Often this state of existence was because of a soul having been horrendously evil in life, their deaths being tremendously emotional, being denied a proper burial, or because they had unfinished business.
These spirits typically resembled how they had in life. However, some ghosts had an altered appearance due to the nature of their demise. Others were known to be capable of changing their appearance to suit their current disposition. Often this altered appearance was due to the alignment they had in life.
The "unfinished business" that drove ghosts varied widely. Some might seek to fulfill an oath, others to relay a message to a loved one, while some might simply desire to have their death avenged. They also tended to get enraged whenever items their bodies were buried with were stolen and would stop at nothing to get them back.
Evil-aligned ghosts were said to hate goodness and all forms of life, being driven by a sense of wickedness and spite. As well as a desire to end the lives of other creatures, in particular those responsible for or connected to its death.
Being a form of undead, ghosts had no need for the air, food, drink, or sleep that they formerly required in life. They moved about by flying. Having incorporeal bodies, they could pass through solid objects. Some were known to use this phasing ability to surprise enemies. When moving they made no noise.
- Ethereal: Ghosts were capable of phasing between the Ethereal Plane and the Prime Material plane. They could also see 60 feet (18 meters) into one plane whilst standing in the other. Even when manifested on the Prime Material, a ghost was still partially within the Ethereal plane.
- Incorporeal (Spells): Ghosts were resistant to all spells based around acid, fire, lightning, and thunder. They were also immune to spells based around cold, necrotic energy, or poison. Prior to the Spellplague, it was impossible to harm them with spells of any kind unless one was in an ethereal state.
- Incorporeal (Weapons): Ghosts also could only be harmed by weapons that were enchanted, made of silver, or had the ghost touch property. They could be harmed by holy water while in their semi-material form. Many also had some form of weakness tied to their former life — the ghost of a tortured person could be harmed by the implements that had been used to torture them.
- Putting to Rest: However, some ghosts were so strongly tied to the Prime Material that they would always reform a few days following being destroyed by any of the aforementioned means. Thus, the only surefire way to permanently rid an area of a ghost was by resolving the spirit's unfinished business.
Occasionally ghosts in the Realms were capable of causing all magical items within 60 feet (18 meters) of them to glow with a cold, white radiance.
- Horrifying Visage: These undead spirits exuded a supernatural sense of fear in all non-undead creatures within 60 feet (18 meters) of them. This sense of fear caused creatures to flee and sometimes the fear would be so great that their bodies would age by ten to forty years. As this fear was supernaturally provoked, even the most courageous of creatures could be affected. This aging effect could be reversed with greater restoration, but only if done within twenty-four hours.
- Possession: Ghosts were capable of possessing the body of any humanoid that they could see within 5 feet (1.5 meters) of them. Doing so made the creature incapacitated and fully under the control of the spirit. Besides killing the possessed, a ghost could be expelled from their body by means of the spells turn undead or dispel evil and good. Once free, it was impossible for a creature to be possessed by a ghost for the following twenty-four hours.
- Magic Jar: Prior to the Spellplague, ghosts were more well known to use an ability similar to the spell magic jar on victims within 60 yards (55 meters) of them rather than possession.
- Moan of Fear: Prior to the Spellplague, many ghosts were capable of emitting a moan that provoked a fear effect in living creatures.
- Telekinesis: Prior to the Spellplague, some ghosts were known to be capable of a form of telekinesis.
- Touch: Their most direct offensive ability was a sort of withering touch that imparted necrotic energy onto a target. Alternatively, some ghosts possessed a touch that would drain creatures of their life energy, much like a wraith.
Anything they possessed when they manifested was ethereal, possessing the ghost touch property. These were often things they were buried with. If someone were to take the original material item that a ghost's copy was based on, then the ethereal copy would fade away.
- Blueflame ghost: a spirit trapped within a blueflame magic item.
- Doomsphere: the ghost of a beholder.
- Ghost Brute: the ghost of an animal, plant, or magical beast that was stuck to the Prime Material plane.
- Ghost dragon
- Ghost mount: a variety of ghost unique to the land of Zakhara. In life, they were mounted animals who had been mistreated.
- Pasocada ghost: the ghost of a humanoid who died in the Pasocada Basin and was not given a proper burial.
- Spectral harpist: the ghost of a Master Harper who died before they could complete their mission.
Ghosts were known to occur in any type of region, but they were most often found haunting areas at night. Though ghosts typically haunted the area in which they died, many were known to wander freely.
Places haunted by ghosts tended to emanate sensations of profound sadness, loneliness, and unfulfilled desires. Haunted locations often had certain areas where there were strange noises, an unnatural silence, an unnatural feeling of cold, or inanimate objects moving around. Though such manifestations would be due to the ghost's presence, the spirit did not intentionally manifest them and it had no control over them.
Unusually for a non-abandoned city, ghosts were a somewhat common sight in Velen. Besides the Prime Material plane, ghosts were often known to be found in the Shadowfell, including the Domains of Dread, such as Barovia.
Like many types of undead, ghosts knew all languages that they had known in life.
A ghost could be controlled by wizards, sorcerers, liches, etc. In this case, the ghost was finally put to rest when destroyed on the material plane or the master of the ghost died. This was usually uncommon though because to raise a ghost used a lot more magic than raising a regular undead.
Some ghosts were willing to work with or for other creatures if they believed that doing so could help them achieve their desires. They were often seen in the company of flameskulls, larva mages, rot harbingers, and spectres.
- Elena, an ancient elven ghost who was roaming the halls of Dwarven Dungeons under the ruins of Myth Drannor circa 1369 DR.
- Mirror, a paladin that manifested in the Sunrise Mountains in Thay.
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- Logan Bonner (June 2011). “Bestiary: Ghosts”. In Steve Winter ed. Dungeon #191 (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 38–40.
- ↑ 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 1.14 1.15 1.16 Skip Williams, Jonathan Tweet, Monte Cook (July 2003). Monster Manual v.3.5. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 116–118. ISBN 0-7869-2893-X.
- ↑ 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 2.12 2.13 2.14 2.15 2.16 2.17 2.18 2.19 2.20 2.21 Wizards RPG Team (2014). Monster Manual 5th edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 147. ISBN 978-0786965614.
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 3.8 Mike Mearls, Stephen Schubert, James Wyatt (June 2008). Monster Manual 4th edition. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 116–117. ISBN 978-0-7869-4852-9.
- ↑ James Wyatt (October 2001). Oriental Adventures (3rd edition). (Wizards of the Coast), p. 145. ISBN 0-7869-2015-7.
- ↑ 5.00 5.01 5.02 5.03 5.04 5.05 5.06 5.07 5.08 5.09 5.10 5.11 5.12 5.13 5.14 David "Zeb" Cook et al. (1989). Monstrous Compendium Volume One. (TSR, Inc). ISBN 0-8803-8738-6.
- ↑ 6.00 6.01 6.02 6.03 6.04 6.05 6.06 6.07 6.08 6.09 6.10 6.11 6.12 6.13 6.14 Doug Stewart (June 1993). Monstrous Manual. (TSR, Inc), p. 130. ISBN 1-5607-6619-0.
- ↑ 7.00 7.01 7.02 7.03 7.04 7.05 7.06 7.07 7.08 7.09 7.10 Gary Gygax (December 1977). Monster Manual, 1st edition. (TSR, Inc), p. 43. ISBN 0-9356-9600-8.
- ↑ 8.0 8.1 Andy Collins, Bruce R. Cordell (October 2004). Libris Mortis: The Book of Undead. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 144. ISBN 0-7869-3433-6.
- ↑ Andy Collins, Bruce R. Cordell (October 2004). Libris Mortis: The Book of Undead. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 20. ISBN 0-7869-3433-6.
- ↑ 10.0 10.1 10.2 James Wyatt and Rob Heinsoo (February 2001). Monster Compendium: Monsters of Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 88. ISBN 0-7869-1832-2.
- ↑ 11.0 11.1 11.2 Andy Collins, Bruce R. Cordell (October 2004). Libris Mortis: The Book of Undead. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 146. ISBN 0-7869-3433-6.
- ↑ Andy Collins, Bruce R. Cordell (October 2004). Libris Mortis: The Book of Undead. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 101–103. ISBN 0-7869-3433-6.
- ↑ Jennifer Clarke Wilkes, David Eckelberry, Rich Redman (February 2003). Savage Species. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 118. ISBN 0-7869-2648-1.
- ↑ Wolfgang Baur, Steve Kurtz (1992). Monstrous Compendium Al-Qadim Appendix. (TSR, Inc). ISBN l-56076-370-1.
- ↑ John Nephew and Jonathan Tweet (April 1992). City of Gold. (TSR, Inc), p. 80. ISBN 978-1560763222.
- ↑ Bruce R. Cordell, Ed Greenwood, Chris Sims (August 2008). Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 191. ISBN 978-0-7869-4924-3.
- ↑ Bruce R. Cordell, Ed Greenwood, Chris Sims (August 2008). Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 65, 69. ISBN 978-0-7869-4924-3.
- ↑ Christopher Perkins, Tracy Hickman, Laura Hickman (March 2016). Curse of Strahd. Edited by Kim Mohan. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 5, 30. ISBN 978-0-7869-6598-4.
- ↑ Stormfront Studios (2001). Designed by Mark Buchignani, Ken Eklund, Sarah W. Stocker. Pool of Radiance: Ruins of Myth Drannor. Ubisoft Entertainment.