There’s a cool little standalone campaign setting that came out right on the Dungeons & Dragons 3.0/3.5 cusp, called Ghostwalk, which has always intrigued me. The book goes to certain lengths to tear down the concept of death and the afterlife in D&D, using a city on the edge of the beyond, called Manifest. Nearby is the crossroad between the justbefore and the hereafter. Only the Veil separated the two.

In Manifest, it’s easier for the spirits of the dead to manifest as ghosts. It’s possible to meet spirits of the dead, living out sort of a half-life within the city, and magic to raise the dead functions more easily. Manifest is a place where you might get a quest that requires you to get deaded, infiltrate some place as a ghost, and report back to your employer to return to your body. It’s kind of thing. :P

The setting established that mostly only humanoids have souls that can become ghosts — humans, orcs, goblins, kobolds, gnomes, halflings, dwarves — that sort of thing. Monstrous humanoids go straight to the afterlife (Do Not Pass Go) and elves become trees. The book covers some interesting ground for D&D, but its concepts aren’t as sophisticated as those found in Wraith the Oblivion.

I think the main problem this book faced is that it sort of retconned the D&D afterlife years after the fact. If the ideas had been explored years earlier, when the edition first kicked off, it might’ve gotten more attention, but as it stands — well, in light of Fourth Edition, it doesn’t even stand, for that matter. Oh well … mine it for ideas! :D