Weird Campaign Idea: Party is disembodied souls


Advice


It might require an entirely different system to pull off well. Pathfinder is probably unsuited for it. Oh well! Here's the idea:

The player characters are disembodied souls, perhaps deceased mortals, or elemental spirits or alien influences or something.

Player characters don't have their own body. Instead, they possess a creature to act as their body until killed, whereupon they have to possess another one. In this world, enemies aware of these possessing spirits might have wards of some kind that prevent easy possession.

If a player character dies, their soul emerges from the body and follows the party around powerlessly until an opportune body appears. This may be a subdued foe with their ward removed or broken.

Hmm. Maybe I should adapt something like Eclipse Phase rather than Pathfinder. The vast variation in power between possessable bodies would be too problematic, unless the possession 'normalises' the bodies somehow, which would also be weird.

Any thoughts?

Scarab Sages

Sounds cool - what I'm reminded of is WRAITH: THE OBLIVION without the stuff that makes people unwilling to play that game.

Sovereign Court

My first thought was Wraith as well, but it might be interesting to play this in a not-so-gloomy setting. Pathfinder does do well on making players feel empowered.

You could use the polymorph mechanics as an example of how to dampen (but not completely eliminate) the effects of controlling odd bodies.


I never played Wraith and I don't know much about it.


Umbral Reaver wrote:
I never played Wraith and I don't know much about it.

It's the somehow-more-emo version of the idea you had using World of Darkness rule sets.

Scarab Sages

Tiny Coffee Golem wrote:
Umbral Reaver wrote:
I never played Wraith and I don't know much about it.
It's the somehow-more-emo version of the idea you had using World of Darkness rule sets.

Please, let's not validate that stupid '000s meme. As far as I can tell, "emo" was just a phantasmal scapegoat that the bullying type managed to conjure up so they had someone to pick on who was always conveniently voiceless as it became less and less acceptable to pick on gays.

WRAITH: THE OBLIVION was DARK. I've never played it, but to give you an idea, every player had a "Shadow," an antagonistic schism of their own mind that existed solely to ruin everything they tried to do. In gameplay terms, each player was assigned the role of this "Shadow" of the person next to them at the table - and their goal was to whisper mean things to them that would actually hurt the player's feelings so as to make them screw up.

Perhaps not a good idea, I must admit.


The only problem I can see is if these player souls are aware that when their host dies they can simply body hop, that there isnt much consequence for failure in any task. Without the fear of death or permanent consequence there's much less motivation for the character to feel invested in combat. But you could work around that in other ways if you like.


Maybe instead of using a new system have the party play as petitioners with free uses of the Possesion spell. With a DC keyed off something they'll use.


SillyString wrote:
The only problem I can see is if these player souls are aware that when their host dies they can simply body hop, that there isnt much consequence for failure in any task. Without the fear of death or permanent consequence there's much less motivation for the character to feel invested in combat. But you could work around that in other ways if you like.

There are loads of ways to keep people invested even if they cannot permanently die.


Umbral Reaver wrote:
SillyString wrote:
But you could work around that in other ways if you like.
There are loads of ways to keep people invested even if they cannot permanently die.

Yep, just making sure! :)


There are ways with Pathfinder. I would be interested in playing such a thing myself and have been under a similar thing when a reversed Void card from a deck of many things struck down my body but left my spirit intact.

Look at how Ghost's are built and take away some of their offensive capabilities and only give them possession. Keep it when they are a ghost they can only see so far and communicate very slowly to spirits inhabiiting bodies. Price for death is you can assign a temporary/permenant negative level to the next creature they possess/to them.

This gives the added extra tactic of when do I leave the body.


I'm Hiding In Your Closet wrote:
Tiny Coffee Golem wrote:
Umbral Reaver wrote:
I never played Wraith and I don't know much about it.
It's the somehow-more-emo version of the idea you had using World of Darkness rule sets.

Please, let's not validate that stupid '000s meme. As far as I can tell, "emo" was just a phantasmal scapegoat that the bullying type managed to conjure up so they had someone to pick on who was always conveniently voiceless as it became less and less acceptable to pick on gays.

WRAITH: THE OBLIVION was DARK. I've never played it, but to give you an idea, every player had a "Shadow," an antagonistic schism of their own mind that existed solely to ruin everything they tried to do. In gameplay terms, each player was assigned the role of this "Shadow" of the person next to them at the table - and their goal was to whisper mean things to them that would actually hurt the player's feelings so as to make them screw up.

Perhaps not a good idea, I must admit.

I'm not familiar with the meme you're talking about. I only meant angsty and overly emotional.

Scarab Sages

Tiny Coffee Golem wrote:

I'm not familiar with the meme you're talking about. I only meant angsty and overly emotional.

That's baloney, though - especially the "emotional" part.

Why don't we call FOX NEWS viewers "emo?" Or football (either kind) hooligans? Or mindless "gung-ho" soldiers? Or some parents of newborns? Or religious fundamentalists (violent or otherwise)? Or frat boys? Or people with road rage? Or reality TV trash? They're all ruled by their emotions - and shouldn't the term "emotional" refer to what's going on inside your head, rather than the shallow appearance of your outward behavior? Everyone has emotions - the question is whether their minds rule their emotions, or their emotions rule their minds.

As I understand it, the term "emo" comes from a particular strain of rock music that made the rounds in the early '000s - if you're not referring to someone who is an avid devotee of that music style, for the gods sakes, don't call it "emo," because nothing else is. WRAITH: THE OBLIVION, which was released in 1994, obviously wasn't.


Umbral Reaver wrote:

Here's the idea:

The player characters are disembodied souls, perhaps deceased mortals, or elemental spirits or alien influences or something.

Player characters don't have their own body. Instead, ....

Been there, done that. Ravenloft

This was the setup:
The party was taken into ravenloft by plot device.
We arrive and find ourselves as intelligent zombies.
We could make an easy will save [wisdom check?] to define where our undead body went, but we only had the abilities of the zombie to do it. With a much more difficult check, we could pull out our souls into a spirit form. The body then went under full control of the BBEM, who did not know they were anything special, so no dire threats on our bodies. Our goal was to acquire an apparatus that would kick us out of ravenloft, but it needed to have our souls back in the zombie body, and then into the device. When the device was activated, we would be crushed, and then uncrushed into life, but had to make a save or get a con point drain. [PF would use a negative level, the wimps.]
While in spirit form, we could influence other unintelligent undead, and even posses them. I don't recal the spellcasting alteration, but I can suggest that a possessed body can cast, but at a slowed rate [for zombies at east]. Spirits could cast, but had difficulty with material components. I recall an intelligence [wisdom?] check to manipulate up to 5# of material via telekinesis. You could probably add concentration checks, but failure of this would not mean a lost spell but insufficient concentration to focus the mind into casting.
Being ravenloft, there were lots of undead around, so being undead yourself did not attract undue attention.
Finding out the macguffin needed to return to life and acquiring it is a standard trope, so any canned adventure could do. The alteration of the setting into one of horror is what made it so different.

/cevah

Scarab Sages

Cevah wrote:

Been there, done that. Ravenloft

This was the setup:
The party was taken into ravenloft by plot device.
We arrive and find ourselves as intelligent zombies.
We could make an easy will save [wisdom check?] to define where our undead body went, but we only had the abilities of the zombie to do it. With a much more difficult check, we could pull out our souls into a spirit form. The body then went under full control of the BBEM, who did not know they were anything special, so no dire threats on our bodies. Our goal was to acquire an apparatus that would kick us out of ravenloft, but it needed to have our souls back in the zombie body, and then into the device. When the device was activated, we would be crushed, and then uncrushed into life, but had to make a save or get a con point drain. [PF would use a negative level, the wimps.]
While in spirit form, we could influence other unintelligent undead, and even posses them. I don't recal the spellcasting alteration, but I can suggest that a possessed body can cast, but at a slowed rate [for zombies at east]. Spirits could cast, but had difficulty with material components. I recall an intelligence [wisdom?] check to manipulate up to 5# of material via telekinesis. You could probably add concentration checks, but failure of this would not mean a lost spell but insufficient concentration to focus the mind into casting.
Being ravenloft, there were lots of undead around, so being undead yourself did not attract undue attention.
Finding out the macguffin needed to return to life and acquiring it is a standard trope, so any canned adventure could do. The alteration of the setting into one of horror is what made it so different.

/cevah

Sounds like "The Created" (the one Ravenloft adventure I've ever played) - but substantially kinder.


One possibility would be to have the players start out as very weak Ghosts, that don't have most of the abilities (as noted above), and can only possess something up to their own hit dice. As they level up, they upgrade -- both being able to possess things with more hit dice and gradually gaining other Ghost abilities (although maybe with some substitutions to make their incorporeal forms more suited for the campaign -- Ghost archetypes, anyone?).


I'm Hiding In Your Closet wrote:
Cevah wrote:

Been there, done that. Ravenloft

Sounds like "The Created" (the one Ravenloft adventure I've ever played) - but substantially kinder.

I never knew if it was a module or homebrew, and since it was played in the late 1980s, I cannot claim to have remembered all the gritty details. Also, with a large party of religious themed characters, I am sure there were modifications if it was a module.

I definitely recall the exit device:

some gritty details:
It was a press where the body was placed into the barrel. As my character was extra large, I had trouble fitting. Getting "pressed" didn't help. I lost 2 con.

As to being kinder, we were underpowered, because the theme was the religious followers of an out-of-favor pantheon, where access to higher level spells was difficult, and needed plot items before unlocking spell levels. That same group also occasionally had the multiple fireball item saves needed, which in 2nd ed was far more killer.

/cevah

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