[[caption-width-right:200:''Don't look back.'']]

The last original gaming line to be set in the TabletopGame/OldWorldOfDarkness, and the first Creator/WhiteWolf attempt at a "limited run" game.

While ''Orpheus'' does tie in loosely with White Wolf's previous effort at the afterlife, ''TabletopGame/WraithTheOblivion'', it is not treated as a true sequel or continuation. It tackles the world of the dead following the events of the [[WorldWreckingWave Sixth Great Maelstrom]], a ethereal storm that practically obliterated the [[DarkWorld Shadowlands]].

Into this turbulence enters the Orpheus Group. Orpheus has learned and perfected the art of projection, allowing specially-trained people who have undergone [[NearDeathExperience Near Death Experiences]] to leave their bodies and enter the spirit realm. Along with allied ghosts, Orpheus' living agents are contracted out to clients; they investigate hauntings, fumigate raging ghosts, and deal with other spooky spirit-related tasks. It sounds simple, but as the story progresses, things get complicated as the enemies get stronger, corruption becomes rampant, allies fall to the darkness and the line between the worlds of the living and dead begin to blur...

Orpheus player characters are defined by two factors: The first is their ''Lament'', or way they interact with the dead. Once they figure out how to do so, characters can then access their ''Shade'', a manifestation of their personalities that dictates the awesome and unearthly abilities, called ''Horrors'', that they can access in death. Horrors sound cool and useful, but do come at a price, as they can raise a character's [[TheCorruption Spite]], putting them closer to spiritual corruption, or can cause them to burn out their willpower or even their ghostly existence.


* '''Skimmers''', living people able to kick their spirit from their body temporarily.
* '''Sleepers''', cryogenically-frozen to the point of death, upon which they can roam free from their bodies.
* '''Spirits''', good old-fashioned ghosts who happen to have a strong will and sense of self.
* '''Hues''', spirits who have been tainted with darkness via pigment, a designer drug with sinister properties.

There are five shades in the core book, though the final total is brought up to eight through the other volumes, noted below.
* '''Banshees''' are largely empathetic and compassionate people, skilled at communication. Through their voices, they can do damage, manipulate people, and look into the past or future.
* '''Haunters''' tend to be wandering loners, giving them an affection for things over people. As a result, they can possess, control, and eventually become machinery and electricity.
* '''Poltergiests''' often are frustrated with their place in the world, and tend to lash out or rebel. They start with the classic "throw things" abilities, but can ultimately twist around entire environments.
* '''Skinriders''' are usually control freaks and tend to be skilled at exploiting others. This makes it easy for them to become gifted in possessing and manipulating the bodies of the living.
* '''Wisps''' seek social connections and tends towards charm or trickery. Along with serving as hypnotic "[[WillOTheWisp Will-o'-the-Wisps]]", they also pull stunts to disappear... or make other things disappear.
* '''Phantasms''', introduced in the supplement ''Shades of Gray'', show a strong passion for art and creation. This allows them to create illusions and manipulate the minds and dreams of others.
* '''Marrows''', introduced in the supplement ''End Game'', are open-minded and flexible, but also close to more base natures. They can shapeshift and have powers over the ghosts of creatures.
* '''Orphan-Grinders''', introduced in the book of the same name, are a special category of Shade; [[spoiler:these poor souls were humans who fell into darkness and became Spectres, but something inside them desired to return and so they fought their way back to humanity, for better or worse. Because of their past affiliation, Orphan-Grinders are skilled at negotiating around and through Spectres.]]

''Orpheus'' was notable for dropping the World of Darkness standby of TheMasquerade-- humanity was quite aware of the dead as the setting's run began. It also was perhaps the Old World of Darkness setting most devoted to excluding the others -- little, if any, crossover advice were given, and the Core book states outright that if in your game you want them to exist, the ''Orpheus'' characters would be heavily outmatched as they are essentially plain, run-of-the-mill humans.

Only six gaming books (the core book and five supplements), plus a fictional anthology, ''Haunting the Dead'', were released. The ''Orpheus'' story is more directed than past World of Darkness games, and completely told through the six books, via role-playing scenarios, fiction, and a set of signature characters. In many ways, ''Orpheus'' was a model for how the New World of Darkness would be marketed, especially the limited run of books and each splat forwarding the story while adding new concepts. Just as ''Orpheus'' played with concepts from ''Wraith'', ideas from both ''Wraith'' and ''Orpheus'' would resurface in ''TabletopGame/GeistTheSinEaters'' for the New World of Darkness.

''Orpheus'' still has a [[SugarWiki/NeedsMoreLove small but devoted fanbase]], some overlapping with ''Wraith'' and many for the game in and of itself. Of course, there's also a bit of a {{Hatedom}}: some from ''Wraith'''s firmer fans, and some Old World of Darkness stalwarts who dismiss it as not truly a part of their beloved setting.

''Orpheus'' returns in an appendix to the ''Wraith'' 20th anniversary edition, which is set prior to the Sixth Great Maelstrom and the events of the ''Orpheus'' gameline. While it is largely the same rules wise, some changes were made. Shades still exist, but ''Wraith'' Arconoi are substituted in place of the original abilities where relevant, all Shade types are already known, and the Orphan-Grinders are not known or do not exist. While it modernizes the setting to deal with things like social media and smartphones, it also moves the timeline of the game back to where Orpheus is the only company to have discovered these powers so far, and are just beginning to experiment with journeys into the Shadowlands. The Deathlords who rule over the afterlife are both frightened... and intrigued.

The game settings and scenarios change greatly from the corebook to the final volume, so beware of spoilers for the later volumes below.
!!This game contains examples of:
* AlienGeometries: Escher's Corkscrew, the Crucible Horror for Haunters, allows them to cause these.
* AscendToAHigherPlaneOfExistence: The Orpheus Group tries to use this whenever possible to get rid of ghosts. The other afterlife companies... not so much.
* BlessedWithSuck: A number of character types, but the Skimmer and Sleeper Laments stand out:
** As a Skimmer, you can enter and leave your body at will. However, any damage you take as a spirit reflects on your physical body. In addition, they are literally hanging by a thread to their bodies, so if that thread is somehow cut, they have a hell of a time going back.
** Sleepers don't have to worry about damage to their physical forms, but if they need to return to the world of the living in a hurry, they're going to have to wait a few hours, whether they want to or not.
* CastFromHitPoints: Vitality acts as fuel for ghostly Horrors as well as the health meter for Spirits, Hues, and projected Sleepers (Skimmers get actual health levels instead). When Vitality runs out, whether expended on powers or taken away by damage, the ghost [[CriticalExistenceFailure ceases to exist]]. Spite can be used as an emergency net, but this comes with its own [[SlowlySlippingIntoEvil set of problems]].
* ChainedByFashion: Lawgivers, direct servants of [[spoiler:Grandmother]], are wrapped by chains symbolizing their imprisonment and absolute connection to her.
* ClosedCircle: Low-level spirits who can only re-enact their deaths will do so unless acted upon by some means, such as Vitality.
* CoolCar: The Hell On Wheels Horror for Haunters allows them to literally transform into one of these.
* CorruptCorporateExecutive:
** Terrell & Squibb and [=NextWorld=] are two other companies in the post-life game, but with much less savory practices. And it's not like Orpheus had its hands clean either.
** In one of the few wink-and-nods to the other TabletopGame/OldWorldOfDarkness games, the corebook notes that the Orpheus campus backs up to a facility owned by a company named [[TabletopGame/WerewolfTheApocalypse Pentex]].
* TheCorruption: In the form of Spite; the more a ghost accumulates, the closer they come to turning into a twisted, depraved Spectre.
* DarkIsNotEvil:
** [[spoiler:Orphan-Grinders, [[TheHeartless Spectres]] who have been reminded of their lives and renounced Oblivion. They keep the general, mutated appearance of their Oblivion-tainted forms, and retain access to Spectre powers, but they're no better or worse than any other ghost.]]
** [[spoiler:Weirdly, ''Grandmother herself'', to an extent. See ObliviouslyEvil.]]
* TheDarkSide: Each Orpheus agent can manifest Stains -- dark, intrinsic powers. However, Stains breed Spite, so they are best used lightly.
* DarkWorld: The Shadowlands, the true realms of the dead, which are blocked by the impassible Stormwall.
* DeadToBeginWith: Several of the Laments and Shades, most notably Spirits, Hues, and Orphan-Grinders.
* DisintegratorRay: The Consume Horror for Wisps allows them to weaken or destroy things with a single touch.
* DreamWeaver: The Sandman Horror for Phantasms.
* DontLookBack: [[Myth/ClassicalMythology Unsurprisingly]], the main back-cover slogan.
* EldritchAbomination: [[spoiler:Grandmother. Doesn't sound so threatening, does it? Yeah. This thing created the Neverborn, its own baby abominations. And the reason it's called Grandmother is because the people who heard the Spectres talk about it mispronounced the name -- it's not Grandma, it's ''Grand Maw''.]]
* EmpathicEnvironment: Banshees can cause the Stormwall to tear open and release its power as their Crucible Horror.
* EvilTwin: The Spirit lament's disadvantage is a Spectre reflection of themselves that is literally [[MadeOfEvil made of their negative emotions]]. They look like the character, have all of their abilities, know ''exactly'' what to do to hurt them the most, and cannot be permanently destroyed. It should say something about how nasty this can be that this is a Spirit's ''only'' disadvantage.
* {{Familiar}}: Marrows can summon these using their second-tier Horror of the same name.
* FantasticDrug: Pigment, heroin infused with the strange qualities of the Shadowlands. Anyone who overdoses on it becomes a "Hue," a ghost that has an easier time accessing Stains.
* FauxFlame: The usual appearance of a manifesting Wisp, as well as the armor used by Skinriders activating the Juggernaut Horror.
* FunctionalMagic: Horrors, ghostly abilities that rely on life energy.
* GhostCity: The Necropolis of New York City is doubly this after the last Maelstrom fuses almost all of the ghosts inhabiting it into the infrastructure of the city itself. You basically have a dead city made of ghosts in the world of the dead.
* GhostlyGoals:
** Most average ghosts that Orpheus agents help seem to fall into the Type A category, simply wanting to move on after their deaths but not knowing how.
** There are several notable Type B's, such as Uriah Bishop and his followers, who either kill because they enjoyed it while alive, or because doing so gets them in better with a certain all-consuming Eldritch Abomination.
* {{Hammerspace}}: The Beckon Relic Horror appears to allow Wisps to reach through a dimensional rift and pull out an object. The catch is they don't get to choose what comes out.
* HauntedTechnology: The Inhabit Horror for Haunters allows them to possess and control inanimate objects.
* TheHeartless: Spectres, born of nightmares, pain, and rage. Then again, it might not be too late for some of them.
* HeelFaceTurn: [[spoiler:Late into the line, it's revealed that some Spectres are able to regain control over themselves and remember who they were in life, abandoning Oblivion and becoming Orphan-Grinders.]]
* {{Hellgate}}: Banshees can open holes in the Stormwall if they are powerful enough. Naturally occurring holes can also be found in Spectre hives.
* HellishHorse: [[spoiler:The Hellion Horror for Orphan-Grinders allows them to summon a customized ghostly equine companion to assist them. Say, for example, you need a flaming horse with fangs...]]
* HumanPopsicle: The Sleeper lament. Orpheus was originally a company that specialized in freezing the terminally ill, accidentally discovering ghostly projection in the process.
* InducedHypochondria: The Contaminate Horror for Skinriders allows them to fake both illnesses and cures.
* ISeeDeadPeople: Living agents can eventually see the world of the dead overlapping the world of the living in their normal vision.
* JacobMarleyApparel: Regular ghosts, especially low-level ones, usually appear as they did when or just before they died.
* LivingBodysuit: The Doppelganger Horror for Skinriders allows them to create these from a fragment of DNA from a living person.
* MakeMeWannaShout: The Wail Horror for Banshees does physical damage under the right circumstances.
* MasterOfIllusion: The Bedlam Horror for Phantasms, which can affect all five senses if enough Vitality is spent.
* MindOverMatter: The Helter Skelter Horror for Poltergeists essentially acts as this, via special "silver threads" that manipulate physical objects.
* NearDeathExperience:
** The Sleeper and Skimmer laments are living people who can temporarily kick their spirits out of their bodies. Sleepers can do so pretty much at will, while Sleepers need to be put into [[HumanPopsicle cryosleep]].
** All Orpheus agents, as well as those from other projection agencies, have undergone at least one of these in their normal lives before working for Orpheus.
* NightOfTheLivingMooks: The Clay Jars Crucible Horror for Marrows allows them to temporarily raise the dead as zombie minions.
* ObliviouslyEvil: [[spoiler:Grandmother honestly doesn't understand that things not a part of the HiveMind she embodies are separate sapient entities, and even devouring rogue elements of the Spectres are her just pruning cancerous growths and mental dysfunctions-and even beyond that, she's also a maternal figure who desires to create, and wishes to eat the world so that she may have enough energy to do so on cosmic levels. One of the good endings of the metaplot involve showing her that other beings exist and her eating them causes pain, at which point she happily forms a truce with existence.]]
* PlayingWithFire: The Witch's Nimbus Horror for Haunters. Also has an [[ShockAndAwe electrical variant]].
* RideTheLightning: The Broadband Ghost Horror for Haunters allows them to travel through wires and devices as currents.
* ScrewDestiny: The Pandemonium Horror for Banshees allows them to tweak the present to change the future.
* {{Seers}}: The Forebode Horror for Banshees allows them to temporarily resonate with the past or see visions of the future.
* {{Splat}}: Orpheus operators are defined by their Shade (what kind of ghostly powers they manifest) and their Lament (their current vital status).
* SplitPersonality: Flatliner Jeffrey Rose, a serial killer with seven other personalities [[UpToEleven who are all serial killers as well]]. After his death, his spirit form develops yet another personality, though this one is dedicated to [[EvenEvilHasStandards destroying Spectres]].
* TheSwarm: The Legion-Born Horror for Marrows allows them to become a group of small creatures.
* TamperingWithFoodAndDrink: [[spoiler:Replace "food and drink" with "pigment"; adding strychnine to it leads to the horrific results of "The Pale Horse" scenario in ''Shades of Gray''.]]
* TeleportersAndTransporters: The Storm-Wending Horror for Wisps allows them to teleport at will.
* UndeadChild: Lost Boys, the ghosts of children who have been manipulated into becoming Spectres.
* UnfinishedBusiness: All ghosts in ''Orpheus'' have this in some fashion, even the high-level, proactive ones.
* VoluntaryShapeshifting: The Flesh-Flux Horror for Marrows allows them to change their shape or use [[TheDarkSide Stains]] with no penalty.
* WhamEpisode: The beginning of each supplement has one to kick off the potential events along each part of the storyline:
** ''Crusade of Ashes'' [[spoiler:has [=NextWorld=] lead an army of Spectres into Orpheus during the office Christmas party, killing most of the other agents and leaving the player characters as the company's only survivors, as well as major murder suspects.]]
** ''Shades of Gray'' [[spoiler:deals with a mass poisoning via pigment that, if unstopped, allows Spectres to create their first hive.]]
** ''Shadow Games'' [[spoiler:has a large piece of debris from the world of the dead cause a massive catastrophe in both the spirit and living worlds.]]
** ''The Orphan-Grinders'' [[spoiler:begins with a huge invasion of Spectres that represents the first direct attack from the Underworld.]]
** ''End Game'' [[spoiler:deals with a massive breach in the Stormwall, a civil war between the Spectres of the Malfeans versus those of Grandmother, and the innocents who get caught in the way.]]
* WhoYouGonnaCall: Orpheus offers discreet services as councilors and "fumigators" for restless spirits.
* WillOTheWisp: Wisps gain access to a particularly hypnotic variety that recalls their nickname.