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Revision as of 04:39, 27 February 2015 by Rast (talk | contribs) (Appetite and Corpses)
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This page is about the player species. For the monster, see Ghoul (monster).
They 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, especially rotting or tainted meat, and Ghouls gain resilience from consuming it.

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).

Preferred Backgrounds

Due to their undead nature, ghouls are prohibited from becoming Healers. They are also prohibited from becoming Transmuters.


Like other undead, ghoul nutrition is a special case. 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). However, the likelihood of these restorative effects occurring varies between chunk types:

Chunk Type Heal HP Heal Rot
Clean 80% 75%
Contaminated 86% 75%
Rotten 100% 75%

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 meat rations, beef jerky, sausages, cheese, pizza, honeycombs, royal jelly, and ambrosia. These foods have no healing or restorative effects, but by raising a ghoul's overall satiation level they slow the onset of rot. Royal jelly and ambrosia will also still provide their unique benefits.

Level Bonuses

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

Starting Skills and Equipment

Ghouls start with the skills and equipment listed for their background, with the following exceptions:

  • Ghouls never start with food of any kind.
  • If their background does not start with Unarmed Combat skill and offers a choice of weapon, Ghouls have the extra option of "claws" (which also gives them some starting skill in unarmed combat).

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 Charms -1
Maces & Flails -1 Summonings -1
Polearms -1 Necromancy 0
Staves -1 Translocations -1
Unarmed Combat 1 Transmutation -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. Another good option is Kikubaaqudgha: This option gives Ghouls an easy way to branch into Necromancy, and they can use his receive corpses ability 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 his Heroism ability 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, Vehumet (if planning to make use of conjurations), 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 (Vampires being the only serious competition), 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 after combat (when enemies are out of sight), when you have accumulated too much rot and need to restore it now, and whenever you have actually become hungry. Outside of those circumstances, hold off on eating chunks until they're rotten, when they will be most nourishing and more likely to heal rot. 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). Some gods give piety or have other effects upon corpse sacrifices; you should not hesitate to sacrifice corpses any time you have a decent number of chunks on hand.