Friday, October 19, 2012

Ghouls, Ghuls and Ghola

So recently Will over at A Wizard's Kiss had a cool idea about creating variants of monsters - specifically ghouls.  Check out his post here for what is an all around good blog.

Because I am lazy I am stealing his idea - not his ghouls, but putting up a list of my own five, because I realized I have a bunch of different ghouls in my game.  All use the basic ghouls statline, though the last two are tougher (4 of 5 HD undead). 
Ghuls - or something from one of the Mummy movies

 Ghola  (HMS Apollyon) - A Ghola is mutated and degenerated pack human, they are not undead but are often mistaken for the undead, as their pale blotchy skin resembles that of a corpse.  Physically they are amazing specimens, 6' - 8' tall and covered in taunt muscle.  They have excellent hearing and smell, moving about with great skill in total darkness. Ghola have tiny, almost vestigial eyes and only rudimentary speech abilities.  It is unclear how intelligent they are, as they are invariably hostile to human life, and seek to eat any living non-Ghola (and most Ghola) they encounter.  Yet they are dangerous and clever hunters, setting ambushes, constructing traps (deadfalls, snares and pits) and using weapons(including blow darts), that however crudely crafted or  ill maintained are coated in paralyzing refined sea snake venom.  Another of the Gholas' troubling adaptions is their ability to enter a trance like stasis and remain quiescent for months at a time - usually when they have depleted the food sources in an area, only to awake ravenous when thier sensitive noses detect living creatures nearby.  Since they are not undead Ghola may not be turned normally, though as creatures of the ship's corruption Ship Spirit priest have claimed some success at driving them away and anointed oil of the spirits reportedly burns Gholas.

Ghoul (ASE; HMS Apollyon) - The ghoul is a hateful undead creature created by necromantic forces.  The God Bezonaught uses them as his minions, but they may also generate spontaneously when a sentient dies from undead attack or even near a unaligned non-corporeal undead creature.  The creature that rises from these corpse is a viscous ambush predator, devoid of humanity, that while possessing some intelligence rarely is able to master its hunger or hate long enough to take any action besides attacking.

The ghoul appears as a recently dead human with a black rot on its face and hands.  The rot has a distinct cinnamon odor and melts the skin and flesh away from a ghoul's mouth and fingers, making its hands into dangerous boney claws.  The black rotting slime of the ghoul is a highly toxic paralytic, effective almost instantly upon entering the human bloodstream.  Fortunately the very rot that makes ghouls dangerous also causes them to to decay rapidly, with black slime destroying their bodies completely within a year or less; however, this presents its own problems as a ghoul may stave off this transformation by rejuvenating itself with the flesh and life force of the living, and ghouls that successfully do so will likely be transformed into more dangerous non-corporeal undead when they finally deliquesce.

Ritual Ghoul (HMS Apollyon) - In addition to manifesting through necromantic transformation, certain of the most depraved and evil cults, most recently the Yeenoghu worshiping Buck Naked Cult, have found a way to transform unwilling victims into undead monsters through horrible rituals and autocannibalism.  In a many hour ritual victims are forced to engage in anthropophagy and autoanthropophagy.  After such rituals the tortured bodies, often with entire limbs gnawed or flensed free of muscle, of these victims arise as Ritual Ghouls, tormented abdead creatures barely more intelligent then attack dogs.  Cultists favor them as shock troops, and agents of terror because of their ability to horrify and disrupt defensive lines. So terrible was the ritual creating these beasts that a miasma of fear, hopelessness and shame surrounds them, requiring all foes initially facing a pack of ritual ghouls to save vs. Paralysis or flee for 1D6 rounds. The ghouls are generally pitiful creatures, as they retain small scraps of humanity, and are ashamed by their unnatural hunger for human flesh, terrified by what has happened to them and maddened by the influence of malign powers on their minds.  Alone Ritual Ghoul packs will only attack the wounded, helpless or vastly outnumbered and generally shy away from the living whimpering while nibbling at or licking their own gruesome wounds.  Under the direction of a cult member they become ravening monsters, ghoulish appetites whetted by exposure to cult symbols and any scrap of humanity overcome by fear of the cult members who tormented them to their deaths.

Ghul (ASE) - A species of ancient undead, similar to mummies, but not as strong, intelligent or directed.  Ghuls are dried husks found in the deep Certopsian and other arid areas.  Normally Ghuls rest beneath the trackless sands, in shallow graves or more deeply buried in great drifts.  Each Ghul appears as a dessicated human corpse, burnt black by decay and the relentless sun, with the head of a predatory animal, often a jackal, stitched in place of its original skull.  They move slowly, like sleepwalkers, congregating in herds that mill and wander in unison about the wastes.  While will eventually stop and rebury themselves in the sands, but  may wander for years or days prior to doing so.

When a Ghul herd encounters any living thing the herd will attack as soon as it notices the presence of the living, which may be a while as Ghuls are generally slow to react to outside stimuli.  On the attack Ghuls are terrifying, snapping with their beast heads an lashing out with mummified claws.  Worse, in close combat a ghoul may breath a cloud of resinous vapor onto its opponent that temporarily severs the spirit of the victim.  Victims will find themselves floating above their own body as a herd of Ghuls tears it apart, until the body dies and the spirit winks out of existence.

Algol (ASE) - Algol are ghoul like, creatures, but they are not undead, or at least not fully undead.  Algol are created when cybernetics fail or the cyborg's living tissue dies.  The automaton part of the entity attempts to save its biological half by replacing parts with those it takes from healthier specimens. Unfortunately such grafts rarely take and the Algol is forced to constantly replacements for its biological components as they fail, are rejected or its limited cybernetic brain's poor understanding of health and basic bodily care causes thier destruction.  The biological brain of an Algol is typically either reduced to a dreaming or delirious state and kept barely alive as the creature's overgrown cybernetic parts attempt to repair and replace its supporting organs faster than they fail.

Algol appear as cyborgs, with a larger than normal collection of well repaired and functional mechanical parts appended to a decaying, sickly or otherwise damaged collection of biological limbs.  Without human emotion or morality to reign in the cyborgs mechanical survival directives, many Algol have specifically modified their machine parts to make themselves more effective in the collection of living replacement tissue, most commonly Algol provide themselves hypodermic injectors in their fingers or mouth that paralyze their victims so the necessary replacement parts can be removed more efficiently, and victims "stored" for repeated organ and part donation.

The Algol process by which a right thinking cyborg is transformed into an Algol is known to be a problem for many Scientist communities, and chambers full of trapped Algols are sometimes found beneath Temples of Science, especially the less reputable ones...

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