08 March 2017

Monster: Ghosts...

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Today, instead of presenting a completely new monster, I decided to write down some new abilities for ghosts.

Ghosts are special monsters—special in that they are explicitly intended to be unique. Each ghost encounter is, or at least should be a memorable event... If you want a stock incorporeal monster for a simple hack-and-slash combat you should probably use some other monster filling that niche: wraith, spectre, etc. Of course, this is not a an unbreakable rule... As a template that is often applied to regular NPCs, ghosts make an excellent addition to larger encounters without being the central focus of the encounter. I did that myself when the party ventured into the tomb of a dead king—an evil tyrant who made a pact with the god of the dead to become a vampire after death... Only to be sealed within the crypt by his successor during the state funeral. The king was entombed with his general, who arose as a graveknight, and court wizard who returned as a ghost, both bound to the king, acting as his entourage.

If the ghost is the main part of the story, though, it should be special and its abilities should reflect it. The Bestiary offers a number of different abilities to fit the ghost's history and manner of death so I would like add a few more (hopefully) interesting options.

Simple Template: Restless (CR +1)
Ghosts with the restless template are more forceful in their interactions with the surrounding world and have more special abilities than their base CR would suggest.

Quick Rules: add 2 to AC, CMD, saving throw DC of special abilities, and all Charisma-based ability and skill checks; gain 2 extra hit points per HD; add two extra special abilities.

Rebuild Rules: Special Attacks: select two additional ghostly abilities; Ability Scores: Increase Charisma by 4.

New Ghostly Special Abilities

Animator (Su): The ghost can possess an object, usually a statue or a suit of armor, and animate it as per possess object spell. The ghost's CR determines the biggest size of the object it can possess—CR 4 Small, CR 5 Medium, CR 7 Large, CR 9 Huge, CR 11 Gargantuan, and CR 13 Colossal. Animator is an ability fitting ghosts that were craftsman or guardians in life, they might had voluntarily stayed behind to defend a place. Alternatively, the ghost might be the former owner or user of the animated object, desiring to deny its use to others, such as deceased captain animating his ship to roam the seas.

Blademaster (Su): The ghost is bound to a physical weapon that held deep significance to its life or death, usually magical, though sometimes merely masterwork. The weapon hovers in the air near the ghost. As a swift action, the ghost can force the weapon to make a single melee attack against a creature within 30 feet, applying the ghost's Charisma modifier instead of Strength on attack and damage roll. Any of the weapon qualities apply to the attack normally. Obviously, this ability is suitable for ghosts who were blademasters in life, or had a special bond with a special weapon that survived their own demise.

Burning Dead (Su): The ghost gains immunity to fire and projects an aura of unbearable heat. The whole location haunted by the ghost (be it the manor, the part of castle where it appears, the graveyard) is treated as having very hot conditions or increase by one step if already very hot (which might make resting within its boundaries problematic). The ghost can start fires with its corrupting touch, and any creature within 30 feet of the ghost has to make a Fortitude saving throw at the start of its turn or suffer 1d4 points of nonlethal damage from the heat. Burning dead ghosts are usually vestiges of people who were arsonists, had been burned alive, or died in scorching desert heat.

Dream Haunting (Su): The ghost can possess an adjacent sleeping creature and haunt the dreams. It allows the ghost to appear in dreams of the target as if using create mindscape or instigate psychic duel spells (caster level 12th or the ghost's HD, whichever is higher). If the target is subject of dream, nightmare or similar dream-affecting ability, the ghost may instigate psychic duel with the creature contacting the target instead, or include creator of such effect in a mindscape shared with the ghost and the target. This ability is common among less directly violent ghosts. A successful saving throw against any of such effects renders the target immune to dream haunting from the same ghost until the subject wakes up and falls asleep again.

Frozen Dead (Su): The ghost gains immunity to cold and projects an aura of unbearable cold. The whole location haunted by the ghost is treated as having cold weather (even if it is indoors) or decreases by one step if already cold. The ghost can freeze non-magical liquids and leave traces of ice with its corrupting touch, and any creature within 30 feet of the ghost has to make a Fortitude saving throw at the start of its turn of suffer 1d4 points of nonlethal damage from the exposure. Frozen dead ghosts are usually vestiges of people who froze to death or left others to freeze.

Noxious Dead (Su): The ghost was poisoner or died of poison. Anyone eating or drinking anything within 30 feet of the ghost is exposed to the effects of poison spell. Malicious ghosts with noxious dead ability can often create lavish feasts and excellent wines out of solidified ectoplasm, often lying around the tables in otherwise abandoned ghost-haunted places. Such foods and drinks lack any nutritional and might be either exceptionally tasty or completely bland.

Pocket Purgatory (Su): Powerful ghosts can have a personalized demiplane linked to them, similar to permanent effects of greater create demiplane. Such pocket purgatory might be a bleak place shaped by the ghosts most painful memories, or a place of blissful oblivion, representing the happiest moments of their lives. A pocket purgatory entrance is placed in the place haunted by the ghost, and often requires certain conditions to be opened. A ghost with pocket purgatory can only be put to rest by discovering the entrance conditions and resolving the situation within the demiplane. Some ghosts can also have an ability to abduct selected living beings to their pocket purgatory, usually those who resemble their loved (or hated) ones, and those who are suitable to play certain roles within the narrative of the ghost's ever-repeating story.

Sap Life (Su): The ghost's corrupting touch reinforces grants temporary hit points equal to hit points lost by a living victim, as per vampiric touch spell. It makes the ghost appear more solid, more alive (and possibly younger) as it accumulates temporary hit points. This ability fits misers and people who thrived on manipulating and exploiting others when alive.

Soul Collector (Su): The ghost collects souls of those it kills. Living creature killed by a soul collector has its soul captured after 1 round, and can't be revived until the soul collecting ghost is permanently put to rest. This is a death effect. A soul collecting ghost can keep up to one bound soul per point of Charisma bonus (minimum 1) and might need to release some of the collected souls to capture new souls, more desirable for eternal companionship. The captured souls usually appear as a ghostly visages as a part of the soul collecting ghost, though some ghost might keep them anchored in surrounding items, such as spectral dolls in a doll-house, or crew of a bottled ship. If the creature soul is already bound to another entity (e.g. powerful devil), the entity might seek the soul collecting ghost to reclaim its property.

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