Saturday, October 24, 2015

[Ghosts] The Black Cat of Kingsbury

Computer was down for most of the last two days, so the fourth installment in the series supporting Ghosts -- The Incorporeal Undead is a wee bit late. Fifth installment will be up sometime this weekend.

BLACK CAT OF KINGSBURY*
No. Enc.: 1 (1)
Alignment: Chaotic (Neutral)
Movement: N/A
   Fly: 240’ (80’)
Armor Class: 3
Hit Dice: 4*******
Hit Points: 24
Attacks: 2 Claws, 1 Bite
Damage: 1d6/1d4/1d8 plus Drain 1 Level
Save: F4
Morale: 11
Intelligence: 11
XP: 465

Centuries ago, King Humbert, “The Kind,” King of All the Gelts, died suddenly when his son, also Humbert, was merely three years old. Thus, elder Humbert’s younger brother, Philbert, became regent, as at that time Geltamic law did not allow for women to rule or to hold regencies. Philbert, as it turned out, was evil to the core, and had slain his brother using poison in order to gain power over the throne.

His first act was to have all of his brother’s cats put to death. Humbert had a large number of cats, for he loved them so, and treated them like they were his own children. Philbert, who hated cats passionately, had them all killed in the most painful ways imaginable – through slow drowning, drawn-and-quartered, roasted alive over hot coals, and strangled – the last he did personally and with great perverse pleasure.

After dealing with his brother’s cats, Philbert began a reign of terror, seeking to eliminate all opposition, real or imagined, to his rise to power. His nephew he kept locked away in a high tower protected by many guards. Soon, however, he would wish that he himself was the one protected in a high tower… for some terrible magic began to kill his followers, picking them off one by one.

First the newly-made Baron of Bywater, formerly the scullery boy who gave Philbert access to the king’s cup –woke up one morning dead, with a look on his face as of the most horrid fear, skin white as a sheet, and eyes bugging out in terror… with a tiny black paw mark upon his breast. And from there on up the ranks, through trusted captains and assassins, favored courtesans and courtiers, all the way through to his personal guardsmen – all awoke dead in the morning, with faces frozen in horror, a black paw mark upon their breast. And most disconcertingly, that paw mark kept getting bigger and bigger…

For the souls of one of the slain cats – a simple kitten it had been, when it was brutally murdered personally by Philbert – had returned, thirsting for vengeance. Born of suffering, pain, anger, and tragedy, the soul of the kitten returned as a wraith, a sending in the Old Tongue, a kind of undead that would enter the homes of its victims at night and cause them to die of their own deepest nightmares. And so it slew, and grew in power with every killing, until the tiny kitten had grown to the size of a panther…

Finally, a year to the night that Philbert had slain all the cats, the Black Cat of Kingsbury, as the wraith had come to be known, visited Philbert in his bedchambers. No one knows what became of him – for even his few remaining guards had abandoned him by that point, knowing him to be accursed – and his body was never found. But young Humbert, who had been brought from his high tower to his uncle’s chambers, the better to use him as a shield against his supernatural enemy, or so Philbert had thought, was awakened by his uncle’s last terrible cry of horror and anguish.

The young lad opened the door of the closet where he had been sleeping and peeked out. All he saw was the large form of the black cat, which padded over to him, bowed, and then reached up and placed its right paw upon the boy’s shoulder. There, a silvery-black mark appeared in the shape of a paw, for upon gaining its vengeance, the cat-wraith – which remembered playing with the young boy when a kitten – vowed to guard the new king and his descendents, the true-born of which would ever be marked with a silvery-black paw mark upon their shoulder. The silver-black paw is to this day the personal badge of the Humbertings.

And so it has, ever since, wandering the streets of Kingsbury, the capital of the realm, protecting all true-born kings, queens, princes, and princesses ever since, of the Humberting line or otherwise. In gratitude young Humbert – later to become known as “The Great” – in his first act when order was restored, made all cats sacred within the city walls. Thus to this day it is death or worse to harm a cat in Kingsbury, and if the king’s guards don’t capture such villains by day, the Black Cat of Kingsbury is sure to get his revenge by night…

ORGANIZATION: The Black Cat of Kingsbury generally works alone, even though the ancient city is replete with other ghosts. All living cats know of him, and revere him as a sort of demi-god, as he is their protector. Thus, living cats rally to him if ever he is in need, and if none are near, he can call them with his summoning ability.

TREASURE: The Black Cat of Kingsbury has no need of or care for treasure. Many peddlers and no few proper artisans of the city produce carvings, statuary, paintings, cameos, masks, and other bits and bobs of art in the form of the Black Cat, for sale to loyalists and to tourists alike.

RANGE: The Black Cat of Kingsbury prowls the rooftops, alleys, and sewers of the city every night. Sometimes he can be seen upon the walls, but he has never been spotted outside the walls of the city. Unlike most other ghosts, the Black Cat does not fear holy ground, and can enter churches, shrines, and other holy sanctuaries without harm, provided he is performing his guardian duties.

COMBAT: The Black Cat of Kingsbury attacks much as does a normal panther, with a claw/claw/bite routine, the bite attack being the attack with which he drains life levels. Of course, most of his targets never even see him, save in their dying nightmares, as he prefers to slay his victims using his Nightmare ability. However, he is not above a good, old-fashion bit of claw-to-blade action. If greatly outnumbered, he can summon the remnants of the other cats murdered by Philbert, though in spirit form they are quite large, large as lynxes; unlike regular remnants, these have 4 hit points, and can attack, with a claw/claw/bite routine, dealing 1d2/1d2/1d4 points of damage.

ANIMAL GHOST (**): This ghost is either the ghost of an animal, in which case it can only take on the form of an animal, or a humanoid ghost that can take on animal form, in which case it can take on humanoid, animal, and hybrid form. In animal and hybrid form the ghost has the attack forms of the animal type, dealing the animal’s damage on each attack (if it is greater than the ghost’s touch damage), with the most damaging attack (usually the bite) also dealing the fear or life drain effect of the ghost. The ghost can also summon 1d4 hit dice per hit die of living creatures of the animal type (and monstrous relatives) once per day (minimum one animal per summoning); thus a 10 HD dire wolf geist can summon 10d4 hit dice of wolves or dire wolves each day.

CREATE REMNANTS (*): Remnants are the reflected memories of ghosts that once were, or of souls that left an impression upon death but were not strong enough of will, anger, or hatred to draw in enough negative energy from the Negative Energy Plane to exist as ghosts. Often, when people die en masse, one or more ghosts remain, with many, many remnants associated with those ghosts.

This ghost can call upon and evoke the remnants that were formed at the time of its death, by the destruction of its ghostly brethren, or by the subsequent death of its victims that did not rise again as ghosts. A ghost with this ability can manifest 1d4 remnants per hit die at a time. These remnants must remain within a 20’ diameter circle per hit die of the ghost, and the ghost can travel no further than 20’ distant from the outer edge of that circle, or the remnants vanish. If the ghost is an Environmental Ghost, the remnants can manifest anywhere within that ghost’s environment, regardless of distance from the manifestation of the ghost.

A remnant has no will of its own, has no ability to attack, has an Armor Class of 9, only 1 hit point, and otherwise operates much like a weak unseen servant. It takes on the form of the being it is based upon when it died, though the ghost that manifests the remnant can alter its appearance to suit its needs, within a narrow band of alteration from the original form. For example, remnants of royal guards can look like healthy, mortal royal guards; take on the form of the royal guard at death, with wounds and burns; take on the form of empty suits of armor; and so forth. Remnants act as though they were programmed illusions, with a little leeway based on the possibilities inherent in their type.

Any remnants that are destroyed cannot be created again for 24 hours; the ghost can otherwise dismiss and re-create them at will.

If the ghost is within the boundaries of the area of remnant manifestation, it can instantly switch places with any one of the remnants through a limited form of teleportation. Anyone viewing the sudden shift from remnant to ghost must make a saving throw versus Spells; failure indicates the viewer is stunned with surprise for 1d4 rounds, and cannot act. Having seen the ghost pull that stunt before, any other viewer gets a +2 bonus to save against the same effect by the same ghost.

GUARDIAN GHOST (L): This ghost is cursed to act as the guardian of a person, place, or thing. The ghost must use all its abilities to protect the thing it guards, and cannot ever harm it, or cause it to be harmed. There may be other limitations and requirements, depending on the nature of the charge.

For example, the ghost of a cleric who defiled an enemy shrine might be cursed to guard the shrine from other defilers, but must allow all rightful worshipers to worship unmolested. The ghost of a wizard who stole scrolls from a library might be cursed to guard the library from all comers, or might be required to allow those with the proper password through. The ghost of a black knight who angered a powerful wizard might be cursed to guard a certain bridge, ensuring that none shall pass. And so forth…

As this is a curse, the curse may be lifted by the casting of a remove curse spell upon the ghost, though it will resist this with all its abilities, as this is considered harming its charge. If the ghost makes a saving throw versus Spells, the curse is lifted permanently; otherwise the curse remains.

Note that if the Guardian Ghost is also a Friendly Ghost, it might not be cursed, but act as a guardian out of the kindness of its heart. If the ghost is a Ghost Lover, it might not be cursed, but merely guarding the life of its erstwhile lover. Such things are up to the Labyrinth Lord.

INCORPOREAL (*): All incorporeal undead share the following abilities, immunities, and weaknesses: Bodiless, Ectoplasm, Flight, Powerless in Sunlight, and Weapon Immunity (see below for specifics for the wraith).

Weapon Immunity: Wraiths are unharmed by non-magical weapons and they take only half damage from silver weapons.

LIFE DRAINING TOUCH (*): When a wraith touches a victim it inflicts 1d6 hit points of cold damage and drains one level.

Spawn Ghost: A creature slain by losing all levels to the life draining touch of a wraith rises again 24 hours later as a presence (0th or 1st level) or apparition (2nd level or higher) under the control of its slayer.

NIGHTMARE GHOST (*): This ghost has a special preferred method of attack: it waits until its victim is asleep and then sits on his chest. At that point the victim must make a saving throw versus Spells; failure indicates that he cannot awaken during any of the attack! If the initial save succeeds, then each round thereafter that the attack continues the victim gets a saving throw versus Spells; success indicates that the victim awakens at the end of that round, after suffering the damage dealt by the ghost. The ghost automatically deals its damage each round the victim remains asleep; each round the victim suffers damage, he suffers terrible nightmares.

Anyone in the same room as the victim cannot awaken normally; they too must make a saving throw versus Spells each round to awaken. While they sleep, they too share the same horrific nightmares. On the round they waken, they must make another saving throw versus Spells; failure indicates that they must stare in horror at the spectral form sitting on the chest of the victim for 1d4 rounds before being able to act. Otherwise they can act the next round.

If the ghost flees or otherwise leaves before his victim wakens, the victim must make a saving throw versus Death; failure indicates that he remains in a coma for 1d6 days per hit die of the ghost. During this time he suffers further nightmares; these nightmares often give some clue into the origin and nature, as well as the weaknesses of, the Nightmare Ghost.

UNDEAD (*): All undead creatures share the following abilities, immunities, and weaknesses: Infravision, Mindless, Poison Immunity, Silent as the Grave, and Susceptible to Turning.


Wednesday, October 21, 2015

[Ghosts] Chlodwig the Friendly Ghost and the Uncles Three

The third installment in our Ghosts -- The Incorporeal Undead series is dedicated to Lost Souls, the most powerful of the Lesser Ghosts. In this instance, you get four ghosts for the price of one -- Chlodwig the Friendly Ghost and his guardians, the Uncles Three. A No-Prize to the first reader who recognizes the characters these ghosts are designed to emulate...

CHLODWIG THE FRIENDLY GHOST*
No. Enc.: 1 (1)
Alignment: Chaotic (Good)
Movement: N/A
   Fly: 240’ (80’)
Armor Class: 3
Hit Dice: 3********
Hit Points: 20
Attacks: 1 Touch
Damage: 1d6 plus Fear
Save: F3
Morale: 10
Intelligence: 12
XP: 170

Chlodwig is a lost soul, one of a number of such that wander the world, footloose and fancy-free, to pursue their hobbies – in Chlodwig’s case, to seek a normal childhood and family life. For during his childhood, Chlodwig was denied such by dint of being born a prince in a kingdom ruled by too many kings. The realm was divided by all the adult male descendants of the kingdom’s founder, and by their descendants, and so on, thus leading to much intrigue among the various petty princes and kings. Chlodwig’s father was the senior king of the day, and so the young prince was carefully kept hidden away from the dangers of court… until three of his uncles got wind of where he was hidden.

The uncles three – younger brothers of the senior king, from the same father but from a different mother – conspired against the young prince, and had a small army of assassins sent to the hidden chateau on a cold winter’s night. A loyal retainer fled with the boy, but became lost, and he and his young charge died of exposure, frozen on a mountainside. While the loyal retainer’s soul went on to his just reward, the soul of the young boy, never baptized and never having committed evil in his short, lonely life, was thereafter stuck in a ghostly limbo.

Upon discovering his son’s death and his brothers’ perfidy, the senior king had his brothers put to death in gruesome ways. A damnatio memoriae was pronounced upon them, and they were cursed to guard the soul of their nephew, wherever he might be (thought to be in Hell, as he had not been baptized). And the power of that curse, which damned the trio to walk the earth as ghosts to protect their nephew, also captured the soul of the boy, who is also now damned to walk the earth… until the father and his son are reunited again. As the father thought he would be reunited with his son in Hell – rightly believing he damned himself through fratricide – unfortunately for the boy, he now remains trapped in ghostly limbo on earth… perhaps forever.

Chlodwig appears much like a normal, if pale and wan 12-year old boy when he first arrives in an area. This is because he seeks to fit in with the local children. Unfortunately, as he becomes more comfortable, he forgets to keep up the fa├žade, and slowly transforms into his more usual form, that of a ghostly, misty humanoid figure; unlike most such ghosts, Chlodwig has legs, in both his human form and his ghostly form.

ORGANIZATION: Chlodwig usually likes to get away from his uncles and have fun, seeking out children to play with, as he never got to play with other children in his lifetime. As he is a Friendly Ghost, a Daywalker, and a Lifelike Ghost, it is often easy to find children to play with, but then, when something goes wrong (as it inevitably does) and his true nature is revealed, things often get ugly – even when the children are not concerned about their new friend’s origin, their parents and local clergy often are.

On occasion, when he finds a likely set of adults, he tries to ingratiate himself to them so that he can “adopt” them as surrogate parents – knowing full well that his uncles are not the best parental figures. This usually goes as well as his attempts to set up friendships with other children. Being a Friendly Ghost, he is much easier going on those who deny him friendship and guardianship, though through his eagerness to try to prove his worthiness through his clumsy attempts to be helpful might cause them even more grief than a good, quick fright…

And invariably, successful in his endeavors or not, usually around nightfall a day or three into his new adventure, his uncles show up to ruin everything, and Chlodwig has to move on to seek new friends elsewhere, causing the whole cycle to begin again…

Now and again for extended periods of time Chlodwig and his uncles set up house in an old, run-down manor, perhaps with a handful of other ghosts, seeking companionship in like-kinds. Often under such circumstances Chlodwig is joined by a goodly young-looking hag and a friendly fallible fiend, old allies gained during the many misadventures he has had over the centuries.

TREASURE: Chlodwig has little care for gold or other treasures; he has a few small belongings, such as scraps of clothes, hats, dolls, toys, and other things that children have given him over the years, decades, and centuries... these and the good memories they bring he values more than any gold or valuable treasure.

RANGE: Chlodwig can be found just about anywhere – usually he seeks friends and surrogate parents in small villages and towns, but he is not afraid to go into bigger cities. Ruined manors, however, are usually found in the borderlands and wilds, though a few such pre-haunted homes in cities are not unknown, and residents thereof would often welcome the young child-ghost, if be more reticent to welcome his uncles…

COMBAT: Chlodwig abhors violence – having known only peace and kindness in his living days, and seen too much violence in his afterlife. He generally flees into the Ethereal whenever anyone threatens him with violence. But if anyone threatens his new friends or family, he uses all the power and wits at his disposal – including the regrettable calling-in of his uncles, if need be – to protect them. Usually, after which, he must leave, once again, to go on his lonely eternal road…

CHILD GHOST (*): This ghost is the ghost of a child; note that while all ghosts with the Child Ghost special ability were children at the time of their death, not all children who become ghosts have the Child Ghost special ability, which is both a limitation of sorts as well as a special power.

This ghost upon first encounter usually seems quite normal and completely un-ghost-like; to all normal appearances, the Child Ghost looks like a young child age three to 12. The Child Ghost is always looking for a parent or guardian; mother or father, or perhaps an aunt or uncle, sometimes an older brother or sister. The child always asks if the encountered person is said parent, i.e., “Are you my mommy?” even if the gender and race of the one questioned is completely wrong. Answering affirmatively is the best possible answer; equivocal responses are usually OK; answering negatively and derogatorily is always bad…

If the answer is a forceful negative, the Child Ghost then reveals itself in horrible fashion, transforming from an innocent young child to a horrible, hideous ghostly thing in an instant. Viewers must make a saving throw versus Spells with a penalty equal to the hit dice of the ghost; failure indicates that they are affected with fear, as per the cause fear spell (use the Fear Effects Table, above). Thereafter the Child Ghost attacks with unbridled fury, gaining a +2 bonus to hit and damage. When the Child Ghost thereafter is first struck and suffers damage, it must make a Morale check; if it fails, it flees, transforming into the child form again and weeping uncontrollably. Otherwise it continues to attack.

If the answer is equivocal and/or a kindly negative (“I am not your mommy, but maybe I can help you?”), the Child Ghost continues its line of questioning with others present, each in turn, until it gets a negative answer or positive answer. If all are questioned with no unequivocal answer, it must make a reaction check. A positive reaction indicates that it wishes to play with those it questioned; a negative indicates an attack as above; neutral means it skips away humming a wordless tune, and will leave those it questioned alone.

A positive answer, even if apparently impossible, means the Child Ghost latches onto the answerer as firmly as any child who has lost a parent possibly can. Provided the answerer acts in all ways as the parent or guardian, and follows the ghost’s advice about what the ghost knows, the ghost remains happy; the ghost will even act to protect the new guardian, if the guardian was protecting the Child Ghost and is grossly endangered when doing so, provided the Child Ghost makes a Morale check. If defending its new guardian, the Child Ghost gets a +2 bonus to hit and to damage with its attacks. The Child Ghost also uses its abilities to help and impress its guardian, often to the guardian’s detriment, embarrassment, or danger…

Acknowledging that the Child Ghost is dead and a ghost causes the Child Ghost no grief; being a child, it simply assumes this is the way of things. It even knows that it “sleeps” by day and fades away in daylight (it always expects stories and kisses when it is time to “sleep”). However, if at any time the new guardian ever lets on that he is not truly the proper guardian, then the Child Ghost must make a Morale check; failure indicates it realizes the ruse, and its own self deception, and immediately attacks its erstwhile guardian.

DAMNED TO WALK THE EARTH (*): This ghost is particularly difficult to destroy, as its mortal sins not only deny its soul refuge in the Celestial Realms, it is also accursed by the Netherworld, and is rejected by the Hells whenever it is returned by being destroyed on the Material Plane.

Whenever this ghost is destroyed, is simply rises again the next night, at full hit points and with full power. There is only one way to permanently destroy this ghost; each ghost has a unique prophecy, legend, or myth surrounding its one means of destruction. This information might be commonly known, even among the local peasantry, or it might be all-but-lost information, locked away in some half-rotting scroll in a moldering, ruined library.

The means of allowing the ghost’s destruction are not impossible, merely often extremely difficult, or vaguely worded and thus readily misinterpreted. It might require the use of a specific weapon; it might require the last blow be delivered by the blood of the ghost’s original killer; it might require that the ghost be “slain by the hand of no man born of woman,” etc. If the means of destroying the ghost are fulfilled, then the ghost can be destroyed; sometimes the actions themselves destroy it, sometimes the actions merely allow it to be destroyed.

DAYWALKER (*): This ghost is equally at home in light and darkness, and does not fade into the Ethereal Plane in sunlight; it can move, act, attack, and use all its special abilities in daylight; and is otherwise unharmed by any form of light.

FEAR ATTACK (*): Any being struck by a lost soul must make a saving throw versus Spells or be affected as by the fear spell.

Spawn Ghost: If a lost soul slays a creature while that creature is under the effect of its fear ability, the slain creature must make a saving throw versus Death or rise again 24 hours later as a presence (0th or 1st level), apparition (2nd level), or lost soul (3rd level or higher).

FRIENDLY GHOST (*): Though Chaotic, this ghost is not Evil, and does not seek to slay and scare the living; rather, it is Good, and seeks to befriend the living and try to live a normal life. Friendly Ghosts died a tragic and sometimes violent death, though during their lifetime they were not Evil, and quite Good, and though empowered by the Negative Energy Plane, have (as yet) resisted the eldritch Evil of that power.

The souls of Friendly Ghosts are, in fact, impressed upon by both the Negative Energy Plane and the Positive Energy Plane, placing their ethereal existence in a state of flux.

Lesser ghosts can choose to cause fear or remove fear with their touch; greater ghosts can choose to drain life or restore life, as per the restoration spell, with their touch. Or they can choose to do neither, and merely deal normal enervating/cold damage with their touch. Similarly, all of their Evil/death-oriented special abilities are balanced out by the reverse, a Good/life-oriented special ability (at the adjudication of the Labyrinth Lord)

Friendly Ghosts can sometimes be even more troublesome than normal, Evil ghosts, as they seek to engage in a normal life in a world that cannot accept their existence. Living folk who make a friend of a Friendly Ghost tend to have dangerous and often deadly adventures…

INCORPOREAL (*): All incorporeal undead share the following abilities, immunities, and weaknesses: Bodiless, Ectoplasm, Flight, Powerless in Sunlight, and Weapon Immunity (see below for specifics for the lost soul).

Weapon Immunity: Lost souls are unharmed by non-magical weapons, though they take full damage from silver and magical weapons.

LIFELIKE GHOST (*): This ghost does not at first or even second glance look much like a ghost; it seems to be quite living and solid, if pale and wan, and though its clothing seems out of date, it otherwise appears much as it did in life… and thus, can surprise the heck out of those not expecting to see a ghost! It may even act like it was alive, for a while, as long as those whom it has fooled are giving it something it wants…

Once the ghost does something decidedly non-life-like, such as taking off its head, walking through a wall, or transforming into a more terrifyingly ghost-like form and attacking, all viewers must make a saving throw versus Spells; failure indicates that they are so shocked by the revelation that they are surprised, and unable to act for 1d4 rounds, in addition to any other effects of the action.

UNDEAD (*): All undead creatures share the following abilities, immunities, and weaknesses: Infravision, Mindless, Poison Immunity, Silent as the Grave, and Susceptible to Turning.

THE UNCLES THREE*
No. Enc.: 1d3* (1d3*)
Alignment: Chaotic (Evil)
Movement: N/A
   Fly: 240’ (80’)
Armor Class: 3
Hit Dice: 3*******
Hit Points: 16 each
Attacks: 1 Touch
Damage: 1d6 plus Fear
Save: F3
Morale: 10
Intelligence: Frankie 13, Siggy 9, Lot 7
XP: 155 each

* Roll a d6; on a result of 3 or greater, all three uncles are encountered together.

Francoman, Sigobert, and Lothair – also known as Fat Frankie, Stinky Siggy, and Lot Long-Neck – are the ghostly uncles of Chlodwig, who damned themselves by forcing him out of his castle to die of exposure on a cold winter’s night. When captured by their half-brother, Chlodwig’s father, he had them killed in ironically horrible ways – Francoman, a notable glutton, known for passing out and drooling on himself in his cups, died after having large quantities of food stuffed down his throat; Sigobert, a drunken lout known for spending his days in a pipeweed stupor, was drowned in a vat of wine; and Lothair the Short, a popinjay who used fear to keep his men in line, and was always berating others for being “too damn tall,” died by being stretched on the rack. Their souls were then cursed to “forever protect their nephew, wherever he may be,” for it was thought that they would join him in Hell…

They ended up instead as ghosts, damned to walk the earth, and forever watch over their nephew, who had returned as a ghost.

All three ghosts appear in the classic “ghostly fashion,” that of a misty, somewhat ill-defined humanoid form. The only hint of clothing is the wispy liripipe-style fool’s caps their brother forced them to wear as they died; these seem as much a part of their body as anything. Fat Frankie is tall and wide and tinged slightly green; Stinky Siggy is of average, albeit fuzzy, height and build and is tinged slightly blue; and Lot Long-Neck is tall and very thin, and tinged slightly red (he turns a deeper crimson when he becomes Frightening). Unlike Chlodwig, the uncles do not have legs, their torsos ending in ill-defined tails almost as long as legs would be.

ORGANIZATION: The uncles three never liked one another much in life, and continue to argue and fight as brothers do in undeath. However, having grown up with an “us against the world” philosophy, they work together well enough when threatened by outside forces. They treat their burden to watch over their nephew like the curse it is, but have long since learned that to try to avoid it or somehow get around it causes them far more pain and grief than they ever imagined. And so they work together especially well when it comes to keeping their nephew out of danger… though they let him get into plenty of trouble, hoping he will learn to leave the mortals alone, but he never does.

TREASURE: Whenever the uncles three set up house in a ruined manor, they set up their rooms to best support their hobbies. Fat Frankie sets up in the kitchen and dining area, often kidnapping a local to cook meals for him; Stinky Siggy makes the salon and study his lair, surrounded by (usually empty) bottles of alcohol and wallets of pipeweed; and Lot Long-Neck sets up in the torture chamber (or some other subterranean locale), where he lines the walls with mirrors, the better to appreciate and practice his frightening looks.

RANGE: By necessity, the uncles three must follow Chlodwig wherever he goes, though they are often behind him by a day or three, giving him enough distance to get into trouble without getting into too much danger. They know that he cannot truly ever be harmed, as the conditions for putting him and themselves to rest – the father and the son being reunited in the afterlife – can now never come to pass. But the curse requires that they be there to extract him when his plans go most awry, and so they do, but never gladly, and often causing even more mayhem, destruction, and even death.

COMBAT: All three of the ghosts are Damned to Walk the Earth and have the Possess the Living ghostly ability and the Guardian Ghost limitation. Each of the uncles has additional special abilities and/or limitations: Frankie is a Hungry Ghost with the powers of Ectoplasmic Blast and Ectoplasmic Touch; Siggy is a Drunken Ghost and Pipeweed Ghost; and Lot is a Frightening Ghost and Keening Ghost.

DAMNED TO WALK THE EARTH (*): This ghost is particularly difficult to destroy, as its mortal sins not only deny its soul refuge in the Celestial Realms, it is also accursed by the Netherworld, and is rejected by the Hells whenever it is returned by being destroyed on the Material Plane.

Whenever this ghost is destroyed, is simply rises again the next night, at full hit points and with full power. There is only one way to permanently destroy this ghost; each ghost has a unique prophecy, legend, or myth surrounding its one means of destruction. This information might be commonly known, even among the local peasantry, or it might be all-but-lost information, locked away in some half-rotting scroll in a moldering, ruined library.

The means of allowing the ghost’s destruction are not impossible, merely often extremely difficult, or vaguely worded and thus readily misinterpreted. It might require the use of a specific weapon; it might require the last blow be delivered by the blood of the ghost’s original killer; it might require that the ghost be “slain by the hand of no man born of woman,” etc. If the means of destroying the ghost are fulfilled, then the ghost can be destroyed; sometimes the actions themselves destroy it, sometimes the actions merely allow it to be destroyed.

DRUNKEN GHOST (*): This ghost died due to excessive drinking of alcohol, died while he was drunk, died by drowning in alcohol, or died while wishing he had one more drink of alcohol.

A Drunken Ghost leaves behind trails and pools of skunked beer, vinegary wine, or expired spirits wherever it goes; usually of a single type, the last type it drank, or the favorite type it had in life.

A Drunken Ghost starts out the night sober, a terrible place for a dead man to be, and always seeks out the nearest alcohol; the Drunken Ghost can sense the nearest alcohol within a number of miles equal to its hit dice. If needs be it will kill to get it, but as even Chaotic (Evil) Drunken Ghosts often prefer to drink in company, it will be happy if its victims merely “share the wealth.”

The Drunken Ghost can “touch” a mug of beer, a jack of wine, or a shot of spirits; most prefer to lift the glass, tip it back, and seem to “drink” it when doing so, with the fluid merely passing through its body and splashing onto the floor. By doing this it strips the fluid of its alcohol and its taste and cures itself of 1 point of damage, or, if already at its personal maximum hit points, temporarily gains 1 hit point.

It also becomes drunker for every such drink it thus “consumes” above its personal hit point maximum. When the ghost reaches a point where each drink makes its hit points rise to a certain point above its normal hit point limit, it begins to get drunk:

At 1 hit point per hit die above the norm, it is Tipsy, and gets a +1 bonus to Morale.

At 2 hit points per hit die above the norm, it is Moderately Drunk, and gains a +2 bonus to Morale and a -1 penalty to hit in combat

At 3 hit points per hit die above the norm, it is Severely Drunk, and gains a +3 bonus to Morale and suffers a -3 penalty to hit in combat.

At 4 hit points per hit die above the norm, it “passes out” drunk, and “falls asleep,” gliding off to some corner to snore until sunrise.

ECTOPLASMIC BLAST (*): This ghost can shoot a line of slimy, sticky ectoplasm; sometimes the line is from the hands, often it is vomited forth from the mouth. Range is 10’ plus 5’ per hit die in a line 5’ wide. All those caught within the line must make a saving throw versus Breath Attacks; failure indicates that they are struck by the line of ectoplasm and covered in the sticky slime.

Those covered in the sticky, slimy ectoplasm are effectively paralyzed for 1d6 rounds per hit die of the ghost; all they can do is writhe around and try to scrape the slime off. It is a form of mental compulsion, as the mind of the victim rebels at the unnatural stuff stuck to him. The time is halved for each companion who helps to scrape the slime off of the victim.

Ectoplasm created by an Ectoplasmic Blast is a lesser form of ectoplasm, not useful for magical purposes.

ECTOPLASMIC TOUCH (*): This ghost’s touch attack, in addition to hit point damage and fear or drain life, also covers the victim in ectoplasm, as per the Ectoplasmic Blast, above. A target struck by an Ectoplasmic Touch must make a saving throw versus Breath Attack; failure indicates that they must spend 1d6 rounds per hit die of the ghost effectively paralyzed, as per Ectoplasmic Blast.

FEAR ATTACK (*): Any being struck by a lost soul must make a saving throw versus Spells or be affected as by the fear spell.

Spawn Ghost: If a lost soul slays a creature while that creature is under the effect of its fear ability, the slain creature must make a saving throw versus Death or rise again 24 hours later as a presence (0th or 1st level), apparition (2nd level), or lost soul (3rd level or higher).

FRIGHTENING GHOST (*): While all ghosts are scary, and lesser ghosts have innate fear attacks, a Frightening Ghost goes out of his way to try to frighten the living. They can quickly take on horrifying visages, make loud terrifying noises, and in general, cause fearful mayhem.

When a Frightening Ghost de-lurks from the Ethereal Plane and surprises a victim, the victim must make a saving throw versus Spells; failure indicates the victim is subjected to cause fear, with the appropriate results, in addition to the normal surprise.

When a Frightening Ghost transforms from its mundane form to its horrific ghostly form, the transformation is so sudden and horrific that viewers must make a saving throw versus Spells; failure indicates that they suffer from cause fear, as per cause fear (use the Fear Effects Table, above).

Touch attacks of greater ghosts who are Frightening Ghosts also have a chance to cause fear, as per the spell, in addition to its normal level drain effects.

A Frightening Ghost is also able to create a cone of fear, as per the magic-user spell, once per day per hit die, through keening, shrieking, moaning, groaning, or sepulcherous laughter.

The victims of any of the Frightening Ghost’s cause fear and cone of fear attacks suffer a penalty to their saving throw equal to the hit dice of the ghost; powerful Frightening Ghosts can literally scare their targets to death! If the Frightening Ghost is also a Keening Ghost, this modifier does not apply to the save against the Keening attack.

Fear effects from a Frightening Ghost’s fear abilities last for one hour per hit die of the ghost (hardcore) or one turn per hit die of the ghost (casual).

GUARDIAN GHOST (L): This ghost is cursed to act as the guardian of a person, place, or thing. The ghost must use all its abilities to protect the thing it guards, and cannot ever harm it, or cause it to be harmed. There may be other limitations and requirements, depending on the nature of the charge.

For example, the ghost of a cleric who defiled an enemy shrine might be cursed to guard the shrine from other defilers, but must allow all rightful worshipers to worship unmolested. The ghost of a wizard who stole scrolls from a library might be cursed to guard the library from all comers, or might be required to allow those with the proper password through. The ghost of a black knight who angered a powerful wizard might be cursed to guard a certain bridge, ensuring that none shall pass. And so forth…

As this is a curse, the curse may be lifted by the casting of a remove curse spell upon the ghost, though it will resist this with all its abilities, as this is considered harming its charge. If the ghost makes a saving throw versus Spells, the curse is lifted permanently; otherwise the curse remains.

Note that if the Guardian Ghost is also a Friendly Ghost, it might not be cursed, but act as a guardian out of the kindness of its heart. If the ghost is a Ghost Lover, it might not be cursed, but merely guarding the life of its erstwhile lover. Such things are up to the Labyrinth Lord.

HUNGRY GHOST (L): This ghost is the soul of someone who died of hunger; or who was wealthy and caused others to die of hunger through their actions; or ironically, was both wealthy and caused others to suffer hunger, then died of hunger themselves. Other forms of greed and even gluttony might cause a ghost to rise as a Hungry Ghost.

As a ghost, the Hungry Ghost seeks to eat food, and always tries to gorge itself whenever food is present. It has the ability to lift food with its ghostly hands, and place it in its ghostly mouth, where the ghost tries to eat it, but there the ability to manipulate the food ends, as the food, un-masticated by the ghostly manifestation, simply falls through its pseudo-material body, and falls onto the floor covered in ectoplasm (one ounce of ectoplasm per pound of food).

When food is not available, a Hungry Ghost might seek to turn “cannibal,” slaying the living to try to eat their flesh and drink their blood… while this does not sate them, their manifestation form can become covered in the blood of the recently living, and the flesh and bones of the recently living that pass through their pseudo-material form will exhibit have tooth and bite marks, but no flesh will have been eaten.

Hungry Ghosts remain hungry throughout eternity. Even the life energy they drain gives their hunger no surcease, as they gain nothing from it. This is a curse, but it is a powerful curse that no mortal magic short of a wish could lift.

INCORPOREAL (*): All incorporeal undead share the following abilities, immunities, and weaknesses: Bodiless, Ectoplasm, Flight, Powerless in Sunlight, and Weapon Immunity (see below for specifics for the lost soul).

Weapon Immunity: Lost souls are unharmed by non-magical weapons, though they take full damage from silver and magical weapons.

KEENING GHOST (*): This ghost can keen, shriek, scream, moan, groan, laugh, or make some other appropriate horrible vocal noise.

Any living being within 30’ when the ghost keens must save versus Spells; failure indicates the victim dies instantly from fright.

Any being that is slain through the ghost’s keen ability rises again 24 hours later as a ghost of hit dice equal to its level, up to half the hit dice of the ghost who slew it.

The ghost may keen once per night.

PIPEWEED GHOST (*): This ghost died from smoking too much pipeweed (such as via pipelung), or died from the secondary effects of a magical form of pipeweed, or simply died while smoking pipeweed and his last thoughts were, “I wish I could have smoked more pipeweed…”

Whatever type of ghost this ghost might be, it always has a wispy, smoky, fuzzy quality to its appearance, much like one might imagine a ghost made of pipeweed smoke might look like. It is always accompanied by the scent of pipeweed, of whatever quality and type it was smoking when it died, or of its favorite types.

A Pipeweed Ghost can pipe stride; that is, it can pop into one pipe and pop out at any other pipe the next round, provided the target pipe is within 600 feet (and the target pipe is not in daylight). This also applies to cigars, cigarettes, hookahs, bongs, and all other smoking apparatus.

A Pipeweed Ghost has a special attack; once per day per hit die it can breathe out a cloud of smoke. This cloud not only smells like rotten pipeweed of the lowest quality, it also conforms in most respects to the cloudkill spell, cast as though by a magic-user of a level equal to the hit dice of the ghost. The instant kill effect is limited to beings of half the ghost’s hit dice, rounded up, and the overall effect lasts for one turn per hit dice of the ghost.

POSSESS THE LIVING (*): This ghost can possess the body of a living being, controlling it while the soul of the owner of the body is stuck within watching in horror the things the ghost does with their body. This operates much like the magic jar spell, except the range is 10’ per hit die of the ghost. The ghost can attempt to take possession of a living being a number of times per day equal to its hit dice.

When the ghost attempts to take over a body, the target gets a saving throw versus Spells; if the save fails, the ghost possesses the victim’s body, and the victim’s soul is trapped in his body, powerless to act but seeing, hearing, and feeling everything done by his body. The possession continues as long as the ghost desires; the only way to force the ghost out of the body is to exorcize it.

When the possessed body is slain (having the hit points of the original owner), the ghost must flee the body. If the body of a possessed victim is slain while possessed, the victim must make a saving throw versus Death; a failed save indicates that the victim rises again 24 hours later as a ghost of hit dice equal to his level, though no greater than the hit dice of the possessing ghost.

Normally a ghost cannot walk out into sunlight, but sunlight has no effect on a ghost possessing a body. While possessed by a ghost, a body has no need to eat, drink, sleep, or even breathe air, and lack of these things does not harm the body.

UNDEAD (*): All undead creatures share the following abilities, immunities, and weaknesses: Infravision, Mindless, Poison Immunity, Silent as the Grave, and Susceptible to Turning.


Tuesday, October 20, 2015

[Ghosts] Black Dougal, Wanderer of the Haunted Keep

The second installment in the series of ghosts created using the Ghosts -- The Incorporeal Undead may be familiar to some old-school gamers... a warning to eager adventurers and to those who leave their companions behind in the depths of the dungeon, alive or dead...

BLACK DOUGAL*
No. Enc.: 1 (1)
Alignment: Chaotic (Evil)
Movement: N/A
   Fly: 240’ (80’)
Armor Class: 4
Hit Dice: 2*****
Hit Points: 13
Attacks: 1 Touch
Damage: 1d6 + 1d6 Poison plus Fear
Save: F2
Morale: 12
Intelligence: 11
XP: 65

Black Dougal is an apparition, one of the many ghosts haunting the (now appropriately named) Haunted Keep. He appears as a tall, lanky rogue, with a hooked nose, deep-set black eyes, and long flowing black hair, wearing black clothing that was in style about 35 years ago. In life he was an adventuring thief; he and his party descended into the dungeons beneath the Haunted Keep, and there Black Dougal found his end, poisoned by a needle trap on a box filled with treasure. Though the cleric in the party performed the last rites of her faith, it wasn’t enough to save the scoundrel’s soul, which remained stuck behind as a ghost.

Black Dougal’s ghost is Stuck in Time, re-creating the events of the last hours of his life, from the moment he entered the Haunted Keep until his death in the room with the poison-needled treasure box. When encountered walking through corridors, rooms, and chambers, Black Dougal appears to be quite normal, and a living being, up until he ignores being spoken to, walks through a currently-closed door, listens at a door that is no longer there, or fights a battle against invisible foes. He makes his way from the entrance of the Haunted Keep, through several rooms and corridors, down a hidden trap door, and through several rooms on the first level, until he comes to the room where he died. There he bends down, before a large space against a wall as before a large box, searches it as for traps, then opens it… and gasps, falling to the floor, quite dead-looking. At that point he fades away after 1d6 rounds, and does not return to the Material Plane until the next day, to repeat it all over again…

Denizens of the keep and dungeon know to avoid Black Dougal, as to interrupt his rounds usually causes him to attack immediately (roll a Reaction Check; any result other than Friendly means attack, and Friendly means ignore, and continue on his rounds). However, if a party includes a formidable female warrior, an androgynous elf, a doughty dwarf, and/or a female cleric, Black Dougal attacks immediately, thinking that these are members of the party that “abandoned him” in the dungeons… And in fact, the party did abandon him, having dragged Black Dougal’s body with them for a few rooms, then forgot it and left it behind after a battle with some hobgoblins. The thief’s skeletal remains can be found in a secret corridor off the room where he died; all that remains are bones and rotting rags, as his equipment was taken by bandits after it was abandoned in the room where he died. The ragged clothing is still defined enough to recognize it as that “worn” by the ghost.

ORGANIZATION: Black Dougal, being Stuck in Time, operates alone, and ignores any being, provided that being does not get in his way. Should he slay interlopers, only those who resemble the members of the party that abandoned him, detailed above, need make a saving throw to avoid joining him Stuck in Time; against this save, they suffer a -4 penalty, so great is the will of Black Dougal that his erstwhile companions join him in his torment.

TREASURE: Black Dougal labors to re-create the treasure that was his undoing. To that end, any silver coins he finds he takes with him to the room where he perished and throws them randomly around the room. Thus far he has acquired 678 sp of the two-thousand or so silver pieces required. He also seeks a jewel case, two gold bracelets set with jade, and a pair of elven boots. Should he acquire these and place them together in a heap, his soul will be allowed to go on to its eternal rest.

RANGE: Black Dougal is Stuck in Time, and thus is only ever encountered outside his regular daily rounds when he is interrupted in these by an interloper. He can chase interlopers anywhere in the dungeons and in the Haunted Keep above, but he cannot leave this area.

COMBAT: When interrupted in his rounds, Black Dougal assumes a most frightful appearance: that of a rotting corpse oozing poison! He “draws” a ghostly short sword, dripping with venom, and attacks with wild abandon. Targets that are out of melee range are attacked with needle-like darts of poison. He only uses his poison sphere attack if his treasure heap is disturbed.

FEAR ATTACK (*): Any being struck by an apparition must make a saving throw versus Spells or be affected as by the fear spell.

Spawn Ghost: If an apparition slays a creature while that creature is under the effect of its fear ability, the slain creature must make a saving throw versus Death or rise again 24 hours later as a presence (0th or 1st level) or apparition (2nd level or greater).

INCORPOREAL (*): All incorporeal undead share the following abilities, immunities, and weaknesses: Bodiless, Ectoplasm, Flight, Powerless in Sunlight, and Weapon Immunity (see below for specifics for the apparition).

Weapon Immunity: Apparitions suffer only minimal damage from non-magical weapons (the minimal roll on the die possible plus any Strength bonuses); all damage suffered from such weapons is fully regenerated at the end of the round in which the damage was dealt if the apparition is not reduced to 0 hit points. If dealt a total amount of damage in one round from non-magical weapons equal to their hit points, an apparition is disrupted, and disappears, seemingly destroyed. However, it merely retreats into the Deep Ethereal, where it regenerates 1 hit point of damage per round, returning again at the same spot when it reaches full hit points.

Apparitions suffer full damage from silver and magical weapons, and do not regenerate damage from such weapons.

LIFELIKE GHOST (*): This ghost does not at first or even second glance look much like a ghost; it seems to be quite living and solid, if pale and wan, and though its clothing seems out of date, it otherwise appears much as it did in life… and thus, can surprise the heck out of those not expecting to see a ghost! It may even act like it was alive, for a while, as long as those whom it has fooled are giving it something it wants…

Once the ghost does something decidedly non-life-like, such as taking off its head, walking through a wall, or transforming into a more terrifyingly ghost-like form and attacking, all viewers must make a saving throw versus Spells; failure indicates that they are so shocked by the revelation that they are surprised, and unable to act for 1d4 rounds, in addition to any other effects of the action.

POISON GHOST (*): This ghost met his mortal end through poison – perhaps in a wine cup among erstwhile friends, or slain by a poison needle trap, or envenomed by a snake or spider, or through the breath of a sea dragon. The ghost’s manifestation oozes very real poison, and the ghost deals 1d6 points of poison damage with every successful touch attack in addition to its normal damage. Any living being within 5’ of the ghost suffers 1d4 points of poison splash damage per round.

The Poison Ghost’s poison has little effect on non-living things, though areas it has passed through are covered in poison that is poisonous to the touch; this poison lasts for one turn per hit die of the ghost before it is rendered ineffective. If the poison is touched, the victim must make a saving throw versus Poison; failure indicates he suffers 1d6 points of damage, success indicates he suffers only 1d3 points of damage. Poison Ghosts are, like all ghosts, immune to poison damage.

Once per round it can also throw a ball of poison up to 20’ plus 5’ per hit die; the target gets a saving throw versus Spells. If the save fails, the target is struck for 1d6 points of damage plus one point per hit die of the ghost.

A Poison Ghost can also spend a round extruding an ounce of ectoplasm (suffering the usual 1d4 points of damage from doing so); the next round it spits a ball of poison up to 60’, which explodes in a sphere 20’ in diameter; those caught in the line must make a saving throw versus Poison. Failure indicates they suffer 1d6 points of damage per hit die of the ghost; success indicates they suffer only half damage.

STUCK IN TIME (L): This ghost is forced to repeat the same experience over and over again. Usually this includes the last moments, minutes, or even hours before its death, or some other life-time ritual, usually on a daily basis; sometimes the cycle of repetition depends on the days of the week, cycles of the month, or rarer circumstance (Brigadoon-style). Outside these times and places, there is only a 2 in 6 chance or less that a ghost that is Stuck in Time can appear or act outside of these circumstances. If a ghost is disturbed while performing its ritual, it can react to the disturbance as appropriate, if it so chooses, or ignore the disturbance, if it feels it is beneath its dignity.

UNDEAD (*): All undead creatures share the following abilities, immunities, and weaknesses: Infravision, Mindless, Poison Immunity, Silent as the Grave, and Susceptible to Turning.

Monday, October 19, 2015

[Ghosts] Jeebes, Poltergeist of the Great School of Magic

Today begins a series of posts featuring ghosts created using Ghosts -- The Incorporeal Undead. The first is Jeebes, a presence haunting a school for magic-users...

JEEBES*
No. Enc.: 1 (1)
Alignment: Chaotic (Evil)
Movement: N/A
   Fly: 240’ (80’)
Armor Class: 4
Hit Dice: 1******
Hit Points: 7 hp
Attacks: 1 Touch
Damage: 1d4 plus Fear
Save: F1
Morale: 12
Intelligence: 8
XP: 28

Jeebes is a presence that haunts the Great School of Magic; there he causes grief for students and teachers alike, though his pranks on the teachers are far less dangerous than the pranks he plays on the students. Jeebes is the ghost of one of the nameless, faceless servants of a noble student at the School; decades ago the clumsy, foolish servant walked into the wrong room at the wrong time, interrupted a class while they were experimenting with several dangerous magical spells, and ended up causing a magical disaster that took his life and injured dozens.

He continues to haunt the students and teachers, believing them to be at fault for his death, even though it was his own foolishness. After several decades of threats of destruction from the teachers, his pranks don’t become deadly dangerous unless the students match his ferocity and stupidity; the teachers don’t mind this, as it weeds out the stupid and foolish, and cleaning up after the ghost’s messier pranks gives teachers something to assign to troublesome students.

Jeebes looks much like he did in life, an oafish sort of fellow with a big bald head, large potato-like nose, squinty little eyes, scrunched-up face, sneering lips, and jug-handle ears. His body looks like a potato sack, from which spindly arms writhe and wave; he has no legs, his torso simply ending in a wispy trail. His vocalizations are barely understandable, even when he tries to make words, as his rustic bumpkin accent is several generations out of date. He rarely takes time to talk as it is, as he prefers to announce his presence by upending statuary, flinging books and tomes out of hands, and causing clothing and accouterments to fly and flutter at random.

ORGANIZATION: Jeebes operates alone, though there are other ghosts at the Great School of Magic. The other ghosts consider him beneath their notice, because of his weak nature, poor intellect, and his lowly status in life. Living students who are bullies, upon first hearing of his existence, often try to join up with him, but quickly learn that they are his preferred targets, as he was bullied during life and likes to take vengeance on living bullies in death.

TREASURE: Jeebes has a small collection of rings; any ring lost or left alone for any time in the Great School of Magic ends up in his hidden trove, which can be found in a crack high in the Tottering Belfry. During life his master always told him to “work for that shiny brass ring,” and in death Jeebes believes that if he finds that brass ring, he might come back to life. There are more than two dozen rings total, worth almost 600 gp, plus a magical ring of protection +1 and a ring of wishes (with one wish remaining). Jeebes has no idea of the real value of the two magical rings, and does not even know they are magical. If his trove is discovered and looted, he will go on a rampage that could be dangerous even to the teachers and ends only when all of his rings are returned.

RANGE: Jeebes is limited in range, chained to the Great School of Magic and its grounds, able to wander up to 60’ from the edge of the grounds. He rarely leaves the buildings of the school itself, where he can remain active both night and day.

COMBAT: Jeebes prefers to use his Poltergeist ability, as it enables him to cause the most mischief. Another favorite is to use his Ectoplasmic Blast on students who are running late for class. Though he is dead, he still fears direct physical conflict, and usually remains a distance from anyone that might try to hit him. If threatened by any force that might harm him, he simply flies through a wall into the next room… after throwing curses and imprecations at any being so bold as to threaten him.

CHAINED GHOST [LOCATION] (L): This ghost must remain near the site of its death. It must remain within 60’ of the point at which it died per hit die of the ghost. The ghost has no connection to its earthly remains; casting an exorcism on its earthly remains has no effect on it. The exorcism spell can be cast on the site of the ghost’s death, with the same effect as though the spell had been cast on its earthly remains.

ECTOPLASMIC BLAST (*): This ghost can shoot a line of slimy, sticky ectoplasm; sometimes the line is from the hands, often it is vomited forth from the mouth. Range is 10’ plus 5’ per hit die in a line 5’ wide. All those caught within the line must make a saving throw versus Breath Attacks; failure indicates that they are struck by the line of ectoplasm and covered in the sticky slime.

Those covered in the sticky, slimy ectoplasm are effectively paralyzed for 1d6 rounds per hit die of the ghost; all they can do is writhe around and try to scrape the slime off. It is a form of mental compulsion, as the mind of the victim rebels at the unnatural stuff stuck to him. The time is halved for each companion who helps to scrape the slime off of the victim.

Ectoplasm created by an Ectoplasmic Blast is a lesser form of ectoplasm, not useful for magical purposes.

FAST GHOST (*): This ghost’s speed is twice as fast as normal when manifesting on the Material Plane, five times as fast when exclusively in the Near Ethereal, and ten times as fast when exclusively in the Deep Ethereal.

FEAR ATTACK (*): Any being struck by a presence must make a saving throw versus Spells or be affected by the fear spell.

Spawn Ghost: If a presence slays a creature while that creature is under the effect of its fear ability, the slain creature must make a saving throw versus Death or rise again 24 hours later as a presence.

INCORPOREAL (*): All incorporeal undead share the following abilities, immunities, and weaknesses: Bodiless, Ectoplasm, Flight, Powerless in Sunlight, and Weapon Immunity (see below for specifics for the presence).

Weapon Immunity: Presences suffer only half damage from non-magical weapons; all damage suffered from such weapons is fully regenerated at the end of the round in which the damage was dealt if the presence is not reduced to 0 hit points. If dealt a total amount of damage in one round from non-magical weapons equal to their hit points, a presence is disrupted, and disappears, seemingly destroyed. However, it merely retreats into the Deep Ethereal, where it regenerates 1 hit point of damage per round, returning again at the same spot when it reaches full hit points.

Presences suffer full damage from silver and magical weapons, and do not regenerate damage from such weapons.

POLTERGEIST (*): This ghost has the ability to telekinetically move physical objects in the Material Plane. The ghost can move a total weight of objects no greater than 50 pounds per hit die of the ghost. Unlike the telekinesis spell, these can move at a slow pace or a very rapid pace, as though they were being thrown in combat. The ranges at which objects may be grasped and the distance objects may be thrown are the same, 20’ plus 10’ per hit die of the ghost.

Poltergeists often just fling items randomly, not seeking to attack in combat. When they attack with this ability, they have little finesse, and thus usually fling all they can at a single target or bunch of targets as an area effect. Damage is 1d4 per hit die of the ghost, in a diameter to the area of 10’ per hit die of the ghost. All those caught in the area must make a saving throw versus Breath Attacks; success indicates they suffer only half damage.

For example, a 1 HD presence flings 50 pounds of detritus from a ruin – stones, bricks, shards of wooden beams, etc. – at a group of three adventurers. The area of effect is 10’ in diameter, and all are caught in the area; each must save versus Breath Attacks. Those who fail take 1d6 points of damage; those who succeed take half damage.

A Poltergeist can also select a single item – such as a weapon, an altar, or a statue, depending on the maximum weight it can lift – and fling it at a single target. In this case the target must make a saving throw versus Wands; failure indicates the target is hit by the object and suffers full damage, success avoids the attack entirely. Weapons do their normal damage, plus 1 point per hit die of the ghost. Other objects deal 1d6 points of damage per 50 pounds of weight or portion thereof.

A Poltergeist can also pick up an individual who weighs, together with its equipment, less than the maximum weight the Poltergeist can lift. The target gets a saving throw versus Spells; if the save succeeds, the Poltergeist cannot lift the target on this attack. If the save fails, the Poltergeist lifts the target and can do with it what it wishes; often, it throws it with great force against a nearby wall, dealing damage as though the target had fallen the same distance, plus 1 point of damage per hit die of the ghost.

A Poltergeist can use this ability as many times per day as it wishes to merely throw objects around. It may also attack with the ability as many times as it wishes provided the targets continue to fail their saving throws. However, every time a target succeeds a saving throw counts as one failure against the Poltergeist, which has a maximum number of failures equal to its hit dice. A group attack counts as a failure only if all the targets in the group succeed in their saving throws.

Once a Poltergeist has used up all its failures for the day, it no longer has the patience or willpower to continue to attack with this ability, and can only cast about with objects in blind rage.

UNDEAD (*): All undead creatures share the following abilities, immunities, and weaknesses: Infravision, Mindless, Poison Immunity, Silent as the Grave, and Susceptible to Turning.


Friday, October 9, 2015

Ghosts -- The Incorporeal Undead Designer's Notes

I started thinking about designing some new ghosts for Labyrinth Lord when I first wrote the Spontaneous Generation in the Dungeon article for my blog. I realized at the time that there were actually very few ghostly monsters in the canon – wraiths, spectres, groaning spirits, and ghosts being the only incorporeal undead. And all of these were of rather high power and, with their life energy draining ability, horribly lethal...


So I set out to fix that hole in the low-level incorporeal undead section of the monstrous corpus. I figured I’d work up a couple low-hit die, low-power ghosts…

As is usual with me, though, things kind of got out of hand from there. My little five-pager grew into a whopping 64 pages, with a complete list of 10 different basal ghostly types, 75 ghostly special abilities, 23 new magic items, interpretations on scores of spells, a whole new system for ethereal sensitivity, and in-depth analysis and rulings on every element that might affect interaction with ghosts, including the development of the uses and dangers of ectoplasm.

Whew!

I started on September 16th, and wrote 55,859 words in 22 days, averaging just over 2,500 words per day… my best rate of writing in years, and this while working a full-time job.

At times, I literally felt like a man possessed, especially once I’d decided I wanted this to be a comprehensive look at ghosts. I delved deep into my classic comic-book education, having grown up reading Casper as well as all the various weird and spooky comic-books that were “never really meant for kids,” but we all read anyway. I dredged up all my memories of the creepy movies and eerie TV shows I’d seen, and all the old ghost stories and Gothic literature I’d devoured in my college days.

And I’d determined that there was a LOT of stuff that could be used in a ghostly RPG supplement!

First I sketched out the 10 different basal ghost types, wanting to have something for everyone at every level of adventure. I penciled in the basic attributes, especially the weapon immunities, touch damage, and life-draining abilities of the existing ghost, created a spectrum from weakest to strongest, and varied that with basal Armor Class improvements as the hit dice improved.

The original scheme with the four original ghosts worked fairly nicely, with a regular power curve matching fairly well to hit die progression (though the original ghost kind of blew that with some of its odd resistances). So I adjusted things here, jiggered them there, and made things fit… though I felt that a 1 hit die ghost with life-level draining was too much of a danger. So for the “lesser ghosts” as I termed them, I implemented the fear attacks, rather than life-level draining, which seemed more in line with the existing myths, legends, and ideas about low-power ghosts being merely scary rather than deadly.


This also quite naturally broke the two types of ghosts, lesser and greater, into a natural “tragic” versus “evil” sort of ghost, though of course, the two origins often meet and mesh. This allowed for less powerful but still dangerous ghosts that players could interact with in a manner that was not immediately violent and deadly.

I then scoured my memory for all the different things I’d ever seen ghosts do in stories, comic-books, TV shows, and movies, and from there built out the ghostly special abilities section. I eventually just had to limit the special abilities to 75; there are naturally an infinite number of abilities possible, but these cover most of the broadest possibilities.


My interpretation of ectoplasm is based both on the old, classic form of ectoplasm “experienced” during the age of spiritualism and, naturally, ectoplasm as developed in the Ghostbusters movies. Because ectoplasm is… Just. So. Cool. Of course, modern Ghostbusters-style technology and classic mysticism don’t quite mix, so I cloaked the modernisms in a techno-magical pseudo-steampunk style, ergo the various techno-magical devices for capturing and imprisoning ghosts and using and developing ectoplasm.


The many uses of ectoplasm, and their dangers, are a natural outgrowth of the same in Ghostbusters… and of course, what player or Labyrinth Lord worth his dice doesn’t love experimenting with powerful and extremely dangerous new forms of magic?

So too the evolution of Sixth Sense, Sensitives, and Mediums, the development of which were influenced both by the classical spiritualism movement and another movie, in this case, Ghost. And, like ectoplasm, and distinctly unlike the Vancian magic system, use of these abilities is uncertain and, in many cases, extremely dangerous… and thus extremely tempting for use by players, no doubt!

Finally, of course, no exhaustive look at ghosts would be complete without developing the reasons and methods of their creation, their continued existence, and how that and their natures interact with the use of various spells. Add in a few more spells, and some general rulings for broad circumstances, and we were almost done…


The Creepy Appendix N provides plenty of leads for interesting and useful information on ghostly adventures and campaigns.


Throughout the writing of Ghosts -- The Incorporeal Undead, my wife Jodi was both an inspiration and sounding board. Her knowledge of magic, the mystical, and the spiritual astounds me, as does her boundless creativity and support, without which none of this would have been possible.