J. Edward Tremlett
In the spirit of revising things so they work better, or better reflect the realities and mechanics of the game system, The Fog is undergoing a bit of a facelift. Wraith Storytellers will hopefully find these rules add a bit more realism to the game, as well as give ordinary mortal characters a slightly better chance of fighting back.
For the purposes of Wraith: Revised, use these rules instead of the ones found on pp 240 - 241 of Wraith: The Oblivion 2nd ed. Note that what it says on page 240, concerning "other supernatural denizens of the World of Darkness" being able to see through the Shroud with a Perception + Alertness roll, is nullified. There are some people who can do this, noted under "Animals, Madmen and Innocents," below, but other "Awakened" denizens have to use whatever powers they may have, within their systems, to do that.
There is also a Merit and a Flaw that deal with immunity to the Fog. They are located at the end of the article, and are subject to ST approval prior to taking them for your character.
"We're mere human beings - we die
"Human beings" - Seal
The Fog, for Wraiths, is the strange, Delirium-like state that affects the Quick when in contact with the Dead.
Mortals have a hard time accepting the fact that they are one day going to die. When they are faced with proof of this fact -- via sight of a ghost, or being targeted by its Arcanoi -- their minds tend to respond with immediate fear, followed by a rearrangement of memory. For those of sufficiently low Willpower, The Fog's activation will render them helpless, babbling or fleeing in the opposite direction, and remove or seriously alter their memories a short time later. Conversely, those of high enough Willpower could be able to act in a rational manner at the time, and would remember the event fairly clearly later on.
The Fog is triggered by sight of what can only be a Wraith, or spooky and blatant uses of Arcanoi. Some Arcanoi might not cause The Fog right away, but have the potential for it to kick in: a Wraith who's Embodied with "Life in Death" would not invoke The Fog unless she was proven to be something other than a pale human, perhaps by using Moliate, or being split open from navel to neck and bleeding gray jelly, yet fighting on.
The Lucky Ones:
Some folks are not subject to the ravages of The Fog. They are:
The Fog Ratings Chart
The following is the reworked chart for The Fog. It gives the Immediate Effect that the stricken person will endure, how long she will be in that state, and how her recollection of the event will be. This is just a guideline: Storytellers should go beyond these numbers and apply their best judgment on a case by case basis.
Most Mortals have a Willpower somewhere between one and three, and it is these people who are most affected by The Fog. These tend to be the sorts of folks who run in a blind panic when the Pandemonium hits their brainpan. Very few people have a Willpower higher than eight, but it is these folks who are the best equipped to deal with Wraiths and their tricks. In between those two extremes is a gradual progression that replaces fear, and loss of memory, with the ability to reason at the time, and remember later.
Note that there is a zero point listed here. No mortal has a Willpower of zero: this level is meant to govern those whose effective levels get taken down past one from various causes. Anyone who suffers this fate chances psychological damage (see "Fighting One's Fear," below).
Fighting One's Fear:
When a mortal is in a situation where she would be hit by The Fog, she can choose to either default to her behavior on the Fog Ratings chart, or fight The Fog to gain more control over her actions. This accounts for how ordinary people can sometimes persevere against otherworldly forces,
To attempt this, a mortal may spend a point of Temporary Willpower and roll her Wits + Occult at a Difficulty of 7. She may do this only once, unless she has cause to try again (see below).
Each success on this roll allows her to add one level to her normal spot on the Fog Ratings chart, as though she had a higher Permanent Willpower than she really does. She may then act in accordance with that spot on the Fog Ratings chart for the duration of that Scene.
A failure on this roll means that she defaults to her normal behavior. If her Willpower is higher than four, she may try again, but will have to spend another point of Temporary Willpower, and the difficulty will be one higher. If her Willpower is four or less, she does not have that option. A botched result makes her act as though her Permanent Willpower were one level less for each "1" rolled. If this subtraction takes her below one, then default to the zero rating.
Any time that a person's spot on the Fog Ratings chart goes below one, there is a chance that some notable psychological damage has been done. The victim should roll her Permanent Willpower at a Difficulty of 10 minus her Permanent Willpower. If a single success is scored, she's shaken but will recover. Failure means she has developed a suitable Derangement -- one that might be overcome via roleplaying. A Botch means she goes permanently insane, gaining a Derangement that can never be removed or undone by conventional psychological practices.
A Wraith may try to employ an Art more than once, or try new tricks if the old ones fail to run the Skinbags out. If the Mortal has successfully resisted The Fog in that Scene, then she will not have to roll again for the rest of that Scene unless the Wraith scores more successes on a subsequent Arcanos roll, or takes an extra point of Angst to make her antics more frightening. A mortal wishing to resist The Fog must make the roll each and every time a Wraith attempts to make herself more frightening as outlined in "Making the Audience more Terrified," below.
Ghosts might also be acting in concert, each one using its own Arts to add to the horror. In cases like this, the mortal rolls once, and only has to roll again if the highest number of successes previously rolled is exceeded by any of the participants, or someone decides to take some Angst for her pains.
Making the Audience more Terrified:
Whenever a Wraith utilizes an Art that has the potential to cause The Fog's immediate invocation, she can choose to make the attack seem more terrifying than normal in the hopes of lessening her audience's resistance. Doing this requires no extra Pathos or Willpower expenditure, but gives the Wraith a point of Temporary Angst above and beyond any normal Angst she'd get for doing it. In this case, each success the Wraith gets past the first on her Arcanos roll reduces the mortal onlookers' willpower by one.
Once The Fog is invoked, the Wraith can always employ more Fog-invoking Arts at her whim, and may even succeed in making her audience more afraid than before. Those affected by The Fog will act as though they were under the effects of the Art with the highest number of successes rolled for that Scene, regardless of how many total successes are scored altogether. There is also the danger of suddenly becoming less terrifying: an Arcanos roll botch at any time during that scene adds one level to the Fog Ratings of those witnessing it for each "1" rolled, and this increase may take the witnesses up past their normal level of Permanent Willpower.
There are some Arts that are so mind-blastingly terrifying that a Wraith does not have to take Angst to break down a Mortal's resistance to The Fog. One prominent example is the Level 5 Argos Art "Maelstrom Bridge" from Wraith: The Great War, pg. 116, which has onlookers act as though their Willpower was four less than normal. There may be others, of course, and Storytellers should feel free to invent and unleash them if needed.
Animals, Madmen and Innocents:
Animals are largely unaware of death's nature. They don't tend to have the brainpower to ruminate on its effects, or be unjustly scared of the great unknown it represents. That's not to say that they aren't bothered by dying, but they seem more afraid of the natural predators that could kill them than whatever state of being comes after.
Perhaps for that reason, and perhaps because their senses have remembered things that mortal man has forgotten, they are able to sense the presence of nearby Wraiths. This sense takes the form of a general feeling of uneasiness, which most animals would prefer to deal with by slinking away. Some animals, most notably insects, arachnids and reptiles, don't seem to mind their presence so much.
They can make a Perception + Alertness roll at Difficulty 6 to see them, though their perceptions will be fairly fuzzy. The Shadowlands those Wraiths dwell in will not be revealed by this roll. Anyone who has assumed control of the body of an animal, or is sharing sensory contact with an animal, will sense the presence of Wraiths nearby -- but might not know what they are -- and will only see the Wraiths if they make the Perception + Alertness roll at a Difficulty of 8, and using the animal's die pool rather than their own.
And then there are those mortals whose minds have not been touched by death, or have been warped to the point where it cannot bother them at all. Innocent children and the truly insane are immune to The Fog, as its effects cannot find purchase in their minds. They can, when in the presence of Wraiths, make a Perception + Alertness roll (Difficulty 8) to see and hear these ghosts, but such visions will always be slightly hazy. The Shadowlands those Wraiths dwell in will not be revealed by this roll.
In order to be considered "Innocent," a child must never have had "the talk" about death, or else has failed to understand what their parents were on about. Death must be a faraway concept in their minds -- one that invites no significant curiosity, or fear. They might know that people die, of course, and may even have suffered a death in the family, but death's nature is something they don't quite understand: they still believe that Grandpa's gone to sleep for a long, long time and might one day wake up, or some similar lie or false reassurance.
This blessed state of innocence is usually over with by the time a child is old enough to attend grammar school. If it's not gone by then -- which is extremely rare -- the onrush of puberty will tend to send such childhood notions away, as sex and death are inextricably linked in a way we cannot fully fathom. But there are those rare, rare individuals who never truly "grow up," and these carry this state of innocence -- and immunity to The Fog -- with them into their rather odd "adult" lives.
The utterly insane are a different kettle of fish. Though anyone who has a derangement is technically "insane," there are those whose mental and emotional states are so imbalanced that they cannot be cured. Such permanently insane people could be able to ignore the Fog, and see Wraiths, provided their insanity fits that sort of vision. As for what sorts of madness those could be, such adjudications are best left to the Storyteller to decide as fits her game. The best example given was that a person whose madness was such that he thought he was Dan Quayle was highly unlikely to see ghosts.
Merits & Flaws:
Immune to The Fog (+4 Supernatural Merit)
Your mortal character is completely immune to The Fog. No matter what she sees, or what a Wraith or Spectre might do to scare her, The Fog will not factor into her actions. She will retain a crystal-clear memory of the events in question. This sort of condition is very rare, to put it mildly, as it has no bearing on a person's strength of will, or beliefs on death.
Those who have it often find themselves blessed -- or cursed -- with a lot of Shadowlands attention, as word of such Quick tends to spread. Enterprising Wraiths like to strike up deals with such persons, and the Hierarchy always liked to keep tabs on them, just because. They might also be targeted by up-and-coming Haunters, too, just to see if they can earn respect by busting the Skinbag's Fog cherry wide open...
The utterly insane, and innocent children, need not take this Merit.
Blueberry Gumdrop Skies Forever (-3 mental Flaw)
Your mortal character is one of those extremely few people whose understanding of death never came around at all. Death, the afterlife and any real contemplation of the whole matter has never crossed her mind, save as a far-off concept not worth thinking about. Like a teeny-tiny country once memorized for a geography quiz, and then never mentioned again, death "exists" but is of no importance to her whatsoever.
However, this childishness is not limited to concepts of death: the character's mindset has never gone past that of a six year old, and her emotional makeup resembles that of a bright but naive child. She has no desire to have a job, no concept of sexuality, no thoughts of consequences to her actions and the like. Those who have to endure her presence often wonder if she's mentally retarded, and those who know better wish she'd just... well... grow up?
This childishness brings with it an immunity to The Fog, and the ability to see and hear Wraiths with a successful Perception + Alertness roll at Difficulty 8. In order to maintain this state, the character must do NOTHING that would indicate personal growth and maturity. She cannot seek employment, hold a job, have a sex life, make responsible decisions or the like. If she should ever start to act or think like a mature adult -- which may happen on its own, or due to psychological intervention -- then this Flaw will fade away, and she will "grow up" and lose her ability to see Wraiths and resist The Fog. Her old Wraith friends become relegated to childhood's trappings, and anything she might have learned in that time becomes as hazy and insubstantial as a longago dream.