Where normal Puppetry allows a Wraith to take over a living body, the Croques Morts Arts of that Arcanos allow for the animation and control of corpses. The body need not be Wraith's own; It need not even be human. At higher levels it is possible to patchwork a body together to grant extra arms or sensory organs. The masters of these Arts can even control skeletons, the tiniest of parts or time-worn dust.
Once inserted into the body, the Resurrection Man lives there as though it were her own, free from the Shadowlands. She can use its sensory organs as though they were her own, though in more advanced levels she need not have eyes to "see" through the body. The Wraith uses the physical attributes of the corpse, the Social attribute of Appearance and the body's own health levels. Please see the Death and the Dead article for ideas on how those Attributes and levels would be.
Only those Arcanoi that directly affect the Skinlands can be used while riding in this fashion; The Wraith must leave the body and go back into the Shadowlands in order to do anything else. For some odd reason, while using Croques Morts Arts, the Wraith retains the ability to see and communicate to other Wraiths, though she cannot see the Shadowlands.
The main enemy of the Resurrection Man is decay. A body that is fresh is relatively easy to gain control over, and a body that is highly decayed is much more difficult.
Dead bodies were not meant to be piloted around like those of the living: they are stiff, locked up with rot and falling into mush. Every day that it is animated, a dead body will lose one health level due to decay, wear and tear and stress. If this takes it below Incapacitated, the body falls apart into little, tiny chunks and the Wraith is tossed out, into a Harrowing.
The Basic Ability of Croques Morts allows the Wraith to slow the process of decay in the body, allowing it to to be ridden for longer. This process also gathers the Wraith a variable amount of Angst, since arresting decay calls on the powers of Oblivion. Leaving the body begins the process of decay again, and the Wraith will have to use Slow Decay once more to reenter it.
While riding, the Shadow is still there and trying to trick the Psyche. If she must undergo a Harrowing, the Wraith will be ripped free of the body and dropped into the Tempest. The body will then fall down inanimate, and the Wraith will have to reestablish a hold over the body.
The body is, to all intents and purposes, dead. The heart does not beat, the blood does not flow, the bowels do not work, and the brain does not think. The body needs breath only to speak, and anything eaten will stay in the stomach and eventually rot there - though Slow Decay will halt this as well.
The senses will still work, of course, but those corpses in advanced states of decay will be missing a majority of their sensory nerves, and penalties may be conferred. Even on the freshest of corpses there may be tell-tale post-mortem lividity marks on the back of the body, blood blisters, swelling, and the stench of decay. At the very least the body will be cold to the touch, clammy and pale.
The body can use its Stamina to soak both Bashing and Lethal damage. The body will not suffer any die penalties for health loss. However, once damaged, the corpse cannot be healed except by placing on new parts through **** Patchwork Surgery.
The Wraith will not be expelled until the body goes below Incapacitated: at that point the body is considered to have been destroyed, and the Wraith will be thrown into a Harrowing.
Croques Morts Arts can be used on various dead denizens of the World of Darkness, but under no circumstances can their powers be used - even if using the Puppetry Alternate Art Marionette.
Those who can be reanimated are:
Mummies' bodies, new and old, are magically protected from such hijackings.
Ascertain Death's Touch.
This is a similar ability to Deathsight, but provides the Wraith with an in-detail assessment of how rotted a potential body is.
must make a Perception + Croques Morts roll (diff 7). A low number
of successes might tell only how long it's been lying there,
while a high number (4+) would indicate how badly gone it is,
how its former owner died, and what sort of damage it has sustained.
This is the most useful tool for a Resurrection Man, as she must use it to slow the process of decay. It is also the costliest ability the Wraiths have, in terms of Angst gain.
In order to enter a body, the corpse must be "marked" by successful, outside use of Slow Decay. The Wraith can then use Skinride to enter the body, and employ further Croques Morts Arts to animate it. Once inside the body, Slow Decay can be used any time.
SYSTEM: The Wraith must make a Manipulation + Croques Morts roll (diff 10 - remaining health levels). Each success staves off decay for a day. A botch grants a point of temporary angst for each "1" rolled, and causes the body to immediately crumble into dust.
Activating Slow Decay costs one point of Pathos,
and gives the Resurrection Man one point of Temporary Angst for
every three days' respite they earn the body. Round odd numbers
* Dying Breath
This allows the Wraith to enter the body of a fresh corpse and activate the sensory and vocal systems. The wraith may use all five senses, provided some senses weren't destroyed - eyes gouged out, eardrums burst, etc. She may speak, provided the body has lungs, and the voice will be raspy and wheezing.
The most obvious use of this, besides communication, is to be able to see the Skinlands as those living there see it, without the funeral pall that Wraiths witness it through.
SYSTEM: The Wraith must roll Manipulation + Croques Morts (diff 10 - remaining health levels) and each success grants one scene's worth of control. A botch causes the corpse's voicebox and senses to rot into uselessness.
Using this costs one Pathos per attempt, and may be repeated.
** Dance with the Dead
The Wraith may reactivate all the voluntary bodily functions of a corpse, and set it back into motion. However, the degree of control is not perfect, and the corpse's abilities are limited by this.
SYSTEM: Taking over the body requires a Manipulation + Croques Morts roll (diff 10 - remaining health levels). Each success grants three days of possession. A botch causes the body to instantly lose a level of health.
Although the Wraith has control over the body, something is holding her back. As a result, regardless of what the body's Physical Attributes are, the Wraith can have no more than one die to use from each.
This Art costs two Pathos per attempt.
*** Shake the Cold Clay
As with Dance with the Dead, the Wraith may reactivate all the voluntary bodily functions of a corpse, but this time the control is more realized than before.
Wraith rolls Manipulation + Croques Morts roll (diff 10 - remaining
health levels). Each success grants three days of possession,
and, unlike with Dance with the Dead, the body's full die pools
This Power costs three Pathos per attempt.
**** Patchwork Surgery
This rather gruesome ability lets the Wraith replace damaged parts with new ones, or put severed parts back on. She can even add on extra parts to augment the body.
SYSTEM: Each time the Art is used, it requires two Pathos and a Manipulation + Medicine roll (Variable diff). Each part to be attached requires a separate roll and Pathos expenditure.
The difficulty depends on the complexity, or impossibility, of what's to be rejoined/attached. Putting the old arm back on the maimed shoulder, or an old eye into the socket, might be a 6, putting in a new replacement a 7, and putting a new arm under your left arm or an eye in the back of your head might be an 8 or a 9. Storytellers should adjudicate on a case by case basis.
Adding on new parts may proffer extra advantages. Each new arm gives the Wraith an extra attack, but adds 1 to the difficulty. New eyes subtract 1 from ranged weapon difficulties, or may make it harder for someone to shadow or sneak up on the Wraith. Other augmentations' worth is up to the Storyteller, and it is recommended she look at other examples from WOD books, and transfer the stats over.
This Power costs one pathos to put a replacement part on. Putting on extra parts costs one pathos to place it, and one pathos per day to keep it there, otherwise it drops off.
***** Rattling the Bones
This Art represents the pinnacle of the Resurrection Men's abilities: to take a skeleton, pile of random parts or nothing but time-worn dust and animate it. These sorts of remains can only be animated using this Art.
SYSTEM: A Manipulation + Croques Morts roll must be made (diff 9). Two successes are needed for a skeleton, three for mere pieces, and four for a pile of dust.
Unlike prior levels, the body need not have eyes to see, skin to feel, ears to hear or a nose to smell the Skinlands. However, the gift of vocal speech is lost without the voicebox, and without a tongue there is no sense of taste. Other ideas on how the parts could behave can be found in the Death and the Dead article.
Each success grants three days of animation. A botch causes the material to literally disappear, and throws the Wraith into a Harrowing.
This Art requires four Pathos, and grants the Wraith one Temporary Angst.