- For the Sphere of magic, see Spirit (MTAs). For the Lament from Orpheus, see Spirit (Orpheus). For ghosts, see wraith
Spirits are disembodied entities that originate in, and usually dwell in, the Umbra - for that reason, some mages call them the "Umbrood".
These beings are primarily encountered by Garou (werewolves) and certain types of mages, although numerous other supernatural beings are capable of discerning or even interacting with the spirit world. Mages use the term Umbrood as an umbrella term for spirits, to minimize confusion with the Sphere of Awakened magic that is also called Spirit. Wraiths and demons are among the more specialized types of spirits, and many references to "spirits" specifically do not include these two types of beings.
Spirits usually only have the traits of Rage, Gnosis, and Willpower; they do not normally possess Attributes or Abilities. However, many Umbrood spirits and demons are exceptions to this rule. Spirits possess distinctive and sometimes unique powers called Charms, which have effects based on the spirit's nature. For example, elementals can create whatever element they embody and can blast opponents with their element in combat, and the bane-spirits that serve the malefic Wyrm have powers of corruption, suffering, and decay.
Some spirits can use the Materialize charm, which allows them to cross the Penumbra into the material world for a time; spirits usually manifest predetermined ratings in their Attributes and Abilities while materialized. Other spirits can cross over permanently by binding themselves to a mortal (or rarely an animal, object, or place) via the Possession charm. The resulting mortal-spirit hybrid becomes one of four known types of Possessed: fomori, which serve the destructive and corrupt Wyrm; drones, which serve the stifling, static Weaver; gorgons, which serve the chaotic and generative Wyld; and the rare kami, which serve Gaia, the spirit of the Earth itself.
Below are some guidelines as to how the spirits are seen by each of the factions that compose the World of Darkness.
Mortals have few ways of interacting with spirits, especially in the case of those that have not manifested themselves. Numina such as True Faith and certain paths of sorcery may be able to affect some or all spirits. Some Numina, such as the abilities of the Benandanti or of infernalists, can only affect specific types of spirits, such as wraiths or demons.
Vampire: The Masquerade
In Vampire: The Masquerade, spirits and the Umbra are largely inaccessible and imperceptible, and therefore irrelevant. Notable exceptions are ghosts, which fall under the purview of Necromancy (and its predecessor Mortis) and demons, which are linked with Daimoinon and Dark Thaumaturgy. Auspex is capable of detecting spirits and, at higher levels of skill, the vampire can engage in astral projection. Several forms of blood magic (mainly Thaumaturgy and Koldunic Sorcery) have access to a number of paths and rituals that are capable of warding off spirits or interacting with them more directly. Two extinct bloodlines, the Lhiannan and the Ahrimanes, possessed unique Disciplines that interacted with the spirit world (Ogham and Spiritus, respectively), and the Kiasyd have a unique relationship with the fae.
Werewolf: The Apocalypse
Spirits and the spirit world are a major aspect of the lives and cultures of the Garou and the other Changing Breeds. In particular, Theurges are specialists in bargaining with spirits via chiminage and binding them via Gifts and rites. Every caern has a spirit (or multiple spirits) bound to protect it, almost every pack has a guardian totem, and most shapechangers have one or more fetishes. Werewolves deal with fomori and other Possessed far more frequently than any other supernaturals, as they are sworn enemies of the Wyrm and its spawn.
Mage: The Ascension
Mages view the "Umbrood", as they call spirits, through a more hierarchical lens. In general, mages skilled in the Sphere of Spirit will regularly deal with spirits other than wraiths, mages skilled with Entropy will regularly deal with wraiths, and other mages will avoid spirits or find some other way to deal with them (for example, by using Talismans or other Wonders to bind, banish, or destroy them). The Technocracy almost entirely disregards the Umbra and its inhabitants, with the rather prominent exception of the Void Engineers, who deal almost exclusively with Umbral threats and mysteries.
Wraith: The Oblivion and Orpheus
In both Wraith: The Oblivion and Orpheus, wraiths are the central figures in any chronicle, and the Underworld is the setting for any story where the players are themselves wraiths. Barring crossover elements, spirits from the Umbra beyond the Underworld are so rare as to be nonexistent in both games. Mortal mediums usually only have the power to sense or communicate with the spirits of the dead, although exceptions do exist.
Changeling: The Dreaming
The Dreaming appears to be a secluded and inscrutable part of the Umbra. If so, then true fae and chimerae are, like wraiths, distinctive types of spirits found only in a specific part of the Umbra. For example, sprites in Dark Ages: Fae use the rules for spirits provided in Dark Ages: Vampire, though it is stated that they are not standard spirits per se. Sluagh are known to interact with wraiths and other dead things. The nunnehi interact with spirits on a nearly fundamental basis, as they became changelings via pacts with spirits and continue to take on totems of their own.
Kindred of the East
Kuei-jin are themselves essentially Risen wraiths, and those who are especially Yin-aspected (such as the Bone Flowers) have even closer ties to dead and to the Yin World (the Underworld). Similarly, Yang-aspected kuei-jin (mainly the Thrashing Dragons) deal heavily with spirits from the Yang World (the Umbra). P'o-aspected kuei-jin (primarily Devil-Tigers) traffic with demons and bakemono (fomori), as do the akuma – the kuei-jin who have succumbed to the influence of the malefic Yama Kings.
Hunter: The Reckoning
The Imbued (and, to a lesser extent, other Hunters) usually only interact with wraiths, most often in the form of the walking dead. Encounters with the restless dead – especially the walking dead – are much more common among all hunters since the advent of the Sixth Great Maelstrom. Meanwhile, encounters with other spirits are reduced following the outbreak of the Avatar Storm, although encounters with demons have increased with the reappearance of the Fallen after the Reckoning.
Mummy: The Resurrection
Although the Reborn (mummies) are saturated with the essence of life, they are nonetheless dead beings of the Underworld; furthermore, many are masters of Necromancy. However, they are also foes of Apophis, which may be an aspect of the Wyrm in some way, and as such a number of fomori-like bane mummies have come into existence to oppose them.
Demon: The Fallen
The Fallen (demons) may, like other demons, be considered spirits in some sense, as they originated in Heaven before their immeasurable term of imprisonment in the Abyss. The Lore of the Spirit deals with the spirits of the dead.