This isn’t a story, but it is a kind of fiction from Trollworld–fiction in the sense that I hope to God it’s not true.
The Ghouls of Trollworld
By Ken St. Andre
T&T ghouls are very much Lovecraft ghouls. I haven’t spent much time thinking about them. Let’s see, what can we do to set them apart. Being a ghoul is a disease–a disease that gradually warps the body and the mind. The disease can be contracted in one of two ways–eating rotten meat where the ghoul bacterium has begun to thrive–not all-rotten meat has it, and the bacterium is destroyed by cooking, or by being bitten or scratched by a ghoul. The longer one remains a ghoul, the stronger one becomes. The healing feeling spell would also cure the disease, and a ghoul could be returned to normal humanity. There are two side-effects of being a ghoul.
1. They regenerate, but always in a more ghoulish shape–that is the body becomes more and more baboon-like, the skin gets greener and scabbier, the jaws elongate, the talons get harder and sharper, and they never ever die of natural causes. To be a ghoul is to share the same kind of immortality that vampires and trolls have.
2. Ghouls cannot have children. New ghouls must be recruited.
What else do we know? As the vocal chords change, it becomes harder to speak their former language and they meep and glibber more. Meeping replaces long vowels like oh, eee, ay, uuu. Glibbering which is a sort of bblr sound tends to replace b’s, d’s, p’s, and v’s. Thus a short sentence like, “I love good meat.” In ghoulish would be, “meep lobblr gulobblr m-meep-t.” As this may be hard to understand even by other ghouls, they often use pantomime gestures while talking to supplement the meaning.
Other side effects of the disease are satyriasis and extraordinary hunger. Thus, ghouls love orgies, and will steal women or attractive males for sex and to infect them and gain new members. This is a revolting thought, and I don’t want to go there in much detail.
Ghouls tend to live in underground necropolises/graveyards. Harsh or bright light pains their eyes and reduces their vision, but they develop excellent vision in low light conditions. Ghoulish skin turns green over time, getting darker and darker as the
disease progresses. Ghouls give off a disgusting carrion odor. A normal human getting a direct whiff of ghoul would need a level two saving roll on CON to avoid throwing up. Their own sense of smell changes and becomes more acute so that everything we think smells rotten smells sweet and wonderful and attractive to them.
Ghouls hate vampires–it’s envy really. Vampires live forever and get to feast on fresh blood. Ghouls need rotten food, and cannot pass in normal society the way vampires can. It’s envy grown into hatred. Vampires despise ghouls. Ghoul hunting is a sport for them.
Over time ghouls lose all their hair except for what grows on the top of the head–that becomes coarse and bristly and elongates into a ridge of hair that grows down the neck and along the backbone.
Nobody makes clothing for ghouls or baboons either. As they become more deformed from the human norm, they tend to wear less and less clothing. They may opt for collars, bracelets, or necklaces that can simply hang from their body or fit around a limb. Ghouls like rings and shiny rocks attract them. Anything shiny will do.
Ghouls have hands and are perfectly capable of using weapons. Former warriors that become ghouls keep all their skills and usually have a passion for collecting weapons, especially magical ones-they realize that better weapons may mean better food and more ghoulish recruits. A wizard that becomes a ghoul would retain his wizardly knowledge and skills. There are ghoul-wizards, and they tend to be the leaders of ghoulish communities. Ghouls may also have Talents.
The ghoulish pecking order is dependent on physical or magical might. The strongest rule and tend to take advantage (sexually and otherwise) of those weaker than themselves. Ghouls enjoy the society of other ghouls-especially for sex, feasting, fighting, and ghoulish games-the roach races-but nobody likes to be beaten up all the time and that means that ghouls will often be solitary creatures, especially if they aren’t mighty enough yet to command a band of followers. However, ghouls never kill each other. That is their greatest taboo. There are relatively few ghouls in the world, and they are hard to replace. Since they regenerate stronger than before their injury, a ghoul that is badly hurt will get better if it gets any food. It is not uncommon for an aggressor ghoul seeking followers to beat a weaker ghoul almost to death and then nurse it back to health with plenty of rotten food. Over time such behavior will generate small bands of ghouls that are socially linked.
Ghouls sometimes develop relationships with animals. They domesticate rats, and sometimes create rat-ghouls. Rats are great at finding dead things to eat. Ghouls also like cockroaches. They feed them and breed them, and have cockroach races and battles in their ghoulish communities. And they tame the gigantic bone-eating dholes that live in lightless caverns far beneath the earth. Dholes can serve as mounts for ghouls.
Ghouls hate fire. Fire cleanses and purifies. They avoid it, and tend to use phosphorescent mosses and fungi as their light sources for deep underground.
I wouldn’t want to be a ghoul.
oh well, here I have ventured into the realm of non-stories. Consistency was never my strongpoint anyway.