Like normal ghosts, dread ghosts are restless spirits that exist on both the Material and the Ethereal Planes. Unlike many other dread undead, dread ghosts have no special power over others of their kind, but some mystery of their creation makes them more powerful than standard ghosts.
The appearance of dread ghosts is as varied as that of standard ghosts. Some exhibit telltale signs of the cause of their death; others simply appear as rotting corpses or skeletons. A rare few appear as they did in life, or as idealized versions of themselves.
“Dread Ghost” is an acquired template that can be added to any living creature that has an Intelligence score and a Charisma score of at least 10 (referred to hereafter as the base creature). A dread ghost uses all the base creature's statistics and special abilities, except as noted here.
Challenge Rating: Same as base creature +3.
Senses: A dread ghost gains darkvision +60 ft.
Armor Class: A dread ghost gains a deflection bonus equal to its Charisma modifier (minimum +1). It loses the base creature's natural armor bonus, as well as all armor and shield bonuses that are not force effects or ghost touch items.
Hit Dice: Change all of the base creature's racial HD to d8s.
Defensive Abilities: A dread ghost retains all of the defensive abilities of the base creature save those that rely on a corporeal form to function. Dread ghosts gain channel resistance +8, spell resistance equal to 10 + dread ghost's total Hit Dice, the incorporeal ability, and all of the immunities granted by its undead traits.
Dread ghosts also gain the following.
In most cases, it's difficult to destroy a dread ghost through simple combat: the “destroyed” spirit restores itself in 1d4 hours. Even the most powerful spells are usually only temporary solutions. The only way to permanently destroy a dread ghost is to determine the reason for its existence and set right whatever prevents it from resting in peace. The exact means varies with each spirit and may require a good deal of research, and should be created specifically for each different ghost by the GM.
Speed: A dread ghost gains a fly speed equal to double the base creature's highest speed,with perfect maneuverability. If the base creature can already fly, its maneuverability becomes perfect and its fly speed increases to double the base creature's highest speed.
Attacks: A dread ghost loses all of the base creature's attacks. If it could wield weapons in life, it can wield ghost touch weapons as a dread ghost.
Special Attacks: A dread ghost retains all the special attacks of the base creature, but any relying on physical contact do not function. In addition, a dread ghost gains one dread ghost special attack from the list below for every 3 points of CR (minimum 1—the first ability chosen must always be corrupting touch). The save DC against a dread ghost's special attack is Charisma-based unless otherwise noted. Additional dread ghost abilities beyond these (including those for the standard ghost) can be designed at the GM's discretion.
The dread ghost had strong-aligned convictions when it was alive. All the dread ghost's attacks are considered magic and aligned for the purpose of overcoming damage reduction. The alignment matches one component (dread ghost's choice at the time of creation) of its own alignment (chaotic, evil, good, or lawful). The dread ghost gains the appropriate alignment subtype of this choice. In addition, all of its attacks deal +1d6 points of extra damage per 2 HD (max 10d6) to creatures of the opposing alignment. This ability can be taken multiple times, once for each component of the dread ghost's alignment.
The dread ghost died either in the cold or was emotionally distant in life. When a dread ghost manifests, it emits a deadly chill in a 20-foot radius around itself, on both the Material and the Ethereal Planes. Each creature within this area takes 3d6 points of cold damage per round. A successful Fortitude save halves the damage. The dread ghost is not affected by its own chilling aura, and it is immune to that of other dread ghosts.
The dread ghost is disfigured through age or violence and has a gaze attack with a range of 60 feet that causes 4d10 damage and 1d6 Charisma damage (Fortitude save negates Charisma damage but not physical damage).
All dread ghosts gain this incorporeal touch attack. By passing part of its incorporeal body through a foe's body as a standard action, the dread ghost inflicts a number of d8s equal to its CR in damage. The damage is not negative energy—it manifests in the form of physical wounds and aches from supernatural aging. Creatures immune to magical aging are immune to this damage, but otherwise the damage bypasses all forms of damage reduction. A Fortitude save halves the damage inflicted.
The dread ghost died in psychological torment. Once every 1d4 rounds, the dread ghost can let loose a terrible wail as a full-round action, targeting it against one creature within 100 feet of it. If the target creature can hear the death wail, it must succeed on a Fortitude save or be reduced to –1 hp and is dying. Any other creature within 100 feet that can hear the wail must succeed on a Fortitude save at the same DC or gain 1 negative level. A creature that succeeds on the save cannot be affected by that dread ghost's death wail for 24 hours. The death wail is a sonic death effect.
The dread ghost died while insane or diseased. It gains a single touch attack that drains 1d2 points from any two different ability scores it selects on a hit. A successful Fortitude save turns the drain into ability damage. On each such successful attack, the ghost heals 5 points of damage to itself. When a dread ghost makes a draining touch attack, it cannot use its standard corrupting touch attack.
The dread ghost died in the throes of crippling terror. It can emit a frightful moan as a standard action. All living creatures within a 30-foot spread must succeed on a Will save or become panicked for 4d4 rounds. A creature that successfully saves against the moan cannot be affected by the same ghost's moan for 24 hours. This is a sonic mind-affecting fear effect.
The dread ghost died extremely violently or was mutilated. Any living creature within 60 feet that views a dread ghost must succeed on a Fortitude save or immediately take 1d4 points of Strength, Dexterity, and Constitution damage (roll each separately). A creature that successfully saves against this effect cannot be affected by the same dread ghost's horrific appearance for 24 hours. This is a gaze effect.
The dread ghost can use greater invisibility (as the spell) at will.
The ghost's jealousy of the living is particularly potent. Once per round, the ghost can merge its body with a creature on the Material Plane. This ability is similar to a magic jar spell (caster level 15th or the ghost's Hit Dice, whichever is higher), except that it does not require a receptacle. To use this ability, the ghost must be adjacent to the target. The target can resist the attack with a successful Will save. A creature that successfully saves is immune to that same ghost's malevolence for 24 hours.
The dread ghost was a leader of renown or died while leading others. The dread ghost can enslave other undead within 30 feet (as the Command Undead feat, using the dread ghost's total HD for the DC). The dread ghost can use this ability 3 + its Cha modifier (min 0) times per day.
The dread ghost died by bludgeoning or in a great fall. As a full-round action the dread ghost can release a bust of pure force that deals 6d6 damage to all non-magical objects within a 30-foot burst. Any object weighing more than 5 pounds per character level the dread ghost possesses is not affected. A magic item must succeed on a Fortitude save or take the above damage.
Constructs, crystalline, or otherwise fragile creatures within the area take 1d6 points of damage per 3 HD the dread ghost possesses (to a maximum of 6d6). A successful Reflex save halves this damage.
The burst of force does not affect undead or living creatures.
Objects destroyed or creatures killed by this effect shatter and burst in a 5-foot-radius burst of shards. Every creature within range of a shattering object must succeed on a DC 20 Reflex save or take 1d6 points of slashing damage. A creature wearing or carrying an object when it shatters takes 2d6 points of slashing damage (no save). This is a force effect.
Skills: Dread ghosts have a +8 racial bonus on Perception and Stealth skill checks. A dread ghost has Climb, Disguise, Fly, Intimidate, Knowledge (arcana), Knowledge (religion), Perception, Sense Motive, Spellcraft, and Stealth as class skills in addition to the class skills of the base creature.