The spectre is one of the classic undead. For old-school fans of the world’s oldest role-playing game, they were mostly memorable for combining the threat of incorporeality with a nasty 2-level energy drain attack. Beyond that, though, there wasn’t a whole much to differentiate them from other similar threats like wraiths.
In Pathfinder, what sets them apart is a single emotion: hate. It’s gestured to in the Bestiary, but I have to give credit to Brandon Hodge in Undead Revisited for nicely teasing out the difference between them and the rest of the spectral dead. Other undead hunger, mourn, lament, obsess, and so on. Spectres hate. They hate so much that they don’t go on to the afterlife—they return as spirits to hate and hate and hate some more. Then they seek out victims to turn into spawn and join them in their rage.
The good(?) news is that because spectres are so-fueled by hate, they don’t get lost in undeath the way other spirits do; they largely retain their faculties and sense of selves. Which makes them interesting personalities for you as the GM to role-play, and useful sources of information on bygone times for PCs…if they can get past the whole murderous rage thing.
Spectres’ unnatural aura makes for a nice flavor element—you should definitely give animal companions and familiars a chance to freak out if you can—as does their sunlight powerlessness. In fact, it’s fortunate that spectres are bound by the place of their death and the distance they can travel before dawn. Otherwise, who knows how far their hate might take them…?
Zeno of the Burning Brand is twice cursed. In life, his severe Sinburner sect lost its schismatic war with the more benevolent main branch of the sun god’s worship. His hate for the soft, city-dwelling Sun Children brought him back as a spectre…and now every dawn he must flee from the fiery gaze of the unforgiving deity he so loved.
V’ss’takl is a serpentfolk warrior who longs to devour the soul of every manling on the planet. Unfortunately, he is bound to what is left of his earthly remains: the sword that lies where his body (now long decomposed) fell. V’ss’takl has recently hatched a new scheme: He plans to force a wizard to enchant the blade as a ghost touch weapon so that he will be free to roam at will and build an army of undead.
Librarians who persist into the afterlife tend to return in reliable ways—as ghosts, mourning a lost work or unfinished task…as huecuvas, whose browsing of forbidden codices led them off the path of faith…or as allips, the babbling forlorn suicides born of loneliness or madness. However, Jephrias Mull is all about revenge. A frustrated author crushed under the unsold tomes he spent his life savings having copied, Mull has returned as a spectre, turning the head librarian and catalogers who snubbed his stilted prose into his first spawn.
—Pathfinder Bestiary 256
My first DJ name—courtesy of a James Bond-loving cohost—was S.P.E.C.T.R.E: “Scary, Patchen Even Controls the Transmission of Radio Entertainment.”
Hell yeah I used it. Names like that don’t fall from the sky every day.
Speaking of which, we interrupt this monster-focused blog to bring you…new music! Two hours of mostly new songs, which all happen to be perfect for this cloudy, mellow Monday. I also managed to sneak in that new Moby/Wayne Coyne (of the Flaming Lips) track and a nod to In Utero’s 20th anniversary. Download (and enjoy) it!
(FYI, I was a hair late to the station on Saturday, so the music starts about four minutes into the file—feel free to fast-forward a lil bit. For best results, Save As an mp3 and enjoy in iTunes. Link good till Friday, 9/20, at midnight.)