Ghosts

What are some of the most interesting interpretations of ghosts you have seen, which could be applicable to a tabletop setting?

Ghosts run the gamut across settings. They could be earthbound spirits, faint echoes of a soul, psychic imprints, temporal glitches, the world's memory of a person, or something similar. What are some of the most interesting interpretations you have seen, which could work well in a tabletop setting?

One of the more novel interpretations I have seen comes from, of all places, an adults-only doujin (which now eludes me). Earthbound spirits are formless, invisible, and unable to communicate or physically interact with the world. They are incapable of possessing anyone or anything, with one exception: a species of sapient slime-people, who can be used as a medium for communication and physical interactions. Ghosts are "phantasmal" simply because these slime-people are semitransparent, and the layman thinks that ghosts can "pass through walls" just because these slime-people can slip underneath the cracks of doors.

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  1. 1 month ago
    Anonymous

    That sounds like a pretty cool take OP. I hope that you remember the name.

  2. 1 month ago
    Anonymous

    I don't know that'd be too useful for most settings, but one I saw was that ghosts were just people from other timelines/universes that were very close to our own. You might be a ghost in one of those other worlds.

    • 1 month ago
      Anonymous

      That’s an interesting take on things, what might cause these timelines to be visible to us?

      • 1 month ago
        Anonymous

        I don't remember how it was justified, something like quantum superposition writ large. The actual "science" behind it was a handwave.

        • 1 month ago
          Anonymous

          Where exactly was this? Because I’d love to check it out myself.

          • 4 weeks ago
            Anonymous

            I don't even remember, sorry.

  3. 1 month ago
    Anonymous

    I was inspired by someone once saying zombies were an environmental hazard, like bad weather, a hurricane, or a tsunami. I fashioned my ghosts after that concept too.
    They're tied to a location, they're centered around a tradgedy or conspiracy, and they're pretty much unkillable "effects" on the place. The only way to resolve them is to get to the bottom of what is tying them to that particular location. If it's borne of a horrendous circumstance, then it might just take characters who are willing to immerse themselves in those emotions, becoming a medium pretty much, but impacting the psyche of those individuals forever. Them's the breaks.

    • 1 month ago
      Anonymous

      Pathfinder 1e and 2e are relatively major RPGs that handle certain ghosts as an environmental "haunt" mechanic.

      • 1 month ago
        Anonymous

        it just feels like the right way to handle them, they're not supposed to be "monsters" they're supposed to have been individuals, with stories, and purpose.

  4. 1 month ago
    Anonymous

    I ain't afraid of no ghosts

    • 1 month ago
      Anonymous

      Me neither! Who you gonna all!

  5. 1 month ago
    Anonymous

    I played as a ghost girl PC for several years. She was a seventeen year old who got hit by a cab and awoke as a dream. She became obsessed with the idea of finding a way to come back to life, and after several IRL years eventually she did. By that point she was caught up in the politics of Not-Narnia and had become a pseudo-pacifist on the grounds that being dead was so awful no one deserved it no matter how bad they were.

    • 1 month ago
      Anonymous

      Interesting. Tell me more about how that happened/ the story in general

      • 1 month ago
        Anonymous

        Its a very long story so I'll give only some of the highlights/background. The campaign went on for like 160 sessions.

        >Alexis Gram was a seventeen year old girl in a world that was similar to modern day earth but with magic. She was athletic, a B-student, lived in a big city, attended high school, was essentially your typical girl next door.
        >One day she gets hit by a cab and dies, wakes up that evening and goes home. When she looks in her mirror she realizes she can't be seen. Over the next few days she realizes nobody can see or hear her and that she has died from the collision. It should be noted ghosts are not supposed to exist in this setting as far as anyone knows.
        >After awhile her funeral is held, and after her funeral she becomes so violently opposed to this being really the end of her life that had just started she decides to dedicate herself to finding a way back to life. Resurrection magic even moreso doesn't exist in this setting. She learns to physically materialize herself as a ghostly body and spends the next five months bumming around the city semi-aimlessly, wanting to come back but totally bereft of leads. She keeps an eye on her family, hangs out with her BFF [inexplicably a medium], and has some fun as a ghost.
        >One day during a storm in a movie theater she's snuck into she's accosted by an usher, a woman who reveals she is a spirit from the planet Tetra [aliens even MORE are not known to exist in this setting] and promises her a way back to life if she will travel with her to meet her Master on Tetra at a place called Yggrasil.

        That's the open to the campaign, the party is all pulled to Tetra from pseudo-Earth to journey to Yggdrasil to meet the Master, each with a Wizard of Oz-esq promise drawing them to the World Tree.

        1/?

        • 1 month ago
          Anonymous

          >Tetra they discover is a medieval planet inhabited by talking animals, talking plants, elementals, and machines. The only humans there are a group of immortal demigods known as the Twelve, folk heroes associated with each of the twelve nations who've lived for thousands of years since the War of the Taint.
          >They also discover there's beings called Numeri who can draw power from dead foes through magic gemstones Tetrans drop at death called 'souls' [not actual Souls, which are instead referred to as the Psyche]. All humans are naturally Numeri, making the party very potent to start as they learn to harness the energies of the slain. In game mechanic terms, each general type of being had a Soul with an offensive power [Glavo], defensive [Sildo], and utility [Ilo], and the the party had three such slots. For instance a Fire Elemental Soul could give you fire damage on your attacks, a resistance to fire, or a utility power [I forget what it was, but it had one]. And so on for each foe.
          >Lastly, everyone who died on Tetra lingers as a ghost if they do not physically travel while invisible to Yggdrasil to be reincarnated. Alexis finds this very interesting as on Earth nobody thinks ghosts even exist.
          >The campaign takes the form of a long trek across the nations of Chevalerie and Vanaheim, a medieval Europe expy and mystical jungle land that hates magic-use respectively, along the way meeting a huge cast of characters including a ship of sentient machines from Osterlich [not-Germany], several of the Twelve, and learning more about the Taint.
          >The Taint it seems is a race of fairy tale monsters who are created by turning normal Tetrans into them, destroying their minds and replacing their personalities in the process.

          2/?

          • 1 month ago
            Anonymous

            >Along the way Alexis talks about the experience of being dead. How she cannot smell or taste, how she cannot feel temperature, how she cannot sleep so the whole time since her death seems like 'one big long bad day' where she must wait out while the others sleep, and how she cannot interact with most people because they're afraid of her, and generally how awful it is to be dead when all she wants it to go home and forget all of this.
            >She's completely against the idea of 'passing on' and is terrified of the idea of people trying to make her, and wouldn't know how to even if she wanted. Moreover she's afraid people will be afraid of her resurrection or view it as unnatural since that's what people do in movies [like Pet Cemetary].
            >At first she is cavalier to fighting enemies, but after a moment of sonder early on she realizes her enemies have lives outside of her appearing to fight them and from there a series of events slowly turn her mind such that she begins to believe that death is so horrible she wouldn't wish it on her worst enemy, resulting in her attempting to make peace with the vile Tainted to evade another War of the Tainted and save as many lives as possible. She does this not because of strong morals but because of her intense psychological aversion to the idea of death having experienced it.
            >Eventually she reaches Yggdrasil, has a Council of Elrond style meeting with many of the Twelve, and convinces them to support her peace bid by holding a peace summit in Yehuda [Not-Israel]
            >Yggdrasil makes good on its promise and provides her a very energy intensive resurrection using its reincarnation matrix and she has a long number of cute scenes reacclimating to being alive and generally enjoying her triumph, such as her first experience of sunlight in months, or food, or sleep, or simple socializing with people outside the party without the tinge of fear.

            3/4

            • 1 month ago
              Anonymous

              >The party travels to al-Khemet [not-Arabia/Egypt] enroute to Yehuda for the peace summit, and along the way she preaches her gospel of peace and is acknowledged as something like a prophet, and unfortunately the campaign dies there around 160~ sessions in due to irreconcilable scheduling difficulties. It was a really fun game though with alot of reflection on what death means, what it means to be dead, and an unconventional ghost story about the girl who refuses to make peace with her death and actually comes out on top in the end at great effort. I'm really upset I never got to roleplay her going home to her family, that would have been peak comfy roleplay and we never got it and never will. I didn't even mention the other PCs or half the formative events that took place [like the long shonen Tournament arc she somehow won, its faerie lord villain who inspired her pacifism in the first place, and her resulting acknowledgment as the greatest warrior on Tetra despite being very much not that].

  6. 1 month ago
    Anonymous

    I had the idea that ghosts can either be created by a traumatic death either imprinting some of the memories and emotions of someone onto the ambient elemental energy, or more rarely, a soul determined to stick to the mortal plane instinctively crafting a shell of said elemental power in order to act as a vessel for said soul, which is far more common among those who were mages in life.

    • 4 weeks ago
      Anonymous

      Where exactly was this? Because I’d love to check it out myself.

      have a nice day bumpgay, nobody wants to talk to you

  7. 1 month ago
    Anonymous

    [...]

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    Where exactly was this? Because I’d love to check it out myself.

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  8. 4 weeks ago
    Anonymous
  9. 4 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    I posted in an old thread
    >Ghosts are not the souls of the dead, nor spirits mimicking them, nor any such like thing.
    >The world has many orders of organisation, from the physical to the magnetic, and even the psychic. When some people die, under conditions of stress and with the alignment of other obscure circumstances, they inadvertently etch a psychic imprint into the fabric of matter around them. This imprint causes telepathic and telekinetic echoes of their mindstate and the events that lead to their demise. Crucially, this imprint would fade except that it often leads others into the same or similar events later in time. An echo of a violent death might spark arguments in people days or years later, and even the same words and actions would recur in those unrelated later witnesses. Each repetition that is "successful" strengthens the psychic recording making it harder to resist and more frequently recurring. A death caused by the psychic echo (say, a fall down the stairs causing vertigo-sensations that cause more falls down those stairs) causes huge increases in the potency of the "ghost."
    >The key to defeating such phenomena is either the utter destruction of the local arrangement of matter (a buried bomb of significant size would do, but sometimes merely a catastrophic fire) or unpicking the history of the echo and crucially disrupting the "narrative" at vital points. Strong will and an insistence on actions that break the cycle are all that is truly needed.
    >Much of the psychic activity requires earnestness, emotional availability, and genuine wishes to see the "wrong" righted and the psychic hurt soothed.

  10. 4 weeks ago
    Anonymous

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