|Picture from Paranormal Animals of Europe|
A Wraith is a spirit of unidentifiable origin and classification that appears as a floating grim reaper-like entity when it manifests in the mundane world. It has a different appearance in astral space; it appears as a black or dark gray colored cloud with a violet/ultraviolet emission in the center of it.
A Wraith is a parasitic spirit in nature. It "feeds" upon violence. Where no violence exists, it can create it using its power to influence people. Wraiths may have caused the Barcelona riots of 2051 to occur using their powers, and then fed off the resulting violence. Indeed, one of the more violent areas of the riot quickly cooled down when a Wraith that was in the immediate vicinity of the firefight was dispersed. Wraiths are unable to influence anything unless they physically manifest in the real world.
As of 2070, magicians have placed the Wraith in the "shadow spirit" category. Shadow spirits generally increase their powers by causing sapient creatures to suffer, and then subsequently feed off that negative emotive energy.
Wraiths are considered to be the first sign/omen that the creatures known as Horrors will soon manifest in the real world. Horrors are creatures/spirits that date back to The Fourth World and earlier. Horrors are similar to Wraiths, except they are much more potent (and therefore much more dangerous) entities. Horrors "live" on a metaplane called the Netherworlds. They can cross over to the real world (and thereafter wreak havoc on it) when the ambient mana level is high enough. The appearance of insect spirits are also a sign heralding the arrival of the Horrors.
Wraiths themselves can be considered a type of minor Horror.
It is theorized that the Great Ghost Dance and Aztlan blood magic generated or is generating significant mana spikes through their usage. These spikes could be weakening the barrier between the mundane world and the Netherworlds at a faster than normal rate.
In description of the Wraith from Paranormal Animals of Europe, a Shadowland poster with the handle of "-H-" (an abbreviation that Harlequin has used in the past) says "Kill these horrors whenever you encounter them. They are Evil, if anything is." -H- also says that the Wraiths will be just the forerunners of something much worse if Earth cannot stem the tide of Wraiths materializing globally.
In the Earthdawn core rulebook, in the history of Barsaive section, descriptions given of the Signs of the Scourge describe mist-like wraith beings driving men to violence against one another, which closely matches the description and powers of the Shadowrun Wraith.
- Aztlan: Discussion between Dunkelzahn, Harlequin and other Immortal Elf metaplot characters on mana spike effects
- Paranormal Animals of Europe
- Street Magic
- Earthdawn, 1st Edition Core Rulebook