Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Man Who Killed Ghosts

Before his untimely suicide, Darbury Heatherington led an expedition deep into the wilderness and returned to share the wonders he had seen in his memoir.  Below is an excerpt.

A few days later, we had the good fortune to meet Mr. Paku, who was striding confidently across the plain, northbound in his own travels.  This gentleman was quite an odd duck, but the men took an immediate shine to him.  Paku hailed from some tiny village on the outskirts of Khelibesh, and claimed to have trained since his boyhood in an inaccessible monastery, making him some sort of monk.  He definitely looked the part of the ascetic, with his yellow robes and wild, uncombed hair; and he rapidly demonstrated his physical mastery by such feats as driving a cactus-spine through his cheek and placing a heated blade against his skin without being burnt.  Of course we invited him to dine with us that evening, but he took no repast from our stores, demurring politely, as he claimed he had eaten "several cherries" the previous day.  The monks of his school, Paku continued, were accustomed to eating very little, as they had been trained to draw all the life-nourishment from fresh fruits and nuts.

As our own path was driven northward in hopes of finding a way to circumvent the aforementioned ragged canyon, Mr. Paku traveled with us the next day.  He eschewed a mount and walked barefoot, which likely did not bother him one whit, as both the soles of his feet and the knuckles of his fingers were covered in the sorts of callouses one presumes a monk gains from spending decades punching trees and the like.  When we paused for luncheon, Paku regaled the roustabouts with a tale - likely exaggerated - of his exploits.  The strange monk told us how, through secret arts taught only by his monastic tradition, he had the ability to not only see ghosts, but to touch them, and engage them in fisticuffs.  Such was his purpose!  Apparently beneath one of the ancient capitals of Khelibesh there lies a cavernous labyrinth which is simply infested with evil spirits and howling ghosts; and, to hear Paku tell it, monks of his order are trained to descend into this maze and kill the ghosts, sending them screaming back to the netherworld, with the help of their special training and "certain herbal concoctions".  By this point I was quite certain our guest indeed had familiarity with herbal concoctions, if you take my meaning.

We parted ways the next morning, and Mr. Paku continued in a vaguely northern direction, noting that he hoped one day soon to find some students of his own, that he might pass the monastic tradition on to them.  The mountainside ashram of his youth, Paku said, would soon be moribund - allusions were made to certain political upheavals in Khelibesh - and it was important that the ghost-fighting knowledge continue.  I wished Paku luck, shook his gnarled hand, and watched him disappear over the horizon, chomping on an apple.

Young Ghost-Eater monks train at an ashram in Khelibesh.

The Ghost-Eater is a variant of the Monk which appears in the Labyrinth Lord Advanced Edition Companion, and is like that class in all respects save those noted below.  Ghost-Eaters count as Monks when that sort of thing matters.  Assume everything is the same as in the Monk entry (requirements, xp chart, attacks, saves) save the special abilities listed below.

Ghost-Eaters have the following additional special abilities:

They advance as thieves of an equal level in the following abilities, sometimes with bonuses as indicated: pick locks (+5%), find and remove traps (+10%), move silently (+10%), climb walls, hide in shadows (+10%), and hear noise.

Ghost-Eaters are surprised only with 1 in 6 on a d6.

Ghost-Eaters can survive on minimal sustenance, eating only fresh fruit.  They tend to wear yellow, occasionally using a yellow circle with a 'slice' missing as a symbol of their order.  Long-haired Ghost-Eaters often tie their hair back with a rose-colored ribbon, as is traditional.

Reaching 4th level:  Ghost-Eaters do not gain the Monk ability to speak with plants.  Instead, they gain the Ectoplasmic Fugue ability.  By consuming a specially-prepared cake or pellet (usually composed of grave-earth, powdered bone, and particular herbs), the Ghost-Eater enters an altered state for ten rounds.  During this state, the Ghost-Eater can see and touch insubstantial undead (and other spirit-kind, if the GM allows).  Further, any attack by the Ghost-Eater, whether with fists or a weapon, is considered of sufficient make to damage the insubstantial undead (whether the required material is silver, salt, +1 magical, whatever - the Ghost-Eater counts as the bare minimum).  This ability applies to thrown weapons, but not bows or firearms.  The Ghost-Eater's cakes can be easily made over the course of a day or so, given proper supplies, but no more than four can be carried at a time.

Reaching 5th level:  At 5th level, a Ghost-Eater gains the ability to fall 20ft and suffer no damage, so long as he is no further than 1ft from a wall to help break the fall.  Ghost-Eaters do not gain the Monk ability to feign death.

Reaching 6th level:  At 6th level, the Ghost-Eater gains increased resistance to the special attacks of the undead, to wit:
* immunity to the paralyzing touch of a ghoul, the stench of a ghast, and to mummy rot
* the Ghost-Eater may roll two saves against any other undead-based effect which requires a save, and take the better of the two rolls (resisting vampiric charm, a ghost's magic jar ability, any undead-based fear effect)
* the Ghost-Eater is still subject to the curse of vampirism and to lycanthropy.

 Like other monks, at 6th level a Ghost-Eater gains the ability to fall 30ft and suffer no damage, so long as he is no further than 4ft from a wall to help break the fall.

Reaching 7th level:  Monks may meditate for 1 turn, healing 1d6+1 hp of damage once per day. An additional point is added for each level above 7th.  At this level the Ectoplasmic Fugue also applies to lycanthropes.

Reaching 8th level: A Ghost-Eater does not gain the ability to speak with animals, but does become completely immune to hypnotizing effects and suggestion. They are 50% immune to charm related effects.

A Ghost-Eater may attract 1d2+1 1st level monk/ghost-eater followers, and one or two additional followers per level of experience beyond 8th.

Reaching 10th level: At 10th level, Ghost-Eaters do not gain the monk's immunity to geas/quest and poison.  Instead, they gain the ability to dimension door (self only) twice per day.

Reaching 13th level: At 13th level, in lieu of the vanilla monk's quivering palm, the Ghost-Eater expands his Ectoplasmic Fugue ability such that it applies against:
* non-undead ethereal creatures  (phase spiders and the like)
* devils
* demons
Which is to say that the Ghost-Eater may strike these creatures as though the target were substantial and as though the Ghost-Eater were wielding a weapon of sufficient magical potence to "hit" the monster.  The GM may require a whole separate pellet recipe for each type of creature, however.

Artist's rendition of the spirit-haunted labyrinth beneath an ancient city.


  1. Oh man, I didn't realize the Pac-Man connection until the part about a yellow circle for their symbol... brilliant post.

  2. See now, it's a man who is secure in his own cleverness that he gives away the bit at the end for those of us too slow to pick it up in the post can join in the fun. Good stuff!

  3. I figure putting the reveal pic at the end for the people who haven't gotten the gag yet forces them to reread the entire article. :)