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TOPIC: Fight­ing ghosts

Fight­ing ghosts 1 year 3 months ago #4019

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There are no rules für fight­ing ghosts or other incor­po­real enti­ties in Blade. Maybe because you can’t harm a ghost with a (mun­dane) weapon. What about mages or priests fight­ing against spir­its and ghosts? Any ideas for sit­u­a­tions like a bat­tle of wills when a ghost or demon tries to drive off the PCs or wants to kill them with ter­ror and fright or wants to obssess them?
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Fight­ing ghosts 1 year 3 months ago #4020

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If there are any sor­cer­ers in the party, then a duel of wills with the ghosts seems most appro­pri­ate, although even still it is spec­i­fied in the rules that a duel of wills will not usu­ally kill a foe, only exhaust them of power. So even in this way the ghosts can­not be defeated.

I think you should take advan­tage of the fact that ghosts are inher­ently very pow­er­ful due to their incor­po­re­al­ity, and mag­i­cal nature. To defeat a ghost is a big deal, the PC’s should need to under­take unique pro­ce­dures in order to do so. For exam­ple, per­haps they need to have their weapons blessed, or obtain some­thing like holy water.

Per­haps com­bat should not be pos­si­ble at all? The PC’s could undergo a rit­ual to ban­ish them, or find and resolve what­ever binds the souls to this world. Per­haps they can com­mu­ni­cate and strike a deal with these ghosts.

In terms of the ghosts’ abil­i­ties, they could pos­sess a PC, after them fail­ing a TN check. They could sim­ply make nor­mal melee strikes, only they phase through armour, and can­not be defended against except for eva­sions. Maybe they can tele­port, and they would cer­tainly take advan­tage of their form­less­ness to move through obsta­cles and gain a ter­rain advan­tage. They could have a dis­ori­en­tat­ing ban­shee scream.

I kind of went on a tan­gent, but my point is ghosts are pretty ver­sa­tile and poten­tially very inter­est­ing adver­saries, so get cre­ative and try not to make them a reg­u­lar hack and slash enemy.
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Fight­ing ghosts 1 year 3 months ago #4021

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Thanks, Floun­der, the kind of answer I was hop­ing for.

Floun­der wrote:
In terms of the ghosts’ abil­i­ties, they could pos­sess a PC, after them fail­ing a TN check. They could sim­ply make nor­mal melee strikes, only they phase through armour, and can­not be defended against except for eva­sions. Maybe they can tele­port, and they would cer­tainly take advan­tage of their form­less­ness to move through obsta­cles and gain a ter­rain advan­tage. They could have a dis­ori­en­tat­ing ban­shee scream.

I will steal those ideas, excel­lent.

Floun­der wrote:
I kind of went on a tan­gent, but my point is ghosts are pretty ver­sa­tile and poten­tially very inter­est­ing adver­saries, so get cre­ative and try not to make them a reg­u­lar hack and slash enemy.

Yes, that’s what I thought as well. Maybe ghost are more fan­tasy than Sword and Sor­cery but I will use them nev­er­the­less. It’s always good to have some inter­est­ing adversaries.
Last Edit: 1 year 3 months ago by Aghori.
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Fight­ing ghosts 1 year 3 months ago #4022

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Blade’s unan­swer to ghosts (and other things) is both a curse and a bless­ing, but mostly a bless­ing in this case. There are hun­dreds (thou­sands? mil­lions?) of ways to deal or por­tray ghosts (both based on real life mytholo­gies or fan­tasy ones) that there’s sim­ply no true or best answer, with a d&d like “ghost is a CR+1 mon­ster with DR to mun­dane weapons and such and such pow­ers” being the least desir­able one.

Waf­fling a lit­tle more than Floun­der (which I wholly agree with his POV), i’ll have you ask: What sort of role does your ghost per­form in your adven­ture? Is it a road­side obsta­cle meant to per­form a bit of vari­ety among other min­ions of rut? Maybe its THE mon­ster of the week or boss-​like encounter at the end of the tem­ple? Or maybe its some­thing more sub­stan­tial, maybe tied to the story or PAs? Maybe its not an enemy at all and just a neu­tral being just “liv­ing” its exis­tence?

Maybe the ghost is an obsta­cle to some­thing else, its bane or destruc­tion sec­ondary or even impos­si­ble. Maybe the ghost’s demise/​rest is para­mount or the goal of the cam­paign. Some ghosts are just shad­ows, some appear only on dreams, some take con­trol of the mind and some of the body and a whole lot are actu­ally very cor­po­real beings, some even don’t look­ing like undead nor them­selves think­ing they are ghosts.

That said, lets ram­ble on some pos­si­bil­i­ties, which I sep­a­rate by two broad cat­e­gories:

[] Ghosts as an unbeat­able force:
Ghosts are unbeat­able and meant to be a relent­less if not occa­sional obsta­cle. Here the ghost is like a force of nature, meant to be evaded or appeased. Mind that you can still “defeat” the ghost (through an incan­ta­tion or putting it to rest, for exam­ple) but mechan­i­cally you can’t beat it.

Here shine skills. Its a good time to put in use skills such as occultism, cus­toms, the­ol­ogy and even apothe­cary or maybe even social skills. Maybe its com­mon knowl­edge that a cir­cle of salt will keep away ghosts and this turns into a bit of resource man­age­ment game “we need to find more salt we only have enough to hold this door! or “we need to find a bit of agri­mony to fend this evil spirit!”, so maybe you use reli­gion /​infor­ma­tion gath­er­ing /​cus­toms to find out what this spe­cific ghosts is afraid of or needs to be appeased, and then you use apothe­cary /​nego­ti­a­tion to find the items &/​or ancient lan­guages /​seduc­tion /​nego­ti­a­tion /​false­hood to talk the ghost down or trick them.

The point here is to cir­cum­vent the ghost or to ulti­mately put them to rest (by ami­ca­ble or hos­tile means), which means the ghost is prob­a­bly a nar­ra­tive force in your adven­ture, a plot device rather than a sim­ple mon­ster obsta­cle.

[]Ghosts as a beat­able force:
This is the most game-​like approach as it treats the ghost as a min­ion rather than a plot device (not that its wrong). Skills, like in the pre­vi­ous case are still won­der­ful ways to tackle ghosts but the results will vary to things like “this oil allows to hurt ghosts like they were sim­ple mon­sters” or to sce­nar­ios where you have mul­ti­ple ghosts and you can destroy sev­eral of them, which then also becomes a game of resources “ok, we are down to our last azure gem­stone, we can only cap­ture one more ghost!”. Just watch to not turn ghosts into a reskin of the reg­u­lar human raider #52.

Digres­sions aside, now onto “modes of attack & defense“

–The ghost is of the pol­ter­geist nature, it throws things around in harm­ful man­ner: chairs , knifes, pots, fur­ni­ture, etc all fly­ing around and onto the PCs. Make up a ranged pool for the ghost and han­dle it like you would han­dle any other mis­sile attack (the PCs can be aware or not). PCs either block stuff or evade out of the way.

–The ghost scares the shit out of PCs. Make up a pool or attribute (call it “scare level” if you want, play­ers don’t need to know) and roll against the Pcs tenac­ity. The MoS of the ghost trans­lates into super­nat­ural ghost scary dam­age that func­tions like pain or like extra acti­va­tion costs due to “reverse” fear like effects from assets like dreaded and berserker give to affected foes. Maybe its actual fear or maybe its some sort of super­nat­ural dam­age that makes the PC ultra chill and trem­bling (get cre­ative).

–The ghosts appear in dreams. The ghost can work like a reg­u­lar foe while in dream form. If he man­ages to get hold of the PC, then there are effects in real life, like get­ting some sort of sick­ness, pro­gres­sive weak­ness or being pos­sessed. The pc must defeat the ghost like it would need to defeat a reg­u­lar foe , to avoid ill effects.

–The ghost has an effect sim­i­lar to the “enslave­ment” spell. Make up a pool for the ghost and have the pc resist it. Does a sor­cerer resist it bet­ter? The easy answer is yes, the com­plete answer is “maybe”. Does the ghost pos­sess a power like a sor­cerer or is it a much more pri­mor­dial power that even sor­cer­ers are unable to resist? There’s a dou­ble poten­tial here, one poten­tial is for sor­cer­ers to shine, the other poten­tial is a foe that even sor­cer­ers are vul­ner­a­ble. Pcs resist like they resists spells (sor­cer­ers may resist with Power att or not).

-“Ghost dive”. This is the favorite mode of attack for pop cul­ture ghosts. The ghost sim­ply “dives” (or walks fran­ti­cally while jig­gling its head) and either sucks the life force of its vic­tim, throws it around or sim­ply kills it on the spot. Make up a MP and make it do a what­ever attack with what­ever TN (you can get tac­ti­cal here. PCs also don’t need to know what you name it or why you gave a TN 7 or 8 ). Its sim­i­lar to the pol­ter­geist, but PCs resist this like they resist melee attacks, prob­a­bly with full eva­sions. Blocks are use­less.

–Cor­po­real form. Maybe the ghost has a cor­po­real form or some rit­ual or spe­cial sub­stance reveals its form or makes it vul­ner­a­ble. Resolve like you resolve reg­u­lar com­bat by giv­ing the ghost an MP & AP. Some rit­u­als or sub­stances may be more effec­tive than oth­ers, or there may be a degree of effec­tive­ness based on some pre­vi­ous skill suc­cess.

–etcetera get cre­ative

Another impor­tant thing to keep in mind is how per­va­sive the ghost is. The com­mon knowl­edge is that ghosts are some­what dan­ger­ous, nearly unkil­l­able but oper­ate in a some­what even­tual fre­quency, unless its cli­max and you’re near to destroy it. Some addi­tional mechan­ics to pos­si­bly work on ghosts:

–Power esca­la­tion: the ghosts esca­lates its attack and power based on how it gets on the pcs toes or some other vic­tim. Maybe it feeds on fear so it gains extra dice each time it scares a PC with a “scare attack”.

–Pat­tern: it has a clear pat­tern and mode of attack: only attacks at cer­tain times, places or uses the same tac­ti­cal deci­sions, like swoop­ing onto some­one and then van­ish­ing for some time.

–clock­work: It oper­ates for 123− lime­lights at a time and then van­ishes

Any­way, sorry to ram­ble like my usual. Do feel free to give more details about your story /​intended ghost if you need fur­ther help detail­ing it or tell us how it went down.



Adden­dum:

–Shows like super­nat­ural, albeit cheesy and kinda shal­low, can give some insight on how to run things and how to frame expo­si­tion, esca­la­tion and twists. Say the ghost takes a vic­tim, maybe some­one close to the PCs, then they start to get in the way and are made tar­gets, things get more intense, more vic­tims, more close calls, research, they think its some kind of ghost but near the end it turns out its another one, cli­max and ghost appease (remains destroyed, con­vinced, avenged, exorcised,essence destroyed, etc). Cold iron and salt keeps away most of the ghosts, but isn’t enough to dis­patch them, then again there are some twists that its maybe not actu­ally a ghost, its a (…), etcetera etcetera.

–A lit­tle nar­ra­tive trick that may or may not work or be use­ful: Don’t tag your mon­sters and foes for your play­ers. Say you want to throw zom­bies against your PCs. Don’t ever say they are zom­bies. Describe how they sham­ble, and look decrepit and rot and seem to favour brains. Do the Pcs want to call it zom­bies? Fine. But don’t ever say they are. As soon as you throw a famil­iar tag it loses some of its dread or “unknow­ness” and there­fore the sus­pense and anx­i­ety it brings, it also pigeon­hole both your imag­i­na­tion and your player’s. What could be a novel or at least a fresh enough take on a zom­bie ends up being another ses­sion of walk­ing dead or night of the liv­ing dead (not that these are bad).

Same thing with ghosts. Don’t say how they are walk­ing a dark cor­ri­dor and sud­denly they see a ghost down the path. No. describe what they see but don’t say what it is (same old ‘Show don’t tell’). Was it a ghost? a sor­cery? a trick? or maybe i’m going crazy? Even when its obvi­ous its a ghost let them won­der. “Woa, that was a ghost right?” “per­haps…”. By not telling out­right what they are up against you make them uncer­tain up to the last minute, and maybe not even then!
Last Edit: 1 year 3 months ago by Anarak.
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Fight­ing ghosts 1 year 3 months ago #4023

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Wow, long post, Anarak. Thanks for tak­ing the time to answer in such a detailed way.


Anarak wrote:
Blade’s unan­swer to ghosts (and other things) is both a curse and a bless­ing, but mostly a bless­ing in this case. There are hun­dreds (thou­sands? mil­lions?) of ways to deal or por­tray ghosts (both based on real life mytholo­gies or fan­tasy ones) that there’s sim­ply no true or best answer, with a d&d like “ghost is a CR+1 mon­ster with DR to mun­dane weapons and such and such pow­ers” being the least desir­able one.
Agreed, and I wasn’t com­plain­ing about the unan­swer to ghost — just look­ing for ideas.


Anarak wrote:
Waf­fling a lit­tle more than Floun­der (which I wholly agree with his POV), i’ll have you ask: What sort of role does your ghost per­form in your adventure?
In my game, the heros have to break into the crypt of a long dead sor­cerer and steal some­thing out of his grave. It’s a clas­sic dun­geon crawl (which I haven’t played for ages). The main ene­mys will be the undead (and I will not tag them ;) ) . But I was think­ing about an encounter with ghosts as well. If played that way, the ghost are of the beat­able type. The PC have to find some­thing to destroy them or they have to endure their attacks until they are gone — not sure yet.

Another pos­si­b­lity could be that they encounter the spirit of the long dead mage. This one is not nec­es­sar­ily their enemy, but he will test the PC to see if they are worth the trea­sure.

I like your ghost cat­e­gories a lot. There are quite a few ideas for future encoun­ters. Same goes for all the good points about actu­ally fight­ing ghosts.


Anarak wrote:
The ghost scares the shit out of PCs.
I hear Michael say­ing, that’s not true to the spirit of S&S. ;) But a fear pool could be fun.


Anarak wrote:
The ghosts appear in dreams. The ghost can work like a reg­u­lar foe while in dream form. If he man­ages to get hold of the PC, then there are effects in real life, like get­ting some sort of sick­ness, pro­gres­sive weak­ness or being pos­sessed. The pc must defeat the ghost like it would need to defeat a reg­u­lar foe , to avoid ill effects.

That’s a cool idea. Not for the adven­ture at hand, but noted for later.
Last Edit: 1 year 3 months ago by Aghori.
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Fight­ing ghosts 1 year 3 months ago #4031

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I swear, I saw another post here from you, Anarak. Came back to answer and — it’s gone like a ghost. Have yo deleted it?
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Fight­ing ghosts 1 year 3 months ago #4032

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Haha­hah Yeah, sorry
Re-​reading what I wrote felt too much like ran­dom ram­ble even for my tastes, or that’s what my ine­bri­ated past self thought :silly:

So, how is it going your ghosts, have you ran your ses­sion already? Soon i’ll be in your shoes since there will be some ghosts-​heavy ses­sions down the path in my cam­paign, doesn’t hurt to think ahead.
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Fight­ing ghosts 1 year 3 months ago #4033

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:lol:
No, the ghost ses­sion will be in Jan­u­ary, I haven’t even thought much about the dun­geon. I’ll tell you how it went.
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Fight­ing ghosts 1 year 2 months ago #4034

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I did not read all the above, but another pos­si­ble way to deal with this sort of mon­ster, could be Drama points or PA’s that work to lend a sence of mys­tic will to the player.
Mourn for us oppressed in fear
Chained and shack­led we are bound
Free­dom choked in dread we live
Since Tyrant was enthroned
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Fight­ing ghosts 1 year 2 weeks ago #4088

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My per­sonal NPC ghost can only be dri­ven away by duel of wills, and even then is merely tem­porar­ily exor­cised. I’m so glad I came to the same con­clu­sion as the com­mu­nity here.

This is one of the “fries and a milk­shake” bull­shit fan­tasy things that dri­ves me nuts about D&D et al. What bet­ter way to kill trep­i­da­tion and fas­ci­na­tion than to des­ig­nate ghosts as just bor­ing holo­grams you can kill with silver.
“Bro­ken necks, splat­tered patel­las, sev­ered arter­ies: These are the things from which dreams are made.”
— Road War­rior Hawk
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