Ancestral Ghost

In Tolrea, where one goes after death is at least partly a function of where your culture believes you will go. In cultures that revere their ancestors, this sometimes means that death leads to an afterlife in the Spirit World, watching over one’s descendants. For as long as they are remembered and their progeny walk the earth, these ancestral spirits guard the homes of their sons, daughters, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren (and this can extend to many “greats” for old and well-established families).

Ancestral ghosts inhabit the Spirit World equivalents of the places they haunted in life and appear as they did in life. Many also retain a fondness for the same foods, pastimes, and people that they preferred in life, although they do not actually need to consume food to continue their existence. The source of their strength is the continued memory and reverence afforded them by the living. In the Spirit World or on the Ethereal Plane, they are as solid as any human, but they are as insubstantial as any other ghost when manifested to the Material Plane.

An ancestral ghost speaks any languages it knew in life.

Sample Ancestral Ghost

Ancestral Ghost 6th-level Half-Elf Fighter
Medium Undead (Augmented Humanoid, Incorporeal, Spirit)
Hit Dice: 6d12 (44 hp)
Initiative: +5
Speed: 30 ft. (6 squares), fly 30 ft. (perfect)
Armor Class: 12 (+1 Dex, +1 deflection), touch 11, flat-footed 11, or 20 (+1 Dex, +9 full plate), touch 11, flat-footed 19
Base Attack/Grapple: +6/+9
Attack: Masterwork scythe +11 melee (2d4+6/x4), or +8 ranged masterwork mighty composite longbow (+2 Str) (1d8+2/x3)
Full Attack: Masterwork scythe +11 melee (2d4+6/x4), or +8 ranged masterwork mighty composite longbow (+2 Str) (1d8+2/x3)
Space/Reach: 5 ft./5 ft.
Special Attacks: Horrific appearance, manifestation, telekinesis
Special Qualities: +4 racial bonus to Listen, Search, and Spot checks, +2 racial bonus to saves vs. enchantment spells and effects, +2 racial bonus to Diplomacy and Gather Information checks, darkvision 60 ft., elven blood, incorporeal traits, low-light vision, reverent rejuvenation, +2 turn resistance, undead traits
Saves: Fort +7, Reflex +3, Will +2
Abilities: Str 16, Dex 12, Con —, Int 13, Wis 10, Cha 12
Skills: Climb +7, Diplomacy +3, Gather Information +3, Listen +5, Search +5, Speak Language (Common, Elven, Gnome), Spot +5, Swim +7
Feats: Cleave, Combat Expertise, Improved Initiative, Improved Trip, Power Attack, Weapon Focus (Scythe), Weapon Specialization (Scythe)
Environment: Temperate plains
Organization: Solitary, gang (2-4), or mob (7-12)
Challenge Rating: 8
Treasure: None. But see Burial Goods.
Alignment: Any
Level Adjustment: —

Burial Goods: 20 arrows, +1 full platebrooch of shielding, masterwork scythe, masterwork mighty composite longbow (+2 Str). These possessions were buried with the ancestral ghost’s corpse.

Creating an Ancestral Ghost

“Ancestral Ghost” is an acquired template that can be added to any aberration, animal, dragon, giant, humanoid, magical beast, monstrous humanoid, or plant. The creature (referred to hereafter as the base creature) must have an Intelligence score of at least 3 and a Charisma score of at least 6.

An ancestral ghost uses all the base creature’s statistics and special abilities except as noted here.

Size and Type
The creature’s type changes to undead. Do not recalculate the creature’s base attack bonus, saves, or skill points. It gains the incorporeal and spirit subtypes. Size is unchanged.

Hit Dice
All current and future Hit Dice become d12s.

Ancestral ghosts have a fly speed of 30 feet, unless the base creature has a higher fly speed, with perfect maneuverability.

Armor Class
Natural armor is the same as the base creature’s but applies only to encounters on the ethereal plane and in the spirit world. When the ancestral ghost manifests (see below), its natural armor bonus is +0, but it gains a deflection bonus equal to its Charisma modifier or +1, whichever is higher.

An ancestral ghost retains all the attacks of the base creature, although those relying on physical contact do not affect creatures that are not ethereal or in the spirit world.

Full Attack
An ancestral ghost retains all the attacks of the base creature, although those relying on physical contact do not affect creatures that are not ethereal or in the Spirit World.

Against ethereal creatures or those in the Spirit World, an ancestral ghost uses the base creature’s damage values. Against creatures on the Material Plane, the ancestral ghost usually cannot deal physical damage at all but can use its special attacks, if any, when it manifests (see below).

Special Attacks
An ancestral ghost retains all the special attacks of the base creature, although those relying on physical contact do not affect non ethereal creatures. The ancestral ghost also gains a manifestation ability plus two other special attacks as described below. The save DC against a special attack is equal to 10 + ½ ghost’s HD + ghost’s Cha modifier unless otherwise noted.

Corrupting Gaze (Su): An ancestral ghost can blast living beings with a glance, at a range of up to 30 feet. Creatures that meet the ancestral ghost’s gaze must succeed on a Fortitude save or take 2d10 points of damage and 1d4 points of Charisma damage. A descendant of the ancestral ghost who shares one axis of its alignment gains a +2 bonus on his Fortitude save to resist this attack. If he shares both axes of the ancestral ghost’s alignment, he gains a +4 bonus instead. An ancestral ghost can suppress or resume this ability as a free action.

Corrupting Touch (Su): An ancestral ghost that hits a living target with its incorporeal touch attack deals 1d6 points of damage. Against ethereal opponents or those in the spirit world, it adds its Strength modifier to attack and damage rolls. Against opponents on the material plane, it adds its Dexterity modifier to attack rolls only.

Frightful Moan (Su): An ancestral ghost can emit a frightful moan as a standard action. All living creatures within a 30-foot spread must succeed on a Will save or become panicked for 2d4 rounds. This is a sonic mind-affecting fear effect. A creature that successfully saves against the moan cannot be affected by the same ancestral ghost’s moan for 24 hours.

If the target is a descendant of the ancestral ghost and shares one axis of its alignment, he gains a +2 bonus to his Will save to resist the effects of its frightful moan. If he shares both axes of its alignment, he gains a +4 bonus to his Will save to resist the effect of its frightful moan.

Horrific Appearance (Su): Any living creature within 60 feet that views an ancestral ghost must succeed on a Fortitude save or immediately take 1d4 points of Strength damage, 1d4 points of Dexterity damage, and 1d4 points of Constitution damage. A creature that successfully saves against this effect cannot be affected by the same ancestral ghost’s horrific appearance for 24 hours.

If the target is a descendant of the ancestral ghost and shares one axis of its alignment, he gains a +2 bonus to his Will save to resist the effects of its horrific appearance. If he shares both axes of its alignment, he gains a +4 bonus to his Will save to resist the effect of its horrific appearance. An ancestral ghost can suppress or resume this ability as a free action.

Manifestation (Su): Every ancestral ghost has this ability. An ancestral ghost dwells part of the time on the Ethereal Plane and, as an ethereal creature, it cannot affect or be affected by anything in the material world. When an ancestral ghost manifests, it partly enters the Material Plane and becomes visible but incorporeal on the Material Plane. A manifested ancestral ghost can be harmed only by other incorporeal creatures, magic weapons, or spells, with a 50% chance to ignore any damage from a corporeal source. A manifested ancestral ghost can pass through solid objects at will, and its own attacks pass through armor. A manifested ancestral ghost always moves silently. A manifested ancestral ghost can strike with its corrupting touch attack or with a ghost touch weapon (see Burial Goods, below). A manifested ancestral ghost remains partially on the Ethereal Plane, where is it not incorporeal. A manifested ancestral ghost can be attacked by opponents on either the Material Plane or the Ethereal Plane. The ancestral ghost’s incorporeality helps protect it from foes on the Material Plane, but not from foes on the Ethereal Plane.

When a spellcasting ancestral ghost is not manifested and is on the Ethereal Plane or in the Spirit World, its spells cannot affect targets on the Material Plane, but they work normally against ethereal targets or targets in the Spirit World. When a spellcasting ancestral ghost manifests, its spells continue to affect ethereal targets and can affect targets on the Material Plane normally unless the spells rely on touch. A manifested ancestral ghost’s touch spells don’t work on non ethereal targets.

An ancestral ghost has three home planes, the Material Plane, the Spirit World, and the Ethereal Plane. It is not considered extraplanar when on any of these planes. An ancestral ghost cannot use its manifestation ability when it is in the Spirit World.

Possess Descendant (Su): Once per round, an ethereal ancestral ghost can merge its body with a creature on the Material Plane. This ability is similar to a magic jar spell (caster level 10th or the ancestral ghost’s Hit Dice, whichever is higher), except that it does not require a receptacle. To use this ability, the ancestral ghost must be manifested and it must move into the target’s space; moving into the target’s space to use the possession ability does not provoke attacks of opportunity. The target can resist the attack with a successful Will save (DC 15 + ancestral ghost’s Cha modifier). A creature that successfully saves is immune to that same ancestral ghost’s possession for 24 hours, and the ancestral ghost cannot enter the target’s space. If the save fails, the ancestral ghost vanishes into the target’s body.

This ability only works on targets who are descendants of the ancestral ghost. If the target shares one axis of the ghost’s alignment, he suffers a -2 penalty on its Will save to resist this attack. If he shares both axes of its alignment, he suffers a -4 penalty instead.

Telekinesis (Su): An ancestral ghost can use telekinesis as a standard action (caster level 12th or equal to the ancestral ghost’s HD, whichever is higher). When an ancestral ghost uses this power, it must wait 1d4 rounds before using it again.

Special Qualities
Ancestral ghosts retain the special qualities they possessed in life, and gain additional special qualities as discussed below.

Reverent Rejuvenation (Su): In most cases, it is difficult to destroy an ancestral ghost through simple combat: The “destroyed” spirit will often restore itself in 2d4 days. Even the most powerful spells are usually only temporary solutions. An ancestral ghost that would otherwise be destroyed returns to its old haunts with a successful level check (1d20 + ancestral ghost’s HD) against DC 16. An especially potent ancestral ghost may be effectively indestructible, provided that it receives regular and correct veneration.

The ancestral ghost retains its reverent rejuvenation ability only for as long as its living descendants honor its memory through regular ceremony or prayer. Depending on the culture of the descendants, this may be as simple as regular offerings of food at a shrine to all of the ancestral spirits of a family, or as involved as a days-long festival during which each ancestral spirit associated with the family must be named and offered a libation or sacrifice. Regardless of the exact nature of the reverence offered to the ancestral ghost, the appropriate ceremony must be enacted at least once per year.

If a year passes without the appropriate veneration from its living descendants, the ancestral ghost suffers a -1 penalty on its level check to rejuvenate when “destroyed.” This penalty is cumulative, so two consecutive years without proper veneration would impose a -2 penalty on checks to determine whether the ancestral ghost rejuvenates, three years would impose a -3 penalty, and so on. For every period of years equal to (10 * the ancestral ghost’s HD) that passes without veneration from its descendants, the ancestral ghost loses a level and must make a successful level check against DC 16 (using its new level and the appropriate penalty) or be destroyed.

Spirit Walk (Su): An ancestral ghost can move between the Ethereal Plane and the Spirit World at will. This ability requires a move action.

Turn Resistance (Ex): An ancestral ghost has +2 turn resistance.

Same as the base creature, except that the ancestral ghost has no Constitution score, and its Charisma score increases by +4.

Ancestral ghosts have a +8 racial bonus on Hide, Listen, Search, and Spot checks. Otherwise same as the base creature.

Any, often as base creature. But see Hauntings, below.

Solitary, gang (2-4), or mob (7-12).

Challenge Rating
Same as the base creature +2.

No coins, standard goods, double items. See Burial Goods, below.


Level Adjustment

Burial Goods

In cultures where the dead live on as ancestral ghosts, it is usual for the deceased to be buried with funereal goods in recognition of the fact that their possessions in the Spirit World will mirror the contents of the tomb or grave that houses their remains. As a result, ghosts tend to be kitted out with the finest apparel, armor, weapons, and other items that their families can afford. This constitutes a major expense for the family, but in most cases it is looked upon as a favorable investment, since the quality of a deceased family member’s grave goods often translates directly into better capabilities as a guardian for the family’s tomb and home.

As a consequence of their reliance upon and bond to their grave goods, ancestral ghosts usually are upset by tomb robbery, and they often mobilize their descendants in the retrieval of any missing goods. In some jurisdictions, this kind of theft is also a crime punishable by law, and burial goods effectively remain the property of the individual with whom they are interred. Regardless of the precise details of a locality’s treatment of grave robbers, the possibility that an ancestral ghost or its mortal progeny will extract vengeance for a theft can make fences very reluctant to deal in items that they know have been stolen from a tomb.


For the mortal races of Tolrea, death is not always the end. But death is a setback. Ancestral ghosts do not wander freely through the Spirit World. Although they do not age, they do not travel widely. They cannot pursue interests that lead beyond the bounds of the ancestral homes and tombs to which their existence is tied, and as a result their capacity for new experiences is limited to whatever news they gain from the newly deceased, from other inhabitants of the Spirit World, or from contact with their living descendants. Over time, this leads very old ancestral spirits to behave eccentrically. Many of the oldest and most powerful ancestral ghosts come to hate contact with their mortal descendants because living beings remind them how boring and lonely their existence can be. After many generations, their living offspring are assets to be protected (since the spirit needs them in order to continue to exist), but they are otherwise little better than strangers.

Other ancestral spirits go mad. These spirits may indulge in poltergeist behavior or excessive manifestation as they stay as close as possible to the life they have left behind. An insane ancestral ghost usually does not behave in a fashion which is truly dangerous to its descendants, but its antics may be extraordinarily unsettling.

Regardless of the spirit’s exact state of mental health, an ancestral ghost can be counted upon to inhabit places that were important to it in life. An especially studious family member who spent most of her time in the family library can be expected to continue to do so after her death; an avid gardener may occasionally manifest near the rose bushes he pruned and watered while among the living. Those spirits that succumb to the loneliness and boredom of eternal life frequently retire to their burial chambers, but disturbances in the ancestral home and its surroundings are the most likely way to waken their attention. So strong is the attachment that ancestral ghosts are quite literally bound to their tombs and home soil. Many are confined to a single room within a building, and even more are confined to the grounds of the familial estate. Examples of an ancestral ghost that is free to roam the Spirit World, the Ethereal Plane, or the Material Plane as it will are so rare as to be unheard of.