This is based on material by Arnold K. of Goblin Punch and Skerples of Coins & Scrolls (who has some additional sources). Also, potentially others that I'm forgetting. If I forgot you yell at me and I'll make sure you get credited!
eat your friends for fun and profit
|This is a thing which exists, apparently.|
Were it not for one teeny little catch.
the hungerThe taste of a fellow human's flesh seems to stir some long-dormant curse lurking within the spirit-genome. Once awakened by depravity and transgression, it swiftly sets to work. Normal food no longer sates one so afflicted. Though you might gorge yourself on Epicurean feasts, devour delicacies that would give the most jaded hedonists pause, eat and purge and eat again a dozen times in one night, nothing will suffice to feed the Hunger that now surges within your gut, your heart, your mind.
More flesh. You know that is the only thing that can make it go away. The claws in your belly, the pounding in your temple, the buzzing and ringing in your damn ear. Just one more bite. One more. One more.
Perhaps the first or second grisly meal will not stir, but eat enough and soon you will feel the Hunger. Feed that Hunger even once, and you will become one of them: the Changed Folk, the Ghûl.
so now i eat people i guessAt first, a Ghûl is indistinguishable from any other human. Perhaps a little off, a little strange, but that could be anything. You can still pass as normal, which is good, because right now you are the most human you will ever be again - that is to say, the weakest.
If you're smart, you'll go for children when you get those cravings (children are notoriously bad at not getting murdered). People weep, but they never think overmuch of a few missing children. It's a cruel world out there.
With every meal, you feel your body changing. Your muscles subtly tighten under your skin. Your reaction time improves. Your nails grow faster and faster. A tooth falls out, and next week a new one is in its place (it's never as pretty as the one it replaces, though).
You need to eat more. More people disappear. If you aren't caught after the first year or so, you become formidable; freakishly fast, strong, and above all, brutal. (Slurping someone's brains out of their freshly hand-splintered skull is the most fun you've ever had).
If you haven't been found out yet, you will be soon. Other pleasures lose their luster. Regular food barely has any flavor. Sex, music, and art become chores. All you care about is the next time you can sink your teeth into one of your own - preferably one still twitching, weeping, begging.
The demands of the Hunger become ever more frequent. Sooner or later, you'll miss a meal (though wealthy people with the curse can often sustain themselves for decades). Once you do, the Hunger turns on you with the collective malice of everyone you've ever eaten. The buzzing deafens you, your entrails strangle themselves, your skin cracks and eyes bleed. The Hunger takes a hammer to your head, striking every moment of every day, hard enough to sprawl a normal person senseless. With each blow, you lose a bit of yourself. Memories fade, dreams crumble, ambitions burn. If you still pretended to love anyone, you won't any more.
All that will matter to you is the Hunger. If you can feed soon enough, you might be able to catch yourself before you go totally mad, and linger awhile longer: half-sane, irate, violent, but still recognizably human. If you are unlucky you will lose your mind completely, and in your consuming madness shamble off to haunt graveyards, tombs, caves, and other places rich in death and free from the light of the sun.
As a Ghûl, you are immortal. Age will cease to weaken you (though the ravages of the curse will invariably make you hideous: either bloated or gangly, with an ever-changing carpet of bone-revealing lesions and sores). Disease will shun your accursed body. Though you can be slain with arms, feed enough and even the most skilled warriors will have difficulty dealing with you. All you need is to feed your Hunger, and while the Hunger will gladly torture you, it will never let you expire. The only price is your sanity.
Sooner or later, you will miss a meal.
Sooner or later, You will go missing too.
So welcome to Eternity. Enjoy your stay.
spreading and stopping the hungerThe Hunger dwells somewhere at the intersection of the mind, soul, and basest instinct. The taste of flesh is most straightforward way to stir it, but that is far from the only means. As the Hunger becomes more and more prevalent in an area, it become easier and easier to stir.
The easiest way for a Ghûl to spread their condition is to leave a body only partially eaten. The tattered corpse seems to exude some aura which can potentially wake the Hunger in those unfortunate enough to see it. Most Ghûl, thankfully, are unaware of this. In the countryside especially, Ghûl usually have no problem finding a secluded place to feast away to their heart's content.
In the city, matters are different. With enough people crowded into a small space, a real outbreak becomes a possibility, as Ghûl are forced to be sloppy and bodies get discovered. And as the killings become more and more frequent - as it becomes more and more evident that many Ghûl are afoot - fear and paranoia themselves become enough to wake the Hunger.
Most towns of a thousand or more will have a person on hand who knows the signs of the Ghûl, charged with rooting out infestations before they become epidemics. Many are hacks, but even the hacks know the surest test: a dram of freshly-drawn Ghûl blood, dripped on a silver plate and sprinkled with salt, will blacken and smoulder with inky smoke. (Ghûl abhor the taste and scent of salt, though it is only harmful if it directly touches their blood).
Every large town has a Ghûl outbreak every other year or so, which is swiftly stamped out. At least once a generation, it seems, some town or another fails to contain the Hunger before it grips too many. Once that tipping point is passed, the settlement's doom is swift and brutal. Families tear each other apart, the streets are strewn with gore, and flight only serves to spread the illness to nearby villages. When all the corpses have been picked to the bone, the dead city's gates then spew forth their last citizens in aimless bands. For awhile, they might wander terrorizing the countryside, but only the most powerful and lucid can sustain themselves for long in this way. Eventually the band turns on itself, and the mad survivors slink off to the shadows to wait until the end of days.
okay yeah this all sounds fucking horrible how do i notNot becoming a Ghûl is simple. When you first feel the Hunger take hold, starve yourself. Don't feed the urge for a month, maybe two, and it will pass.
Simple, not easy.
Something like the madness which afflicts full-fledged Ghûl will descend on you. It's probably not as severe - but you're not as hardened as a Ghûl, either. Lock yourself in a tall tower, if you can. Make sure you have no guests. Every culture in the world has at least one tragic poem about someone who found the Hunger, secluded themselves, only to receive a ill-fated visit from their lover the night before the sickness was prophesized to pass.
Even if you successfully spurn the Hunger, you will still be forever changed. Food and drink will taste like ash in your mouth. Colors will seem to fade. All strong scents will offend you. The sound of children playing, a gentle stream, your lover's whisper - they will all become unnaturally harsh. For all that, you and your immediate progeny will also become unaffected by the Hunger, and unable to gain power of those you eat.
There is another way too - never stir the Hunger in the first place. If eating people is too attractive however, rest easy; there are ways to have your cake and eat it too...
the cannibal cultsThere are a number of entities, both willing and able, to protect would-be cannibals from the curse (the servants of the Despoiler are particularly eager to fill this role). In exchange for this protection, the supplicant no longer tears into their victim like a beast. Careful rituals replace base hunger; hidden altars, the bloody forest floor. By these means the entity siphons away most of the corpse's latent power to their own nefarious ends.
Though it might be slow, the cannibal cultist nevertheless gains the growth they desire. Long-term cannibal warriors are supernaturally strong and fast; cannibal wizards are some of the most terrifying, the accumulated knowledge of hundreds swirling in their skull like a maelstrom.
Should you join such a cult, take care to never displease your new master, lest you go Hungry...
rules and tables and shit
cannibalismYou can eat the fresh corpse (raw or prepared) of a creature you have personally slain to attempt to gain some of its power. The corpse must be of your own race (famously, a number of professors at the University proposed that the only meaningful definition of racial boundaries was triggering the Hunger; all but one of them later turned out to be Ghûls). Choose one ability score, then compare the corpse's ability score to yours to determine the probability of increasing the score by one point.
|Corpse's Ability Score is...||Not in Cannibal Cult||In Cannibal Cult|
Because of the possibility of spreading the Hunger, cannibalism is very severely punished in non-cannibal cult societies. Eating the flesh of a person you haven't slain yourself bears neither risk nor benefit
running the hungerIf you are in a Cannibal Cult, you are immune to the Hunger. Otherwise, you have a 50-Wisdom% chance of contracting the Hunger, which will take hold of you for the following 1d6+2 weeks.
Every time you have a chance to kill someone and eat them, make a saving throw vs. Spells (in my game, Compulsion) to resist the urge. If you fail, you must attack, although if your enemy damages you you are allowed another save to try and get ahold of yourself. Take -1 to your save for each week you have had the Hunger.
If you successfully beat the Hunger, you still lose 1d6 from all of your mental ability scores as you become sullen, withdrawn, and restless. You and your immediate children become immune to the Hunger. It's a good deal for the brats, at least.
If the Hunger conquers you, you become a Ghûl. You no longer need to eat, breathe, or drink. You are also immune to disease and sterile. However, you must feed or risk losing your mind.
The first four times you need only feed once a season; the next four once a month; the next four once a week, and once a day thereafter. Once you have passed the once a month threshold, you will find yourself unwilling to commit suicide. After the once a week threshold, other sources of pleasure will lose their luster. At the one day threshold, you are obviously a Ghûl to any casual observer.
If you fail to feed you hunger in the alotted time, permanently halve all your mental ability scores, while gaining +1 to all physical ability scores. Repeat this if you fail to feed in another time increment. If all your mental ability scores reach 1, you go feral. (Players in my game, collect Fate Points).
If you see a Ghûl devouring someone, you have a 10% chance of contracting the Hunger. PCs are immune to contracting the Hunger from viewing Ghûl spoor and hearing rumors of their depravity.
|Ghoul, by Nordheimer|
Fresh GhûlHD: 1+1
Mv: 12" (4)
MR: 8 (0)
Wants: To feed, not be discovered.
Only slightly stronger than a normal person, these Ghûl are still weak and furtive. They will tend to quick and efficient treachery, though already the desire to revel in brutality is stirring within them.
Mature GhûlHD: 3+1
Mv: 12" (4)
AC: Armor or as Leather
Att: Weapon or Stunning Claw 1d4
MR: 10 (+2)
Wants: To feed, to cause suffering if convenient.
In the final stages of the Hunger (i.e. needs to feed once per day), the Ghûl becomes a true monster, both in terms of its combat ability and its inhuman outlook. These Ghûl are far more confident and willing to make frontal attacks, though they will revert to ambush when it suits them. Their disfigurement is unmistakable at this stage, and only extensive clothing can hide the affliction. Furthermore, they have learned how to temporarily incapacitate with their ghastly claws, all the better to relish their victims: those so struck must save vs. Petrify (in my game, vs. System Shock) or be Paralyzed for 1d6 rounds (in my game, Stunned). Despite all this, they can be negotiated with, although any peace so gotten is not likely to last overlong.
A brief digression: I run Stunned as "lose all class features except your HP and halve movement speed." This includes attack bonuses, spellcasting, special abilities, and saving throws. In other words, welcome back to being a 0-level jackass.
Feral GhûlHD: 4+2
Mv: 15" (5)
AC: as Leather
Att: 2x Stunning Claw 1d6
MR: 12 (+4)
Wants: To fucking kill you and eat you RIGHT THE FUCK NOW.
Ghûl inevitably devolve in mindless and ravenous creatures. This is the form which is so often mistaken for undead; those who bear crosses and incense against them will all too quickly discover they are useless. Feral Ghûl tend to lurk silently in dark places and then attack the living upon sight, without any regard for their lives.
Mv: 12" (4)
AC: as Leather
Att: 2x Paralytic Claw 1d6, Stench of Death
MR: 12 (+4)
The strongest and cruelest of feral Ghûl grow into these monstrosities, standing half again the height of a man, their muscles and sinews weeping through shredded flesh. Such Ghûl no longer need to ambush, but they often retain a base cunning and will attempt to trap their prey in dead ends. The scent of pestilence hangs thick in the air about them, causing any who approach within 30' to save vs. Poison (in my game, System Shock) or become sickened/stunned. (I have their claws paralyze rather than stun; you may want to increase the duration or something).
Ghûl LordIt is whispered that some rare Ghûl have carved out their own tiny cannibal fiefdoms in the wilderness, clinging to sanity with a steady stream of weeping captives. If they exist, they are certainly cruel beyond reckoning; but also cunning and charismatic. It is even rumored that some have colluded with the Despoiler, who has put a stay on their degeneration in return for their service in unspeakable plots...
If you use these guys, make each one unique. Go crazy giving them batshit powers. It's not like they lack time to learn magic, jump in vats of green mutating slime, learn kung fu, or whatever else.
|yes i know ghul is a stupid name i suck at coming up with new names please don't bully me|
- kill your dungeon master -