Hi, folks. Rose here. Hope you had a haunting Halloween! Today, I’d like to present Travis Stout’s first preview of Geist: The Sin-Eaters, Second Edition.
Through the Cemetery Gates
The dead are all around us. They walk beside us on the streets, reach out to us with invisible hands, shout their needs with voices we don’t hear. We turn away from the very thought of them, mumbling platitudes like “he’s in a better place” or “she’s at peace now.”
He’s not. She isn’t. They’re both here, among us, trying desperately to make themselves heard. He needs to know his children are looked after. She needs the man who stole her life’s research to be exposed for a fraud. And so, when a grinning stranger with pale eyes and a broken-winged angel on his shoulder blows into town, they turn to him for help.
The dead are speaking. It’s time to listen.
The Chronicle of the Dead
Geist has always had style to spare, but the breadth of its scope, encompassing ghosts, weird immortal beings, and stranger things still, often left players unsure what to do with all those cool parts. With the second edition of the game, we’re taking the opportunity to really drill down and give the game a strong focus and a clear identity, which we’re calling the Chronicle of the Dead. So what’s it all about?
Geist: The Sin-Eaters is a game about people. Some of them are alive, some of them are dead, and some of them stand between the two, but they’re all people. It’s a game about giving a voice to the voiceless, about standing up for the rights and needs of those ignored by living society, about looking oblivion in the eye and spitting in it. It is, to misquote Craig Ferguson, all about the triumph of empathy and romance over brute force and cynicism. It’s a game about death, but it’s also a game about hope.
Going Forth by Day
So what’s changed in Geist Second Edition? Quite a lot, actually. We’ll cover all of these topics in more detail in the coming weeks, but here’s a high-level overview of some of the biggest changes:
In Geist Second Edition, how you died matters less than why you came back. To that end, the five Thresholds have been replaced with Burdens as the splat representing why a character accepted the Bargain with a geist.
- The Abiding died forgotten or insignificant. They claw their way back to the world to leave a mark upon it, a legacy larger than any tombstone.
- The Bereaved seek someone they lost (perhaps in the same tragedy that killed them, perhaps long before), and will tear apart the Underworld to be reunited with them.
- The Hungry heard the old cliché “you can’t take it with you” and decided to come back for it instead. Something in the mortal world anchors them, and they will not let it go.
- The Kindly died before they could put right some great wrong, and have returned to make amends.
- The Vengeful blame someone else for their wrongful death and have returned for payback.
(For those of you fretting over the loss of your Torn or Prey Threshold, don’t worry — the old Thresholds are well represented by Keys, so you can still give mechanical weight to having been torn apart by wild dogs or dying of bloody murder.)
Much like packs in Werewolf: The Forsaken Second Edition, krewes have expanded beyond just being the players’ characters. As part of building your krewe, you’ll not only create a supporting cast of living and dead celebrants, you’ll choose an archetype for your krewe, representing the broad strokes of its ethos and how it goes about its mission of helping the dead find peace:
- Furies know that the best form of closure is justice. Anyone can take revenge for a death, but that’s not justice, it’s a cycle of violence. Furies want to break that cycle and address the root causes of injustice that create ghosts in the first place — and there are few cosmic injustices bigger than the very existence of the Underworld.
- Mourners know that the dead cannot rest easy unless they are remembered. They seek the stories of forgotten shades, bring truth to the living, and delve deep into the Underworld to understand what came before and build a better future.
- Necropolitans know that death is just another form of existence — one that shouldn’t be a bleak void of nothingness. They help ghosts resolve their anchors, of course, but they also help the dead build lives for themselves on the other side of the grave. They keep the Essence flowing, build networks for mutual defense and as a bulwark against isolation, and stage daring raids into the Underworld to free as many ghosts as they can from its clutches.
- Pilgrims know that the Underworld is built from pain and suffering — the pain and suffering of attachment to the earthly that binds the dead to their Anchors and denies their ability to pass on. The only way to fix it is to confront the Underworld, not as a nightmare of fear and torment, but as a source of learning. They guide the dead through its tunnels as a teaching tool before, Virgil-like, returning them to the surface world with newfound wisdom.
- Undertakers also know that the Underworld is built from pain and suffering — the pain and suffering that comes with the fear of death. They focus their efforts on changing the whole paradigm: by reshaping how the living think about death, they can reshape the afterlife. They delve the Underworld like archaeologists, sifting through Dominions and stranger places to understand how they came to be, and thus how to make them better.
Your character’s geist now has a much stronger mechanical presence: they don’t quite have the Traits as a free-roaming ephemeral entity, but their Bans, Banes, and Attributes now play a larger role in the game. In addition, under certain circumstances (*sometimes under your control, sometimes not), your geist can be unleashed, taking physical form to wreak havoc.
Haunts & Keys
Haunts are the new name for what Geist First Edition called Manifestations. The first dot of a Haunt allows the Sin-Eater to create the basic effect, while higher-level powers allow extra Enhancements for additional Plasm.
In addition to the Haunts presented in Geist First Edition, Sin-Eaters can learn three new Haunts: the Dirge, the Memoria, and the Tomb.
The structure of the Underworld has been cleaned up, with an eye for providing reasons to go there and explore at a variety of depths. From the Upper Reaches to the River Cities, from the Kerberos-dominated Deep Dominions to the Ocean of Fragments, Sin-Eaters have plenty of places to go in the Great Below, and reasons to go there.
From the Reapers who claim to serve the Chthonic Gods of the Underworld to eaters of the dead and living necromancers, Sin-Eaters face a host of threats — and that’s not even counting those Bound who reject the Sin-Eater label and use their power and privilege to enrich themselves at the expense of the dead, or the biggest antagonist of all: the faceless, all-devouring Underworld.
While you can of course run Geist Second Edition indefinitely, we’ve included some options for long-term chronicle goals.
- In the Catharsis endgame, Sin-Eaters resolve their own Burden and help their geist reconnect with its lost humanity, allowing both to pass on to whatever awaits beyond this world.
- Or maybe you’d prefer to explore Catabasis, in which your krewe builds its mythos and its understanding of the Underworld’s metaphysics to the point that you can challenge the Chthonic Gods themselves. Succeed, and you can tear down the Underworld and remake it in your own image. Fail, and… well, all those Dominions had to come from somewhere.
This introduction only really scratches the surface of what’s new and exciting with Geist Second Edition. I am immensely proud of the work and passion the team has put into this project so far, from long-time Chronicles of Darkness veterans to newer faces and first-timers. I can’t wait to share their work with you all.
I’d also like to take this opportunity to give a special thanks to Whitney “Strix” Beltrán for her help with recruiting writers. Her outreach to authors who might not otherwise have submitted for a Chronicles of Darkness game has been invaluable. Geist is a far more diverse, and consequently better, game thanks in large part to her assistance. Thank you, Strix.
And finally, in the vein of blog previews past, I leave you with a choice of what to cover next. Do you want to hear more about Sin-Eaters themselves, the burdens they bear and the faiths they found, or do you want to know more about the dead and their long, slow descent into the Underworld?
60 responses to “All Saints’ Day preview [Geist: The Sin-Eaters]”
I’d like to hear about the Sin-Eaters
This is awesome Travis! Very excited! I will vote for Ghosts and the Underworld.
I am so happy with the changes being made! Geist was the book that got me into RPGs as a whole, so it’s always held a special place in my heart. I cannot wait to see more of what you do with it. This all seems so new and fresh but still perfectly on-theme. I also love the idea of the Krewe expanding beyond just the sin-eaters, as that implies a very interesting secondary splat. Can’t wait to hear more, and I vote to hear more about either Sin-eaters or the Geist directly.
I’d just like to point out that today is All Saints’ Day. All Souls Day is tomorrow. ?
This is what I get for trying to be clever before breakfast. Fixed. 🙂
Give us more info about Underworld and it’s residents!
I vote Sin-Eaters!
I vote ghosts and the Underworld. This new idea of the Underworld as some kind of hungry parasite that you seem to be hinting at is intriguing.
This is looking good. Very good.
I vote to hear about the Sin-Eaters and their Burdens.
EXCITEMENT CONSUMES ME! Tell us everything!
This is looking veeeery interesting.”Why you came back” is a very rich concept for a character creation splat, and it sounds like Thresholds are still in as Keys, which actually makes a lot of sense. Krewes being expanded in a manner similar to Packs is an appealing notion that plays naturally with the concept that the game is about people and the connections between them, and the archetypes sound wide enough to facilitate a lot.
I really like the Through The Cemetery Gates bit. It describes things in a really simple but striking way.
I’m currently running a chronicle of 1st Edition Geist and my whole group is very excited for 2nd Edition.
I would love to hear more about the descent into the Underworld.
I’d love to hear more about Geists Please
Sin-Eaters and Burdens
So this was the game that convinced me that Chronicles of Darkness was more than just an extension of OWoD. I am really looking forward to this.
Nailed it. This looks perfect.
I’m curious about the Reapers.
All very cool. Looking forward to seeing more. It’s interesting to see such a 180 on the Underworld and whether or not ghosts belong there.
I worry that “Kindly” as a term feels a bit out of theme for G:tS and the larger CoD and also doesn’t seem to describe the Burden (as stated here). Righting a wrong isn’t necessarily kind.
Most supernatural beings who are called kindly in folklore aren’t actually kind.
Someone in my group is wondering “what about just wanting to not be dead? Isn’t that reason enough to come back?”
My initial thought is that as that amounts to an attachment to the physical experience of being alive, it would fall under the Hungry?
I’d say that all Sin-Eaters want to not be dead. Burdens just describe the reason.
A geist might need something more substantial to latch onto than simply wanting to be alive.
every game preview regardless of game makes me just that much more excited to play them
yes, Yes AND YES!!!!!! SO EXCITED!!!! I LOVE THIS!!!!! A most blessed All Saints’ Day it is! 🙂
Good golly awesome batman!
I’m really interested in Krewes so I’m going to go with “Sin-Eaters” cause it mentioned “their faiths” in that category.
Second: this looks so good, i am now so stoked for this i just cant wait
Oops forgot to say i would probably want to play with being part of a Nercropolitan Krewe, and aiming for a catabasis end game
I’d like to hear more about the Sin-Eaters and their Burdens as well as the second, yet unnamed individual player splat (Krewe archetypes seem like a group splat, like the pack’s totems, not a Y splat, but do correct me if I’m wrong).
Sin-Eaters, let’s start with the point of view
This preview mentions that death matters less and more on why we come back from the dead. But it seems death is a central part of Geist, at least in 1e. How would death affect a Sin-Eater after he comes back from the dead? I have never played Geist 1e, but if I recall, it seems they can die and come back from the dead as much as they want. It seems like there’s no limit. Personally, I think there should be some vulnerability even if they were given a second chance. And I think Geist 1e book did mention that if they want to visit the Underworld, they would have to die to get there too. There should be a way to get there safely without death. Just my thoughts. I would love to know more about the Sin-Eaters and how they deal with the psychological aspects of having a Geist with them and if there are types (archetypes) of Geists too.
Theoretically there’s no limit to coming back from the dead, but considering that each revival after the initial one lowers your current Synergy and lowers your maximum potential Synergy, doing that more than once or twice is probably a very bad idea.
By the sounds of it, death still matters in this. It’s just that the method of your first death wont be leaving a permanent imprint of “I was killed via drowning” anymore.
In 1e, death had a limit, every single time you died your morality stat was permanently reduced.
Sin-eaters could go to the underworld without dying, all they had to do was find an avernian gate and spend a point of plasm.
KICKSTARTER WHEN?! TAKE ALL MY MONEY
The only question that really matters
Which is to say, it’s a Storytelling game of second chances.
In other words, what would be your primary fetter if you’d become just a ghost.
Intriguing. (The example of a sanctified krewe from the original Geist rulebook could fit three out of those five archetypes with minimal stretching, the exceptions being Furies and Mourners.)
As for next time? The changes here described to the nature of the Bound make me curious to see what else is different in this new dispensation.
Do “the Haunts presented” include the Pit from World [sic] of Darkness: Book of the Dead?
Ya, I’d also like to know if the Pit Manifestation is going to be updated with the others.
So…do fear the Reaper.
Dead, Burdens, Sin-eaters although freeform I would have said Antagonists and Krewes from what I read.
One vote for Underworld.
Putting in my vote for Sin-Eaters
I’m really curious to know more about Sin-Eaters, my vote is definitely for them.
Thank you Travis – this update spectacular!
I vote for the dead and the underworld.
Sin-Eaters!! plis <3
Voting for the Underworld, here. My first exposure to Geist was Book of the Dead, which I enjoyed quite a bit.
Ive been having a horrid week, and seeing that this preview for a game I’ve been dying (no pun intended) to see more love for is making me feel a lot better! As for my vote, I’d like to see more of the Sin- Eaters.
Sin-Eaters, here, they’ve changed a bit.
Ghosts and the Underworld, please!
Sin-Eaters! Wow, I came here on a whim and boy am I glad I did! Can’t wait to get more!
YES YES YES YES YES!
ohh man I love the immediate blurb about the empathetic and externally focused goals of the sin eaters, and the focus on what they want to do to influence the underworld itself. That’s a lot more compelling than the hedonistic themes I remember. of course both? both. both is good.
Either way, I love me some empathy in my tabletop games, and consequences for characters who don’t want to be.
Give us every spoiler we can have!
This is more amazing then I thought it would be.
What I’m reading thus far on the premise of this (or what you have allowed us to read thus far 😉 ) is really great… Just wanted to note that. Geist is the real first NWoD game (now CofD) that I played and have run A LOT. In fact, I was prepping a Roanoke game recently…It really is a very special game to me and apparently a lot of others so being able to see some the ideas are amazing…thank you! I would love to see more of the actual Sin-Eaters, however, I really really want to see what you’re doing with the Underworld! So Underworld and Ghosts get my vote!
For those of you fretting over the loss of your Torn or Prey Threshold, don’t worry — the old Thresholds are well represented by Keys, so you can still give mechanical weight to having been torn apart by wild dogs or dying of bloody murder.
The Burdens are a better way of representing the dead-and-returned, I think. But I liked how Thresholds had a metaphical reach beyond that – they could apply to charms, and even the not-yet-dead – so I’m glad something of them is being retained. But does this mean the Keys are going to be different from before too?
Also, I *really* like all five of the Burdens, while I didn’t care for every Threshold (I found Prey a weak link).
In addition, under certain circumstances (*sometimes under your control, sometimes not), your geist can be unleashed, taking physical form to wreak havoc.
That sounds awesome! But my immediate question is whether it’s always under the *geist’s* control?
The first dot of a Haunt allows the Sin-Eater to create the basic effect, while higher-level powers allow extra Enhancements for additional Plasm.
Some of the old Manifestation descriptions came across as how you had to use the level 1 power first, separately, before using any others. Is that how it will work here?
The River Cities sound intriguing. As do the antagonists.
As for the vote, I think I’m going to vote for the Sin-Eaters themselves for now.
Unless the Burdens are more properly explained (the only part I didn’t quite like even if it’s a good concept) I’d very much prefer to hear more about the Underworld.
Geist was so good, damned easy to set games and tell stories in. At it’s core the basic premise supported human drama utterly fantastically (e.g.: the ghost of a father who committed suicide as their job, prospects, social circle and health failed, leaving the family behind…how do you get involved in resolving that?) and also had tons of weird supernatural fun to play around in and, because of Twilight, had a space in which you could have gonzo mad action scenes with geigeresque terrain and terrible monsters all while be able to both avoid the hassles of hiding from mortal attention whilst also having those mad scenes also bleed over into affecting the real world if you wanted to.
I am excited to see what you do with this but, you oening section on people not knowing what to do with geist? Surprises me so much! It was by far the easiest one I could find for setting games in and supported a huge range of tones from more whimsical and hopeful stuff (the ghost died while on leave and they know they have to get back to the front, can’t leave the lads hanging at Paschendale without me!) to serious social commentary or heavy personal themes. Weird explorations and almost dungeon diving. Exalted style cities built of crystalline shards of memory buried somewhere in the Underworld, etc.
So excited to see more! Sin-Eaters get my vote.
This sounds awesome! Geist 1e is an excellent game, and this looks like it will be a worthy successor.
Really excited for Geist 2E. First one managed to hit all the right spots for me on a thematic level. I could never get a long term game going but I spent a ridiculus amount of time thinking about it and planning possible stories and characters. The game just had that effect of burrowing into my brain and getting my imagination running into overdrive. I’m so happy to see it getting a second edition.
I would like to hear more about Sin-Eaters next, please.
Sounds like you’ve really come up with a great set of creative ideas to juice up the setting and the rules! Well done darlings, I look forward to supporting this one!
Sin Eaters please; Burdans appear to have replaced both Archetype and Threshold from 1st edition and I would like to see how else they have evolved in the new edition.
This is SO COOL!!!!! 😀
I love this whole concept! The idea that Sin-Eaters come back for a specific reason puts more drive behind them as active characters as opposed to the passive nature they’ve had so far. And the concept that the underworld itself is now an antagonist? OMINOUS! I can’t wait to get the new book! Great work guys!