Thursday, October 31, 2019

Ghosts

I'm one of those people that thinks that ghosts shouldn't have stats.  Instead, ghosts are lingering bits of soulstuff, typically just a painful moment without context.  A ghost might materialize and go through some motions, but they are a type of recording, a recitation of misery.

They're meant to be interesting traps, where the players find success through cleverness, rather than rolling high with their most relevant skill.

by Luca Nemolato
How Ghosts Work

  • Pouring holy water on an affected person can pause the effects of the ghost for 1d6 rounds.  Everyone knows this.  (This works on possession, too, if they succeed on a Save.)


  • Ghosts can be laid to rest through some action, usually laying their corpses to rest, completing their unfinished business, or sanctifying an area.


  • If you don't want to do all this sanctification business, you can destroy a ghost by breaking both femurs.  This instantly ends the haunting and puts a curse on the person who broke the bone.
  • A cleric can also perform a funeral rite to appease the spirit.  This requires bathing the bones and singing to them.  It takes 2 hours.
If no trigger is listed, assume that the ghost triggers whenever you pass through the area.

By default, each ghost affects only a single person in the group; they get no Save.

The speak with dead spell can usually give you some big clues.  What does this ghost want more than anything else?  Ghosts are usually emotional wrecks, so it should be obvious.

So here are some ghosts:


The Fallen

Premonition
Vertigo.  An intense fear of heights.  Intense pain in your shins, wrists, and head.  Everyone is the group feels this.

Manifestation
No one is allowed to climb in this area.  Ropes will be cut.  Rocks will shift under your fingers.

Corpse
Half-buried in the rubble, a corpse with broken tibias, wrists, and a fractured skull.

Propitiation
Carry the skeleton out of this dismal hole.  Once the skeleton has been removed from the hole, the ghost is propitiated.  You can climb as long as you bring the skeleton with you.

The Starved

Premonition
Intense hunger.  You feel like you just lost 20 lbs.  You did just lose 20 lbs.

Manifestation
You must eat a ration every 10 minutes or fall unconscious.  10 minutes later, you will die from starvation, having lost over 100 lbs.

Corpse
Out of the many skeletons in this room, the skeleton with bite marks on its fingers.  (Ignore the other skeletons.)

Propitiation
An offering of food, placed direction inside the rib cage.  The ghost will be propitiated for as long as the food lasts.

The Drowned

Premonition
Walking alongside the water, you catch a glimpse of your own corpse under the water.  A moment later, it is gone.

Manifestation
You feel hands on your back as someone shoves you into the water.  From this point on, you cannot escape the water.  If you try to crawl back to dry land, the water rises up with, weighing you down and dragging you back in.  With great effort, you can get within an inch of the surface, but no further.

Your allies can breathe air into your lungs, or you can breathe through a tube.

Corpse
A skeleton, hidden in the muck.

Propitiation
Remove the skeleton from the drowning pool.



The Shackled

Premonition
You can feel cold metal around your ankles and wrists.  Whenever you take a step, you can feel a chain dragging behind your foot.

Manifestation
You cannot leave the room.  Your wrists and ankles cannot cross the threshold of the doors.

Corpse
There are many corpses in this room, some still shackled, some scattered across the floor.

Propitiation
You must destroy all of the shackles.  There are 4 sets in this room.  Bashing them out of the wall (or breaking the links with a hammer) will incur 4 wandering monster checks.  If you have a crowbar, you can do it more easily and quietly, and will only incur 2 wandering monster checks.  Either way, it takes two hours of work.


The Betrayed

Premonition
Your companions are looking at you when they think you aren't looking.  You can hear snatches of whispers.  You suspect they are plotting against you.

Manifestation
You flee from your companions.  After 3 rounds, you can save every 1 round to end this effect.  When you recover, you can remember being stabbed between the shoulderblades by a green-jeweled dagger.  The ghost will manifest again in 1 hour until you leave the dungeon, or the ghost is propitiated.

Corpse
A shriveled corpse with dagger wounds in its back.

Propitiation
Destroy the skeleton of the Betrayer.  Alternatively, destroy the green-jeweled dagger and return the corpse's coin purse.



The Betrayer

Premonition
White-hot greed, so powerful it feels sexual.  You can't stop looking at the valuables your companions have.

Manifestation
Whenever new treasure is available, you will insist that it is yours.  If your allies force you to give it up or share, or refuse to let you carry it, you will pretend to agree, then grab the item and attempt to flee out of the entire dungeon.

Corpse
A shriveled corpse with two coin purses and a green-jeweled dagger.

Propitiation
Destroy the skeleton of the Betrayer. 


The Sacrificed

Premonition
You hear the chanting of the cult.  You feel the heat of ancient torches.  Your shirt is ripped open, and you can the feel the tip of a dagger resting on the skin over your heart.

Manifestation
Everyone hears the chanting now, repeated endlessly "The lord demands a gift".  You are stunned, and your chest is bared.  Everyone can see the deepening wound on your chest.  In 2 rounds, you will die.  "The lord demands a gift."

You can flee from the room, but you'll drop to 0 HP, the ghost will trigger the next time you enter the room, and you'll never have enough time to pry the gems out of the idol.

Corpse
A skeleton on an altar.

Propitiation
Sacrifice someone else on the altar.  Alternatively, sacrifice a valuable possession on the altar.


The Abandoned

Premonition
Your leg becomes stuck.  You call out for help, but all you see is receding torch light.  Your allies have abandoned you here.

Manifestation
You will become a useless ball of terror unless someone is holding your hand.

Corpse
The shriveled corpse of a woman, hidden in the gloom of a pit trap.

Propitiation
As long as you bring the skeleton with you, she will not harm you.  You must treat her like one of the party, though.  If you forget to introduce her, the sense of terror will begin to return.  She takes up 3 inventory slots.


The Eaten
by Dunkey Halton

Premonition
You feel a fat predator tongue scraping against you skin.  You feel a mouth sucking the marrow from your bones.

Manifestation
You must run and hide, squeezing into the first small space you can find, and squeezing in as deep as you can.

Corpse
A cracked mass of human remains inside the belly of a nearby predator.

Propitiation
You must roughly reassemble the skeleton and rebury it.

8 comments:

  1. This is absolutely fantastic. Better ghosts and better traps in one package.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I really love these ideas. Are there variations for each of the ghost's skeletons?

    Are there more than these types?
    Like died by An Animal attack?
    Murdered by Lighting?
    Killed by hat wearing moles?

    And finally: why the femur?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The Prey
      Premonition: can feel a fat predator tongue scraping across your skin
      Manifestation: run and hide, finding the first small space you can crawl into and squeezing in as deep as you can
      Corpse: a cracked mess of human bones in with the animal
      Propitiation: roughly reassemble the skeleton and bury it

      Delete
    2. Nice. Can I add this to the main post with credit?

      Delete
    3. You do not need to credit me that one - couldn't have done it without you ;)

      Delete
  3. Fucking phenomenal my boy's back at it again

    ReplyDelete
  4. well, now I want to have a go at making a ghost.

    The Knowledgeable.
    Premonition. The books of this ancient library all open, the pages beginning to glow blindingly with knowledge.
    Manifestation. Read all you can, ignore the pain, gather all the knowledge you can. 1d8 necrotic damage for each minute.
    Corpse. There are a few scattered around the library, but the one responsible is slumped over the librarian's desk.
    Propitiation. Get the library index into the hands of the correct corpse.

    ReplyDelete