The last thing I remember was feeling a punch to my chest and a burst of pain. I only had a moment to think - God! I've been shot! - before everything went black. I found myself sitting up in a grey field under a black sky, the noise of the battle snuffed out like a candle. Twenty feet away, a Genoan soldier suddenly appeared, looking around in confusion. I reached for my musket to continue the battle, but then I thought, why? We met each other's eyes, nodded once, and turned to find our comrades who would regrettably be joining us.
It is the fate that awaits all human life. The moment someone dies, they are disconnected from their corporeal body and awaken in the etheric realm. Here, they are solid and maintain vestiges of life like breathing and feeling pain, although these functions are psychosomatic. In the etheric realm, they cannot see, hear, or otherwise sense what is going on in the corporeal realm.
Does everyone become a ghost?
Yes. A ghost is the form a person takes when they awake in the etheric realm and begin the hike to the gateway to the afterlife.
Does every type of life become a ghost?
No. As far as anyone knows, only humans become ghosts.
Do ghosts know they are dead?
Yes. They have a full memory of everything leading up to their deaths, plus their soul cats are on hand to explain anything else.
Are ghosts forced to move on?
Soul guides strongly encourage it, but they can't be forced. They can hang around if they wish.
Are ghosts intangible?
In the mortal world, usually, yes, unless they are putting in considerable effort. This is very uncommon. In the etheric realm, no.
Can ghosts walk through walls?
Only if the wall is not also there in the etheric realm. If they are present in the mortal world, they are moving through the etheric realm and merely made visible to the mortal realm.
Where do ghosts go when they are invisible?
They are currently in the etheric realm, and cannot see the mortal world any better than mortals can see them.
Can ghosts possess people or have psychic powers?
Can ghosts levitate or fly?
How do ghosts cross water?
They walk over a bridge. To travel over oceans, they require a Ghost Ship, a vessel constructed by ghosts in the etheric realm from etheric materials.
Can ghosts eat/drink?
They can only eat or drink etheric food. Plants grown in the etheric realm, wild animals, natural water sources, etc. They do not require this and only partake for pleasure.
Where does food and drink go?
The vesanmer of the food gets absorbed into the vesanmer of the body. They don't have a digestive system or produce waste.
Can ghosts sleep?
No. They close their eyes and rest for a few hours every day or so to lessen to mental drain of remaining conscious, but their mind cannot "turn off".
Do ghosts produce fluids?
They do not bleed, but they can cry and have saliva. Generally, their external bodies exactly mimic life.
Between Two Worlds
Ghosts primarily exist in the etheric realm. They have no contact with the mortal world and are focused solely on their journey to the afterlife. Only with intense concentration can a ghost make themselves be seen or heard in the mortal world. They can also sometimes be glimpsed even if they are not trying to be seen. This most often happens during liminal times, such as dawn and dusk. When large numbers of ghosts gather, the air shimmers like a heat wave. This is the easiest way to find the highways of the dead.
Living people cannot see ghosts that are entirely in the etheric realm. Likewise, ghosts cannot see living people. There are a handful of conditions that allow a living person to see ghosts, including being naturally Sighted or being delinquent. The general rule is that if you can see a ghost, a ghost can see you. Sighted people are visible to ghosts at all times. In the etheric realm, Sighted people appear translucent, just like ghosts do in our world. However clearly you can see a ghost is how clearly that ghost can see you.
Ghosts cannot touch or move items that are physically in the mortal world without considerable effort. If a ghost concentrates all their effort onto becoming present in the mortal world and then pushes even harder, they might be able to solidify their hand long enough to pick up or manipulate an item.
Ghosts appear in the etheric realm wearing whatever they were dressed in at the moment of death. This includes items held in the hand, jewellery, things in pockets, etc. The limit of what gets taken is determined by what that person internally comprehends as "upon my person". Clothing might contain rips or destroyed patches if they were damaged in the injury that killed them.
Ghosts cannot "die". There is no way to even permanently disable them, although you can seriously inconvenience them. Injuries sustained in the etheric realm cause just as much pain as they would in life. Ghosts do not bleed blood, but an injury that involves cutting will cause a ghost to "bleed" mist like smoke rising from a flame. It will take some time for the wound to recover and their body to pull itself back together. Bandages do not help, although another ghost can try to coax the wound closed faster. A ghost's body can be entirely destroyed in a serious enough injury. They spread out like mist, too scattered to even hold together a conscious mind. Over many months, the mist will slowly coalesce back into physical form. This has been described as agonizing, both from the physical trauma of having your body stretched and destroyed, the mental trauma of being nothing but a mind and a slowly reforming body for several months, and the horror of oblivion when one's mind disappears and slowly pieces back together.
No injury sustained by a ghost will leave a scar. Ghost's maintain their physical body as it was at the moment of death, with a few exceptions:
- Ghosts have no open wounds. Anything actively bleeding at the time of death will be a fully-healed scar in the etheric realm
- Ghosts are in one piece. A ghost who is beheaded will have their head firmly attached in the etheric realm. The bloody wound on their neck will scar, leaving a ring-shaped scar around the neck. Someone who was blown to bits in an explosion will similarly be in one piece, with lots of scars.
- Ghosts are whole. Meaning, they have no holes. Someone who died while impales will bear the scars of entrance and exit wounds, but will not bring the impaling implement into the etheric realm. Likewise, there are no bullets left lodged inside a ghost.
The Ghost Formula
For all of human history, ghosts have existed in the realm apart from us. They interact with the living purely on their terms and can retreat back into the etheric realm whenever they feel like it. One of the biggest breakthroughs in animalogy was the creation of the Ghost Formula. This pathstone formula would allow someone to bind a ghost to the mortal realm and compell them to follow orders. It was invented accidentally by Sophie de France, a princess of France, who destroyed her notes before anyone else could learn the formula. It is believed the formula died with her during the revolution, but rumours abound that Society members got their hands on the formula before her death. The prospect of this is terrifying to ghosts, and anyone who comprehends that they will become one soon enough.
Ghost Quick Facts
Becoming a Ghost
I see her at dawn as the sun shimmers on a roof
She lurks in the fields when the noon sun burns my neck
Her face takes form in the shadows of dusk
I reach for her, to her feel her flesh once one -
And grasp the night's mist.