The fearful element here being that a Lich at least wants something and is vaguely connected enough to reality to understand if you will or will not give it that thing. But a ghost is just a memory, its pseudo-selfhood feeds into and out of that memory and can relate coherently to nothing else.
And a ghost does not know that it is a ghost, it does not know that it is dead.
So imagine someone terrifyingly intelligent, who can affect reality on a basic level, travel through time, pass through dimensions, summon demons, whatever. And then imagine that they have dementia, and that they don't know they have dementia because they are so powerful that reality around them is usually whatever they think it should be, and that they can't die because they are already dead, they just don't know it, and that you can't punch or stab them and if they touch you they age you to death.
And they are wandering the world haunting something_, but no-one is sure what it is that they haunt because they can fucking time travel and see other dimensions so maybe it’s a ley-line or a particular strand of causality or a particular hive of bees or a gene cluster or a tachyon shower or some fucking thing.
And they turn up, according to some impenetrable logic, and start doing crazy old-man shit, but they can reformat reality, clone people, change memories, charm people, polymorph people and things, summon hyper-intelligent beings who might know they are a mad ghost but who _still have to do what they say_, steal souls or put them back, freeze people in, or move them through, time itself and just do any amount of insane Dr Who shit except they are doing it all in unconscious service to some traumatic memory that _even they_ don't really understand the shape or cause of.
So to get rid of them you have to solve the Ghost Mystery, which could be something as simple as burying a bone comb, but good fucking luck doing that as anyone who gets close to them gets sucked into some reality-mangled hall of mirrors situation, and that's if they are lucky.
Basics of this idea;
- Driven by Memory
- Timeless itself, could appear before the cause of its own death, or before its own life.
- Could 'put off' appearing until the distant future.
- Can affect reality through spells.
- Has lots of spells and regenerates each time with all its spells intact.
- But regenerates with no memory of its previous encounters.
- So, almost impossible to beat the first time, but could be a live-die-repeat situation where if you survive the first fight or encounter then you stand better and better chances of surviving the next encounters.
- But as you find out more and more, you get pulled deeper and deeper into the mystery of the wizards death/ghost creation
|Ghost-Council-of-Orzhova from magic the Gathering.|
The first think I have seen that made me give a damn about MtG.
ELEMENTS OF THE ADVENTURE
1. THE MYSTERY
What is the Triggering Trauma?
- Betrayal, by lover, student or friend.
- Irreparable Loss of a loved one.
- Despair leading to magical suicide.
- Death at the hands of super-enemy*.
- Death by freaky magic accident.
- Religious troubles (knows hell is real as has visited there personally).
*Things that can kill a super-wizard
- another super-wizard
- a major demon or devil
- inter-dimensional being
- a dragon (a big one)
- a god or demi-god
- the illuminati
And Their Insane Response to It?
- Compulsive re-enactment of the event in different forms.
- Doing forensics of event it can't remember by following all possibly physical or mental consequences.
- Keeps trying to build impenetrable defence against unknown threat but can't remember the threat.
- Compulsively tries to stop the same thing happening to anyone else, no matter how likely, with no exact memory of what it is trying to prevent.
- Instinctively building a thing or ritual to replace this entire reality with one where the thing didn't happen.
- Kill god of death, of just God, or just open the gates to the afterlife permanently.
How Do the PCs Fix It?
- It’s a simple object related to the event, redeem, cleanse, destroy or return it.
- It’s a person, find, redeem, return, free or condemn them. (Could be the Wizards own self from another time or dimension.)
- It’s a secret one other entity knows, they have to state it openly to the ghost.
- It’s a dead person like another ghost or spirit, find them & present them to the Wizard for forgiveness or redemption.
- You just have to find out what happened and persuade them that it happened so they can remember it, without being blasted into atoms.
All the weird things the Wizard does which would cause people to become interesting in what he is up to and draw them in.
Hooks are also effectively 'approaches', they could be the chaos left in the blast-radius of the Wizards entry into the world.
- Everyone in a population, or half of everyone, mass-charmed and going about life as if they are characters in an historical epic or strange fiction.
- Farm or wild animals in a certain area given intelligence, personality and strange drives, they act out the history of an ancient kingdom, or one yet to be.
- Wanderers snatched through time, interrogated about some minor element of their lives, then let go. They all speak different languages and come from different eras.
- Every living thing in a particular wave-front slowly being transformed into one particular person, maybe a primary, or tertiary character from an important memory.
- Big things made small and small things big, giant bugs rule a grass-forest with a floor carpeted with bonsai temperate woodlands, you get bison in your shoes and might step on a city.
- Cities or random areas of land teleport-swapped over insane distances.
- Particular architectural memory breeding like a disease and replacing local objects, like a cancer of a particular building, an empty plain with the same tower repeated like temple columns, building of a city being consumed by a single set of rooms, or the same house growing like pustules over every surface.
- Some Djinn or Demon set to grab every blue shirt in this reality or every descendant of a particular person from a millennia ago, or everyone whose name is an anagram of a particular world, and they are so powerful that they are nearly unstoppable, but they don't really want to be doing this insane bullshit and will drop heavy hints as to what it is all about.
- Everyone in a population given the power to read the minds of one other person, an insane informational economy breaking out.
- Every dragon on the planet spazzing out because one particular kind of object was stolen from each of them, but the oldest dragon is super-powerful and now it looks like they are going to have a dragon-war.
- Everyone’s dreaming of the same girl and can't speak without singing laments to her and no-one knows who the hell she is and it's driving everyone nuts.
- A crazy old man or woman comes bustling through everyone dreams, every single night, turning things over, looking for someone, calling you by someone else’s name before getting upset and storming off. When he leaves the dream he leaves a door open and if you go into it in the dream you disappear from this life.
3. THE HOUSE
This is the place you have to go to encounter the Wizard Ghost in its most active form.
This is always the same place, it could be a tower, a city street, an isolated house, a ship, an interdimensional hideaway.
The key thing for the adventure is that the floor plan is always the same but the nature of the encounter is always different. The Ghost keeps creating these places wherever it comes so it feels safe and familiar, but that has no (obvious) logic to anyone else. It leaves this shape behind like the trail of a snail, repeated everywhere it goes.
It could be;
- Semi-submerged in a swamp.
- Hanging side-on a cliff.
- In a forest.
- On a mountaintop.
- In the middle of a city.
- In the middle of a ruined city.
- Hanging in the air.
- Interlaced with the lair of whoever you thought was the most powerful bad-guy. The wizards thoughts have driven them off.
The encounters inside are of three kinds
Stuff from the Hooks; the same kinds of polymorphed, cloned, memory-changed, time-snatched, gated-in or just strange thing that drew your attention.
Stuff from the environment; whatever was living here before is either hiding from the Wizards ideas, fruitlessly contending with them or has been changed, charmed, re-written, altered
And the WYZARD themselves, in all their ghostly and deranged hyper-powerful glory
|Kaya, Ghost Assasin, ANOTHER great MtG image.|
Is there a whole world of ghostly action I have been missing out on by not caring about card games?
4. THE WYZARD
What happens when you actually bump into the wizards ghost itself, this is a mixed social encounter with a crazy, memory-damaged ghost who may be in completely different moods each time and who has insanely powerful spells.
Who doesn't remember meeting you, for either good or ill, and who is always, ultimately, obsessed with the same thing. Even though they might seem to be into different things it all relates to the same mystery.
Even though its the axle of the adventure this is probably the simplest part to create, its essentially a big list of very-powerful spell effects, basically the engine of an interesting combat encounter.
What are they Like?
- Opulent, like the Pope of This Dude.
- Noble & super-fancy, Queen Elizabeth-style.
- Low-Key Gentleman Ghost, like a Squire, Mr Norrell Style.
- Heavy-Metal DCC Wizard, mutated & tattooed to fuck with a demon staff & shitload of pentangles.
- Animal Form.
- Dimensionally Bargled like that painting style, The Angles!
- 5E High-Fantasy Asshole.
- Potterverse Academic.
How Are They Acting?
- Familiar, they treat PCs as people they remember. Better keep up the act.
- Paranoid, surrounded by threats, afraid of something they can't sense.
- Mundane, acting as still alive on a boring average day, confused as to why work hasn't been done.
- Semi-Aware, knows something is wrong, suspects may be in parallel reality or victim of mind-maze.
Triggers! (could just use all of these)
- Sanity Status, better not question it.
- They are DEFINITELY ALIVE right now and NOT A GHOST, ok?
- Do Not Disturb My Great Work!
- There's this one particular colour....
- Just don't mention the name of that person connected to the thing that definitely didn't happen..