Friday, October 23, 2020

OSR: Greater Incorporeal Undead


                                                              by Tom Shropshire

Most Ghosts are insubstantial things, mere shreds of the original soul that were left behind, spiritual detritus.  These Ghosts repeat specific, repetitive actions, such as the Ghost of a suicide throwing themselves off the same building once a year, or the ghost of a murder victim protesting that they need more time before being shot by an unseen gunman.  These Ghosts are harmless.

Other, more powerful Ghosts take on the semblance of being full persons, and carry out repetitive actions that they did in life.  Some of these Ghosts seek to finish some unfinished business but have been unable to do so, usually because things have changed but the Ghost has not.  Alternatively, in the case of a vengeful spirit, the task may be a mad quest or impossible to fulfill, such as seeking vengeance on someone who is also dead, so the Ghost simply takes vengeance on people it thinks are it's original target. 

Base Ghost Template
AR Ethereal Nature- see "Ghost"
Atk Varies
Mor Varies
Saves (7+HD) or less
Immune to Cold, Poison and Necrotic damage


Ghost: A Ghost counts as being Undead.  They can also fly and are intangible, so non-spiritual objects pass through them.  They are immune to damage from non-magical weapons, as well as cold, poison and necrotic damage.

Changeable Image: Some Ghosts can change their appearance, though this does not change their attributes.  They can also turn invisible, but they is revealed when they attack or uses an object.  However, even while invisible, they leaves signs of his presence.  These signs can include pockets of cold air, scents, a linger presence, the feeling of being watched or etc.  Additionally, Cats and Dogs can detect Ghosts even when they are invisible, and Ghosts can always be seen in a mirror. 

Sunlight Damage: Ghosts take 6 damage a round if they are exposed to sunlight.

Conditional Immortality: Ghosts are bound to an object, location or person.  As long as that thing is intact, the Ghost cannot truly be killed.  If reduced to 0 HP, a Ghost will return to life in 1d4 days at midnight.  The only way to permanently get rid of a Ghost is immolation by sunlight or by destroying the thing binding them to this world. 

Possession: Some Ghosts can also possess people. 

There are other incorporeal Undead other than Ghosts, however.

                                                        by Arnold Lobel


Base Spectre Statblock
HD 1d3+1 
AR Ethereal Nature- see "Ghost"
Atk Withering Touch (1d6+HD)
Mor 14
Saves (7+HD) or less
Immune to Cold, Poison and Necrotic damage

Ghost: A Spectre counts as being Undead.  They can also fly and are intangible, so non-spiritual objects pass through them.  They are immune to damage from non-magical weapons, as well as cold, poison and necrotic damage.

Sunlight Damage: Spectres take 6 damage a round they are exposed to sunlight.

- Destroy all living creatures
- Take pleasure in slaying the helpless
- Flee only if in danger of being destroyed

A Spectre is the mere fragment of a soul, a flayed section of spirit, a shattered fragment of a mind plucked from the remains of a whole and sealed in a spiritual cell.  Within this hollow prison, the fragment grows distorted and strange, struggling to return to the rest of its soul, but being unable to.  This drives a Spectre mad, stretching what little soul it has to the breaking point and beyond. 

Whenever a Spectre sees a living creature, that creature's completeness makes it again remember it's own imperfection, which drives it into a state of homicidal rage.  The Spectre will then attempt to snuff the life of that creature.  This is the only thing that grants a Spectre even the slightest bit of satisfaction.  But even after slaying another creature, the Spectre will once again be left with the knowledge that it is hollow, imperfect, and should not exist.

Spectres are created by blasphemous magic, usually wielded by Necromancers or other perverse Sages.  Spectres can be easily bound and many can be spawned from one powerful soul.  Additionally, they are much more dangerous to the unprepared- a Skeleton can be smashed with a hammer and a Zombie riddled with arrows, but a Spectre is a much more dangerous guard-dog.

A Spectre that is not pressed into service by an evil Sorcerer usually stalks some isolated place, hiding from the sun by day and destroying sentient creatures who stray close to it by night.  If a Spectre finds itself in an area full of mortals, it might flee in despair, or it might go on a rampage until it runs out of visible targets or is destroyed.

When a Spectre is destroyed, the fragment of what it was disappears and returns to the largest nearby fragment, or back to the rest of the soul that it was peeled off of.

Spectre plot Hooks:

1- The party are hired to exorcise a murderous Ghost.  However, when they arrive, they find a powerful, but Genteel and largely benevolent Ghost who has lost his memories.  They also find a Necromancer operating in the area.  Secretly, the Necromancer attempted to bind the Ghost but failed and instead fractured it, creating a Spectre in the process.  If the Spectre is freed or destroyed, the Ghost would regain his memories and be free to move on.
2- An evil Sage has split the soul of a hero into a dozen fragments, each one a terrible Spectre sent out to do the Sage's bidding.  These Spectres are kept apart and sustained by magic, but if these bindings could be broken, they would merge together and be restored to one, glorious whole. 
3- The party are asked to break into a Sage's home and recover some trinket or accomplish something else.  However, they discover a terrible secret- the Sage has been performing profane experiments on people in the basement.  Now, can they escape before the "Servants" catch them and take them to the lab, to be more fodder for this madman?

                                                                 by u/ellieinthesky


Base Banshee Statblock
HD 1d4+1 
AR Ethereal Nature- see "Ghost"
Atk Withering Touch (1d6/1d6)
Mor 10
Saves (7+HD) or less
Immune to Cold, Poison and Necrotic damage

Ghost: A Banshee counts as being Undead.  They can also fly and are intangible, so non-spiritual objects pass through them.  They are immune to damage from non-magical weapons, as well as cold, poison and necrotic damage.

Sunlight Damage: Banshee take 6 damage a round they are exposed to sunlight.

Terrifying Appearance: Banshees are frightening and grotesque in appearance.  Anyone who lays eyes on one must succeed a COG save or become frightened.  Anyone who is frightened by a Banshee takes 1d6 COG damage they remain in combat or nearby a Banshee.  If this COG damage reduces a creature's COG to 0, that creature flees and continues running until it is certain it is far away from the Banshee.  If the Banshee kills any of the creature's companions while the creature is frightened, the creature gains the Conviction, "Banshees are dangerous and I will avoid them whenever possible.  If I can, I will run from them."     

Wail: 1/Day, a Banshee can unleash a terrifying shriek.  Any creature within 50' of the Banshee must then make a CON save.  On a successful save, a creature takes 3d6 psychic damage.  On a failed save, the creature, if it has any FS left, drops to 0 FS.  If the creature has no FS, he drops to 0 HP.      

- See if anyone is scared of you
- If they are not, immediately Wail
- Slay the weakest looking
- Retreat and use hit and run tactics on the others

While it is debated whether or not the souls of the dead are judged after death, one thing that is known is that the Gods bless and curse those who are still alive.  There is the famous story of King Tabex, who had a habit of killing his guests and stealing their possessions, a grave violation of the laws of hospitality.  As punishment for this, the Gods ensorcelled his horses, transforming them into meat-eating beasts.  When Tabex entered his stables, he found his grooms dead and his prize steeds turned to freakish beasts.  Those creatures chased him until he was exhausted, then fed upon his flesh and ate his innards. 

Another common example are Ghouls, which are creatures cursed for eating the flesh of their own kind, or Vampires, who are cursed for their promiscuity.  But one relatively unknown example is that of the Banshee.

Banshees are usually women, though a male Banshee is not unheard of, who were blessed greatly but abused their gifts in life. Usually these gifts amount to great beauty, but those blessed with great artistic ability, musical talent or powers of persuasion can also end up becoming Banshees.  The curse comes when the accursed refuses to use their gifts for the betterment of the world or to bring joy to others, instead exploiting their talents for selfish gain or evil ends. 

For example, Yuli Manz Bethshabi was a Frogling woman who had the rare talent of being able to sing at the low volumes her countrymen find so appealing.  But rather than use this talent to win herself a good husband or enrich the lives of her people with song, she used it to mislead locals and travelers into following her into the bog, where they would drown, either because they could not find their footing or her accomplices would hold them under the water.  In response to this, the Gods cursed her to become a Banshee.  At first, she barely noticed this judgement, but as the curse progressed, she lost her voice slowly but surely, until she could barely speak.  Finally, the curse took her life and bound her to the bog where she drowned her victims.  She still stalks it by night, her croaking songs all but inaudible unless she is right behind you.

Banshees are bound to either the place they died or the place where they committed their crimes.  Most Banshees despise the Gods and continue their crimes to spite them.  Others merely seek to take revenge on those who harmed them while they were alive.  But some seek to escape from their cursed fate, but don't know how.  The only way for a Banshee to be released from their curse is for them to seek redemption and find it. 

Banshee Plot Hooks

1- The party is hired to assassinate someone, but they need to make it look like an accident.  Their client recommends they investigate the lair of a Banshee, who was a talented conman before he died.  The Banshee sold useless cures and false magic while alive, and now he sells spiritual poison that leaves no physical traces.  He'll sell you some, as long as you don't anger him.  If you do, he'll kill you and scrape out any hatred you have to make more poison.
2- A local man hires the party to investigate the disappearance of the local woman who he has been attempting to woo.  She ran into the wilderness and he hasn't been seen since.  Secretly, she has been killing people by luring them to her doom using her beauty and stashing their bodies in the woods.  The Banshee's curse has been slowly robbing her of that beauty, and she has fled rather than face the consequences of her actions. 
3- A rich woman comes to the party and tells them that her wealthy husband is a sick pervert who has been abusing and torturing her.  She knows that the local magistrates will not take action, so she can only rely on extralegal means.  Secretly, she is lying and just wants the party to kill her husband so she can take possession of his wealth.  Afterwards, she plans to betray them.  If she is killed, she will turn into a Banshee and attempt to take her revenge.               

                                                        by Matt Hubel


Base Wraith Statblock
HD 1d6+1
AR Ethereal Nature- see "Ghost"
Atk Withering Touch (1d8/1d8) or Life Drain
Mor 12
Saves (7+HD) or less
Immune to Cold, Poison and Necrotic damage

Ghost: A Wraith counts as being Undead.  They can also fly and are intangible, so non-spiritual objects pass through them.  They are immune to damage from non-magical weapons, as well as cold, poison and necrotic damage.

Sunlight Damage: Wraiths take 6 damage a round they are exposed to sunlight.

Life Drain: If a Wraith touches a living creature, it can force that creature to save.  On a successful save, that creature takes 1d6 Necrotic damage.  On a failed save, that creature takes 1d6 CON damage.  This can also reduce a creature's total HP.  If this reduces a creature's CON to 0, that creature immediately dies.  Note that once a creature makes or fails one save, each subsequent use of Life Drain on it does that kind of damage. 

CON damage done by Life Drain is permanent until removed by a spell such as Greater Restoration or the target is blessed by a person granted divine power, such as a Priest, Prophet (Paladin) or King.  After such a blessing is bestowed on the creature, CON returns at a rate of 1 point per day.      

Create Spectre: If any creature has died within the presence of the Wraith, the Wraith can attempt to catch the creature's soul before it can depart for the afterlife.  This struggle is invisible to those not properly attuned or without the eyes to see, such as with Sight Beyond Sight.  If the Wraith catches such a soul, it can shred it into fragments, and create a Spectre.  Such a Spectre is bound to the Wraith and must obey it's commands no matter what.  Wraiths can bind and command a number of Spectres equal to their HD.  The other pieces of the flayed soul the Wraith wraps around it's neck, to add to its robe of inky shadows.  Only by destroying the Wraith or with it's consent can the fragment spirit be reassembled and released to the afterlife.    

- Open with Life Drain
- Try to create a Spectre
- If that is impossible, focus your attacks on the most dangerous enemy

The greatest enemy is Death, and the desire to conquer him is the foundation of all civilization.  This has not changed over the eras, and many great Sages have plotted against Heaven and Nature, seeking to cheat death and become eternal.  This has resulted in the twin methods of Daemonhood and the more famous, Lichdom.

However, becoming a Lich is fraught with difficulty.  It requires special physical preparations, unique spells and other magical preparations.  It also requires great humility and perserverance.  And even if you do everything right, you could still make some magical error that leaves you trapped in a corpse, unable to move or do anything until your phylactery runs out of power and you die again, or you could succeed, only to forget to adjust your blood-pressure and give yourself a stroke before dying again.  Or you could slice off some important part of your personality, leaving yourself without the motivation to continue your original plan, or accidentally misplace your memories and leave you wondering what all these metal cylinders and explosive compounds are for. 

Wraiths are one of those potential outcomes when someone fails to properly ascend to Lichdom.  Such an outcome can result from getting the potion to poison ratio wrong, fumbling one of your incantations and failing to rectify it later, or because someone jammed three feet of steel through your chest before you could finish the ritual.  There are also other ways to become a Wraith, of course.  Failing to ascend to Lichdom is just one common way.  Regardless, the result is the same.

A Wraith is a person's consciousness, minus their body, but plus incredible power.  Sometimes Wraiths manage to maintain the full suite of emotions that a living person would have, the spells for Lichdom preserving their spirit.  However, if those spells were botched, incomplete or otherwise rushed, then they could flay the person's soul, leaving the Wraith with dulled emotions and empathy.  Regardless of initial circumstances, most Wraiths share one trait, and that is the ability to hold a grudge.  That, along with blood-thirsty rage. 

Wraith Plot Hooks:

1- A villain is attempting to become a Lich.  Stop him.  But be careful- just because you kill him, doesn't mean he is gone for good.
2- Someone is eliminating the old, retired members of a group of heroes that once saved the Kingdom.  The Paladin, frail and senile in her old age has been raving that one of her old enemies has returned from the grave to get his revenge like he always promised he would.  Is she right, or is this just the babbling of an scared old woman?
3- The party is asked to investigate a mysterious string of murders.  All the victims died in concealed locations with locked doors and no sign of forced entry, and none of them had any visible wounds on their body.  The local watchmen suspect a Wizard, but no one has any real idea what is actually going on.  Secretly, it's a Wraith taking revenge.
4- A Kobold stumbles into a village, asking for help.  The Kobold tells a story of how an evil spirit has taken control of his tribe.  He needs help to get rid of the spirit and the Kobolds lack the power to do so. 
5- As the party explores a darkness shrouded ruin, the party is approached by a Wraith.  With a voice like knife scraping bone, the undead tells them a tale of how it seeks to avenge itself upon a flock of Gralei that betrayed it so many years ago.  All the Wraith wants is for them to help it terrorize the Flock, in exchange for their aid, the Wraith will let them keep all of the loot.  None of that interests the Wraith.  Will the party help the Wraith?  And will they be able to avoid the Wraith's inevitable betrayal?
6- The Necromancer Lysandar Boneheart terrorized the nation of Ardol for many years before he was finally captured and hung.  But before he died, he spoke a curse over them, declaring that he would return and have his revenge against those who hounded him in life.  Now, as the one year anniversary of his death approaches, strange omens fill the dreams of the Prophets and disturbing omens torment the Oracles.  Has Boneheart really returned, or is it just the nervous murmurings of peasants?       

                                                          by Arnold Lobel

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