Ghouls

Ludwig makes no distinction between ghouls and vampires. Research has shown clear differences between the two, though they share a love of human prey and a distaste for sunlight.
- AH

An entry in Ludwig's Unreliable Compendium.

Ghouls (also known as wights, vampires and ghuls) are tall and gaunt humanoids who were once living. Since passing into undeath, their hunger and decadence grew until now they are filled with an infernal compulsion to feed on sentient prey. Although some varieties prefer blood and others flesh, they all spawn dead or undead corpses, preferring to consume their prey live.

Ghouls are solitary feeders, haunting sewers or slums, but usually they congregate in large groups called courts or troupes. Perhaps proximity to others of their kind sharpens their wits – or at least encourages them to control base urges. Certainly these ‘courtly’ ghouls better ape us humans than the solitary, ‘savage’ ghouls do.

A self-proclaimed vampire hunter submitted the following encounter with ghouls as part of a lengthier manuscript I can provide upon inquiry:

The Encounter

I was invited to a banquet by Lady Anette du’Mar, a local aristocrat widowed some years before. She professed an interest in my recent slaying of the Haunt of Talwood Moor, a victory that left me still giddy.

At early evening I present myself, in clean but practical gear, at the front door. I was let in, and immediately leapt upon by a frightful chimera. I remained calm while the fearsome beast dissolved into giggles and three separate bodies. These were the lady’s grown daughters, beautiful and with none of her unearthly palour. It seemed half of the room was masked and costumed; the other half looked as bemused and out-of-place as I.

The Lady entered in a fine gown and with a medusa mask. She called the assembled to order and announced the feast had begun. No sooner did she speak then the masked guests seized the unmasked ones and cast them upon the table.

Two of the lady’s daughters neither moved nor spoke, but the youngest gave a sudden scream. A weight landed on my back, and I fell to the marble floor. Rolling, I pressed my bulk down on the assailant’s diaphragm and reached for my knife. Two quick stabs later and my enemy was blind.

Looking about me, I saw three types of guest. Some of the masked ones stretched elongated tongues to eagerly lap up pooled blood, their long fingernails slicing flesh into delicate portions. Other masked ones were doing little – I suspect they were human caretakers, allies and family members of the ghouls.

The third group were unmasked and ripe for the taking.

I grabbed the youngest daughter, since only she showed any horror. My movement spurred the elder sisters into action, and they leapt at me with steak knives. I battered one away but the other cut deep into my wrist, and I dropped the knife. I grabbed the leg of a chair left topsy turvy in the commotion, and smashed her head. The daughter and I then ran off into the night.

Ludwig Notes:

While a savage ghoul may have some simple cunning to lie in ambush or avoid large groups, the courtly ghoul shows the reasoning powers of a – thoroughly evil – human being. Their traps are sophisticated, their society hierarchical and they live amongst us, disguised. Merchants, innkeepers and even lords may have the spectre of undeath upon them.

I have observed a captive ghoul. It cannot – despite the claims of some – survive off animal flesh or human food. Ghouls cannot coexist peacefully with us.

Contents of a Ghoul’s Stomach:

  • Two wedding rings
  • A child’s shoe
  • Three daggers, one still in its scabbard
  • Twenty copper pieces
  • Five pounds of flesh
  • A rat’s skull
  • Seven silver pieces
  • A necklace
  • Two pounds of rags and leather
  • Three belt buckles
  • Slingstones