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Every wraith has a Shadow, brought to life by crossing the Shroud and an active participant in the wraith's life. It is a fragment of Oblivion itself whispering inside their minds and the most novel and disturbing play idea in Wraith: The Oblivion.
Each shadow has an archetypal personality, akin to the archetypes used for Nature and Demeanor. In the case of shadows these archetypes, called Shadow Natures, are uniformly negative; examples include the perfectionist, who demonstrates consistently that the wraith's achievements are pathetic, or the parent, who attempts to keep the character an impotent child. In addition to the archetype, each Shadow has Dark Passions, which are generally negative versions of the wraith's Passions.
Shadow strength is measured through the Angst attribute. Angst is measured on a track from 1-10, with the shadow having both a permanent and temporary angst score. Every ten points of temporary Angst grants a point of permanent Angst. When a wraith acquires 10 points of permanent Angst, it becomes a Spectre.
Angst is acquired by a variety of methods, but the most common involve the interaction between the wraith and the Shadow. Shadows can offer Shadow Dice, which are rolled as normal dice but cost a point of Angst for each die rolled. Shadows also gain Angst for fulfilling their Dark Passions, or by having the Wraith do so. Since Shadows can interact with a wraith directly (the Shadow is generally manifest as a voice in the character's head), they are completely possible of badgering, bullying and forcing a player into a position where their passions are fulfilled. Finally, Angst can be increased via certain Arcanoi.
Shadows burn Angst through invoking Thorns, special powers invoked by the Shadow in order to torment the wraith. Thorns include capacities like special relics used only by the Shadow, or the ability to let the Shadow speak through the wraith without the wraith's control.
While Shadows spend Angst using Thorns, their most potent ability is invoked by saving Angst. If a Shadow's temporary Angst exceeds the wraith's Willpower score, then the Shadow can take over the Wraith temporarily, a process known as Catharsis. During Catharsis, the Shadow controls the corpus of the Wraith for a Scene, allowing it full license to exercise its powers, fulfill its Dark Passions or generally ruin the wraith's existence.
Shadows are the seeds from which Spectres grow, as a result they are in limited contact with the spectral Hive-Mind. Shadows have thorns that allow them to communicate with Spectres, and when a wraith is finally Shadow-eaten, his Shadow becomes the dominant personality. Spectres have a weak counterpart to the Shadow, called a Psyche, that has similar play effects.
Shadows and spectres interact heavily during a Harrowing. A Harrowing is implemented as a play, with the Labyrinth as stage, Spectres as supporting cast and wraith as star. The Shadow, however, plays the director - generating the material and conducting the harrowing itself.
Playing a Shadow Edit
Shadows are created as a separate mini-character with their own character sheet and attributes. The Shadow is traitionally played by a Shadowguide, another player in the Troupe. Normally, each player in WtO runs one Wraith and one Shadow, and a Shadow's attributes (temporary and permanent Angst in particular) are not known to the wraith's player.
Shadowguiding is a complicated job, especially since it implicitly means that every player in a troupe is the adversary of at least one other player in the Troupe. The difficulty involved in properly shadowguiding is one of the major reasons for wraith's complexity.