Thursday, February 10, 2011

Ghouls Galore

A few weeks I postulated that the "zombies" we see in zombie apocalypse movies are best represented as ghouls in D&D.  Zombies shuffle and moan and swing their arms, mere animated husks.  Ghouls chase after people and try to eat them.

Ghouls are infected with the ghoul curse, which causes victims of the ghoul to return as undead, and can infect the living with ghoul sickness, a disease that will kill the victim and cause them to return as an undead ghoul as well.  Ghoul sickness is not a biological virus; it's a curse inflicted on the world by the demon prince Orcus.  The ghoul curse gives the ghoul its paralyzing touch.

In the spirit of Zombie survival games everywhere, here are some ghoul variants that will surely make an appearance in Gothic Greyhawk:

Ghoul Kid
No.  Enc 1 (1), Alignment C, Move 120'(40'), AC 4, HD 1, Attacks 3 (2 claws, bite), 1-2/1-2/1-2 + Paralysis, Save F1, Morale 9, XP 16

Most ghoul kids appear like ordinary children until they're dangerously close.  They're faster and more agile than adult ghouls, but inflict less damage.  However, they're likely to surprise any nearby NPC's on a 1-5, since NPC's will assume the ghoul kid is a wayward child, and offer food, water, or a comforting hug.

Player characters are unaffected by the ghoul kid's surprise ability.

Crawling Ghoul
No.  Enc 1d6 (2d8), Alignment C, Move 30'(10'), AC 6, HD 1 + 2, Attacks 2 (1 claw, 1 bite), 1-3/1-3 + Paralysis, Save F1, Morale 9, XP 16

Crawling ghouls are a menace to those who explore the areas left behind in the aftermath of the ghoul plague.  They hide amongst tall grass, rubble, or furniture (when indoors), or disguise themselves amongst the corpses left behind.  Because of their stealth, they surprise on a 1-4.  They lose one of the standard ghoul attacks using an arm to drag themselves forward.

Ghoul Hound
No.  Enc 1d6 (2d6), Alignment C, Move 180'(60'), AC 7, HD 2+2, Attacks 1 (bite), 1-6 + Paralysis, Save F2, Morale 9, XP 45

Canines can be infected by the ghoul curse; Orcus hates dogs and people.  Packs of ghoul hounds hunt desolate areas in the aftermath of the ghoul plague.  Ghoul hounds are terrifying opponents because of their speed and jumping ability.  Ghoul hounds attack with such ferocity that any opponent with 3HD or less must succeed on a saving throw versus death or flee.

Armored Ghoul
No.  Enc 1d4 (2d4), Alignment C, Move 60'(20'), AC 2, HD 3, Attacks 3 (2 claws, bite), 1-4/1-4/1-4 + Paralysis, Save F3, Morale 9, XP 65

In areas where the forces of Law attempted to stem the tide of the ghoul plague, many soldiers and knights were slain on the battlefield, only to arise as ghouls.  Stronger and heavier than normal ghouls, and armored in chain or plate mail, these ghouls are difficult opponents; many of the techniques to dispatch regular ghouls are harder to perform against opponents with helmets or mail coifs.

Ghoul Incognito
No.  Enc 1 (1), Alignment C, Move 90'(30'), AC 6, HD 2, Attacks 3 (2 claws, bite), 1-3/1-3/1-3 + Paralysis, Save F2, Morale 9, XP 25

The ghoul incognito is usually a human that has recently succumbed to ghoul sickness.  Either the ghoul incognito doesn't realize they've slipped into undeath yet, and has maintained a few shreds of their rational mind, or, through ghoulish cunning, they're able to conceal the fact that they're actually dead.

Like the ghoul kid, player characters are immune to the effect of the ghoul incognito, but nearby NPC's will be surprised on a 1-5.

Rules for Ghasts
As the ghoul plague spreads, ghasts have begun to spontaneously appear amongst the wandering ghoul packs.  It's speculated that when a ghoul successfully spreads the ghoul curse to a requisite amount of victims, likely 10, the ghoul becomes infused with sufficient Abyssal energy to mutate into a Ghast.

No.  Enc 1-6 (1-6), Alignment C, Move 150'(50'), AC , HD 4, Attacks 3 (2 claws, bite), 1-4/1-4/1-8 + Paralysis, Save F4, Morale 11, XP 175

Ghasts exude a carrion stench in a 10' radius which causes retching (save vs poison or take a -2 on "to hit rolls").  Because of their demonic heritage, cold iron causes double damage to ghasts.  Ghast paralysis inflicts both the ghoul curse and a magical "rigor mortis" effect that affects even soulless creatures like elves.

Ghoul Sickness (reprised from Mythic Monday)
After being bitten by a ghoul, the victim must make a saving throw vs death; failure means the victim is infected with the ghoul sickness curse and will begin the transformation into a ghoul.  Elves are immune to ghoul sickness.

Ghoul sickness requires a new saving throw every 2 hours; each time a save is failed, the victim loses 3 wisdom points.  When wisdom is reduced to zero, the victim dies and rises as a ghoul.  There is no normal recovery from ghoul sickness; it is a supernatural curse that corrupts the character's soul with obscene hungers.

Ghoul sickness can be cured with Remove Curse; receiving a Bless or consuming holy water will halt the disease (automatically make the next Save).  Once cured, lost wisdom will regain normally.


  1. These are so going to reek havoc in my next game! Thanks for sharing.


  2. Theses rules are exactly what I was needing to really make orcus a force to be reckoned with. Thank you very much for writing this & providing me with exactly what I needed take an exalt.