For a scenario I am writing for Violence Spells Gods and Politics, I needed to create ghosts, and the concepts of disembodied spirits, spirit combat, and possession.
What follows is the first draft:
|TOUGHNESS:||n/a or that of body possessed.||COMBAT:||n/a unless in possession of a body.|
|SPIRIT:||3 and greater (typically 2 + 1d6)||MAGIC:||varies|
|LUCK, TIME, EXPERIENCE:||Always 0||FAITH:||n/a unless in possession of a body.|
|SPECIAL:||To interact with the material plane and creatures within it, the ghost must manifest. When manifest they are immaterial and thus invulnerable to physical damage, and have no physical abilities, but they may create illusions, use magic, and possess the bodies of the living.|
A ghost is a common term for a disembodied spirit which makes its presence known to us. Many other names are also used such as shade, wraith, spectre, or poltergeist depending on their behavior, but they are all disembodied spirits manifesting on the material plane.
Spirits occupy the spirit plane most of the time, but retain connections to the material plane, each connection like a single thread anchoring them to a familiar person, or thing. The spirit is able with concentration to follow a thread to the material plane. When a spirit is near their destination they may invisibly observe the person, or thing upon which they are concentrating. Outside of direct sunlight, they can also manifest proximate to their target, which renders them visible to all as an apparition (see Illusions below), and lowers temperatures. Once manifest, a ghost can look around, use magic, and possess bodies. They lack the ability to move away from their targets except to recede into the spirit plane. An object however can be large like a structure, or landform which provides a significant amount of room for the manifesting ghost to move around in the material plane.
The ghost’s appearance is usually a transparent or translucent apparition representative of their appearance in life with changes reflective of the ghost’s current sense of self. They are able to make a wide range of disembodied sounds to communicate. They can also manipulate their appearance to create and maintain complex illusions. These illusions are only visual and auditory, and can be seamlessly integrated with real objects. The size of the illusion is directly proportional to the ghost’s SPIRIT score, ranging from the size of the ghost in life (3 SPIRIT) to an entire landscape (12+). How convincing the illusion is depends on the ghost’s INFLUENCE roll with a result of 16 (14) required for opaque visions, and realistic sounds. For characters testing the illusion, make hidden checks against the ghost’s INFLUENCE roll using whatever Talent is appropriate, COMBAT or MAGIC being typical.
Each ghost’s magic powers are unique. Some retain the knowledge they had in life. Many also have limited powers of telekinesis, able to exert pounds of force equal to their MAGIC score. Each telekinetic exertion costs 1 SPIRIT, requires a round of concentration, and lasts only an instant.
To possess a body, the ghost must either have the controller’s consent, or reduce the controller’s SPIRIT to 0. Taking control of a body by force inflicts 1 point of permanent SPIRIT damage on the loser. Once a body has been possessed by a spirit, that spirit has a connection to it, and thus will be able to locate the body in the future from the spirit plane. The spirit’s presence on the material plane is also now anchored by the body they are possessing.
When in possession of a body, the ghost replaces the possessed being’s SPIRIT, LUCK, and all Talent scores with their own. The being’s TOUGHNESS score remains with the body regardless of who is in control and is impacted normally, as are its size, race, advantages, and disadvantages.
The ghost retains control of a body until defeated in SPIRIT combat, or forced out by other methods. The original owner of the body is still present as a disembodied spirit. As long as they have at least 1 point of SPIRIT, and their body is still alive, a disembodied character can attempt to retake their body by initiating SPIRIT combat.
All disembodied spirits are capable of making psychic attacks. A character in control of a body must have mastery in an appropriate MAGIC discipline to do the same. A SPIRIT attack involves the attacker and the defender each rolling a die and adding their SPIRIT. If the attacker’s result is higher, the defender takes 1 point of SPIRIT damage. SPIRIT damage inflicted in SPIRIT combat on a disembodied spirit is permanent. Disembodied spirits also suffer a -1 cumulative penalty to SPIRIT attacks for each attack made. This penalty lasts until the disembodied spirit returns to the spirit plane.
Defeating a Ghost
Temporary banishment is achieved by breaking the object which the ghost targets to manifest near. If a ghost was haunting a mirror, cracking the mirror would temporarily banish it to the spirit plane. Destroying the object permanently severs this connection.
Exorcism of a ghost magically severs their connection to an object or person. At the moment of severance the ghost is banished to the SPIRIT plane.
A ghost can also be defeated by temporarily reducing it’s SPIRIT to 0. At 0 the ghost is banished to the spirit plane and unable to return until it fully recovers.
Destroying a ghost requires permanent SPIRIT damage and reducing the ghost’s SPIRIT to 0.
Avoiding a Ghost
If a character lacks the ability to defeat a ghost, the best solution is to flee. A ghost is unable to follow unless they have a connection to the character, the character is carrying an item which the ghost has a connection to, or the character is incapable of leaving the area.