What are Ghost Keys?

I was wondering about Ghost Keys, and how people have used them in their games.

Do you have to Attune to a ghost key before you can use it? Does it open lots of doors in the ghost field, or just one? How does it open those doors?

I have this idea for a campaign I’m hoping to start: ghost keys are just ordinary keys, but very old ones - so old that the doors they once unlocked have perished from the real world, but may still exist in the ghost field. So that each key can only open one particular door. Attuning to the key can help you to track down which door it opens: maybe the key pulls you towards the door, or glows brighter as you get closer.

Somewhere in Charterhall, is a shop. The front part is dedicated to all manner of “antiques” - or at least second-hand furniture scavenged from wherever the owner can find it. But if you know the password, you can access the back room, where keys of all shapes, sizes and materials can be found - velvet lined drawers full of them. A few are sold with directions to the locations of the doors they unlock. Many others are just sold as is - maybe you’ll find a useful one, and if not, the proprietor will often buy back a key if you’ve found what it opens. Some say that there is another room in the shop, where keys are sold that open doors in the most secret of locations.

You can attempt to acquire an asset here, with the roll determining how useful a doorway you can use - a broom cupboard in a target location would be a low Tier item, good for hiding in for a few moments but not much more. The front door might be higher Tier, giving you a secret way to access the scene from outside, and a very high Tier result could be the key to a study or a safe. Or maybe you could get a set of skeleton keys (pun not intended!) that open every door in the house.

The shopkeeper counts as a vice purveyor for the Weird. Indulging your vice here can involve spending a few hours Attuning to keys to try to track down their locations in the ghost field. Overindulging could mean that you get stuck somewhere in the ghost field, or you attract the attention of something there. Or perhaps that key lets you into a place where you really shouldn’t have gone… and the powerful owner is going to be very upset if they find out about it.

It feels as though there are a lot of potential story hooks there - what do you think?


That’s a rad elaboration of an idea that gets pretty cursory treatment in the text. I like the idea of the keys corresponding to decommissioned doors, with characters having to track down the location the door previously occupied. It gives you a little more to play with. I could see Whispers and Hounds working together, Attuning and Hunting to find a ghostly keyhole floating in midair. I would definitely run with that if I were you.

My players used a ghost key to breach the lightning wall on an excursion out to the Lost District a few sessions ago, but they kinda sprung the idea on me, so I didn’t really have the wherewithal to spin it into something cool. I basically had their Whisper attune for success, with a risk of drawing the attention of Spirit Wardens or ghosts as a potential consequence. Passable, but not as interesting as what you’ve cooked up.

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Our table treats ghost keys as ‘skeleton keys’ for doors found within the ghost field. However, I love your idea and in a future campaign, want to combine this with the Poor Beginnings set-up described in the rulebook (p. 231).

Love it!

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I love your framing of the keys as an element of the possible weird because it feels like it meshes so perfectly with the Duskvoll aesthetic very well. I think the concept can be used to either highlight both a tinker and a whisper possibly being able to reach a similar result from their own respective fields of knowledge or make the same object from a wildly different process. I hope you don’t mind but i plan on using your purveyor of weird in the game i am planning. :slight_smile:

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I wouldn’t have posted it here if I wasn’t happy for other people to use it!

I’ve had some more thoughts, but I’ll write them up later when I’ve got a bit more time.

Very nice concept indeed!
I have developed a different view, based on the fact that spectral field is not a homogenous space-time but has “contractions”, areas where it flows in a denser way. If such contraction-area is even further condensed (by intervention of high-power entities, by attuning, by etc. etc.), a sort of wormhole is created, which can be used to connect different places or different time-areas within or without the field. Byproducts of such condensations are ghost-keys, so they can be used to “access” or to “summon” such wormholes.
But I do love the very idea that ghost-keys are actually basic keys linked to the past, and have to be attuned with in order for the corresponding lock to be located, as they are a part of the very ghost-field itself.

Thx for inspiration, would probably include something like this in the game - maybe keys that need to be attuned to be activated.