Monday, June 3, 2019

Eaters of the Dead

Although I already have several decent ghoul miniatures, the three ghouls from the “Horror” group of the Reaper Bones 4 core set really stood out. These figures follow the look of Pathfinder ghouls: bald, with pug noses, pointed ears, and hunched, loping poses. Yet again the Bones Black material does a nice job holding fine details like their sharp little teeth. I used the Reaper “Ghoul Flesh” paint which has a nice sickly greenish tone that really works well on undead of all sort. All-in-all I was pleased with how these models came out. My only complaint is that two of the figures have such wide stances that they can’t be based on standard 1″ bases.

My use of ghouls in the Great Dungeon is heavily influenced by the True Ghouls of Wolfgang Baur’s classic 2e adventure, “Kingdom of the Ghouls” from Dungeon 70. Those ghouls were in turn influenced by weird fiction such as Lovecraft’s short story “Pickman’s Model,” and Clark Ashton Smith’sThe Charnel God.”

Baur created a d20 reboot of this adventure with Empire of the Ghouls (2007), an Open Design setting book that was a precursor for many of the crowdfunding/patron models to follow. I was privileged to help with proofreading and contributed some minor design for the project. Baur went on to update Empire for 4e and Pathfinder with the Imperial Gazetteer (2010). And he just Kickstarted Empire of the Ghouls: A 5th Edition Campaign vs. the Undead. I backed the project and am looking forward to seeing the newest iteration of the setting.

Eaters of the Dead

One of the more formidable factions in the Great Dungeon is the Eaters of the Dead, a mysterious coterie of ghouls, ghasts, and related horrors. While many of the Eaters of the Dead are feral, brutish undead, their ghoulish leaders are intelligent, cruel sybarites and many have cleric, fighter, or rogue levels. These ghouls worship some dark power out of the Distant West.

Below are the results of some common 3e Knowledge checks related to the Eaters of the Dead.

Eaters of the Dead Lore
DC Dungeoneering Geography Local Religion
12 The Eaters of the Dead are usually found on the Fourth Level The Eaters of the Dead are from the Distant West, on the shores of the Inland Sea The Eaters of the Dead employ zombies and skeletons made from the corpses of their enemies The Eaters of the Dead are ghouls, once living creatures transformed into terrible undead that rob graves and eat flesh.
17 The Eaters of the Dead have spread across the Fourth Level and are pushing into the Third Level. The Eaters of the Dead are cultists whose secret religion is practiced in large cities The Eaters of the Dead are fighting a pitched war against the hobgoblins. Among the eaters are ghasts, more powerful ghouls that exude the stench of death. The Eaters are allied with the gnoll tribe. The Eaters of the Dead paralyze with a touch, and their bite carries a disease that can turn the bitten into ghouls.
22 The main lair of the Eaters of the Dead is the twisting, bone-filled Goblin Catacombs. The Eaters of the Dead build strange black ziggurats where they worship Some Eaters are skilled fighters and priests. The Eaters are also enemies of the Cultists of Orcus. They are also allied with ogres and wererats. The Eaters of the Dead are secretive cultists from the Distant West, who venerate death and worship a foul entity known as the Charnel God
27 The Eaters of the Dead have established some sort of unholy shrine of bones on the Fifth Level The Eaters of the Dead originate in the western city of Zur-Khel-Mar The leaders of the Eaters of the Dead include Lady Surmlaith, the priest Ulogos-Vem, and Lord Xulcaos The Charnel God is named Mordiggian, an alien devouring god of darkness.

Ghoulish Terrain

The areas the ghouls control are often filled with strange, eldritch effects. The following text is Open Game Content.

Ghoul-Cursed Treasure CR 6

Any object possessed by the ghouls worth more than 500 gp bears a terrible curse.

Effect A living creature that assumes possession of such an object must make a DC 15 Fortitude save or immediately take 1d4 Con damage. An afflicted creature continues to take 1d4 Con damage each hour until the victim reaches Constitution 0 and dies. Only a remove curse or break enchantment spell can halt the progression.

An afflicted humanoid who dies from this curse rises as a ghoul in 1d4 rounds. A humanoid who becomes a ghoul in this way retains none of the abilities it possessed in life. It is not under the control of any other ghouls, but it hungers for the flesh of the living and behaves like a normal ghoul in all respects. A humanoid of 4 Hit Dice or more rises as a ghast, not a ghoul.

Ghoul-Light CR –

Magical torches similar to everburning torches emit sallow greenish light in a 30-ft radius.

Effect To undead the lit area is treated as bright illumination, but to all other creatures it is considered shadowy illumination. Normal lights are incapable of brightening the area, as are light spells of lower than 4th level.

All living creatures standing in ghoul-light feel clammy and uneasy, and take a -3 circumstance penalty on Hide checks. All Intelligent undead standing in ghoul-light receive a +3 circumstance bonus on Will saves.

Ghoul-Saint Shrine CR –

A moldering skeleton of a venerated ghoul hero, bedecked in fine livery, gold, and jewels.

Effect The skeleton radiates an aura of death out to 60 feet. A character attempting to cast any conjuration (healing) spell within this area must succeed on a DC 16 caster level check, or the spell has no effect. Any living creature with -1 or less hit points in the area must make a successful DC 15 Will save or die. Living creatures that die within the aura rise as zombies within 1 round and attack any living creatures.

The saint’s gem encrusted raiment is worth 4,000 gp.

Glyph of Fear CR 4

A nearly imperceptible magical inscription has been traced over a 10 ft x 10 ft area.

Type spell; Search DC 28; Disable Device DC 28

Trigger touch; Reset no reset; Bypass creatures of the undead type

Effect spell (glyph of warding [cause fear]; CL 5th, affected creature becomes frightened [creatures with 6 or more Hit Dice are immune to this effect], DC 14 Will shaken for 1 round)

Presence of the Charnel God CR 6

A swirling black column of darkness and cold fills a 20 ft x 20 ft area for 1d4+1 rounds.

Effect The darkness is impenetrable to normal vision and darkvision, but ghouls (including festrogs and ghasts) can see normally from within the area. Creatures outside the area, even ghouls, cannot see through it. The effect counters or dispels any light spell of 3rd or lower level. The 3rd-level cleric spell daylight counters or dispels the presence.

The cloud is charged with negative energy, and living creatures within take 1d8+9 hp damage each round (DC 17 Will save half) at the start of their turn. Undead in the area are cured rather than damaged.


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