A ghoul appeared as an emaciated, roughly humanoid creature with an almost-hairless mottled, decaying hide stretched tight over its bones. It had the sharp teeth of a carnivore and sunken eyes that burned as it they were hot coals.
Ghouls sought to ambush and surprise unwary victims wherever they could, usually hiding behind gravestones or in shallow graves they could swiftly burst out of.
Ghouls had a terrible hunger for carrion. They not only ate the dead, but also preyed on the living. They lurked in graveyards and on battlefields, wherever their foul food was plentiful and the air was thick with the smell of death.
It was believed that a living man or woman who'd tasted the flesh of people would rise again as ghouls after they died. This was not proven, but it fitted their cannibalistic behavior. However, others believed that anyone who indulged in extreme debauchery and evil could become a ghoul after death.[note 1]
Whatever the truth, it was clear that any humanoid who was bitten by a ghoul, contracted ghoul fever, and died of it would inevitably rise as a ghoul themselves the following night, at midnight.
The new-risen ghoul lost all the skills and powers it had in life. Their minds became warped, turning them feral yet cunning and hungry for living flesh, becoming in all ways like another ghoul. They were not bound to serve other ghouls, however.
Ghouls hunted alone, in gangs of up to four, or packs of seven to twelve members.
Along with many other kinds of undead, ghouls were known to hunt within the Battle of Bones in the Western Heartlands by the mid–14th century DR. Ghouls also dwelled inside the House of Stone on the edge of the Ardeep Forest.
In the Year of the Prince, 1357 DR, Vajra Valmeyjar, Cybriana, Timoth Eyesbright, Onyx the Invincible, and Priam Agrivar were camping at the base of Stoner's Needle in the Sword Coast lands when ghoul warriors clawed their way out of the earth and snatched at them shortly before dawn. Their blades soon dismembered the undead, though the once-paladin Priam wished he could still turn them.
Aside from the standard ghoul, a number of other varieties existed:
- An aquatic breed of ghoul, powerful swimmers that lurked near reefs, waiting to prey on stranded vessels.
- A more powerful breed of ghoul, distinguished by its foul stench.
- Gravetouched ghoul
- These ghouls were said to have been blessed by the King of Ghouls upon their return from the dead, and were thus more powerful than common ghouls. While standard ghouls lost all of their abilities from their previous life, gravetouched ghouls retained most of their former selves, albeit enhanced by the transformation into an undead creature.
- Abyssal ghoul
- An extraplanar ghoul with fiendish characteristics that made them far more formidable.
The ghoul is of course based on the ghūl, a demon of Arabic mythology that entered western mythology as the ghoul, with various meanings. Within D&D, in the Al-Qadim setting, the Arabic ghūl was translated more directly as the great ghul and ghul-kin.
- ↑ This account probably derives from the popular connection of the word "ghoul" with graverobbers and persons who delighted in the macabre, rather than the demon of Arabic mythology with the same name.
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- Wolfgang Baur (October 1998). “The Ecology of the Ghoul”. In Dave Gross ed. Dragon #252 (TSR, Inc.), pp. 90–94.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 Wizards RPG Team (2014). Monster Manual 5th edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 148. ISBN 978-0786965614.
- ↑ Mike Mearls, Stephen Schubert, James Wyatt (June 2008). Monster Manual 4th edition. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 118–119. ISBN 978-0-7869-4852-9.
- ↑ 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 3.11 3.12 3.13 3.14 3.15 3.16 3.17 3.18 3.19 Skip Williams, Jonathan Tweet, Monte Cook (July 2003). Monster Manual 3.5. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 118–119. ISBN 0-7869-2893-X.
- ↑ Doug Stewart (June 1993). Monstrous Manual. (TSR, Inc), p. 131. ISBN 1-5607-6619-0.
- ↑ Skip Williams, Jonathan Tweet, Monte Cook (July 2003). Monster Manual 3.5. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 43. ISBN 0-7869-2893-X.
- ↑ Ed Greenwood, Sean K. Reynolds, Skip Williams, Rob Heinsoo (June 2001). Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting 3rd edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 222. ISBN 0-7869-1836-5.
- ↑ Ed Greenwood, Sean K. Reynolds, Skip Williams, Rob Heinsoo (June 2001). Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting 3rd edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 295. ISBN 0-7869-1836-5.
- ↑ Michael Fleisher (January 1989). “The Bounty Seekers Of Manshaka”. Advanced Dungeons & Dragons #2 (DC Comics), pp. 13–14, 16.
- ↑ Andy Collins, Bruce R. Cordell (October 2004). Libris Mortis: The Book of Undead. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 103. ISBN 0-7869-3433-6.