Dungeons and Dragons: Ghost

The Ghost

in spite of its name, is a mysterious creature with a specific set of rules.  And the rules suck!  We take a look at an undead entry from the vaulted Dungeons and Dragons Monster Manual I.

“Ghosts are the spirits of evil humans who were so awful in their badness …”


In the fantastic world of mythical monsters and beasts, you’d think “ghost” would inspire fright and excitement!  Ghost is such a generic-seeming name, I expect the DM to have lots of room for imagination.  But alas, no.

D&D had plans for the Ghost.  It was a supernatural badness, travels between planes, cast magic, and can steal years from your life!  Would you like to encounter a ghost in that creepy house?  Sounds like a movie come to life.   Well, you won’t after reading damage per attack.

“If they strike an opponent it ages him 10-40 years.”

Losing even 10 years from your favorite character sort of puts a sour taste in your mouth.  There is a line between drawing sweat from your brow and absurdity.  Could the creators of D&D have underestimated the passions their players had with imaginary characters?  Adding further insult to injury, once you’re dead – you’re forever dead.

As cool as the manual’s artwork is, it didn’t do it much service.  A monster reduced to wearing a hood carrying a lantern?  Did it imply it hitchhikes at night?  Call me funny, but I thought ghosts were best at haunting.  In fact, the book clearly reads, “they roam about at night”.  The ghost didn’t haunt as much as they were bounty hunters searching out goodness and life.

The Ghost was never popular in my adventures, outdone by ghouls, spectres, and liches.  True, a forgiving DM could come up with creative ways to restore those lost years and make the Ghost fun.  But anticipating the wrinkled noses and the frozen pizza thrown around the room soon after its introduction, its easier just not bother.

Trivia: Defeating the ghost earned 4050 XP.

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