The following material is Open Game Content the license for this material is located on the parent page.
Ask ten different people about ghosts and you are likely to get 15 different opinions. The word “ghost” is actually a catchall term for many different types of supernatural manifestations.
Clouding the waters even further, many ghost hunters and theologians have differing opinions on the nature of ghosts. Some believe that they are the souls of those who are somehow trapped here on earth and have yet to “cross over.” Others believe that ghosts are demons that appear to the living to sow confusion and religious doubt. Yet others believe that ghosts are naturally occurring ripples of strong emotions echoing from dimensions that intersect our own. Who cares about what those other yahoos think though, right? You want the right answer, which is why you are reading this guide.
Let’s start with the basics. In general, there are two different classes of ghosts—Echoes and Lost Souls. Some people who claim to have witnessed a haunting describe an apparition that is visible in the same place or time doing the same thing over and over. These manifestations may occur every night, every year, ten years or even hundred years.
These ghosts are the spectral figures of legend. Such apparitions may take the forms of real people who have died and even appear solid, though they often walk through doors, windows or walls. One theory—the one I believe to be true—is that these locations or objects absorbed the psychic impressions of a person in the same way a room absorbs strong odors such as cigarette smoke. Those impressions linger long after the person has passed away, but are really nothing more than an echo of a strong emotional imprint.
Since these echoes are not actual souls, they are not self-aware and do not interact with the present day. Encountering echoes can be exciting when you first take up ghost-hunting. There is little or no danger associated with them, so it is a good way for newbies to get their feet wet. Just remember, sometimes you do not get the luxury of picking what kind of ghosts you encounter and you end up with a live one… so to speak.
The other type of ghost—lost souls—are spirits whose mortal remains have expired but whose immortal souls have not passed on to the “undiscovered country”, the “next life”, “heaven”, or whatever you prefer to call it. Usually, they stay behind because of unfinished business. Lost souls may take several forms, from atmospheric balls of energy (ABEs), to poltergeists, to full apparitions.
Template: Lost Soul
Lost souls are the spirits of those who die but are unable or unwilling to leave our plane of existence— usually because of some unfinished business, but in rare instances because of outside intervention.
“Lost soul” is an inherited template that can be added to any recently deceased creature with Intelligence of 3 or greater. Lost souls manifest themselves in one of four classifications depending on the amount of their spiritual energy (as determined by hit dice, below) at the time of death. Manifestation of the last category, dominating spirit, requires additional circumstances as noted in the description.
Manifestation (species) Initial HD
A lost soul retains all the being’s statistics except as noted below.
Challenge Rating: Same as the original +1.
Type: The creature’s type changes to undead. This means lost souls are immune to poison, sleep, paralysis, stunning, disease, necromantic effects, and mind-affecting effects. They are not subject to critical hits, non-lethal damage, ability damage, ability drain, energy drain, effects of massive damage, or any effect requiring a Fortitude save unless the effect also works on objects or is harmless. They are destroyed if reduced to 0 hit points or less (but may be rejuvenated, as noted below).
Hit Dice: Change to d12. Lost souls have no Constitution score.
Speed: Same as the base creature.
Defense (Ex): A lost soul earns no natural armor or equipment bonus to defense but retains any class bonuses and dodge bonus due to Dexterity +1.
Special Qualities: All lost souls share the special qualities detailed below. Other abilities are listed under individual manifestations.
Incorporeal (Ex): A lost soul can be harmed only by other incorporeal creatures, +1 or better magic weapons, and spells, spell-like abilities, and supernatural abilities. It is immune to non-magical attack forms. Even when hit by spells or magic weapons, a lost soul has a 50% chance to ignore damage from a corporeal source (except for force effects, such as magic missile, or attacks made with ghost touch weapons). A lost soul can pass through solid objects at will, but not force effects (such as a wall of force). Its attacks ignore natural armor, armor, and shields, although deflection bonuses and force effects (such as mage armor) work normally against it. A lost soul moves silently and cannot be heard with Listen checks (unless it wishes to be heard). It has no Strength score, so its Dexterity modifier applies both to its melee and ranged attacks. Non-visual senses, such as blindsight and scent, do not function against lost souls. A lost soul cannot be tripped or grappled by a corporeal attacker, nor can one make trip or grapple attacks.
Invisibility (Ex): Lost souls are naturally invisible but may be detected by spells that detect or reveal invisible creatures and objects. Some classes of lost souls are capable of revealing themselves willingly, but normally do so only at night.
Rejuvenation (Su): In most cases, it is difficult to destroy a lost soul through simple combat; the “destroyed” soul often restores itself in 2d4 days. As a rule, the only way to get rid of a lost soul forever is to determine the reason for its existence and set right whatever prevents it from resting in peace. The exact means varies with each lost soul.
Darkvision (Ex): Lost souls can see in the dark up to 60 feet. Darkvision is black and white only, but it is otherwise like normal sight, and lost souls can function with no light at all.
Suspended FX (Ex): Lost souls who had the Spellcaster feat or psionic talent in life lose those abilities in death. These abilities may be restored upon possessing a living person.
Allegiances: Previous allegiances are lost. Current allegiances are based upon finishing the lost soul’s business on this plane of existence.
Ability Scores: Lost souls do not have Strength or Constitution scores.
Lesser manifestations are incorporeal spirits barely able to affect the mundane world.
Special Qualities: Lesser manifestations have the following qualities:
Cold Spot (Ex): Lesser manifestations may drop the ambient temperature by 20 degrees covering a five foot radius from their location and lasting up to ten minutes.
Dreamweaving (Su): Lesser manifestations may communicate with the living through dreams. During sleep, the human mind is less guarded and more open to outside influence. During these periods of susceptibility (especially when the target is exhausted or under stress), lost souls can crudely communicate through dream imagery. Dreamweaving cannot harm the dreamer physically or mentally.
Lesser telekinesis (Su): Lesser manifestations may move a single small object (<=1 lb.) across short distances. The lesser manifestation must be within 30 feet of the manipulated object. The object cannot strike any other object or being with damaging force.
Channel (Ex): Lesser manifestations may communicate with the living when called upon in certain settings (such as a séance). Communication is usually restricted through mediums, who are attuned to the spirit world. On rare occasion, the lost soul may briefly (generally less than 30 seconds) possess a host to pass on a personal message. See the Possession ability under Dominating Spirit for information on resolving the target’s combined character stats.
Poltergeists are incorporeal spirits with the ability to affect the mundane world. They are the most common supernatural manifestation and perhaps the most exciting and vibrant as well. Observers experience anything from the opening and closing of doors and windows to small objects suddenly and inexplicably moving. These manifestations may also cause inexplicable noises, flickering lights, electronic appliances turning on or off, or even childishly hiding a haunted person’s possessions.
A majority of poltergeist hauntings are linked to a living, adolescent child, and most often a female. This has misled some investigators into believing that poltergeists are not ghosts at all, but living people who have unknowingly tapped into mental or psychic energy. (This may be true in some cases, but certainly not all.) Most poltergeist activity begins small and builds over time, ending with a climax of activity.
On rare occasions, poltergeist activity becomes dangerous and causes physical harm to the living. Ghost hunters must be prepared for danger during such an investigation.
Special Qualities: Poltergeists have access to the same special qualities as lesser manifestations, in addition to the following:
Cluster Attack (Su): The poltergeists may choose an area of 30 feet circumference or less to attack. During the attack everything in the area is subjected to that particular attack. For ten rounds, the lost soul may throw up to:
• Eight small items weighing 5 lbs. or less; 1d2 damage
• Four items weighing 10 lbs. or less; 1d4 damage
• One item weighing 20 lbs. or less; 1d6 damage
Gift of Life (Ex): Although rare, under extreme circumstances lost souls have been known to share spiritual energy with other lost souls or with living creatures on the brink of death. To heal the living, the poltergeist must make a successful touch attack, after which it may heal up to 2d4 points of damage once per hour. Spiritual energy transferred to the living may be treated as temporary hit points. To affect another lost soul, a poltergeist must make a successful touch attack, after which it may permanently transfer one level of Hit Dice to the target.
Atmospheric Ball of Energy (ABE)
ABEs, also called “Orbs,” are composed of inexplicable light. They are often mistaken for lesser manifestations, as they are rarely visible to the naked eye.
ABEs are caught on film or video (both traditional and digital) appearing as inexplicable “lens flares” or “mists”—hot spots of spiritual energy. It is sometimes possible to discern faces or features in the mists, but the investigator should be very careful in making claims of photographic evidence, as a believer may imagine seeing something where others do not. Although invisibility is its natural state, ABEs may choose to make themselves visible for short periods of time.
Special Qualities: ABEs have access to the same special qualities as lower-level manifestations, in addition to the following:
Visible Form (Ex): ABEs can manifest as visible balls of energy for short durations.
Terrifying Slam Attack (Su): Each successful attack causes 1d6 points of electrical shock damage. The recipient of a successful slam attack must make a Will save (DC 12) or become terrified. Failure means the creature flees the ABE as fast as possible for 1d4 rounds. The victim cowers if unable to flee and defends normally (but cannot attack).
Phantoms are lost souls with the ability to manifest human forms for short durations. Phantoms often manifest as they appeared (or saw themselves) at the time of their deaths.
Special Qualities: Phantoms have access to the same special qualities as lower-level manifestations, in addition to the following:
Ghastly Appearance (Su): Can manifest a visible form. Any living creature within 60 feet who views the phantom must succeed at a Fortitude save (DC 10 + Phantom’s Hit Dice + Phantom’s Charisma modifier). Failure results in the immediate loss of 1d4 points of temporary Wisdom damage (or forcing a Horror save if using optional Horror rules). A creature that successfully saves against this effect cannot be affected by the same phantom’s ghastly appearance for the next 24 hours.
Frightful Moan (Su): A phantom can moan as an attack action. All living creatures within 30-feet must succeed at a Will save (DC 10 + phantom’s Hit Dice + phantom’s Charisma modifier). Failure results in 1d4 points of temporary Intelligence damage (or forcing a Horror save if using optional Horror rules). A creature who successfully saves against this effect cannot be affected by the same phantom’s frightful moan for the next 24 hours.
Spirit Weapon (Su): A lost soul may manifest part of its spiritual energy in the form of a weapon capable of harming both other spirits and living beings. This weapon may take any form the spirit desires and deals damage just like a physical weapon. Weapon proficiency rules still apply. The more complex the weapon, the more spiritual energy required manifesting it. This cost is paid only once, because once manifested the weapon is a permanent extension of the lost soul and permanently reduces the phantom’s hit dice accordingly. Phantoms may not manifest a spirit weapon if doing so would drop its hit dice below the Phantom’s level. All spirit weapons are treated as +1 or +2 weapons (depending on the cost used to create it). Cost: Simple or Archaic melee weapons—1 HD; Exotic melee weapons or ranged weapons—2 HD. Ranged spirit weapons (such as a cowboy ghost's sixshooter) have limitless ammunition.
A dominating spirit is the lost soul of someone corrupted by great and infernal powers. In life, the person may have wielded forbidden arcane powers or committed vile, evil acts. Dominating spirits commonly possess others and are one of the most difficult manifestations to exorcise.
Special Qualities: Dominating spirits have access to the same special qualities as phantom-level manifestations, to include the following:
Possession (Su): Once per round, as an attack action, a dominating spirit can merge with a living creature and seize control of its body. To use this ability, the spirit must first enter the target’s fighting space; doing so does not provoke attacks of opportunity. The target can resist the spirit’s attempt at possession with a successful Will save (DC 10 + spirit’s Hit Dice + spirit’s Charisma modifier). If the save succeeds, the spirit is rebuffed and pushed into an adjacent square. If the save fails, the spirit vanishes into the target’s body and takes control of it. Once a target has successfully been possessed, the Will DC to avoid subsequent possessions by any dominating spirit rises by 1 per successive instance of possession.
The dominating spirit’s Intelligence, Wisdom, Charisma, base attack bonus, base save bonuses, allegiances, action points, skill ranks, talents, and feats (including weapon proficiency) replace those of the possessed. The possessed person retains his Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, hit points, fighting space, reach, and Reputation bonus.
Suspended FX no longer limits the dominating spirit, allowing it to regain access to the Spellcaster feat and any spells memorized at the time of its death. Dominating spirits that possess a living being lose access to the following Special Qualities: Invisibility, Darkvision, Cold Spot, Lesser Telekinesis, Cluster Attack, Terrifying Slam Attack, Ghastly Appearance, Frightful Moan, and Spirit Weapon.
The soul and consciousness of a possessed person is held captive within his own body, and the dominating spirit gains full access to the person’s memories. The possessed person’s spirit may reinstate itself if the dominating spirit is destroyed or otherwise dislodged from its host. As a free action, a possessing spirit can choose to leave its host. Any attack that deals massive damage on the host’s body allows the host another Will save to oust the possessing spirit and regain control of its body (whether or not the massive damage Fortitude save succeeds).
Leeching Touch (Su): A dominating spirit may leech the energy of living creatures to restore its own spiritual energy. The lost soul must make a successful touch attack, which deals 2d6 points of damage.
The target must succeed at a Fortitude save (DC 10 + lost soul’s Hit Dice + lost soul’s Charisma modifier) or suffer one level of permanent level drain, which is transferred to the dominating spirit as one additional Hit Dice.