Ghoul (5e Race)
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These creatures of the night feast upon the dead. There is no resting place too sanctified for them to dig their claws into.
|By Mohlocco (Carlos Garcia Rivera)|
Ghouls are monstrous creatures of the undead. They have vague forms that toe the line between man and beast. There are various variations of ghouls, depending on the land which they are found. To date, there are two subraces of ghouls in Kara-Tur, and another subrace specific to Faerun. Each subrace is fairly unique, but all share a vague humanoid form, feral eyes, stringy to no hair, a small tail, and sharp teeth for devouring flesh.
The two subraces in Kara-Tur are found mainly in Malatra, the Plain of Horses, and the Northern Wastes. One, who occupies lands further in the north, appears like a stout demon with curl dark hair, horns, and protruding fangs. They may resemble satyrs due to having a furrier lower body. But instead of a goat, they have the hind legs of a hog. The second ghoul subrace on Kara-Tur is further down south. They resemble hyenas, with snout-like faces and flared ears. They can also change into the form of a hyena.
The ghoul subrace living in Faerun is supposedly the ugliest of all. They are taller than the other subraces, but have green, slimy skin pulled over a thin and bony torso. Their faces are gaunt and the skin pulls tight against the skull to show a visage of a grinning skeleton with sharp teeth. They have yellow, glowing eyes and usually a head of slimy dark hair. The lower half of their body is that of a goat.
There are various stories and legends as to how ghouls came to be. The general accepted lore is that they originated from Kara-Tur, having migrated to Faerun alongside the Shou refugees during the Tuigan invasion of Shou Lung. They are believed to have developed a different stature from their Kara-Tur counterparts due to a change in diet on a new continent.
One theory as to the origin of ghouls is that they are in fact a type of genie. Ghouls in south Kara-Tur in particular are acclimated to deserts, which is associated with the Dao. An offshoot of that origin theory is that they were genies who bridged the heavens and earth, delivering ill-begotten wisdom from eavesdropping on the gods to humans, thus making them soothsayers. As they grew more bold and daring in their exploits, the heavens began barring them from entering the different spheres of the heavenly domain. Eventually, after the last sphere was closed from their reach, they were effectively trapped in the material world. The egotistical marids were unwilling to accept exile, and so they continued trying to breach heaven. Heaven placed a barrier of fire and swarms of comets on guard, which bombarded and burned the marids severely. Those who did not burn to death were burned beyond recognition as they fell back to the ground, scorching the land upon descent, and making deserts where they fell. Deformed, they were driven to insanity and doomed to roam the land as ghouls. In this particular canon, it is said they can regain their genie forms if one casts a certain prayer over them.
Ghouls are best known for their hunting grounds, which are any areas where the dead may be buried and exhumed. This is not exclusive to cemeteries, as ghouls are also found in the deserts, tundras, as well as sewers and swamps. Where there is a battlefield of the slain, ghouls will show up to claim the carrion a few days later, along with the crows. They are known to viciously attack those who would get in the way of their meals, be they clerics purifying the ground, or a simple gravekeeper doing his rounds. In Faerun, ghouls are luckily rather solitary, roaming under the cover of night in graveyards, robbing mausoleums. Ghouls in Kara-Tur, particularly the southern variety, tend to travel in ravenous packs and desecrate entire burial grounds. It is not known if they have any kind of hierarchy.
People regard the ghouls with fear as any other undead. It is thus highly common to tell children stories about these grave robbers to deter curious kids from going into resting places in the dark. Unfortunately, more than one child has fallen victim to ghouls during a silly dare or game of courage, as well as grown men. There are alleged ghouls who will take the form of women, or use the leftover skin from a dead woman's cadaver to disguise itself and catch a man. Carrion is not always enough, it seems. In fact, female ghouls are said to be more dangerous due to the fact they can momentarily mask their undead nature and appear beautiful. They seem to like the taste of living more than dead. Charms are sometimes placed around the perimeter of burial spaces to deter ghouls.
There was once a clever wizard who utilized a group of ghouls to devour the dead left behind after a grisly battle. The wizard was in a feud with a necromancer, who could then not utilize the ruined leftovers. These sorts of stories bear the levity most do not in regards to ghouls. They remain a staple figure for cautionary tales. As a matter of fact, calling another person a ghoul is derogatory, meaning they either derive pleasure from the macabre perversely, or they are gluttonous.
Ghouls are vindictive creatures with guile and cunning. Combined with their voracious appetites, they are extremely able killers and hunters. They have a can-do attitude that makes them very tenacious. While not all ghouls travel in packs, they are known to be able to cooperate. They are also rather intelligent and can often use a glib tongue to confuse those who pursue them, disarming them and making them easy prey. This differentiates them from other ferocious creatures like the wendigo, who are savage hunters without a second thought. They can temporarily absorb certain features of those who they consume, be it their voice or their face. Ghouls are ultimately creatures driven by appetite, but even in their most ravenous state, they have a mind to cause mischief.
Gender does not really matter for a ghoul. It is more like a small throwaway gesture. Their names reflect this indifference, usually just having the "ghoul" sound somewhere in there.
Male: Ghul, Ghul-e Biyaban, Ghul Am-ahra, Ghul mum-Ra
Female: Ghula, Umm Ghulah, Fati-Ghulah, Ghulah E'Bin
Feasters upon corpses
Ability Score Increase. Your Intelligence score increases by 1.
Age. Ghouls can lose vitality if they aren't careful to keep a steady supply of corpses at hand. Under the best circumstances, they can live long lives to terrorize for generations to come. The oldest ghoul was 3000 years old.
Alignment. Ghouls are usually chaotic and evil, though some are neutral and mind just their own stomach matters.
Size. Ghouls are never too short to intimidate. Your size is Medium.
Speed. You have a base walking speed of 30 feet.
Darkvision. You can see in dim light within 60 feet of you as if it were bright light, and in darkness as if it were dim light. You can't discern color in darkness, only shades of gray.
Undead Nature. Your creature type is undead. You do not need to eat, drink, breathe, or sleep. You are vulnerable to radiant damage, but resistant to necrotic damage.
Carrion Eater. You gain nutrition from corpses, ignoring any detriment. You may consume dead or rotting bodies and flesh to fulfill your food requirement, and you are immune to any diseases or effects that would render you poisoned when you do so.
Languages. You can speak, read and write in Common and Abyssal.
Subrace. Choose from the Faerun, North Kara-Tur, or South Kara-Tur subrace.
These ghouls are taller and lankier in build. They are well known for looting gravesites not only of the bodies, but also money that may be used to close the eyes of the dead, as well as knocking over any offerings left for the departed.
Ability Score Increase. Your Wisdom score increases by 2.
Departed Voice. After you consume a corpse, you can mimic the voice or sounds which the body spoke with when alive. For example, if it was a beast, you can now mimic its growls and snarls unerringly. This effect lasts until the end of a long rest. If you consume another corpse, you replace the previous voice you could mimic. A creature that hears the sounds you make can tell they are imitations with a successful Wisdom (Insight) check opposed by your Charisma (Deception) check.
Corpse Finder. Whenever you make an Intelligence (History) check related to the location of a burial ground or graveyard, you are considered proficient in the History skill and add double your proficiency bonus to the check, instead of your normal proficiency bonus.
Cover of Night. Faerun ghouls move almost exclusively under cover of the night. You have advantage in checks to Hide when in darkness.
The ghouls of north Kara-Tur live in cooler temperatures and are known to dwell as far north as the land of the Snow Demon. They are a bit plumper than their subrace counterparts, with devilish faces of mustached men.
Ability Score Increase. Your Constitution score increases by 2.
Mask Of Departed. You can cast disguise self with this trait without material components, using Intelligence as your spellcasting ability for them. Once you cast this spell, you can't cast it again with this trait until you finish a short or long rest. When you use this version of disguise self, you can only take the form of the creature whose flesh you last consumed, becoming the image of when they were alive.
North Dweller. You have resistance against cold damage.
This subrace of ghouls is said to be the most vicious, traveling in packs to ransack graves and murder larger animals, like the dinosaurs of Malatra. They are the only known ghouls to shapeshift.
Ability Score Increase. Your Dexterity score increases by 2.
Hyena Form. As an action, you may polymorph into a hyena as per the polymorph spell and back into your true form as a bonus action. If you are reduced to 0 hit points in this form you revert back into your true form. Any damage you take in your changed form is transferred over to your own hit points.
Nose For Cadavers. You have advantage in Wisdom (Survival) checks to locate corpse remains.
Desert Lived. The heated sands and winds do not buffer or slow you down. You are immune to the effects of Extreme Heat, as detailed in Chapter 5 of the DMG.
Random Height and Weight
|4′ 0″||+2d12||110 lb.||× (1d4) lb.|
*Height = base height + height modifier