Sunday, September 20, 2015

10 Variant Ghouls

10 Variant Ghouls

Ghouls are former humans who have risen from the dead with the taste for flesh. This iconic undead has been the ban of adventuring parties for decades. Any encounter with a Ghoul has the potential to turn extremely deadly. Their signature paralysis attacks can have devastating consequences.

The baseline Ghoul is from Labyrinth Lord, which is a retro-clone of B/X D&D. Your typical ghoul is 2HD with three attacks(bite, claw, claw). Each successful attack requires a save vs paralysis or you become paralyzed for 2d4 turns. So essentially you are paralyzed for 20 to 80 rounds and are totally screwed if the rest of the party don't save your hide. The paralysis can be removed early if a cure light wounds spell is cast on the victim. If you are killed by a Ghoul you also rise as one 24 hours later if your corpse hasn't been blessed. If you are an elf or larger then a medium sized humanoid you are resistant to the ghoul paralysis ability.

There is already a variant of the Ghoul called the Ghast. The Ghast is a stronger version with increased HD, better AC, stronger bite/claw/claw, and can paralyze you for 2d4 turns. Also elves aren't immune to the paralysis. In addition to being superior they also have the stench special ability that requires anyone within 10' to save vs poison or become horribly sick which translates into a -2 to attack rolls.

Below are slight mechanical variations of the typical Ghoul.

Spitting: This ghoul lacks the ability to paralyze you with its melee attacks, instead it has an elongated tongue that can spit a glob of vile saliva that paralyzes on contact. The range is 30' and the saliva does no damage, but requires a save vs paralysis to avoid being paralyzed for 2d4 turns.

Pustule: This ghoul is covered in hundreds of blisters filled with pungent pus. This ghoul does not paralyze through melee attacks instead any attack against it ruptures its blisters of pus. Everyone within 5' radius must save vs paralysis or be paralyzed for 2d4 turns.

Suppressive: Instead of physically paralyzing you the touch of this ghoul suppresses segments of your brain. Save vs paralysis or forget a random class ability for 2d4 turns. Fighters forget how use a specific weapon, thieves don't remember how to backstab, casters can't recall a specific spell, etc. The DM should adjudicate how and what is suppressed.

Atrophy: Instead of paralyzing with their attacks, these ghouls reduce movement speed by 10' each successful attack without a save. Each hit causes your muscles and joints to stiffen. Once your movement is reduced to zero you are automatically paralyzed for 2d4 turns. If your typical movement is 90' then it would require 9 hits to paralyze you.

Waning: Instead of paralyzing you with its attacks this ghouls touch rapidly ages you. Each successful hit ages you 2d4 years if a save vs. death is not made. You gain all the physical aliments of aging but non of the mental benefits.

Remorseful: The human consciousness hasn't fully dissolved from this ghoul. Whenever faced with combat this ghoul must make a morale check each round. Upon success his savage side takes control and he attacks as any normal ghoul would. If this ghoul fails he questions his degenerative state and turns on his pack, attacking them while screaming for anyone to put an end to his existence. If there is no pack to be attacked this ghoul will fall to its kneels and ask for release from this cursed world.

Quick Animation: Normally someone slain by a ghoul will be reborn as one in 24 hours. This type of ghouls infectious attacks quickly animates the dead in mere minutes with random results. After their victim has been slain they quickly animate as an random corporeal undead in 2d4 rounds.

                                               d4 Random Undead
                                               1. Zombie
                                               2. Ghoul
                                               3. Ghast
                                               4. Variant Ghoul

Planar: This ghoul died where the prime material and a random outer plane bleed into each other. It is constantly shifting between planes with no control of the translocation. There is a 50% chance each round that the ghoul will shift to the outer plane. While on the outer plane there is a 50% chance each round that the ghoul will shift back to the prime material plane. Whenever it shifts back it is randomly placed within 30' of its original location.

Deliberate: This cunning ghoul can focus on a particular weak spot. By forgoing two of its claw attacks this ghoul can attack with a precise bite. The focused bite is at +2 to attack, 2d6 damage, and the paralysis save is made with a -2.

Flickering: For some reason this ghouls paralysis is very unstable. Once a victim is paralyzed it is only paralyzed on odd rounds. On even rounds the paralysis diminishes enough for the victim to take an action.


I hope everyone can steal an idea or two from this list. For more variant undead please check out the links below.

10 Variant Skeletons
10 Variant Wights
20 Variant Zombies

Also I have a Creature Spotlight on the Lovecraftian Ghoul from Labyrinth Lords Realms of Crawling Chaos supplement.

Lovecraftian Ghoul

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