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Version 0.24: This article may not be up to date for the latest stable release of Crawl.
This page is about the player species. For the monster, see Ghoul (monster).
Ghouls are horrible undead creatures, slowly rotting away. Although Ghouls can sleep in their graves for years on end, when they rise to walk among the living, they must eat flesh to survive. Raw flesh is preferred, and Ghouls heal and reverse the effects of their eternal rotting by consuming it, but they can never become truly full.

They aren't very good at doing most things, although they make decent unarmed fighters with their claws and, due to their contact with the grave, can use ice, earth and death magic without too many difficulties.

Innate Abilities

Ghouls have a base Strength of 11, Intelligence of 3 and Dexterity of 4 (before Background modifiers). They have -1 to their base magic points.

Preferred Backgrounds

Ghouls are prohibited from becoming Transmuters.


Like other undead, ghoul nutrition is a special case. Ghouls can eat all chunks, even those that are inedible to all other races. Along with its nutritional value, eating chunks of meat can heal HP and rot damage. Regardless of the kind of chunk involved, the amount healed is 1d5 - 1 + 1d(1+XP level).

It's worth noting that while you will never be told you're too full to eat more, you cannot accumulate a "life-time supply" of nutrition by devouring everything you come across, as a ghoul's satiation never increases beyond 7/12 of the maximum amount other species can hold. Even if you could, you'd still need to regularly eat meat to heal rotting.

In addition to chunks, Ghouls can also eat rations; while they have no healing or restorative effects, they help slow the onset of rot by keeping the ghoul from going hungry.

Level Bonuses

  • +1 strength every 5th level.
  • 10% more HP than average.
  • +3 magic resistance per level.

Starting Skills and Equipment

Ghouls start with the skills and equipment listed for their background, but they never start with food of any kind.

Difficulty of Play


Ghouls have a unique—and rather fiddly—relationship to food. However, if one is willing to put up with that, in Ghouls one finds a fairly durable undead species that can enjoy the full effect of potions and has decent aptitudes. Ghouls naturally tend to have very poor dexterity and intelligence, though this can eventually be offset by the chosen stat ups that one receives every three levels.

Skill aptitudes

The higher the value, the better the aptitude.

Skill Aptitude Skill Aptitude Skill Aptitude
Attack Miscellaneous Magic
Fighting 1 Armour -1 Spellcasting -2
Short Blades -1 Dodging -1 Conjurations -2
Long Blades -1 Stealth 2 Hexes -2
Axes -1 Shields -1 Summonings -1
Maces & Flails -1 Necromancy 0
Polearms -1 Translocations -1
Staves -1 Transmutations -1
Unarmed Combat 1
Fire Magic -2
Throwing -1 Ice Magic 1 Invocations 1
Slings -1 Air Magic -2 Evocations -1
Bows -1 Earth Magic 1
Crossbows -1 Poison Magic 0 Experience 0


The most obvious way to play a Ghoul is to use your claws, which give Ghouls a +2 bonus to unarmed combat damage that is helpful in the early game, when bare-handed combat struggles to keep apace of weapons. This play style is further supported by a good aptitude in unarmed combat. However, Ghouls' weapon aptitudes are reasonable, and a weapon-wielding Ghoul is perfectly viable.

Ghouls can also make for competent casters. Their aptitudes for it are not as bad as they first appear: they are good at Ice and Earth Magic, and generally passable at most other things. They are, however, held back by their low intelligence: those who want to make a serious Ghoul caster will want to pick a spellcasting background and devote their stat increases to nothing but Int. However, their ability to eat any and all corpses makes hunger costs less of an issue (partially offsetting the low Int), while their good HP and unarmed abilities give them better resilience than most casters.

As far as gods go, Makhleb is a popular choice for Ghouls. Aside from the usual benefits, Ghouls enjoy Makhleb's HP-for-kills because this translates into less time they must spend resting, and thus helps limit the extent of their rotting. Kikubaaqudgha gives Ghouls an easy way to branch into Necromancy, and they can use Receive Corpses not only for necromantic purposes, but also to heal and restore rot (including in normally corpseless or corpse-light branches). Unarmed fighters should, as usual, consider Okawaru, as Heroism is even more powerful for Unarmed Combat than it is for other weapon skills.

Any of the other typically strong gods, such as Nemelex, Ashenzari, Ru, and so on, are likewise strong for Ghouls. Do note, however, that Ghouls cannot berserk, and thus do not benefit nearly as much as most other species from worship of Trog.

Appetite and Corpses

Ghouls' relationship to satiation and corpses is one of the most involved in the game, and thus deserves some further clarification.

Even though you can eat meat at any time, Ghouls should handle chunks differently than Trolls and Kobolds do. As a Ghoul, you should eat chunks when you want to recover from injuries quickly, when you have accumulated too much rot and need to restore it now, and whenever you have actually become hungry. Also remember that while the game will let you eat all the meat you want, you don't actually accumulate nutrition beyond Satiated. Going from the top of "Hungry" to the top of "Satiated" (which is as full as Ghouls can get) requires less than five chunks.

Until you are comfortable with how the Ghoul's hunger mechanics work, you should simply try to keep a good number of chunks on hand as often as you can, although you should not hesitate to use corpses for purposes other than eating, when appropriate (e.g., to make a good zombie via Necromancy).


  • Prior to 0.24, ghouls couldn't worship Fedhas.
  • Prior to 0.20, ghouls had Slow Regeneration 1 innate mutation instead of Inhibited Regeneration and could slowly regenerate health even when monsters were visible.
Simple Hill OrcMinotaurMerfolkGargoyleDraconianHalflingTrollGhoulGnoll
Intermediate HumanKoboldDemonspawnPalentongaSprigganTenguDeep ElfOgreDeep Dwarf
Advanced Vine StalkerVampireDemigodFormicidNagaOctopodeFelidBarachiMummy