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Ghosts and Tobin's Spirit Guide

Discussion in 'World Building' started by Greybeard, Mar 10, 2011.

  1. Greybeard

    Greybeard Minstrel

    I'm in the process of writing a story which prominently features ghosts. I suppose that ghosts are a relatively common occurrence in fantasy tales.

    However, I would like to develop a coherent and consistent context for ghosts in my fantasy world. For example, I'm interested in classifying ghosts into categories, as well as offering explanations for what ghosts are and where they come from.

    Have any of you tried this? What approach did you take?

    Also, are there any resources that may provide a starting point? I recall the Ghostbuster's talking about Tobin's Spirit Guide as a useful reference. Does anything similar to this exist in reality?
  2. Ophiucha

    Ophiucha Auror


    I'm not sure what you'd like to make. Do you want to create your own classifications, or base them off of folklore? If the latter, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ghost - there are hundreds of models to work off of. Japanese ghosts, in particular, are rather strange. The most famous of those is probably the drowned woman in white with wet, black hair obscuring her face. The Ring, The Grudge, One Missed Call, Black Water, etc. Mexico has a pretty neat tradition of ghost lore, too. Day of the Dead and all that. Lots to work with.
  3. OMG I had this book.. it was an encyclopedia of ghosts and the supernatural LMAO! It's a great reference for that area. even if you call your ghosts different things, books like "encyclopedias" to ghosts or mythical beast, etc, they do give you full detailed explainations of the the name, type, and origin.. along with ways to get rid of them if they're haunting you >.>. If you're dealing with demons.. "The field guide to demons" is the same type of book only more detailed with ways to destroy the demon LOL
  4. GAH the Grudge is a disturbing movie >.<
  5. Ophiucha

    Ophiucha Auror

    There was this cool place I remember reading about, sort of a haunted house, where they got a bunch of contortionists to dress up like the girl from the Grudge and crawl around eerily. :D

    Your post does bring up, though, whether or not you want to take a "real" (quotation marks necessary) or fantasy approach it. Some people (read: utter loons) do actually believe in ghosts, so watching some shows on the SyFy and "Discovery" Channels about ghost hunting would be more useful than a book on mythology.
  6. I agreee.. however the books I speak of are written by said loons LOL They actually believe these ghosts, demons, and other beings exist and have devised ways to "destroy" them. most of the beings are taken from around the world at different time periods when the paranoia about hauntings and things.. like the creation of halloween and whatnot came around. while not overly informative on FACT, they do make a decent guideline if you're looking to create a certain type of specter. The books give you what to look for, what it does, where it comes from, and how to destroy it or make it go away. I find these books good for creating my own creatures and things. say you want to create a being that is closest to a poltergeist, all the info on poltergeist is the in the book, read up on the 12 pages.. yes the one I had had 12 pages on the origin of poltergeist LMAO! Then just make the modefications you need to o_O to create a whole new specter based off one people can relate to o_O
  7. Philip Overby

    Philip Overby Staff Article Team

    I'm not a ghost expert by any means, but I notice a categorization like this:

    1. The "see-through, looks like a person" ghost: These are typical of Western variety. Ghosts appear as see-through, misty versions of their former self. These can be sinister or can be peaceful, depends on which way you want them.

    2. The "rattle crap around in your kitchen" ghost: More commonly known as a poltergeist, these are usually unseen ghosts. They cause mild annoyances or can completely terrify you. I find these to be more unnerving because you don't actually see anything. This style has been done to death, to varying degrees of success. These tend to pop up on shows like "Ghost Hunters" except instead of rattling crap in your kitchen, they're rattling crap in an insane asylum or prison.

    3. The "creepy, hair-in-the-face" ghost: As Ophiucha said, these are the Asian style of ghost. Typically appear as real humans but with some creepy way of crawling on the ceiling or distorted/deformed faces. These were pretty popular about 10 years ago. Not really so much anymore, but they can still be a good variety.

    4. The "wispy, banshee-like" ghost: These are more monstrous in variety and tend to fly about and maim people. Some wronged spirit cursed to kill any that cross their path. Maybe these lend themselves best to a fantasy setting.

    It's good to also look at various mythology behind ghosts in various countries. What do they think about ghosts in Russia? Or Switzerland? Or the Congo?

    Could be pretty easy to find some various things with a quick internet search.
  8. Let's not forget the Wraith.. most don't know the Wraith IS in fact a ghost.. I forget where they come from, but true wraiths are murdered spirits. They spend their afterlife trying to kill the one that killed them. they can't rest until THEY'VE killed their murderer which sucks if let's say their murder gets hit by a bus or dies of natural causes LMAO but that's how the legend behind them goes. It's rare to find Wraiths listed in books about spirit lore.. even though they are spirits, they're most commonly found in demon lore because they can make themselves solid.Wraiths are where the version of the grim reaper we all know and love originated from. You can't see what a wraith looks like. All you see if a cloak which is usually not black by the way LOL
  9. Ravana

    Ravana Istar

    Guess it depends on what you intend by "classifying" ghosts. You can take all the various names that have ever been used for them and treat each one as being specific (i.e. defines a separate "species"); conversely, you can accept that all these words "mean" the same thing (and most do–or did prior to the emergence of RPGs), which would create a rather superfluous single "category."

    I would recommend, for any given ghost (or category thereof), that you be able to answer the following questions about it:
    - How did it die?
    - Why is it still around? (These two are often, but not necessarily, linked.)
    - Is the ghost aware of its own condition?
    -- Is it aware of anything at all? Or does it just act "automatically"?
    -- What is its attitude toward its environment (living beings in particular)?
    - What is it capable of doing?
    -- Can it interact intelligently with others (i.e. communicate)?
    - What is required to get rid of it (permanently, not temporarily)?
    -- Is this even possible?
    -- Does the ghost require anything for its continued existence?

    I suspect that, in the end, you are probably not going to want to worry about whether something counts as a "ghost," "wraith," "spectre," "shade," "revenant," etc., unless your world is so pervaded with them that its inhabitants would bother with such distinctions (remember why we create categories in the first place!). If most people are never going to encounter as much as a single instance of any of these "varieties," the differences would have to be pretty pivotal for anyone to take note of such niceties. If, on the other hand, ghost lore is so extensive that the average peasant would know that, even in such rare encounters, one deals with a "spectre" in this way, and a "wraith" in that way, then the exercise might be more than merely rhetorical.

    Of course, there's also the possibility of the professional ghostbuster, who'll tell people "That's not a wraith! That's a revenant! We need to etc." (I hate it when someone comes along and et ceteras me.…) Apart from that, though, I'd treat ghosts the same as any other character; it's what makes each one unique, not their shared attributes, that will matter more.
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 11, 2017
  10. soymilk43223

    soymilk43223 New Member

  11. Phietadix

    Phietadix Archmage

    Are you sure that THEY have to kill their murderer? If he dies of natural causes or in a war he is trapped forever?
  12. Rullenzar

    Rullenzar Troubadour

    Talking about ghosts makes me remember a movie I watched recently that I really enjoyed called Insidious. Check it out.
  13. Rebekah-Marie

    Rebekah-Marie Dreamer

    I happen to adore any and all fiction related to ghosts. And this may sound a little bit ridiculous, but there is an anime/manga called Ghost Hunt. You may want to look it up because they actually do a good job explaining hauntings, they have examples of both real and fake hauntings. And they actually involve the British SPR-which is a very good reference to use for anything that is going to use pyschic or similar treads-so it's not just complete and utter ridiculousness.

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