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Spirits

Spirits are ethereal creatures, often Undead, that seem to resemble various once living beings, though whether they are actually the souls of the departed or something other is open to speculation. In Kislev, for example, the nature of such creatures reflects the minds of people they encounter, reinforcing the creature’s character and giving rise to traditions particular to Kislev.[2a]

Ghosts and Poltergeists are minor spirits, whose anger and power quickly fade. The Spectre and the Banshee, however, are creatures of a far purer force. They are cursed by their own crimes, be they murder, defilement, or the violation of a sworn stricture or solemn vow, and their punishment is their imprisonment between the realms, eternally chastised by their own guilt. This torment soon drives them mad, and they lash out at the living with incoherent rage. The Spectre can draw away the life of a Human with a touch, whilst the Banshee can do the same with a scream. Those who survive such attacks are rarely sane afterwards.[3a]

The Wraith is an even more powerful spirit. It too is driven to violence and insanity, but its rage is far greater. Wraiths are the spirits of great necromancers who experimented with the blackest magic in order to acquire immortality—and failed, leaving only an echo of their identity on the Winds of Dhar they manipulated. To come so close to their goal yet be denied drives them instantly insane and fills them with an unimaginable hatred for the living, whose souls they take great pleasure in draining away. They carry ethereal scythes and are often confused with images of Morr—and they most certainly bring only death wherever they pass.[3a]

To even behold a Wraith, Spectre, or Banshee can be enough to scare a mortal to death. As spirits, they are all also invisible to the naked eye and immune to mundane weapons. They can pass through all barriers and fly across the land at incredible speeds. They can thus single-handedly devastate any armies who have not already fled in terror.[3b]

However, the force of will that keeps the spirit present means that summoning and controlling them is far from simple. Vampires prefer to use them as guards, luring them to specific locations where they will happily slaughter any trespassers. A powerful Spectre can protect an entire castle from intruders for millennia and thank his master for the constant supply of souls.[3b]

Spirit Hosts are sometimes raised for war by powerful Vampires (and certain particularly evil Necromancers). These are made up of a mixture of Ghosts and Spectres. Spectres are particularly favoured for this task, since they can inflict significant damage on the enemy, but most Spirit Hosts are rounded out by a fair number of Ghosts. Although Ghosts cannot harm the living directly, they are capable of forcing their enemies to flee in fear, and that can be almost as useful on the battlefield.[1a]

Many Spirits are unable to stray far from their place of death, though the precise distance they can wander is enormously varied, depending on such factors as the willpower of the Spirit when alive, the number of years since its death, and how determined it is to achieve its release.[1a]

The dead do not rest easy in the Old World. The various Spirits of the dead often return to haunt the lands of the living. Some seek only release, while others hate the living with such passion that they give themselves over to evil.[1a]

Kislevite Spirits Edit

As written above, the people of Kislev believe the Gods are the greatest of all otherworldly creatures but also believe there are innumerable lesser spirits who must also be appeased. The nature of such creatures reflects the minds of people they encounter, reinforcing the creature’s character and giving rise to traditions particular to Kislev. Throughout Kislev, it is considered right to honour such lesser spirits, for it is a mark of good manners and intelligence to do so. Neglect or disrespect of these spirits is seen as a display of low breeding and ignorance; furthermore, it is just plain unlucky! If a peasant stopped by a spring to drink, he would be wise to ask permission of the spirit that dwelled there first. Perhaps more than most lands, Kislevites have a great many traditions, superstitions, oaths, and expressions that arise in respect to these spirits.[2a]

The Domovoi, or “kindly grandfather,” is the most common of all Kislevite spirits, a well-meaning, though thoroughly mischievous, spirit that can take the appearance of an old, withered peasant with a long, grey beard or even a cat or a mouse. In houses, inns, and taverns where bread and a small bowl of milk are occasionally left out for the Domovoi, it invisibly helps with small domestic duties such as cooking and cleaning. However, if the Domovoi feels neglected or if the household is lazy, it is known to mess up farmyards, tangle needlework, and spread animal manure on the door of the house. One cautionary folk tale of Kislev tells of a man who tried to rid his house of the Domovoi only to be suffocated by it in his sleep, so it is a rare household that would deliberately set out to annoy a Domovoi! But however the Domovoi is treated, he is frequently a mischief maker, and peasants and nobles alike are often woken from their slumbers by an invisible tickler or by the noise of mysterious knocking or thrown plates and pans.[2a]

When working in the fields, peasants often ask for the blessing of the Polevoi and the Poludnitsa, spirits of nature said to bestow fertility on the soil of farms that honour them. Similarly, it is considered good luck to offer these spirits a little grain from the harvest to ensure they do not become angry and render the soil barren.[2a]

While most spirits in Kislev are generally benign, there are those that actively seek to do harm, such as the Leshii, a spirit of haunted forests and malicious desires. Often resembling a peasant without a belt (a sure giveaway to all but the most dullwitted), the Leshii can also appear to its victim as someone they know, a beast, or a lost domestic animal. Frequently, it tries to lead gullible victims towards dangerous places, such as cliffs, swamps, or the lair of a dangerous monster. The Leshii is known to hide woodcutters’ axes just when a vicious bear or wolf is approaching, so it is customary for woodcutters to carry a spare knife (known as a Leshii blade) for just such occasions. Particularly comely girls are often forbidden to walk alone near forests for fear that a Leshii might carry them off to an unknown but doubtless unpleasant fate.[2a]

The Vodianoi is a particularly evil and dangerous water spirit who entices people to the edge of rivers or pools and drowns them for its own vulgar enjoyment. It often appears as a naked old man with a long beard and green hair who sits at a river’s edge and begs for help (a plight most Kislevites could not ignore), but in the north of Kislev, there are more outlandish tales of it appearing as a creature that is half-fish, half-Human and drips with slime—though how such a repulsive creature is able to entice people to approach it is never explained. This spirit may also be linked to the Rusalka, which is said to be the spirit of a drowned maiden that is angry at her untimely death and seeks to drown passers-by to present to the underworld in exchange for her own life.[2a]

The Ryzhnyi Khoziain is one of the most feared spirits of Kislev, for no folk tale dares describe it other than as an evil, winged spirit that howls across the steppe on the darkest, coldest nights. None who have seen the Ryzhnyi Khoziain have lived to tell of it, and chilling tales persist of riders discovering entire villages vanished overnight, no trace remaining of its inhabitants or livestock. Unlike many other Kislevite spirits, there appears to be no way to placate the Ryzhnyi Khoziain, and all peasants can do when they hear its mournful howling is close their eyes and pray to the Gods that it will pass them by.[2a]

In addition to these spirits, there are countless others that go by many local names and have their own associated traditions. The origin of many of these has long been forgotten, but the superstitions arising from these spirits persist in many of the stanitsas of Kislev. For example, in the village of Cherzta, it is traditional for the hetman to walk around his village naked for the entire first day of the harvest gathering, while in a number of communities along the Lynsk, it is customary to walk backwards with an onion tied to one’s head on days when a cormorant’s cry is heard before breakfast. Though such traditions are probably meaningless and only serve to make the Kislevites look even quainter to their foreign neighbours, it would be a brave peasant who dared to ignore them.[2a]

List of Spirits Edit

Source Edit

  • 1: Warhammer Fantasy RPG 2nd ED -- Old World Bestiary
    • 1a pg. 64-65, 109
  • 2: Warhammer Fantasy RPG 2nd ED -- Realm of the Ice Queen
    • 2a: pg. 50
  • 3: Warhammer Fantasy RPG 2nd ED -- Night's Dark Masters
    • 3a: pg. 125
    • 3b: pg. 127

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