Phrenes

The phrenes are some of the sentient residents of the Underworld. Like shades they are the ghosts of the dead, though they retain their ability to speak and think, if not their memory of past lives. They are generally quiet and keep to themselves, using their incorporeal abilities to travel around the Underworld (largely) unmolested. As such, they make excellent traders, scouts, and guides within the dark world around Kheol, and many work as such. They also have a knack for finding both ghost lotus and spiritum, and most samples of those materials are harvested by phrenes.

Many phrenes turn to hobbies or adventuring in order to keep their minds sharp, as there is the possibility that any of them might degenerate into a shade should they lose their edge. For this reason they are active in the markets and civil society of Kheol, and many own businesses or hire themselves out.

Phrenes are not “born” in the way that living creatures are used to, but spontaneously come into existence, usually near other phrenes, blooming ghost lotus flowers, or near large deposits of spiritum. These phrenes “children” are usually taken in by one or more of their peers, who take it upon themselves to teach these new beings about life in Kheol or the Underworld in general.

Only rarely do phrenes remember even snippets of their past lives, a trade off that they apparently make for the ability to retain sentience. Some phrenes have dedicated their existence to unraveling the mysteries of their lives as mortals, or trying to comprehend the injustice that, while they cannot recall their former lives, their “cousins” the animalistic shades, can do so under the right circumstances. This has even led a few phrenes to argue that, by drinking the blood of living beings, they might be able to remember their pasts, but these ideas are considered blasphemous and are not discussed in polite society. And it is unlikely that the Yamas would accept such behavior anyway.

The following rules use the “bolt-on” method for races outlined in The Unearthed Hack.

Phrenes characters cannot gain or use Luck Points, and gain levels at half the rate of human characters.

Specials and Abilities

+1 to Wis, -1 to Str

Ghost Sight: Phrenes can see up to Far Away in total darkness.

Living Dead: Phrenes do not need to eat (though they can if they want) or sleep (though they can rest to regain hit points), and are immune to poison and disease.

Manifestation: Phrenes can choose to be either corporeal or incorporeal at will. If incorporeal they can fly (moving at normal speed) and can only be harmed by magical or spiritum weapons, or spells, but cannot affect the material world in any way. Any items they are carrying become incorporeal with them. Shades ignore incorporeal phrenes, but have been known to attack corporeal phrenes out of jealousy.

Willful Dead: A cleric cannot banish a phrenes unless they have more levels than the phrenes has levels or hit dice. A phrenes who is killed in the Underworld becomes a shade.


Artwork:Long Arm,” by Peter Newell, from The wind in the rose-bush and other stories of the supernatural, by Mary Eleanor Wilkins Freeman, 1903.

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