Shadow Archetypes

These 16 Archetypes will guide you to create the sort of Shadows that bedevil Wraiths in the Dark Caribbean. Each is listed with three Stratagems:

  1. An emotional stratagem, which is the concession it seeks from the Psyche in discussion
  2. A practical stratagem, which indicates the behaviour it wants from the Psyche in exchange for its compliance
  3. A catharsis stratagem, which is the behaviour it engages in when it achieves control

Shadows also have an Agenda which categorizes their overall goal:

  • PYRRHIC Shadows are marked §; these Shadows seek the Psyche’s immediate dissolution and want to rush to Oblivion as quickly as possible; they usually demand +1 success on Harrowing rolls and try to place the Psyche in physical danger
  • ABIDING Shadows are marked ¥; these Shadows wish to corrupt or torment the Psyche before bringing it to Oblivion; they usually demand -1 success on Harrowing rolls and try to protect the Psyche from physical danger (at a price)
  • CUT-THROAT Shadows are unmarked; these Shadows work to torment the Psyche but will take the opportunity to fling the Psyche into Oblivion; their Harrowing rolls have no modifier and though they do not try to create danger for the Psyche, they enjoy adding to it when it occurs


The Albatross knows you are guilty because the Albatross is your guilt. At first your Shadow taunts you with your actual crimes and failings in life, possibly focusing on one particular sin or shortcoming. However, the Shadow goes on to trawl through all your actions, amplifying their unintended consequences or the murkiness of your motives. The Albatross represents everything you do as hurtful or selfish or futile, eventual driving your to seek Oblivion as an act of expiation.

  1. Make the Psyche acknowledge its flaws, the way you perceive them
  2. Insist the Psyche engages in doomed or destructive attempts to make up for mistakes or failures
  3. During Catharsis, turn yourself over to those who will punish you or sacrifice things that are precious to atone for your sins (eg Fetters, Pathos, Passion, wealth)
    Thorns: Death Sigil (symbols of guilt, such as dripping blood), Infamy, Slough of Despond, Dark Instrument (murder weapon), Shadow Arcanoi (Keening, Contaminate, Larceny, Tempest Weaving), Spectre Prestige


The Amputee has suffered and lost something that can never be restored – and it wants everyone to know this. At first, this Shadow wallows in self-pity, focusing on the loss of life or loved ones or wealth or literal amputation. However, the Shadow goes on to focus on the pity and loss resulting from all your actions, amplifying how much more you have suffered than anyone else. The Amputee represents you as the loser, the one making all the sacrifices, eventually driving you to Oblivion through despair or rage at the injustice of your treatment.

  1. Make the Psyche acknowledge how badly it has been treated, according to your outlook
  2. Insist the Psyche makes others sacrifice or suffer or pull their weight instead of you
  3. During Catharsis, make others appreciate how much you suffer by depriving them of the things you’ve been deprived of (Passions, Fetters, wealth, Corpus, etc)
    Thorns: Death Sigil (marks of suffering, such as scars), Slough of Despond, Dark Instrument (prosthetics), Shadow Arcanoi (Moliate, Usury, Larceny, Tempest Weaving), Shadow Vizor (scarred), Unholy Vigour, Hellish Spite


The Blackguard is the most obvious expression of the darkness within, a cackling villain who delights in causing pain and sorrow and views scruples and morals as signs of weakness and vanity. At first this Shadow wants to lash out at anybody who hurt you or rejected you, focusing on “giving them their just deserts”. Later, the Shadow rankles at anyone who seems stronger, luckier, more popular or more successful and plots against them. The Blackguard represents you as smarter and stronger than the weaklings and patsies you’re surrounded by, generating such hostility that your erstwhile friends and crew-mates abandon you to Oblivion.

  1. Make the Psyche acknowledge how stupid, weak or unworthy everyone else is
  2. Insist the Psyche pays back everyone for past slights (real or imagined) and exploits any weaknesses others show
  3. During Catharsis, betray any trust and exploit any weakness to hurt anyone who seems stronger or more successful
    Thorns: Death’s Sigil (scary, such as claws, fire, shadows), Infamy, Shadow Ability (Subterfuge, Villainy, Stealth), Shadow Attribute (Dexterity, Manipulation), Amity of the Damned, Dark Ally (Spectres), Dark Instrument (whips, slave chains), Shadow Arcanoi (Kinesis, Puppetry, Contaminate), Unleash Hell, Hellish Spite, Shadow Parrot (snake), Shadow Life

Calypso (or Ganconer) ¥

The Calypso loves you and you alone, appearing as your lost love (or wife or husband). At first this Shadow demands only that you recognise her as your true love and renew your lovers’ vows. However, the Calypso is powerfully jealous of all other attachments, starting with romantic rivals, then extending to friends and crew-mates. The Calypso represents all other relationships and commitments as a betrayal of love, until eventually only in Oblivion can you be truly together. NB. A dead lover who insists you feel guilt for her loss and dedicate yourself to mourning her forever, renouncing all other happiness, would be an Amputee Archetype.

  1. Make the Psyche acknowledge you as his lover and confess his feelings for you
  2. Insist the Psyche proves his love, at first with little gifts or sacrifices, later with rejecting rivals and abandoning friends
  3. During Catharsis, poison friendships and attack romantic rivals or set up love-triangles with which you can reproach the Psyche later
    Thorns: Death Sigil (perfume), Garrulous, Infamy, Shadow Ability (Empathy, Expression), Shadow Attribute (Appearance, Charisma), Amity of the Damned, Dark Ally (demon lover), Dark Instrument (gifts, jewellery), Eye of the Storm, Shadow Arcanoi (Intimation, Phantasm, Contaminate), Shadow Vizor (different sex), Hellish Spite

The Galconer is the masculine variation on this Archetype.

Cannibal ¥

The Cannibal lusts after the sweet tang of forbidden flesh, anything that is sinful, taboo or shameful. At first this Shadow has one particular vice, which might be literal cannibalism or else drug use, sexual deviance or an addiction to torture. However, it is the exhilaration of transgression that excites the Shadow, rather than any particular act, so it starts to develop an expanding repertoire of gruesome and freakish perversions. The Cannibal represents normal and wholesome desires and relationships as insipid or contemptible, until eventually only through Oblivion can you feel anything at all.

  1. Make the Psyche acknowledge the appeal of forbidden or illicit desires
  2. Insist the Psyche acts out these desires, at first moderately, then with greater abandon
  3. During Catharsis, act out your darkest desires and leave the Psyche with the job of explaining itself afterwards
    Thorns: Death Sigil (signs of vices, eg tobacco), Garrulous, Infamy, Dark Ally (vampire), Dark Arcanoi (Necrophagia, Hive Mind, Contaminate, Larceny), Unleash Hell, Shadow Life

Chyrurgeon ¥

The Chyrurgeon (‘Surgeon’) diagnoses your problem and has the solution: cut away the diseased flesh, amputate, sterilise. At first this Shadow focuses on one particular problem (often a relationship, or a duty, or a Relic, Fetter or Passion) that is the root cause of your problems. However, it goes on to diagnose more and more things in your life as problematic, faulty, hurtful or disordered and insists you abandon them. The Chyrurgeon might be regretful or threatening, rational or a raging paranoiac, but it will work to cut everything out of your life until only Oblivion remains.

  1. Make the Psyche acknowledge that a possession, duty or relationship is faulty, damaging or unhealthy
  2. Insist the Psyche turns its back on these items, people or roles, rejecting them or abandoning them
  3. During Catharsis, focus on one unhealthy (as you see it) aspect of the Psyche’s life and try to weaken it, harm it or cut it out entirely
    Thorns: Death Sigil (disease), Garrulous, Shadow Ability (Alertness, Awareness), Shadow Attribute (Intelligence, Perception), Slough of Despond, Dark Instrument (scalpels, knives), Shadow Arcanoi (Lifeweb, Mnemosyne, Hive Mind), Unholy Vigour, Shadow Life


The Corsair is an aggressive bully who wants what others have. At first this Shadow has one particular target, like someone else’s girlfriend, Fetter, Relic or ship. However, it is the thrill of power when you take from others, rather than owning any particular thing, that excites this Shadow, so it starts to expand its wish-list. The Corsair represents everything others own as valuable, anything you own yourself as insipid trash, until eventually the emptiness of your life is filled by Oblivion itself, which seeks to devour everything.

  1. Make the Psyche acknowledge that it wants something that someone else has or that its own possessions are inferior
  2. Insist the Psyche discards its own possessions in favour of pursuing things that others own
  3. During Catharsis, treat your own possessions contemptuously or careless and devote yourself to taking something precious (in your eyes) from someone else
    Thorns: Death Sigil (signs of criminality, eg chains, brands), Infamy, Shadow Ability (Brawl, Intimidate, Melee), Shadow Attribute (Strength, Dexterity), Dark Instrument (weapon, armour), Shadow Arcanos (Outrage, Usury, Larceny), Unleash Hell, Spectre Prestige, Hellish Spite, Shadow Parrot (parrot)

Faust §

The Faust regards the Underworld as Hell and you as damned. At first this Shadow wants you to accept you are dead and are deservedly damned. The initially means making a break from old beliefs, faiths and loyalties; later it means embracing your damnation and seeking power through inhumanity. Some Fausts are carefree hedonists but others are gloomy philosophers, but all of them represent Oblivion as inevitable and fighting against it as futile. To this end they encourage you to build up Angst for short-term goals and accept your destiny as a servant of Oblivion.

  1. Make the Psyche acknowledge that it is deservedly dead and damned and that Spectres are more true to themselves than Wraiths
  2. Insist the Psyche abandons serious goals or moral duties in favour of experiencing power and pleasure in the Underworld
  3. During Catharsis, make contact with Spectres and join in their plots and mayhem
    Thorns: Death Sigil (demonic, eg brimstone, fire, horns), Slough of Despond, Amity of the Damned, Dark Ally (demons), Shadow Arcanos (Argos, Incarnate, Hive Mind, Tempest Weaving), Spectral Summons, Unleash Hell, Spectre Prestige, Hellish Spite

Higgler ¥

The Higgler knows the price of everything and the value of nothing. At first this Shadow focuses on acquiring safety through wealth – or through favours, haggling, striking deals, anything to increase its protection and security. However, it is the thrill of acquisition, rather than owning, that excites this Shadow, so it starts to trade. The Higgler represents everything as a commodity to be traded, sold or exchanged – favours, friendships, ranks, loyalties, other people’s as well as your own – until eventually your very soul can be traded for Oblivion.

  1. Make the Psyche compile a list of what it owns and what it needs
  2. Insist the Psyche trades its own possessions or advantages in exchange for other things
  3. During Catharsis, trade as much as possible of what you own (or what other people own, so long as you have access to it) in a way that leaves the Psyche indebted
    Thorns: Death Sigil (jangling coins, bejewelled), Garrulous, Shadow Ability (Villainy, Craft, Politics), Shadow Attribute (Manipulation, Intelligence), Dark Instrument (scales, money), Shadow Arcanos (Kinesis, Usury, Tempest Weaving), Hellish Spite, Shadow Parrot (monkey)

Jeremiah §

The Jeremiah knows you are doomed, but lacks the Faust’s sense of nihilistic fun. For the Jeremiah, being a Wraith is a curse and every moment is anguish. At first this Shadow focuses on the despair of being dead and how none of the Wraith’s powers compensate for the lose of life, love and physical sensation. However, the Shadow’s miserabilism goes deeper than this and it extends its pessimism to cover your relationships, duties and goals in the Underworld. The Jeremiah represents you as weak, inadequate, even cursed, and interprets every setback or failure as vindicating its gloomy view. Eventually, you will agree and choose Oblivion.

  1. Make the Psyche acknowledge that its existence is unhappy
  2. Insist the Psyche abandons projects or relationships that produce pleasure or distraction
  3. During Catharsis, isolate yourself from friends, lovers, Fetters and crew-mates, either by poisoning relationships or, if that fails, plunging yourself into the Tempest
    Thorns: Death Sigil (symbols of misery, eg rain, darkness, cold), Slough of Despond, Shadow Arcanos (Keening, Phantasm, Hive Mind, Contaminate), Spectral Summons, Spectre Prestige, Hellish Spite

Lubber §

The Lubber is hapless, ignorant, incompetent and out-of-its-depth and it is that way because you are that way too. At first this Shadow focuses on the confusion and terror of being dead, begging you to go back to safe places (Fetters, Haunts) and stick to routines established while alive. However, the Lubber hates all new aspects of life in the Underworld, finds other Wraiths frightening and dangerous, the Shadowseas stressful, the Tempest terrifying. The Lubber represents everything as too much for you and denigrates your abilities to cope and succeed in this weird environment. Oblivion alone will free you from this nightmare ride.

  1. Make the Psyche acknowledge that challenges in the Underworld are too difficult, confusing or upsetting
  2. Insist the Psyche stays in safe, familiar places and maintains old, familiar routines
  3. During Catharsis, flee from danger, threat or challenge and undermine (or even attack) anyone trying to lead your out of your safety zone
    Thorns: Death Sigil (things breaking), Slough of Despond, Amity of the Damned, Shadow Arcanos (Lifeweb, Phantasm, Hive Mind, Tempest Weaving), Spectral Summons, Shadow Parrot (land animal, like a dog)

Martinet (or Scold) §

The Martinet knows the rules and punishes every tiny infraction. At first this Shadow pursues a particular scruple or code of conduct – such as respect towards ladies, strict segregation of races or classes or adherence to the letter of naval conduct. However, this Shadow gradually extends its rules and regulations to cover more and more aspects of life until every interaction becomes a minefield of etiquette and legalism. The Martinet represents rules as important in their own right (motives count for nothing) and insists rule-breakers are punished. The ultimate punishment is Oblivion itself.

  1. Make the Psyche acknowledge that a particular rule is important or that it is being broken
  2. Insist the Psyche enforces a rule and takes action against those who break it
  3. During Catharsis, take actions to punish others for breaking your rules – or punish the Psyche itself by putting it at the mercy of Spectres or lawgivers
    Thorns: Death Sigil (horns blowing, whips cracking), Garrulous, Infamy, Shadow Ability (Leadership, Law), Shadow Attribute (Stamina, Manipulation), Dark Instrument (whip, armour, mask), Eye of the Storm, Shadow Arcanos (Outrage, Contaminate, Larceny, Hive Mind), Spectral Summons, Shadow Vizor (authority figure), Unholy Vigour, Spectre Prestige, Shadow Parrot (parrot)

The Scold is a distaff (feminized) version of the Martinet


The Mutineer hates authority and rebels reflexively. At first this Shadow has one particular grievance, a particular rule it finds burdensome or authority figure it sees as tyrannical. However, it is the pleasure of defiance, rather than freedom, that excites this Shadow, so it extends its grievances and lists of hate figures. The Mutineer represents every duty as onerous, every command as unreasonable, every leader as a tyrant, until eventually you are cast out of (or walk out on) every group and only Oblivion will have you.

  1. Make the Psyche acknowledge that a rule is stupid, a duty is unfair or a leader incompetent or bullying
  2. Insist the Psyche breaks a rule, refuses a duty or defies a leader
  3. During Catharsis, engage in full rebellion, trying to get others to join you
    Thorns: Death Sigil (grumbling, curses), Garrulous, Infamy, Shadow Ability (Subterfuge, Politics), Shadow Attribute (Wits, Manipulation), Amity of the Damned, Shadow Arcanos (Keening, Intimation, Larceny, Contaminate), Unleash Hell, Shadow Life

Patriarch (or Matriarch) ¥

The Patriarch is a parent-figure who claims your filial devotion and obedience. At first this Shadow focuses on being recognised as a legitimate parent, mentor or authority figure (possibly appearing as a former captain, priest or teacher rather than a literal parent). However, nothing you do can appease the Patriarch, so gradually its judgements become more critical, scornful and condemning and pleasing it gets harder and harder. The Patriarch represents all other allies, mentors and guides as incompetent or misleading because it, and it alone, knows what is right for you. Given that authority, it will lead you to Oblivion.

  1. Make the Psyche acknowledge that the Shadow is the authority figure it represents itself as being
  2. Insist the Psyche proves itself a good child, servant or student by following an order that contradicts its own judgement or the judgement of someone else the Psyche respects
  3. During Catharsis, act to remove, humiliate or harm any other sources of authority who are a bad influence (as you see it) on the Psyche
    Thorns: Death Sigil (ominous music, incense, bells), Shadow Abilities (Leadership, Academics, Culture), Shadow Attribute (Charisma, Intelligence), Dark Instrument (mask, sceptre, crown), Eye of the Storm, Shadow Arcanos (Fatalism, Phantasm, Hive Mind, Tempest Weaving), Shadow Vizor (authority figure), Unholy Vigour, Spectre Prestige, Hellish Spite

The Matriarch is the distaff version of the Patriarch, appearing as a mother, wife, lover or guardian angel

Rakehell (or Hussy) ¥

The Rakehell lives for selfish pleasure and it wants its pleasure sooner rather than later. Unlike the Faust, whose hellraising is tinged with pessimism, the Rakehell has no problem with being dead. At first this Shadow has one particular vice, like flirting, fighting, getting drunk, dancing, theatre or music. However, it is the thrill of living purely for your own pleasure, rather than any particular art or company, that excites this Shadow, so it starts to expand its vices. The Rakehell represents pleasure as the only goal and other people’s feelings or duties as inconsequential, until eventually the dark pleasures of Oblivion become tempting.

  1. Make the Psyche acknowledge a selfish desire
  2. Insist the Psyche acts on this desire, especially if it hurts or inconveniences others
  3. During Catharsis, embark on an orgy of selfishness, disregarding duties or responsibilities
    Thorns: Death Sigil (tobacco, liquor), Garrulous, Infamy, Shadow Ability (Subterfuge, Villainy, Etiquette), Shadow Attribute (Appearance, Manipulation), Shadow Arcanos (Incarnate, Puppetry, Larceny), Unleash Hell, Shadow Parrot (cat), Shadow Life

The Hussy is the distaff version of the Rakehell, which sometimes advocates using sexual wiles to use and discard people in the pursuit of pleasure

Weevil §

The Weevil is a worm – just like you. At first this Shadow focuses on one particular character as a hero and role model to be followed and appeased, contrasting their excellences with the Psyche’s shortcomings. In time, the Weevil grinds the Psyche down, representing everyone else as stronger, wiser, more popular, more competent than the Psyche. The Weevil insists the Psyche is fit only for following orders, bearing burdens and carrying out menial tasks until they are little better than a Drone.

  1. Make the Psyche acknowledge another character (NPC or PC) who is better than them
  2. Insist the Psyche follows orders or tries to please other superior characters
  3. During Catharsis, debase yourself to please powerful masters – if crew-mates don’t fit the bill, then seek out Spectres to serve
    Thorns: Death Sigil (warts, stench), Slough of Despond, Amity of the Damned, Dark Ally (Spectres, necromancers), Spectral Summons, Unholy Vigour, Hellish Spite, Shadow Parrot (roach, rat)

Shadow Archetypes

Rime of the Restless Mariners Jon_Rowe