What would October be without ghost stories? I don't even want to know. I grew up on ghost stories and I love them. Don't get me wrong though, I don't want to talk about religion or life after death. I certainly don't want to get into any kind of scientific/religious/philosophical debate about whether or not ghosts really exist. I just want to talk about ghosts like those that appear in ghost stories or rpg's.
Researchers of paranormal phenomena (again, remember that we are here for the fiction) have identified several different types of ghosts. Presented below are 20 different types of ghosts and a short explanation of each so that you can use them in your own ghost stories. Happy haunting. Enjoy!
Crisis Entities: Sometimes when a parent or protector passes, relations or friends even hundreds of miles away will suddenly see the person, often standing behind or reaching towards someone before disappearing just as suddenly as they appeared. Later comes the message that the person died at the same time of the vision.
Ghosts Unaware: These are ghosts that appear doing their routine while they were alive. Often they are well-formed full phantoms that can be mistaken for living people. This type of ghost is completely unaware of its own death. They need help to pass through to the other side.
Ghost Business: Often ghosts return to the land of the living because they have unfinished business in this realm that means they can't move on to the next. Sometimes these are small things to us, but significant to the spirit in some way. (I wanted to give my grandson this coin.)
Trapped: Sometimes ghosts are trapped in this realm by sorcerors or witches and forced to do the will of the magic user or used to power an arcane item of some sort.
Vengeful Spirits: Ghosts of people who meet a particularly violent end or are tormented throughout their lives sometimes manifest after death as a vengeful spirit. Some are set upon a specific course of revenge and others just lash out at their "target human" (abusive fathers, alcoholic mothers, bad siblings, etc.), whom they see as their own tormentor.
The Unfulfilled: This is a truly terrifying type of spirit. Sometimes spirits return by choice from their eternal rewards unfulfilled. They haunt the land of the living forever hungry for something that they can never have again. Some just weep uncontrollaby; others seek solace in the fear and pain they can inflict upon the living.
Residuals / Fragments: Sometimes a ghost, or even an entire ghostly scene, can be experienced for just a few moments at a certain time of year (or during a full moon or a huge thunderstorm). Such residuals or fragments are rarely vindictive.
The Child: The ghost of a child is rarely a benevolent spirit. They are most often tormented souls or demonic spirits seeking revenge upon anyone who would interact with them. Sometimes however, the child ghost is a former victim trying to protect those who see her from a truly evil spirit.
Invisible Entities: This type of ghost can only be detected in ways apart from sight. For example, you might hear someone walking down the stairs, whistling a tune. You can smell the cigar that he is smoking and feel the cold when you pass him on the stairs, but you can't see anything.
Animal Ghosts: Sometimes animal spirits are guides sent to help mortals accomplish something or to protect them from something. Other times animal spirits can be used a guardians by dark spell casters to protect a place from bothersome mortal investigators.
Ghost Vehicle: There are numerous tales of haunted vehicles over the centuries, ranging from the ghost ship Marie Celeste to Abraham Lincoln's Funeral Train. There are stories of ghost carriages, ghost cars, and ghost planes flying in the night. They are usually just flashes and then gone again.
Shadow Ghosts: These ghosts can only been seen as shadows on the walls or ceilings. Often they are able to manipulate shadow to appear corporeal in a darkened area. Shadow ghosts rarely make any kind of sound.
Doppelganger: Not to be confused with the monster, a doppelganger ghost can take on the physical appearance of anyone it has passed through. These ghosts are most often trixsters seeking amusement at the expense of the living. They appear and start fights among the living, as well as lure people into unsafe situations
Poltergeist: A non-corporeal entity that is typically tied to a specific place, which is intentionally frightening or destructive to the mortals that come into contact with it. A very dangerous kind of ghost because they are said to be able to attach to people, in addtion to objects.
Haunted Object: A haunted object can serve as the focus for a single spirit, or sometimes even a group of spirits if their tie to the object is a strong one (perhaps the crew of a tank who died together). The spirit is tied to the object and can appear anywhere near to the object of their focus.
Summoned Ghost: Sometimes an occultist will call a spirit out of the spirit realm and close to the land of the living so that people can communicate with them. The term for this procedure is called a seance. A successful seance includes a banishing ritual to send the spirit back into the land of the dead. If this isn't done (or is performed improperly), then the summoned ghost will be trapped in the land of the living.
Evil Spirits: Simply put, these are the ghosts and entities that live off the fear and suffering of the living. They come both in many forms and in many levels of power. A minor evil spirit might only trip people or splash them with water. Major evil spirits go for much greater levels of suffering.
Protective Spirits: Again, simply put these are the ghosts that choose to aid or protect the living from other harmful supernatural forces. Note that they are rarely able to communicate directly and how they "help" may seem like a frightening attack to a mortal.
Floating Orbs: Sometimes thought to be the spirits of the recently departed, and other times said to be the fading remains of once more active spirits, floating orbs can do little more than be a glowing light that leads those who follow either to some information or a trap.
Vortex Ghost: A completely invisible entity that is usually stationary and can be detected by a noticeable drop in temperature, occasionally one hears voices, humming, or singing when standing in the cold spot. When observed with an infrared camera, vortex ghosts show up as an unmoving funnel or vortex of cold in a otherwise warm area.
One final note: when using this table remember that spirits sometimes work together to accomplish their goal. One of the best examples of this is a halloween cult classic: The Crow. Many people believe this movie is about one spirit -- the ghost of Eric Draven. I believe the story could be that of a combination of spirits. The animal ghost of the crow meant to guide Eric Draven's soul, the vengeful spirit of Eric Draven, and the protective spirit of Shelly Webster all have parts in that movie, if you watch carefully.