Pathfinder 2E Running ghosts in PF2

Philip Benz

A Dragontooth Grognard
I'm looking for suggestions for this 15th-level ghost (a 13th-level Ifrit arcane sorcerer in life). It's meant as a major solo challenge for a group of 5 12th-level PCs (fighter, rogue, druid, cleric, wizard) and is going to make maximum usage of its Fade ability - most rounds it'll cast a spell (2 actions), fade (1 action) and move (1 action from Quickened). I'd mostly like it to survive long enough to cast 5-6 spells, something that's hard to do with solo adversaries. Suggestions?

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On a more general level, I'm curious what y'all can suggest about running ghosts. Of course, I'm planning to ham up the spooky effects as the PCs get closer to the haunted site of this NPCs murder (nailed to a wall by one of his erstwhile allies). Obviously, since it's incorporeal, I can play with it darting through walls to attack from new angles. And a lot of its spells are fear- or phantasm-based effects. I'm hoping it'll be a fun change of pace for this group who are used to facing physical foes they can easily lay a smack-down on.
 

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nevin

Hero
I love ghosts. and remember ghost's can be anything intelligent. I had a high level party that I threw a Ghost Dragon at. So much fun, so much cursing, so much DM hate. Good Times.
 

gamerprinter

Mapper/Publisher
I haven't ventured into PF2 yet, I only know PF1 - except now, all I spend my time on is Starfinder as 3PP, so why I haven't looked. I love ghosts, though, my favorite kind of undead. I created a cool Japanese ghost with a Grudge curse attached to her for a one-shot, but that was PF1. Sorry I wish I could help. One day, I'll look at PF2, but my schedule and my mindset is currently locked in Starfinder... (I even have some custom Starfinder ghosts).
 

gamerprinter

Mapper/Publisher
I don't know how curses work, necessarily, in PF2, but the Ju-on (grudge) curse is a nasty curse (-10 Save against, even to break the enchantment). The anchor of the ghost transfers from the place it haunts, onto the cursed PC. So whenever it rejuvenates, it arrives where ever that PC is, even if 1000 miles away. Like the ghost in the grudge, when you enounter it, now it haunts you. You had to solve a murder mystery to lift the curse and lay the ghost to rest... would that work in PF2?
 

Philip Benz

A Dragontooth Grognard
I don't know how curses work, necessarily, in PF2, but the Ju-on (grudge) curse is a nasty curse (-10 Save against, even to break the enchantment). The anchor of the ghost transfers from the place it haunts, onto the cursed PC. So whenever it rejuvenates, it arrives where ever that PC is, even if 1000 miles away. Like the ghost in the grudge, when you enounter it, now it haunts you. You had to solve a murder mystery to lift the curse and lay the ghost to rest... would that work in PF2?
There is no pre-existing power in PF2 that corresponds to this description, but it would be simple to homebrew. The "difficult to break" side of the curse would function by defining a high level and DC to the curse. Here's an example.
Let's say that a group of 7th-level PCs is facing an elite Mummy Pharaoh, level 10. After the fight, a couple of them are cursed with Insidious Mummy Rot (level 5, DC 28). By default, the DC of the curse is half the creature's level, rounded up.

The PC cleric just got access to a 4th-level remove curse. He's probably got a +15 spell attack bonus with divine spells and he needs at least a success with his 4th-level remove curse against a 5th-level curse (a failure would only allow him to remove a 3rd-level effect). He needs to roll a 13 or better to get there. If his dice aren't hot enough, he may need to try several times over successive days to remove this nasty curse.

Gamer, I like your idea. Even though this ghost directs his special hatred towards his murderer (a former ally in the Aspis Consortium), he is currently tied to the location of his murder. Once the PCs defeat him and go on with their adventure, he would normally respawn in the same location, a place the PCs would probably never return to. But if his soul were linked, say, to a magic item (perhaps a magic dagger used to murder him) then his respawning would be linked to the PCs, wherever they end up when the timer dings. (evil DM cackle)

Now, what if the curse is higher level than that? A success on a counteract check lets you counteract effects up to one level higher than your spell, while a critical success lets you counteract effects up to 3 levels higher. Also, the DC will be higher. As things stand, the 7th-level cleric needs a natural 20 to counteract a 6th or 7th-level curse. And he has zero chance against an 8th-level or higher curse - in that case, the PCs would have to find a higher level cleric NPC and convince him to save them from the mummy's curse.

For my ghost Ifrit wizard, I chose not to focus on curse effects, but more of phantom and fear-based spells, like Mask of Terror, Tempest of shades (one of the "incarnate" spells), Phantasmal Calamity, Phantasmal killer and Crushing despair. The PCs will suffer the drained and frightened conditions, as well as mental damage and even the risk of instant death, from Phantasmal killer. I also kept a couple fire-based spells, to link up with the ghost's origins as an Ifrit.
 

gamerprinter

Mapper/Publisher
Well I didn't state the entirety - I wasn't trying to retell the entire one-shot, but the ghost, Kana, does not know who her assailant is. She was in a bath, when someone (the bath house owner/manager) came from behind her, shoved her under the water with a washing brush, wrapping her hair into it, to tie her down, and subsequently drowned. She doesn't know who her murderer is, and she is cursing any possible encounter people in order to help her solve the mystery to her own death. If her hatred was targetted to a known assailant, it's unlikely a curse manifested to aid in her situation would even exist - it exists, because she doesn't know her assailant. She needs somebody to solve her murder and release her soul.

She was a lowly born servant girl/bath house attendant, unknown to the owner/manager, she had developed a relationship with a young samurai and married him, though mixed castes socially is taboo, so they kept it secret. However, the owner/manager (a woman) keeps a bath house with an impeccable reputation - some bath houses gain the reputation as brothels, something this owner feared might happen and ruin her. Seeing Kana with the samurai made her suspect Kana was prostituting herself, which if public would ruin the establishments reputation. So she killed Kana. Kana was quietly celebrating her wedding night to announce her marriage the next day, but did not live to tell about it.

Events leading to ghostdom, are supposed to be tragic stories, right?
(My work, published as Haiku of Horror: Autumn Moon Bath House, for my published Kaidan setting of Japanese Horror PFRPG).
 
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Philip Benz

A Dragontooth Grognard
Gamer, I'm sure your products are great, but my understanding is all links to such products, and self-promotion in general, should be restricted to the "Promotions/Press" forum.
Just saying.

This said, I agree completely with the notion that ghosts should typically arise from tragic stories. In this case, the tragedy was that the ghost was betrayed by a guy he thought was his ally. The tiny niggling detail that his ally was a priest of Norgerber, the god of murder, greed and secrets in the Pathfinder Golarion setting should have made him think twice about such an alliance, but, hey, what do you want from evil dudes?
 

kenada

Legend
Have you considered incorporating the ghost into a haunt? Is the solo challenge just that they beat the ghost until it discorporates, or do they need to help it move on?
 

Philip Benz

A Dragontooth Grognard
Kenada, I did think about that, and I've used haunts before. However, I haven't really used ghosts, and thought I'd see what folks might suggest.

In this case, the PCs just fought against this Ifrit wizard 2 days before (he escaped, but most of his troops were killed), and then discovered that he and his troops had just razed the Mwangi village that the PCs had "adopted" and killed all the inhabitants. They are returning to the HQ of these nasty folks, and I considered having them fight against all of the remaining leaders - except according to PF2 encounter math, that would have been far, far too tough of a fight.

So I got to thinking... these guys are members of the Aspis Consortium, a loose association of evil-aligned merchant adventurers forwarding the hidden agendas of their shadowy leaders. The two leaders (the vindictive Ifrit sorcerer and an even nastier assassin/priest of Norgorber) are probably blaming each other for their mutual failures, since the PCs have been defeating them at every turn, and even stole most of the loot they'd gathered in this ruined city. Maybe the two evil leaders were blaming and accusing each other so much that the priest of the murder god lost his patience and... murdered his "colleague".

So now I've got this ghost. It's tied to the location of its death, and the PCs will just have witnessed (from a half mile away) a dark figure on a phantom steed flying away from the top of the tower. They know something is up. But they are curious - they don't know what, and they are focused on getting revenge for the slaughtered village.

The Ifrit sorcerer's ghost is angry at its murderer, but also at the PCs, whose victories led to his murder. I've written out some vindictive dialog that the ghost will be muttering just prior to and during the fight, to give the PCs some clues as to what is going on, but I'm still curious about what anyone can suggest regarding specifically ghost-like things I could do to spice up the encounter.
 

gamerprinter

Mapper/Publisher
Have you considered incorporating the ghost into a haunt? Is the solo challenge just that they beat the ghost until it discorporates, or do they need to help it move on?
Oh, that bath house I mentioned above is full of haunts, there are 3 haunt encounters just prior to the ghoat encounter, it's the lead up.
 

gamerprinter

Mapper/Publisher
Gamer, I'm sure your products are great, but my understanding is all links to such products, and self-promotion in general, should be restricted to the "Promotions/Press" forum.
Just saying.

This said, I agree completely with the notion that ghosts should typically arise from tragic stories. In this case, the tragedy was that the ghost was betrayed by a guy he thought was his ally. The tiny niggling detail that his ally was a priest of Norgerber, the god of murder, greed and secrets in the Pathfinder Golarion setting should have made him think twice about such an alliance, but, hey, what do you want from evil dudes?
If I were promoting, sure I'd do that, but when I post and a question is somehow related to a product, I link the product for bibliography sake, I'm not trying to sell, rather clarify the claim. I mean, why woukd I think you'd even want it, it's PF1 ?
 


Dragonsbane

Proud Grognard
You should check out Abomination Vaults. It is full of strange ghosts and spirits with unique powers, as well as ghostly hazards.
 

Philip Benz

A Dragontooth Grognard
Yeah, I've been trying to avoid reading Abomination Vaults, in hopes one of my players will run it.

Last week we ended up having a long lead-up to the ghost encounter, and only got up to the part where the ghost was bitching and moaning about how unjust it had been to get nailed to the wall by the priest of Norgorber who was his ally, while every 7-8 lines he cast another self-buff spell. The players were so entranced by the information he was leaking, that they let the ghost continue right up to casting a wall of fire, when we had to call the session due to time.

This week, two players had work obligations, so we had to delay the session another week. I'll post again once the ghost encounter has run its course. But here's what I expect to happen: most rounds, the ghost will cast a 2-action spell, then use its "Fade" power to go invisible, and Stride (thanks to Quickened), making it harder to target. The PCs are going to be playing hide and seek with it. As long as the ghost can get off 4-5 cool spells before being destroyed, I'll be quite happy with myself.
 

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