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Ghosts as enemies and antagonists...

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  • Ghosts as enemies and antagonists...

    I'm a long term fan of Geist, but I always had some trouble actually running a game. I've had some thoughts as to how I would run my next Geist game (2e or no) and I thought I'd post them here and see what people's thoughts were.

    So, let's talk about ghost and ephemeral beings: Geist is based around the idea that the protagonists can interact with ghosts like humans interact with other humans... which makes them kind of boring and pointless to use in your game (despite the fact that the major theme of the splat should revolve around ghosts.) So I guess we need to emphasize how ghosts are different from a Sin Eaters perspective.
    1. Ghosts might as well be physical human beings. Throw out the ephemeral being rules and stat up a human being. Consider them mortals with a template rather than ephemerals. While we're at it, do the same for any ephemeral being.
      1. As a side to this, most ghosts should be like NPCs - people that the players can interact with. Which makes me think we should give them roles - going through the motions of what they would be doing in life even if it's not actually useful anymore. That trucker? His dead friend has been riding in the passenger seat for years and he has no idea. That guy walking down the street? His mother is walking along beside him, still prattling on about what the neighbors are up to.
      2. Another aside setting wise - not only is the world a lot more crowded - large urban areas are likely pretty maddening to them. Sin Eaters likely enjoy living semi-hermit like lives - simply because crowded spaces for regular mortals probably seem overwhelmingly packed to Sin Eaters.
    2. Ghosts have limitations: they can not interact with the physical world around them the way a regular human being can - and that's literally torture to them. Giving a ghost the ability to soo much as scare a small child is like giving crack to an addict. Ghosts still have goals like a human would - and chances are their limited ability to interact with the human world and near maddening drive to attain said goals will result utter chaos regularly. Imagine wanting to open a jar without using your hands - but you can use a chainsaw...
    3. Which brings us to their true power - and what will make them a dangerous enemy. That chainsaw. I'm not talking about a specific manifestation or power - I'm talking about influences. All ghosts seem like weak, powerless, semi-mad creatures - unless they figure out their influences and how to use them. Most find their influence to be kind of useless, but every once in a while a ghost gains domain over something dangerous and decides to use it against a hapless mortal. Perhaps he realizes his domain is trucks and decides to take control of such a vehicle: turning it into an unstoppable death tank and mowing down anyone in his way. Perhaps it's stray cats - and a krew stumbles into an alley looking for the ghost only to find particularly vicious and supernaturally powerful strays guarding their territory. Or perhaps it's a human trait like greed and the ghost is useless until he stumbles across a bank robber, only to turn him into a nightmarishly powerful slasher on a murderous rampage.
    In broad terms, I'm suggesting you play fast and loose with the ephemeral rules when it comes to Geist by the way - they were not designed with Geist in mind and you could easily argue that they effect Sin Eaters differently anyways.

    So, what do some cool Sin-Eater antagonists actually look like?

    Big Tom - a former construction worker who worked in high rise building construction. Eternally chained to his lunch box - Tom is just another pathetic mook who's worst threat is getting plasm on your shoes when you punch the snot out of him in the pawn shop where he's forced to spend his days until someone buys his lunch box. Well, until someone figured out that his domain is steel girders. Take him to a construction site and suddenly he's able to swing thousand pound girders like they were baseball bats. Even well shrouded Sin Eaters should consider that - while they might be able to absorb the equivalent of a 12-14 dice attack - they're still likely to be sent flying through the air from the force of the blow.

    Blue Sarah - The ghost of a little girl who tragically died of polio in the 20s, Sarah spends her days skipping stones at the beach where she used to love to come in life. She misses her family dearly and wishes desperately to give her mother one last birthday gift (despite the fact that her mother is long since dead herself, and Sarah can't even remember what this gift was...) Sarah is mostly harmless - until one day a grieving mother visits the beach and Sarah turns her into a half mad guardian who causes the very earth to shake under her feet when she walks.

    ((Get creative, it's not hard))

    So where does this leave balance? Well, considering their abilities, I think most ghost antagonists used this way should be dangerously powerful compared to their Sin Eater opponents - if they're given the right ingredient. The focus of such an encounter should be about figuring out what would so empower the ghost and stopping them from getting it before they can get it - which is not such a hard task with abilities like boneyard and oracle, really. Failing to do so would result in a short fight that is quite winnable, but still pretty dangerous for those involved.

    Sorry if this seems like a stream of consciousness - it's partially me thinking out loud to try and wrap my head around further attempts at Geist. You'll notice I hint that the Ghosts would not be the true antagonists in most of these scenarios (although they could be) - they are more than likely just pawns to use and abuse against the players...