Wraith World is a homebrew setting originally designed by an anonymous /tg/ poster and his childhood friends. The game, as well as setting has an emphasis on fast and loose rules, ridiculous character tropes and designs, and vague sexual content bordering on magical realm material. Essentially the game was written to entertain a bunch of grade school kids, but when shared or discussed with 4chan it was immediately requested to be rewritten into a playable game to be enjoyed by all.
The Game's Mechanics and Composition
Because of the game's obscure conception, it borrows heavily from other tabletop role playing games, yet was forced to develop several conventions of it's own. Wraith World has two essential books necessary to play, one titled THE WRAITH WORLD BOOK, and the other THE BOOK OF LEGENDS. Each of these books provide different necessary aspects to the game, and in the case of The Book Of Legends, a hard copy, or printed version is recommended for play. The content and use of each of these books were as follows:
WRAITH WORLD has most of the games content and history, as well as a relatively large Gazetteer explaining the layout of the world itself. It, more importantly, contained the entirety of the game's system and rulings on combat and special moves. This book was much larger, and the players were able to look through this for rules and regulations whenever they liked.
THE BOOK OF LEGENDS was a thinner binder that contained all of the games Monsters, Traps, Spells, and Secrets in it. Players were never allowed to look in the book when they were not running the game as a game master, and if your were caught peaking, the penalty for such an offense was INSTANT DEATH OF YOUR CHARACTER. Also, one of the most interesting aspects of Wraith World, was that if your character was strong enough, or interesting enough, when they died or reached level 100, their character sheet was saved in THE BOOK OF LEGENDS, and they may return one day as a boss in later adventures or campaigns.
At it's core, the game is very simple. You have five attributes called Stats; Strength, Resistances, Mindpower, Agility, and Luck. You would have a seperate die associated with each of these attributes which governed your level of competency. At level 1, all of your attributes had 1d4 associated with them, and after growing 5 levels, you could increase one of these die to the next degree. So, at level 5 one of your d4 would become a d6, and at level 10 you could increase it to d8. Stats were also given a bonus based on what kind of equipment you carried. A normal sword, for instance, may give you +1 while using it. So a level 1 character, swinging a normal sword got 1d4+1 to their attacks.
Other mechanics were present, such as critical hits, Magic Spells, and lots of tables for different situations that you would find yourself in. But one of the more prevalent and concerning game mechanics was in creating a new character after death. When your character died, everyone in the game, including the Game Master, could vote whether your character was worthy of being added to THE BOOK OF LEGENDS. Most characters were not, and would be ripped up, and thrown away immediately. In either case you had to make a new character, starting over. Player characters could only be human, unless one of your previous characters had slept with "a maiden of a different species" and had a child worthy to take up your heroic banner.
Maidens of a Different Species A major aspect of the game that parallels the core mechanics, is the option to bed various maidens that you encounter on your journeys. Maidens were often of various "fantasy" or "monster" races, and a major reward for sleeping with them was that when your character died, you would have the option of playing as one of your offspring. Normally, in character creation you would only have the choice of a human character, unless one of your previous characters had a son that shared blood of another species. Any "Monster girl" or humanoid species could be used. (And in the final version of the 3rd edition, the selection of races will be expanded significantly.)
Races of maidens that were able to be encountered included, but were certainly not limited to:
- Ancients: A race of lithe Elves called The Ancients. A pointy eared people with various markings on their skin, who had magical powers. The Ancients were a species of long-lived elven beings from the depths of space. They were roughly based on Juraians from Tenchi Muyo. They were basically like slapping elf ears and some chunky parts on a Tenchi girl. They had a natural affinity for spell casting. Little was known about them, save that they dreamed of returning to their home planet. But they never had the means of doing so, as it was too far away, even by means of space travel.
- Catfolk: A race of humanoid cats who were the natural enemies of the Wargors and Akari. Incredibly agile and fast. Have a silly and comical personality. Catfolk were generally all female. There were a couple males in the Progenitor Wraith session, but they were kind've ostracized or alienated by the females. They were agile and playful and "Lolrandumb" anime tropes. They hunted on vast plains and lived solitary nomadic lifestyles. They often used weapons and armor that was stolen from various other places or species, so I guess it was implied that they were thieves.
- Draconians: A race of large humanoid "half dragons". Even females are 8ft tall. Were descendants of a race of sky pirate drakes that evolved into a humanoid shape. They were largely nomadic, but had a solitary city in the clouds. Draconians grew their wings in adolescence and had only a short time before they would shrivel up and fall off, so they had to decide where they wanted to live before their flight was taken from them.
- Demon sluts: Humanoid female Demons, "having a half-demon baby was the easiest in the game".
- Goo girl: A race of goo people inspired by the Japanese series of life simulation role-playing video games created by Tecmo. "A mass of pink goo with boobs." Googirls were part of a race called Slimes. Slimes were usually monsters. At their center was a solidified ball that housed their brain and internal workings, and then their "Body" was made of different colored slimes. They could make their body as solid or malleable as they wished, and could make their arms in to blades. Slimes lived in dark dungeons, and waited for adventurers, so that they could spring on them and attack.
- Seeths: Were led by religious zealots that had a parasite in their body that dislocated all of their joints. They were really "Loose and floppy" when they fought you, kind've like Voldo from Soul Calibur.
Pregnancy mechanic: A player character attempting to have sex with a NPC rolling 19 or 20 on d20 results in a live birth of an half human half humanoid heir. Every time you "layed with the same maiden", you increased the chances by 1 point.
Female player characters maybe impregnated if they so choose. Including by female demons.
In Lieu of Classes
Wraith World does not use classes to carry the weight of it's character customization. At low levels, characters must rely on equipment and situational circumstance to gain an advantage. At higher levels, through the acts of adventuring and questing, players can acquire Powers or Spells which modify their character and act like a sort of vocation. These however are never given to a character who has not somehow earned them.
Powers are mostly non-magical gifts or "achievements" that one can earn by performing tasks in their adventures. For instance, One can become a Dragon Slayer, by dealing the killing blow to an evil dragon. Thus, dragons you come to meet in the future will fear and respect you, and you can even obtain their powers for a brief time.
Magic is a mysterious and dangerous force that can only be granted by encountering a powerful, and often ancient, arcane force and entering a covenant of some sort with it after committing to a difficult task. Even still, each spell has a heavy price. For example, a demon may grant you the ability to create a sword out of coagulated blood and viscera by offering half of your health in blood. A particularly powerful spell called Hellfire costs all of your remaining Mana, and kills every living thing that cannot jump out of the way within 6 inches of your miniature. Magic should never be taken lightly, and always comes at a heavy cost.
The World, Itself
The world presented in Wraith World is a rather chaotic and spontaneous place filled with things that want to put holes in you or eat you. Mostly it is a very "grimdark" fantasy setting with inexplicably evil villains with vague motives. It is not uncommon for traditionally medieval fantasy tropes to be seen side by side with science fiction or modern objects or characters. Guns, for instance, are present and often used by enemies, though they are often times not as powerful as bladed weapons or spells. Go figure.
Most adventures take place within the Kingdom of Generia, which is ruled by a powerful king so old and powerful that his name is King. Around that kingdom lie five smaller kingdoms whose names are lost to memory. They are filled with poor brigands and are a very dangerous place to wander. Outside lies the unknown realm of the Wastes of Wraith World. Here, obscuring mists alter the face of the world and new dungeons are seen each day like burrows made in the earth by colossal serpents. Great treasure is to be found here, for anyone seeking such glory, but few ever make it back alive.
Generia lies on the planet of Gaia, but there are untold numbers of other planets. Seethara is home to the pale skinned aliens known as Seeths. Narak is said to be the secret hideaway to a race of comely green-skinned alien women, though none have ever returned. It is said that they cast off the desire to ever leave that place. Unspeakable evils and unknowable beings are said to live among the stars, so it is safest to keep your feet on the solid ground of Gaia.
There is a second realm, known as the Netherworld, where the souls of the Wraiths reside. It is here, that the souls of great heroes go, and where they wait to be summoned to challenge future champions. It is a lightless place where no life is welcome without the glory of death. Should a living person ever enter, they would immediately be pursued by untold numbers of fallen heroes seeking their blood. (That has never happened, mind you. And players should pray it never does.)
Monsters were the only aspect of the original Wraith World that were even more colorful than the player characters. An early ruling added to the game said that all monsters that were going to be added to the game should be original, because "It was more fun that way". This rule was eventually broken due to repetitive use of our homebrew monsters without taking the time to make more. Besides, certain iconic enemies add flavor and fun to the game, such as goblins and dragons. Common enemies that showed up often, were as follows.
- Akari were large, powerful werewolf or baboon humanoids that had small tentacles that protruded from their back. They were highly intelligent and had an external brain that was in a leathery sack on the back of their skulls. They were often encountered leading packs of smaller monsters, and had the ability to "power up" into a more powerful form once they were badly hurt.
- Wargors were black skinned wolf men with glowing eyes. They could eat anything and were exceptionally strong, though they were not very smart and were very easy to kill because they had very little common sense.
- Hydrakes were kind of like a cross between a hydra and a drake. They had fat, leathery bodies and huge wings, with multiple heads and multiple tails. They could breathe fire, but unexpectedly, they could also summon a burst of fire from their tails.
- Madusas were quite different than those depicted in D&D. A large ball of various snakes, that would vaguely make out the shape of a human face during combat. It basically worked like a slime from many other games, if it rolled over top of you, you had to fight it's way out, and it was highly poisonous, and highly disgusting.
- Nagas were Lamias.
- "Half Mantis Women" would eat you if you tried to fuck them. Someone made them as a counter to Bryan, a Progenitor Wraith's, character (Who fucked anything with boobs).
- Maggotrats were like molerats without back legs.
Known Spells and Powers
- Visceral Blade: Spell. Can be obtained in a covenant with Serafi, Father of Wraiths. A ritual spell of the conjuration school, regarding Blood, Blades, and Chaos. By offering one's blood to their patron, by slicing open their arm, the blood coagulates into a hard, straight dagger. Half of your current hit points are offered in this way. For every 25 hit points, the blade is made bigger. It is considered a medium weapon at 25, a Large weapon at 50. This weapon can be broken off and thrown as a projectile weapon. This spell also costs 10 Mana.
- Overwhelming Shadow: Spell. Can be obtained in a covenant with Serafi, Father of Wraiths. An immediate spell of the Hexing school, regarding shadow and trickery. By offering the shavings of a cut onyx stone to your patron, a cloud of darkness surrounds you and all living things within 20 feet of you are considered blind while in this area. If they manage to find the square where a target is standing when they attack, they must succeed a 50% chance of missing before making their attack. This spell costs 12 Mana to cast, and doubles it's range for every additional 6 mana you care to spend on it. The shadow lasts as long as a normal disfiguring cloud would.
- Dragon Slayer: Power. Obtained by dealing the killing blow to an evil dragon. Thus, dragons you come to meet in the future will fear and respect you, and you can even obtain their powers for a brief time.
- Crystal Swordsman: Power. Obtained by defeating a swordsman in a duel while wielding a legendary Crystal Sword. Crystal Swordsmen can send sonic waves through the air by swinging their swords, and hit enemies at range.
- Nameless Durable Power: Power. Obtained by surviving several dangerous encounters with heavy damage. You had to have a single Hit Point remaining for several battles, and doing so would give you a natural defense, so you could remain unarmored and become impervious to elemental damage. The cool and overpowered part was that you could eventually deal extra damage for every point of damage you had taken. That was for spells AND melee damage.
- Sentinel: Power. Obtained by infusing your body with the arcane component of a stone warrior-like monster. This would give you the ability to switch places with a party member, when they were attacked, and gave you the ability to counter attack. OP and the other Progenitor Wraiths stole this power's abilities from Final Fantasy.
- Hellfire: Spell. Obtained through a covenant. costs all of your remaining Mana, and kills every living thing that cannot jump out of the way within 6 inches of your miniature.
In hindsight, the most important feature of Wraith World is that your character can live on in two ways at the end of their adventures. Either, through the birth of a son or by achieving great deeds that grant them a place in THE BOOK OF LEGENDS. There are many great heroes who will forever be forgotten, due to the destruction of THE BOOK OF LEGENDS, but hopefully, if you play Wraith World, you will be able to continue your own legacy of champions. The following are a few Wraiths which I can recall. You are encouraged to occasionally throw one of these in to an adventure at random to spark an interesting encounter. Wraiths that are defeated in combat are not destroyed, but are simply placed back in THE BOOK OF LEGENDS.
As far as fluff is concerned, player characters are given the chance to obtain the status of Wraith in death. NPCs cannot become Wraiths. Once a character dies or retires, it's soul and body are taken to the Netherworld, where it rests and awaits an opportunity to come back to the material plane of Gaia and challenge future generations of heroes. Wraiths appear to be shallow, ghostly versions of their former selves, with tattered clothes and armor, chains and spikes. They are completely aware of their former selves, and will even try to get in the heads of their former allies, if it means victory. They are pleased with fighting a player character and never hold back. Their ultimate goal is to become defeated however, for it proves that their own death was not in vain.
From A Technical Perspective
Characteristics that the game tends to get right, and that we'd like to emphasize include:
- There are hard caps on player progression, emphasizing rolling a new character while still encouraging greater character development.
- It boasts a simplified stat system that doesn't eliminate fail-rolls but still provides ample rewards.
- It is brutal as fuck and unapologetically "rapey", yet somehow still less "rapey" and stupid than FATAL.
- It appears to be imbalanced in favor of, of all things, strong melee. And magic is rare, costly, and extremely gratifying.
- Plot and role-driven character development that is meaningful to mechanics and abilities that require reaching a story goalpost instead of just *leveling up.
- I has a seemingly successfully executed classless system. Batshit insane clusterfuck of a world to play in. Preserves a sense of things forbidden or arcane.
Hard set mechanics that would like to be in a final draft of the project:
- Attributes are graded on die size. They are Strength, Resistance, Mindpower, Agility, and Luck. Each stat starts at d4, and assuming a typical RPG polyhedral dice set will go from d4>d6>d8>d10>d12>d20.
- Characters are classless. Characters that hit certain level thresholds and meet certain achievement requirements will be eligible for "Powers" related to the task they completed.
- Magical spells are written down on the sheet, but the effects are controlled and arbitrated by the GM (who has the actual spell description in his book). Spells can generally only be gained at the discretion of the GM via some encounter with an arcane force. Spells generally involve some sort of involved, occultic ritual that levies some significant cost.
- Characters may retire after reaching maximum level and be inducted as Wraiths into the Book of Legends. Wraiths may be used by the DM in lieu of a typical monster encounter.
- Overall the genre suggests a low fantasy sword and sorcery world, very Moorcock or Howard.
To codify this into a proper ruleset we'd need:
- an idea of typical thresholds for different tasks. What sort of tasks are auto-success or failure, and what sort of tasks demand rolls?
- can situational bonuses be awarded to a dice roll? Can a character gain +1 on a roll to hit by aiming carefully, and if so, is there a systemized way to do this or is this at GM discretion?
- Successor rules should be written in such a way that we have the option to leave out the magical realm bit. (It can happen "off-camera", or instead it might be a phylactery passed on, a ceremonial transfer of essence, or any sort of other fluff).
- Regardless of fluff, to what extent does the Successor inherit the predecessor's abilities?
Wraith World 3rd Edition
The original game was thrown away by one of the player's moms, and was never able to be salvaged from the the trash. A sequel, referred to as "Wraith World 2" was written in the next year, but it's mechanics were more complicated, and it's style borrowed too heavily from anime that was popular at the time. The carefree charm that made the original game was missing, and the sequel was abandoned in favor of other games that were more prominent at the time. Due to positive reception of posters on /tg/, and a general sense of interest in the original system, a 3rd edition of Wraith World is being written by anonymous with help from /tg/ and will be available for download in the form of a PDF. (Though, due to the nature of the necessity of the physical books, it is recommended that THE BOOK OF LEGENDS be printed and placed in a binder.)