The more I work with them, the more I’ve come to see the
Dread Undead templates as a prompt for a story, not just a way to make more
monsters. Sure, some of them function as
monsters of the week, but there’s some reason these creatures arise. It makes the undead more meaningful to raise
that mystery, even if it’s never fully resolved. With the dread ghost, that really comes
home. These aren’t masters of ghosts,
though their greater power could make them masters among ghosts. For some reason, these spirits have greater
power and impact in the world of the living, more ability to effect the changes
they want to see. There’s a story there
looking to be told.
When he discussed the ghost,
Patch recommended Classic Horrors Revisited, and I
second that. There are additional powers
there that could easily be slotted into the dread ghost and the discussion of
ghosts in general can be inspiring.
In life, the tiefling
Fidelma was a notorious scoundrel, an arcane trickster who kept the company
of the native corvii and bedeviled Roman rule.
Her final exploit came to a grisly end when the guards burst into the
treasury to find her staring at the setting where the governor’s priceless gems
should have been. Put to death for a crime
she never committed, her shade has only gained in power, audacity, and contempt
for empire through the years. To finally
lay her to rest, those gems will finally have to be stolen despite the
interference of the ghost of the courtier who truly stole the precious stones,
hoping that one great prize would convince her lover to repent. And the interference of the guards in the
British Museum, of course.
For two years, a mysterious
gunslinger has menaced cattle drives in Texas. Sent westward by the entreaties of a wealthy
heiress, investigators pursue sightings all the way north to Kansas only to
finally come face to face with a vengeful dread ghost who’s killed hundreds of
cattle and at least two men. Seeking to
avenge his murder after he was wounded and left for dead in a bitter winter,
both of the cowboy’s victims had connections to the same Texas county under the
thrall of a cabal of powerful local ranchers.
With his sister’s wedding to one of them imminent, the ghost may not
stop until the town freezes solid and his phantasmagoria
led an entire herd to plunge off a cliff in terror.
The duchy of
Andelburg has not had a duke in thirty years. Obsessed with legitimacy and lineage, Wilhelm
II’s shade returned from the afterlife to torment the half-elven princeling
installed there. When the boy’s corpse
was found, another was installed in his place, the daughter of the now-ruling
house, foreigners in Wilhelm’s time.
After several more of the dukes were found dead in increasingly grisly
ways, the king finally consented to permit several of the free cities of
Andelburg to elect a government, a move that will drive Wilhelm to ever-greater
violence. Until a duke he considers
“proper” is found, it seems there will be no peace in Andelburg.
- Advanced Bestiary