View Full Version : Messing with the Ghost Template [PrC] (Sort of)

2007-07-07, 04:41 AM
High all. :)
I want to tweak the Ghost template (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/monsters/ghost.htm), probably beyond recognition, to fit a setting I'm builiding. In this setting, the souls of the dead hovering above your heads is something that happens every day. The souls are immortal, so they can't be destroyed -ever- and can be sent away from the material plane only by high-level spellcasters. I don't intend them to be combat encounters normally, but I want them to interact with the players. I don't want the ghosts to be able to cause physical damage OR be harmed physically. Not even by force spells. Not even by other ghosts. No such thing as ghost touch weapons either. When they want to hurt someone, they mess with his mind (which, in turn, can force a Fortitude save, but for disease, ability drain and such. Not direct damage.) To explain this, I'm making a totally different plane, unknown to all humans (part of the story), which overlaps with the material one - and perhaps all the others.

So I'm thinking of a few house rules for the template that may seem too radical, and that's why I want your opinions.

1) No hit points. Hit Dice are used conventionally to determine ECL etc. Is this too much, you think?
2) No normal attack/full attack, only supernatural abilities.
3) No AC. They are untouchable. Period.
4) No CON and STR. Only mental stats and Dexterity. And DEX applies only because they appear to move, to fly, they have speed etc. But it'll make no difference whatsoever in combat, and a Reflex save won't ever be needed.

Less radical rules.
1) No acquired undead type, they're something else, completely different.
2) They can be turned (when the check is high enough, they are not destroyed, only disappear for some days.) It's a different ability from Turn Undead, it works only for them. Only one homebrewed class I'm working on has it, designed as the "negotiator" with the dead. The souls have turn resistance.
3) All Supernatural abilities force a Will save initially. The consequences are diverse, but sanity will be a very precious thing in this campaign.

I'll give you the full template later (and probably some of the fluff to put it in context), but I'd really appreciate some feedback first. Are the radical rules waaaay out there, or would you accept them with the proper story behind them?

2007-07-07, 05:59 AM
I liked of this. Gives the campaign a supernatural air.
And you said there is a class that can deal with the spirits of the dead, it'll only serve as an exorcist or it'll have some magics at least for cure?

2007-07-07, 08:43 AM
This class is a modified cleric, only instead of having a whole arsenal of spells and abilities against undead, he deals with the souls of the dead. So yeah, he can do other things too, and healing is one of them.

2007-07-07, 09:42 AM
...Whiskey in the jar.

Sorry. It seems to me that stating them out would be unnecessary. They seem to basically be floating casters of some kind, yea? They can't attack or defend. They can't be killed through normal means (I assume you mean there would be special spells that could kill them at high levels, not that cloudkill works but fireball doesn't.) Seems that, rather then making a template, you could save yourself some time just by determining what they do and creating them by DM fiat. Figure out the DC to turn them, write down the special abilities and you're done.

2007-07-07, 11:05 AM
Huh. That's ... even more radical. :smallbiggrin:

Trouble is, though they are all immortal (only one spell can get rid of them permanently via banishment, and it's an 8th level spell), they are not all super-powerful. I need a progress chart. Special abilities that become more awesome with time (or "importance"). A very crucial Will Save. (I never said they are immune to mind-affecting spells now, did I? Won't be so easy to affect them, but possible.) Heck, even skill points.

But from your comment I assume that ignoring hit points etc doen't strike you as too weird. :smallsmile:

2007-07-07, 01:18 PM
If you really wanted to create a sliding scale for these ghosts, maybe write it up something like a PC class, with 10 or 20 levels, depending on exactly how much fine control you want to have over an individual ghost's powers.

Rather than having BAB and saves and all that, the levels would list the will save, mental stats (or you could just decide on those for each ghost) and allow the ghost to choose various ghost abilities as it gets stronger. Maybe base it roughly off the invocation system, with more powerful abilities become available at higher levels and every ability increasing in power as the ghost's "caster level" increases.

2007-07-07, 03:13 PM
I was going to say almost exactly the same thing as Cthulu. You may want to look at the Risen Martyr prestige class in the BoED as a somewhat paralell example. What you are describing is less a creature then a set of abilities that progress, which would be easier to "crunchify" as a prestige class then as a monster.

Ghost [PRC]
Prerequisites: Character must be dead.

2007-07-07, 06:29 PM
Ghost [PRC]
Prerequisites: Character must be dead.
LOL, I am SO gonna use this line.
I think you are right, both of you. PC chart, no BAB, AC or Fortitude Save needed (I'm keeping Reflex for visual effects :smalltongue: ), 20 levels (very fine control), the first of which will be full of Specials. Working on it.

I'm not sure what the invocation system is or where it comes from, but "more powerful abilities become available at higher levels and every ability increasing in power as the ghost's "caster level" increases" is exactly the idea.

Did I say thank you? No I didn't, shame on me.
Thank you very much, that was extremely helpful!

2007-07-07, 07:09 PM
You might want to check out Dicefreaks forums for special powers. Those guys are good with d20. Here's the thread:


Fax Celestis
2007-07-07, 07:42 PM
You also may want to check out the Ghostwalk D&D setting.

Zeta Kai
2007-07-07, 08:33 PM
You might want to check out Dicefreaks forums for special powers. Those guys are good with d20. Here's the thread:


Damn, that is a great template. The guy could use a spellchecker, but the concepts are sweet & well thought-out.

Zeta Kai
2007-07-07, 09:30 PM
So, is this what you had in mind?

Medium Spirit (Commoner 1 base)
Hit Dice: 0d12 (0HP)
Initiative: +2
Speed: Fly 30’ (6 squares, perfect maneuverability)
Armor Class: ∞ (+2 Dex, +∞ natural); touch ∞; flat-footed ∞
Base Attack/Grapple: N/A
Attack: N/A
Full Attack: N/A
Space/Reach: 0’/0’
Special Attacks: Corrupting Gaze, Corrupting Touch, Draining Touch. Frightful Moan, Horrific Appearance, Malevolence, Manifestation, Telekinesis
Special Qualities: Rejuvenation, Turn Resistance +4
Saves: Fort +0, Ref +2, Will +1
Abilities: Str -- (+0), Dex 15 (+2), Con -- (+0), Int 11 (+0), Wis 13 (+1), Cha 15 (+2)
Skills: Hide +10, Intimidate +2, Listen +11, Move Silently +2, Search +8, Spot +11
Feats: Alertness
Environment: any
Organization: solitary, pair, or lament (3-13)
Challenge Rating: 2
Treasure: N/A
Alignment: any
Advancement: by character class (Ghost)
Level Adjustment: +5

2007-07-09, 02:37 PM
Zeta Kai, that was pretty close, thank you for your time. I went for the PrC after all, and this is the first incomplete draft. It still needs a LOT of work, but the foundations are here. The link was great and will be taken under further consideration later, although it’s for another kind of game.

A 1st level Shade is, quite intentionally, harmless. It can say “Boo!” and that’s about it. At higher levels they will be more of a challenge. What remains to be done is mostly crunch about those special abilities (including deciding appropriate level for each), I just wanted to see if the concept makes sense. The pinkish colour is for stuff that still confuses me (or simply lacks details for now).

Prestige Class: The Shade

Deceased. Not undead.

Hit Die
0d12 (0 hp).

Class Skills
The Shade’s class skills (and the key ability for each skill) are Bluff (Cha), Concentration (Wis), Diplomacy (Cha), Hide (Dex), Intimidate (Cha), Knowledge (any) (Int), Listen (Wis) Sense Motive (Wis) and Spot (Wis).

Skill Points at Each Level
2 + Int modifier

{table=head]Level|Ref Save|Will Save|Special

+2|Free from Mortal Coil, Manifestation, Comprehend Languages, Unbounded Knowledge, Bonus Feat: Iron Will, Frightful Moan

+3|Aura of crushing despair, Aura of good hope*

+3|Confusing Gaze

+4|Draining Gaze

+4|Presence of Insight*

+5|Horrific Appearance

+5|Confusing Whirl, Restoration*

+6|True Seeing, Phobic Presence


+7|Telekinesis, Unbalance


+8|Share Lore**

+8|Aura of Insanity

+9|Weakening Presence

+9|Presence of Lunacy

+10|Energy Draining Gaze

+10|Aura of Dementia, Time Stop

+11|Transluscent Aura*

+11|Presence of Death

**mostly harmless

Class Features
All of the following are class features of the Shade prestige class.

Instead of chosing new feats, a Shade gains at every 3 levels, successively : Eschew materials or Stealthy, Persuasive, Negotiator, Alertness, Investigator, Skill Focus (any).

Free from Mortal Coil (Su)
A Shade has no Hit Die, no hit points, no Con and no Str. A Shade has infinite natural AC and cannot be physically harmed in any way. A Shade cannot roll for attack and cannot physically harm anyone in any way, nor manipulate matter directly. A Shade has a permanent Dex of 15 and gains a +2 racial bonus on Int, +4 on Wis and +6 on Cha. Finally, a Shade gains a +6 racial bonus on Bluff and Intimidate, and a +4 on Hide and Sense Motive checks.
By their very definition, Shades are the immortal souls of the dead. They have no hit points to be reduced to zero, and it is impossible to destroy one.

Manifestation (Su)
Shades dwell on the Nadis Plane, commonly referred to as Underworld by mortals, though no one has ever presented proof of its existence or characteristics, nor devised a way to affect it. The Nadis plane is out of bounds for all creatures but Shades, and overlaps with the Material Plane.

When a Shade stays in Nadis, it cannot be perceived or affect or be affected by anything in any other plane. When a Shade manifests in the Material Plane, it partially enters the Material Plane and becomes visible. A manifested Shade still cannot be harmed physically, and can be affected only by spells and abilities specifically designed for this purpose. A manifested Shade always moves silently, can pass through solid objects at will, and can use its special abilities to target creatures. When a spellcasting Shade manifests, its spells (which can only be mind-affecting) can affect targets on the Material Plane normally, unless the spells rely on touch.

A Shade has two home planes, the Material Plane and Nadis. It is not considered extra-planar when on either of these. A Shade cannot manifest inside an anti-magic field, and if an anti-magic field is created and covers the spot where it has manifested, the Shade immediately recedes to Nadis – this is an exception to the rule of Supernatural abilities being suppressed by anti-magic fields. The Shade can’t use any other ability.

In exactly the same way as manifesting in the Material Plane, a Shade can manifest in any other plane, though in no more than one at the same time. [The Plane of Nadis overlaps with all planes. It’s a kind of magic.]

Comprehend Languages (Su)
Shades can understand spoken words of any language, as if permanently affected by the Comprehend Languages spell, with the exception that they cannot understand written messages as well, and they don’t need to touch a creature in order to understand it.

Unbounded Knowledge (Su)
At 1st level a Shade gains 4 extra skill points to Knowledge (The Planes). At each additional level, a Shade gains 4 extra skill points to Knowledge (any).

[On second thought, Turn Resistance was pointless. As long as Turn Shades affects only Shades (duh), the turn check will depend on Shade level, and that is all.]

Shades retain their spellcasting abilities if any, but only for spontaneously casted mind-affecting spells. Shade levels do not stack with others to determine caster level.
Note: Not so sure about this one.Only mind-affecting is cool, but only spontaneous casting is a problem. Although it makes perfect sense fluff-wise, it means that a recently deceased 10th level Bard is actually more powerful than a recently deceased 20th level Wizard.
Another option is dropping spells altogether, and keep my mind at ease. But I’m losing a lot of story-telling devices. Damn…

Special Abilities
All Shade special abilities that affect other creatures are mind-affecting and force initially a will save, with a DC of 10 + ½ the Shade’s levels + the Shade’s Charisma modifier, unless otherwise noted. Additional saves may be needed.

Frightful Moan (Su)
At will, a Shade can emit a frightful moan as a standard action. All living creatures within a 30-foot spread who fail their Will Save become frightened for 2d4 rounds. This is a sonic necromantic mind-affecting fear effect. A creature that successfully saves against the moan cannot be affected by the same Shade’s moan for 24 hours.
At 7th level, the Frightful Moan causes creatures to be panicked instead.

Confusing Gaze (Su)
A Shade can use a gaze attack to target a creature and cause it to be confused, as the spell, for 1 round/level. This is a compulsive mind-affecting effect. When a Shade uses this ability, it must wait 1d6 rounds before using it again.

Draining Gaze (Su)
At will, a Shade can use a gaze attack to target a living creature and drain 1d4 points from any one ability score it selects. Range 30 feet, additional Fortitude Save.

Confusing Whirl (Su)
Once per day, a Shade can appear to transform to a whirling tornado of ever-changing forms as a full-round action. It can retain this protean form for 2 rounds/level. Returning to its normal form is a standard action. All creatures who witness the transformation without averting their eyes (an additional will save is needed) or glance at the Shade after the transformation is complete, are confused, as the spell, for 1 round/level. If the Shade returns to its normal form, the effect ends. This is a compulsive mind-affecting effect. True seeing negates.

Horrific Appearance (Su)
Once per day, a Shade can assume at will a horrific appearance and any living creature within 60 feet that views the Shade must succeed on an additional Fortitude save or immediately take 1d4 points of Strength damage, 1d4 points of Dexterity damage, and 1d4 points of Constitution damage. A creature that successfully saves against this effect cannot be affected by the same Shade’s horrific appearance for 24 hours.

Malevolence (Su)
Once per day, a Shade ghost can merge its body with a creature on the Material Plane. This ability is similar to a magic jar spell (caster level 10th or the Shade’s Level, whichever is higher), except that it does not require a receptacle. To use this ability, the Shade must be manifested and it must try move into the target’s space. A creature that successfully saves is immune to that same Shade’s malevolence for 24 hours, and the Shade cannot enter the target’s space. If the save fails, the Shade vanishes into the target’s body.

Telekinesis (Su)
A Shade can use telekinesis as a standard action (caster level 12th or equal to the Shade’s level, whichever is higher). When a Shade uses this power, it must wait 1d4 rounds before using it again.


A Shade cannot gain levels in any other class.
The dead don’t necessarily become 1st level Shades. They can become higher level Shades, more or less DM Fiat - depending on circumstances of death, seniority, present circumstances etc.

CR ?? [The big question is if we calculate levels before death. A Shade of a 20th level fighter is more powerful than that of a 1st level commoner in skills, saves and not much else…]


Oh, and here is related fluff from the campaign, to put the Shades in context. (These are paragraphs taken from different texts, so structure isn’t exactly awesome. They are for the players’ eyes, and therefore spoiler-free.)

In this world, crossing paths with a dead man is as common as crossing paths with a dog. The dead are everywhere. They are either Shades or Undead.

The Shades are the immortal souls of the dead who still walk the earth. Why some of them do and some don’t, nobody knows for certain. They may be, just like the living, either benevolent (think ancestral spirits offering counsel), or malevolent (think haunted castles trapping adventurers), or simply bored. They are common (at least a couple of them in every tiny village) and generally respected. They can appear or fade at will. No-one knows what happens when they fade (Do they become invisible even to wizards? Do they go someplace else? Do they temporarily cease to exist altogether?), but they can be called back with spells.
The Shades know many things, and they may choose to reveal them, or even be compelled to do so, though usually their answers are vague. They can’t manipulate matter directly, but they can affect people’s minds.

Sages (new class) can communicate more easily with them, find them, call them, ask favors, etc. They can even Turn Shades if absolutely necessary. (See the Sage class below). Shades seem incorporeal, and there are very few ways to actually harm them. A Shade cannot be destroyed, but it can be permanently banished (to gods know where) by only the most powerful Sages. However, if a Sage still has his wits about him, he’ll only try that if the Shade presents a very real and immediate danger. Banishing a Shade without a very good reason means trouble.


Shades are unfathomable to humans. Their conceptions of morality, existence, and even time and space, seem strange to say the least. Thus, when you make a Diplomacy, Bluff, Sense Motive or Intimidate check dealing with a Shade, you suffer a -10 penalty.

New Skill: Shade Affinity
Whenever you would make a Diplomacy check dealing with Shades, you may make a Shade Affinity check instead, suffering only a -5 penalty.
Shade Affinity is a cross-class skill for all classes except Sages.

New Skill: Knowledge (Shades)
Fairly obvious.
Knowledge (Shades) is a cross-class skill for non-casters and a class skill for casters.

If you have 5 ranks in Knowledge (Shades), you gain a +2 bonus to Shade Affinity.
If you have 5 ranks in Knowledge (Shades), you gain a +2 bonus to Turn Shade
If you have 5 ranks in Shade Affinity, you gain a +2 bonus to Bluff, Sense Motive and Intimidate when dealing with Shades.


I see dead people
The fact that the Undead and the Shades of the Dead are all over the place is an integral part of this setting. The implications include:
• There is no resurrection of any kind. When you die you stay dead. Sort of.
• Unless you have levels in the new class of Sage, there’s absolutely nothing you can do to harm a Shade. Everyone knows that nothing can harm them physically, and no spell can target them unless specifically designed to do so.
• A million stories assert that you can try to fool them, but messing with other people’s minds is exactly their field of expertise, so beware.


New Class: The Sage

Background :
Sages are blessed in birth with this special connection to Shades. [...]
They can be loners if they wish, but they can play an important role in the community. A low-level Sage may roam the villages and handle minor situations with Shades, and he can be sure than simple folk will respect him, show nothing but awe to his abilities, and reward him in whatever way they can manage. Lords and powerful citizens often employ a Sage to their service, “just in case”. And some Sages, if they are reputed enough, work freelance, staying home and waiting for “clients” to come to them with requests, Sam Spade style.

Game rule information:
The Sage gains levels as a cleric, except:
• Turn undead is replaced by Turn Shade, again determined by Charisma. Turned Shades run away in fear. If the roll is successful enough, Shades are not destroyed, but fade for [Turn Shade check - (the Shade’s HD] weeks.
• Shade Resistance 4+ [Sage Levels]: A Sage is less likely to be affected by a Shade’s special abilities.
• [6 + Int modifier] skill points instead of 2. Sense Motive and Bluff are class skills for Sages.
• Low Fortitude save.
• Nothing special against undead.
• Good, Evil, Law and Chaos domains don’t exist.
• Wisdom and Charisma are equally important for a Sage.

See the Sage’s Spell List below. For reference, your arsenal includes the following.
Modified spells: Detect Shade(1), Hide from Shade(1), Shade Bane (Lesser (2) and Greater (5)), Shade Haven (Lesser (2) and Greater (5)), Speak with Shade(2), Forbiddance (6).
New Spells: Call Shade (3), Commune with Shade (4), Summon Shade (5), Dominate Shade (6), Banish Shade (8), Nepenthe (9)

Roleplaying note: if you imagine yourself as a “good guy”, don’t start turning whenever you see a Shade, like a cleric turns undead on sight. A Shade is often benevolent. A Shade cannot be permanently dealt with except by very powerful spell-casters, and then there should be a good reason. A Shade may run away scared, but it can come back and it’s a bad idea to anger a powerful one. Turning should be used either for weak and simply annoying Shades, or for horrible world-threatening dangers. Anything in between is better dealt with subtler means, if at all possible. In most cases, Shades are to be respected. They are the souls of the dead, and your role as a Sage is to basically communicate with them.
Then again, if being morally accepted isn’t on your priority list, you can do whatever you like, of course.


More Shades info
More often than not, Shades are basically like the ghosts in Hogwarts. Helpful, funny, aloof or annoying, but not bloodthirsty. Depending on factors like age, importance, and (oh well, nevermind) Hit Dice and Class Levels, they may be treated respectfully or dismissively. A farmer’s wife might simply yell at a Shade who doesn’t let her cook in peace, and shoo it away. And a powerful Lord might cower in terror at the sight of an ancestral Shade who appeared to tell him that he’s disgracing the family name. When important Shades appear and meddle with the affairs of the living, people get alarmed, and experienced negotiators are called in.

Persuading an unwanted Shade to get out is usually a better option than Turning them. Turning unimportant Shades isn’t such a bid deal, but important ones should be treated more respectfully – and when I say “should”, I mean it’s morally accepted. So, you might ask, giving Shades a hard time presents no danger whatsoever but infamy? Oh no. Shades are powerful and can harm you if they wish. And you can’t destroy them, they’re immortal. Shades keep some of their spell-casting abilities and gain new ones, even if they were illiterate cobblers in life. It is generally known that, while no-one has ever received a bleeding wound from a Shade, people get weak, sick, even wither and die, and occasionally go completely mad in diverse and inventive ways because of them.

Wait, does this imply Sanity rules?
Sanity points don’t apply, if that’s what you mean. Mental illnesses do, though, and if something unfortunate should come to pass, I expect you to roleplay your mental state, hoping you’ll find it more interesting than annoying. (Otherwise, boosting your will saves is a good idea.)

Shade Resistance
ShR for reference. This is something Sages get for free, and the rest can acquire through magic items. It obviously means that you’re less likely to be affected by a Shade’s special abilities. Minor ShR items are like peasants’ charms, they are very common but offer minimum protection. For serious defence, there are some moderately rare and very expensive talismans.

When a Shade is actually Banished, the world’s equilibrium is distrupted. Up to many miles away, Shades fade and reappear randomly, as an undeliberate reaction to the banishment. They can all feel what has happened, and if they consider it unjustified, revenge can be expected. You wouldn’t care personally about this before 17th level, but you might witness one some day, or at least its side-effects.

2007-07-09, 02:56 PM
I'd reccomend something more along the lines of a Racial Class, like it Libris Mortis. It shouldn't get nil-fort saves, and should have AC (otherwise, it's mostly unstoppable, more so than with the 50% miss chance even with magic weapons and attacks). I dunno, I kinda perfer the Ghostwalk ideas.