Kahi, Ancestor Spirits Species in Shadowfire | World Anvil

Kahi, Ancestor Spirits

When Kofa burned the world, many of the people died, and their spirits were scattered to the void. They have spent countless Moons lost in the cold darkness, wandering, trying to find their way home to Wala's embrace. They are the Kahi, they are our kin come home at last.
  The Uferbrech Goblins have long believed that since the end of Ashtiri, when the cycle of birth and rebirth was broken, that the souls of those who die are lost to wander the world with no hope of rebirth. Unless their descendents can make a place for them, they will live out their rage and frustration at being unborn forever. This had led to a strong veneration and even worship of ancestors among the clans.   These ancestor spirits can be either malevolent or benevolent, depending on the experiences they had in life, the nature of their death, and the extent that their descendents can provide them places of comfort and belonging.  

Death and birth within the Kingroups

The cycle of life and death is a central part of Wala's Vigil, and the concept that underpins the complex traditions surrounding Kingroups and Kithweaving.  

Spirits upon death

The clans believe that when someone dies, their souls are no longer automatically reborn as they were during the time of Ashtiri. Instead, without intervention, they will wander, lost and lonely, slowly going insane.
by Midjourney
  It is therefore the duty of all goblins to prepare and care for the spirits of their dead until a new body can be found for them through a birth, or until the end of the Vigil and the reunification of Wala-Kofa.   The death rituals among the goblinkin are highly communal, and are intended to keep the soul company as it departs the body. Kin and friends of the departed will hold vigil, gathering objects of significance to the departed and their connections to the people that remain.   After death, the clans will decorate their homes and communal living spaces with object gathered. These might include favourite jewellery, tools, books, artwork, weapons or other knick knacks. This leads to most Goblin homes being extremely cluttered with multiple generations of things.   Some objects will have gained extra significance as they get passed down and used through multiple generations. These are the holy objects of the clans, known as Moji and are believed to be imbued with magic resulting from their ongoing connections to the clans.  

Unexpected deaths

In the case of those who die unexpectedly, such as through accident or upon the battlefield, extended rituals must be performed as soon after the death as possible. This is complicated if the body cannot be recovered. The longer the gap between death and the performing of the death rites, the greater the risk that the departed spirit will be lost.  


The process of birth, as described in Kingroups and Kithweaving, is believed to ensure that the Kahi who have been well remembered will be reborn into the Kingroup. The Birth is seen as a return to physical form of the waiting Kahi.  

Lost spirits

When the rituals of death and comfort are not not followed, such as when individuals die alone, in accidents, or upon the battlefield, the Uferbrech Goblins believe the spirit will wander aimlessly until guided towards Wala's Embrace. In many cases, these spirits can be reasoned with, and conversations can reveal their clan connections. They will then just need directions, encouragement and some introductions to their living relatives to join back with the people of their clan. But in rare cases, an encounter with one can be far more challenging.  


Exessivley violent or traumatic deaths, or individuals whose actions in life were so reprehensable that their surviving kin want nothing of the, can become dangerous spirits who lash out at those they encounter. Appeasing a Kothkahi may be impossible, and the Uferbrech goblins believe that these dangerous spirits are best hidden from rather than confronted. The Kothkahi are believed to manifest themselves as being of pure fire and lightning.
by Midjourney


Lonely deaths result in spirits whose sorrow can sap the life from the unwary. These spirits can be appeased by surrounding them with enough welcoming energy, and with enough people present that the sapping of life is shared until the spirit is restored to itself and can rejoin the clan.  


If left to wander too long, ancestor spirits will eventually have none alive who remember them, and will have even forgotten themselves. These are the Unkahi, and are the most forlorn of all. They crave their own isolation, and will rarely, if ever make new attachments. It is the greatest fear of many devout goblins they they be forgotten after their death. It is possible for the Unkahi to forge new identities and attachments however, and it is seen as one of the most holy of acts for a Goblin to bring an Unkahi back to the clans in whatever new identity it can manifest.

Basic Information


Most Kahi spend their time invisible to the eyes of the living, but if desired can manifest their forms.   The Kahi's appearance depends upon how well they are remembered by those still alive. Recently deceased and loved individuals will look like ghostly apparitions of their living self. Where living memories change, so too will the appearance of the Spirit.   Lost spirits will menifest their forms in ways that reflect their mood or malevolence. Sometimes showing the violence of their death, or the sorrow of their emotions.   As the memories of the dead fade, the spirits will become more amorphous, their features less-defined and even their body-shape devolving, until they eventually appear as mere balls of ghostly smoke, or as wafting tendrils of energy.

Genetics and Reproduction

The Kahi are disembodied spirits of the deceased, kept in an undead state by the collective belief of the living that venerate, or fear them.


Due to their reliance on the remembrance of the living, most Kahi are quite needy. They crave attention, and will remind the living of their presence in many ways.   Friendly spirits might help with small chores around the village, or by playing harmless practical jokes and mischevious pranks on their descendants. Someone who has been inattentive to a particilar ancestor spirit might find particlar objects of significance around the house moved, or placed in weird locations.   The more malevolent spirits may torment through incessant annoyances or by performing frightening and sometimes even violent acts against the unwary in order to gain their attention.   It is only the forgotten spirits who do not actively seek attention, having long descended into a stasis of depression, lethargy and inaction.

Additional Information

Symbiotic and Parasitic organisms

The Seers of Ashtiri are known to bond with the lost and forgotton ancestral spirits: the Kothkahi, Solkahi, Unkahi and in extremely rare cases, even the Nagakahi.   The relationship is akin to God Tethering, but the lost souls carry far less power than an actively worshipped Godling.   An individual Seer may actually bond with and attract a multitude of lost ancetral spirits, and will use them as a way to access ancient knowledge know by the spirit during its life that would be otherwise unnavailable.

Civilization and Culture

Common Myths and Legends

The Nagakahi

The members of Clan tokaru believe that a phenomenon seen upon shadow side of Hela's Crest mountain range is the visible manifestation of a type of long forgotten Unakahi.   These particular spirits are called Nagakahi, and are believed to be the spirits of the ancients who died from Kofa's Wrath, as spoken of in The Broken Dream of Wala-Kofa. They were scattered across the frozen wastes of the world and seek to return to Wala's embrace. The goblins believe the Nagakahi to be particularly dangerous if not appeased, and most will actively avoid them when they are present.  
It is a curious belief. The locals we have working here have pointed out what they call Spirit Snakes rising up the cliffs below the mine's entrance.   The sight is unnerving to be sure - It looks like a swarm of glowing serpents, or long tendrils of living fire, that twist and coil upon themselves as they rise up the cliffs. The goblins say their ancestors are angry and then refuse to work until the winds die down.   But we know they are just gasses rising from the swamps below, and threats and punishment do nothing to persuade them to return to work. Production is hurt as a result.   - From a missive to Lord Akron De Sousa from Mason De Vorder, Overseer at The Mines of Koigua
  Visiting academics from the Protectorates dismiss this as mere superstition, and say the phenomenon is caused by the upwelling of gasses from the many dark swamps and fungal forests that line the foothills.   The Academics maintant that it as the gases bubble up and escape from the rotting masses beneath the surface, they react with the air above, and often spontaneously combust into pale blue flames. This, combined with the ever present prevailing winds from the Sea of Black Ice, result in long tendrils of snake-like fire that wind and flicker their way up the mountain sides.  

The Waters of the Uferbrech Gyre

The ultimate destination of the returning souls is believed to be the mist shrouded gyre that turns at the heart of the Uferbrech Archipelago.   The rushing waters amidst the ruins are believed to be caused by the final urgency of the forgotten spirits as they get sucked into Wala's embrace. They believe that these souls are lost forever, unless the wrath of Kofa can be appeased and Ashtiri renewed.
Genetic Ancestor(s)
Geographic Distribution
Related Ethnicities
Related Myths

Articles under Kahi, Ancestor Spirits

Cover image: by Midjourney


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Dec 14, 2022 10:41

It was a pleasure reading this article, well done. I love your blending of art and styling which lend to each other. In addition I appreciate to ease of use and navigation as a mobile user. Thank you, may your quill never run dry.

Graylion - Nexus   Roleplaying
not Ruleplaying
not Rollplaying
Jan 2, 2023 15:19

A return to the world of Shadowfire by Ononomad makes me remember I could find goblins far more interesting again. This is an excellent article on spirits or the Ancestral Spirits of goblins. It serves as a touch of the supernatural, culture and the cycle of life. In addition to excellent writing the world color pallet, styling and images blend together to create a beautiful experience. A excellent reminder to not dismiss the mundane, embrace it give it character and make it special.

Graylion - Nexus   Roleplaying
not Ruleplaying
not Rollplaying
Jan 2, 2023 21:05 by Tim Day

Thanks Graylion for your kind words, and an excellent review! I am indeed trying to challenge the preconceptions of goblins… I fear they have been unfairly maligned across much of the multiverse :-)