Planar Mysteries

20 Unique Spirits For Your Game

This week on the Campaign Trail, we have a guest post from Jesse Cohoon looking at spirits from around the world for your game. Just roll a d20 to see what you get.

Ghosts, demons, oni, natural and elemental forces, and the like are common foes in RPG games. Unfortunately, some of the more unique, interesting, and unusual tend to get overlooked in the process.  The following list is a collection of such monsters from around the world to use in your games. The purpose of this list is not to provide stats and abilities, as it’s meant to be system neutral. Enjoy!

  1. Skudakumooch is a Ghost-Witch is a myth in Passamaquoddy and Micmac culture, said to be born from the dead body of a shaman who practiced black magic; emerging nightly to murder. They are vulnerable to fire, but beware if approaching one: simply making eye contact or hearing its can bring a diabolical curse down on the unwary.
  2. The Banshee is a female spirit whose wail, if heard outside of a house, foretells the death of one of its inhabitants. Sone versions say she rides alongside the Dullahan (headless horseman) in a black cart drawn by six black horses, which are whipped with a human spinal cord.
  3. Sluagh are the flying malicious spirits of dead sinners that flock together coming from the west, trying to enter houses where someone is dying to take away that person’s soul.
  4. Matagots or Mandagots are familiar spirits who can appear as black cats, dogs, cows, foxes, or rats. Some accounts consider them to be evil, while others say that can be actually helpful and could even bring wealth to a home if it is well-fed.
  5. The Cheval Mallet (Mallet Horse) is a magnificently bridled “evil horse,” whose modus operandi is to appear in the middle of the night and hang out in roads to lure weary travelers. When the victims ride it, they are most likely never to be seen again
  6. Zashiki Warashi are house spirits, fond of mischief, loved by all, and believed to bring great fortune and riches to those whose houses it haunts. They appear as ghost-like five or six year old children with blushing red faces. They can be boys or girls, and usually wear tradition clothes; child-sized warrior costumes for boys, patterned kimonos, with short, bobbed, or long, tied back hair for girls. Rarely, they appear as wild, hairy brutish figures.
  7. Ask-wee-da-eed is an Algonquin Abenaki mythological figure which is the embodiment of fire associated with comets and meteors. brings bad luck and misfortune.
  8. Tsukumogami or “artifact-demons“ are repair tools, kitchen appliances and even clothes of which come to life and receive their own consciousness when ignored or neglected for a long time. Their motivation is boredom and frustration, or simply revenge and jealousy. A list can be found here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tsukumogami
  9. Velniai (devils) are usually smallish evil-yet-stupid creatures who may be tricked by clever men. However, they may take other shapes, and even may help a person when nothing else could. They also create hills and stones.
  10. Rusalkas are unquiet dangerous unclean female spirits of people who died violently and before their time, such as women who have jilted by their lovers, or unmarried pregnant women as well as those who die without last rites
  11. Baubas, an evil spirit with long lean arms, wrinkly fingers and red eyes. He harasses people and tears their hair or stifles them. To children, he is the equivalent of the English boogeyman. Also it could be described as a black and dark creature living under the carpet or in some dark spot of the house.
  12. Hengeyokai are “shapeshifting spirits”. This group of mythological Japanese creatures that include:
    • tanuki are shapeshifting magical raccoon dogs or wolverines. The most famous attribute that they possess is their large and magical testicles, adaptable to any need, including: a shop to sell things, weapons, drums, fans, even an umbrella
    • kitsune are the sometimes mischievous magical fox spirits, often with multiple tails, acting as messengers of the gods and mediums between the celestial and human worlds. These foxes often protect humans or places, providing good luck and warding evil spirits away.
    • bakeneko yokai are ghost cats that can eat anything, and bring misfortune to those around it.
    • nekomata are malicious two tailed cats who look upon humans with contempt, and are often responsible for summoning fireballs that start great conflagrations, killing many people. They frequently control corpses with their necromantic powers like puppet-masters, and they use their powerful influence to blackmail or enslave humans into doing their bidding.
  13. White Death is the spirit of a little girl who hated life so much she wanted to destroy every last trace. She committed suicide, and shortly afterwards her ghost killed her family by tearing them limb from limb. When you learn about her, she’ll come to your door, knocking repeatedly on your door, each knock louder than the last, till you open the door and she kills you for fear that you’ll tell someone else of her existence.
  14. Poroniecs are hostile and malicious demons believed to come into existence from stillborn fetuses, but also from improperly buried remains of children who had died during infancy.
  15. Mateguas is a light-hearted trickster animal in some legends, but in others he is a serious mythological character, who after his death, became ruler of the underworld, communicating with his younger brother Glooskap, from beyond the grave to give him spiritual secrets to share with the people.
  16. Topielce are human souls that died drowning, residing in the element of their own demise. They are responsible for sucking people into swamps and lakes as well as killing the animals standing near the still waters.
  17. Shakchunni are shapeshifting ghosts of a married woman who usually wears a special kind of traditional bangles made of shell in their hands, and wearing a red or white saree. They usually possess the rich married women so that they can enjoy the pleasures of married life. They usually live near ponds and lakes, and might possess a married woman when they go near ponds for daily chores.
  18. Akateko are harmless disembodied red children’s hands drops down from trees as people pass underneath them. Some witnesses have seen a teenage beautiful furisode-wearing girl standing underneath its tree, and are immediately struck with a powerful fever. It is unclear if she is part of the same apparition or another spirit entirely.
  19. Jievaras are household spirits who protects grain. Sacrifices to Jievaras are made after the rye harvest. While cutting grain, women would leave a few grain tufts uncut, which would later be braided into plaits. They would also leave some bread and salt under the plait, requesting the land continuing to be fruitful.
  20. Indiki are spirits of a person that passed away through violence. This spirits roams the earth as they cannot enter the afterlife due to the blood they have over them. Once the blood has been cleansed the spirit can enter the afterlife through the river and reunites with family, and then forms part of the ancestors that are healers.

With so many unique spirits out there, why not try to incorporate one of these into your game.. or do some research yourself and see what the cultures around the world can give you inspiration for your games!