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I have a couple of players who visit the forums, so a fair warning to them that spoilers here are for my game on 10-14. Humor me and don't look, okay?
I have a wraith-like creature tied to a location. Fairly default haunted house scenario, where you have to clean the house by fulfilling the needs of the spirit that are keeping it there.
The players are going to encounter its standard form, no matter what. It's a little nasty, but nothing they can't handle. They kill it, it disperses for 24 hours. Usually.
Said spirit has a MacGuffin, though. That's its tie to this physical plane still: It needs to use the MacGuffin every night. If someone were to try to remove the MacGuffin from the location, said creature reforms - fresh as a daisy - with noticable buffs (different statblock with boosted power and level), and tries its best to wipe meddlers from existence.
The MacGuffin IS treasure for this scenario. However, removing it from its location or threatening its integrity will spring the, for lack of a better term, super-wraith. There will be hints that this is what ties the wraith to the plane, and its necessity to be resolved, so it's not a complete ambush. But the entire idea here functions on the Goonies Principle: "That's Willie's."
Is it fair to expect the characters to abide by the idea, do the right thing, and finish the spirit's work? And is it fair to give them a... consequence? ...for the moral choice of killing something, thinking its defeated, and ransacking its "lair?" Said creature is/was intelligent and humanoid, and a viable PC race; not like it was some troll in the woods that usually gets the moral "buy" for such things.
Small request to have replies placed in an sblock until at least 10-15, please? Thanks kindly.
I think it sounds fine, so long as that there are hints about the nature of what it might do and that picking it up may be a bad thing. Additionally consider the fact that the PCs might just run off with it if the treasure is that enticing in which case don't penalize them for doing so.
As for finishing the spirit's work, and the morality of it that's really up to the players and what they think their characters would do. As long as they do what they would do I wouldn't punish them because they didn't take the morally high route. Or if there is some sort of repercussion I would try to make it interesting. For example if the ghosts ancestors found out about them looting and running off then they might do something about it, but I don't recommend just out right hit them with some penalty for playing the game.
Also consider the fact that a ghost, even if it was a humanoid, is still not viewed in the same light as a living breathing person to some people. In fact some people might find them to be blasphemy on the earth for existing as unholy undead creatures.
Since it is an intelligent ghost is there any method for the players to talk to it? Perhaps they could convince it they want to help it, and depending on the ghost's personality might take them up on the offer.
Just offering some food for thought. Hope it helps
Temporal loop. Kind of. Basically the wraith, during daylight, is in groundhog day mode. Repeats the same actions over and over, depending on the environment (ie, player interaction). If he eats pie during the day, and the players are there... The players get pie, too. But no matter what, pie is still had. Wraith has no clue he's repeating the same day over and over again.
Sunset revisits the horrible events that created the wraith. Then things get all wraithy and haunty.
As long as it's not wraithy and haunty, players can interact with it all day long. And, in fact, won't know it's a wraith until things start happening at sundown.
The pitch is this, "There's something going on at someone's house. I think it's haunted." Players find pleasant homedweller and go back saying, "Nope. They were there, and they said it wasn't haunted." "You know they've been dead for months, right?" "Bwuh!? Back in a minute..." Investigation! And then they see all the trauma and wraithy and haunty things.
But the interaction during the day is where I plant the clues about the MacGuffin being the sole purpose that said person is still there.
The original idea was they fight the wraithy haunty thing, collect their loot and try to leave said house. Including the MacGuffin. They start crossing the foyer, and doors and shutters slam shut. Short check of inventory and wtf-ness later, they get that they weren't supposed to pick up MacGuffin. They continue to try to leave with it... It fights for the very purpose of its existence, and VERY angry about it, too. Otherwise, everyone goes on their way to do Investigations!
Then the PCs have to figure out how to make the unresolved business resolve.
Nothing terribly original as far as ghost stories go, but I don't think my players have had too many stories like this in their game, and I'm hoping to break it up. And a powered-up nasty that says "Don't take my stuff!" seemed appropriate.
Again, the MacGuffin is their to have once everything resolves properly and spirits are put to rest. The soul is bound to that patch of ground regardless... But to walk with the MacGuffin, like you said? Well... Cursed MacGuffin at that point. Minor curse, probably. No reason to kneecap people over it.
Does that help answer your questions and concerns?
Things that depend both on secrecy and on players picking up on clues risk a lot of problems. There's a good chance that either the clues are too clear and they'll see what you're trying to do, or that the clues are too vague and they won't get why they're being attacked when they're doing what they think they're supposed to.
What you're doing is "fair," if everything goes well, but that might be expecting a lot.
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