Gravens

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The Graven are a kind of spirit or type of ghost. However, they are subtly different. Ghosts generally retain most of the sentience they had in life, and can 'adapt' to their surroundings. Graven are more similar to apparitions which are bound to one area, the site of the mass death that spawned them, and cannot leave it unless that place is destroyed. Graven are bound to one task or duty for eternity until their quest is complete or they are destroyed for good. Like apparitions, Graven can prove difficult to exorcise fully, but are much more easily damaged with common steel, not requiring gold or silver to slay. Graven tend to manifest semi-corporeal, seeming ghostly but possessing form and figure. Without this corporeality, limited though it is, they would not be able to complete their tasks, and would be tormented for all eternity in a state of agonizing limbo.

Creation

Graven are created by the violent or unlawful death of an individual who is singularly devoted to their work or an ideal. An alchemist who devoted their entire life to finding the cure to a disease, but was murdered by a competitor, might rise again as a Graven, seeking not revenge as a poltergeist might, but instead the completion of their life's task. In this case, it would be the finalization of a cure, after which the Graven would slowly fade away unless given another task by a figure it recognized in life. Given that most Graven take several hundred years to rise from death initially, this is highly unlikely, although if the alchemist was an Elf, a long-lived family member might be able to command him to remain. This remnant would be a bare shell of the alchemist, hardly recognizable as what he was in life. This is the curse of the Graven.

Some example of Graven might be a prison warden, forever questing for more criminals to incarcerate that he might practice his foul tortures upon them, but killed by rioting prisoners; a gravedigger, devoted to his work but laid to rest without heirs, or a single-minded general, assassinated the night before a major battle in a war. These Graven would rise with only one task in mind; the duty that consumed them in life. It generally takes a violent or unlawful death to raise a Graven, and most of the people who knew that person would be long dead by the time it happens. Such as it is, Graven are cursed to perform a single task for eternity, be it a warden's duty, a gravedigger's burden, or a general's burning desire for victory over the foulest foes.

Abilities

The Graven are spirits, meaning their interaction with the world of Anthos is limited to the one duty they treasured in life. A gravedigger is bound to spend eternity digging graves and safeguarding cemeteries. A prison warden must hunt down murderers and worse until the end of days. A general might return as a ghostly leader in the bloodiest battles, or in rare cases lead a small army of Graven to lay siege to strongholds the enemy held in life. The degree to which a Graven returns to fulfill his eternal task depends on his or her zeal in life.

Graven are semi-corporeal. They have bodies commonly wreathed in illusory darkness or spectral flame that can be harmed like any mortal. Unlike ghosts, this harm may be perpetrated by a wielder of steel instead of silver or gold. However, in the case of more violent Graven, this corporeality also means they are able to harm others. Other Graven may be less violent but can still interact with the world around them; a Gravedigger digs graves to bury the recently departed and fulfill his quota. If someone tried to desecrate a graveyard, the Gravedigger would most likely attack them, but any other person would be able to hold a decent conversation with him, if brave enough. It differs, from Graven to Graven; some are more or less violent or vigorous than others.

Graven also sometimes appear to flicker, or fade from sight. This occurs because the spirit energy that ties them to this world cannot bind their soul here for long. Graven very literally work for their living; the task that constitutes their eternal burden refreshes and rejuvenates them. Upon laying a body to rest, the gravedigger would feel energised, but after a period of time spent without digging, they fade away until they can muster enough energy to manifest once more. This process is automatic as Graven cannot choose when they are reborn.

It also means that Graven can 'die' or be slain. Disrupting their spectral form, with a sword blade, for example, consumes the fueling energy that keeps them alive. Stabbing a Graven through what remains of its heart will kill it as surely as any mortal man.

Appearances

Graven generally appear as Undead or spectral beings. They might have blue-green flames instead of flesh, and a blackened skeletal visage; rotted skin and flesh tinged poison-green; or even be translucent, like a common, run of the mill ghost. However, Graven usually appear to have corporeal equipment or apparel, unlike ghosts. This equipment very rarely appears illusory, unlike their spectral forms. Looking a Graven in the eyes too closely reveal the screaming, trapped spirit within. This can commonly drive mortals temporarily insane.

Weaknesses

Gravens are susceptible to usual phantom weaknesses; they may be struck down by enchanted, gold, or even usual steel weapons as well as through Holy magic, Shamanism, Alteration magic, or Fi’. They cannot be exorcised because they haunt the very location that acts as their anchor, but should the location be destroyed the Graven is left to roam.

They've also an aversion to sunlight, which hurts and oppresses them, leading them to adorn cloaks or armor more often than not.

Mechanics

Graven are played with the Necrolyte underlying race.

References