Thursday, 10 December 2020

Ghost (standard)


If you move at all, or stick your feet outside the bedclothes, Ghosts WILL get you = FACT.

You meet someone sad and distracted on the road, or in the forest, at a quiet time or in a silent place. Not a ripple on the water or a bird in the air. When you describe them to a local; they are dead! Disappeared these twenty years and no-one knows how or why. 

Or an old woman you find reading silently in a room, but if you ask too many questions she starts screaming "MY HOUSE MY HOUSE THERE IS SOMEONE IN MY HOUSE MURDERERS NO! NO! NO!"

A Ghost generally means interpersonal drama. There is often a murderer to uncover, or at least a guilty party of some kind. Usually a wrong to right. Bones to bury, a body to find.


Murdered Ghost; gotta reveal the murderer, see justice is done.

Lost Ghost; died without doing something very important. They have memory problems so may not know what it is. Have to sort out what they failed and fix it.

Evil Ghost; Doesn't want to be settled, actively likes hurting people. Has to be exorcised, its power broken (may turn out to be one of the other types, a ghost that can be reasoned with). Either find their bones, their murder weapon, or the bones of their victims, and consecrate them, or unveil the truth about them.

Ancient Culture Ghost; Is upset for some weird foreign and or ancient reason, probably a purloined relic or some ancient wrong. Hard to understand what its on about. Often connected to an artifact or injustice, can be settled once you work out what that was.


Depending on how genuinely aggressive and scary a ghost is, you may or may not see its basic form, could be anywhere from a Harry Potter ghost, like a cheery local, to a Horror Movie Ghost, that only appears through signs and inference.

From broadly least-scary to more-scary;

Scare Level One

- Verbose Types
  • Friendly animal like a ghost dog
  • Historical, cartoonish wounds (like their head tips off).
  • Sheet Ghost WOOooOOO!
  • Historical, no visible wounds.
  • Child, no wounds.
  • Modern or near-modern, no wounds.

Scare Level Two

- Unaware of own nature, forgetful, obsessed, indifferent
  • Historical - non cartoonish wounds
  • Modern - non cartoonish wounds
  • Child - visible wounds

Scare Level Three

- Hunting, stalking behaviours, deliberate mental torture and gaslighting.
  • Apparent total normality, can't tell it from a real person.
  • Reality warping and hallucinatory effects.
  • Monstrous, nightmare or impossible animal.
  • Distorted, horrific or mutilated individual.


Main difficulty here is telling the difference between ghost action and hidden Goblins (nearly all of these could be down to one kind of Goblin or another).

1. Small items moving when no-one around.
2. Taps left on.
3. Doors slamming in an empty house.
4. Small objects hurled with frightening effect.
5. Sounds of an argument from empty room
6. Steps in the corridor.
7. Lamps going out or lighting when no-one is there.
8. The shadows of feet waiting outside your door.
9. Very very slow scratching at your door, the doorknob catching.
10. The yowling of cats when there are no cats.
11. At night, someone standing beneath a lamp in the street outside, watching the house.
12. Clocks all fucked up and showing the wrong time.
13. Milk curdling, god damn it (free cheese though).
14. A face pressed against the window at night.
15. Some kind of rodent or creature in the attic or cellar (tbh this is probably Goblins).
16. Massive temperature drops, rimes of ice, bathwater freezing, tea gone cold!!
17. Food going off overnight, mouldy bread, rotten meat, stinking eggs, though sometimes only one item with the rest left as they were.
18. Yard or garden full of cats, birds or rabbits which stand still staring at the house.
19. Coughing or heaving as of someone very sick.
20. Spinning wheel spinning and clacking in an empty room.
21. Someone extra in the mirror..
22. Strong sense of someone behind you in the room.
23. Someone standing in the corner of the room silently.
24. Vile stains where they should not be.
25. Horrid smells with no discernible source.
26. Someone calling your name in the distance.
27. Insanely angry pounding at the front door in the middle of the night.


(Largely for the more non-evil ghosts)

1. Always serve an extra seat at dinner.
2. That room must be cleaned but never used.
3. The garden must be kept a certain way.
4. Serve leeks with every meal.
5. Keep their spooky portrait up and say hello it it when you go past.
6. Keep an uncomfortable level of pot purri around the place.
7. Sing it to sleep each night.
8. Feed all cats that present themselves.
9. Keep place spic and span.
10. Always keep a light burning.
11. Don't touch the wedding dress in the closet.
12. Feed the snake which seems to live in the basement, and do not interrupt its movements when it goes about.
13. Make sure no draughts in house with those door gap draught blockers and keep a fire on at all times.
14. Put a biscuit under the settee every night.
15. Toast the King with each meal.
16. Leave particular process-action always partially undone (like a cloth half-woven, a picture half- completed, a book half-read, presumably the ghost completes these in the night).
17. Keep everything at an odd angle (no straight pictures, tables etc).


Stay under the sheets and don't let your feet poke out.
Don't look at them.
Sing loudly (works as a group, not so much as an individual).
Lights on everywhere.


1. Tangled in roots of evergreen tree.
2. Buried in the flower beds.
3. Behind a bricked-up cavity.
4. In a cavity in the chimney.
5. Buried beneath the cellar.
6. In a huge chest in the attic.
7. Spread between several large plant pots.
8. Trapped in the mill race beneath the wheel of the mill.
9. In the well (the Well-Dweller may be the ghost).
10. In an air duct.
11. In a secret passage between rooms.
12. In a hollow tree.
13. Under the old compost pile.
14. In the pumpkin patch.
15. In the scare-crow!
16. Under the hearth.
17. Hidden in a statue.
18. Under the wood-pile.
19. At the bottom of the lake.
20. Down an abandoned mine shaft.
21. Given to a villainous creature as a gift or toy.
22. out in the fields where a patch of crops grow extra-green (more visible as the seasons change).
23. Built into the beehive!
24. In the den of a dangerous beast.


If you are trying to find the identity of a Murderer so you can lay a victim to rest, then the ghost might be helping.

But if you have an *evil* ghost, and are trying to find out who they are, or proof of their dark deeds, then the ghost may be enraged by your efforts.

1. Old diary, possibly in code, or at least a foreign language.
2. Forgotten, hidden or torn will.
3. Distant relative got surprisingly rich after the death.
4. Witches charms found in old room.
5. Old bloodstained boots, but who do they fit?
6. Hidden bottle of poison.
7. Hidden bottle of antidote.
8. Flawed Alibi - (everyone there was actually drunk).
9. Flawed Alibi - (was a masked ball).
10. Flawed Alibi - (the piano they were heard playing is secretly a clockwork piano).
11. Flawed Alibi - (the time on the clocks can be secretly re-set from a hidden location).
12. "This was no accident" - Wooden support partially sawn through.
13. "This was no accident"  - Bell-charm makes a subsonic sound which enrages cattle.
14. "This was no accident"  - Scratches show stone Gargoyle or statue was moved before it fell.
15. Hidden book on bookshelf called "Evil Doings".
16. Book on Toxicology and an interest in mushrooms.
17. Flowers in Greenhouse are actually deadly.
18. Hair Dye and/or a Wig - the killer had one hair colour, the suspect another.
19. Old-Person costume and back brace - 'mysterious old lady seen around murder', one person claimed she was hanging about previously, but that person is the suspect.
20. Materials and fragments for sending cut-up 'threatening letters' suggesting an illusory other suspect.
21. Hidden message scratched under table or bookshelf, or behind painting "So-and-so is trying to kill me!"
22. Actually ambidextrous. Killer was left-handed, suspect is right-handed, but they catch an orange with their left hand!
23. Handwriting comparison, text of threatening letter matches that of someone else.
24. Treasure hidden in plain sight, like jewel or statue painted over and disguised as something else, either the murderer shouldn't have it but does, or they want it and are looking for it while trying to seem that they are not.

This is a brainstorm development post so if you have any spooky ideas (I couldn't think of anything either good, original or workable for Ancient/Foreign Ghosts for example) drop it in the comments.


  1. Ancient/foreign ghost might want to be remembered - stories could be more about the march of time (culture death?) while the key interaction with them might be more dungeon-y in the buried spaces of their vanished civilisation. If yiu can reconstruct their story as a people and tell it to tohers they pass on and you now have some ancient precursor dungeon to explore? So the dungeon is more sad puzzle than scares?

  2. I think ancient ghosts could be usually split (at least table-wise) into those that have recently awakened and those that have been repeating their pattern for a while.

    The first would be tied to a character in the community. Someone desecrated their grave for a reason (the baker, to pretend to be the hero who vanquished the ghost by stealthily returning it / the butcher, because his mum's sick and he couldn't afford the medicine / a thiefling, to coerce you into helping with a heist by promising the relic's return / etc.) and the trick would be finding that someone and/or resolving the reason before the collateral damage racks up too much.

    The second would have its nature & maybe resolution hinted at it local songs, poems, superstitions, etc. Maybe what distinguishes such a ghost is that it haunts the history of an entire community, and that by reframing or defusing some historical tension the ghost can gain peace (e.g. the McDermotts and the Bonnyhills have hated each other for generations, the ghost was the start of the feud in that each family blamed the other for their death, convincing the families that this is the last thing the ghost would have wanted gets them to forgive each other and grants the ghost peace).

    For foreign ghosts, maybe a table of signs/gestures that would be mutually intelligible? Like language might be beyond it, but if you start a game of hide and seek it would join in (and its choice of hiding place reveals an important clue).

    5 years ago in November of 2018, I too made a generator for ghosts:

    1. '5 years ago in November of 2018, I too made a generator for ghosts' - and that post is still haunting us today! *dramatic music*

  3. ancient/foreign ghost feels like it could get dangerously close to cultural appropriation if you play your cards wrong (like the "Exotic Warrior" in Troika...) maybe just stick to ancient ghost? neanderthal ghost, bronze-age ghost, hi-tech ghost from a long-gone sci-fi civilization. transhumanist data ghost that accidentally got projected back in time? all preferable to just defaulting to "weird" orientalism.

  4. My mind on Ancient/Foreign Ghost goes to MR James. Disturbing the spectre mainly out of scholarly curiosity, antiquarian investigations. This is largely by British academics in Mainland Europe (Canon Alberic's Scrapbook, Count Magnus) or by poking around in East Anglian sand-dunes to unearth Medieval objects (Oh, Whistle and I'll Come to You, My Lad & A Warning to the Curious).
    These are relatively small things, usefully: a whistle, a page in a scrapbook. No ancient shrines or idols (a little outside the GG&G scale?). And if there is a single identifiable soul behind the haunting, they don't tend to be necessarily indicative of the culture they come from (you never got the idea that Count Magnus was a run-of-the-mill Swedish noble).