Ghosts as Conceived in American Horror Story

I love American Horror Story! I can’t help it, I want to riff of the way they portray ghosts.

As far as I can tell, the ghosts in AHS are (or can become) physical at will, can become visible to who they want at will, and have all their prior memories too.

Imagine an armor wearing, axe wielding knight seeking revenge! Kill him and he just comes back the next night looking for more.

Somebody stop me!


In the Monster Burner we have rules for Amulet Bound creatures—they can be fought off or killed, but they are only truly destroyed when their amulet is destroyed. And Vampyr’s power of Shadow and Dust—which means they can only be truly destroyed once a ritual of Faith is performed over their remains.

Does that help?

Makes sense to me. Thanks, Luke!

The Shadow and Dust trait is probably enough. No use making up new rules when there’s something readily available.

I’m also just curious if any BW players have watched the show and thought about riffing off its interpretation of ghosts and what thoughts that might have stirred up.

I thought the show started well, but I lost interest once virtually everyone seemed to be a ghost, and it turned into a sort of soap opera. Over familiarity with the supernatural can dilute it’s effect, much like magic in D&D.

I like the idea of ghosts who are perceived differently ( like Moira the maid) based on a characters BITS. That could be cool. And ghosts treated like Characters rather than mere monsters is interesting, especially if their status is a mystery to the PCs. What a brilliant consequence to a failed Circles roll. (The character you are looking for knocks on your door, but requires you to exact revenge on the one responsible for their death. Plus their mouldering corpse is buried under your floorboards.)

However, your post has also got me imagining a game where at least one if not all the PCs play ghosts trapped in a house, each with one belief about how they died and what they must do to “escape”. It would make a decent Con. game I think. You’ve also got me thinking about “Burning Hell” with the PCs as lost souls trapped in the afterlife, manoeuvring for power and influence in the court of the devil. Has anyone ever run games like these?

With all due respect I don’t think you give AHS enough credit. But this doesn’t seem the proper place to debate the merits of the show so I’ll forego my counterpoints!

Great idea, having a failed circles roll as, “Yup, you found her, but she’s dead. What do you say?” Good one.

And your con game idea sounds brilliant. Part of the fun is that characters might be more violent toward each other than normal cause death isn’t permanent. It’s sorta like getting thrown in the penalty box in hockey, you just miss part of the game. Perhaps the ghost trait that’s like SHadow and Dust restricts your movement more but lets you come back more quickly. If it’s a con game maybe you simply can’t play for, like, 20 minutes if you get yourself killed.

In my campaign the riff I’m thinking about from AHS is a City of the Dead with a dracolich who is “the reason” why the spirits of the dead stick around and get these buffs instead of traveling the astral to their deity or some such. And the dracolich has cool minions (still thinking on this) of some sort that go out and collect souls of people when they die, sorta like Valkyries taking viking souls to Valhalla. The dracolich is also a villainous mastermind who’s modus operandi is to stir up violence, to try and get clans, tribes, families, etc to go to war against each other so that his minions have more souls to collect. Then of course if you go after him, well, he’s in a city where everyone you kill comes back to life later, sorta like a video game where the monsters respawn.