Being in the Main the Mouth of Olde House Rules

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Papa Emeritus and the Nameless Ghouls...

As Halloween approaches, we've been enjoying the music of the incomparable Ghost, a Swedish metal band that is surprisingly mellow and psychedelic, recalling a mix of Blue Oyster Cult, ELO, and similar acts from the 1970s.  And, refreshingly, their vocals aren't of the tired cookie monster variety either...

Their pseudo-satanic lyrics aren't to be taken seriously or, alternately, should be enjoyed in the spirit of Hammer horror films, if you catch our drift.  This band has a unique stage image, with all of them wearing masks to preserve anonymity and to elevate the music beyond individual personalities.  And so their lead singer is Papa Emeritus, an undead Pope-like character, with the rest being mysterious and nameless ghouls.  This implied history has potential and is excellent fodder for fantasy role-playing games...

So this Halloween, we offer you Papa Emeritus, and since the music tells the story, please visit the external links!

Papa Emeritus is a gaunt and skeletal figure, which suggests an undead origin, although this is uncertain.  He is a clerical figure, appearing in papal robes and bearing the staff of his office, for Emeritus is head of a mysterious and quasi-religious order that has ties to the highest levels of the government and seeks to steer human events towards some mysterious and unknown end.

Papa Emeritus is head of a
mysterious and subversive order...

It is said that Papa was a mortal man invited into the highest circles of the oligarchy only to refuse and be struck down, falling violently From the Pinnacle to the Pit, dying and rising again in his present (and presumably undead) form.  Predictably, he is feared and vilified by the political elites as a heretic and dangerous 
subversive.  Even so, Emeritus is powerful and moves freely through all levels of society preaching his message...  

The deity (if there is one) Papa Emeritus serves is a fallen, rebellious spirit roughly analogous to Lucifer, although this might be a fabrication on the part of his enemies, for the principal gospel of this faith holds that the gods have enslaved mortal men in exchange for a dubious afterlife.  Instead, humans are extolled to seek enlightenment (a Secular Haze) and indulge their earthly whims before succumbing to the cold oblivion of death.  This philosophy, not surprisingly, is feared and reviled by the other gods.

It is left to the individual referee as to where Papa stands on various moral issues, but his ultimate goal(s) should be inscrutable and subject to much debate.  Likewise, while largely reviled and denigrated as wicked, Emeritus is admired by many, especially those struggling under social oppression, and moves freely through all levels of society, often assuming a bohemian demeanor and dressing as a dandy when appearing at important social events.

Alternately revered and reviled,
Papa Emeritus is both a savior and subversive...

Statistically, Papa Emeritus defies description, for he has the power to come and go at will, vanishing when the tide of battle is turning against him and cleverly doing so well in advance of any serious danger.  This makes him virtually impossible to overcome in those rare instances when he confronts his enemies, for he much prefers to work behind the scenes and manipulate others as his needs so require.  Uniquely, he is not subject to clerical turning.

Papa Emeritus (OSR)

Armor Class: 2
Move: 12"
Hit Points: 84
Damage/Attack: 1d6 (staff) or by spell
Special Attack: Spells
Special Defenses: Immunity to clerical turning, teleportation*
Magic Resistance: 50% 
Alignment: Neutral
15th level cleric/druid/magic-user
STR: 12  DEX: 16  INT: 18  Wis: 20  Con: 15  CHR: 18

*Per the spell, but with perfect accuracy.

Emeritus fights with a +2 magic staff and enjoys AC 2 with his clerical vestments.  He always teleports away when more than half total hit points are lost, noting that he avoids confrontation whenever possible, casting all magic-user spells like a cleric and enjoying access to the entire spell list, where applicable.

Some have even suggested that Papa is actually a strange variety of ghost, If You Have Ghosts in your own campaign...

Papa Emeritus and some of his
Nameless Ghouls bearing the order's symbol...

Papa Emeritus (Pits & Perils)
Demigod (cleric/magician/charisma)
Attacks: 1 (staff)
Level: 15 (31/+10 HP)
Move: 50'
Side: Neutral 
Faith Points: 8
Spell Points: 16 (all spells known)

Per the above, Papa attacks with a +2 magic staff and wears vestments that add +10 HP and function as golden robes of the adept when worn, noting that he enjoys clerical hits and possesses knowledge of all spells on the magician list.  His teleportation ability extends out to 1 mile, and he heals as a demigod, regaining some 1d6 hits per round plus immunity to all disease.

Occasionally, Papa Emeritus will seek a mortal champion, perhaps some player character, to act on his behalf.  These must be of neutral or evil alignment, noting that good or lawful converts risk an alignment change when doing so.  These will be granted the legendary Square Hammer, a powerful relic dealing 3d6 in lightning damage against avowed enemies of Emeritus' cause.

Papa is attended by any number of NAMELESS GHOULS all wearing identical ceremonial masks, but possessing cryptic names like Omega and Water and signing correspondence using special signet rings inscribed with a unique symbol.  Each of these are treated as 9th level fighters with full hit points by level, full magic resistance, and the same teleportation ability, making them deadly.

Once again, we love Ghost, and the implied story behind them literally oozes with ideas for a Halloween session, so check out the videos we've linked to, support the band if you like them, or just steal their image and our ideas for your own campaigns.  Either way, have a SAFE and HAPPY holiday and beware of the nameless ghouls!