Tabletop Game: Geist: The Sin-Eaters
Coming backGeist: The Sin-Eaters
isn't the problem. It's making everything else stay
dead that is.
is the seventh game for the New World of Darkness
, released in August 2009. Despite the name, the writers are on record that Geist is not a direct successor to Wraith The Oblivion
; geists, whatever else they may be, are not exactly wraiths or ghosts. It does look to be something of a Spiritual Successor
to Wraith in that it takes a look at the Underworld and what goes on there. The game, as described through the previews, bears some similarity to two Old World of Darkness games that also dealt heavily with the underworld: Mummy The Resurrection
. The former dealt with a recently dead person bonded with an ancient spirit and brought back to life; the latter had (as one character type) a character who would enter a near-death state and become a 'ghost' out of body, gaining strange ghostly powers in the process. Inspiration for the game may well stem from all three sources.
The game focuses on two different groups: Sin-Eaters, people who came Back from the Dead
, and geists, the strange quasi-ghosts
who came back with the Sin-Eaters.
Terminology: When Sin-Eaters return from the dead after striking a Bargain
with their particular geist, they become linked to a Threshold
, determined by the way they died. Fusing with a geist allows Sin-Eaters to share their powers
. The Key
a Sin-Eater uses to activate a Manifestation determines its sphere of influence.There are five thresholds:
- The Torn: also known as The Bleeding Ones, these guys are usually the victims of malice, or some form of violence. Their patron is The Red Horseman, and they tend to be violent, angry, and vengeful, similar to their Geists. Their affinity Keys are Passion (emotions) and Stigmata (blood and ghosts).
- The Silent: also known as The Starving Ones, death by neglect: suffocation, starvation, heartbreak, or other ways along those lines. The Black Horseman is their patron, and they tend to attract hungry or needy Geists, and always seem to want more things, and tend towards the laconic. Their affinity Keys are Cold-Wind (air) and Stillness (shadows and silence)
- The Prey: The Eaten and Drowned Ones, death by nature, be it weather, animals, drowning, or something else along those lines, instilling in them a respect for the cycle of life (namely, how amoral it is). They tend to have the most inhuman geists, and they'd like to hang out with The Pale Horseman. Their affinity keys are Grave-Dirt (earth) and Primeval (nature and animals).
- The Stricken: The Ravaged Ones, death by disease, poison, or other forms of illness. In defiance of their death, these Sin-Eaters become hardier. The knowledge that they beat death, however temporarily, gives them an extreme ego boost, and are often driven to ghosts to show that they can overcome the Underworld, too. Their patron is The White Horseman. Their affinity Keys are Tear-Stained (water) and Phantasmal (hallucinations and ephemera).
- The Forgotten: The Lightning-Struck. Death by random shit. Deaths are completely random, anywhere from struck by lightning while indoors, to crushed by a giant Hello Kitty figure. Tend to be gamblers. Also tend to be the most fun loving, and the happiest. Their patron is the Grey Horseman. Their affinity Keys are Industrial (technology) and Pyre-Flame (fire).
Each Sin-Eater has an Archetype
based on how they view their second chance at life and their service as one of the Bound.The Eight Archetypes are:
- Advocate - Mediums who help ghosts by taking care of whatever situation or event is keeping them tethered to this world, a la the Ghost Whisperer.
- Bonepicker - Remember that kid in school who would always get what they want, and if they lent you something, they would constantly remind you of your debt? That's basically them, and they'll do anything to get their possessions
- Celebrant - Really happy to be living again. Usually respond by doing really dangerous things.
- Gatekeeper - They keep the worlds of the living and the dead apart by banishing ghosts and dealing with living people who contact, channel, or otherwise mess with ghosts. If the Gatekeeper is a nice person, this means taking out people who victimize the dead or help malevolent spirits torment the living; if they're... less than nice, this could mean offing a little kid who refuses to stop talking with his dead family and then plunging them all into the Underworld.
- Mourner - As far as they're concerned, they're dead and loving it.
- Necromancer - Use every resource they can get — including ghosts and sometimes trips to the Underworld — to learn more about the occult.
- Pilgrim - Focused on the spiritual side of death, and scornful of materialism. They try to help people avoid ending up in the Underworld by encouraging them to sever emotional ties that would keep them from passing on.
- Reaper - Sin-Eater equivalent of Judge Dredd; as such, they tend to honestly believe that sometimes Murder Is the Best Solution.
Sin-Eaters typically gather in social groups known as krewes
, which can range from tiny gangs to global-level death cults (though none of the latter exist in the present day).
It would appear that while Changeling got significantly darker in the transition to the nWoD, the ghostly aspect got a lot lighter. The creators have said that one of the moods of the game is "sugar skulls and New Orleans funerals" — basically, the idea of celebrating life, because you're not dead. Anymore.
Not to be confused with the video
This role-playing game provides examples of:
- Afterlife Antechamber: It's implied that the Underworld described in the book is not all there is to the afterlife. Some people who die never go there, and ghosts can go... somewhere when their ties to this world are dealt with. Basically, there's an underworld below the underworld, but nobody can reach or know it. It's probably what lies in the bottom of the Ocean of Fragments. Too bad you have to sacrifice every last piece of your identity to pass...
- Ancient Conspiracy: The Sin-Eater Conspiracies are so ancient, they don't even exist anymore, fragmented or destroyed by the passage of history. That said, it's entirely possible for PCs to create their own, if they can manage to recruit enough sin-eaters to their krewe.
- And I Must Scream: The result of reaching Synergy 0. Your geist hijacks your body, and you're helpless as you watch yourself do your geist's bidding, even as you're forced to come back from death after torturous death.
- Also true of the soulsteel items crafted at the Forge of Orcus. While extremely handy (soulsteel items are considered to be high-powered Mementos while in the Underworld), not everyone will be comfortable with using something made from a ghost that has been beaten into eternal torment.
- Astral Projection: The Elemental Oracles let you do this, although it requires you to "die" in accordance with whatever Key you're using to unlock the Oracle Manifestation: burn to death for Pyre-Flame, drown for Tear-Stained, get choked or smothered for Cold Wind, or get buried alive for Grave Dirt.
- Anthropomorphic Personification: Geists are part ghost, part Anthropomorphic Personification of an aspect of death.
- Back from the Dead: Not only do Sin-Eaters have this as their backstory, but they can come back from the dead later... at a price (see below).
- Balancing Death's Books: After the initial Bargain, a sin-eater can keep coming back... but only by ensuring someone else dies in their place. And you get to see how they die as you're brought back.
- Being Tortured Makes You Evil: Inverted at Lowgate Prison. There, the tortures are designed to make you less evil... or at least, to make you stop wanting to do evil things.
- Beware of Hitchhiking Ghosts: Mentioned in the rulebook, as one of the titular Sin Eaters picks up a ghost hitchhiker, hears her story, commiserates, and helps the ghost pass on as the car passes a cemetery.
- Blessed with Suck: Averted, surprisingly. Sure, there's a ghost in the back of the Sin-Eaters' heads that has forgotten what it means to be human...But given that said voice brought them Back from the Dead, and they get all these nifty powers out of it, most Sin-Eaters view it as a fair trade. Geists also have an incentive to aid their sin-eater hosts- after all, if you die, it needs to go through the process of finding a suitable host all over again.
- On the other hand, the resurrection trick, while indefinitely repeatable, costs you a point of Synergy, two points out of your maximum Synergy, and a random person's life — and the last moments of your "replacement" are the first thing you see upon returning to the land of the living, which is really traumatic and so renders you even more likely to pick up derangements from that loss of Synergy. There is a reason Synergy-0 Sin-Eaters are called the Wretched.
- Blessed with suck can apply to Sin-Eaters with particularly nasty geists. Most geists get along with their hosts to varying degrees, ranging from friendly partners, to viewing each other as partners in a mutually beneficial business deal. But imagine having to share your mind, at all times, with a serial killer. And, if the geist is old enough, it probably knows just how to manipulate its host to its own ends, or, failing that, drive them completely insane or just plain old take over their body.
- Blood Magic: The schtick of the Stigmata Key.
- Bloody Murder: The Caul Manifestation when you use the Stigmata Key; not only can you control your own spilt blood, forming crude weapons and barriers, but you can look through it from anywhere in the world; effectively allowing you to assassinate anyone who happens to be in a place where you've fought before.
- Blue and Orange Morality:
- Geists have typically long abandoned human morality, and the only thing the Kerberoi care about is the enforcement of the Old Laws. This tends to put them at odds with humans that retain a more traditional system of morality.
- As a result of being human/geist fusions, Sin-eaters have a Karma Meter called "Synergy" that replaces the human Morality, and it is very alien, focusing mostly on appeasing the deathly entity inside of them. Accidental murder is still bad for them, but destroying a Momento is just as bad, and planned murder is no problem at all. About the only things sin-eaters and humans are equally bothered by are torture and serial killing.
- In addition, sin-eater krewes can adopt an Ethos as a part of their krewe-binding. The advantage is that it supplants your traditional Synergy requirements, so long as you follow the tenets of the Ethos; the disadvantage is that violating your Ethos is a major Synergy violation, which can quickly lead to becoming one of The Wretched.
- Body Horror: Again, Stigmata Caul. One of the high level powers is the ability to detach your own arms and control them as they fly through the air. Snap someone's neck from fifty yards away? Yes please.
- Body Snatcher: The Stygian Marionette turns the sin-eater into one... however, it only works on someone that is recently dead.
- Also applies to Synergy 0 sin-eaters, who are effectively possessed by their geists.
- Bond Creatures: The geists themselves, once they make the Bargain.
- Bread and Circuses: The entire point of Oppia, one of the Dead Dominions. The food is made from raw Essence and is extremely addictive, and the Kerberos of the Dominion makes sure that there are always plenty of ghost slaves on hand to attend to his visitors' every whim. This is partly because said Kerberos enjoys nothing more than eating his visitors, who are typically so crazed from vice addiction that they can't even fight back.
- Call Back: One of the "Fetter" Mementos (a magical object made by binding a ghost to their anchor) is an extended reference to the previous World of Darkness sourcebook Ghost Stories.
- Came Back Strong: As mortals, Sin-Eaters typically have some sort of connection to fate or the world of the dead (represented by glimpses of ghosts or strange hunches). Once they die, however, a geist offers them the chance to come back, and when they accept, they gain access to a whole suite of powers.
- Came Back Wrong: If a Sin-Eater comes back from the dead after the first time, their geist has a little bit more control... and they can't get their control back as high as they could before. A Sin-Eater who comes back more than five times basically becomes a meat puppet dragged around by their geist... who wants to have some fun. Compounding the problem is that the shrieking remnants of said meat puppet's soul are really bad for the Geist's already tenuous and alien grasp on sanity — many will simply give up a host's body and let them truly die rather than have to deal with this.
- Chained Heat: How some sin-eaters view their relationship with their geist, and vice versa.
- City of Adventure: New York City.
- Clingy MacGuffin: A Sin-Eater's Keystone Memento is symbolic of the pact between him and his Geist; it cannot be stolen or destroyed and the Sin-Eater can summon it with a moment's concentration.
- Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Subverted with the Kerberoi. The Old Laws they enforce might seem like complete nonsense to the human mind, but they seem logical to the Kerberoi.
- The Commandments: The Old Laws.
- Conspiracy Placement: The Twilight Network.
- Dangerous Forbidden Technique: The Pit Manifestation. Always a Syngery 7 offense just to use it, as it blatantly violates the boundary between life and death by tearing out a chunk of the Underworld and using it as a weapon.
- The Stygian Key also qualifies. More powerful than any other Key, but each use requires the sacrifice of a living creature. In addition, getting the Key in the first place requires drinking from three of the rivers in the Underworld and carving out a chunk of your soul.
- Crash the Gates, a ceremony from the Book of the Dead. Lets you temporarily turn yourself into a walking Avernian Gate, but you don't control who- or what- comes through.
- Determinator: Common trait among Stricken, those killed by disease. It's how they came back, often.
- Eldritch Abomination: The Kerberoi, enforcers of the (sometimes self-contradictary) Old Laws, the code of the Underworld. Exactly none of them look even remotely human, much less act like them.
- Many Geists, if not all of them, can also qualify. They're at the very least half ghost, half Eldritch Abomination. Ghosts that have forgotten what it means to be human also qualify.
- And the Chthonians, who are so alien that they make the Kerberoi look pretty reasonable. At least you know what the last ones want: for you to not break the Old Laws. But the Chthonians? Nobody knows what they want. Nobody even knows what they are! There are many theories (for example, that they are the ghosts of races who existed before humanity), all very creepy, but nothing is certain.
- Elemental Powers: Four of the Keys, each one with a "death-tinged" theme. There's Grave-Dirt (Earth), Cold Wind (Air), Pyre Flame (Fire), and Tear-Stained (Water).
- Enemy Within: So, so averted. There's nothing about Geists that's inherently malevolent towards Sin-Eaters, and for the somewhat...morbid desires many of them have, the Sin-Eater can just tell them to shut up.
- In fact, it's specifically stated that Geists are rather protective of their other halves, and thus rarely push them into situations that are blatantly suicidal. In addition, you might get lucky and end up with a Geist who might actually be helpful in your day to day life (Like giving advice, or maybe they notice something you don't, it IS in their best interest to keep you alive after all.)
- However, the core book says that some geists do torment their hosts for various reasons. Some do it in an attempt to break the Sin-Eater's will and make him/her more likely to do what it wants to do, or because they think it's funny. A few are just so insane that they think constantly screaming nonsense in their host's ears or making their host see half-decayed children dancing in the street and singing songs by the Beatles are normal things to do. One of the sample adventures, Dem Bones, features a Sin-Eater who has been driven to the verge of madness by the titular geist, who keeps singing the same snippet of the same song. Over and over. The opening snippet makes it abundantly clear that poor Regan has resorted to repeated suicide attempts just to get Dem Bones to shut up so she can sleep.
- Enlightenment Superpowers: The krewe-binding ceremony gives all participating sin-eaters a spiritual vision that reveals some truth about the nature of the world, the nature of Death and the purpose of the sin-eaters. It also grants access to a number of powers they otherwise could not possess, and their powers only grow stronger as they attract more sin-eaters to their krewe.
- Equivalent Exchange: As mentioned above, a Sin-Eater can be brought back from death by his geist, but the geist has to shunt that death off somewhere else. So, some poor sucker will die so you can live. And you have no choice in the matter. (You can, however, ask your geist not to resurrect you in the first place... but there's no guarantee they'll agree. Or keep their word, even if they do.)
- The Underworld seems to run on this principle, especially with regards to the Rivers. Every River of the Underworld has both a positive and a negative effect that results from drinking it: the Lethe will grant you an answer to any question that any person has ever known, at the cost of some of your memories; the Kohan-Il makes it harder for people to hit you, but you lose the ability to heal temporarily; the Sinaan grants you prophetic visions but poisons you, and so on.
- Evil Feels Good: Fulfilling your Vice in the Underworld is twice as effective as fulfilling it in the living world, to the point where it can become addictive and all other pleasures feel hollow. This is partly the explanation for why ghosts tend to go insane after spending enough time in the Great Below.
- Famously Mundane, Fictionally Magical: Memorabilia, the most powerful magic items Sin-Eaters can wield, are objects that gained power by being tied up in the deaths of the famous, such as James Dean's death car, the rope that hanged the guy who killed Wild Bill Hickock, or Percy Shelley's heart.
- Fate Worse Than Death: When the player characters are immortal, you have to step things up a notch.
- Faux Flame: The lower ranks of Pyre-Flame Manifestations tend to produce flames that are merely spiritual in nature, and do little damage to the living. This is not the case with higher level Manifestations, however.
- The Fettered: A sin-eater can get back plasm any time they fulfill their Virtue or Vice, in addition to getting back willpower, so long as they do so in accordance with their Archetype. Just like with willpower, however, fulfilling one's Vice grants only a single point of plasm; by fulfilling one's Virtue, however, a sin-eater can completely refill their plasm pool. Naturally, this makes the more principled sin-eaters some of the most terrifying, since they're more likely to be walking around with a full pool of plasm.
- In the same vein, a sin-eater can completely refill their plasm by helping ghosts to pass on peacefully, as opposed to the few points of plasm that can be scavenged from devouring ghosts.
- Final Death: When your maximum Synergy hits 0 from repeated resurrections, this is the best possibility — the worst is covered above under Came Back Wrong.
- Or you die of old age. Even a Geist can't bring back the geezers who lived a long and happy life already.
- It seems to be implied that dying of old age generally doesn't cause a ghost to be left behind at all (even in the Underworld). This might suggest that a person who dies like that has no reason to reject their death, and so gets to move "on" peacefully. What might become of them after that is unknown.
- First Episode Resurrection
- Flying Brick: the Phantasmal Marionette allows a Sin Eater to plant their mind into a plasm-copy of their Geist's body, and the higher level the manifestation, the stronger said said body can be. Once level 3 has been hit, the option of flight is present, making it easy to become one of these.
- Forever War: The Killing Fields is a Dead Dominion where two sides constantly wage war against each other... and since it's very hard for ghosts to die, it's also pretty much impossible for either side to win.
- Functional Magic: Sin-Eaters have a form of Inherent Gift known as Manifestations, which are shaped by the particular Key (resonance) they use to activate them (e.g., using the Industrial Key means your manifestations affect machinery, while using the Passion Key means they affect emotions, and so on). Also, they get a ritual-based form of Necromancy that allows them to interact with and bind ghosts.
- Ghost Amnesia: Ghosts tend to get a bit... fuzzy about their old lives as they age, and geists even more so — when you've been thinking of yourself as The Bullet-Toothed Man for a couple decades it gets a little tricky remembering what life was like as Mister John Doe.
- Grand Theft Me: What happens when a sin-eater reaches Synergy 0- his geist takes control of his body, and he can only watch as he is forced to do the geist's bidding.
- Great Big Library of Everything: The Athaeneum, one of the Dead Dominions, contains every piece of information ever conceived by humanity, whether it was written down or not. However, a large amount of information was lost when a mage collapsed one of the wings of the library, and then there's the constant hunger of the Word Eater...
- Haunted Fetter: They're even called Fetters. They're Anchors that have their troublesome ghosts bound into them, allowing a Sin-Eater to channel an additional Key, as well as use one of the ghost's Numina.
- Hell Gate: The portals that lead to the Underworld are called Avernian Gates. These gates can be opened by Sin-Eaters using special rituals, however doing so can affect their Synergy levels.
- Hellhole Prison: If you break one of the Old Laws in the Underworld, you might wind up in Lowgate Prison. If you're lucky (and mortal), you'll just need to serve your sentence and then get out. If you're a ghost, however, they'll simply torture you until your Vice goes away, which can take a very long time indeed.
- Horsemen of the Apocalypse: Each one of the Thresholds is claimed (symbolically or... otherwise) by one of the Horsemen (and there are actually five riders, as Hades rides behind Death). The Torn (death by violence) correspond with the Red Horseman; the Silent (death by deprivation) with the Black Horseman; the Stricken (death by illness) with the White; the Prey (death by nature) with the Pale; and the Forgotten (death by accident) with the Gray.
- Human Resources: Unlocking a Manifestation with the Stygian Key requires the sacrifice of a living being. The bonus for the sacrifice goes up depending on its Size rating, all the way up to +5 for a Size 5 sacrifice. Incidentally, full-grown humans are usually Size 5...
- Also in the Forge of Orcus, one of the Dead Dominions, you can buy items forged from ghosts. Generally speaking, they only accept other ghosts as payment in return, and by the way, haggling is illegal in the Forge.
- In another Dead Dominion, the Junkyard, all the ghosts have become mechanized and are constantly replacing "parts" to improve themselves to win a Dominion-wide battle royale. If you're willing, you can raid the junk piles for Replacement Limbs or, possibly, you can steal a ghost's power core to power your own devices.
- Hyperspace Is a Scary Place: The Sepulchral Gateway ceremony lets you use Avernian Gates as a form of teleportation, without ever having to pass through the Underworld itself. That said, if you botch the activation roll, or stray from the path set out by the ceremony, you can get lost in the Underworld, without any way to necessarily guide yourself back home...
- Immortality Immorality: Abmortals are one of the sample foes for Sin-Eaters, mortals who've discovered a process that renders them immortal but requires a human cost. This ranges from convincing people to commit suicide (where the abmortal failed) to killing them with a rare strain of bubonic plague (after surviving the Black Death).
- Implacable Man: Whatever you do, do not piss off a sin-eater of the Reaper or Gatekeeper Archetypes. Sin-eaters can take damage that would make Jason Voorhees seem pathetic by comparison, are resistant to disease and poison, and unlike most other World of Darkness splats, it doesn't ding their Karma Meter to kill people, so they don't even have a moral reason to not kill you.
- Infinity+1 Element: The Stygian Key is something of a subversion, since Geist doesn't follow a traditional Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors model, but it's still the most potent Key by far. Of course, considering what you have to do to get it, and what you have to do to use it...
- Intercontinuity Crossover: Geists are all but outright stated to be a form of pseudo-magath, formed when a Death spirit fuses with a human ghost. Of the other corebook supernatural races, it is stated that Sin-Eaters tend to clash the most with Mages, due to their tendency to mess around with corpses and the dead, and find Vampires highly annoying because they tend to make a lot of ghosts without actually getting bothered by them. Sin-Eaters and Werewolves get on well, in the sense that they tend to avoid bothering each other and are willing to hand over cases that are "outside their jurisdiction". As for Changelings and Prometheans, Sin-Eaters tend to ignore them and are ignored in return.
- I See Dead People: One of the inherent powers of Sin-Eaters. And it's implied that ghosts can easily pick up on who can see them, so expect to be bugged.
- Jumped at the Call: Most Sin-Eaters find the idea of Supernatural Angst ridiculous, to say the least. Justified, since the alternative to the template is, you know, death.
- Karma Meter: Synergy, a measure of how well you and your geist work together. Thing is, that's all it measures; Sin-Eaters no longer necessarily operate by human morality.
- Weirdly, Synergy is the laxest Karma Meter of all the various WoD morality systems. Compared to Mages, Changelings and Werewolves, the Sin-Eaters can cheat, lie, steal, and kill far more often and with far less potential mental instability. For a game line that emphasizes consequences for immorality, the Sin-Eaters are rather free from the usual degeneration that follows.
- Possibly because dying replaces most of those sins and has a much harsher punishment for screwing around with the border between life and death.
- Well, it's the laxest in terms of consequences and demands. The Werewolf system is probably the laxest in terms of actual human morality (murder and theft/robbery are literally not sins at all), it just replaces it with a much, much stricter Blue and Orange Morality system (the worst sins are violating dietary restrictions and incivility). Geist morality is the normal black and white, they just aren't that worried about it.
- Knight Templar: All sin-eaters receive a spiritual vision when they undergo a krewe-binding ceremony. While this tends to be a deeply personal experience for every sin-eater, some become more fanatical than others, believing that anyone who doesn't ascribe to their particular vision needs to die. They're called the Sacrosanct, and are among the greatest foes of other sin-eaters.
- Michael ben Michael is a sin-eater who believes his geist is literally St. Michael the Archangel, who is also his father. He also believes that all other sin-eaters (except his krewe-mates) are servants of The Dark One, especially other sin-eaters that claim to have angels for geists. So far, he's killed three "blasphemous" sin-eaters, including one that claimed to have channeled Michael, and all signs point to him continuing his killing spree.
- The Last Dance: The Wings of the Moth ceremony lets you give one to a ghost by temporarily granting them a corporeal form, so that they can resolve their Unfinished Business.
- A weaker variant exists in the One Last Song ceremony. Heals a dying person to full health for one hour; after that, they go away for good.
- Lighter and Softer: Compared to Wraith, its spiritual predecessor.
- Loss of Identity: What happens as you swim in the Ocean of Fragments. Some ghosts who cannot pass on will intentionally seek out the Ocean for exactly this reason, since it provides a form of escape from the constant torment of existence in the Underworld.
- Lovecraftian Superpower: The Industrial and Phantasmal Caul. One allows you to implant machinery into your body, the other one turns you into a mind-shattering monster.
- Mana: Plasm, the stuff of the dead.
- Masquerade: Surprisingly averted. The Sin Eaters are the only new World of Darkness species who do not enforce a full-blown masquerade. Not that they really need to, since their powers are generally subtler than those of the other supernaturals.
- Well, except Rage Manifestations, but that's usually only going to come up when you're fighting something...Usually, that Pyre Flame Rage really DOES come in handy for lighting Cigars and starting barbecues
- Master of Illusion: Sin-eaters with the Phantasmal Key will almost certainly become this.
- Monster Protection Racket: It's not unknown for sin-eaters to use their ability to communicate with ghosts to create hauntings for various purposes, usually financial gain. It's so strongly associated with the Bonepickers that it's arguably a sub-archetype for them.
- Mundane Utility: How would you use the power of the Underworld, granted to you after you've come Back from the Dead? If you're a Bonepicker, you use that power to get really nice stuff and make a lot of money.
- Murder Is the Best Solution: Some sin-eaters fall into this line of thinking, since plain old murder no longer dings their Karma Meter.
- Subverted: killing only one or two people is fine. But indiscriminate murder, acts that result in large amounts of collateral damage, and mass murder all violate the laws of the Underworld, since it results in "unnatural" death.
- Near Death Experience: This is how a Sin-Eater is made — they end up at the front gates of the Underworld, and are offered a chance to come back by a geist.
- Necromancer: Seeing as Sin-Eaters use powers fueled by the essence of the Underworld, all of them. Similarly, any Sin-Eater can learn Ceremonies, which allow them to help ghosts pass on, let the living interact with the dead, and raise zombies. And then there's the Necromancer Archetype, but they're more focused on knowledge of death and the Underworld.
- Our Ghosts Are Different: They're either bound to the world by Anchors and not fully cognizant of the fact that they're dead; unfettered, allowed to move about the Underworld, and able to grow and develop; or dead souls who've been boiled down to the basics of what defined their death, which can make deals with the recently deceased to bring them back from the brink of death. The latter would be the titular geists.
- Our Zombies Are Different: At least four different varieties under the sin-eaters alone, five if you count the Stygian Caul.
- Perky Goth: It's hard to see the Sin-Eaters seen in the previews as anything but this. Justified by the fact that being not dead gives you a new lease on life, but you still have death-based powers.
- Word of God has declared Perky Goth to be the #1 thematic of the game. This is in stark contrast to the wangst of Vampire: The Requiem, which seems to unlive and breathe on the trope.
- The Mourner Archetype is a subversion. Unlike the other Sin-Eaters (and despite the fact that they are technically alive as well), these blokes consider themselves dead, and rather than gaining a new appreciation for life, they gain a fascination with morbidity. However, it's not like they angst about it or anything; they actually thrive on mourning and sadness, so they're more like Nightmare Fetishists.
- The Power of Friendship / The Power Of Trust: Sin-eaters are fairly terrifying by themselves, but they only truly tap into their power once they've joined a krewe. Besides getting access to a number of special abilities they couldn't otherwise acquire, they also get the more mundane benefits of being able to access the resources of other krewe members.
- In addition, the more sin-eaters there are in a krewe, the more supernatural benefits they acquire, until they reach Tier 3, where they gain the ability to make their own Key.
- Power Perversion Potential: The most obvious way of achieving this is using the Passion Key to inspire feelings of Lust in someone else (or an entire room of people, if you have the Boneyard and are feeling particularly kinky), but plenty of other powers can be abused for perverse ends.
- Hell, some sin-eaters might just find it fun to have a constant captive audience. Or not.
- Powers via Possession
- Let's be technical here: REVERSE Possession is also a possibility. A Sin-Eater can be possessed by his Geist to affect the real world, and the Geist can be possessed by his Sin-Eater to affect the Twilight realm. Since the vast majority of Geist activity takes place in Twilight, Reverse Possession is far more likely to happen in any given circumstance.
- Psychic Link: Sin-eaters and their geists can communicate wordlessly, although this tends to deteriorate as Synergy drops.
- Psychopomp: Sin Eaters of the Pilgrim Archetype take on this role.
- Religion Is Magic: Literally. Due to the spiritual vision granted by a krewe-binding ceremony, many krewes start to become mini-cults. Joining a krewe also grants a number of supernatural benefits. Thus, it's understandable that many sin-eaters begin to see their power as being divine in origin.
- Resurrective Immortality: So long as their geist is willing to bring them back, a sin-eater cannot die permanently. However, every resurrection comes with a drop in Synergy, and after enough resurrections, they may not want to come back.
- There's a couple of caveats, though. First, a geist can't bring back someone who has died of old age. Second, there must be enough of a sin-eater's body left to repair with plasm; this means that if their head is destroyed, or if their remains are scattered into enough pieces, there's nothing a geist can do.
- With the Revivification merit, a sin-eater also stops aging and can potentially come back From a Single Cell. However, only Founders of a Tier 3 krewe can purchase this merit, and coming back still requires a drop in Synergy.
- Romanticized Abuse: Book Of The Dead is about realms of the dead. One of them is a very friendly place called Oppia, that offer a abundance of food and Sex Slaves. Of course, it's very easy to break a rule and get enslaved yourself. Some of the slaves chose to remain slaves after they served the term of their punishment.
- Justified and semi-subverted: Said slaves actually enjoy being prostitutes, and they're willing. Actual slaves, on the other hand, are literally prohibited from receiving pay or even food for their work, and in the case where you coerce an obviously unwilling one into the act...well...
- Sealed Evil in a Can: You can make your own, thanks to the Spectral Captivity ceremony.
- Shout-Out: The Quick Start Demo mentions that those of the Forgotten Threshold are usually the people who go through life unaware until they look up to see part of a disused satellite plummeting right towards them.
- Shinigami: The concept of the game seems partially influenced by the recent influx of shinigami tropes coming into the US via anime and videogames. According to Word of God, the writers were unaware of the Shinigami tropes while working on Geist. The game can be used to emulate them, but it's not intentional.
- Soul Jar: Higher level sin-eaters need to construct anchors to sustain their extraordinary Psyches. However, destroying the anchors doesn't harm the sin-eater, it just forces them back down to a lower power-level.
- Soul Power: All sin-eaters in general, but those with the Stigmata or Stygian Keys are particularly dangerous in this realm.
- The Soulless: The Vacant, sin-eaters that have had their spiritual link to their geist severed, either willingly or otherwise. They have a Synergy/Morality score of 0 and a driving urge to join with a geist to fill the hole that's been left by the departure of the geist. One of their favorite tricks for getting a new geist involves finding another sin-eater and forcibly severing their link, thereby creating a new Vacant and starting the process anew.
- Even if a Vacant manages to find a new geist- be they a "free agent" or one forcibly taken from another sin-eater- they must still get the geist to accept a Bargain with him (not easy since many Vacant got that way by destroying their own geists). And even then, they still start at Synergy 0 and must somehow raise their Synergy despite it normally being impossible at that level. In short, a full recovery from being Vacant is rare, to say the least.
- Special Snowflake Syndrome: An obvious potential occurrence. The Dead Conspiracies are supposed to be unplayable, but they seem so exponentially cooler than the proper Krewe samples given in the sourcebook that some players might find it hard to resist.
- Stop Helping Me!: In-Universe, Sin-Eaters tend to take this attitude towards would-be ghostbusting hunters at best, and usually regard them a lot worse. This is because A: hunters, generally lacking the supernatural powers of sin-eaters, are poorly suited for interacting with ghosts, but they insist on trying to "deal with them" regardless; B: the hunters usually make things worse with their incompetent efforts, and C: hunters tend to try and murder sin-eaters for being "demon-possessed" or "witches" or something when they realize the sin-eaters have supernatural powers of their own.
- Supernatural Angst: Strongly averted. While individual Sin-Eaters may run into problems surrounding their relationship with their geists or the nastier entities of the Underworld, Sin-Eater culture is basically a walking New Orleans funeral. Like all games in the WoD settings, things aren't exactly all sun shine and rainbows. Unlike the others, the theme is more "yes, we're a bit broken, but hey, we survived," than complete despair.
- The Call Knows Where You Live: The call lives inside your mind / soul. Further more, even if the Sin-Eater lucked out and has an agreeable geist 'partner', ghosts can still recognize sin-eaters and tend to bug them to help them with their Unfinished Business (see below).
- This Is Your Brain on Evil: Indulging your Vice in the Underworld feels even better than it does in the living world, granting double the normal willpower bonus. However, it can result in vice addiction, which makes other sensations feel hollow and encourages you to indulge your Vice more and more.
- This is even worse in Oppia, where everything has been set up to make you dependent on Oppia's food and luxuries, so that it's even easier to make you a slave or turn you into a dish for Oppia's Kerberos.
- Tragic Keepsake: All mementos mori qualify, and sin-eaters can draw power from them. Also, sin-eaters use mementos as status symbols, a fact they tend to keep private from people who might get suspicious of their increasingly morbid collections.
- Transhuman Treachery: One of the very worst sorts of ghosts a Sin-Eater can expect to come across in the course of their duties is the type that reasons that since they're dead, human morality no longer applies to them. This is to say nothing of the ghosts who've spent so long in the Underworld that they've lost almost any semblance of humanity.
- Sin-Eaters themselves can fall into this trope, if the circumstances of their death and the sort of Geist that shows up to pull them back are amenable to a particularly hostile world-view from then on.
- Trapped in Another World: Only sin-eaters (and a rare few mortals) can freely travel between the Underworld and the living world, and even then, only through an Avernian Gate. However, it's possible for mortals to accidentally open Avernian Gates, and it's very easy to get lost within the Underworld, which leads to this trope.
- Thanks to certain Cermonies and one or two Manifestations, it's possible for sin-eaters to invoke this trope by throwing people into the Underworld against their will.
- The Underworld: The sin-eaters will find themselves traveling there on occasion, for one reason or another.
- Unfinished Business: Most ghosts are bound to the world by Anchors, and want Sin-Eaters to resolve these duties. One of the Archetypes, the Advocates, makes this their duty.
- You Gotta Have Blue Hair: only a one-off mention under the entry for the Stricken. A girl who died of copper poisoning had her hair turned green by said poisoning before she died. The fact that she kept the coloring after her Bargain is listed as an example of the physical aftereffects dying may leave on a Sin-Eater.
- Your Mind Makes It Real: How the Phantasmal Rage hurts people. As a result, it can only be used on sentient creatures, but it bypasses most traditional physical protection.
- In addition, there's the Grave Dream, one of the Dead Dominions in the Book of the Dead. Anyone who dreams can theoretically enter the Grave Dream, despite it technically being in the Underworld. This makes it a convenient way to enter the Underworld without having to traverse the Autocthonous Depths, but if you die in the Grave Dream, you die for real. This is inconvenient for the many mortals who accidentally dream themselves into the Underworld this way.
- Your Soul Is Mine: Type Two B; Sin-Eaters can eat ghosts. No-one is sure what actually happens to a ghost that's eaten, but this is one of the more disturbing possibilities.