Mist clung low to the ground and the moon glared down full and bright through the skeletal trees that framed the gravel road leading up to the empty schoolhouse. The mood was nearly perfect even if it was a little marred by a bright red realtor’s sign at the head of the long driveway. Ed warmed to his story as his car crept, closer tires crunching over the small stones. “My uncle said that in like the 20’s or 30’s a young couple lived here and taught a half dozen or so high school aged students. Apparently, the husband had an affair with one of the students and when his wife found out she hung herself in grief. She was found at midnight swinging in the moonlight from that tree there.” Ed pulled the car to a stop so that the headlights caught the tree he indicated.
In the passenger seat, Jill shivered. She hated ghost stories but she liked Kyle who leaned in from his spot in the middle of the backseat. He, at least, was enjoying the tour of ghostly places and Ed’s macabre stories. On the other side of the hanging tree, something moved. Jill wanted to squeeze her eyes closed and un-see what she thought she just saw. She hoped it was a trick of the light or the shifting fog in Ed’s headlights. Moreover, she hoped no one else saw it otherwise—
“Did you see that?” asked Kyle and without waiting for an answer he popped open his door with a screeching creak.
Ed hadn’t seen it but he turned off the engine and got out of the car. The early November night was chill and their breath puffed in thin wisps as they spoke, “Let’s go take a look.”
Jill felt suddenly weird. It was like a horror movie or a cautionary tale episode of a teen drama. “Don’t go into the woods with boys alone.” They were both looking back at her expectantly as she defiantly stayed in the car. “Come on guys let’s just go home,” she pleaded.
The timer on the headlights ticked off and suddenly the front of the schoolhouse was dark. From her vantage, in the car, something definitely swung hanging from that tree.
She tried to persuade them again but they both only made patronizing attempts to reassure her and then wandered through the soft squelching grass towards the tree. While they crossed the yard Jill fumbled for the headlight switch. As the headlights illuminated the area again, both boys began to scream terrified by what they saw hanging from the tree.
Welcome back to Burst of Insight, over the last two blogs I’ve been examining character sheets and how they reflect a game’s core design. To illustrate this concept I revisited the idea of a Supernatural inspired one-shot adventure based loosely on the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game’s basic mechanics.
I think despite not giving you a whole cloth rules system instead relying on a character sheet with a few general notes there is almost enough material to run such a session. The only thing really missing (other than a table full of players) is to outline how monsters might work.
Statblocks can like character sheets inform us a lot about a system. The big thing to note with this statblock is not only is it a little shorter than a typical Pathfinder statblock all of the saves, skills, attack rolls etc. are set as DCs rather than roll modifiers this is because as I mentioned in the last blog for this mini game player’s roll all the dice. Damage is also static (half the normal die +1, as a d6 become 4 points of damage a d8 5pts).
So let’s look at a possible statblock for one of Supernatural’s most iconic monsters, ghosts.
Pathfinder has a number of incorporeal undead but the CR 2 Poltergeist will probably suffice for this encounter. We’ll make it a little more interesting and add a weakened version ghost’s corrupting touch, greatly shorten the time it takes to rejuvenate and make it vulnerable to rock salt and iron as if they were magic weapons.
The Hanging Ghost
Medium undead (incorporeal)
Init 12; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception 20
Fort 13, Ref 14 (+1 deflection), Will 15
Defensive Abilities incorporeal, natural invisibility, rejuvenation; Immune undead traits
Speed fly 20 ft. (perfect)
Melee corrupting touch 14 (8, Fort. DC 14 half)
Special Attacks corrupting touch, frightener, telekinesis
Str —, Dex 13, Con —, Int 5, Wis 12, Cha 12
Feats Ability Focus (fear), Alertness
Skills Brawl 12, Fly 20, Melee 14, Perception 20
SQ ghost vulnerabilities, site bound
Corrupting Touch (Su) The Hanging Ghost may, by passing part of its incorporeal body through a foe’s body as a standard action, inflict 8 points of damage. This damage is not negative energy—it manifests in the form of physical wounds and aches from supernatural aging. Creatures immune to magical aging are immune to this damage, but otherwise the damage bypasses all forms of damage reduction. A Fortitude save halves the damage inflicted.
Frightener (Su) Once per minute as a standard action, The Hanging Ghost can temporarily drop its natural invisibility, revealing itself to be a gaunt, ghost-like humanoid in severe clothes. All creatures within 30 feet when a poltergeist uses this ability must make a DC 14 Will save to avoid becoming frightened for 1d4 rounds. The poltergeist then resumes its invisibility at the end of its turn as a free action. A creature that successfully saves is immune to the fear effect of the hanging lady for 24 hours. If the spirit’s natural invisibility is negated via other methods, it cannot use this ability. Likewise, those that can see invisible creatures are immune to this special attack. This is a mind-affecting fear effect. The save DC is Charisma-based.
Ghost Vulnerabilities (Su) Salt and Iron can affect The Hanging Ghost as if they were magical weapons. It also may not cross an unbroken line of salt.
Rejuvenation (Su) When The Hanging Ghost is destroyed, it only remains destroyed for 2d6 minutes. After this time, the undead spirit reforms where it was destroyed, fully healed. The only way to permanently destroy a ghost is find its remains and any spirit vessels it may have and burn them. This may require a good deal of research (see below).
Site Bound (Ex) A The Hanging Ghost cannot travel more than 120 feet from the point at which it was created or formed.
Telekinesis (Su) This ability functions as the spell telekinesis, with a CL 3. It has a ranged attack roll of +3 when using telekinesis to hurl objects or creatures, and can use the ability on objects or creatures of up to 75 pounds. If The Hanging Ghost attempts to hurl a creature with this ability, that creature can resist the effect with a successful DC 12 Will save. The save DC is Charisma-based.
Now a ghost is only as good as its story. I highly recommend if you are planning to run a game based on supernatural you look into the Research rules in Ultimate Intrigue and give your hunters a story to uncover.
How shocked would they be to discover after burning the body that the ghost keeps coming back. What if the stories are wrong and it wasn’t the wife that was hung but the husband or the student? Or maybe it’s because amongst the junk in the basement of the school is the rope the ghost was hung with. At which point it might not be site bound but fettered to the object and unable to move more than 120 feet from the rope.