Wraith: The Oblivion is the grand daddy of ghostly RPGs. No other game builds a world setting quite like this game. Get the scoop after the jump.
Wraith: The Oblivion Background
This is the 20th anniversary edition, and it includes a few supplements. It also has a section on Orpheus, a limited series focused on astral projection.
The game debuted in 1994 as part of the Old World of Darkness. Its sibling games include Vampire: The Masquerade, Werewolf: The Apocalypse and Mage: The Ascension. It was not a commercial success for White Wolf, and it cancelled the line in 1999.
Wraith: The Oblivion Setting
Wraith: The Oblivion (WtO) takes place in the afterlife. This line probably has the most well-developed setting from the original World of Darkness games. It goes into great detail about the world of ghosts, cities of the dead, and what keeps a ghost bound to the living world. It even has a history of this world, and how it impacts the citizens to this day.
If you don’t know about White Wolf’s series, they are known for their world building strengths. It definitely shows in WtO.
Wraith: The Oblivion Character Creation
The games spends 3 chapters and nearly 150 pages on character creation. It also has details on live action roleplaying (LARP) for characters in chapter 2. Needless to say, the creators go into painstaking detail. They cover motivations, personal traits and attributes, and no less than 15 archetypes. It also has Shadows, the destructive side of of a ghost, played by another character. This is another strength of the White Wolf line, the detail in character creation.
Wraith: The Oblivion Game Mechanics
WtO isn’t an action game, like Werewolf: The Apocalypse or Mage: The Ascension. Combat and other actions are minimized and it shows. These rules have 30 pages, with many charts, for the players to sift through.
Like most World of Darkness games, it uses d10 dice for most rolls, but the creators have a box that says players should focus on mood and story, not rolling dice. The roleplaying in this game is becoming your character.
Monsters (or in this case, Ghostly Types)
Specters are the bad guys of WtO. Their goal is to destroy other wraiths and end their suffering. They have an entire chapter dedicated to them. It’s a very well developed section, like you’d expect.
There are other denizens in the Shadowlands of the dead. Another type includes the Risen, wraiths that return to the living. Any way, there are many monsters in the afterlife to watch out for. Some are other ghosts; some are your characters’ motivations.
And the creators made it a point to integrate with the broader World of Darkness. They have a section on dealing with humans, vampires, werewolves, mages, fairies, and other monsters. Now, wraiths don’t interact with every critter in the World of Darkness, but your wraiths can crossover to a degree with other games.
Aesthetics & Information Design
First, some fonts used for character names and chapter introductions are hard to read. They also used these fonts in the table of contents. Once you get used to it, then it’s easier to understand. I had a few moments of WTF when deciphering it, though.
Second, the art used to setup the world (like in the beginning 20 pages or so) looked muddy and the text was hard to read. This isn’t the case for all art work. It may be the paper quality, too. Overall, the art is impressive: It just has a few moments where you can’t quite make it out.
Luckily, the game comes with both a table of contents and an index in the back. This makes it easy to find character information and gaming rules. But, make sure you read the Lexicon at the beginning to understand the game’s vocabulary. It’s a bit different from other World of Darkness games.
Ghostly Activities’ Take
I highly recommend the game. It’s comprehensive, rich in detail and puts an emphasis on becoming your character. For some, it’s a bit dour since you spend a lot of time pining for your lost life. If you want an action game, Wraith: The Oblivion may not be for you, but you can try Orpheus (in the appendix) as an option. It’s built for combat and risk taking.
To buy a copy, you can order a PDF and/or hardcover version from DriveThruRPG.
Feature image: Retrieved from https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/200664283/deluxe-wraith-the-oblivion-20th-anniversary-editio on March 9, 2019. Copyright of White Wolf Entertainment.
Wraith: The Oblivion copyright of White Wolf Entertainment.