Welcome to the Post Halloween Blog Post! Yeah it's dorky I know...
I was poking about on the internets and found this webpage: Top 10 Ghost Ships
This is a cool Halloween post so I thought it would be interesting to talk about Ghost Ships in your game.
What makes a ghost ship, well, ghostly? In the case of the article above, it usually demands mysterious circumstances, the total or near-loss of all crew and passengers, and (usually) the sinking of the ship. Not all these conditions are necessarily met, but the more the better. For example the Mary Celeste lost all hands but was found in relatively good condition, totally abandonned.
In your game, mysterious circumstances could be magical or physical. Imagine the ship Event Horizon from the film of the same name. Something came back with that ship and it wasn't any crew. The ship went to Hell and came back, something that probably shouldn't have happened. Then badness happened.
In an episode of The X-Files, Mulder crosses a time barrier and ends up on a British Passenger ship right before World War II. In this case, the ship was still occupied with period people wondering who he was. At the same time, Scully and the Lone Gunmen were exploring the ship years later in the future.
In a Star Wars RPG game I ran, the party of heros were tasked to salvage a Corellian Corvette which was abandonned orbiting a black hole (albeit at a safe distance). In that situation, the ship came "alive" and killed all aboard. Along with the empty ship I used elements of Black Hole physics to spice up the game, in particular, time-space turbulence. Time does not flow smoothly in the vicinity of a black hole, and weird things can happen. Fun stuff.
Ghost ships should be menacing, dangerous, and have an element of strangeness in your game. Consider the following:
- There may or not be bodies aboard, in varying states of decay.
- The ship itself may not be safe because it was improperly secured when abandonned, or conditions killing the crew may still exist.
- The environment the ship is in may not be safe (storms at sea, radiation in space, or possibly some magical or metaphysical condition is present).
- Ships' Logs may or may not tell of events leading to the events that caused the problem.
- If the ship had actually sunk or was totally lost, a "Ghost Ship" will have non-corporeal components that could interact with PCs.
- If in a sci-fi setting, supernatural conditions could be responsible for the event and make it difficult for PCs to believe.
- Relatives or friends of lost crew may not want the heros to disturb the ship (or wreck), out of respect for the lost members.
- Consider a time-limit on the vessel, having the ship become corporeal for a short time, or say in space, radiation is affecting the ship and only limited exposure can be risked before radiation injuries occur.