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 their causes of death; others simply appear as rotting or skeletal as their corpses. A 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 (referred to hereafter as base creature). A dread ghost uses all the base creature’s statistics and special abilities, except as noted here.
Challenge Rating: Same as the base creature +3.
Size and Type: The creature’s type changes to undead with the appropriate augmented subtype, plus the incorporeal subtype if the base creature did not already have it. Do not recalculate base attack bonuses, saves, or skill points. Size is unchanged.
Hit Dice: Increase all current and future Hit Dice to d8s.
Speed: A dread ghost gains a fly speed equal to double the base creature’s highest speed, with perfect maneuverability. If the base creature already has a fly speed, it increases to double the base creature’s highest speed, and its maneuverability class becomes perfect. Its other speeds apply only when it is on the Ethereal Plane.
Armor Class: Natural armor is the same as the base creature’s but applies only to ethereal encounters. When the dread ghost manifests its natural armor bonus is +0, but it gains a deflection bonus equal to its Charisma modifier or +1, whichever is higher.
Attack: A dread ghost retains all the attacks of the base creature, although those relying on physical contact do not affect creatures that are not ethereal.
Full Attack: A dread ghost retains all the attacks of the base creature, although those relying on physical contact do not affect creatures that are not ethereal.
Damage: Against ethereal creatures, the dread ghost uses the base creature’s damage values. Against non-ethereal creatures, it usually cannot deal physical damage at all, but it can use its special attacks, if any, when it manifests.
Special Attacks: The dread ghost retains all the special attacks of the base creature, although those relying on physical contact do not affect non-ethereal creatures. The dread ghost gains the manifestation ability and five other special attacks chosen from the list given here.
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. In addition, each of its attacks deals +1d6 points of extra damage to creatures of the opposing alignment. This bonus damage applies to incorporeal touch attacks and to melee and ranged attacks made against ethereal opponents. If the dread ghost lacks the corrupting touch ability, its incorporeal touch attack still deals 1d6 points of damage to a creature of the opposing alignment.
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 (DC 10 + 1/2 dread ghost’s HD + dread ghost’s Cha modifier) halves the damage. Although the dread ghost is not immune to cold damage (unless the base creature is), it is not affected by its own chilling aura or that of other dread ghosts.
A dread ghost can blast living beings with a glance, at a range of up to 30 feet. Any creature that meets the dread ghost’s gaze must succeed on a Fortitude save (DC 10 + 1/2 dread ghost’s HD + dread ghost’s Cha modifier) or take 2d10 points of damage and 1d4 points of Charisma damage.
A dread ghost that hits an incorporeal target with its incorporeal touch attack deal 1d6 points of damage. Against ethereal opponents, it adds its Strength modifier to attack and damage rolls. Against nonethereal opponents, it adds its Dexterity modifier to attack rolls only.
Once every 1d4 rounds, the dread ghost can 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 (DC 10 + 1/2 dread ghost’s HD + dread ghost’s Cha modifier) or die instantly. 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.
A dread ghost that hits a living target with its incorporeal touch attack drains 1d4 points from any one ability score it selects. On each such successful attack, the dread ghost heals 5 points of damage to itself. Against ethereal opponents, it adds its Strength modifier to attack rolls only. Against non-ethereal opponents, it adds its Dexterity modifier to attack rolls only.
A dread ghost can emit a frightful moan as a standard action. Every living creature within a 30-foot spread must succeed on a Will save (DC 10 + 1/2 dread ghost’s HD + dread ghost’s Cha modifier) or become panicked for 2d4 rounds. Frightful moan is a sonic, necromantic, mind-affecting, fear effect. A creature that successfully saves against the moan cannot be affected by the same dread ghost’s moan for 24 hours.
Any living creature within 60 feet that views a dread ghost must succeed on a Fortitude save (DC 10 + 1/2 dread ghost’s HD + dread ghost’s Cha modifier) or immediately take 1d4 points of Strength damage, 1d4 points of Dexterity damage, and 1d4 points of Constitution damage. A creature that successfully saves against the this effect cannot be affected by the same dread ghost’s horrific appearance for 24 hours.
Once per round, an ethereal dread ghost can merge its body with a creature on the Material Plane. This ability is similar to a magic jar spell (caster level 10th or the dread ghost’s character level, whichever is higher), except that it does not require a receptacle. To use this ability, the dread ghost must be manifested and it must try to move into the target’s space; moving into the target’s space to use the malevolence ability does not provoke attacks of opportunity. The target can resist the attack with a successful Will save (DC 15 + dread ghost’s Cha modifier). A creature that successfully saves is immune to that same dread ghost’s malevolence for 24 hours, and the dread ghost cannot enter the target’s space. If the save fails, the dread ghost vanishes into the target’s body.
A dread ghost dwells upon the Ethereal Plane and, as an ethereal creature, it cannot affect or be aff ected by anything in the material world. When a dread ghost manifests, it partly enters the Material Plane and becomes visible but incorporeal on the Material Plane. A manifested dread ghost can be harmed only by other incorporeal creatures, magic weapons, or spells and has a 50% chance to ignore any damage from a corporeal source. It can also can pass through solid objects at will, and its own attacks pass through armor. A manifested dread ghost always moves silently.
A manifested dread ghost can strike with its touch attack or with a ghost touch weapon. When manifested, the dread ghost remains partially on the Ethereal Plane, where it is not incorporeal. It can be attacked by opponents on either the Material Plane or the Ethereal Plane. The dread ghost’s incorporeality helps protect it from foes on the Material Plane, but not from those on the Ethereal Plane. When a spellcasting dread ghost is not manifested and is on the Ethereal Plane, its spells cannot affect targets on the Material Plane, though they work normally against ethereal targets. When a spellcasting dread ghost manifests, its spells continue to affect ethereal targets and can affect targets on the Material Plane normally unless the spells rely on touch. Its touch spells don’t work on non-ethereal targets.
Once per round as a free action, the dread ghost can shatter all nonmagical objects made of crystal, glass, ceramic, or porcelain (such as vials, bottles, flasks, jugs, windows, mirrors, and the like) within 30 feet. Any object weighing more than 5 pounds per character level the dread ghost possesses are not affected. A magic item made of any of the above materials must succeed on a Fortitude save (DC 10 + 1/2 dread ghost’s HD + dread ghost’s Cha modifier) or be destroyed. A crystalline creature within the area takes 1d6 points of damage per character level the dread ghost possesses (to a maximum of 10d6). Every creature within 5 feet 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). Shattering presence is not a sonic effect.
A dread ghost can use telekinesis as a standard action (caster level 12th or equal to the dread ghost’s character level, whichever is higher). When a dread ghost uses this power, it must wait 1d4 rounds before using it again.
Special Qualities: The dread ghost retains all the base creature’s special qualities and gains rejuvenation and channel resistance. It also gains two other special qualities chosen from the list below.
The dread ghost is immune to one type of energy (acid, cold, electricity, fire, or sonic) chosen at the time of its creation.
The dread ghost rejuvenates in just 1d4 hours rather than the standard 2d4 days. This ability replaces the standard ghost’s rejuvenation ability.
The dread ghost can benefit from improved invisibility at will.
In most cases, it’s difficult to destroy a dread ghost through simple combat. The “destroyed” spirit will often restore itself in 2d4 days. Even the most powerful spells are usually only temporary solutions. A dread ghost that would otherwise be destroyed returns to its old haunts with a successful level check (1d20 + dread ghost’s HD) against DC 16. As a rule, the only way to get rid of a dread ghost for sure 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.
A dread ghost has spell resistance equal to 10 plus its HD.
A dread ghost has Channel resistance +4.
Environment: Any, often as the base creature.
Organization: Solitary, pair, gang (3–4, or mob (7–12)
Treasure: Ghostly equipment.