Thursday, December 20, 2012


Spoiler alert: there are ghouls in the Moathouse and the Temple. With that in mind, I naturally need GURPS stats for them.

This was going to be a rather straightforward affair: chance for paralysis and ghoul fever, eschewing the three attacks per turn as something reserved for more powerful and scary monsters (like trolls). After all, my experience with ghouls stems from 3.5 D&D and Pathfinder, where they're just not that scary unless they have a huge number advantage. Sure, that paralysis is theoretically scary, but it's an easy save and hardly matters anyway, right?

Then I cam across this post over at Delta's D&D Hotspot.

I was especially intrigued by the possible aversion to sunlight, since that's outside my experience, brings them closer back to their Tolkienian roots, and gives an interesting twist I don't think my players will expect, but can exploit once discovered. It also led to me beefing them up a little further, to bring them in line with what I think was the original intent in the module.

ST: 12 HP: 12 Speed: 5.25
DX: 10 Will: 10 (+2 vs True Faith) Move: 6
IQ: 6 Per: 12
HT: 11 FP: 11 SM: 0
Dodge: 9 Parry: 10 (unarmed) DR: 1

Bite (15): 2d cut, save vs. ghoul fever at HT-2
Claw (15): 1d(5) fat, resist at HT-1 or be paralyzed for 1d seconds. Once paralysis ends, roll as for Mental Stun to recover. Treat this as a Contact Agent affliction.

Ghoul Fever: 1d-2 fat daily (infinite cycles), roll HT-3 to stop cycles. Once at 1/3rd FP, the infected is constantly cold (think Frodo stuck with the Morgul-blade)

Skills: Brawling - 14, Tracking - 12, Stealth - 14

Traits: Appearance (Hideous), Bad Smell, Doesn't Breathe, Doesn't Sleep, Extra Attack 2, Fragile (Unnatural), High Pain Threshold, Immunity to Mind Control, Immunity to Metabolic Hazards, Injury Tolerance (No Blood, Unliving), Infectious Attack (Must kill victim), Uncontrollable Appetite (6), Unfazeable, Vunlerability (Sunlight x2).

Class: Undead

Notes: Truly Evil. Will not negotiate. Attack without fear, except in the presence of very strong light (daylight or stronger, including Continual Light at 6 cost and like spells. Will attempt to hide and ambush prey. Provokes Fright Check -3 in people who have not succeeded in a Fright Check vs. ghouls, ghasts, etc. before

They're glass cannons; they could easily kill off a party if they get the drop on the PCs, but a few good hits will put one down for good. Their Fright Check and tendency toward ambush amplify the chances of them being nasty, but smart players will recognize the signs of a ghoul infestation and be on the alert. Also, I feel like this does a good job of potentially returning the 'scary' to these creatures, which otherwise suffer from Cleric syndrome.

The Vulnerability is not a mistake; a weakness would make them too much like vampires. This way, they take double damage from light sources that cause damage (such as a Sunbolt spell, or a laser), and they can be played as sensitive to strong light sources, but they aren't in the same difficulty more powerful undead are.


  1. Just a little note that might give you more ideas to work with: ghouls don't come from Tolkien. They go right back to Arabic mythology (Ghullim) and come to us via middle-eastern coffee-house tale tellers, 19th century horror fiction and fantasy authors (including lovecraft) and thence through pulp fantasy to D&D.

    And of course once they get into D&D they get absolutely everywhere.

    For a 16th-19th century twist, emphasize canine appearances (plague dogs and jackals digging up corpses), intelligence and irreverence, and doing disrespectful things to the bodies.

    It would be entirely in character to have a ghoul using a half-decayed head as a puppet to make mocking comments at the cleric in the middle of the fight. Less comedically, using funeral shrouds as clothing or bedding, making furniture out of bones, and just generally mistreating bodies.

    Aversion to sunlight and tendency to ambush go back to their roots as desert demons who ambush travellers by dark of night, or to disguise themselves with illusion spells and sweet-talk their way into camp before attacking.

    1. Thanks for the interesting background. i don't think I'm going to change ghouls much along those lines for this game, since the point is to replicate that D&D flavor, but it does give me ideas for future mutilations for other games.

  2. A few pedantic nitpicks on the ghoul stats:

    - it's odd they bite at 15 and claw at 14, with Brawling 14. +1 skill for bite only? I'd make it 15 and 15.

    - don't say "rounds" since GURPS doesn't have rounds. Either it's seconds or turns. Seconds is more appropriate because the effect is clearly based on time passing not actions passing.

    - "save" should be "resist."

    - is the paralysis power dependent on skin contact? Is it a follow-up on the attack, or does it take place automatically if you get hit (IOW a linked affication, per B416?) If it's automatic and doesn't depend on penetration, DR will add to the resistance per B416).

    - You can just write Immunity to Mind Control, like any other immunity.

    - Hey, these guys can starve to death. Nice.

    1. Fixed/clarified. Thanks for the feedback. Also, the ability to starve to death is intentional, because it keeps them near dead bodies. However, if I were statting them up fully I'd give them things like Cast Iron Stomach and Reduced Consumption, because they can survive for a long time in old crypts consuming the old dead.

    2. You might want to add it, just for the flavor value.