Linda Mary Johnson, the reborn Pardoner, could be my favorite of the characters for this Circle of Wraiths. One one hand, she is a subversion of existing tropes, but she also fills a distinct role in the Circle both as a Pardoner who can help Wraiths manage their Angst and as an connection to the still extant but nominally underground Guilds.
I found the form fillable page Sheet, and linked to them below, but I will be including some information in the write up that didn’t fit on the single page design of the sheet.
While Linda Mary Johnson, or just Linda for short, is going to have a good nearly 60 years of Death under her belt, I am not going with an Old Soul style background for her. I am looking more closely at the Pardoners Guild for Linda and the chance to see what different kinds of directions I can take the Castigate Arcanos. Pardoners are the confessors and psychoanlaysts of the Wraiths and their ability to help control and manage Shadows is why even know there is a knowing nod whenever a Wraith hangs out an Iron Lantern without saying they are a Guild member. Linda’s Nature, then, needs to reflect in some way how she will fulfill that protective or caring role for other Wraiths. Because I don’t plan to use the actual castigation method of flailing for her Castigate, I go with the Follower Nature. She is many ways is happy helping others and never knew when alive or now dead how to move herself forward. Her Demeanor is similar, and is not a surprise for someone who was part of the 1960s U.S. culture – she presents herself as a Traditionalist and uses that as her shield.
She was a picture perfect stay at home PTA housewife and mother. A housewife and mother who was growing bored but didn’t have long enough left to live to face that dear. She died a violent death from a horrible car wreck and was claimed by the Grim Legion after much haggling.
Linda’s Primary (7) Attribute section will be Mental, followed by Social as Secondary (5), and Physical as Tertiary (3). She never was very active even in Life. Her keen eye is best reflected with a 4 Perception and a 3 in both Intelligence and Wits. She is more likely to have noticed something than to have figured it out on her own, though she is no intellectual slouch. She is, in my head, a bit of a Trophy wife and so her Social Attributes reflect that with a 3 in both Charisma and Appearance but only a 2 in Manipulation. She was charming, warm, and a bit of a looker but not very good at tricking her way out of a traffic ticket. Physically, she was a dainty lady with only a 1 Strength and a 2 Dexterity, but raising a few kids left her with a 3 Stamina just trying to keep up with them.
For her Abilities, Skills will be Primary (13) with Talents as Secondary (9) and not a terribly schooled person so Tertiary (5) Knowledges. Obviously, with the description so far you won’t be surprised to see 3 ranks in Etiquette, but I am also going to put 3 Ranks in Crafts and Meditation. Crafts for Linda covers the myriad household duties that were expected, such as the cleaning, the sewing (especially the sewing), and the decorating that came with being a housewife The Meditation isn’t something she knew she had learned so much as something she found when doing the housework. Her ability to reconnect with herself when she was able to shut out the outside world helped her get along as far as she did. Finally, 2 Ranks in Drive means she can drive a stick shift and the 2 Ranks in Leadership come from her time helming the Springfield High School PTA. In the Talents, 3 Ranks of Empathy is apparent but also will be helpful as a Pardoner as will her slowly growing attempts at being sly with 3 Ranks of Subterfuge. A rank of Dodge and 2 of Expression round that out while a smattering of Politics (also from the PTA), Occult, and Enigmas are all her Knowledges hold.
For her Backgrounds, I start with Status (Pardoners) to reflect her full membership and acceptance into the Guild at 2 Ranks. I also add 2 Ranks of Eidolon, which is the Wraith’s higher purpose that can help fight the Shadow, a 2 Point Relic Martini Set that is going to matter a great deal, and a single point of Haunt so she at least has a ghostly apartment to call her own for Castigation purposes.
With the Pardoner background, I’ll start with three ranks of Castigate, but then a Rank each of Fatalism and Usury. Pardoners use Castigate to quell and control the Shadow, in themselves and in other Wraiths! Linda not only can see what a Shadow is offering a Wraith, but with time and effort can strip Angst from a Wraith treading too close to that line. Fatalism, primarily he domain of the Oracles and the Lady of Fate, is just a small bit of Linda’s abilities but still the Fatalism power to see the Deathmarks of other Wraiths marks her as an unusual Wraith herself. Where Castigate deals with the Shadow and it’s Angst, Usury can allow Corpus and Pathos to be used for different purposes. Here, Linda can lend or steal Pathos from others. Linda very much is a caretaker in the making but one who has been touched with some terrible destiny it would seem.
We now turn to Passions and Fetters for our Wraith. I have written Linda’s Passions fairly broadly. Because she has a bit of a dilettante background, I have given her some broad Passions that she could refine and change in play. Linda is very much rooted in self discovery of herself after her death. I only put 3 Ranks in each of the following Passions – (Jealousy) Build a Legacy in the Land of the Dead; (Generosity) Inspire Excellence in your Circle; and (Self-Sacrifice) Bear your Friends Burdens. She has only a single Rank in (Love) Comfort the Bullied Children. You can see how even negative emotions can be used in the Wraith: The Oblivion system to provide a dramatic impetus. Linda doesn’t necessarily come at this unlife she has from the best of places but she could be on her way there. For Fetters, there is an almost cliche 3 Rank Fetter in her preserved wedding dress. It just carries so much of what she found herself defined as in life which is paired with where she started defining herself. A 3 Rank Fetter in her Annotated PTA Handbook is the flip side of the Dress where she created meaning versus where she was given meaning by society. Similarly, the aging school cafeteria she helped get built provides a 2 Rank Fetter while the Ouija Board that opened her eyes to the possibility beyond death is a 2 Rank Fetter as well. There is a lot of danger for her moving forward as these are all things that could easily be destroyed in the Skinlands and she isn’t necessarily paying that much attention to them.
For the Virtues, Corpus is Health and all Wraiths Start with a full 10 Ranks. Willpower and Pathos both start at 5 each reflecting a sense of control and emotional fulfillment respectively. I’m looking at some Freebies to spend on the Memoriam Background, so I will go ahead and add that 6th Rank of Pathos now that comes along with it.
Finally, we get to Freebie Points, Merits, and Flaws. Freebie Points let you customize your character beyond what we’ve done already. Merits are other bonuses or traits that don’t fit elsewhere and cost Freebie points while Flaws are the inverse providing a handful more Freebie points to spend. First, I am going to raise Linda’s Charisma to 4 because several Castigate Arcanos use Charisma for the die pool. Next, I will add a second Rank in Usury which will allow her to transfer her own Corpus to another Wraith to heal them. I add a rank of the aforementioned Memoriam Background which is her plaque in the cafeteria that thanks her for raising the money.That is only 11 points so far leaving me with 4 points plus any Flaws that make sense. Digging into the Pardoner Guildbook, there are several traits that appeal to me including the alternate Arcanos art for rank 1 Castigate called Attunement which makes it easier to Castigate particular Shadows over the long term and the Storm Warning 1 Pt Merit. Using the Wraith: The Great War notes, by learning Attunement as the Alternate Art, the Basic Art may be picked up for a single Experience Point but I will go with 3 Points to start it as if it were the “Basic Abilities” that come before an first Rank. Yes, Alternate Arts *can* be confusing, but just go with it for now. That’s another 4 points and is my total of 15. We need to turn to flaws to see if any jump out for Linda.
Flipping through the Wraith Players Guide, I am first drawn to Life Saver – a 3 Point Flaw that means Linda wouldn’t take a human’s life or send a Wraith to Oblivion. Perhaps it’s her nurturing nature, or her chance to stare down Shadows with Castigate, but this one appeals to me. I am tempted to add Easily Sensed as well which is another 3 Point Flaw that causes more disturbing inthe Skinlands if Linda is ever present. Even dead and passed on, she still isn’t really accepted. With these 6 Points, I will add a 4th Rank in Empathy, another Willpower Rank, and increase the rankings for both Haunt and Eidolon as backgrounds.
Now we look to designing the Shadow, a sort of mini character creation session where in the classic instructions, the Shadowguide would take over with input from the regular player. A shadow will have an Archetype that guides the actions, Angst, 7 points of Dark Passions that subvert the Psyche’s Passions, and then 10 Freebie points to spend on these or additional powers called Thorns.
For Linda, her Shadow is less blunt, and more critical perhaps in what you might see as a passive-aggressive manner. The Rationalist is a perfect archetype for this slowly explaining and nonconfrontationally going through your every day.
Angst is determined by rolling the Psyche’s Willpower rating against a difficulty of 6 to determine starting Angst, so it can never be more than the starting Willpower. Here, I rolled the dice and Linda’s Shadow has a slightly above average 3 Permanent Angst to start.
The Shadow Passions are also broad and more vaguely defined but this also allows the Shadow to meet them with the same facility as Linda’s Psyche. As a mirror of Linda’s attempts to care for others, her Shadow is focused on Getting Ahead at the Expense of Others (Jealousy). This has the same core emotion of one of Linda’s Passions, but shows how it can be twisted into something that wants to betray the Pardoner’s oath. A similar emotion is Envy which implores the Shadow to Undercut Other’s Legacy. These two obviously can feed each other but one is about trying to pull herself ahead while the other is only focused on bringing someone else down. Finally, a single Rank of Prepare the Children for a Tough Life (Love) is an abusive reflection of motherly love.
That leaves 10 Freebie Points to spend and I know one Thorn will be Bad Luck for 3 Points. It is just too easy for her Shadow to undermine her because things went wrong, even if not her fault. I also think that I will keep the Shadow straightforward here – another Permanent point of Angst for 5 Points and starting off with 2 points of Temporary Angst to fuel things is a pretty good bulwark against this high Eidolon Pardoner.
She was late getting home again and it ate at her. She knew that Peter expected her home quickly after letting her go to the PTA meeting. Strange, isn’t it? That he didn’t quibble with your evening outings? He seems like he enjoyed having you out of the house. It wouldn’t be long before Katherine was in High School and she had to make sure that the school district and the schools were going to take care of her. Maybe running for school board would be something she could do?
It’s hard to see, late at night, her car scarcely keeping on the asphalt in the warm rain. It’s hard to see, late in life, when everything seems to be spinning faster and faster. You felt it then, didn’t you? It was Guilt. Let us ask ourselves, however, what was it you were guilty over? She didn’t see the muscle car on the side street, but the driver saw her. She was too caught up in her own mind and keeping her car on the road to hear the engine rev as he bore down on her.
Linda woke up, even in death, from that dream. She could recount the moments that ticked up to her death and her Reaping. She didn’t know how confused the Reapers were when trying to find her Deathmarks … for who should claim her in the Hierarchy. You were aimless in life, dear. Why would Death have any more of a home for you? Eventually, ti was determined that there was Violence at Linda’s death, though she still doesn’t know why.
It was a nice service for her. Her husband widower was there as were her two children. Even her fellow PTA members showed up. It was a testament to a suburban white picket fence life … one that Linda had never really known what to do with. Get married, as an attractive young woman. Her husband would bring in the money to support a family so all she had to do was keep the home and the kids. It was a simple life. Yes. Quite simple, You do see where you were already slipping even then? Linda was bored.
Martini lunches with her neighbors and fellow housewives were something that she grew to love … and her leadership in the PTA became something that is remembered. You were better at raising money for that cafeteria than cleaning the house, weren’t you? She even felt guilty coming home so late. She felt guilty she couldn’t have stayed at the meeting longer.
Fate’s hand brought her to the Hierarchy, but more importantly it brought her to the Pardoner’s Society. Her fingers showed the beginnings of a black stain showing for all to see that she had a gift for Castigation. Perhaps we should look at what sort of darkness you touched in your life to come to your Death with that gift? Her inculcation to the Pardoners was complete when she was shown the truth that the Guilds still existed. Her natural skill to forge a connection with the Relic Martini set she still clung to marked her early as destined for great things. An Ablutionist, a Pardoner seeking to obliterate the Shadows in us all, her method did not lend itself to confessions or flayings. She made drinks. And you talked. And you cried. And she refilled your glass. Her Iron Lantern hanging meant that she was ready to sit on the couches of her haunt and hear you and me out.
Quietly doing her job for the Legions, overlooked by Anacreon Kidson who was newer to the Necropolis than she was, until her fated past was revived. A bit uncomfortable – she knew Patricia was her daughter’s age and suspected there was more. Zeb had been to her before … professionally. Linda doesn’t know why she was chosen. And likely never will.
Linda Mary Johnson – Reborn Pardoner Character Sheet
Wraith: The Oblivion and the Springfield Fated Circle Overview Here.
Character Sheet from Mr. Gone’s Character Sheets. https://mrgone.rocksolidshells.com/