to be some kind of “were-creature” instead of a normal magician.

The Shapeshifter’s Duel

Another common occurrence from the source fiction (remember Sword in the Stone?) is a duel between magicians using the shapeshift spell. While the duel is in effect, each magician assumes a series of shapes, trying to use superior knowledge and cunning to overcome his opponent.

Each participant cast shapechange normally at the start of the duel. During the duel, the magician may not use other magic, but may assume a new shape as a Simple Action. Each form change requires a new Force Success Test, but does not require an additional Drain Resistance Test (this may vary if the gamemaster places additional limits on shapechange). Remember any limits on different forms that the magician may assume.

This sort of combat exists in numerous traditions (most of them shamanic). At the gamemaster’s discretion, any magician who knows the shapechange spell may participate in such a duel. Indeed, it would be interesting to see such a conflict played out between two magicians of different traditions.

Exclusive Sustainment Modifier

This spell modifier is similar to the normal Exclusive modifier for spell force (SRII, p.133). Exclusive sustainment has the same requirement that the caster may not cast any other spell or perform any other magical activity while this spell is being sustained. It is different in that the modifier is not applied to the spell’s Force, which remains at the learned level. Instead, the caster is allowed to expend a Free action each turn for the sustainment of the spell and takes no distraction modifier for sustainment. Therefore, the caster can act normally while sustaining the spell, with the exception of not being able to take any other magical actions while sustaining.

Shadow Psi

In the world of Shadowrun, magic is a reality. It took people quite a while to accept the reality of the Awakening that brought magic back to the world. In the early days (as described in Awakenings and elsewhere) many people believed that magic was a manifestation of some kind of psychic or psionic ability. It is now known in 2057 that early psionic and parapsychology research merely touched upon the early stirrings of magic in the late 20th Century.

But what if that were not the case? What if instead of psi actually being magic, magic was really psi? Perhaps the Awakening represented a natural mutation or evolutionary step in humankind brought on by the increasing levels of radiation and other mutagens in the environment (2011 saw three or four reactor meltdowns alone). What if the powers of the Awakened are the powers of the Awakened mind?

Powers of the Mind

In the psionic rules for Shadowrun, the Magic attribute is replaced with an attribute called Psi. Psi starts out equal to Essence, rounded down, and is reduced in exactly the same manner as Magic is in the standard Shadowrun rules, by cyberware and injuries. It is a measure of the character’s ability to tap the inner resources of the mind to perform amazing psionic feats. Damage can disrupt the body’s “psychic balance,” making complex psionic feats more difficult and dangerous.

Being a psi requires a B Priority be allocated to the ability during character creation. This grants all of the abilities described below.

Mental Pool

Psionic characters have a Mental Pool that is equal to the sum of their Intelligence and Willpower attributes, divided by two, rounded down. Dice from this pool can be added to any psionic feat the character attempts. They also provide the basis for the psi’s Mental Defense (see below).

Mental Defense

A psionic who is under attack by hostile psi powers can use their own abilities to attempt to deflect the attack. The psi allocated as many dice as desired from their Mental Pool and rolls them against the Strength of the psionic power being used. Successes on the Mental Defense Test subtract directly from successes gained by the attacker, reducing the effect of the psionic power.

Psychic Senses and Mental Projection

All psionics appear to have a certain sensitivity to other psis and the use of psionic powers. They can use their psychic sense to detect the use of other psi powers and to scan the minds of others to determine if they are psionically gifted or not. The use of psionic senses to scan or analyze a particular subject requires a simple action and imposes a +2 TN penalty on all physical actions carried out by the psi while they are scanning because of the concentration involved.

Psionics are also able to project their minds out of their bodies. Parapsychologists call this an Out of Body Experience (or OOBE, pronounced “oobie”). This mental projection of the psionic’s self is visible only to the psychically sensitive and can travel as the speed of thought, unimpeded by material barriers.

Psionic Powers

Psionic characters have the potential to develop many different types of psionic powers, similar to the spells used by magicians. These powers are arranged into categories by parapsychologists and others who study and use them. The categories are: ESP, Healing, Psychokinesis and Telepathy.

Psionic Force

Each individual psionic power has a Force Rating. This represents how strong the psi’s ability with that power is. Force Ratings are initially purchased from the character’s Resources allocation during character creation, just like spells are for magicians.

Learning and Improving Psionic Powers

During play a Force Rating in a psi ability has a karma cost equal to the rating. Increasing a psi ability has a karma cost equal to the new rating acquired. In order to learn a new psionic ability or improve an existing one, the psionic must engaged in deep meditation in an effort to awaken the abilities of their inner mind. The psi must make a test using Mental Pool dice plus any dice from Parapsychology skill against a Target Number equal to twice the desire Force of the power. The base time to learn the power is the Force in days, divided by the number of successes.

Using Psionic Powers

Using a psionic power is a Complex Action. It requires no movement or gestures on the part of the psi, simply concentration. The psionic must be able to see or touch the subject of the power. The exception is with some ESP and Telepathy powers which have Limited range and are intended to detect unknown targets. In this case, the psi is consider the subject of the power.

Drain

Using psi abilities requires a lot of mental energy and can be exhausting to the psionic. Pushing mental powers can be very dangerous, even fatal. Psionics take drain from the use of their powers just like magicians do. Powers with a Force equal to or less than the psionics Psi attribute cause Mental Damage, those with a Force greater than the Psi attribute cause Physical Damage. Severe physical drain can cause cerebral hemorrhages and even death.

Healing Powers

Healing abilities mimic most of the Health spells from Shadowrun, especially Heal, Treat, Antidote Toxic, and Increase/Decrease Attribute.

ESP

ESP powers mimic various Detection spells, including Clairaudience, Clairvoyance, Foretelling and Combat Sense. Any spells that involve Mind Interaction are actually Telepathy powers.

Psychokinesis

Telekinetic and some transformation manipulation spells fall under this category, including Levitate, Magic Fingers, Ignite, Poltergeist, Clout, Barrier and Light.

Telepathy

This category includes the Control Manipulations like Control Thoughts, Mob Mind and Influence, all mana Illusion spells and detection spells involving Mind Interaction like Mind Link, Mind Probe and Analyze Truth. It also includes the mana-based combat spells like Manabolt and Sleep.

Other Powers

Other abilities the fit into the four categories above can be designed using the Shadowrun Spell Design system from the Grimoire as a basis.

Enlightenment

As psis learn and develop the powers of their mind they learn to tap into deep inner resources that are closed to most people. These psis become increasingly Enlightened as the learn and develop.

Enlightenment is a process similar to Initiation for magicians, where a psionic develops additional power and ability from deep within. Ranks (Grades) of Enlightenment have the same karma cost for psis as for magicians. It is possible for psis to cooperate in groups for the purpose of increasing Enlightenment and they gain the same cost breaks. It is also possible for psis to make use of ordeals to focus their minds on further enlightenment. Out of body experiences (Astral Quests), Meditation and Asceticism are the most commonly used ordeals.

An Enlightened psi learns the advanced techniques of Centering, Cloaking, Neutralization and Psychic Shielding.

Centering works the same as it does for magicians, allowing the psi to clear their mind and focus. Meditation is the most commonly used centering skill for psis. Performance skills are rarely used by them.

Cloaking allows the psionic to conceal their presence from the psychic senses of others. It works like the masking metamagical ability. Depending on how psi and magic interact (see below) psi may or may not be detectable by magicians.

Neutralization allows the psi to disrupt psionic powers being maintained by another psionic. It functions like the Dispelling metamagical talent.

Psychic Shielding is a more powerful form of mental defense. Enlightened psis with shielding and cloaking have almost impenetrable minds. The ability works like the metamagical technique of shielding, providing a +1 TN per Mental Pool die allocated to the Shield in addition to the extra dice.

Psionics do not have analogs of Quickening or Anchoring since their abilities must be sustained actively and cannot be implanted in objects.

Psi and Magic

As can be seen in this article, psi and magic could very easily be considered the same thing with different window-dressing. The differences between the two are all semantics, terminology and point of view. This is the tack taken by Awakenings: psis are just magically gifted individuals who rationalize their abilities in a different way. This means that psi and magic ultimately the same power.

But what if psi and magic were two different things? It is possible that magic relies on the energy of astral space while psi calls solely on the inner resources of the (meta)human mind. If they are two different things, then psi and magic do not directly interact. Spell defense will do nothing to stop a psionic from reading your mind and psychic shielding does not affect a manabolt in the slightest. The physical manifestations of the two powers could still interact, of course. A fire set with pyrokinesis is still just fire and the right elemental spell will extinguish it.

It might or might not be possible for someone to be both a psionic and a magician. Under the first option, there’s really no difference, it’s just a matter of style. In the second case, such a person would be truly exceptional and the object of attention from all sides.

If both psis and magicians co-exist using different sources of power, they would certainly keep each other on their toes and make it doubly difficult to defend against the unique abilities of the Awakened.

Out for Blood

The runners are hired by a Cabal of vampires to track down a psychotic hit-mage who is killing them off one at a time. Unknown to the characters, the mage is himself the catspaw of one of the Cabal who wants to eliminate rivals of her rise to power over the group. The player characters must stop the magician from killing any more of the Cabal members and expose the conspiracy within it.

This adventure is nominally set in Seattle, but can be placed in any city in which the campaign takes place with a few minor adjustments to the names and locations.

Night Life

Tell It to Them Straight

You’ve gotten a lot of interesting invitations for biz, but you don’t think you’ve ever gotten one through the actual mail. I mean, who bothers with paper mail these days? Why ship dead tree when you can send email around the world in the space of an eyeblink? Whoever bothered with the nuyen to send you a cream-colored envelope UCASMail must have wanted to impress you or something. Which they have, considering it must have taken them no small amount of effort to find out where to send something where you would get it. Your address isn’t exactly in the book.

Inside the envelope is a card, a cream-colored stock matching the envelope, a fragging engraved invitation to a meet! It reads “You are invited to a business meeting at the Cathedral. This card shall grant you entrance. Midnight.” There is no signature or other indication of who the sender is. Whoever they may be, you sure hope that their expensive taste runs towards shadowrunners as well as stationary.

When the runners arrive at the Cathedral read the following:

The club is starting to get busy by the time you arrive. There is a line of hopeful clubbers out front all decked out in their finest neoGothic wear for the evening, each hoping to catch the eye of one of the Cathedral’s exclusive members who might be willing to bring them in as a guest. It seems like several of the regulars who make their way along the line carefully survey it for promising new “talent” on their way into the club and several of them stop to offer some cute young thing a chance to get inside.

You play it cool and make your way up to the front of the line to the massive troll in modified eighteenth century dress: coat and tails, waistcoat and shirt with lace collar. That whole combo should make even a troll look like some kind of pansy, but somehow it just makes this guy look meaner. He looks you over and you flash him the card you received. A glint of recognition flickers in his eye as a couple of synapses manage to get together for a brief conference long enough to understand what your invitation means. He admits you into the club with a deep bow, sweeping back some of the hopefuls in line with a wave of his masssive arm.

The inside of the club is done-up in heavy neoGothic style, full of back-lit stained glass panels and gargoyles leering out at your from high perches up along the walls. The central floor of the club is divided off from the rest of it by little canals about a meter wide filled with running water that form a square border around the area. Small footbridges arc over the canals to allow access. The second floor is open in the center so that the patrons can look down from there onto the floor below. There’s a lot of cred that goes into a place like this and just as much in affording to be a regular. You hope this means things are looking up for this job.

Hooks

This scene introduces the runners to the Cabal on their own turf. Give the players the feel for the nightclub abd its patrons and give them a chance to interact with several of the members of the Cabal before they get down to business with the runners.

Behind the Scenes

The characters know the Cathedral to be an exclusive nightclub downtown, access to members and their guests only. Membership is by invitation only and is considered something of a social coup. The nightclub is crowded when the characters enter. They draw some attention from the regulars, but not for long before they go back about their business. The characters will see plenty of action going on, but no sign of the party who sent them the message right away.

Once the characters have had a chance to mingle and look around, their hosts will take the opportunity to feel them out, and toy with them a bit. They will approach the characters, either singly or collectively, and attempt to strike up conversations, flirt or even issue veiled threats. Use the descriptions of the Cabal members from Cast of Shadows as a guide to the sorts of things they will say and do to intrigue the runners. Such interaction can also be intermixed with other more (or less) innocent encounters with the other patrons of the Cathedral, just to keep the players in the dark about what is really going on. Keep in mind that the vampires will use this opportunity to size up the characters, and will use that knowledge in their negotiations with them later.

This scene can be played out for as long as it proves interesting. Once it looks like the players have had enough, move on to the meeting with their would-be employers. An attendant gathers than player characters together and escorts them to a private dining room in the club where an elaborate meal has been laid out. Their hosts await them, and the characters will recognize them from the encounters in the main club. The vampires will wine and dine the characters, eating nothing themselves, before discussing business. Eventually they will disclose their true nature to the characters and describe their problem.

Two weeks ago, a mage named Karl Stanislaw, who goes by the street name “Stalker” came to the club and demanded to meet with the Cabal. Stanislaw wanted the Cabal to make him into a vampire but they refused because the mage seemed too unstable to be allowed into the group. Stalker was infuriated and stormed out of the Cathedral. A few days later, a member of the Cabal was murdered in her penthouse, decapitated and her body burned. Five days after that another member died in a similar fashion. Both attacks happened during the day, when the vampires were most vulnerable. The Cabal suspects that Stanislaw is behind the killings out of revenge for their refusal. The Cabal will offer up to 8,000 nuyen to each character for the successful elimination of this threat, plus any reasonable expenses. Use the standard Negotiation rules if the players want to up the ante.

Unbeknownst to the PCs or the other members of the Cabal, Stanislaw is working for Andrea, a member of the Cabal. Andrea went to see Stalker after the encounter at the Cathedral and offered to turn him into a vampire if he would help her increase her power in the Cabal by killing off her rivals. She does not want Stanislaw stopped before he has finished the job, although she doesn’t care what happens to the mage after that. Andrea will offer fairly little information during the meeting at the Cathedral, but she will keep a close eye on the characters, sizing them up as potential enemies, or allies if she thinks she can persuade them to her side.

Debugging

If the characters refuse the job because they don’t want to work for a group of vampires, remind them that turning down the Cabal could be a very bad idea and that having them in their debt would definitely have it’s advantages. Feel free to remind belligerent characters that starting a fire fight in an exclusive club like the Cathedral would not be a good idea.

Look Both Ways

Tell It to Them Straight

You leave the Cathedral with a nod to the Troll doorman and studied indifference to the crowd of clubbing hopefuls. You make your way around the side of the nightclub past the end of the line to get started on this latest run, which is already shaping up to be a weird one. The sound of a roaring engine catches your attention as tires squeal against the damp pavement. You turn to see a dark sedan, it’s headlights off roaring down the street in your direction. As you turn the car’s light flash on and pin you in their glare, almost blinding you. You don’t like the metaphor that’s developing here.

Hooks

This scene should give the runners a hint that not all is as it appears with this shadowrun and that someone is very interested in making sure they are not successful. It is intended to arouse the runners’ suspicions, not put them all in the hospital, so give them an even chance.

Behind the Scenes

When the characters leave the Cathedral a car comes roaring down the street and attempts to run them down. Characters get one Simple Action before the car hits them and can make a Reaction (6) Test to get out of the way in time. Have each character that fails to dodge the car make a damage resistance test against 8S damage (Impact armor helps reduce damage). If a character reduces the damage to nothing through Combat Pool dice alone, the car misses him cleanly. For those who successfully dodge, a Perception (5) Test will allow them to read the licence plate (Seattle, 732-ALT) as the car roars off. A Perception (9) Test will gain a good look at the driver, a fairly nondescript Amerind street thug.

If the PCs catch the driver in front of the club or use the licence and description to track him down later (the car is a rental), he will tell them that he was hired through his fixer by a woman, given their descriptions and told to geek them. He has no idea who his employer is or why he wanted the characters killed. The man was actually hired by Andrea to test the characters’ abilities, and possibly dissuade them from taking the job. If the characters get a hold of the thug’s fixer, they may be able to get a description that loosely matches Andrea’s.

Debugging

This scene is mainly intended to make the players worry and to give them a chance to catch on the Andrea’s plan early. If the damage from the collision test is too high, the gamemaster should adjust it so that the runners have a fair chance of walking away from it. If the characters kill the driver, they may still be able to find out who he was via the licence plate and track down his fixer for the information. Even if the runners don’t follow up on this clue, it doesn’t affect the outcome of the adventure.

Home Sweet Home

Tell It to Them Straight

The address you got for Stanislaw’s apartment in the Redmond Barrens is on the third story of a run-down building on a corner. The interior of the place is dark and the whole building smells of several unpleasant and unidentifiable odors. You approach the apartment carefully, but none of the building’s scattered other residents seems to take any notice of you, or much else for that matter.

Hooks

Another encounter to make the characters paranoid and make them aware that Stanislaw is a dangerous and cunning opponent. Allow the characters opportunities to detect both of the booby traps before socking it to them.

Behind the Scenes

The apartment consists of a single large room with a kitchenette, a bathroom and a bedroom. There is no physical evidence in the apartment to link it to Stanislaw. In fact, everything indicates that no one has been here for at least a week or two. Stanislaw abandoned the apartment when he began his vendetta, but has booby-trapped the place in case someone came looking for him.

The bare light-bulb hanging in the living room is filled with napalm and will explode as soon as the light is turned on. Characters in the room will have to resist 6S Damage (impact armor counts). The apartment will quickly catch fire, forcing the characters (and everyone else in the building) to flee.

Stalker has also placed a claymore anti-personnel mine under one corner of his matress and tripwired it to the bed frame. If a character sits down on the bed or lifts the matress, the mine goes off, doing 6D damage, -1 Power per meter away from the explosion (again, impact armor resists the damage).

No matter what fashion or condition the characters leave Stanislaw’s apartment building in, they will run into a gang of Halloweeners that Stalker is paying to keep an eye on his place and tell him who shows up there There will be one and a half times as many gang members as the runners. The Halloweeners are just looking for an excuse to start a fight and will threaten the characters and demand to know what they were doing in the apartment building with a very “in your face” sort of attitude. Treat them as standard Gang Member Archetypes (SRII p.57) armed with Ares Predators. The gangers will attempt to run if it becomes obvious that they are overmatched (if the runners pull out the heavy ordinance or start tossing massive combat spells in their direction).

If the PCs capture and interrogate one of the Halloweeners, they can find out that Stalker hired them to keep watch on his doss. He arranges payment through a fixer named Geistmann, who has a lore store called “Ghost of a Chance” on the north side of the metroplex, in Bellevue. The gang members do not know where their employer is or what he is doing.

Debugging

Don’t slaughter the runners with the booby-traps in Stanislaw’s doss, but if they’re careless in their searching, let them know it. If the characters annihilate the Halloweeners without having a chance to question any of them, have them find a business card from Geistmann’s lore store on one of the gangers with the name “Stalker” written on the back.

Ghost of a Chance

Tell It to Them Straight

The holo-lux sign in the window of the shop says “Ghost of a Chance” in watery, glowing letters that appear almost insubstantial when viewed through the glass. The interior of the small shop is filled with shelves and display cases presenting the lore store’s wares: fetishes, ritual tools, conjuring materials and rows upon rows of hardcopy books and reference materials. From the goods and the trappings, it’s obvious to even a mundane that the store caters to a mostly Hermetic clientel.

Hooks

This scene gives the runners the clues they need to get to Stalker before he strikes again and puts a quick end to their employment with the Cabal. The pace of the investigation should start picking up, leading the runners quickly into the next scene.

Behind the Scenes

Herman Geistmann works out of a lore store that he owns and operates as a legitimate business. His main profession is as a fixer, mostly for magicians and other Awakened shadowrunners. Use the Small Store Archetype for the shop, which is surrounded by a Force 5 Astral Ward.

Geistmann is a tall albino human (treat him as having a nuisance allergy to sunlight). He dresses in pale suits with some magical-looking jewelry. Use the Talismonger archetype for Geistmann (SRII p.212) and give him fifteen force points worth of spells (whatever the gamemaster feels would suit the situation). He has a bound Force 4 Air Elemental that can be called upon if there is a need.

In order to maintain his reputation, Geistmann will be reluctant to discuss the business of any of his other clients, including Stalker. The characters will need to either bribe the fixer (with a base of about ¥1,000 and standard Negotiation rules) or convince him that Stalker’s current activities would be bad for his reputation if it became known that he worked with Geistmann.

In fact, Geistmann no longer has dealing with Stalker. He thinks that the mage has become too unstable to risk anything on. The last time Geistmann saw Stalker was two days ago. The magician wanted him to get plans to an exclusive penthouse downtown. Geistmann refused to become involved in such a risky venture with a high-security building. He can tell the characters that the place Stanislaw was interested in was the Northrup Building, a high security apartment complex.

Debugging

Runners who threaten Geistmann to get information out of him will not endear themselves to the fixer and might have trouble from him in the future (Geistmann has some influence in magical circles in the metroplex). If the characters cannot get the information on the Northrup Building from Geistmann or refuse to act upon it, go to “Cabal Shuffle.”

High Stakes

Tell It to Them Straight

The Northrup Building is a huge modern tower of chrome and glass, rising high above the neatly patrolled streets of the downtown area. Private security keeps watch in the lobby of the building and guests look to be carefully screened for the security of the residents. The security looks good, but you doubt that it’s good enough to keep a crazy mage assassin away from his prey.

Hooks

This is the big final scene against the hitmage. The fight in the penthouse should be dramatic and exciting, with Stanislaw using all of his resources to achieve his goal and escape to kill again.

Behind the Scenes

The penthouse of the Northrup Building is the home of Alexander, the leader of the Cabal. If the characters go there directly after talking with Geistmann, they may be just in time to catch Stalker about to finish off the vampire patriarch. If the runners go during the day, Stanislaw will have entered the penthouse to destroy Alexander while he sleeps. If it is nighttime, the hitmage may have decided to alter his pattern to surprise the vampires or simply wishes to gloat over his victim before he finishes the job.

The characters may have some difficulty getting into the building, which is AA security rated and has its own force of guards (use the Corporate Security Guard, SR p.165). Stalker used magic to enter the penthouse. Smart characters might be able to convince the guards that one of their tenants is in danger and gain their aid. However they are not aware that Alexander is a vampire and doing so will destroy his anonymity.

If the characters are fairly quick and decisive, the gamemaster should allow them to enter the penthouse just as Stanislaw is about to strike the blow with his axe that will decapitate the unconscious Alexander. Stalker will fight fiercely against the PCs. He will not fight to the death, however, and will try to flee if he is seriously overmatched or badly injured. If captured alive, Stanislaw will reveal that Andrea offered to make him a vampire in exchange for the elimination of her rivals.

Debugging

If the gamemaster feels that the fight is going too easy on the PCs, have Stalker summon a couple of Force 6 bound elementals for aid. If the hitmage is cutting the characters down, have some security guards or even other members of the Cabal show up to help them, or have Alexander revive and jump Stalker from behind.

If the characters blow Alexander’ cover to help him, the vampire-lord will not be happy, but he will still pay the characters according to their agreement, then take measures to set up a new identity elsewhere in the city.

Picking Up the Pieces

If the PCs have saved Alexander and captured or killed Stanislaw, they will receive the agreed upon payment as well as the vampire’s gratitude (good for a future favor).

If Andrea’s involvement in the killings is revealed, the Cabal will “deal” with her and offer the shadowrunners a reward of a lifetime membership at the Cathedral, which can prove a useful contact point and have for them in the future, as long as they don’t mind the vampires.

Cabal Shuffle

If Alexander is killed, Andrea becomes the new head of the Cabal. She will send a messenger to pay the characters the agreed upon fee and thank them for “a job well done.” Stalker (if he’s still alive) becomes a vampire and joins the Cabal. Both may appear in future adventures as allies, enemies or potential employers.

Awarding Karma

Survival: 1

Stalker stopped: 1

Andrea’s plot revealed: 1

Alexander survives: 1

Award individual karma for good role-playing, skill use, etc. normally.

Legwork

Scene of the Crime

If the characters investigate the previous two murder sites or attempt to gain access to the police reports via contacts or the Matrix, they can get the following information:

One Success: The victims were both affluent and somewhat reclusive. They were killed by someone who was very skilled, a professional assassin.

Two Successes: Initial checks show that the victim had no known enemies and that there is no apparent motive for the crimes. The killer had magical abilities and was most likely a magician.

Three Successes: Autopsies showed that the victims had HMHVV and were vampires. Lone Star has unofficially decided to do nothing about the murders (except to hope that the killer manages to geek every other vamp in the city)

Stalker

Characters looking for information on Karl Stanislaw can try asking around, checking with street contacts or looking for data on him in the Matrix (such as a police record).

One Success: Stalker is a skilled professional assassin, but on the edge. He has a vampire motif. He has been working out of Seattle for about three years now.

Two Successes: Stanislaw is obsessed with vampires and has had cosmetic surgery to make himself look like one. He also has cybernetic fangs.

Three Successes: Stalker is a very skilled Hermetic mage and an Initiate to boot. He specializes in unusual and difficult targets, especially other magicians. Last anyone heard, he had staked out a doss in the Barrens in Halloweener turf.

Four Successes: Stanislaw is crazy, probably psychotic. No one wants to work with him anymore and employers are shying away from him. His vampire obsession is taking over Stalker’s whole life. The character also learns that Stalker has an apartment in the Barrens and it’s address.

Cast of Shadows

Karl Stanislaw “Stalker”

Attributes:
Body: 4
Quickness: 4
Strength: 4
Charisma: 4
Intelligence: 5
Willpower: 6
Essence: 5.7
Magic: 9
Reaction: 4 (+3D6)

Skills:
Armed Combat (Axe): 5
Car: 4
Conjuring: 5
Demolitions: 4
Enchanting: 3
Etiquette (Street): 3
Firearms: 4
Latin (Centering): 5
Magic Theory: 4
Sorcery (Spellcasting): 8
Stealth: 6
Unarmed Combat: 4
Vampire Lore: 6

Threat/Professional Rating: 6/3
Initiate Grade: 4

Cyberware:
Fang implants (.3 Essence Loss. The fangs do only 4L damage, but inject one dose of a powerful toxin that does 4D damage. Stalker will use this as a weapon of last resort).

Gear:
Combat Axe (Weapon Focus 5, damage 6S)
Armor Jacket (5/3)
Silver Amulet (Power Focus 2)
AK-97 assault rifle w/ laser sight and recoil 2
Ares Predator w/ silencer and laser sight

Spells: (* Quickened at the listed Force)
Manabolt: 5
Fireball: 5
Detect Enemies: 3
Detect Life: 3
Increase Reflexes +2: 4*
Treat: 3
Invisibility: 3
Armor: 5*
Bat Form: 3
Control Thoughts: 4
Gecko Crawl: 3*
Wolf Form: 3

Karl “Stalker” Stanislaw is a skilled hitmage. He specializes in unusual and difficult targets, including fellow magicians and awakened creatures. Several years ago, he became obsessed with vampires and the promise of immortal life, life as the ultimate predator, the ultimate hunter. He has researched and learned all he could about the vampiric condition, until his research finally led him to the Cabal and his demand for them to transform him into one of them.

Stanislaw cares as little for Andrea as she does for him, he is only using her to get what he wants. He will gladly turn on her if it is to his advantage to do so. Stanislaw is also a professional, he does everything carefully and cooly. He never fights to the death and always has backup plans for various contingencies in place. The player characters should find Stalker a dangerous foe to be respected.

Stalker looks like a character out of a vampire movie. He has bleached white skin, black hair that is slicked back and wears red contact lenses. His canine teeth have been replaced with cybernetic fangs. He dresses completely in black both for practicality and out of preference.

The Red Cabal

The Red Cabal is a group of vampires who have banded together out of self-interest and a mutual need for protection from the elements of the Sixth World that would see them destroyed. It is unknown how many years the group has existed or how many members it has had in the past, but rumors suggest that it may have formed even before the Awakening.

The rules of the group are simple: obey the edicts of the Cabal leader, protect the secrecy of the group and avoid direct conflict with other members of the Cabal. In return, the Cabal provides a safe haven, a ready “food supply,” and a network of contacts. The Cabal is also a magical initiatory group for the vampires in the group with magical abilities.

Type: Dedicated
Members: 6
Strictures: Attendence, Exclusive Membership (vampires only), Exclusive Ritual, Fraternity, Oath, Obedience, Secrecy
Group Resources: Luxury

The current members of the Cabal are described below. The gamemaster should feel free to add to or alter this roster as needed. The vampires should be tough enough so the characters will think twice about starting anything stupid with them. All of the members of the Cabal have the standard vampiric powers and weaknesses (SRII p.231). The gamemaster should feel free to adjust their skills, spells and equipment as necessary for the scenario.

Alexander Landreth

Alexander is the Cabal’s founder and leader and the oldest of the vampires in the group. He hints at having become a vampire around to time of the Awakening or even shortly before then and since that time has used his power and influence to amass for himself a considerable fortune. Alexander decided many years ago that he and his kind required a safe place within so-called normal society in which to operate and find means to feed their hunger without arousing suspicion against them. He used a portion of his fortune to set up the Cathedral and gather a circle of his fellow vampires to form the Cabal. The group has since used the nightclub as a convinient means of finding victims as well as a cover for them to disguise their presence among all of the other neoGothic spooks and club kids. Alexander rules the Cabal with a fair but iron hand. His word is law and woe betide the vampire who forgets that.

In addition to his vampiric abilities, Alexander is an initiate mage of some skill, at least Grade 3 or 4. Most of his spells are illusions and control manipulations that he uses to fascinated and entrap his victims and confuse his enemies.

Andrea Harker

Andrea Harker is the current threat to Alexander’s reign over the Cabal. She has offered to make Karl Stanislaw a vampire in exchange for Alexander’s death and the destruction of his closest supporters, which will allow Andrea to take control of the Cabal for her own purposes. She plans to eventually dispose of Stanislaw once he has served her needs.

Andrea is a hauntingly beautiful woman with long black hair and pale complexion. She usually wears gowns and dresses in the latest style and fashion. She is a cold, deadly manipulator whom those seeking long lives would be well advised to steer clear of. Andrea is also a skilled Hermetic magician and a Grade 2 Initiate.

Mickey Leggin

Leggin, who currently goes by the street name “Blood,” was a shadowrunner of some skill who caught Andrea’s eye several years ago. She entranced him totally and eventually became enamored of him enough to bring him into the Cabal with Alexander’s permission. After a year or so of vampiric unlife, Mickey lost interest in his affair with Andrea, although he still supports her in the group. Blood went back to working the shadows, using his vampiric abilities to his advantage. This has been of growing concern to Alexander, who believes Blood’s “games” might endanger the secrecy of the Cabal. Leggin has grown to dislike his new “life” and regrets his decision to become a vampire, but has accepted and learned to deal with his fate.

Blood looks to be in his late twenties, with long, wavy dark hair that he often wears in a pony-tail. His complexion is pale and he is usually unshaven unless he is preparing for a formal occasion. He likes to wear street leathers when he can, but will “dress up” in the latest fashion for formal events at the Cathedral.

Eric Rourke

Eric was an up-and-coming MBA gratuate when a single night of slumming in a bad part of town took all of his plans apart. Drained and infected with the vampire virus. Eric was forced to set aside his plans of corporate glory. Initially bitter, he eventually came to regard his new condition as both a challenge and an advantage.

The reclusive Rourke eventually took his dual reputation for eccentricity and financial wizardry and parlayed them into a career as a successful investor and financial consultant who deals almost exclusively through the Matrix. He cares little for Cabal politics unless they directly affect him and prefers not to take sides.

Eric looks to be in his late twenties, with neatly cut and combed blond hair, wearing an immaculate suit in the latest power style for the season.

Ho Tien

Ho Tien is known on the streets as “Great-Uncle,” and is director of a small network of Seoulpa rings that he manages from the shadows, providing them with information and leadership while they supply money and the secrecy he needs. Tien became a vampire in his native Korea and moved to Seattle to establish a new life for himself after eliminating all traces of his former self. He used his powers to quickly gain control of several small-time gangs and develop them into a useful enterprise. His work caught the attention of the Cabal and he was invited to join them. Ho Tien is a survivalist who know when the winds of fortune are shifting. If Andrea comes into a position of power in the Cabal. He will back her in his own best interest.

Ho Tien is a small Korea man with a slight build that belies his superhuman strength. He has learned some magic in an oriental Hermetic tradition since becoming a vampire, mainly detection spells that he uses to keep himself informed of various activities.

Jennifer Running-Cloud

Jennifer Running-Cloud is much more even-tempered than the rest of the Cabal. She went from being a corporate receptionist for Geaetronics in Seattle to a vampire quite by accident when she became attracted to a man who turned out to be a member of the Cabal, who eventually brought her “into the fold” with Alexander’s permission. Her mentor was killed by Stanislaw and Jennifer will be furious if she discovers Andrea’s involvement in the assassination.

Jennifer is a Native American woman in her late twenties, with long, straight black hair that is usually elaborately braided. She favors pantsuits or skirt and sweater outfits and appears fairly casual.

Magic in the Shadows Miscellany

The following are some bits and pieces that were thought up for Magic in the Shadows, but never included in the book. Feel free to use them in your own Shadowrun games, but keep in mind that these ideas were never playtested and should not be considered “official.”

Adept Powers

New adept powers.

Knack

Cost: See below

A knack is a magical power similar to an inhierent spell or critter power possessed by the physical adept. It is treated as a normal spell, known by the adept at a Force equal to the level of the Knack. No Knack can have a level above the adept’s Magic rating. The adept uses the Knack normally just the original spell with the sole exception that the adept does not suffer Drain for the use of the Knack; the grounding of the power into the adept’s physical body is more controlled and permanent, and so causes no Drain. Knacks based on Sustained spells may be sustained by the adept following the normal rules for sustaining spells (+2 to all target numbers for each Knack the adept is sustaining).

The cost of the knack is based on the Drain Code of the spell, as given on the table below. Note, for the purpose of this power the Personal modifier does not apply, although the Voluntary Subject modifier may. Spells usable on Voluntary Subjects may only be used on the adept himself. Spells not requiring a voluntary subject may be used on any viable target, subject to the normal Spellcasting rules and using the Knack’s level as its Force for the Spell Success Test.

 Spell Drain

Cost per level

Light

.25

Moderate

.5

Serious

1

Deadly

2

Example: Wind-Walker wishes to buy the Invisibility spell as a Knack. Invisibility has a Drain Code of M, so the Knack costs .5 Power Points per level. Wind-Walker pays 2 points to have the Knack at level 4. When he wishes to do so, using a Complex Action, he may make a Spell Success Test with his 4 dice to make himself (but not anyone else) invisible. Twice the number of Wind-Walker’s successes become the base TN to detect him while invisible.

Example: Fenris wants a Critter Form Knack that allows him to assume the form of his totem animal, Wolf. Critter Form has a Drain Code of +2M, so the Knack costs .5 Power Points per level. Fenris pays 3 points to have the Knack at level 6. Like the spell, he increases the Physical Attributes of his wolf form by 1 for every two successes rolled on his Critter Form Test.

Mystic Blade

Cost: 1

This power works like Killing Hands, except it requires a bladed weapon. The weapon does its normal damage, but it is treated as a magical weapon for damaging spirits and other critters with Immunity to Normal Weapons or Regeneration. The adept can also use the weapon in astral combat.

Metamagical Techniques

New metamagical techniques for initiates.

Dreaming

Many magical theorists believe the metaplanes are tied to the minds of metahumanity via the Universal Unconscious or some similar medium. The metamagical technique of Dreaming seems to support this idea. It allows an initiate to use astral projection to enter the dreams of others, observing, influencing and even acting through them.

In order to use Dreaming on a particular subject, that person must be asleep and dreaming. The initiate must begin projecting onto the metaplanes within physical sight or the subject. Otherwise, the initiate must have a material link and make a Sorcery Test to establish a link to the subject. Use the normal Ritual Sorcery rules for this test.

The initiate astrally projects onto the metaplanes. Once past the Dweller on the Threshold, the initiate undergoes an Astral Quest with a rating equal to the subject’s Willpower or Magic, whichever is higher. This Quest takes no time in the physical world. Upon reaching the Citadel, the initiate can enter the subject’s dreams.

A dream-world is much like a Place on a metaplane. It can take any form, subject to the dreamer’s conscious and subconscious mind. The initiate can also take on any form or appearance in the dream, but usually has all normal Physical Attributes and abilities, just like in the real world. The gamemaster has complete control over the “ground rules” for a particular dream world. Literally anything that can be imagined is possible.

The only constant in a dream world is the dreamer, who is always present and possesses whatever abilities the dreamer has in the physical world. The initiate can communicate with the dreamer normally, and the dream will be lucid enough for the dreamer to recall it upon awakening, although they may still thing it was “just a dream.” The initiate can also engage the dreamer in combat, using whatever weapons or abilities the initiate normally has. Physical damage inflicted by the initiate can kill the dreamer if it reaches Deadly, otherwise all such damage vanishes when the dreamer wakes, leaving only faint aches and pains. Deadly Stun damage causes the dreamer to awaken immediately, as if from a nightmare.

Attacks from things in the dream cause normal damage (Physical or Stun) to the initiate. While the dreamer cannot be harmed by anything in the dream, the initiate can be! If the initiate is killed in the dream, he dies in the real world as well. If knocked out (Deadly Stun damage) the initiate’s astral form is distrupted.

Materializing

This metamagical techique can be used only by initiates capable of astral projection. It allows the initiate to create a material form for the astral body in order to affect the material world in a manner very similar to the Materialization power of certain spirits. Assuming a material form or abandoning it to shift back into astral form requires a Complex Action. There is no Test needed, switching between forms is automatic.

The material body is formed from the stuff of the astral plane and looks like the initiate’s astral form. The material form has Physical Attributes equal to the initiate’s Astral Attributes along with the character’s normal Mental Attributes. Reaction is equal to the character’s Intelligence rating and material forms gain a +10 bonus to Initiative. Additionally, the material form has the power of Immunity to Normal Weapons at a level equal to the initiate’s Grade. This provides twice the Initiate’s Grade in Armor against ranged attacks. Opponents using melee combat roll their Willpower dice to attack a materialized astral form, just like combat against a spirit.

Materializing is extremely fatiging. Each combat turn the initiate maintains a material form, he must resist a Drain Code of (Number of Turns)D. The target number of the Drain Test increases with the number of combat turns the character has been materialized. This Drain is resisted normally using Willpower. If Drain (or anything else) knocks the initiate unconscious, the material form vanishes and the astral form is disrupted. If the materialized form is killed, the initiate’s physical body dies as well.

While in materialized form, the initiate is considered a dual being, like a materialized spirit, able to use Sorcery on any physical or astral target the character can assense. All spells cast in materialized form still cause Physical Drain, just like spells cast in astral space. The material form can be targeted normally by spells from both the physical and astral planes. Spells affect the initiates material form, not his normal physical body, but astral reprecussion causes any damage inflicted on the material form to affect the body as well.

Wraiths

Wraiths are a unique type of spirit similar to shadow free spirits in that they appear to feed off intense emotion. Unlike other free spirits, however, wraiths have the ability to steal karma from others to increase their Spirit Energy. They do so using their unique Karma Drain ability.

Wraiths generally appear as amorphous clouds of black or gray mist, illuminated from within by a deep violet light. They manifest in mist form or as a tall, dark figure wearing tattered robes, surrounded by mist. Wraiths seem drawn to scenes of intense violence, since they provide the best opportunities for “feeding.” Their native metaplane is unknown, and wraiths have proven completely immune to summoning and banishing using Conjuring. Whether or not wraiths have true names like other free spirits remains a matter of conjecture. If they have, no one has ever discovered a wraith’s true name.

Wraiths use their powers of Compulsion, Fear, and Influence to inspire violence among other intelligent beings. Once it has caused a being to commit an act of violence that results in at least one box of damage to another intelligent being, the Wraith may begin to drain Karma from its victim. The victim permanently loses 1 point of Karma Pool for each minute under the Wraith’s influence. This Karma is added to the Wraith’s total and may be used to increase its Spirit Energy.

Wraiths often enter into partnerships with corrupt magicians and even mundanes. Such relationships are always temporary. Once the wraith strips its follower of all his or her Karma Pool, it moves on, usually inspiring a new follower to kill the previous one.

Wraiths avoid direct confrontation, prefering to work behind the scenes. If faced with an overwhelming opponent in combat, a wraith usually retreats to its home metaplane, vanishing from the physical and astral planes entirely to a place where no one can follow it, then returning to the physical world at a later time.

Wraiths

F+4 Q F+6 (x3) F C F I F W F E (F)A R F+1 Attack Humanoid or Powers.
INIT: F + 20 + 1D6 (Astral)/F + 11 + 1D6 (Physical)
Powers: Compulsion, Fear, Influence, Karma Drain, Magic Resistance, Magic Sense, Materialization