The Sorcery Springs Geyser Basin was not allways the reasonably well managed National Park that it is today. Nowdays there are boardwalks for people to enter it safely, and well-paid rangers who for the most part are able to keep people on said boardwalks for their own safety and the protection of the delicate and highly magical thermal features.Tresspassing still happens and a few people a year get thermal burns-a few of those die.
In the times of old there was no such protection. Wizards, witches, tourists and, sadly, vandals flocked to the area and were not allways as careful as they should be. Some fell into the hot springs, others tried to bath in them not knowing that the average tempreture of the geysers and pools was 180F, and a very few committed suicide.
Those who were scalded to death found their spirits were unable to leave the area and at first were inaudible and immaterial as well. As time went by they soaked up magic from the region and were able to materilize from dusk until dawn. By that time the vast majority of them were hugely resentful towards the living and wished either to kill them outright or to possess them, in the same manner that an Urn Beast can possess the unwary. Despite the warnings about them, they do on occasion manage to murder people or worse still possess them.
A Geyser Ghost from a distance and in dim light or fog appears human. It will call for help in a human voice, appearing to be struggling in one of the hot pools or the runoff around it. Those who are tricked into stepping off the boardwalk may well be tricked into stepping into unstable thermal ground that cracks under them and plunges them into boiling water, or pulled by the ghost into the spring when they take it’s hand.
A ghost can also attack directly by shedding it’s illusionary self and appearing in it’s true form. This is a humanoid shape of steam and water droplets with the face of who it was in life still visible in the steam. Many of the ghosts are female or children. It’s attacks are threefold.
It’s touch can badly scald exposed skin although armour or thick clothing will protect against this. It cannot hold items or weapons for more then a few seconds, but it can throw rocks, push or attempt to scare people so they fall into or flee into one of thee hot geysers or pools. Or it can touch the mouth of it’s victim and then possess him or her. People who are very strong-willed can resist this, although it leaves them feeling sick and sad for a time.
Weaker-willed people are possessed by the spirit, which will then leave the Basin and try and live their old lives again in the new body. The act of possession in the short term allways chaps the victim’s lips, so the first thing the ghost does in the new body once it leaves the Basin is try and find a balm to unchap the lips with. The victim’s spirit is forced to go along with no control over his or her own body.
A spirit can be removed by powerful magic (of the kind that most PCs do not possess) by killing the body, or by the waters taken from a certain geyser in the Park which has the effect of evicting unwanted spirits. If forced out outside the Basin it will vanish to the afterlife in a puff of steam, if inside the Basin one then has to find some way of dealing with it.
Normal weapons pass straight through it, and fists pass straight through it and get scalded as well. Magical weapons can cut it down and *kill* it’s steamy *body* rendering it helpless and harmless for many months until it can gather a new *body* from the steam of the geysers. Some spells hurt it, some pass straight through and others make it stronger.It should be noted that random spellcasting is strongly discouraged within the Basin as it can do damage to the area.
Rangers will generally be unsympathetic to the victims of Geyser Ghosts that survive and may fine them or worse for going off trail. The boardwalks themselves are magicly protected to keep all but the most powerful of the Geyser Ghosts away from them.