Friday, August 29, 2014

Ghouls (5e D&D race)


And from the seed of Mary, rotten, teeming, turgid, swollen with life, a great pregnant mystery hidden in the rock, came a new life so that we may live again.

And we proclaim that we are Her people, set apart, we keep the festivals, we punish the corrupt, we keep sacred the night, we carry Her word, our flesh a monstrance our lips trumpets.

The ghouls in our catacombs and slums are a symbol of a final hunger, a need that turns one's mouth on its own flesh. It borrows its name and its lethal ability from the Arabic,  where it is grasping.

The ghul is like a nightmare about gluttony so total it transforms the man into a hyena that hunts its own kind.

The Ghouls of Kievs are gluttons, forever hungry for power, order,  control. They form empires, they prolestyze endlessly by sword and church and culture. They are intellgient,  forming symbiotic relationships with the larva they host (their skin translucent, often luminous, cilia waving, appendages dark cyanotic shades), devouring  the unfaithful monstrously, alive, gouts of gore drenching their smart imperial uniforms, confecting and submitting to self-perpetuating machines of torture and correction, massing huge serf populations to build earth cracking mining machines and factory-cities. They retain armies of artists and craftsman as everything must be embellished, epaulets,  claws, tromplouiel, frogging, liveries, all the signs of imperial power, acknowledged by the ghoul but never appreciated, just a skin to pull over walls and clothes, to make them acceptable.
The Russian aesthetics are most likely an accident of larva finding host.

HERE IS WHY
Kievs is bound to a meteor lodged in Limbo's primal soup and the meteor draws to it lost cities and in the meteor is a larva and it has made our leaders pale and cruel and beautiful.

Or else

Mag, evangelist of torment and living saint of the church of christ unburied, with her parasitic double (Gog), is Mary. Or an incarnation of the Maggot Bride. Or she made the whole thing up, but she visited Kievs before it was much of anything, and she visited the ghoulgiving larva upon them.

Or else

The larva crawled from some lab dish or some holding pen in Inner Kiev and infected the scientists and crashed Inner Kiev into Outer Kiev.

Or else

The larva are some experiment in exploration and colonization of extreme places, gone out of control.

any such suggestion is, however deeply offensive.

IN ANY CASE

Ghoul life cycle goes larva > moth > ethereal cyst > astral mites > larva.

The larva attaches to the base of the skull, requires a weakened host (or one recently dead, mostly intact), is white, with scrabbling black forelegs and a long, fat body and hard tiny head. It gestates for hundreds of years, eventually blossoming into a butterfly like the moon, wet and beautiful, eating rational thought and grammar (so that words happen, but never conjugation or sentences, and scientists are uncertain if this indicates a similar loss of memory or memory - making ability or if the past is locked behind a failing, broken communication machine) and all the colors but black, which is like poison to it.
Then excretes rationality like a filthy black shell,  wraps wing over wing and buries itself in a cyst on the tissue of ethereal matter, causing ghosts paralysis, seizures, clogging the flow along the Astral plane, bulging and then hatching thousands of crawling Astral mites, plaguing the hunting hounds of elysium, keeping Odin up at night until they grow fat and long and white and then swimming back down to limbo, called by some strange magnetism back to Kievs.

THE LARVA

The larva consumes colors and blood and other humanoid waste, like it was made for it and filters out a blood substitute, like a second heart, kidney and liver. The ghoul grows pale, then translucent, its skeleton visible beneath strangely fleshy pulsing tissue, the coursing of circulatory matter obscuring the tissue. Watching or talking with a ghoul is disorienting, like talking to three different things at once (bone structure followed by lagging tissue and fluid exchange structures while trying to pick up the common human expressions).

Damage to the human tissue,  if extreme is regrown as waving cilia. The scalp and forearms, neck and chest are sometimes gouged to produce ornamental rills. The digits and cilia, at their extremes are blue, purple, black cyanotic flesh.

Ghoul art is nearly entirely mimetic, hyper - realistic copy of life or aping of the art stolen from some other people or place (conquered or coveted).

Poetry is generally accepted as the true and most authentic expression of ghoul self/ves, the humanoid self writing mostly doggerel, the larva, in Deep Speech, writing about dreams of wings and another birth and strange shores planes away and travelling astral tides and what cerebus tastes like. Ghouls refer to themselves in the plural, or as 'ves (drop the "sel" or short for vessel) as either an adoption or royal affectation or as an honest assessment of their personhood. It's unclear how much of the larva intrudes on Ghoul thought. It appears to be inconsistent. The Ghouls talk of a walking ves and a dreaming ves, and, among conservatives of a certain streak, male and female ves.

Art is also often terrifying. The less sensible and mimetic it is, the less it can be like a metaphor or a set meaning, the more it may contaminate the sleeping ves, making it wake early in confusion and revulsion, leading to the death of half ruptured host and unripened larva. 

STATS
+2 CON
Advantage against poison, impurities of the blood, the extreme pressure of deep sea and space
Medium size
Walking speed 30 ft
Usually lawful
Speaks common and halting deep speech as the humanoid ves and the sleeping ves translate for one another
Advantage in grapples
There are two sub races

Luminary Ghouls
+1 Wis
Have access to the light cantrip, centered on their own bodies. This is a strange light and may attract predators, especially spectral or astral ones.

Paralyzing grasp, DC 5+proficiency bonus to save or else be paralyzed for d4 turns.

Of the Palm
+1 Cha
Paralyzing grasp, DC 10+proficiency bonus to save or else be paralyzed for d4 turns.
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