There are many OSR authors and then there's James Mishler and his wife who turns out more useful OD&D/Retroclone material then several other OSR publishers combined and does it with style. Take his latest offering. Ghosts -- The Incorporeal Undead follows his last last monster titles including Vampires of the Olden Lands and Ogres of the Olden Lands.
The author uses every trick in the book for this OD&D title and like many of his other titles there's no artwork but wall to wall content. This pdf is packed with old school ectoplasmic goodness and its done right. The content includes everything you as a DM could want or need on the subject of ghosts.
"Ghosts -- The Incorporeal Undead! Everything you always wanted to know about ghosts but were afraid to ask! A 64-page in-depth analysis of ghosts, including salient abilities, 10 different basal types from 1 HD to 10 HD, 75 ghostly special abilities, uses and dangers of ectoplasm, 23 new magic items, a complete index of spells and their interaction with ghosts (plus three new spells), and a (mostly) complete Creepy Appendix N! Designed for use with Labyrinth Lord, easily adaptable to any other Old School RPG"
Normally this is about sixteen dollars but given that we're in the middle of Halloween time its price to sell at six dollars and sixty six cents.
Trying to even review this is a bit of a daunting task, don't let the cute little spooky Halloween adjectives fool you this is a packed book. The first part of it is a rules kit which lays out in detail each and every bit of the classic mythological and Hollywood ghost types. This is essentially a rules toolkit for OD&D and Labyrinth Lord; this is everything that you've come to expect from the old school ghosts. What the section is isn't simply more OSR rules but a kit for constructing, laying out, and dealing with your own different styles of ghosts. Everything is laid out in sparkling details for monster construction and its done very well. Everything is laid bare at the DM's finger tips.
Fear Attack 4
Fear Effects Table 4
Spawn Ghost 4
Powerless in Sunlight 5
Weapon Immunity 6
Life Draining Touch 6
Spawn Ghost 6
Undead Special Abilities Package 6
Poison Immunity 6
Silent as the Grave 6
Susceptible to Turning 6
Other Special Abilities 7
Special Ability Notation 7
Incorporeal Undead Summary Table
This section is laid out for both monster construction and for PC's to actually play a restless spirit and this tool kit basically has everything you could want to construct a PC in ghostly horror and wonderful detail. This is damn useful stuff especially for any DM who plays a Necromancer or Death Master NPC class.
There is a range of psychic and Spiritualist PC class and options as well; this is a the first book that actually has the psychic and spiritualist as useful PC's for adventuring. This also means that this book is perfect for pulp OD&D style games.
There's a whole lot more to this book then simply an NPC and PC tool kit and PC option book. You get a ton of ghostly monsters all in one place and not simply scattered to the four winds. All of these can be used as monster templates to create your own ghosts or as monsters for adventure placement. Every entry here is crammed with lots of little details.
GHOSTS – LESSER AND GREATER
Presence (1 HD Lesser Ghost)
Apparition (2 HD Lesser Ghost)
Lost Soul (3 HD Lesser Ghost)
Wraith (4 HD Greater Ghost)
Haunt (5 HD Greater Ghost)
Spectre (6 HD Greater Ghost)
Spirit (7 HD Greater Ghost)
Wyrd (8 HD Greater Ghost)
Phantom (9 HD Greater Ghost)
Geist (10 HD Greater Ghost)
This book has some damn useful and well thought out appendixes which are not simply there for decoration. These are add ons with utility and with something to add for a campaign incorporating ghostly and spirit realm elements.
Ghostly Special Abilities - Here's where the dungeon master gets a few more toys to play with add more supernatural bits and pieces to your monster or PC. The list here is well done and possibly one of the best supernatural elements of the book.
Uncanny Ectoplasm - Ectoplasm is the one bit about ghosts that no one has exploited until now; this substance is exuded by ghosts and in the author's hands becomes a drug to enhance and titillate your adventurers. This stuff goes from horrid to full post apocalyptic gonzo with the induction of laser ectoplasm! That's right material that can blast the hell out of PA adventurers. This is easily one of my favorite chapters and one of the most useful for a post apocalyptic dungeon master; the Mishler's have done a damn fine job of making and adding in some fantastic bits to the material here that can be applied to everything from pulp gaming to full on dungeon crawling.
Eerie Enchanted Items- These magic items echo and deal with the ghostly and their quite well done in what they do. With a bit of writing slight of hand the author has looped these back into the book so that they are actually useful when dealing with the various types of Geists, Spectres, Phantoms, and spirits in 'The Incorporeal Undead'. These are really vary useful for a DM whose planning everything in a campaign from a sword & sorcery adventure encounter to a full one on one basic OD&D Ghostbusters or Carnacki ghostly investigator romp ala The Masquerade of the Red Death campaign setting. This book is that flexible and interesting.
Spooky Spells- This is an an overview of how the various OD&D spells and such interact with the ghostly entities and horrors depicted in the book. This list can also act as an adventure hook or two as the DM reads through it and gets ideas from the various bits and pieces offered here. Once again its very well done and really nicely researched.
Creepy Appendix N - I have a love/hate relationship with Appendix N's but this one tickles me as a dungeon master in all of the right places and covers everything that a DM's going to need to research for the various ghosts and entities. It covers all of the basics with more then a few surprises thrown into the deep end.
Note that this book echoes and builds on many of the principals of the various OD&D, Judge's Guild style material its not afraid at all to tackle and embrace the gonzo. This makes this book extremely useful for a DM running Mutant Future, OD&D, Basic Fantasy, Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyperborea, Lamentations of the Flame Princess, etc.,etc.,
So in closing do I think that Ghosts -- The Incorporeal Undead From James Mishler Games is worth the price of admission? Well at six dollars and sixty six cents this is a steal. My only real concern and bitch session about the whole product is the lack of a print option! I guess that there are some issues with it but to have this booklet at my table would be a lot easier then simply trying to deal this pdf at four AM. But for what this book does and how it does it?! You'd be completely crazy to grab this book.
[5 of 5 Stars!]