Ghouls, Ghasts and Vampires (oh my).

Following up from last week’s post on Undead, this week I wanted to put some thoughts on paper regarding a similar – but distinct – type of ‘monster’.

Ghouls are the result of a lesser, but malicious, spirit inhabiting the body of a living creature. This is almost certainly against the host’s will and for an extended period of time. There are several ways that this can occur including various rituals, certain artifacts or the unwitting release of a spirit into the prime plane. In almost every case the host’s mind is forcibly suppressed while the spirit is in control. At first the victim will be acutely aware of what is being done to her body but, as time goes by, they will regress into an animal or, in extended possessions, vegetative state. It can take months or even years for a host to recover their mental state once the spirit is exorcised.

Even worse than the loss of control are the physical effects of possession. The victim’s body will change, over time, taking on properties and apperance in line with the spirit’s origin. If the offending spirit can be removed before too much time has passed, the changes can be reverted with the help of a healer. After six months or so it is usually too late for either the mind or body to recover even if the spirit is exorcised.

In order for a ghoul to remain in possession of a host, they must feed on the energy of living creatures. Most often this is accomplished through consumption of living tissue, although some rare ghouls are able to feed from powerful emotions. [Mechanically Ghouls & Ghasts ‘feed’ on Willpower.]

When a person is possessed by a greater spirit the resulting abomination is a Ghast. Since these hugely powerful spirits are almost never encountered “in the wild”, such a creature is generally the result of a ritual possession or failed summoning. The victim’s mind is irrevocably destroyed by the act of possession, all of their memories and experiences ripped away. The physical changes are severe and occur very quickly.

Ghouls and Ghasts

Order ghouls often hunt in highly organised packs and can strip a populated area in short order. Luckily they are rare since the conditions that attact Order spirits are much more likely to involve true Undead. When they do occur they will often become pale and hairless, losing facial features and definition. An extended possession results in an androgynous, alabaster figure with no eyes, nose or ears – only a lipless maw with which to feed. They are dangerous opponents, pursuing their quarry relentlessly, and hard to damage.

Order Ghasts will often take on the appearance of a mythical being from the culture of their victim – typically an angelic, armoured warrior, though other humanoid forms have been reported. Beautiful and terrible to behold, an Order Ghast is a fearsome opponent. They are highly intelligent, nearly impervious to harm, and completely without mercy or remorse.

Chaos ghouls, far more common than other types, are feral scavengers. Their bodies become covered with festering sores, odd patches of hair or scales, tendrils, tentacles, tails, and even extra limbs. Every example is different than the last. They are voracious feeders possessed of a low cunning but, thankfully, are often solitary hunters. They will sometimes form small packs but such alliances are short-lived.

A chaos Ghast is a terrifying engine of destruction. The physical form of the host is changed beyond recognition, usually bloated or heavily muscled and covered with hundreds of eyes, mouths and boils. Multiple limbs are the norm, including tentacles, bone spikes and prehensile tails of all descriptions. Rare is the individual who can gaze upon such a monstrosity and retain their sanity – the very presence of a chaos Ghast is enough to send ripples through the fabric of reality.  Thankfully it is difficult for this kind of abomination to exist for any great length of time. Without a large supply of fresh victims on which to feed they will burn out in a matter of weeks.

Ghouls of creation are social, animalistic predators, much like wolves. Packs can consist of up to a score of individuals, representing all four elements, with a certain element asserting dominance – the alpha – over the pack. Disputes are settled with a fight to the death although such displays are rare. Disturbingly these packs will hunt for the purpose of capturing prisoners, who are then used as breeding stock. The coupling is savage and brutal, most often resulting in the victim’s death. Occasionally another creation spirit will take notice of the act and possess the victim, thus becoming another ghoul and reinforcing the pack. Fire ghouls display burned and blistered patches of skin while water ghouls leak fresh water from pores and orifices. The skin of an earth ghoul becomes split by protuberances of crystal or schist, and the wispy, emaciated form of an air ghoul crackles with arcs of static electricity.

In certain wild places, far from the works of man and elf, are fountains of Creation – rents in the prime plane through which spirits and elemnetal matter pour. Delvers who venture too close to such wonders run the risk of becoming a Ghast of Creation. These primordial , sometimes call golem, are hulking avatars of their element. Standing twice the height of a man and in possession of tremendous power, they will often dominate packs of lesser ghouls and rampage through civilised lands.

Vampires

Elves that develop a taste for the power of Arcane magic run a terrible risk. Those that drink too deeply are in peril of losing themselves to the thirst and becoming a Vampire. These malignant predators have an all consuming need for blood, and the energy it contains. Whoever they once were is gone, replaced by a bestial hunger and a taste for suffering. The skin takes on a darker hue and their eyes become blood red. These physical changes become more pronounced over time, so that the oldest are almost jet black – save for the eyes lit with a red inner glow.

There have been many myths attributed to these elven monsters and some contain a grain of truth. Most Vampires shun sunlight, for example, even thought they are not directly harmed by it. It irritates their eyes and is a potent reminder of what has been lost to them. Silver is no more effective than steel for harming one of these creatures, but they cannot stand the touch of Pillar-forged metal. Fire is an effective weapon if a Vampire has not fed recently, and the herb elfbane is as toxic to them as it is to their mortal brethren.

Vampires are intelligent, cunning and social – as long as their thirst is satiated – and the youngest can easily blend in with other elves. Some will live in the slums, preying upon the weakest of their cousins, but most prefer to haunt the dark places of the world – venturing out as the thirst takes them, to hunt and feed on the borders of civilisation.

Their powers of Arcane magic are enhanced by their state and they can heal from almost any injury by feeding. A Vampire is not to be undersetimated as a foe and many have had hundreds of years to hone their skills.

[Mechanically speaking, Vampires must feed on Willpower – just as Ghouls and Ghasts do – by drinking blood. A Vampire that is depleted of Willpower is permanently destroyed]

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~ by occam99 on April 27, 2012.

One Response to “Ghouls, Ghasts and Vampires (oh my).”

  1. As each piece of the story is added, so the excitement builds…
    These concepts work in well with the rest of the back ground, well done…
    D

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