The Craziest Jerk I’ve Been Yet

Roleplaying Tips Newsletter #0709

I’ve done something terribly good and amazingly evil in my campaign. I don’t know whether to cackle in glee or hang my head in shame.

Here’s what’s happening.

The Murder Hobos early in Season I killed the Townmaster of Phandelver and buried his body in his back yard. The Townmaster provoked the fight, and Roscoe finished it with murder.

Fast forward a hundred days and the ghost of the Townmaster appears and attempts to parley with the PCs. He’s angry, so not polite, so nearly Murder Hoboed once again. After a short battle he escapes by going incorporeal and then retreating to the realm of spirits.

Fast forward a week and the party is traipsing around the fire elemental dungeon. The Townmaster suddenly appears and makes a racket and raises the alarm. The PCs’ plan is foiled.

Fast forward a day. The PCs attempt a frontal assault on the fire temple for the second time. Townmaster appears again and silently steals d20 of Roscoe’s arrows during the battle (I rolled 18, nearly depleting Roscoe’s quiver). Roscoe shouts and threatens the ghost. The ghost breaks all the arrows over his knee and then ghosts away once more.

Fast forward one night. The third assault commences. The Hobos are buffed, armed, and ready. Roscoe sneaks ahead with Malcor to try to assassinate the guys who keep repulsing the party. Townmaster appears behind the party, opens a secret door, and raises the alarm. Hobos are now flanked front and back in a narrow corridor. It’s a close call, but the PCs fight back to safety.

The PCs have tried to kill the ghost but can’t quite finish him before he disappears. The ghost can wander ahead and discover all kinds of secrets, raise the alarm, spy, and as we just saw, collaborate with the enemy in advance to counter-ambush the group.

The spiteful Townmaster, who originally wanted to help the Hobos so his spirit could be put to final, peaceful rest, can harass the PCs at will now. The possibilities are blooming in my mind bigger and brighter than the amazing sunflowers I grew in our garden this year.

He can set off traps PCs miss. He can attract wandering monsters. He can steal and hide treasure before the PCs get to it. He can obfuscate clues. He can mess with the PCs’ equipment, few remaining allies, and potential parleys with others.

I’m giving him a flaw to balance this out. His desire to see Roscoe suffer, as well as all the Hobos, will draw him out into vulnerable situations so the PCs can get some shots on him or try to trick him. If you are looking for a fun foe full of roleplaying and party-challenging opportunities, try bringing back a wronged enemy as a ghost. It’s working in my campaign well so far.