Thursday, August 25, 2016

Gongfarmer’s Almanac 2016


I contributed to a community RPG project last year, and now that it’s available to the public, I can tell you where to find it!

The Gongfarmer’s Almanac 2016 is a fanzine-style publication for (and by) fans of the Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG. All the writing, artwork, layout, and editing was done by members of the DCC RPG Google+ Community. This is the second year the team has done this; last year’s Almanac spanned six volumes, and this year we pushed forward to eight.

In addition to editing, I wrote three pieces for the Almanac this year. They are: Random Tavern Generator (Volume 1), Fantasy Food Generator (also Volume 1), and d50 Fantasy Foods (Volume 8).

You can download all volumes of Gongfarmer’s Almanac 2016 from the community’s Google Drive links below. If you want to order the Almanac in print, you can get the whole shebang in one volume from Lulu (pricing is at-cost, simply covering materials and shipping).

Volume 1: Men, Magic & Drink
Volume 2: Patrons & Gods
Volume 3: Monsters & Treasure
Volume 4: Complete Adventures
Volume 5: Drop-in Adventures
Volume 6: Crawljammer & Interdimensional Travel
Volume 7: Tables & Tools Part I
Volume 8: Tables & Tools Part II
All 8 Volumes In One PDF

The 2015 Gongfarmer's Almanac is also still available, both in print and PDF. (Here are the PDFs for Volumes 1-5, and here’s the one for Volume 6.)

Friday, August 19, 2016

Gen Con 2016: TimeWatch


This year I only played in one game at Gen Con. Wait, before you repossess my dice, hear me out.

This was the first year I dragged my wife and son along, so I didn’t want to overload them. Also, as a developing RPG writer, I had a lot of seminars to attend and schmoozing to do, so that took a lot of time. (I had a second game scheduled before we arrived at the con, and ended up canceling it to squeeze in one more seminar.) Finally, I’ve learned to prioritize exhibit hall time over gaming time, because the former is in shorter supply.

Anyway, the game I DID get into was fun enough to justify the whole trip!

TimeWatch



I'm realizing a time theme in my Gen Con games...I've attended for the last 3 years in a row, and every year I've been in a time travel game. This year's was TimeWatch.

I had just bought the game the day before, and got to meet its designer, Kevin Kulp. TimeWatch is a gonzo time-travel game that uses the Gumshoe system. I missed the game’s Kickstarter (and cursed myself for bad timing), so I was happy to see it on sale at Pelgrane Press’s booth. (Their buy-3-get-one-free sale worked out great for me, too.)

Jumping forward in time approximately a day from my purchase...guess who turned out to be the GM for our session! Yep, Kevin. Kevin ran the adventure "The Gadget,” which I later learned is in the adventure book “Behind Enemy Times."

Adventure synopsis:
"An obsessive 24th-century collector (and disembodied brain) tries to steal the first working atomic bomb for his own personal museum. As Agents work to stop him, ezeru slip in to steal his collection of nuclear warheads."

My son's drawing of the disembodied brain

I liked the adventure, and I’m happy to report that Kevin runs a good game. He's good about letting everyone have their time in the spotlight, including letting each of us define something about the setting (such as the color of time travel, which--in our game--is blue). I also liked his suggestion that we not focus on what was on our character sheets, telling us instead to just think of what cool stuff we wanted to do and go from there.

I played as a British big game hunter from the 19th Century with an impressive elephant gun and an even more impressive mustache. My wife was a sexy liquid-metal-cyborg from India in the future. My son took the part of a caveman with a 12-word vocabulary. (This was a perfect choice for a shy kid who doesn't want to talk much in front of strangers anyway.)

The other pregenerated characters were all cool too. We had an African pilot from the future, an intelligent velociraptor from an alternate timeline, Genghis Khan's daughter, and an arrogant scientist who claimed to have invented time travel. These are signature characters in TimeWatch book, referenced in examples throughout the book.


In the adventure, we got to visit several different time periods, gather clues, infiltrate our enemy, and fight a woolly mammoth and a brain-in-a-jar. We were, of course, successful in saving all of time and space. I don't want to give away too many details about the adventure, in case you have a chance to play it yourself. In fact, if you're in Memphis, I'll run it for you!

In general, though, my favorite thing about TimeWatch is that time travel is its core activity. It's not just a way to get you to the site of an adventure, it's a tool you'll use frequently, both in and out of combat. You can have your future self leave an item for you in the present (Bill-and-Ted style). You can jump ahead in time to see the effects of recent events on the timeline. Each character has her own time travel device, so you don't even have to go as a group.

Oh, another thing I liked about this session was Kevin's use of "Turn Tracker Cards." They were awesome for keeping track of whose turn is next and who has already gone--including adversaries, divided up into Minions, Flunkies, etc., all the way up to the Big Bad. (As soon as I got home I ordered my own deck. You can too!)

If this were a review (it's not), I'd say this: if you like time travel, buy TimeWatch. It's incredibly fun. As I continue to not review it, I must also say I was surprised how thick the book was. The Gumshoe system seems pretty simple, so I didn't think this game would require a lot of info. The thing is, I was kinda right! I believe you can run this game after reading just a few of the chapters. A lot of the book is dedicated to alternate campaign settings (every one of which looks compelling), adversaries, adventure seeds, and full adventures. This, for me, is how to present a game: not a lot of it is mandatory for running the game, but they've given us a large amount of useful material.

End of non-review. It's table selfie time!


Friday, August 12, 2016

Interview With Chris Birch About Star Trek Adventures


A new Star Trek RPG is in the works! Modiphius Entertainment has the license, as they announced recently on their website. I interviewed Modiphius's publishing director, Chris Birch, for Gnome Stew. Here's a link!

Interview With Chris Birch About Star Trek Adventures

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Gen Con 2016: The Seminars


I found myself taking notes at all the seminars I attended at this year's Gen Con, so I figured I'd put them here in case any of you are interested. They're certainly not comprehensive notes, in some cases, because I wasn't planning on reporting them. So I just noted the stuff I thought was especially interesting and that I didn't already know.

Designing for the Cypher System (Monte Cook Games)


Monte Cook and company talked about designing products for the cypher system. Here are a few bits of advice that stuck with me:

  • Put specific cyphers in an adventure, cyphers that will shape how things happen. For example, an adventure with a barrier that must be passed might feature a phasing cypher.
  • Every good GM Intrusion should end with, "What are you going to do?"
  • Look at cypher limits (and the number of GM intrusions you use) as suggestions.
  • Sean Reynolds said designers shouldn't worry about competing with MCG. For example, if you come out with a book of Western adventures for the cypher system, don't worry that MCG will come out with a Western setting and outshine you. The customers will want both!

Monte also mentioned that 90-95% of the products from Monte Cook Games are the result of Kickstarter projects.


Cultivating Healthy Relationships With Publishers (Atlas Games)


Panelists: Jess Banks, Cam Banks, and John Nephew.

I wasn't good at the note-taking at this seminar, so forgive me for not having much to share. (It was a good seminar!)

  • Atlas Games supports conventions by providing support in exchange for ad space.
  • Tools they use internally: Slack, Trello.
  • Playtesting can get their attention at Atlas Games, leading to design opportunities. They like helpful, interactive playtesters.
  • Jess likes chocolate. Send her some.


What's Happening At Chaosium



Panelists: (left to right) Greg Stafford, Michael O'Brien, Neal Robinson, Jeff Richard, Rick Meintz, and (unpictured) Sandy Petersen. Also present were Todd Gardner and Mike Mason.

A lot of the talk involved reassurances that Chaosium has turned around its financial problems and is making things right with customers and professionals. Personally, I get the impression that this is true.

Here are a few more tidbits I caught...
  • Now when you buy a Chaosium book, you get the PDF free. (Love this news!)
  • Sandy Petersen was wearing an excellent shirt. The front showed the DOOM logo, and the back said, "Wrote it."
  • For Call of Cthulhu playtesting, contact Chaosium's "Cult of Chaos" (through Mike Mason, I believe).
  • Chaosium isn't doing monographs anymore. They want to put more polish into what they work on.


Meet FASA Games



Panelists: Mary Harrison, Andrew Ragland, and Josh Harrison. Also present: Ross Babcock, Todd Bogenrief, Morgan Weeks.

The FASA crew talked about all their product lines:

  • Demonworld is a miniatures game featuring "shamanic humans vs dwarves." FASA is now creating a Demonworld RPG. Most of the writers on Demonworld are women. The RPG will be based on the same system Earthdawn uses. FASA is hoping to have the Demonworld RPG out by Gen Con 2017.
  • Fading Suns has been around for a long time, and is my favorite (current) FASA game. New products in the works include Merchant League (which is mostly done) and several Noble Armada books. Fading Suns will also see a book called Where Shadows Lie (about dark evil things between the stars) and one called Rise of the Phoenix (about the empire).
  • 1879 is like an "earlier era Shadowrun," a setting where magic has returned in the Victorian Age. The Player's Guide is out now. The game has are Lewis Carroll tie-ins (such as orcs are called snarks). 1789 has a London sourcebook in the works, as well as a plot point campaign book.
  • Earthdawn: The latest edition has been out for a year. Some books were delayed.

Ross and Josh talked a bit about strengthening FASA. "We're back to being like an indy publisher," Josh said, mentioning that all of them also have day jobs. Ross is pushing for releasing more than one book per line per year; he wants to increase that to one per quarter, and eventually one per month.

Ross said, "FASA has returned from a slumber."


Instant Adventure With Monte Cook



This is the second year Monte has done this amazing event. I went last year and loved it, so I was happy to drag my wife and son to it with me. (Spoiler alert: they loved it too.)

This year, Monte's players were Bruce Cordell, Shanna Germain, Sean Reynolds, and Tom Lommel. The audience chose the following story elements, and Monte improvised an adventure around them:
  • Genre: noir
  • PCs: wizard mobsters
  • Where the PCs just came from: a PC's daughter's wedding
  • An ally: shady cop
  • The enemy: a priest
I can't do justice to this event in words, so I'll put a video here as soon as MCG releases it. Until then, enjoy this replay of last year's event.


UPDATE: Here's this year's Instant Adventure seminar video...



Ken & Robin Talk About Stuff



I didn't take notes on this one because Ken and Robin recorded it for an upcoming episode of their podcast of the same name. So go listen to that, when it comes out, and pretend you're sitting right next to me!


Monte Cook Games Seminar



Invisible Sun

I took more notes in this one because Monte had big news: they're releasing a new RPG called Invisible Sun. A Kickstarter for the game launches August 15, 2016, with a planned release timeframe of late 2017.

This is the introductory video MCG showed us at the start of the seminar:


And this is a video of the seminar itself:


Invisible Sun will ship in a complex-looking big black box. In addition to the game book, the box will contain "sooth cards" and apparently some kind of statue of a hand. The hand will be used in-game to hold a card. This will be a "deluxe game," meaning not cheap. They don't have a price yet, but mentioned that a past Monte Cook whopper, Ptolus, cost $120 ten years ago.

One thing Monte focused on was his intent to address the challenges of modern gaming with this product--such as players and GMs having busy schedules, players missing games, and players having different interaction preferences. Monte mentioned knowing players who don't talk much at the table but enjoy the game on a deep (but quiet) level that they're more comfortable discussing away from the table. Invisible Sun will support this in a number of ways, including its own smartphone app (in which the GM can send sooth cards to players) and the possibility of occasional one-on-one gaming.

In the world of Invisible Sun, the world that we as players know is called "Shadow." It's not the "real" world. The real world is hidden to most, and it's called the "Actuality." Sometimes, player characters feel the pull back to the shadow. This is how Invisible Sun will explain player absences--the player character has succumbed to the pull and vanished into shadow for a while.


The game will also feature a "directed campaign." Players will tell MCG when their campaign starts. After that, the Invisible Suns website will have a new monthly offering for your campaign, which will be tailored based on input provided by the group of players. MCG will even send props in the mail to players! (The audience LOVED this.)

The game's website (designed by Gnome Stew's Head Gnome, John Arcadian) is at pathofsuns.com. Monte suggested we go there and look for secrets. The site will be updated daily until the Kickstarter begins (or ends, I forget which).

This is not a cypher system game, but it has similarities. Monte says that the system in Invisible Sun has a "different but similar core mechanic." He mentioned that the system is very tailored to the setting, so it's not designed as a general-purpose system like cypher. The game does have a GM intrusion mechanic; in Invisible Sun, they call it "complications." These are usually associated with magic.








Invisible Sun's system uses 10-sided dice. A zero is a failure. When a player is using magic, she'll add a "magic die" (or sometimes more than one), and the magic die has a symbol in place of the zero.

Monte says you could describe the setting thusly: "It's the Harry Potter books if they were written by Philip K. Dick."

Miscellaneous notes:

  • The key word for the game is: surreal. (This--backed up by the images MCG showed in their introductory video--is what really grabbed my son. And he's not even much of a gaming fan!)
  • Features joy and despair points as a type of XP.
  • The game has a "story point" mechanic.
  • Magic will be presented as weird and wondrous.
  • Inspirations for Invisible Sun include: Grant Morrison's Doom Patrol, The Invisibles, China Mieville, Philip K. Dick.
  • Every player character has an arc. There aren't levels or tiers in the game, but there are story arcs. Reaching a milestone in your story arc can unlock things for your character.
  • Each PC has a "house" they can develop and define.
  • MCG gave out shirts to panel attendees. The shirt (which my son wants to wear every day) depicts "the path of suns," serving as both a map of reality and also of the human spirit.
  • They also gave out mysterious sealed envelopes which we were urged not t open until August 15. Dammit.
  • Monte says this is probably the most complex project he's ever worked on.


Cypher System News

After the Invisible Sun discussion, MCG moved on to talk about products related to their cypher system line.

  • Numenera Character Options 2 is coming. Among other things, it includes two new character types: the glint (a face man) and seeker (Indiana Jones).
  • The Numenera Starter Box (intended for new customers, not folks who already have the core book) will be $15. It will be out by Christmas.
  • Into the Outside won't give us just any old alternate dimensions for Numenera; it'll give us extra weird ones. For example, a place where you exist in 3 dimensions at once, and one where you exist as sound only. The book will include instant adventure spreads for each major dimension.
  • Predation will be out in 2017. They playtested it at this Gen Con.
  • Unmasked was also playtested here. Dennis Detwiller said that a player told him Unmasked feels like "The Breakfast Club if it were directed by Stanley Kubrick." In this setting, cyphers are mundane objects that are revealed to be something special when viewed while wearing a mask.
  • Expanded Worlds will be a companion to the Cypher System Rulebook. It includes new genres, including mythology, childhood adventure, post apocalypse, and near future science fiction.
  • Numenera Bestiary 2 is coming.
  • A Numenera novel and a Strange novel are also in production. (I remember talk of these during a recent MCG Kickstarter, and I'm eager to read them.)
  • Organized play: Season 0 is going on now in 20 stores. Season 1 starts Sep 15.
  • Will we see more Numenera world books or adventures? Yes. Monte said they'll keep supporting whatever games have demand, so that's up to the customers.


What's New at Goodman Games



Panelists: Joeb Bittman, Michael Curtis, Joseph Goodman, Jim Wampler, Brendan LaSalle, Harley Stroh, and Doug Kovacs.

(I also spotted Rick Hull and Terry Olson in the audience.)

  • DCC Annual #1 is due out at the end of the year, or early next year. The art for the book is done.
  • Mutant Crawl Classics is due to release by August 2017 at the latest. They expect it earlier than that, actually. They expect to offer an open license for MCC some time after release.
  • A DCC Lankhmar Kickstarter is coming at the end of the year. It'll feature a boxed set with maps.
  • Big news: Goodman Games has landed the license for a Jack Vance game covering the Dying Earth stories.

UPDATE: The Spellburn podcast has provided an episode featuring the audio of this seminar. You can find it here: Gencon 2016: What’s New at Goodman Games.

AND: Here's a video of the seminar...



Cthulhu In Games, with Ken Hite



I arrived late for this one, so only have a few notes.

  • Ken says horror games are the best kind of game because they tap into emotion. "Most emotions are too ugly or too personal," he said, so you don't want to tap them in public.
  • Ken says the roller coaster analogy of horror (using a series of ratcheting up tension followed by release) is dumb, but it works, "every goddamn time." Like when you follow a recipe and put together bread and egg and cinnamon you come out with french toast.
  • He does suggest you vary the pacing to keep players guessing, though.


That's it for the seminars I saw at Gen Con 2016. You should come with me next time!

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Ghostbusters at Gen Con 2016

So, this happened at Gen Con last week...


Sandy Petersen and Greg Stafford signed my Ghostbusters RPG! Both seemed genuinely happy to see the book, and I think they also liked the fact that someone is still playing it.

Sandy Petersen

I saw people playing the Ghostbusters board game, but not the RPG (sadly). I tried to make up for this by using my Ghost die in an RPG I played in. I rolled a ghost several times, which in this game just meant a 6, and that was good! Happy ghost!

Here are some other fun Ghostbusters-related shots from the con.








Monday, August 1, 2016

31 Days of Ghostbusters is Done!


31 Days of Ghostbusters is now complete! Thank you all for reading, and thanks especially to those of you who commented and shared and “liked.” In addition to writing 31 posts this month, I read 3 Ghostbusters books, bought 5 ghost dice, and saw the new movie 3 times—the final one yesterday, to celebrate being done with this thing! (I loved it, but it was a lot of work and plenty of late nights!)

Thanks also to John at Gnome Stew for running two of my posts there as well.

For the sake of completeness and easy navigation, here’s a list of all 31 posts.

Thanks again, and I hope you keep reading next week when I return to a more-or-less weekly schedule.

31 Days of Ghostbusters:


  1. Ghostbusters Begins: An Introduction to the Ghostbusters RPG
  2. Let's Throw a Ghostbusters Party
  3. The Ghost Die
  4. Gaming Soundtracks: Ghostbusters
  5. Ectomobiles
  6. A History of the Ghostbusters Roleplaying Game
  7. Modernizing Ghostbusters
  8. Ghostbusting Apps
  9. Mortal Enemies
  10. The YOUR-TOWN Ghostbusters
  11. Gaming Soundtracks: Ghostbusters II
  12. Ghostbusters Campaigns
  13. Ghostbusters Adventure Seeds
  14. Ghostbusters: The Next Generation
  15. The New Ghostbusters Premiere
  16. Ghostbusters 2016 Impressions
  17. Ghostbusters Book Club
  18. Gaming Soundtracks: Ghostbusters 2016 Score
  19. Game Stats: The New Ghostbusters
  20. Game Stats: Ghostbusters 2016 Ghosts
  21. Adventure: Disco Inferno
  22. Game Stats: Ghostbusters 2016 Equipment
  23. New Goals For Ghostbusters
  24. Metaspectres
  25. Gaming Soundtracks: Ghostbusters 2016
  26. Secret Tomes of Occult Lore
  27. Ghostbusters RPG Resources
  28. Cypher System Ghostbusters
  29. Rolling a Ghost: Equipment Mishap Tables
  30. Crossing the Streams
  31. Ghosts in Other Games

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Ghosts in Other Games


This is post number 31 (!!!) in the series “31 Days of Ghostbusters,” a celebration of the franchise’s return to the big screen.

I was curious to see the similarities and differences in the ways that other (non-Ghostbusters) RPGs present ghosts. Since game stats boil down the essence of a person or creature or idea into a finite number of descriptors, I wanted to see what the writers of different games considered the essence of a ghost to be. So I hit my gaming bookshelves in search of ghosts.

I quickly learned that I needed to come up with some kind of limiting criteria, to keep this one post from lasting forever. (Ghosts have that kind of time; I don’t!) So I focused on ghosts that are the incorporeal spirits of people (i.e. no skeletons, severed hands, or animated furniture, even though these would be at home in a Ghostbusters game). I also avoided games that I’ve talked about earlier this month, including the Cypher System and the games related to Ghostbusters.

Whenever possible (limited by my bookshelf) I’ve used the latest edition of the games mentioned. And speaking of "limited by my bookshelf," I also didn’t cover games I don’t own. So please forgive me if I left out your favorite.

All the games discussed below cover the basics: ghosts don’t need to breathe, eat, or sleep and they can pass through material objects. Most can fly, and are only vulnerable to energy and/or magic attacks.

Commonalities

I’ll go ahead and list the similarities I noticed now, so if that’s all you care about you don’t have to read each entry or scroll all the way to the bottom.

These are the themes related to ghosts that appeared in multiple games:

  • A ghost looks like it did when it died. 7th Sea, Deadlands, Dungeon Crawl Classics
  • Resolving a ghost's unfinished business can help. Dungeon Crawl Classics, D&D, Dungeon World, Feng Shui 2
  • Ghosts are tied to a location. Call of Cthulhu, Deadlands, D&D banshee, GURPS Horror poltergeist, Shadow of the Demon Lord poltergeist
  • Ghosts are terrifying. Dungeon Crawl Classics, Deadlands, D&D, Dungeon World, Fantasy Age, Shadow of the Demon Lord
  • Ghosts personify emotions. Deadlands, D&D, Dungeon Crawl Classics

Those are the similarities in ghostly presentation across games. To see the differences, read on!

7th Sea (2nd Edition)

Ghosts in 7th Sea are described as “lingering spirits of the departed” who look just like they did when they died. They have the interesting ability to interfere with the use of magic nearby. Another interesting note is that some people have managed to catch ghosts in mirrors. Bravo, swashbuckling Ghostbusters!

13th Age

The wraith in 13th Age is a basic ghost. Some recall a bit of their former lives, but they don’t care enough about that to alter their goal of draining life from the living. Abilities: an ice-cold ghost blade that deals negative energy damage and a life-drain ability that lets the wraith heal some damage when it scores a precision hit on a foe.

Call of Cthulhu (7th Edition)

A Call of Cthulhu Keeper is urged to tailor each ghost to the current scenario. The game provides some basic ghostly abilities (including a POW attack against an Investigator’s own POW, and a telekinesis attack), but leaves most of the ghostly trappings up to the Keeper depending on the needs of the specific ghost story. Other general ghostly features in Call of Cthulhu: ghosts only have mental stats; they’re tied to either a location or an object; and they can be laid to rest by various methods, including destroying the item to which it’s fettered, destroying the ghost’s physical remains, excorcising the spirit, or fulfilling its mission.

Deadlands (Reloaded)

This game has plenty of critters that Weird West Ghostbusters would be hired to bust, but as I said in the introduction, we’re focusing on incorporeal spirits of the dead here. Still, that gives us several varmints to consider.

Ghost: The Deadlands ghost is a template the GM is encouraged to customize, and the game mentions that you could use it to represent numerous types of ghosts. The ghost variant list includes poltergeists (they throw things), shades (tied to a people or places), and phantoms (who are frenzied killers). Abilities: chill attack, terrify attack, invisibility, create nightmares, and create a storm of small objects.

Weeping Widows: This is the spirit of a woman who died soon after witnessing a family member’s violent death. The spirit is tied to the physical world by both sorrow and anger. A weeping widow operates by possessing a woman near the area of her death. You’ll know a weeping widow when you see one because of her funereal clothing, veil over the face, handkerchief in hand, and, of course, the weeping. Abilities: acid tears, possession, and invulnerable to the type of weapon used to kill the widow’s loved one.

Will o’ the Wisp: Deadlands says these MAY be the spirits of people killed by quicksand, mining accidents, or other such mishaps. They like to lure people into danger and then “feast on the pain and suffering” that results. Abilities: mentally control a mortal into wandering toward danger.

Dungeon Crawl Classics

Ghosts in DCC retain their final emotional state in addition to their final appearance, and this is why they often attack—they are still angry or terrified or whatever they were feeling at the awful moment of death. Resolving a ghost’s unfinished business can banish it, earning the characters +1 Luck in addition to the experience point award for defeating the ghost. The DCC ghost features two tables to roll on (gotta love DCC’s tables!), including the spook’s “rest condition” and special abilities. The rest condition is what it will take to appease the ghost, such as killing its murderer or completing a mission it was undertaking when it died. The special ability table includes the following possibilities (and the ghost gets 1d4 of them): horrifying appearance, chains, banshee scream, paralyzing touch, imparting a vision of death, bestowing a boon, turning invisible, draining attributes, possession, and telekinesis.

Dungeons & Dragons (5th Edition)

In addition to the basic ghost, the Dungeons and Dragons Monster Manual (5th Edition) includes a few other standard types of nonphysical apparitions.

Banshee: In D&D, banshees are the spirits of female elves who used their beauty to control others rather than for more positive purposes. A banshee is bound to the place of its death. It covets items of beauty such as artwork and jewelry, though it hates mirrored surfaces because they serve as reminders of the banshee's own wasted beauty. Abilities include detecting life, causing terror, dealing necrotic damage, and wailing (for psychic damage and a possibility of instant knockout).

Ghost: The ghost is differentiated from the other apparition types by the fact that it has unfinished business in the mortal realm. Players who learn about a ghost’s business (get your mind out of the gutter) can use it to get rid of the ghost, or use its weakness against it. I like the description of “ghostly manifestations,” or ways that the Dungeon Master can evoke a mood by describing unnatural silences, cold spots, or a strange stench. Abilities: causing terror, dealing necrotic damage, possession.

Specter: This is presented as an angry spirit that’s no longer connected to who it was in life. Specters are jealous and hateful of the living. They have a weakness to sunlight, and the ability to drain life. A variant of the specter, the poltergeist, is characterized by confusion, having no memory of how it died. The poltergeist can turn invisible, strike with ghostly force, and hurl targets with telekinesis.

Will-o’-Wisp: These are the evil souls of those who died an anguished death in a place filled with magic, especially battlefields. They operate by luring individuals to their deaths. Abilities: invisibility, illumination, lightning damage, and the nasty ability to heal itself by killing a nearby downed character.

Wraith: Described as “malice incarnate,” a wraith is the soul of a humanoid who was either corrupt or made a pact with an evil entity. It might still have a few memories of its former life. Abilities: drain life (like the specter), create specters. Weakness: sensitive to sunlight.

Dungeon World

Dungeon World’s brief ghost entry emphasizes the “disappointment" that ghosts are left with. It also mentions the possibility of people helping ghosts achieve their final rest. Abilities: phantom touch (deals damage), terrify, and “offer information from the other side, at a price."

Fantasy Age

Spectres (also my preferred spelling—thanks Fantasy Age!) represent any kind of ghostly entity in Fantasy Age. They are evil and like attacking the living. The entry notes that spectres of powerful individuals can have additional powers. Abilities: chilling touch (deals damage), terrify.

Feng Shui 2

One of the archetypes a player can choose from in Feng Shui 2 is the ghost, which is described as a strong-willed spirit that is unwilling to pass on from the mortal world due to some unfinished business. Abilities: chi blast and love potion attack, in addition to having traditional ghost abilities (intangibility, flight, and ignoring damage from guns). And since they are player characters, ghosts can add new abilities as they level up, including sorcery powers, regeneration, and mimicry.

GURPS Horror (1st Edition)

Ghosts can take a variety of forms, including human, nonhuman, and even objects. Their goal is to scare or annoy humans, not usually intending to harm or kill them. Magical characters can sometimes detect ghosts. As a subtype of ghosts, poltergeists exist in a particular place, use telekinesis to move and throw objects, and enjoy bugging humans.

Shadow of the Demon Lord

This bad boy packs several ghosts—and none of them are called “ghost." They are:

Phantom: This is the soul of someone who had a strong personality, died suddenly, and had unfinished business. Abilities: terrify attack, invisibility, phantom weapon.

Poltergeist: These spirits resent the living and fear losing their mortal identities. They haunt a specific location and try to drive people away. Abilities: terrify attack, invisibility, telekinetic strike, and throwing objects telekinetically.

Shadow: Souls of individuals corrupted by the game’s titular Demon Lord become shadows. They hate life and enjoy feeding on the living. Some shadows take human shapes, but others prefer simple or even monstrous forms. Abilities: terrify attack, invisibility, draining touch (deals damage, plus a chance of corruption or turning the target into a shadow).

Wraith: These are souls from Hell that made their way through to the material world to share some evil with the mortals. Wraiths are burned by sunlight. Abilities: terrify attack, shadow blade weapon (which also has a chance to turn the target into a wraith).


Did I miss a cool ghost in another RPG? If so, please educate me!