Burning Ghosts

So in a BWG game i have just started one of the characters took both the Grave digger and exorcist life paths and together we have been putting together a situation where it would be nice to have some ghosts running amok. I have burned one way to do a ghost, but i was wondering if anyone else has ever burned a ghost as a monster for a game. Those ghosts he will be dealing with all come from the same city that ended up running out of food, the citizenry basically went insane and turned to cannibalism and the entire population either starved to death or starved to death after eating the dead. Now the population has mostly stayed around as insane ghosts.The story of course is deeper than I have written here, but I was looking for some inspiration/guidance in regards to actually burning them. I’m sure at some point the PCs will try to turn to combat vs a ghost. Anyone have any advice or examples on burning ghosts?

Do you have access to the Magic Burner? The Summoning chapter has information on both Sanctified Dead and Restless Dead.

I will in a couple days, but not right now. I’ll check that out when i get it. Thanks!

Also “Blossoms Are Falling” has pretty cool rules for being posessed by a ghost. If you don’t have or can’t find those. I will paraphrase them when I bring my books in to work to do so.

I like the idea of cannibalistic mad ghosts, craving once more the taste of human flesh.

AdBu and Blossoms are the rules sources I’d turn to, but look to mythology to get an idea of what you want. There is more than one kind of restless spirit.

Some might be doomed to haunt the world until the wrong that cursed them is righted; some might be hungry dead, sucking the life from the living to stave off their trip to the underworld [Japanese Gaki]; others have returned to the world to protect those they love from danger [Valeria in Conan tB], or haunt their own tombs to protect the treasures they so coveted in life [Barrow Wights]… think about the motivations and beliefs of the dead, then work with that, not every ghost need be the same, and some might have passions that drive their very existence.

Thanks for the advice on texts. I have been trying to find AdBu but have had no luck. I’ll try to find a copy of Blossoms for some more inspiration.

The story of the ghosts as it is so far is that there once was a nomadic desert tribe that lived and traveled in a land to the far south. Though life was sometimes hard for the tribe, they lived quite well and were generally happy with their lives. Then a drought hit and no rain fell in their homeland for a year and all the oasis and other water sources begin to dry up. The leader of the tribe worried constantly about what he could do for his people. they could leave the dessert and try to seek more hospitable lands, but hostile tribes surrounded them. In addition they had waited so long for the rains to come back, he began to worry if they would have enough water for all and if the peaceful tribe had the strength to hold off enemies long enought for those who travel slowly, then children and elders, to get through enemy lands. This chief did not want to leave anyone behind. On night while staring into his camp fire worrying about all of this, a hot breeze blew over him and the breeze turned into a cyclone and before he knew it a Djinni stood before him. after hearing of the cheiftans plight the Djinni offered him a plan. The djinni would give the chieftain a magic bottle within which was a city. This city was full of food and water, houses, barns, everything a people needs to live. the chief could lead his people into this city in a bottle and then the chief could sneak through hostile lands by himself carrying the bottle. It would be much easier for one person to slip through unnoticed than it would for 5000 people to do so. Once he reached the other side and it was safe the chief could let his people out of the bottle and the tribe could begin their life anew. The tribe within the city would then be able to travel in safety and comfort. The chief loved the idea and took the bottle from the Djinni. After leading his people into the bottle by having them each say an incantation, the chief placed the stopper in the bottle, loaded up what he needed to travel and went on his way. Well, of course, he is set upon by bandits during his travels and is killed, but while he was running he tried to hide the bottle form the bandits, fearful they would break it which the chief believed would kill his tribe. the bandits caught him and also found the bottle. before the bandits killed the chief they heard he plead not to break the bottle as it was magic and held the whole of his tribe. the bandits killed him and, fearful of the magic of the bottle, poured wax over the bottle top and made sure all knew the bottle was cursed. Meanwhile inside the bottle the tribe did not know what was going on in the world. They had food and water aplenty, enough to last them for years and their trip would last only weeks at most. So the people feasted like they had never been able to before in their desert home. time passed and weeks turned to months, the month into a year and the people began to worry about why they were still in the city. Though there was plenty of food and water in the bottle city, they noticed that it was not an infinite amount and the food was decreasing. people began to hide food and water. years passed and the food began to run out. people began to fight amongst each other for food and water. people began to die from starvation since others were hording food. more time passed and desperation lead the people to commit horrible crimes against each other in order to survive just a little bit longer. Murder, cannibalism, theft, riots all occurred in waves wiping out the population till all were dead. In addition to this, one other side effect of this city in a bottle is that it is cut off from the realm of god. so once the poor souls died, there was no place for them to go, the souls of the dead were unable to escape the city. These spirits roamed the city reliving the horror and pain of their last days, this drove the spirits even more mad than they were when their bodies died. they existed this way for hundreds of years while the cursed bottle was hidden and protected from ever being opened. Well, of course, the bottle ends up being lost and finds its way across the land to a city in the north where the PCs happen upon it. of course the PCs will open it, you know how PCs are. When they do all of the spirits of this ancient tribe are released from the city, but they spirits madness has now prevented them from moving on. They have hunger, they have thirst. There will be time enough to rest after they finally get something to eat and drink.

From this point it gets open ended and the PCs have many ways to interact with the ways the ghosts manifest. Some ghosts could possess people and need to be cast out. other ghosts would probably have the Dust and Shadow trait and the PCs must search the city in the bottle for the remains in order to destroy the spirit, some who died early might not be as mad and there is opportunity for DoWs in order to get them to rest. lots of room for PCs to play and create. Now i just need to stat the ghosts up.

I would rather intervene in this thread instead of opening a new one.

I am facing almost the same problem in my current BW Middle Earth campaign, I would like to create a creature like the ghosts and corpse candles that can be found in The Lord Of the Rings. I have the Monster Burner and Adventure Burner. In which chapter of the AdBu can I find info to help me ? I can’t really figure it out. I have started to read the Monster Burner, but I am not quite sure that the monster mechanics creation are appropriate for ghostly and undead being.

The creature Uncle Vodnik is some sort of spirit isn’t it ? Can the mechanics of the monster burner be used to create interesting ghosts or undead creatures ?

I also saw on this forum a witch king monster that was created. Where can I find the rules to create something similar ? Do I need to use the infos in Magic Burner as well to wrap it up ? (the thing is that I am not sure whether I ll have time to read and integrate both books, so I need your advice on the most efficious way !).

The Daemon and Querub from the Illustrated Bestiary in the Monster Burner are spirits and Uncle Vodnik and the Vampyr from the same are undead spirits.

The Daemonim, Imps, Querubim and Seraphim from the Creature Codex in the Monster Burner are also spirits.

The Magic Burner’s Summoning chapter has more information on ghosts, including the Sanctified Dead, Restless Dead and Poltergeist traits. The Death Art chapter of the Magic Burner has information on zombies and ghouls.

Thanks for your quick response.

I just stumbled upon that monster that was burned, introducing new Traits that one : http://www.burningwheel.org/forum/showthread.php?3662-Metella-Caecilii-Restless-Dead

Maybe I can do some kind of similar thing using the Monster Burner, as I don’t have much time to order and receive the Magic Burner (I am based in Europe :smiley: ).

Like the Dead Men of Dunharrow?

As the base Spirit Nature, Aura of Fear, Incorporeal (Char Trait), Celestial Sight. Uncle Vodnik’s Dual Natural I do not thing applies if I remember correctly, I do not recall them having any corporeal form? I give them Stride 8, maybe 9. (I am pretty sure there was a mix of on foot and mounted but as a group they moved in unison).

If you see them being similar enough in aspect to the Ring-Wraiths you could craft a Dt for Chilling Touch.

Chilling Touch (Dt, not sure of the cost offhand but definitely including 8pt for rule-breaker)

Test with an unarmed combat skill. IMS against any mortal living flesh or plant is Li/Mi/Se, Add 2, unlimited. If attacker is Incorporeal mundane Armor does not Test to avoid damage. Incidental contact by living flesh or plant (say some fool tries to punch them :wink: ) inflicts an Incidental wound.

If you allow for a circumstance modifier for the Aura of Fear Steel Test for there being a horde of such beings, this would even hew quite close to the Deus Ex Machina that were the Dead Men of Dunharrow in the LotR.

EDIT: The candle-corpses, as per the boat scene, I am not sure are anything beyond visual apparitions? Basically scenery that [in game mechanics terms] played upon BITs.

Sort of.

Basically, I browsed through the Tolkien writings, the ICE MERP material and also the movies to find the ideas. The PCs are going to wander through the Gladden Fields, where Isildur was killed at the very beginning of Third Age. To me, there is a possibility that Isildur, losing the One Ring, became a ghost haunting the Gladden Fields. It would be incorporeal, appear as he remember being, he would have the option to drain the Forte of anyone who would be near him. That could be this Chilling Touch trait or some other like the “Touch of the Grave” Trait developed on the link I posted previously. He would not realize that he’s dead and to get rid of him would imply fleeing or engaging him in a DoW to convince him that he’s dead. He wouldn’t disappear completely however as his fate remains bound to the One Ring.

As there was a troop of people around him when he was killed, his soldiers would become “corpse candles” or “swamp stars” to recall a term used by ICE. These would be lights, small bright light, that could mesmerize people looking at it, leading them into quicksands and mortal hazard of the marshes. While the victim is in the water it would be able to drain Forte as well from the victim, draining its life energy.

Here are 2 concepts of monsters… thanks to your ideas and input, I ll try to give them a shot in the Monster Burner.

I had not seen your post prior (I had the browser open for a lot time before submitting my post). The Forte Taxing version is way better than my from-the-hip one.

I really think that corpse-candles can be very effective with only textual description. Even better than stating them out with draining ability given that the goal of the GM is to hit on BITs and thus the purpose of any creature construct is likewise, and that falling into cold water is already plenty dangerous (having personally experienced emergence into 4C water on a warm, sunny day I would fully endorse a Forte Test to avoid physical action penalty prior to a Speed Test to stay afloat). Better to avoid strong-arm compulsion and go instead with player cooperation via BIT baiting.

Just think about what kind of description will bait the BITs with what they see? What is the angle to play on there. If there is none then in my mind using them as creepy mood setting is good enough, unless there are PCs with Belief(s) about resisting mind compulsion?

Corpse candles would make good failure results for Orienteering, etc. tests.

“I failed my Orienteering test to cross the fields as quickly as possible.”
“Hrm… well, as you’re crossing you can’t help but be drawn to what you think is a candle light just beyond your presence. You unwittingly let it take you of course as it mesmerizes you and SPLASH… you find yourself quickly sinking to the bottom of a pond. Roll your Forte to escape drowning.”


I’d give you a Will test to resist their call, with failure leading to the Forte test.

Thanks you so much guys for all this input.

I tried to come up with something for the Isildur Ghost. For the corpse candles, I ll think I ll use Thor’s way : it will be a one stat or one roll NPC that they will have to face, provided they fail their orienteering roll through the marshes. Forgive my writing skills, I am much better at translating english to french than the opposite…

Isildur, ghost from the past

Spirit nature, glowing with a pale glow, the one who formerly was the King of Men is no more than a ghost who now haunts the fields where he found death and lost the Ring of Power. He looks the way he was before death, including the orcs arrows in his back. He is convinced of still being alive and can absorb the life of the living. He relentlessly seeks the One Ring.

Will G6, Perception B6, Agility B5, Speed B6, Power B4, Forte B4

Health B5, Reflexes B5, Ressources B0

Affiliation : Guard’s Captain 1D

Instincts : Mesmerize any living who do not fear me. Drain life around me. Spot rings and jewelry carried by the people I encounter.

Beliefs : The Ring of Power is somewhere around, I have to find who took it away from me. Fate didn’t kill me, these orcs were not good enough to take me out of this world. I have to get revenge against those orcs who ambushed me.

Gear : Ghost sword and armor, Captain’s clothese bearing the White Tree of Gondor

Skills : Sword B4, Brawling B4, Conspicuous G3, Intimidation G4, Observation N3, Cold Touch G6 (open roll), Stealthy B3, Scavenging B3, Falsehood G3, Persuasion G3, Command G3, Ring-Wise N3

Traits : Ring Bound (8pt), Horrific Aura (8Pt), Corpse bound (7pt), Luminescent (3pt), Spirit Nature (17pt), Ghost coat (4pt), Mesmerizing Gaze (6pt), Pale (1pt, character), High Speech (1pt), Man-sized (1pt), Night Eyed (5pt), Haunt (4pt), Cold Touch (6pt)

Steel B6

Sup : B3
Li : B5
Mid : B7
Sev : B8
Tr : B9
MW : B10

Haunt (Die Trait, 4pts) : The ghost cannot leave a determined location. He can only be out of it for a number of minutes equal to his Will. He can however minorly affect the environnement within the area, creating “ghostly” effects.

Cold Touch (Die Trait, 6pts) : The ghost need to touch its victim to launch this effect, which can be done in a social situation or by passing a Brawling roll. With this touch, the ghost can drain the life of the victim. The ghost rolls his Cold Touch skill (open ended) with an obstacle equal to the Will of the victim. A success drains 1D of Forte. Each extra success drains an extra 1D from the victim. If the victim gets to 0 it is incapacitated. This penalty is recovered at a rate of 1D per exchange.

Hi Footbridge. Looks pretty solid. Good job!

What happens if the Cold Touch drains a victim to below 0 Forte? My suggestion would be to use the Overtax rules from Sorcery. That would allow Isildur’s ghost to kill…possibly creating new ghosts?

Also, how do you envision Isildur interacting with the PCs? It seems like his beliefs point him at the orcs. Why does he approach the PCs and what does he want from them?

Thanks for the cheering up ! It was my first try at the monster burning…

Agree with you on the Overtax rule.

For the interaction, the idea I had in my plot, would be that in case of Failing the Orienteering Test, they will face the corpse candle. Once they went after the candles, those “lights” will guide the PC all the way to the heart of the Gladden Fields where the ghost will wait for them (the candles are his “men” who guide the visitors to their captain). He will first try to know if the PC have the Ring and ask it to them. The PC will need to make Steel test to resist its aura first. Then at this point, depending on how the PC react it can go several ways : a conflict, where the ghost will try to mesmerize a PC and then maybe a full blown Fight (but as the PC don’t have any “magical” weapon they won’t be able to hit him at all…), or in case the PC stay calm and keep their nerves they can start talking. If they convince the ghost that they don’t have the Ring, he will ask them to help him to chase some orcs that are now patrolling the fields, looking for the ring. If the PC don’t want, he will engage them in a DoW or use his powers to convince them. According to how the DoW goes, then PC can be free to wander how they want, or they will have to find the orcs and chase them, or to find Isildur’s Corpse to chase the ghost.

Does that seem interesting ?

So essentially, he can’t follow the orcs because he’s bound to this location and wants the PCs to hunt them for him? That’s cool.

Is there a reason the PCs wouldn’t want to help him? Is there something the PCs might want from him? Remember that if there’s going to be a DoW, the PCs need to have a statement of purpose too.

The location-bound would be the logical why he can’t hunt the orcs himself.

Basically, in the ongoing campaign, the PCs are hunting a pack of lawless men that are supposed to meet another band of bandit in the fields and then go away further. They are in a hurry to catch them before they leave… So the PCs will have to decide : shall they stick with their initial goal of finding the bandits (and beliefs for some of them) or shall they help out this ghost (and some have beliefs that could go this way) ? And if they want to go without helping him, they will have to negociate that, either in the DoW or after having fleed from the ghost. There might no be a DoW, it really depends on how the PC handle the situation.