Risen is a term used to describe a wraith that has managed to return to its body to walk among the living in the Skinlands. For want of a better term, Risen are almost zombies, however without the slow gait, decaying flesh, or need to eat brains. To become a Risen is one of the closest guarded secrets in the Shadowlands; however, with help, it can be done.
What does a Risen Look Like?
Risen are essentially the walking dead, but not in the typical horror vein. Most Risen actually look human. Those who died in a spectacular fashion that resulted in heavy wounding will have heavy scarring where those wounds were, as if they had survived and managed to heal the damage. Risen can talk normally, unless their larynx was damaged before or during their death, and can move normally, unless they are missing limbs. There are a rare few Risen who were decapitated and have since regained their bodies; these generally have the hardest time fitting in.
How a Risen is Made
A potential Risen must have a body before they can do anything else. The heart and brain both must be more or less intact and within a few feet of each other (in the case of decapitation victims). If there is no heart or brain, a wraith cannot become Risen. Likewise, those whose bodies have been cremated or rotted away into a skeleton cannot Rise.
Next, a Wraith must have a Conduit; a Conduit is a special item that a wraith uses to hold their Shadow while they rise from the grave. It is usually a Fetter but can also be another beloved object. Animals are also popular choices, although the process of using them as a Conduit creates some disturbing looking creatures. If circumstances are in their favor, a wraith will enter their body while their Shadow enters the Conduit. There have been occasions where misfortune struck and the opposite happened. Whatever the circumstances, if the Risen and Conduit are not reunited within a few days, the wraith's Corpus (and their Shadow's presence) will disintegrate. To reach this end, the wraith and the Shadow must form something of a pact. A wraith with an actively disagreeing Shadow does not stand a chance of becoming a Risen.
Finally, a Risen must first be familiar with several Arcanoi. The first is Puppetry; being able to Skinride a body is absolutely imperative to re-entering their undead flesh. Also important are Lifeweb, Inhabit, and/or Embody, as these allow a wraith to understand the nature of moving across the Shroud.
If all three of these factors go correctly, a wraith who successfully re-enters their body, escapes from their tomb, and reunites with their Conduit will become a Risen.
Advantages and Disadvantages
Risen gain the following advantages over regular wraiths.
- A body. Risen can roam among the living for as long as they exist and take care of their body, far longer in the Skinlands than even a powerful Proctor.
- Innate abilities of wraiths. Risen still possess Lifesight, Deathsight, and heightened senses.
- Conduit tracing. A Risen will always know the general location of the Conduit if it leaves their sight.
- Sturdier frames. Risen take more damage than a regular human and do not register pain in the same way, unless the injury is done by an object that deals aggravated damage.
- Unrestricted Arcanoi Castigate, Fatalism, Flux, Intimation, Keening, Mnemosynis, and Usury can be used as normal.
- New Arcanoi. Risen may learn the Risen-specific Arcanoi Fascinate and Serendipity.
- Vampiric Disciplines. Risen may also learn Celerity, Fortitude, Obfuscate, and Potence, using Pathos to fuel these powers instead of blood points.
Risen have the following Disadvantages:
- Cold to the touch. A Risen always feels clammy and corpse-like.
- Cannot eat. A Risen who attempts to eat will regurgitate food after a very uncomfortable period of nausea.
- Angst doubled. Any Angst gained when using an Arcanos ability is doubled.
- Conduit damage. Any damage to a Conduit threatens a wraith's existence in their body. Damaged Conduits keep a wraith from healing their Corpus completely.
- Conduit separation. A Risen kept from their Conduit for more than a day will have their body start to decay rapidly. A Risen who loses all of their Corpus falls straight into Oblivion with no Harrowing.
- Limited Arcanoi Only certain abilities from Inhabit, Lifeweb, and Pandemonium can be used.
- Unusable Arcanoi Argos, Embody, Phantasm, Moliate, Outrage, and Puppetry cannot be used by Risen because their physical presence in the Skinlands makes these abilities useless or non-functional.
The oldest Risen is considered to be Persephone; it is with her that the secrets of inhabiting a body were discovered, though how she actually did it is up for much debate.
For the cultures of the Shadowlands, the Risen are considered a number of different things. In the eyes of the Hierarchy, they are of course criminals as their actions violate the Dictum Mortuum. The Renegades, on the other hand, tend to support and use the Risen. Many prominent gangs have a contact or ally with at least one Risen. The Heretics are split across a wide range of beliefs, from believing the practice of Rising to be blasphemy against God to it being a religious experience in and of itself.
Of any group, however, the Puppeteers Guild are associated most closely with the Risen. They will willingly train wraiths in Puppetry and tell them the secrets of Rising in special "boot camps." Officially, this is the Guild's strange attempt at preventing the takeover of Oblivion. They reason that a Risen is more likely to resolve Fetters, and while in the flesh they can improve the world of the living so that less die with the weight and despair that makes them into a wraith in the first place. Unfortunately, this rarely happens; instead many Risen become possessed by their Shadows and very unpleasant things result. Many suspect the true agenda of the Puppeteers is to provide them with agents in the Skinlands who can destroy Fetters or do other favors for the Guild.
One of the most frequent ways a Risen will attempt to fit in is to pass themselves off as a vampire. As they are pale, pulseless, and can even acquire knowledge of the basic Disciplines, this generally works. Occasionally, a Risen will give their true identities away; they will refuse to drink blood or react poorly to it or reveal they can go out in sunlight. Some Risen actually acquire vampiric allies in this fashion who, in turn, will help them protect their Fetters and other things of importance.