Ghostwalk is a 224-page sourcebook and campaign setting for Dungeons & Dragons 3rd edition released in 2003. It is centered around a locale known as the Veil of Souls, the subterranean entrance to the land of the dead, and the city of Manifest above it, where where ghosts can solidly manifest and live alongside normal folk.
In-world, the term "Ghostwalk" refers to the pilgrimage made by visitors to the city of Manifest.
- The city of Manifest rests atop ruins from ancient times and far above the entrance to the land of the dead. Here, the world of the living is shared equally with the deceased, who linger in physical form before finally passing through the Veil. Whether currently living or dead, residents and visitors are assured of an eternity of action and intrigue.
- Ghostwalk contains everything needed to run a stand-alone campaign in and around the city of Manifest, or to integrate it into an existing world, including rules for playing ghost characters and advancing in the new eidolon and eidoloncer classes, several new prestige classes, over 70 new feats and 65 new spells, three complete adventures, four highly detailed encounter sites, and fourteen new monsters and templates.
- To use this accessory, a Dungeon Master also needs the Player’s Handbook, the Dungeon Master’s Guide, and the Monster Manual. A player needs only the Player’s Handbook.
Ghostwalk is introduced as a high-fantasy campaign setting centered around Manifest, a city built around the entrance to the land of the dead. Due to its proximity to the Veil of Souls, an underground connection to the land of the dead, the spirits of the dead manifest solidly here. When a player character is killed, they can simply continue playing as a ghost.
The chapter goes on describes the core setting concepts: how each of the main character classes is found in Mainfest, how magic works differently, and certain monsters.
Chapter 1: All About Ghosts
This lengthy chapter introduces rules for ghosts in Ghostwalk context, which refer to all spirits of the dead rather than the undead creature of standard D&D third edition. Rules are given for progressing as a ghost adventurer, raising the dead (without losing a character level, as was the norm in D&D third edition), and ghost possession.
Two new character classes are used to represent ghost adventurers: the eidolon, a warrior; and the eidoloncer, a spellcaster. Four prestige classes are presented: the arboreal guardian, bone collector, deathwarden chanter, and ghost slayer.
The chapter presents several new feats. It also presents new skill uses, and rules changes to existing spells and magic items within the context of Ghostwalk, mainly dealing with how spells affect ghosts.
It features the following new spells: anti-ectoplasm shell, black lungs, blessing of the snake mother, bonerattle, bottomless hate, camouflage, charm person or ghost, contingent spell lock, death armor, death lock, delay manifestation, detect ghost, disguise undead, dispel possession, disrupt ectoplasm, dominate person or ghost, ectoplasmic delay, ectoplasmic web, ethereal alarm, forced incorporeality, forced manifestation, general of undeath, ghost bane weapon, ghost companion, ghost lock, ghost touch armor, ghost venom, glyph of turning, hail of ectoplam, harmony, hold person or ghost, hunter's mercy, i smell your fear, incorporeal disharmonics, iron bones, irresitable force, mass camouflage, nightmare lullaby, painless death, persuade to manifest, pleasant visage, preserve ectoplasm, proper state, protection from possession, raise ghost, repel ectoplasm, sherem transformation, shroud of undeath, song of the calling, spittle spray, stone bones, summon undead I, summon undead II, summon undead III, summon undead IV, summon undead V, surelife, undead bane weapon, undead torch, undeath to death, unmovable object, wall of ectoplasm, war cry, and weapon of the deity.
In magic items, it presents scrolls and wands of the spells above, including the staff Bonefriend, staff of ectoplasm, staff of skulls and staff of undead slaying; various wondrous items: blood of Orcus, bloodsweets, chain of Tephaneron, chains of shield other, clear teardrop ioun stone, cloak of blackflame, diamond eye circlet, dracanite helm, driftwood amulet, Durann's vestment, enemy spirit pouch, feather mask, figurine of wondrous power, flesh of Ocrus, ghost prison, glove of the master strategist, green tooth necklace, lawkeeper's lock, living mask, mithral bells, necklace of skulljewels, Nessek's crown, Phaant's luckstone, phasestone, pouch of purest earth, skullmarble, wanderer's boots, and white robe of the ghostwarden; various magic armor and shields or armor/shield properties: death ward armor, energy drain armor, ghost disruptiing armor, negative energy protection armor, undead disrupting armor, absorbing armor, undead controlling armor, the Breastplate of Kaltar, and Holoran's chainmail; various magic weapon properties: the merciful weapon, screaming weapon, torturous weapon, truesilver weapon, venomous weapon, ghost bane weapon, snakebiter weapon; and vampiric weapon; and several named magic weapons: Bonecrushers, Kisses of Traagash, Spiritwarder, War's Armor, Mace of Undead Prowess, Rapid Wrath, Patient Lesson, First Thaw, Crash, Banisher of Nightmares, Bone Sword, Crash, Kihanam's Mace, Sharkjaw, Fate of the Underworld, War's Craft, Oathkeeper, Paladincutter, Maladur's Warhammer, and Due Process.
A notable feature of Ghostwalk is that all magic weapons, no matter how weak in power, must be given a name, or their power will not hold.
Finally, two artifacts are presented: the Seven Crowns, and the holy sword Starfire.
Chapter 2: The City of Manifest
This chapter describes the city of Manifest, beginning with its history dating from its establishment 1,000 years ago. It introduces the major deities (Aluvan, Chaniud, Dracanish, Durann, Eanus, Galaedros, Khostren, Nessek, Orcus, Phaant, Soggelos, Tephaneron, Uhanam, and Wyst). It describes the lives of both the living and the dead in the city, and the demographics of the major races.
A map of the city is provided, along with descriptions of numerous locations, crime and law, and the major organizations who operate in the city. It describes the undercity, the catacombs beneath Manifest which serve as a large dungeon. Finally, it describes the Spirit Wood, the forest outside the city which is inhabited by elves.
Chapter 3: The Ghostwalk Campaign
In this chapter, the DM is advised on how a campaign in the Ghostwalk setting might be run: various types of campaigns (e.g. dungeon crawl or political intrigue), and the various organizations, locations and creatures who the PCs might become involved with.
It goes into great detail describing the True Afterlife, the realm in a Ghostwalk campaign where souls of the dead ultimately go, and which is generally a mystery to most of the inhabitants. It is suggested that a final adventure in this setting may serve as an ending to a campaign.
Chapter 4: Countries
A description is given of the major nations of the setting: Bazareene, a prosperous but oppressive matriarchy ruled by sorcerers; Salkiria, a cosmopolitan monarchy known for its music and culture; Sura-Khiri, an elvish forest monarchy; Tereppek, a pacifist nation of philosophers and wizards; Thurkasia, a nomadic republic; Xaphan, an oppressive realm dominated by undead; and Coil, a demiplane inhabited by yuan-ti.
Chapter 5: Monsters
New monsters described in this book are the artaaglith demons of Orcus, the bonesinger skeletl bard template; the undead dread ram, ectoplasmic vermin, fire spectre, ghost template, ghosteater, monstrous vampire template, mumia template, necroplasm, spectral steed, spirit tree, undead martyr (the animated corpse of someone who sacrificed themself to save an evil being), and the yuan-ti taitned one and brood guard templates.
Chapter 6: Adventures
This chapter features a set of adventure modules: Touch and Go, For Absent Friends, Kinship of Vermin, The Devil's Cellar, Lair of the Crippled One, Lair of the Eyeless Lady, and Morbid Maze. The adventures span from 1st to 12th level.
Development and release
Development on Ghostwalk began in 1999,, when Wizards of the Coast offered staff in the R&D department the rare opportunity to work on a product of their own invention. Monte Cook and Sean K. Reynolds were selected to come up with an idea and write the book. The two wrote Ghostwalk in 2001, but although its release would be delayed until 2003.
The product was inspired by an understanding that a character dying is one of the least fun parts of Dungeons & Dragons. The pair submitted a short concept to Wizards of the Coast head of roleplaying games Bill Slavicsek and D&D brand manager Keith Strohm, which they summarized as "If your character dies, you can continue playing immediately as the ghost of your PC."
Cook worked on the book for around five months, with some early concept work overlapping with on the d20 Call of Cthulhu roleplaying game. He worked on the city of Manifest, as well as much of the setting lore, including organizations, politics, deities, and the two major adventures. Cook felt that a city was a natural development for such an important location. He wanted the overall setting to have a cosmopolitan feel, given that people from all over the world would naturally make pilgrimages to Manifest.
Reynolds wrote much of the rules, countries, monsters, encounter sites, and lore about Beyond the Veil. He drew inspiration about the arts from suggestions by his girlfriend, and tried to integrate lesser-used classes such as the bard into the setting lore.
Reynolds was ultimately proud of the product, as the first D&D work where he was given the opportunity to be completely original, rather than based on an existing setting. Inspirations included the works of Neil Gaiman and mythology about realms of the dead, including the myth of Orpheus, who walked to the land of the dead through a cave. It was also the last product where the two closely collaborated.
The book went through a period of playtesting with fifteen players, in addition to Wizards of the Coast staff. Playtesting lasted an entire summer and played through two adventures in a weekly minicampaign. Playtest characters included Jennifer Clarke Wilkes' bard Antilliaros, Daniel Kaufman's wizard Furka, Tyson Moyer's monk Mellik, and Alex Weitz's cleric Telden.
A few months after the completion of Ghostwalk in 2001, its release was put on hold, and later cancelled completely. The decision came from Hasbro, who at the time were interested in properties which could be be adapted into other media such as television, and felt a series about ghosts in an urban fantasy setting would not readily convert into TV show.
Ghostwalk was eventually released in June 2003 as a 224-page hardcover print book for $34.95, or $48.95 Canadian.
Sean Reynolds attributes Wizards' decision to release the product to offers by two third-party d20 publishers to buy the rights to the book, which he believes may have bolstered WotC's confidence in the product; and a desire to release the book prior to the 3.5 update to avoid the need to update the book.
By the time the book was released, Monte Cook and Sean Reynolds no longer worked at Wizards of the Coast. A poster map was originally intended to have been included, as had previously been done with the Living Greyhawk Gazetteer (2000), but this was omitted from the final release. It was later included in the product's D&D 3.5 update document.
Ghostwalk received a digital release via DNDClassics (later Dungeon Masters Guild) on December 29, 2015.
Reception and influence
The Ghostwalk sourcebook was one of the last books published for Dungeons & Dragons 3rd edition prior to the D&D 3.5 rules update in July 2003, which technically obsoleted it. While initial plans allowed for follow-up products if it succeeded, the setting ultimately received almost no official support after its release.
A web enhancement was released, featuring the blood ghoul and valicorn templates, the Combine Turning and Elfblood feats, the spells candlelight, demonic blood infusion, door to great evil, fetid breath and leech ghost skill, and several NPCs developed by playtesters. A D&D 3.5 revision document was also released, which included a map originally omitted from the rulebook.
Ghostwalk received a single magazine article, Ghostwalk: The Bloody Swords, Dragon #315 (Jan 2004), p.56-59, by Sean Reynolds.
At GenCon 2003 (held July 24-27), a Ghostwalk RPGA adventure module was run. An introduction to the setting was published to the RPGA website, under the title Strength of Soul.
Ghostwalk was cited briefly in Tome of Magic (3e) (2006), p.58 in reference to a suggested adaption to the knight of the sacred seal prestige class. As ghosts in D&D 3.5 were standardly of evil alignment, the suggestion was to use Ghostwalk ghosts, which may be of any alignment.
In November 2015, a Ghostwalk forum was established at D&D forum The Piazza.
- Ghostwalk forum at The Piazza
- Ghostwalk (3e) on Dungeon Masters Guild
- Ghostwalk (3e) on DriveThruRPG
- Product library page (Internet Archive)
- Interview at Wizards.com.
- Excerpt at Wizards.com.
- Web enhancement at Wizards.com.
- Art gallery at Wizards.com.
- Map gallery at Wizards.com.
- D&D 3.5 update at Wizards.com.
- Chat log
- Ghostwalk chat
- Art commentary
- Ghostwalk page at SeanKReynolds.com
- Other Ghostwalk Websites at The Piazza
- Ghostwalk, Wizards.com product page
- Ghostwalk (2003), p.110.
- Ghostwalk: The Bloody Swords, Dragon #315 (Jan 2004), p.57.
- Ghostwalk at SeanKReynolds.com.
- Product Spotlight: Ghostwalk, Wizards.com. June 1, 2003.
- Ghostwalk, Web enhancement (2003).
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