The Phantom Traveler is inspired by the plentiful legends of vanishing hitchhikers and prophetic ghosts associated with roads around the world. More of a plot device than an ordinary monster, it makes a great way to set up other adventures.
A strange traveling companion who often utters secrets, and always disappears suddenly
NO. ENCOUNTERED: 1
HD: 5 (d8)
ATTACKS: 1 Weapon (by weapon type)
SPECIAL: Undead Immunities, Darkvision 60′, Immune to Non-Magical Attacks, Chilling Revelation, Indelible Mark, Sudden Disappearance.
ALIGNMENT: Lawful Neutral
TYPE: Undead (Unique)
Phantom Travelers are the restless souls of those who died, or suffered some other traumatic tragedy, on or by a stretch of road. Sometimes they are encountered as potential companions, eager to join in otherwise lonely journeys. Sometime they are hitchhikers, begging for rides on carts and in carriages. Other times they simply wait by the side of the road, perhaps speaking, perhaps holding to an unnerving silence. However banally the initial meeting with a Phantom Traveler may begin, the end of the encounter is always unsettling.
A individual Phantom Traveler may be or any age or gender. They always appear to be solid and substantial, never translucent or ghostly. Usually the only indication of their nature is a pallid complexion. Sometimes, they will be dressed in a manner inappropriate for the current weather, a possible indication that the Traveler may not be an ordinary person. If touched, the body of a Phantom Traveler will appear to be actual flesh, although the skin will usually be very cold. Only very rarely will a Phantom Traveler appear in an obviously cadaverous, mangled, or otherwise ghastly state.
Typically, an encounter with a Phantom Traveler will start with the spirit asking to travel for a time with the encountering person. While many Phantom Travelers are taciturn, others can be quite talkative, even personable. Either way, the encounter will usually end with the Traveler revealing a Chilling Revelation, either of a coming disaster or some disturbing secret, and suddenly disappearing thereafter. Usually, it is not until their Chilling Revelation that the Phantom Traveler reveals themselves to be one of the restless dead.
If a Phantom Traveler is ever given an object (such as an article of clothing, for example), it will also disappear when the being vanishes. Should the Traveler’s grave or final resting place be found, the object will also be found there. Often, Phantom Travelers will be traveling in the direction of their mortal remains, disappearing before the place is reached. Many tales speak of hitchhiking Phantom Travels actually asking to be taken to a place that turns out to be their grave.
Combat: Phantom Travelers do not normally attack, or engage in combat. If given a weapon they may sometimes fight to preserve the lives of their traveling companions, if only so those people will be able to later hear the spirit’s Chilling Revelation. If attacked by a current (or potential) traveling companion, a Phantom Traveler will simply reveal a Chilling Revelation and disappear. Since it is impossible to damage them without the aid of magic, and they can become Ethereal at will, it is rare that anyone manages to actually destroy a Phantom Traveler by aggressive means. Should one actually be destroyed, it’s apparently solid body and clothing dissolve back into the Ether.
Immune to Non-Magical Attacks: Phantom Travelers can only be damaged by magic spells or weapons.
Chilling Revelation: Created by tragedy, Phantom Travelers know when other catastrophes are about to occur. They also know all the dark secrets of everyone they meet. When a Phantom Traveler reveals such information, it will unnerve anyone affected by it. For example, if the Phantom Traveler reveals that a bridge in town will soon collapse, anyone who might cross that bridge in the future will be affected. If the Phantom Travels reveals that one of its traveling companions is a murderer, only that person and those who trust him are affected. Those thus affected by the Chilling Revelation must save versus Charisma (Challenge Level 5) or be overcome by dread, doubt, and paranoia, suffering a -1 penalty on all their rolls until the tragedy either comes to pass, or the guilty parties are punished for their misdeeds. Affected people receive a new saving throw each morning, allowing them to possibly regain their composure before the terms of the Chilling Revelation have been fulfilled.
Indelible Mark: Once a night, a Phantom Traveler is able to leave an indelible hand print on an object, or even on a creature’s skin! The Indelible Mark will look like either a dark stain, or the effects of great heat. If left on a creature, the Indelible Mark does not hurt in any way, and the subject may not even realize they have been marked until some time later. While all Phantom Travelers possess the ability to leave an Indelible Mark, they only use it if they want to leave visible proof of their appearance.
Sudden Disappearance: A Phantom Traveler can become fully Ethereal at will, and will always end an encounter by suddenly disappearing into the Ether. Anything the Phantom Traveler carries will also become Ethereal.
Special XP Award: It is suggested that CK’s award the Phantom Traveler’s XP Value to all those who complete an encounter with it, not just those who actually destroy or turn it. This is because the creature is not really meant to be fought, and such an award also serves to mollify those players who might feel as if the spirit, and it’s Chilling Revelation, amount to an unfair ambulatory trap.
On the road to a previously unvisited town the party picks up a hitchhiking young woman, who asks for a coat, and to be taken home. Before they party reaches the gates of town, she turns to them and says “It’s a pity the old dragon is going to burn this place down”. She then suddenly disappears. If the party asks in town about a dragon, they will find out that one is rumored to dwell in a nearby cave, but that no one alive has ever seen it. If the party does nothing, the dragon will indeed rise and destroy the town. If the party describes the girl to locals, the characters will be informed that she matches the description of a local girl who was murdered by highwaymen over a decade ago. If the party visits her grave, the coat they gave her will be atop it.