Here at the Hoffman Institute, we specialize in chronicling the strange, the distant, the shadowy. Xenoforms and other horrors have found methods of breaching through thresholds and corrupting our very world. Unless we’re prepared, a whole otherworld of monsters could bring Earth to its knees. However, the future lies in both our veteran members as well as readied recruits. Through honor, teamwork, diligence and knowledge; the forces of darkness will not prevail over the best humanity has to offer against evil.
We have a few notes from some upcoming assignments. These will tell you what to look out for. Above all, while protecting the public, we must keep these incidents secret. We can’t let too much paranormal news get out to the public. After studying these cases, be prepared to secure and contain the threads that they are attached to. The Hoffman Institute is counting on you. Best of luck.
Author’s Note. So, some of the monsters here take inspiration from the previous post. And no, I’m not trying to cheapen what I made before by giving creatures stats. A few of these are directly tied to one ghost story, bu that’s okay. Also, keep on the lookout for some more foes of gothic earth! (A mix of Masque and D20 Modern inspiration.)
Ghost of the Past
A blip in time at its core. These ghostly images are beings stuck in a frame, a single moment. To them, it’s comforting. The world around them has changed since they were gone from this world. However, their haunted abodes are comforting reflections of a simpler time. When confronting such apparitions, it’s best to play along with things on their terms, lest you incur their wrath. However, many will exploit this by performing all means of wicked deeds in secret, while keeping up their innocent demeanor.
Dissonance. Ghosts of the Past are literally stuck in the past. Encountering things from beyond their era contrasts with their ways of thinking and builds up aggression. Should they encounter too much at once, the ghost turns hostile and any pleasant facades go away. Without spending an action, it enters its “Ghost Form”.
Medium undead, any non-good/non-evil alignment (75%), any evil alignment (25%)
Armor Class 12
Hit Points 50 (11d8)
Speed 30 ft.; fly 30 ft. (hover) (Ghost Form Only)
STR 14 (+2) DEX 14 (+2) CON 10 (+0) INT 11 (+0) WIS 16 (+3) CHA 14 (+2)
Skills Deception +8, Insight +9, Persuasion +5
Damage Resistances acid, fire, lightning, thunder; bludgeoning, piercing and slashing from non-magical weapons
Damage Immunities cold, necrotic, poison
Damage Vulnerabilities radiant
Condition Immunities charmed, exhaustion, frightened, grappled, paralyzed, petrified, poisoned, prone, restrained
Senses Darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 13
Languages Any languages it knew in life
Challenge 3 (700 XP)
Incorporeal Movement. When a Ghost of the Past turns aggressive, it gains the ability to phase through solid objects, as if it was difficult terrain. Ending in a solid object causes 5 (1d10) force damage to the ghost.
Normal Folk. While a Ghost of the Pass is indifferent in mood or better, it can pass off as a living humanoid. Likewise, spells that would detect Undead or protect from them do not affect the creature while it’s not hostile.
Relaxing Haunt. A Ghost of the Past designates an area as its own. It’s often, in reality completely dilapidated and in disrepair. However, its influence has it look as it did when the ghost was alive. As long as the Ghost of the Past is in a passive state, the nearby environment reflects that. However, once the ghost has become hostile, the environment reverts to its original self. Everything that was part of the ghost’s claimed territory becomes just as rotten as it is. However, a DC 15 Intelligence (Investigation check will reveal that the disguised setting is fake.
Withering Touch. Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 28 (4d12 + 2) necrotic damage.
Chastising Shout (Recharge 5 or 6). Ranged Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, range 30 ft., up to three targets within 10 ft. of each other. Hit: 30 (8d6 + 2) thunder damage.
Possession (Recharge 6) (Ghost Form Only). One humanoid that the Ghost of the Past can see within 5 ft. of it must succeed on a DC 13 Charisma saving throw or be possessed by it; the ghost then disappears, and the target is incapacitated and loses control of its body. The Ghost of the Past now controls the body but doesn’t deprive the target of awareness. It can’t be targeted by any attack, spell, or other effect, except ones that turn undead, and it retains its alignment, Intelligence, Wisdom, Charisma, and immunity to being charmed and frightened. It otherwise uses the possessed target’s statistics, but doesn’t gain access to the target’s knowledge, class features, or proficiencies. The possession lasts until the body drops to 0 hit points, it ends it as a bonus action, or the it is turned or forced out by an effect like the dispel evil and good spell. When the possession ends, the Ghost of the Past reappears in an unoccupied space within 5 ft. of the body. The target is immune to this Ghost’s Possession for 24 hours after succeeding on the saving throw or after the possession ends.
The sheer agony felt by a collective conscious of living beings can be so great in death that it carries over to things around them. In the case of a tragedy in a vehicle, it’s recreated in a haunt. Crashed carts, sunken ships and more become ghosts all their own. They haunt all their own, on whatever path lead to its demise.
These are often civilian crafts, completely unarmed at that, caught up in circumstances outside of their control. But, this isn’t always the case. Sometimes, war ships are victims to the cold depths below too, often as a result of a deadly battle. These ships appear slightly marred by whatever destroyed them. However, these scars are reminders that things are not what they seem. Only later, once the haunt has truly begun, do these scars fully revealed their story.
NOTE: This allows for more modern style vessels by creating a general range by accounting for a higher number of people, higher amount of cargo and more. Should this feel too great, utilize the Of Ship and Sea rules from Ghosts of Saltmarsh accordingly.
When applied to a ship based vehicle, such as the examples found in the Dungeon Master’s Guide as well as Ghosts of Saltmarsh, it gains the following changes:
- vehicle becomes vehicle (ghost), unaligned
- Speed. While a Haunt is active, it is not uncommon for the vehicle to either slow down (to a stop) or speed up.
- Damage Immunities necrotic, poison
- Damage Resistances cold; bludgeoning, piercing and slashing from non-magical weapons
- Pass Through Surfaces. The Ghost Ship may move its entirety through a solid object. However, should a part of it end within that object, that part takes 7 (2d6) force damage.
- Haunt (1/day). On any respective part of the vehicle, the haunt may begin. This is often caused by some traumatic event that previously destroyed the vessel. While beginning the effect is an action, it’s usually ongoing for as long as the haunted ship is in existence. As an action, the vehicle may enact a special effect, depending on its tragic story:
- Burned. Part of the vehicle catches on fire and spreads, all ghosts within the affected areas of the vehicle also catch flames (but do not take damage from it). While this effect is active, all creatures within the affected area must make a DC 15 Dexterity saving throw or take 10 (3d6) fire damage each round, taking halved damage on a success. Creatures that fail will continue to make the saving throw until they succeed, otherwise they keep burning. All ghosts are immune to this damage, despite looking affected. Any object not held by a character can catch on fire, dealing the same damage per round.
- Poison Gas. A gas leak begins to quickly spread throughout the ship. This is similar to the Burned Haunt, except characters must save or take poison damage and gain the poisoned condition. They may attempt to shake off the latter with a new saving throw, once they have left the afflicted zone.
- Raiders. A rival vessel emerges, causing ghostly pirates to board and assault the ship. This counts as an encounter all its own, utilizing NPCs from the Monster Manual, Volo’s Guide to Monsters or other sources to simulate an assault by ghostly pirates. Count this as a summoning effect.
- Rogue Wave. A massive wave rocks the ship to its core, crunching and crushing it. All creatures on board must make a DC 18 Dexterity saving throw or be hurled off the ship, taking 21 (6d6) bludgeoning damage.
- Sinking. This effect causes the ship to sink, which takes 5 (1d10) rounds. Upon this happening, all creatures that touch the water must make a DC 15 Constitution saving throw or become stunned, taking 19 (3d12) cold damage as well. Creatures who fail the saving throw may try again at the start of a new round. After leaving the water, they must make a new saving throw or suffer 1d4 levels of exhaustion from the chills. Ghosts are immune to this damage and effect.
- Dissipate. Should enough damage be caused (by mortals) to the ship, it will begin to slowly fade out. Likewise, should the Haunt end or daylight emerge, the same effect occurs. Over the course of 1d6 turns, the ship begins to fade from sight. After the end of this transition, the ship is completely gone, causing any mortal passengers to fall.
A Ghost Ship should be considered more of an environmental hazard/obstacle rather than a monster all its own.
Bodies horribly ravaged and scorched after an unholy pact with a devilish being. When called back to the world, the corrupted soul inhabits the brutally burned body, seeking to unleash as much evil as possible. A Hellbound Corpse is quite easy to spot, either by the putrid smell of smoldering flesh or from its obvious disfigurement. Those who either have a stronger conviction or stronger pact tend are reflected as being much stronger themselves. Otherwise, most of these creatures are intelligent zombies with an underworld curse.
Medium undead, any evil alignment
Armor Class 14 (ashen armor)
Hit Points 43 (5d8 + 20)
Speed 25 ft.
STR 13 (+1) DEX 12 (+1) CON 18 (+4) INT 11 (+0) WIS 14 (+2) CHA 10 (+0)
Damage Resistances bludgeoning, piercing and slashing from non-magical weapons
Damage Immunities fire, poison
Condition Immunities poisoned
Senses Darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception ##
Languages speaks what it knew in life; plus choice of Abyssal or Infernal
Challenge 4 (1,100 XP)
Magical Attacks. The Hellbound Corpse’s attacks count as magical.
Magical Resistance. The Hellbound Corpse has advantage on saving throws against magical effects and spells.
Rock Charred Flesh. When hit by a melee attack, the attacker must make a DC 14 strength saving throw. Upon failure, they take 6 (1d12) fire damage and their weapon is stuck inside of the Hellbound Corpse. In order to dislodge and free the weapon, the target must use an action to attempt a DC 14 Strength (Athletics) check.
Sneak Attack (1/round). When next to an ally, attacking with surprise or attacking with advantage, the Hellbound Corpse may add 17 (5d6) damage to its Dagger attack.
Unholy Cunning. The Hellbound Corpse may use its bonus action to take the dash, disengage or hide actions.
Dagger. Melee Weapon Attack: +3 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 3 (1d4 + 1) piercing damage plus 2 (1d4) fire damage.
Flaming Vomit. Ranged Weapon Attack: +3 to hit, range 30 ft., one target. Hit: 11 (2d10) acid damage plus 5 (2d4) fire damage)
Infernal Claws. Melee Weapon Attack: +3 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 8 (2d6 + 1) slashing damage plus 7 (2d6) fire damage.
Variant: GREATER HELLBOUND CORPSE
Significantly more powerful hellish undead. Their pact with the forces of darkness is far stronger too. The Greater Hellbound Corpse has the following changes made to its stats:
Armor Class 17 (ashen armor)
Hit Points 77 (9d8 + 36)
Speed 35 ft.
STR 18 (+4) DEX 16 (+3) CON 19 (+4) INT 12 (+1)
Rock Charred Flesh. DC 16
Sneak Attack. 35 (10d6) damage
Multiattack. The Hellbound Corpse may attack twice per round.
Dagger. +8 to hit, 9 (2d4 + 4) piercing damage plus 5 (2d4) fire damage.
Flaming Vomit. +7 to hit, 19 (3d10 + 3) acid damage plus 7 (2d6) fire damage)
Infernal Claws. Melee Weapon Attack: +8 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 13 (2d8 + 4) slashing damage plus 10 (3d6) fire damage.
Challenge 9 (5,000)
IMAGE CREDIT: WOTC Team – Dark*Matter art; David Lynch – Blue Velvet; Oozkr – Ghost Pirate Ship; Spirit Halloween – Smoldering Zombie