Sunday, January 13, 2013

A Good Old-Fashioned Classic

Monster, that is.  Any Dungeon Master (hereafter DM) worth his dice makes up his own material; be it monsters, magic treasure, spells, or player character classes.  You'll find I'm no different, though I do have to confess in the case of monsters I have a special affinity for the undead, hence it's only fitting that my first monster on the blog be one of those, no?  Intended as a threat to higher level B/X characters, it's my pleasure to present to you my take on the classic ghost:


Armor Class:         0                                  No. Appearing:     1 to 4
Hit Dice:                  8**-14**                     Save As: Wizard:    8-14
Move:                        120’ (40’)                   Morale:                    10
Attacks:                   Special, see below     Treasure Type:     V (G)
Damage:                  Special                        Alignment:             Chaotic

Haunts are Undead that have, because of unfinished business with the world of the living or their own selfish desires, resisted passage into the afterlife.  Haunts are always tied to a location or object they held dear in life, whether a cherished home or miserly hoard or simple wedding ring, which is the haunt's focus.  The movement rate given above is also the maximum distance a haunt can move away from their focus.  As a haunt is unable to effect its focus physically, it is possible for sorely harassed adventurers to outrun a haunt.  A Haunt can only be hit by magic weapons of +3 or greater power.

Haunts are normally invisible to the living but able to effect the world by the use of their poltergeist powers; teleporting, moving, rearranging, stacking or even throwing items within their area of influence.  Haunts also possess the ability to use an Improved Phantasmal Forces spell-like effect at will, which can be used to frighten, mislead or otherwise confound the haunt's victims.  Whatever the effect - bleeding walls, weeping statues, maze-like corridors, unearthly moaning - will seem completely real at the time but leaves no traces later on.  Victims of these effects, either manipulated objects or Improved Phantasmal Force, must save vs Spells or become unnerved, suffering a -1 to all rolls while within the haunt's area of influence; this penalty ceases once the character moves beyond the haunt's influence, but remains in effect indefinitely otherwise.  This fear is cumulative with the results of a Haunt's Manifestation ability.

Haunts can become visible briefly, called a manifestation, appearing as they did at the time of their death. Victims of manifestations will faint or flee the haunt's influence unless they Save vs. Paralysis in which case the character will merely be frozen in fear for 1d4 rounds, then act at -1 to all rolls while within the confines of the haunted area.

Haunts cannot be turned by clerics as their focus anchors them firmly to an area, however, any cleric of 4th level or greater can attempt an exorcism.  An exorcism requires one vial of holy water and one turn of uninterrupted prayer.  At the end of the ten minutes, if the haunt has been unable to stop the cleric, the haunt must save vs. Spells or be exorcized, unable to manifest or manipulate the physical world for a period of at least a year; possibly much longerAn exorcism is not without peril for the cleric, however, for if the haunt saves successfully the would-be exorcist must save vs. Spells or be possessed by the haunt.  Possessed character will be used by the haunt to accomplish their unfinished business, secure their focus, bury their bones, what-have-you depending on the Haunt's motivation.  Once their business is completed the haunt will vacate the possessed character for the afterlife or return to their lair and continue their haunting.  Only the destruction of their focus can force a Haunt to continue on to the afterlife before their purpose is accomplished.  If a Haunt's focus - whether it be a house, a piece of jewelry, a letter - should be destroyed the Haunt must save vs. Paralysis or pass on to the afterlife.  If the Haunt saves successfully it may select another focus and continue about its unfinished business.  Like others of its ilk, a Haunt is immune to spells that effect the mind, such as Charm Person, Sleep or Hold.


The 'G' treasure type should only be used for those Haunts attached to manor houses, castles or other such locations where the accumulation of such riches can occur, the 'V' treasure type should be used for those poor unfortunate souls who have perished in remote, lonely places such as deeper dungeon levels and desolate and foggy moors.

Despite a Haunt's Chaotic nature Lawful characters who assist a Haunt in finishing its business should receive an XP bonus determined by the DM, as long as such business doesn't voilate the Lawful character's beliefs.  This should included such actions as arranging a proper burial for the Haunt's remains, communicating a message to a Haunt's loved ones,  delivering an item, discharging an unfulfilled duty, etc.

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