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What fearful shapes and shadows beset his path - The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (1899), frontispiece - BL

“I walked about the isle like a restless spectre, separated from all it loved, and miserable in the separation” – Mary Shelley, “Frankenstein”

The Restless Specter presented here is very different from the similarly named “Spectre” of most OSR Games. My inspirations range from “Wuthering Heights” and “The Odyssey” to 19th century Spiritualism and Celtic folklore.

Restless Specter

A powerful ghost who can affect the material world.

Creature Class: Spirit (Ghost)
Number Appearing: 1 – 4
Initial Impression: A pale, insubstantial figure which seems to grow more solid as it approaches.
Size: Human-sized

Perversity: Any (usually 13)
Disposition: Any (usually Goading)
Charisma: 12 Intelligence: 9 Wisdom: 12
Strength: 12 (in Manifestation) Dexterity: 12 Constitution: 12 (in Manifestation)
Speed: 9 walking, 12 flying

Armor Class: None
Hit Dice: 6
Incorporeal: 1 (object thrown with Telekinesis)
Manifested or Possessing: 1 (punch, weapon, strangle, or object thrown with Telekinesis)
Special Abilities: Ghostly Characteristics, Manifestation, Possession, Selective Invisibility
Weaknesses: Undead Weaknesses, Release
Assets: None (or as in life)
Afflictions: None (or as in life)
Preternatural Powers: Alter Self, Telekinesis, Phantasmagoria V

Natural Habitat: Ancient castles and manor houses, grave sites, old battlefields, dark woods where many have wandered to their deaths, ruined abbeys, cathedral crypts, stark moorlands, ancient barrows, etc.
Level: 6

Restless Specters are potentially dangerous ghosts that can arise in a variety of ways. Some are the souls of exceptional strong-willed people who suffered untimely or unnatural deaths. Others are souls who were mourned with such intense grief that it prevented them from moving on to the Afterlife. Yet others were once mere Phantoms, grown powerful over time. However one came to be, a Restless Specter is bound to haunt the world, until someone performs the one act that will finally release it.

Although they are easily mistaken for the more common Phantoms, Restless Specters are not limited to merely creating illusory perceptions. They are powerful enough to actually interact with the material world – whether by moving objects by force of will, possessing living bodies, or actually manifesting a solid form of their own. Also unlike many Phantoms, Restless Specters never simply repeat the conditions of their demise as a kind of morbid show – although they may appear in a horrific form marked by the manner of their death.

There are two types of Restless Specters. Castle Specters are bound to a place – whether a structure, a village, or even an area of a many square miles. However large or small the location haunted by a Castle Specter, they may not wander beyond its borders. Roaming Specters on the other hand, may wander as they will – except for the one place they may not enter under their own power. The prohibited location might be as small as the house they inhabited in life, or as large as a particular country.

Restless Specters are not harmed in any way by sunlight (although it does prevent them from forming a physical Manifestation). Many Restless Specters only appear by night, or only in gloomy conditions, however, as an expression of their own morose natures.

The characteristics listed above are for a typical Restless Specter, concerned with nothing more than alleviating the misery of its own aimless existence. Exceptional Restless Specters will retain the same Basic Abilities, Assets, and Afflictions they possessed in life. Some might even be virtuous and kind, while others are vile and malevolent. Slain Player Characters who are not Perverse enough to rise again as Vampyres might continue gameplay as Restless Specters instead.

Restless Specter Special Abilities

Ghostly Characteristics: Unless they have physically manifested, a Restless Specter’s body is Ethereal in nature, and can freely pass through material objects. Naturally, a Restless Specter is immune to such things as poison, disease, and stunning, as well as Fascination effects (except those which specifically target Ghosts or Revenants). While in an incorporeal state, it can only be harmed by silver, pure iron, blessed, or magically enchanted weapons. Restless Specters can see perfectly in conditions of partial or even total darkness.

Manifestation: One night in every lunar month, a Restless Specter can form a material body. It takes a full Round for the body to form, and full Round for it to dissolve – during which time the Restless Specter can do nothing else. The Manifested body can be in any form that the Restless Specter ever had in life – young, old, healthy, or as it it was at the moment of death. Whatever form it takes, the Manifestation will be noticeably pale, and cool to the touch. A Manifested Restless Specter can be damaged (and destroyed) by ordinary weapons, and will bleed like an ordinary person. Despite the fact that it makes them vulnerable, Manifestation also allows Restless Specters to touch and be touched, and therefore experience some semblance of physical enjoyment. Manifested Restless Specters always feel cold, and will want to warm themselves by a fire – or in the bed of living person. The are constantly hungry as well, and will want to glut themselves on intensely-flavored food – or blood. A Manifestation will always dissolve at sunrise, and the Restless Specter forced back into its incorporeal form.

Every year on the nights between October 31st and November 2nd , and also from April 31st to May 5th, every Restless Specter is empowered to form a Manifestation. They can do this whether or not they have already manifested in that lunar month. Veritable hordes of the dead wander at those times, desperate to alleviate their cold, hunger, and loneliness.

Possession: A Restless Specter can also attempt Possession of a living person. The Restless Specter must win a Charisma Contest against its target, which must be in the Nearby Area. Success means the Restless Specter inhabits the host’s body, directing it’s actions, and enjoying the use of its senses. The Restless Specter must win another Charisma Contest every Turn thereafter, however, or be expelled from the host’s body. Damage done to a host’s body is also suffered by the Restless Specter. A Specter can not attempt Possession of a person while still in a state of Manifestation.

Selective Invisibility: Whether currently Incorporeal or Manifested, a Restless Specter can choose to be Invisible to certain people. Subjects of the Restless Specter’s Selective Invisibility who suspect its presence can perceive it nonetheless with a successful Wisdom Save.

Restless Specter Weaknesses

Undead Weaknesses: Restless Specters (even those who were virtuous people in life) are affected by the power of Faith, as well as all Special Abilities and Preternatural Effects which target Ghosts and Revenants.

Release: A Restless Specter’s Release is an action that, if performed, will cause the Restless Specter to pass on to the Afterlife. A Restless Specter cannot achieve their own Release, whether in in a Possessed body or a physical Manifestation. Only another, living person can accomplish the action that will finally end the Restless Specter’s haunting. Nor are most Restless Specters even aware of what their own Releases might be.

Typical Releases include:

  • Burying the Restless Specter’s corpse in hallowed ground.
  • Punishing the Restless Specter’s murderer.
  • Proclaiming the secret that the Restless Specter was always ashamed of in life.
  • Delivering a letter to the person the Restless Specter secretly loved.
  • Persuading the Restless Specter’s grief-stricken relatives to stop actively mourning her.
  • Restoring ownership of the Restless Specter’s home to their family.
  • Placing a beloved piece of jewelry in the coffin with the Restless Specter’s corpse.

Note that Restless Specters who believe themselves to be destined for Hell will actively try to prevent anyone from learning or performing their Release, since even the misery of restless death pales in comparison to the torment that awaits them in the Infernal Realm.

Restless Specter (for OSR games)
Number Appearing: 1 – 4
Size: Medium
Alignment: Any (usually Chaotic Neutral)
Morale: 10 (or 14)
Intelligence: 10
Move: Walking: 120′ (or 12”, or 30 ft.); Flying: 210′ (or 21” or 45 ft)
Armor Class: 10
Hit Dice: 6
Attacks & Damage:
Incorporeal: 1 object thrown with Telekinesis (1d4)
Manifested or Possessing: 1 punch (1d4), 1 weapon (by weapon type), 1 strangle (1d6), or 1 object thrown with Telekinesis (1d4)
* Naturally Incorporeal.
* Silver, pure iron, blessed, or magically enchanted weapons to hit while Incorporeal.
* Immune to poison, disease, and stunning.
* Immune to mind-magic that doesn’t specifically target the Undead.
* Darkvision.
* Can manifest a material body that can be harmed by ordinary weapons – one night every lunar month.
* Can possess a living person – Save versus Spells to resist, victim gets new Save every Turn.
* Can become selectively Invisible – Save versus Spells to perceive.
* Turned as a Spectre
* Dispelled if its special Release is ever performed, but cannot perform Release itself.
* Spell-like Abilities: Change Self, Phantasmal Forces, Telekinesis (all at will)
Saves: As Magic User 6
Challenge: Four 6th Level Characters