Critter Powers

Spirit Powers

For simplicity, most spirits simply have a Force. If they need more detailed statting out, that is their Focus+Magic, and their other skills probably match it (so an elemental’s Hit+Magic is also usually equal to their Force).

Spirits can also have Accident, Desire Reflection, Search.

Free Spirit Powers

Greater Powers

These are rare and powerful; free spirits should have at most one of them.






















The plural of drakon is draka.


Non-dragons that have evolved to look similar. (Running Wild p73)


















Nature Spirits

Nature spirits are tied to a particular domain, which in turn has a resonance to a particular metaplane:

Shamans can only summon a spirit within that spirit’s domain, or within a lodge using tokens from that spirit’s domain. Nature spirits suffer increasing difficulty and discomfort as they get further from their domain; a Wind spirit has no difficulty on an open street, but will be at +1 to all its difficulties if it enters a house through an open window, and +2 if it attempts to go underground or astrally trespass through a closed window. Spirits summoned within a lodge have no such penalty, as the area is metaphysically welcoming to them.

Metaplanar Spirits

Spirits called directly from the metaplanes are not tied to domains; they move more freely, but they also lack the local expertise. A shaman and a mage out on a boat can call up a spirit from the nearby water, but the shaman will get a spirit that knows that particular body of water, while the mage will get a more general spirit of water— possibly a friend, if they have made an effort to treat spirits kindly.

(SR6 p148, Street Wyrd p55)

Metaplanar Travelers

Spirits from the metaplanes that cannot be summoned or bound through normal means.


Spirits from a particular faerie metaplane, Brocéliande, which contains the Seelie Court. (Running Wild p175, Neo-Anarchist’s Streetpedia p102)


Spirits that have the form of the recently dead are called ghosts. Some of them are mere caricatures of the living being, repeating a loop of actions leading to their death or following a simple program. Others are fully sapient, but with an intense focus. It is unknown whether these are in fact the dead person, or an astral echo left by the energies of their death.

Ghosts often have a haunt: a place to which it is tied, functioning like the domain of a nature spirit. (Conjuring nature spirits does not work within a haunt, and nature spirits from outside will have the usual penalties associated with leaving their domain.) Ghosts may have increased powers within their haunt, such as Accident, Confusion, Possession, or Guard.

Ghosts may also have an object that ties them to the physical world, called a chain; usually it’s something or someone that was precious to them in life. A ghost with a chain cannot be destroyed without either controlling or destroying the chain.

A ghost that cannot directly affect the physical world is called an apparition; one that can is called a spectre. They have much the same selection of spirit powers, though apparitions can only exert them on the astral plane.

Many ghosts can be laid to rest by dealing with whatever unresolved task or emotion led to their creation. Others lack the cognizance to understand that, or are too thoroughly obsessed to let go.

Magical traditions that call upon ancestor spirits contact a metaplane that matches the myths of the land of the dead in that tradition. Initiates can go on quests in this metaplane if an ancestor spirit agrees to guide them there. Conjuring ancestor spirits is never fast.

(Magic in the Shadows p106, 120)


Spirits explicitly associated with corruption. (Running Wild p179)

Insect Spirits

When an insect shaman summons their first spirit, they create a hive mind, in which all spirits they summon participate. They can all send telepathic messages to specific people or the whole hive; the shaman and queen can use the Sense Link power with any of the other spirits. Sending messages via the hive mind does require momentary concentration, so overwhelming sentries with flash-paks and other such disruptors can make it difficult for them to send out an alert; queens do check in on sentries fairly often, though, so a queen gets a Spot+Magic roll to notice the absence of a mind. If the shaman is killed before the queen is summoned, the hive mind remains but is without a leader; they can easily agree on hunting down and killing anyone who can expose them, and then will lay low while their most socially adept members seek out a new shaman.

An insect shaman’s lodge is full of insect parts, old nests or burrows, living ant farms, chrysalises from previous transformations, and other things that are radicals to an insect shaman and generally useless to anyone else. It uses a lot of alchemically rendered insect carapaces that are turned into a paste that can be sculpted into twisted, alien forms that clearly have some kind of meaning on the astral plane but nothing that makes sense on immediate examination. (Extended assensing will generate insights and dream visits from an insect Queen.) The lodge has a yeasty smell.

Insect spirit inhabitation (inspired by Street Grimoire p196, Street Wyrd p67 and taking great liberties):

  1. The first step is vessel preparation (Street Grimoire p135, Street Wyrd p68). It requires a lodge of Force at least as great as the spirit to be invested. The shaman or queen summons the spirit and tethers it to the vessel, who can hear it chittering and buzzing to them. The spirit makes mental attacks with its Force against the vessel’s Focus; the shaman and/or Queen can add their Prod to this roll if they spend at least (Force) hours per day helping. They are attempting to achieve a serious mental consequence, Prepared Vessel, so they are trying to fill the first two consequence slots with Disoriented, Demoralized, Drugged, and so on, or duping them into being Ecstatic, Exhausted, Euphoric, and so on. Removing the vessel from the lodge breaks the tethering and subjects the spirit to Evanescence again.
    • Vessel defends with style: the spirit cannot make a roll for another week, and when they do, the victim has a boost.
    • Vessel successfully defends: the spirit cannot make a roll for another day.
    • Tie: the spirit can roll again the next day, with a boost.
    • Success: stress is inflicted.
    • Success with style: the spirit can roll again in an hour.
  2. The next step is inhabitation. The spirit rolls its Force in a contest with the Focus of its vessel, which spews up a sticky substance that hardens into a barely-translucent chrysalis; caretaker spirits often help with chrysalis formation. The shaman and/or Queen can add their Prod on either side of this contest. If the chrysalis is removed from the lodge at this stage, the spirit is destroyed and the vessel dies.
    • Spirit succeeds with style: they will become a True Form.
    • Vessel succeeds with style: they will become a Flesh Form.
    • Otherwise, they become a Hybrid Form. If the spirit won, the transformation is blatantly inhuman; if the vessel won, the differences are subtle; on a tie, the outcome is mixed.
    Extra shifts that make no difference to the outcome of this test can be spent to reduce the time spent in a chrysalis, which starts at Force×2 weeks. Every two shifts scales it down from a scale of weeks to days to hours to minutes. One shift cuts it in half from there.

The different forms:

In all cases, their true appearance on the astral plane is that of a giant bug.

Spirit types include:

Without a Queen, a shaman can only control limited numbers of spirits (Magic upgrades × Focus before the mind link from the hive becomes overwhelming).

Solitary insect spirits:

The Infected

Sapient creatures infected by one of the strains of HMHVV; they need to feed on sapient beings, in a variety of ways. They can feed on each other, but this risks group possession by an external force. (Collapsing Now p87) If they fail to meet their dietary needs, instinct takes over and they do whatever it takes to feed; usually the memories of these breaks are repressed. (Howling Shadows p81)

Feral infected learn new powers much more quickly than ones that have held on to their self-control. (Run Faster p130)

Infected Powers

Strain I (Harz-Greenbaum): Ghilani vrykolakiviridae

All Strain I Infected regenerate, and their eyes glow when they use their powers or feed. Damage taken from sunlight does not regenerate, though normal and magical healing do work. Their regeneration precludes the installation of cyberware, and the body’s ejection of cyberware can do nerve damage if someone with Chrome is infected. (Collapsing Now p88)


All humans who survive infection with Strain I HMHVV become vampires; a small fraction of other metahumans do as well. Vampiric feeding requires a conscious target in a state of passion— usually ecstasy or terror. (Forbidden Arcana p115) Most vampires can’t eat at all; the few who can still have to eject the food the way it came in, an hour later. (Run Faster p128) Vampire enchanters can prepare Renfield, an addictive drug that halts aging but causes Essence loss. (Hard Targets p128) Antivampire measures are cheap. UV lighting, airtight doors, wood particle sprays. (Run Faster p128) Wood pulp bullets. (Run Faster p131) UV lights at doorways will knock them out of mist form (Run Faster p133)

Dual Natured, Enhanced Senses (Hearing, Smell, Thermographic Vision), Essence Drain, Immunity (Age, Pathogens, Toxins), Infection, Mist Form, Natural Weapon (Bite: +), Regeneration, Sapience, Allergy (Sunlight, Severe), Allergy (Wood, Severe), Dietary Requirement (Metahuman Blood), Essence Loss, Induced Dormancy (Lack of Air, (Essence) Minutes). (SR5 p406) Their eye-glow is usually red. Mist-form vampires cannot be captured with vacuum cleaners, and cannot go down someone’s trachea, reform, and make them explode. (Howling Shadows p82) Advanced optional powers: Secretion/Substance Extrusion (Anti-Coagulant), Terrorscape. (Dark Terrors p155)

There are local variations in vampirism; for instance, Sukuyan vampires in the Caribbean can drink alcohol and fruit juice without nausea and swim without difficulty; this is linked to Taino genetic traits. (Hard Targets p126, Cyberpirates p147) The Philippine one is the amalanhig. The abat, boroka and mangalok consume internal organs instead of blood. (Cyberpirates p149)


Dwarfs infected by HMHVV I usually turn into goblins. (Howling Shadows p82, Paranormal Animals of Europe p52) Advanced optional powers: Plague Bearer, Stupefying Miasma. (Dark Terrors p155)


Elves infected by HMHVV I usually turn into banshees. (Howling Shadows p82) Advanced optional powers: Silence, Sonic Shriek. (Dark Terrors p155)


Orks infected by HMHVV I usually turn into devourers, who drain Essence by consuming sapient flesh. (Anglo paranaturalists appropriated another name for them initially. After they listened to Anishinaabe advice and stopped using the term, unexplained deaths among paranaturalists dropped by a statistically significant percentage.) Their eyes usually glow orange, though yellow, blue, and red have been seen. (Howling Shadows p83) Advanced optional powers: Immunity (Cold), Traceless Walk. (Dark Terrors p155)


Trolls infected by HMHVV I usually turn into dzoo-noo-qua. (Howling Shadows p82, Paranormal Animals of North America p56). Advanced optional powers: Bone Spikes, Desire Reflection. (Dark Terrors p155)


In the mid-2070s, sasquatches become vulnerable to turning into jabberwocky. Howling Shadows p111 Advanced optional powers: Dual Concealment, Morningstar Fall. (Dark Terrors p155)


In the mid-2070s, centaurs become vulnerable to turning into chirons. Howling Shadows p110 Advanced optional powers: Bacchanal, Dread Feast. (Dark Terrors p155)


In the mid-2070s, merrow become vulnerable to turning into nibiinaabe. Howling Shadows p112 Advanced optional powers: Drag Down, Spines. (Dark Terrors p155)


In the mid-2070s, naga become vulnerable to turning into lamias. Howling Shadows p112 Advanced optional powers: Deathlock Venom, Metahuman Masque. (Dark Terrors p155)

Strain Ia (Bruckner-Langer): Ghilani vrykolakiviridae sanguisuga

This strain is rare and usually fatal.


(Howling Shadows p83, Paranormal Animals of Europe p74) Advanced optional powers: Mimicry, Mystic Armor, Psychokinesis. (Dark Terrors p155)


Howling Shadows p83 Advanced optional powers: Astral Brute, Predator’s Glamour. (Dark Terrors p155)

Strain II (Jarka-Criscione): Ghilani moneriviridae

This strain is transmissible through bodily fluids and causes a cannibalistic diet.


Humans infected by HMHVV II turn into loup-garou. (Howling Shadows p86, Target: Smuggler Havens p95, Paranormal Animals of North America p102) Optional powers: Armor, Immunity (Pathogens), Paralyzing Howl. Advanced optional powers: Digitigrade Legs, Wall Walking. (Dark Terrors p155)


Dwarfs infected by HMHVV II turn into gnawers. Howling Shadows p85 Advanced optional powers: Gnashing Teeth, Rat King. (Dark Terrors p155)


Elves infected by HMHVV II turn into harvesters. Howling Shadows p85 Optional powers: Fear, Immunity (Pathogens, Toxins). Advanced optional powers: Immunity (Cold), Scythe Claws. (Dark Terrors p155)


Orks infected by HMHVV II turn into grendels. Howling Shadows p85 Advanced optional powers: Enhanced Sense (Hearing), Immunity (Pathogens). Advanced optional powers: Darkness, Feral Dash. (Dark Terrors p155)


Trolls infected by HMHVV II turn into fomóraig. (Howling Shadows p85, Paranormal Animals of Europe p46) Optional powers: Armor, Immunity (Pathogens, Toxins). Advanced optional powers: Amphibious, Calcified Hide. (Dark Terrors p155)


Sasquatches infected by HMHVV II turn into bandersnatches. (Howling Shadows p84) Optional Powers: Armor, Enhanced Senses (Smell, Hearing), Immunity (Pathogens, Toxins); Advanced Optional Powers: Evolved Reflexes, Pounce. (Dark Terrors p155)

Strain III (Krieger): Ghilani wichtiviridae


When they started to transform in the early 2020s, ghouls were originally thought to be a goblinized form of metahuman, but later determined to have reactivated latent DNA that copied the Krieger virus out of their genomes. The Krieger strain of HMHVV affects all panhumans in the same way (and in the mid-2070s, it starts affecting other sapients [Howling Shadows p109]): body hair falls out, the eyes cloud over with cataracts, the teeth become longer and sharper, fingers elongate, nails turn to claws, and they develop a need to subsist on raw meat— with one meal a day coming from sapient flesh, with a preference for that of their base metatype. (Something about the flesh coming from a person matters: a clone grown in a tank satisfies only nutritional needs and tastes sterile. [Chrome Flesh p98] Desperate ghouls can eat other ghouls, but it does seem to touch something metaphysically very dark.) The transformation is traumatic; some ghouls never recover their sapience, others only get some back, but a fair number manage to hold it together or pull it back together after time spent feral. Armor 1, Dual Natured, Enhanced Senses (Hearing, Smell), Natural Weapon (Claws: +), Sapience, Allergy (Sunlight, Moderate), Dietary Requirement (Metahuman Flesh), Reduced Senses (Blind). (SR5 p405) Ghouls can get cybereyes installed. First generation ghouls (who became ghouls through infection) are infectious; their children are also ghouls, but only express HMHVV under severe stress. Feral ghouls raise feral children. (Dark Terrors p144) HMHVV expresses in their saliva, but thrives on their claws when they lick every trace of food from their fingers.

A vampire’s leavings are quite palatable to ghouls, giving a natural synergy to their alliances. (Run Faster p129)

Optional powers: Armor, Immunity (Pathogens, Toxins). Advanced optional powers: Corrosive Spit, Tunneling Claws. (Dark Terrors p155)

The Krieger-Laluah strain, common in Africa, results in a sasabonsam, which differs from other ghouls only in that they have extremely long legs and arms and can run on all fours with ease. (Cyberpirates p101, 155)

The busaw is the Philippine variant of the ghoul, with a severe allergy to citric acid. (Cyberpirates p149)

The Uko metavaraint of the Krieger strain produces gaki, most widespread in Japan, Korea, the Chinese states, and the Philippines. (Corporate Enclaves p96)