King Doran Caldor was not an especially good king or even a kind man, but by all accounts he was a much better lord than the tyrant who killed his family and usurped the throne. That one fact has made history kind to King Doran and his reign is remembered as a golden age before he and his family were murdered by one of his lieutenants and the region fell into darkness. The usurper’s reign was short though, he was chased from Caldor Keep after just a year and then killed in a peasant revolt before the a decade had passed. After that, the region was at the mercy of bandits and monsters until it was finally annexed by Almyrea.
After all this time, the spirit of Doran Caldor still lingers in the ruins of Caldor Keep. He is unable to rest knowing that his kingdom has been lost. Driven by grief, he seeks to get vengeance against the descendants of those who betrayed him. Each year on the anniversary of his murder, the ghost king sends a host of skeletal knights to scour the region. When the knights arrive in the nearby villages and cantons, they demand the villages bow down and swear their loyalty to the Caldor bloodline. Those who refuse are cut down or dragged back to the keep. This dark night, known as the Night of the Red Feast, is dreaded by those who live within the shadow of the keep and most make a point of abandoning their homes for the night for the safety of better protected towns further from the domain of the ghost king.
The Ghost King
King Doran was a powerful warrior while alive and his ghostly form makes him even more dangerous. He radiates an unnatural aura that causes even bold warriors to feel uneasy about approaching him and his ghostly blade can easily slice through even the heaviest armor. Here are game statistics for the Ghost King for both the AGE system and D&D 4E:
Minions of the Ghost King
When King Doran manifested as a ghost and found his murderer sitting on his throne, he called forth the spirits of his dead followers. These spirits reanimated their bodies and rose from their graves as skeletal warriors. The usurper was chased from Caldor Keep, and the skeletons have faithfully served their ghostly lord ever since.
If you are using the AGE system, then the skeleton in the Game Master’s Guide from Set 1 is a good choice for the skeletal warriors that are found near Caldor Keep. For the skeletal knights that form the Ghost King’s bodyguard and who ride out on the Night of the Red Feast, apply the heroic template, give them plate armor and a long sword, and add a skeletal version of a draft horse as a mount.
With Dungeons & Dragons, I’d recommend the following monsters as the King Doran’s minions: Karrnathi Skeleton (Eberron Campaign Setting), Skeletal Horse (Adventurer’s Vault), Skeleton Soldier (Open Grave), Tortured Skeleton (Dungeon 155).
Caldor Keep has fallen into ruin in the long years since it was abandoned. The keep sits deep in the Duskglen Forest atop a rocky crag, and is protected by the skeletal knights and soldiers that have risen to serve the ghost king. King Doran’s ghost is unable to leave the keep, but his minions do not suffer from the same limitation.
The keep is a sturdy stone structure that was designed as a safe haven against the predation of goblinoids and other monsters of the region. It has three watch towers and a larger tower that was once home to the royal family. At the base of the large tower is a great hall with the throne that also could serve as a feast hall. A barracks and armory is situated near the front gate while servants quarters and stables are at the base of the watch tower furthest from the gate. Beneath the keep are a series of catacombs where members of the Caldor royal line and their trusted lieutenants were laid to rest. Old stories claim that there is a secret passage connecting the catacombs to a hidden door outside of the keep’s wall, but only the king’s ghost is likely to know whether that is true or just an embellishment added by bards.
Putting King Doran to Rest
Even if he is defeated in battle, the ghost king’s spirit will regain its power within several months. In order to truly put Doran Caldor’s spirit to rest, the kingdom of Carlaine must be restored with a blood descendant of the king as its ruler. Local stories say that all members of the king’s family were killed, but the ghost king and his skeletal knights seem convinced that a descendant still lives.