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The_Mad_Linguist

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Ghost guide
« on: February 09, 2011, 12:20:16 AM »
Some see death as the end.  Nowhere to go, moving on to the happy hunting grounds or the seven heavens or baator or whatever.  Not you.  No, you're far too invested to give up now.  With this guide, you'll soon realize that death was the best thing that ever happened to you.  After all, without those fleshy meats to hold you back, the world is your oyster.  

Allergic to oysters?  Not anymore.

Quote from: Ember the Monk
Woah, like, I feel all level appropriate and stuff.
That's the spirit!


There are two ways to play a ghost - either take a few levels of the savage progression, or take the actual template.  Both have advantages and disadvantages.  I might handle ghost brute and ghostly dragon templates as well, but they're not as good.  Not handling keening spirits from City of the Spider Queen, or the fake lame ghosts from ghostwalk.
Savage Progression  (here)
[spoiler]

The breakpoints on this depend significantly upon whether or no you're able to buy off the LA from it.  No matter what, though you never want to take the fifth level, since it's worse than a level of commoner.

Level 1
Undead immunities.  Incorporeality/Etherealness.  Fly speed.  Immunity to sundering/disarming from your ghostly equipment.

Probably the most significant change in your character.  An absolute gamebreaker at low levels, since you're immune to all nonmagical attacks, a significant fraction of magical attacks, and have a 50% miss chance against almost anything that could actually harm you.  The biggest downside here is the low hp (if you're playing a beatstick), and the difficulty in actually attacking.  You may be reduced to meleeing with 80 gp serren arrows.

For a more advanced character, this is basically the [functional at high levels] subtype.  You get immunity to most save-or-die spells, the ability to deal with a significant amount of "screw you" effects, excellent mobility, and a decent amount of defenses.  Yeah, the HP isn't great (unless you get killed by a dread necromancer on a desecrated altar), but at high levels HP matters less anyway.

You also get cha to AC, which is pretty neat.  

Level 2
The charisma bonus and turn resistance are OK.  The biggest draw here is the lesser ghost power.  Let's run through what options you have.

Corrupting Touch (Su): An inauspicious start to our ghost powers.  You gain the ability do deal d6 damage with a touch attack.  You know who else can deal d6 damage with a touch attack?  Level one warlocks, that's who.  And they can do it at range.  Suck it.

Frightful Moan (Su): On the one hand, this has a decent DC, and panicking your enemies is a great debuff.  On the other hand, it's sonic, necromantic, mind affecting, and a fear effect, and if they save once they're immune for 24 hours.  Stupidly easy to counter, but powerful if you can land it.  Averages out to mediocre once you're outside of very low levels.

Telekinesis (Su): My favorite of the lesser abilities.  It has utility.  It has battlefield control.  It's the best damage dealing spell in the game.  Your minimum CL for this is 12, and if you violent thrust big-ass crossbow bolts or sianghams you can easily deal 4d6 on each weapon.  Coat them in drow poison, since rendering your opponent unconscious is as good as killing him.  Or go for a debuff combo platter, and hurl a flask of torchbug paste, an eggshell grenade(dust), a net, a tanglefoot bag, and a lasso, and then follow it up with weaponry. Remember, mirror images will die if they get damaged even by the splash from an acid flask - if your first two attacks remove concealment and mirror images, you have a decent chance of actually landing the other ten.  

The nice thing is, you can scale your use of telekinesis based on the campaign's power level.  In a very high power world, you can break out the colossal+++ size categories from epic, while in a low power world you can just shoot daggers or miscellaneous bric-a-brac.  In one particularly silly game, I hit enemies with bars of solid gold, just to prove I could solve all my problems by throwing money at them.

Level 3
A few more skill bonuses.  And Rejuvenation.
Rejuvenation is great.  First, it makes you immune to death once you hit fifteenth level.  This limit was carefully chosen by WoTC so that it'd normally be the capstone of a ghost PC (something 15/ghost 5).  There are like two or three prestige classes or obscure abilities (like hunter of the dead) that can overcome rejuvenation - but that's it.  

My suggestion for this ability is to carry around a Phaant's luckstone (ghostwalk) to get a reroll if it fails, or (if taint is being used) pick up the Surge of Malevolence feat for a +9 on one check/day.  That makes you immune to death at level 6, which I think you'll agree is pretty nifty.

I will admit that there's a 2d4 day time period while you're out of commission.  That actually makes it more likely your DM will allow it, since you can point out that there's real consequence for losing fights, while still providing everyone with TPK immunity.

Level 4
More charisma, more skills, more turn resistance.  Most importantly, greater ghost powers.  Here's a quick rundown of those.

Corrupting Gaze (Su): A gaze attack with a range of 30 feet.  Deals 2d10 damage and d4 cha damage.  It's a fort save, which isn't so good.  Worse damage than horrific appearance, but at least you can turn it off.

Draining Touch (Su): Look closely at this ability.  That's right, you add your strength modifier to your ability damage rolls for this against ethereal opponents.  And you can hit any ability score you select.  And ethereal in this case is referring to opponents who share a plane with you (since ghosts start off ethereal), so if you planeshift to the material plane and bulk up... can we say d4+stupid ability damage to your opponent's lowest stat?  You can punch the stupid right into somebody.  Oh, and to add insult to injury, you heal 5 hit points when you do it.

Horrific Appearance (Su): Anyone living in 60 feet that can see you takes d4 damage to every physical stat if they fail a fort save.  Hits every round until they save.  Nasty.  Unfortunately, you can't turn it off, which makes it difficult to play well as a team.

Malevolence (Su): Like Magic Jar without the jar.  Like Magic Jar without the SR.  You want to cruise around in a golem's body?  I thought so.

Or you can take the two lesser powers that aren't telekinesis if you're lame.

Level 5
Never take this level.  Ever.


Note that the ghost savage progression, like the other web ones, is somewhat special - you don't have to take the whole thing at once
Quote
Characters are not required to complete all the levels of a given template class in uninterrupted succession. For example, a character who takes a level of wereboar could then take a level of fighter and a level of rogue (or any other combination of other class levels) before taking another level of wereboar. A character must still take the first level of wereboar before taking the second, just as with a normal class.

[/spoiler]


Full Template
The primary benefit of taking the full template is that you can select your ghost powers from sources other than those listed in the template class, and aren't limited to a major/minor power separation.  Changing your type with a feat is also less controversial for these guys.

Dungeon Magazine (130)
[spoiler]
Corporeal Manifestation (Su): Become fully corporeal.  Exist physically on two planes at once.  Lose your fly speed.  An inferior version of the 10k ring of manifestation (ghostwalk),
Water Elemental Manifestation (Su): Requires corporeal manifestation.  While manifested corporeally, you get to use a CL 17 Shapechange to/from the form of a Large Water elemental (retaining your rejuvenation) as a free action.  Easy Warshaper entry, I guess, but the prereq sucks.
Laughter of Madness (Su): Dudes who fail a will save against this sonic mind-affecting attack take 2d6 points of int and wis damage.  As with telekinesis, it's a standard action every d4 rounds.  Would be better if it had longer range (20 foot spread is kinda short), or wasn't so easy to defend against.

[/spoiler]

Frostburn (frostfell ghosts)
[spoiler]
Chill ray(su): OK blasting I guess.  d8 con damage at 90 feet.  Will save or slow for 5 rounds.  d4 round cooldown, so you can slowlock a couple of targets.
Coldfire Radiance: Creatures within a 10 foot radius of you take 3d6 damage.  And might get a disease.  Wooooooo
Frigid Touch (Su): A touch attack that deals 2d6 points of damage.  It doesn't hurt ethereal people.  Wooooo
Immunity to Cold (ex):useful but not great.
Spell resistance (ex): 13 + HD.  Sometimes useful but not great.
[/spoiler]

Ill Wind of Friezford (adventure, located here)
[spoiler]
Ability drain(su): Deal d4 drain to a specific stat as incorporeal touch attack, heal 5 hp (or 10 on crit).  A worse version of the default draining touch.
Dimension Door(su): as the spell, at will.  Would be better if you couldn't already go through walls.  As is, might  be useful for a shadowpouncer with LA reduction.
Manifest Object(su) Materialize up to two objects you're carrying.  An inferior version of the ghostly grasp feat.  That's about it.

[/spoiler]

Libris Mortis(page 151)
[spoiler]
Haunting Ghost Special Attacks:
Illusion (su): Major image at will.  A cool effect, with a lot of versatality
Suggestion (su): Suggestion 1/hour.  Lame.
Sagacious Ghost Special Qualities:
Lore(ex):As bardic knowledge, based off your HD and cha.  Nice that it scales with level, but it doesn't look like it stacks with similar abilities.  That might make it possible to double up with bardic knowledge (and make a lore check first, and a bardic knowledge check if that fails), but overall just so-so.
Skills: Not sure if this is really an ability, but for completeness sake I'll include it.  +4 racial bonus on three-or-so knowledge skills

[/spoiler]

Monsters of Faerun (88)
[spoiler]
Special attacks
Chill Ray (Su): Pretty good blasting I guess.  Different from the Frostburn one - this one has no cooldown, but you get only 12/day.  The rays are also a bit beefier, dealing 2d6 con damage instead of d8, and their slow effect is based on your HD.  
Deathsong(Su): Wow this is good.  Once per day, you can sing for up to four rounds.  Anything living within 90 feet has to make a will save or be panicked.  Also, while you're singing (and 6 rounds afterwards), all enchantment effects within 10 feet are canceled.  Oh, and you can still act after you've started singing, and any physical attacks you make deal triple normal damage (which makes telekinesis even sicker).  The only balancing factor is that the ability can only be used once/day.
Energy Drain (su): One or two negative levels, depending upon the ghost.
Hit Point Drain (Su): Deal d8 hp damage, heal yourself.  Oh, and if you're attacking the target of your vengeance, the hp damage can't ever be healed.  
Withering (Su): d4 points of str and con damage.  On a crit, this is drain.  But it only works if the target fails a fort save.  Pretty bad
Special qualities
SR(ex) 12 + HD.  Strictly worse than the frostburn one.
Energy Immunity(ex): Immune to an energy type.  OK, but not great.
Magical Radiance (Su): You can make magical items glow at will.  That's.... special.

[/spoiler]

WIP, will update more later
« Last Edit: September 04, 2011, 06:03:00 AM by The_Mad_Linguist »
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The_Mad_Linguist

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Re: Ghost guide
« Reply #1 on: February 09, 2011, 12:20:25 AM »
FEATS

Taint feats
[spoiler]The taint rules in Heroes of Horror are great for undead.  You get an automatic taint score, and have no penalties whatsoever from taint.  Since taint grants you bonus feats, you may be eligible for up to four free feats!  They don't even need to be tainted feats, but your DM is more likely to allow it if you restrict yourself to them.

Debilitating Spell/Strike Deal some con or wis damage to a single target on a successful hit.  Can't be combined with each other.  If you're dealing a lot of ability damage anyway, more can't hurt.  Well, it can.  It just won't be hurting you.

Eldritch Corruption: Burn your allies' constitution to widen/heighten/extend/enlarge a spell three times a day.  Deals 2 points of con damage per slot adjustment, so best used for improving your buffs with some ability damage healer in downtime.  Or for early entry (heighten is restricted to +2 levels, but that's good enough).  And I know you're thinking it, but no.  You have to select someone with a con score.

Forbidden Lore While this works with the sagacious-ghost-derived lore ability, the bonus is limited to "supernatural, horrific, tainted, or otherwise forbidden subjects".  That is, you're probably only getting the +6 bonus to things with a really high DC.  Situational enough that I think it isn't really worth it.

Mad Faith: Good for early entry tricks if you take it at a low level.  If you have severe depravity and divine spellcasting, you can now cast a third level spell.  Aside from that, pretty mediocre.  Early entry is a little easier to spin if you're a caster and behind in spell levels due to LA, so there's that.

Surge of Malevolence: A once/day bonus to "any single attack roll, saving throw, or check".  That includes the rejuvenation level check.  Depends upon your corruption score, varying from a +3 to a +9.  One of the few ways to add to level checks, in fact.

Tainted Fury: Gain temporary hit points while in the fury, but you lose the same number of hp as you gained outside it.  Vaguely useful... if you have a really high corruption score.  At least you're immune to the con damage and sickening when the fury ends.
[/spoiler]

Ghost power enhancing feats
[spoiler]
Ghostly Grasp (Libris Mortis): Makes everything you equip ghost touch.  Great!  Now you can really lord it over those fleshy meatbags.  The suggestion from a web article on wizards' is to base your max load when using this feat off charisma - if so, that's even better.

Skilled Telekinetic (Heroes of Horror): Invented by beholders, straight to your door.  You can now use telekinesis to activate unattended magic items remotely.  You need line of sight to the target, and the item needs line of effect to the creature.  So you can do some shenanigans to avoid ever being targetable, but not many.[/spoiler]

Type-changing feats
[spoiler]
Let's face it.  The only thing worse than being turned is being rebuked.  Change your type, and fix that (and screw over all those other hax anti-undead abilities).
Character creation in the PHB places your choice of race and class several steps before your choice of feat.  So these probably only work with the full template (it's arguable for the savage progression).

Typically, you only keep the benefits from undead the originate from being nonliving (immunity to most fort saves, immunity to ability damage/drain to all stats), as well as your permanent d12 hit dice.

Dragonwrought(Races of the Dragon): An excellent feat, but for kobolds only.  Nothing much to say that hasn't been said a million times.

Human Heritage(Races of Destiny): For anyone with a bit of human ancestry.  Changes your type to humanoid(human).  Most importantly, you keep your old traits.  Have your cake and eat it too.  Since "healed by negative energy" is an undead trait, but "harmed by positive energy is done on a case-by-case basis, you get both.  Also, benefit from your allies' buffs!
There aren't many reasons why you wouldn't want to take this.  

Otherworldly(Player's Guide to Faerûn): Celestial attended birth gives this to anyone or anything.  Your type changes to outsider(native), and I think you get a diplomacy benefit.  Good alter self forms, but not much else.  

[/spoiler]

Misc feats
[spoiler]
Fell Energy Spell(Dragon Compendium)
Does a spell grant a numerical bonus?  Well, whatever the bonus is, undead get two more of it.  It's a +1 metamagic.  Have a party caster take this feat, or stick it on a weapon of legacy or something.  You'll be glad for it.

Knowledge Devotion(Complete Champion).  Favored of cloistered clerics everywhere, the fact that you get the damage bonus several times from telekinesis makes this already good feat great.


[/spoiler]
« Last Edit: March 24, 2011, 11:12:03 PM by The_Mad_Linguist »
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The_Mad_Linguist

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Re: Ghost guide
« Reply #2 on: February 09, 2011, 12:20:34 AM »
Double reserved.
(classes and stuff)
LA Buyoff Trickery
The level adjustment buyoff rules are rather vague, but basically any way you interpret them makes them highly exploitable.  Here are the three most common LA buyoff interpretations, and how to use them to buyoff your ghost savage progression most effectively
A) Total Historical LA buyoff.  Basically, look at your total LA, including any LA you've previously bought off.  Then, multiply it by three.  That level, and every three after it, is the level at which you can buy off level adjustments.  Decent RAW support, but the problem is it doesn't tell you what happens if you acquire a template at higher levels. 
How to exploit: take one level of ghost before level 3.  Buy it off.  Take your second level of ghost before level 6.  Buy it off.  Et cetera. 
B) Deletion LA buyoff: If you have multiple sources of LA, each is bought off separately.  A source of LA fully bought off is ignored.
How to exploit: take one level of ghost at level 3.  Buy it off.  Take one level of ghost at level 3.  Buy it off... et cetera.  Personally, I don't like this interpretation at all, and I think it's barely tenuously supported.
C) Acquisition LA buyoff: Whenever you get a template, look at your current level.  Use the chart relative to your current level to determine how long it will take until you can start buying it off.
How to exploit: Ideally, you'd treat this as (A), getting the template as soon as possible (when it costs fewer xp).  Extremely punishing to people getting templates at later levels.
D) Catchup LA buyoff: The 3/6/9 cutoffs are the minimum levels necessary to buy a template off.  So if you acquire a LA+2 template at level 10, you can spend your next two levels buying it off.  Probably the fairest of the lot, and decent RAW support, this is the one actually use.
How to exploit: Buy off as soon as you can.  This has the side effect of making everyone level 3-6 probably have a LA+1 template, and everyone 9+ have LA+2 of templates, but honestly I think that's probably an OK effect, since dudes gaining power also gaining better bodies is a mythic thing.

Prestige Progression Trickery
No level adjustment buyoff?  No problem!  If you can't buy off the level adjustment from the savage progression, you can still stay ahead of the curve by using one of the full advancement prestige classes.
For instance, you could take one level of the savage progression, then pick up a legacy item (from Weapons of Legacy, naturally) and continue as a Legacy Champion, progressing the ghost template class.

Similarly, you can take levels of Uncanny Trickster (Complete Scoundrel) for the same effect.

You'll get hit dice, saves, and skill points for those savage progression levels.  Way to go.


Master of the Unseen Hand
For those who want to push their telekinesis to the limit, there's no better class.  While ghosts don't (easily) get access to the gamebreaking combination of chain spell and full attack telekinesis, there's still synergy enough provided you don't care about casting spells.  And honestly, if you wanted to be a full caster, you wouldn't take LA.
The breakpoint here is probably at level 4; with improved violent thrust you significantly increase your TK damage and frequency, and Telekinetic flight lets you reposition your allies with a move action.  Fling Skyward is lame since Violent Thrust already lets you fling creatures straight up.  It's actually worse than getting no class feature, since Fling Skyward does it worse.





Items
Ring of Manifestation (Ghostwalk, 10k).  Unlike other ghostwalk items, this isn't limited to the ectoplasmic degenerates who call themselves ghosts.  You use it, you're no longer incorporeal.  If you like touching people, buy this ring.
« Last Edit: September 04, 2011, 06:17:26 AM by The_Mad_Linguist »
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DavidWL

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Re: Ghost guide
« Reply #3 on: February 12, 2011, 08:46:07 AM »
Very cool.  As an aside, I think the best way to play a ghost character is to play a kender nightstalker ...

Best,
David
Some Cool Quotes:  [spoiler]
Quote from: unknown
Non-PC activities like out of combat healing should be left to wands and NPCs. It's not fun to play a walking wand of CLW. Likewise, being a combat wall is not a viable PC role. A Wall of Force could do that.

-Sort of, but you left out the important note that a Wall of Force does it better.

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Sohala

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Re: Ghost guide
« Reply #4 on: February 12, 2011, 08:50:17 AM »
Wait...you hadn't wrote this yet?
"You think I'm talking about breaking the rules?"
"No I'm just trying to figure out how far you want them bent."
[spoiler]
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The_Mad_Linguist

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Re: Ghost guide
« Reply #5 on: February 12, 2011, 03:06:22 PM »
Wait...you hadn't wrote this yet?
IIRC, I had something that got wiped along with most of 339.
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snakeman830

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Re: Ghost guide
« Reply #6 on: February 12, 2011, 06:05:11 PM »
I'm assuming Master of the Unseen Hand is going to be mentioned in the classes?
I am constantly amazed by how many DM's ban Tomb of Battle.  The book doesn't even exist!

Quotes:[spoiler]
By yes, she means no.
That explains so much about my life.
hiicantcomeupwithacharacterthatisntaghostwhyisthatamijustretardedorsomething
Why would you even do this? It hurts my eyes and looks like you ate your keyboard before suffering an attack of explosive diarrhea.
[/spoiler]

If using Genesis to hide your phylactry, set it at -300 degrees farenheit.  See how do-gooders fare with a liquid atmosphere.

The_Mad_Linguist

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Re: Ghost guide
« Reply #7 on: February 12, 2011, 09:30:29 PM »
I'm assuming Master of the Unseen Hand is going to be mentioned in the classes?
But of course!
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nijineko

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Re: Ghost guide
« Reply #8 on: February 14, 2011, 07:10:16 AM »
what about the material from the ghostwalk campaign option book? it has a useful ghost template, if a somewhat problematic ruleset that goes along with it. not to mention a host of prestige, base classes, items and spells specific to the ghostly condition.
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Re: Ghost guide
« Reply #9 on: February 14, 2011, 04:22:22 PM »
A note that you can become corporeal if you gain access to plane shift or a portal of some kind. You don't count as extraplanar either.
Having a 9th-level cleric cast plane shift on your behalf costs a measly 450gp.

Doesn't seem unreasonable to extend Water Elemental Manifestation to ghosts who have become corporeal by other means.
« Last Edit: February 14, 2011, 04:25:39 PM by Prime32 »
My work
The tier system in a nutshell:
[spoiler]Tier 6: A cartographer.
Tier 5: An expert cartographer or a decent marksman.
Tier 4: An expert marksman.
Tier 3: An expert marksman, cartographer and chef who can tie strong knots and is trained in hostage negotiation or a marksman so good he can shoot down every bullet fired by a minigun while armed with a rusted single-shot pistol that veers to the left.
Tier 2: Someone with teleportation, mind control, time manipulation, intangibility, the ability to turn into an exact duplicate of anything, or the ability to see into the future with perfect accuracy.
Tier 1: Someone with teleportation, mind control, time manipulation, intangibility, the ability to turn into an exact duplicate of anything and the ability to see into the future with perfect accuracy.[/spoiler]

The_Mad_Linguist

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Re: Ghost guide
« Reply #10 on: February 14, 2011, 08:03:03 PM »
what about the material from the ghostwalk campaign option book? it has a useful ghost template, if a somewhat problematic ruleset that goes along with it. not to mention a host of prestige, base classes, items and spells specific to the ghostly condition.

They say explicitly that ghostwalk ghosts aren't the same thing as MM ghosts, and that when they say "ghost" in that book they mean the "ghostwalk ghost" and not the other kind.

IIRC, the dungeon mag article says it requires the ghost to have both abilities if it picks up water elemental manifestation.
« Last Edit: February 14, 2011, 10:42:56 PM by The_Mad_Linguist »
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nijineko

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Re: Ghost guide
« Reply #11 on: February 20, 2011, 08:56:15 AM »
true, but it is still a +1 la ghost template which is official wotc material. it is an alternative take on becoming a ghost, and i noted that you can eventually gain the same options as mm ghosts at roughly the same level equivalent if you pick correctly. the ghostwalk rules were designed to allow players to play a ghost as early as level one or two, depending on which options are being used. for the sake of completeness and also for maximizing options, it might be useful to include a section on the ghostwalk options.
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The_Mad_Linguist

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Re: Ghost guide
« Reply #12 on: February 20, 2011, 09:45:41 AM »
Well, it's really a matter of personal preference.  Ghostwalk failed pretty hard at making an interesting setting, and the mechanics are closely enough tied to locations like Manifest City that adapting the material is too much of a hassle for the mechanics. 

"Oh here's the true afterlife.  It's got some rocks and a spooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooky ocean.  And it's so boring the dead commit suicide.  whoooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo"

"The natural enemies of ghosts... are snake men!  That makes complete and total sense!"

Oh, and I don't like the "ghosts can't multiclass, they have to take one of these two boring classes" rule either.
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awaken DM golem

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Re: Ghost guide
« Reply #13 on: February 22, 2011, 01:50:06 AM »
Psion Uncarnate PrC ... really got the shaft, compared to this.


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Re: Ghost guide
« Reply #14 on: February 23, 2011, 09:33:37 AM »
2 things.
First, good job. It's not done and I've already learnt something useful.

Second, Draining touch and a natural attack progression. Even just Claw/Claw/bite can cause some major ability Damage.
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nijineko

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Re: Ghost guide
« Reply #15 on: February 27, 2011, 06:05:10 AM »
agreed on many of your points. it doesn't help when the authors (likely) have no idea what the afterlife is really like, or what purposes it serves in the first place. at the least they could have covered a number of different styles of afterlife in addition to the campaign setting. i was rather not taken with how they presented what they had.

i did find a couple of options useful, especially if the "doesn't pass when ghost level exceeds regular level" option is used. hence my suggestion of at least referencing for completeness. however, picking out the useful combinations is likely a pain in the rear and a fair amount of time to boot.
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chaos_redefined

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Re: Ghost guide
« Reply #16 on: February 28, 2011, 05:22:53 AM »

The_Mad_Linguist

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Re: Ghost guide
« Reply #17 on: February 28, 2011, 05:49:28 AM »
Similar, but no.
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nijineko

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Re: Ghost guide
« Reply #18 on: March 08, 2011, 07:24:37 AM »
what about the phantom template from mm5?
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The_Mad_Linguist

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Re: Ghost guide
« Reply #19 on: March 08, 2011, 09:44:15 AM »
what about the phantom template from mm5?
La:-- makes it pretty irrelevant.
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