Spirit Rules

The spirit world isn’t the physical world, and different rules apply there. The following trait changes codify the key differences between spirits and other characters.


By nature of being idealized representations of something in the physical world, spirits are simpler creatures in rules terms. Instead of the nine Attributes used to define creatures in the physical world, spirits have just three: Power, Finesse and Resistance.


Power represents the spirit’s raw impact on the spirit world, through force of will or its form. Mind and body are one in the spirit world, and the distinction between the two means little to spirits. The spirit’s Power is used for all rolls that would normally involve Intelligence, Strength or Presence.


The spirit’s Finesse trait represents how well it can manipulate spirits, people and the environment around it. It measures, in effect, its skill in imposing its own concepts on others. The spirit’s Finesse is used for all rolls that would normally involve Wits, Dexterity or Manipulation.


The spirit’s Resistance trait measures the strength of the idea behind the spirit and how easily it is damaged and influenced by others. The spirit’s Resistance is used for all rolls that world normally involve Resolve, Stamina and Composure.


Rather than Health, a spirit has Corpus dots that represent the resiliency of its ephemeral form. Corpus dots equals a spirit’s Resistance + Size. Spirits regenerate Corpus in the same amount of time that mortals heal damage (World of Darkness Rulebook, p. 175). If a spirit loses all its Corpus, it is discorporated. If it loses all its Essence and Corpus, the spirit is destroyed.

Other Traits

A spirit’s maximum Essence is determined by its Rank (p. XX); any given spirit may have any amount of Essence up to that barrier. The lower a spirit’s Essence is, the more desperate it grows for sustenance.

Spirits have a Willpower trait that’s used as normal. A spirit’s very existence necessitates a certain will to survive and grow. Most spirits regain spent Willpower at the rate of one point per day, though the rate increases if the spirit is particularly successful at harvesting Essence with an appropriate resonance.

Spirits possess Initiative, Defense, Speed and Size as other entities do. Initiative is equal to Finesse + Resistance. A spirit’s Defense is equal to its Power or Finesse, whichever is higher. Speed is equal to Power + Finesse + a “species factor.” Spirits that take human or animal form have a species factor equal to their earthly counterpart. Spirits of inanimate objects usually have a species factor equal to 0 (save for spirits of cars and other objects designed to move quickly), while spirits of more abstract form generally have a species factor of 10.

A spirit can generally be of any size, depending on what it represents and how powerful it is. Exceptionally strong spirits are often larger than their weaker kin.

Skills and Merits

Spirits don’t possess either of these categories of traits. A spirit suffers no penalty for untrained Skill use, however, as long as the task is appropriate to the spirit’s area of influence. A spirit of information can rifle the database of a computer using Power + Finesse alone, without suffering the usual –3 penalty for attempting what would ordinarily be a Computer task without actually possessing the Computer Skill.


All spirits have an ability to influence the thing that gave them existence. As they grow in power and Rank, they can then manipulate or even create that thing. Most spirits have only the Influence that most directly corresponds to their own nature. A dog-spirit likely has the Influence: Dogs, and a spirit of wrath has the Influence: Anger. As a spirit merges with other spirits to grow in Rank, it gains other influences.

Influence can be used across the Gauntlet, if the spirit is in the area of effect of a locus of compatible resonance. Otherwise, the spirit must use the Reaching Numen to influence the physical world while it remains in the Umbra.

Each use of an Influence requires a Power + Finesse roll and the expenditure of one (or more) Essence. When a spirit attempts to use an Influence to affect the emotions or thoughts of a sentient being (mortal, werewolf, vampire or the like), the roll is contested. Mortals roll Resolve or Composure, whichever is higher, to resist. Supernatural beings, which are harder to affect with simple Influences, may resist with Resolve or Composure + the appropriate trait (Rage for werewolves, Blood Potency for vampires, and so on).

Level Effect
• Strengthen The spirit can enhance its sphere of influence: make an emotion stronger, an animal or plant healthier or an object more robust (gaining an extra point of Health or Structure per Rank of the spirit, for example). These changes last for one minute per success. The cost is one Essence.
•• Manipulate The spirit can make minor changes within its sphere of influence: slightly change the nature or target of an emotion, or make minor changes to an animal’s actions, a plant’s growth or an object’s functioning. These changes last for up to 10 minutes per success. The cost is two Essence.
••• Control The spirit can make dramatic changes within its sphere of influence: twisting emotions or dictating an animal’s actions, a plant’s growth or an object’s functioning. The changes last for up to 10 minutes per success. The cost is three Essence.
•••• Create The spirit can create a new example of its sphere of influence: create an emotion, create a new sapling or young plant, create a young animal or brand new object. The cost is four Essence.
••••• Mass Create The spirit can create multiple examples of its sphere of influence: it can trigger its emotion in multiple people, create new copses of trees, small groups of animals or multiple identical items. The cost is five Essence. A number of items, or people affected, equal to the spirit’s Rank come into existence. Alternatively, it may create one instance of its sphere of influence permanently (although a spirit cannot permanently alter the mindset of a sentient being).

Changes made through Influence are usually temporary. A spirit with sufficient Influence can increase the duration of the effect to a level based on the difference between the Influence score necessary for the effect and the spirit’s total Influence dots.

The level of the effect and the level of potential duration are added together to determine the Influence required. For instance, a fear-spirit with Influence ••• could use a Strengthen effect lasting for one hour per success (at the cost of two Essence), a Manipulate effect lasting for 10 minutes per success, or a Control effect that lasts only one minute per success. The spirit need not use the Influence power to its utmost ability. The fear-spirit with Influence ••• could use the Strengthen effect with a lower duration, such as one minute per success.

Level Duration
0 One minute per success. No additional Essence cost.
Ten minutes per success. No additional Essence cost.
•• One hour per success. The cost is one additional Essence.
••• One day per success. The cost is two additional Essence.
•••• Permanent. The cost is two additional Essence.

Spirits of Incarna Rank and above probably possess abilities beyond these. Those beings are so rarely seen near the physical world, however, that their opponents will have far more to worry about than their abilities to set whole towns ablaze, drive an army away in fear or create a forest from nothing.


Essence is the heart of all spiritual activity. It’s the money, food and drink of spiritual life. All spirits need Essence to survive, but the more they obtain, the more powerful they become.

Uses of Essence

Spirits use Essence in a number of ways:

  • A spirit must spend a point of Essence per day to survive. This expenditure usually takes place at moonrise. If the spirit has no Essence to spend, it falls into slumber until it manages to gain Essence somehow, such as by being immersed in a new flow of Essence.
  • Spirits use Essence to use their Influences.
  • Spirits can use Essence to temporarily boost their traits on a one-for-one basis. Each such boost lasts for one scene.
  • A spirit that has fled into the physical world must expend one point of Essence per Rank per hour as long as it remains ephemeral (which is to say, without possessing a host body or using the Numen: Fetter). It cannot regain this lost Essence until it either gains a fetter or crosses back into the Shadow. If a spirit loses all its Essence while in the physical world, it passes into slumber and is drawn back across the Gauntlet into the spirit world, losing a point of Corpus from the rough transition.
  • As long as a spirit still has some Essence, it isn’t destroyed when reduced to zero Corpus, but rather discorporated (see p. 276).

Regaining Essence
Spirits regain Essence in a number of ways:

  • They gain one point per day by being in proximity to the thing they reflect. For example, a tree spirit gains a single point per day when it stays near a physical tree. Obviously, a spirit can earn only as much as it needs to stay alive in this fashion.
  • Once per day the spirit may try to draw Essence from an appropriate source in the physical world by rolling its Power + Finesse, as affected by the local Gauntlet modifier. (It can sense such a source automatically up to one mile away.) The number of successes indicates the number of points of Essence gained. At a locus of appropriate resonance, the spirit may add additional dice equal to the strength of the locus. For example, if an ancient tombstone is also a two-dot locus with death resonance, a death-spirit could add two dice to the roll to draw Essence, but a cat-spirit couldn’t.
  • The spirit may barter for additional Essence from werewolves or other spirits.
  • The spirit may attempt to steal Essence from another spirit by making a contested roll of its Power + Finesse against the target’s Power + Resistance. If the attacker wins, the number of successes indicates the number of points of the target’s Essence that are siphoned off by the attacker. If all the target’s Essence is stolen, the victim spirit falls into slumber. If the target wins, the attacker loses a number of points of Essence equal to the successes scored by the target.
Essence Resonance

All Essence has a resonance about it, a flavor that derives from how it was produced. Spirits can consume any type of Essence they like, but the resonance they accumulate affects them. For example, a tree spirit that absorbs Essence with an urban resonance starts to look well pruned and slightly dusted by pollution. If it absorbs several points of such Essence, carvings might appear on its trunk, or notices might appear pinned to it. Resonance can also affect the mood or behavior of a spirit.

In game terms, spirits can feed on Essence that bears resonance that isn’t compatible with their own, but it makes for poor eating. In general, Essence bearing an incompatible resonance gives only half the nutrition. If a werewolf offers a measure of Essence that’s touched with the resonance of sadness to a machine-spirit, the spirit gains only one Essence for every two points offered — and it measures the value of the gift by what it receives, not by what the werewolf expends. Essence that’s directly detrimental or opposed to the spirit’s own nature, such as a war-spirit attempting to feed on Essence touched by resonance of contentment, might provide even less “nutrition” and even begin to affect the spirit’s own nature. A starved spirit that has no Essence to feed on but that affected by disease resonance will eventually become a diseased spirit in its own right, and perhaps even metamorphose into a true disease-spirit over time. Those Garou who wish to attract or ally with certain spirits must often go to some effort to ensure a potential supply of Essence with compatible resonance. The rewards for doing so are well worth it, however. Spirits appreciate not having to work for Essence that suits them, and they often strike more generous bargains with those who can supply their preferred meat and drink.

Spirit Combat

Combat between spirits, or between spirits and Garou, works much like combat between ghosts, as described in the World of Darkness Rulebook, p. 208. A few differences are worth noting, however:

  • Garou in the Umbra can physically affect a spirit also in the Umbra and damage its Corpus, but they cannot affect an ephemeral spirit in the physical world unless it manifests (see “Manifestations,” p. XX in the World of Darkness Rulebook).
  • Players of Garou make attack rolls normally, rolling their usual traits (i.e., Strength + Brawl for claw attacks). A spirit’s Defense (equal to the highest of Power or Finesse) is applied normally. Each success scored in an attack roll against a spirit inflicts a point of Corpus damage. A werewolf’s claws and bite deliver lethal damage.
  • Spirits make attack rolls by rolling Power + Finesse. A spirit or Garou’s Defense is applied normally. Each success scored in an attack roll by a spirit on a werewolf inflicts one Health point of damage, as normal.
  • Spirits’ attacks usually inflict lethal damage. Spirits with no claws, jagged spines or other lethal weaponry might deliver bashing instead.
Discorporation and Healing

When spirits “die” in combat (when they have no more Corpus points), they don’t actually cease to exist. Instead they discorporate in spectacular fashion, shattering or exploding into a cloud of particles that are appropriate for that spirit. An oak-spirit would explode in a shower of autumn leaves, while a mouse-spirit would discorporate in a burst of fur and bone. A murder-spirit would splatter everyone around with ephemeral blood, while a car-spirit leaves behind a pile of random pieces of machinery and a spinning hubcap. These ephemeral remains fade away over the next hour.

The spirit then starts to re-form, either slumbering in the object it represents or, for spirits no longer tied to objects, in a nearby area appropriate to its nature. Car-spirits might reform in a parking garage, while banes reform in a Wound. The spirit re-forms at the rate of one point of Essence per day, and it doesn’t become aware and active again until its Essence equals its Corpus dots. It then regenerates Corpus in the same amount of time that mortals heal damage.

The only way to completely destroy a spirit is to drain it of Essence before destroying its Corpus, as described on p. 275.


Spirits have access to powers above and beyond their Influences. These powers are called Numina. A few sample Numina are listed here; others take the form of various werewolf Gifts.

  • Blast: The spirit is able to strike opponents at a distance. An electricity-spirit might hurl small thunderbolts at its foes, while a pain-spirit with this Numen might conjure spiritual knives. The range is equal to 10 yards per point of Power, and the spirit suffers no penalties for range. The spirit rolls Power + Finesse to hit and may add two dice to the roll for every point of Essence it spends to fuel this power. The damage is lethal.
  • Chorus: This Numen allows a spirit to speak to any or all other spirits of its own choir within a radius determined by the spirit’s Power in miles. To activate the Gift, the spirit spends a point of Essence and then rolls Power + Finesse to determine how long and detailed a message it can send. A single success allows it to send an image or a short phrase. Three or more successes would allow a couple of sentences or a detailed image.
  • Claim: This Numen is a more powerful version of Possession; if successful, the possession is permanent. Spend three Essence points and roll Power + Finesse in an extended and contested roll versus the victim’s Resolve + Composure; each roll represents one hour. If the spirit gains 50 successes between dusk and dawn, it gains permanent control of the victim’s body. Use the victim’s available traits (except Willpower points, which are equal to the spirit’s current Willpower points) and dice pools for any action the spirit wishes to take. If the spirit fails to accumulate 50 successes within the required period of time, the attempt fails. If a possessed body is killed, the spirit is forced out and must possess another victim if it still wishes to act. Use of this Numen creates a Ridden, specifically a Spirit-Claimed (p. 282).
  • Discorporation: This Numen allows a spirit to discorporate voluntarily, surrendering its Corpus to the Shadow Realm, and allowing itself to reform elsewhere as normal. Many spirits choose this route rather than facing a greater spirit in combat, with the risk of permanent destruction such conflict carries. Roll the spirit’s Power + Resistance for this Gift to succeed.
  • Fetter: This Numen secures a spirit inside an object once it has crossed the Gauntlet into the physical world. Rather than materializing, the spirit remains its ephemeral self in the material world. Normally, it would be sucked back through the Gauntlet within a few hours, but once fettered, it can remain in the physical world almost indefinitely. Once through the Gauntlet, the spirit activates this Numen by spending a point of Essence. It must choose an object within five meters of its current position and spend an additional Essence to fetter itself to the object. The spirit can stay fettered in the material world for as long as it likes, unless the fetter is destroyed, in which case the spirit immediately discorporates and starts to re-form back in the spirit world. This Numen cannot be used across the Gauntlet without the use of the Reaching Numen.

The spirit is invisible and intangible while in the material world. It can be seen by werewolves and other spiritually sensitive creatures only. The spirit may never move more than five meters from its fetter, lest the link be lost, forcing the spirit back through the Gauntlet. A fettered spirit may materialize, if it has that Numen. While in material form, it may move more than five meters from its fetter, but it must be back within that radius when its materialization ends.

  • Gauntlet Breach: This Numen allows a spirit to push itself through the Gauntlet, much like an Garou stepping sideways. This isn’t a natural or easy thing for a fleshless entity, but it’s the most reliable way to enter the physical world. Indeed, unless the spirit fetters itself (using that Numen), it can remain in the material world for only a matter of hours. Spend three Essence and roll Power + Finesse to force the spirit through the Gauntlet. Every hour that the spirit spends unfettered or in “Twilight” in the material world costs it one Essence per Rank, as its ephemera is sucked back through the Gauntlet. When it runs out of Essence, it discorporates, reforming in the Shadow as normal. It can, however, choose to return through the Gauntlet freely at any time.
  • Harrow: This Numen is typically associated with spirits of negative emotions, such as fear or wrath. The spirit can focus its negative resonance to create a crippling attack of its associated emotional state in an enemy. Spend a point of Essence and roll the spirit’s Power + Finesse, contested by the victim’s Resolve + Composure. If the spirit wins the contest, the target is overwhelmed by the relevant emotional state for a number of turns equal to the number of successes the spirit gained.
  • Living Fetter: This variation on Fetter allows the spirit to fetter itself in a living being rather than an inanimate object. The same rules and restrictions as Fetter apply, save that the spirit must first succeed at a Power + Finesse roll contested by the target’s Resolve + Composure. A successful use of this Numen creates one of the Ridden, specifically a Spirit-Urged (see p. 282). The spirit essentially uses the living being as a fetter and its Influence to impel its “host.”
  • Materialize: This Numen allows a spirit to change its form from ephemera to matter, dropping it abruptly through the Gauntlet into the material world. The spirit’s physical form appears in the material world just as it did in the Shadow, and all its Numina and Influences function as normal. All rules for spirit traits in the spirit world apply equally to a materialized spirit. Spend three Essence and roll the spirit’s Power + Finesse to allow it to reshape itself into matter. The number of successes indicates the number of hours that it can remain in the material world before reverting to ephemera. The spirit must then choose between remaining in the material world (and either anchoring itself or losing a point of Essence every hour) or slipping immediately back through the Gauntlet.
  • Material Vision: A spirit with this Numen can briefly look through the Gauntlet into the material world. Roll the spirit’s Power + Finesse. The number of successes indicates the number of minutes the spirit can spend watching through the Gauntlet.
  • Possession: The spirit can attempt to possess a living human being and control his or her body for a short time. Spend one Essence point and roll Power + Finesse in a contested roll versus the victim’s Resolve + Composure. If the spirit wins, it gains control of the victim’s body for the duration of a single scene. Use the victim’s available traits (except Willpower points, which are equal to the ghost’s current Willpower points) and dice pools for any action the ghost wishes to take. If the mortal wins or ties the roll, the spirit fails its possession attempt. As long as the spirit has Essence points remaining, it can continue to make possession attempts against a target. If a possessed body is killed or knocked unconscious, the spirit is forced out and must possess another victim if it still wishes to act. This is the Numen used by the Spirit Thieves (p. 284).
  • Reaching: This Numen allows a spirit to use its other Numina through the Gauntlet. Roll Power + Finesse (subject to Gauntlet modifiers) to successfully create a resonant conduit through the Gauntlet for the spirit to use its next Numen. Reaching lasts for the duration of the next scene.
  • Wilds Sense: Spirits can automatically sense where other spirits and locations are in their immediate vicinity. If they want to find loci or track down spirits miles distant, however, they must use this Numen, which allows them to sense the small resonant traces left by a spirit’s passage or emitted by a far-distant locus. Roll the spirit’s Finesse + Resistance, with more successes giving more accurate information. One success suggests a vague sense of direction, while five successes would give accurate directions, an idea of travel time and warnings of hazards en route.

TODO: Add Charms from W20 that are not reflecting in the already present Numina (above).

Gifts as Numina

Spirits can confer their blessings on werewolves as Gifts, and some make use of these powers in similar fashion. Many werewolf Gifts can serve a double role as Numina. To use a Gift in this fashion, simply convert the required roll into an appropriate trait roll. For instance, to use Silent Fog as a Numen, roll Power + Finesse instead of Manipulation + Survival + Cunning.

The following Gifts are appropriate for conversion into Numina:

list of Gifts appropriate as Numina

Spirit Bans

All spirits have bans — specific weaknesses that can affect their behavior or rob them of a portion of their power. The Garou aren’t certain exactly why all spirits are subject to bans, or why the first bans were levied (or even by whom) — they simply are. The spirit world plays by its own rules, which are more symbolic than scientific.

A ban is directly tied to the relative power and intelligence of the spirit in question. Gafflings tend to have simple bans that are easily triggered, while Incarnae frequently have strange and obscure bans that could greatly weaken them if their rivals discovered their nature. A ban might prohibit a code of behavior, temporarily keep a spirit from using its Numina, or even make it very vulnerable to attack. It’s commonly accepted in werewolf legend that Mother Luna’s ban is to change her very nature along with her face, allowing her only one-fifth of her full potential at any one time.

In some cases, discovering and exploiting a spirit’s ban allows werewolves to accomplish things they could not manage by fang and claw alone. The powerful idigam were overcome and banished or bound once more only when the Garou managed to discover their bans, one at a time. In addition, the most reliable way to break the bond between a spirit using the Living Fetter or Possession Numina and its host is to force the host into contact with the spirit’s ban. For instance, touching the flesh of a recently killed native to the person of someone ridden by a Wendigo-spirit (p. XX) will force the Jaggling to flee if its host directly touches the dead flesh.

Bans are usually assigned by the Storyteller, especially in the case of powerful and unique spirits. Learning a spirit’s ban can be the focus of one arc of a story, involving research, interrogating other spirits, questioning other werewolves or even making educated guesses. If the Storyteller feels that a particular ban is well known enough that a character might’ve heard of it, she should roll the character’s Intelligence + Occult at a penalty equal to two dice for every Rank of the spirit. Success indicates that the character remembers some tidbit related to the ban; exceptional success indicates that the character knows the exact nature of the ban. A dramatic failure, however, means that the character believes an incorrect ban to be true, which gives the spirit a dangerous edge in their next encounter.

Spirit Creation

  1. Choose brood and Rank. If the spirit is more powerful than a Gaffling, give some thought as to whether it’s a pure spirit, a spirit of one brood or an idealized spirit without a brood. Gafflings are not powerful enough to be considered part of a brood.
  2. Select Attributes. Divide the number of dots allocated according to the spirit’s Rank as you wish among Power, Finesse and Resistance.
  3. Determine Corpus. The spirit’s Corpus is equal to the Size of the object that spawned it (count as 2 for an abstract spirit) + Resistance.
  4. Choose Influences. The spirit gains one dot of Influence per dot of Rank.
  5. Choose Numina. The spirit has three Numina, plus two extra for each dot of Rank beyond the first.
  6. Determine Advantages. Willpower (Power + Resistance); Initiative (Finesse + Resistance); Speed (Power + Finesse +10 or a species factor representative of the spirit’s physical reflection); and Defense (equal to the highest of Power and Finesse).
  7. Determine starting Essence. A spirit can have any number of Essence points, up to the maximum Essence listed for its rank.
  8. Determine Ban. The spirit’s ban should reflect both its nature and its level of power. The harder the ban is to uncover and exploit, the more significantly it should weaken the spirit.