Actually the idea of playing as ghosts came about because they found death to be the least enjoyable part of the game. From Dragon #315:
“We both thought that the worst part of a game was sitting around for an hour or more while your friends finish fighting the monster and haul your character’s body back to town to find a cleric who could cast raise dead.”
The two then set to work designing a world where you can keep playing even if your character dies. The results were the city of Manifest and the GHOSTWALK campaign option—a setting where the living and the dead existed together in relative peace and harmony.
willpell wrote:And ironically, I think most Ghostwalk fans would raise an eyebrow at the idea of having a character who's killed mid-combat immediately become a ghost and continue fighting the monster, even if you're right there in the heart of the Manifest Ward. Like, doesn't there have to be some sort of adjustment period to such a radical change in state?
The sidebar on Page 9 of the Ghostwalk book gives the rules about what happens the moment a PC/NPC dies:
Chapter 1: All About Ghosts wrote:Ethreal, Incorporal or Manifested Fully
When an intellegent humanoid dies, its soul becomes a ghost in one of three possible physical states. A newly dead person's soul initially appears on the Ethereal Plane and lingers as an ethereal ghost wile she decides whether to pass on or remain.
So, no eyebrow raising required. The canon clearly states that the PC becomes an ethereal ghost immediately
, so as a GM, I would ask the PC what action to take when it gets to their initiative.
The main problem is not if
they can act, but what they can actually do.
In other words: "Does Ghostwalk do what it says on the tin?"
So we have a "normal" ethereal ghost that has a "one time deal" option to convert to a Ghostwalk ghost...or do some other stuff. Lets have a look at the alternative options from the sidebar on Page 10 of Ghostwalk:
Chapter 1: All About Ghosts wrote:The Ethereal Current
The Ethereal Plane is not a static, quiet place. The soul of any person who dies first appears as a ghost on the Ethereal Plane, so the place is constantly moving with spirits (both the ghosts of intelligent humanoids and the souls of other types of creatures) on their way to the True Afterlife. Most make this journey with the help of the Ethereal Current, a supernatural force that pushes ghosts towards the Veil of Souls. Likened by some to a strong wind or powerful water current, the Ethereal Current allows ghosts to travel hundreds of miles in a second, but only in the direction of the Veil of SOuls. This allows ghosts to reach the True Afterlife without being preyed upon by ethereal monsters. The Ethereal Current is omnipresent on the Ethereal Plane, and by default begins carrying ghosts towards the True Afterlife as soon as they appear on the Ethereal Plane. What separates intelligent humanoids - who can choose to remain in the Ethereal Plane as ghosts - from other creatures is the ability to resist the Ethereal Current.
So there is the first question for the player, the moment their PC dies. Do they want their PC to resist the Ethereal Current? (An "evil GM"™ could go with the default and start moving the PC at hundreds of miles per second, but I would not do that myself, as they would have no way to get back to the action.)
The next paragraph has an interesting rule about riding the current to the city of Manifest:
Chapter 1: All About Ghosts wrote:Some people who wish to become ghosts but who die far from the Veil of Souls choose to be conveyed towards the Veil (and Manifest) by the Ethereal Current, rather than immediately manifesting on the Material Plane. It is the most rapid method of reaching the city (and it avoids predators indigenous to the Ethereal Plane), but it does have a risk. Ethereal ghosts ride the Current until they are just short of the Veil itself, then try to "jump out" at the last moment. This requires a Wisdom check (DC10). Success means the ghost is free of the Ethereal Current and is on the Ethereal Plane in some random place within the Manifest Ward, and can Manifest on the Material Plane in the normal fashion (as if it had just died). Failure means that the ghost misjudged the strength of the current and is pushed into the True Afterlife.
Well, that's certainly a choice that the PC can take on their turn in a combat round, but I don't think it gets rid of the issue of "sitting around for an hour or more while your friends finish fighting the monster and haul your character’s body back to town to find a cleric who could cast raise dead", because the PC is effectively "flying" or "swimming" away
from the fight (and then making a Wisdom check to see if they avoid being sucked into the True Afterlife). If they do that, they are out of the combat and the plaer needs to "sit around for an hour" while the other players finish the combat and make the trip to Manifest.
So, while that is an option, I'm going to ignore that (for now) and assume that the player wants
to "stay" in the game. So back to the Page 9 sidebar:
Chapter 1: All About Ghosts wrote:While in this ethereal state, another creature that exists on or enters the Ethereal Plane can interact with her normally, as if she were a solid creature. To creatures on the Material Plane, ethereal ghosts are invisible, insubstantual, inaudible, and scentless. A ghost in an ethereal state follows all the rules for ethereal creatures (see the Dungeon Master's Guide). While an ethereal ghost can remain on the Ethereal Plane indefinitely, most choose to manifest on the Material Plane (the Ethereal Plane is a dangerous place, after all).
Once an ethereal ghost manifests on the Material Plane, it exists in one of two possible states: incorporeal or fully manifested. An incorporeal ghost is the default state of existence, and it follows the rules for incorporeal creatures (see the Dungeon Master's Guide). A ghost can exist in a fully manifested state only while within the Manifest Ward or with the aid of certain magic items, spells or feats.
In the Ghostwalk campaign, once an ethereal ghost manifests on the Matrial Plane, it cannot become ethereal again without the aid of magic.
So there we have it.
An ethereal ghost PC, that decides not to follow the Ethereal Current can either:
- Remain ethereal for as long as they want or
- Manifest on the Material Plane and become an incorporeal ghost.
So does either option "do what Ghostwalk says on the tin?"
Can an ethereal ghost do anything in their next combat round? Maybe they can, but what sort of things can they do?
And if a ghost manifests, and becomes incorporeal, what can they do in their next combat round? Again, maybe they can, but what sort of things can they do?
I don't deny that ghosts that are inside the Manifest Ward can do a ton of fun stuff, but can they actually do anything cool at the moment of death, when the combat is still going on and they might actually be able to avenge their own death or stop their fellow party members from also being killed?
Does Ghostwalk stop "death stinking" when the player characters are in the countries around the Manifest Ward? Or does it only
stop "death stinking" if you keep your PCs inside the city of Manifest?