Volume 24: Oblivion Ghouls
Volume 24: Oblivion Ghouls
At a glance: A powerful character class that slips deeper and deeper into darkness... and madness...
In-depth: This character class receives my first 10/10 RPS score. It receives this score for many reasons. The main reasons being this character class require a high degree of roleplaying ability to play well, as well as a substantial amount of gaming technical ability to use this character’s abilities to their best advantage.
Often these characters are tragic. They begin with noble or heroic intentions but once this path is chosen salvation seldom ever can be found. Many also choose this path because of the allure of easy power. A power that comes with heavy consequences.
Oblivion Ghouls are people who have chosen to take the power of The Oblivion into themselves. The process could not be easier. All one must do to become an Oblivion Ghoul is make the conscious decision to absorb an Oblivion Wraith into one’s body. Once they have made their intentions clear, the process begins and cannot be stopped.
Many people will choose to do this for heroic reasons. Their planet, their ship, is in the direct path of an Oblivion Wraith and there is no escape. They tell themselves they are doing it to save their family, their friends. And indeed for a time they often do. Also for a time they may be treated as a hero by the people they saved. But it can never last. To better understand the mechanics of this lets walk through how an Oblivion Ghoul is created, and the “6 cycles” of their life span.
Cycle 1 starts with a normal person. They have decided for whatever reason to take an Oblivion Wraith into themselves. Some do it on purpose. They seek out an Oblivion Wraith to get easy fast power. Others do it because they feel they have no other choice. Their city, home, ship, have been covered by an Oblivion Wraith so they will sacrifice themselves to save those around them. Regardless of the reason once they make the choice to take the wraith into themselves the only step left is to verbalize it. Many oblivion ghouls will make up their own catch phrase they say when absorbing wraiths but initially it may simply be an acknowledgment. A common saying people use is, “I accept this Oblivion.”, and with that, it begins.
The size of the wraith is unimportant. It could be car size, it could be moon size, the power is the same. Within about 15 seconds the entirety of the wraith will be taken into the host’s body. Then a startling transformation takes place. The newly born oblivion ghoul has incredible new power and a frightening new visage. Their skin will appear incredibly pale. Their teeth and fingernails become solid dark purple.
On the “plus” side they have now become juggernauts gaining 1d6 x 100 hp! They now also have amazing regenerative qualities, even able to regenerate entire limbs over time (regen 1d6 x 10 hp every 15 seconds) However the price paid for this is not just the new looks. They will now exude a magical supernatural creepiness that repulses everyone around them. This can be gotten used to by others over time, but few can stand it for that long. They also gain a “god complex” and start to think they are “indestructible”. They are prone to showing off and take great offense when their daredevil antics are not recognized, celebrated, and cheered on by those around them.
For groups able to placate their ego 1st cycle oblivion ghouls make impressive tanks. 1st cycle oblivion ghouls are immune to each other’s “creepiness aura” so they often will group together. In fact they form the single largest gang in the multiverse, calling themselves, “The O-Boys”, which is a bit misleading being that any gender is free to join. Regardless The O-Boys operate quite openly throughout the multiverse as “muscle for hire” being organized by higher cycle Oblivion Ghouls up the chain of command. A quick note: all the higher cycles of Oblivion Ghouls share a type of love, an ennui, for their first cycle brethren. They look upon them as “little brothers and sisters” and even the most evil and hardened high cycle Oblivion Ghoul will often go out of their way to provide help to a 1st cycle.
This will be the farthest most oblivion ghouls will ever progress. The ones who join the “O-Boys” (most eventually do) will find themselves satisfied to find companionship there, where their brothers and sisters all appreciate and cheer on their outlandish daredevil pranks and fighting style, free from the prying eyes of the outside world. The ones who do not join the O-Boys often live a sad, torn existence. They have an unbearable craving for attention and recognition, but their unsettling aura and presence drives everyone away. They will often become criminals or travel with adventuring groups simply for the attention.
Only 1 out of 100 1st cycles will ever attempt to become a 2nd cycle.
In order to become a second cycle a choice must be made. It can no longer be said they did it to be a hero. Because to become a 2nd cycle one must absorb 2 more Oblivion Wraiths. This cannot be attempted until level 5 or higher. Once making the choice to do so it begins much as before. While in near contact with an Oblivion Wraith the Ghoul must verbally consent to accepting it into themself. Once they have absorbed 2 they gain an additional 100 HP and their appearance again changes but this time gradually. Over the next few weeks to months they will typically put on 300 lbs or more (depending on their race) but in general they become morbidly obese. Surprisingly this does not affect their stamina in anyway. They can still fight, run, etc as before but their dexterity, and charisma both take a hit. They will also tend to break out in pimples, rashes, and sores that have an unpleasant smell. However other Ghouls cannot notice the smell at all.
This cycle of ghoul will become incredibly self-conscious. They will attempt to hide sores and pimples. Upon learning they stink they will cover themselves in colognes and perfumes. They begin to believe they are the center of attention at all times but because of how they look or their smell or their weight, etc. They will almost always begin to develop Tourette like “ticks” or other habits. Further drawing unwanted attention to themselves. This self-loathing becomes anger and 2nd cycles are known to start fights with anyone they perceive as disrespecting them. They are very prone to losing their temper.
But besides the massive HP gain they do gain another incredible power. Superior Invisibility at will. This adds quite a bit to their fright factor and they are often hired to intimidate or even injure others which they do with ease and often some pleasure. Of the ghouls that make it to this cycle, again few will ever choose to go further. They know what happens in the next cycle and few of them can mentally bear the thought of those consequences. This group too often finds solace and acceptance in The O-Boys, being looked on as “big brother” protectors to many 1st cycles. It should be noted that 2nd cycles still emit the same supernatural creepiness of their 1st cycle kin. This aura persists thru the next cycle as well.
Only about 1:1000 cycle 2s will choose to attempt to become cycle 3s
To become a 3rd cycle a ghoul must absorb 5 wraiths. The process is always the same and is repeated here for each wraith. This cannot be attempted until level 7 or higher. Upon reaching this cycle the ghoul gains an additional 100 HP.
The physical change to become this cycle is probably the most...intense. With every wraith absorbed the ghoul will permanently loose charisma. Their entire bodies will begin to break out in pimples, sores, rashes and eventually even tiny worms. Their bodily fluids become excessive. They appear to be crying and snotty all the time. This has led to this cycle often being referred to as, “Saddies” Or “Sad Boys” Their breath becomes horrible and no amount of brushing can cover it. Their body odor intensifies. Again other ghouls will not be able to smell the breath or body odor. By time they reach 3rd cycle they will be absolutely hideous to behold. NPC’s and players 2nd level or below must make a saving throw or wretch in their presence.
With this transformation does come an incredible new power. Superhuman Strength. Able to easily lift trucks or more over their heads they become devastating killers on the battlefield. Many adventuring groups will do their best to overlook the ghouls hideous nature for gaining such a powerful force on their team. It’s not hard to see why “Sad Boys” are some of the most sought after muscle in the multiverse.
This cycle is also usually happy to run with The O-Boys where they can be hired out for easy money and return to accepting people around them. However many more of this cycle strike out on their own. Many of them take pride in their grotesqueness. Their god complex begins to return and they see themselves as invincible powerhouses to be acknowledged by all. Many Saddies will start their own gangs, often filled by non O-boys. They begin to desire recognition again but not just for their daredevil physical feats but as warriors and clever criminals.
As with every cycle those who reach this cycle will also almost never attempt to reach cycle 4. They usually have come to see themselves as kingpins, shrewd gangsters, and unbeatable fighters. Sad Boys in adventuring groups will often try to take control of the group through sheer force, and if they cannot will clash often with the group’s leader and may attempt to “get rid of them” if they can do so without suspicion.
Only about 1 in 10,000 cycle 3’s will attempt to become cycle 4’s
To become a cycle 4 ghoul they must now absorb 10 wraiths. This cannot be attempted until level 10. Whereas the transition from cycle 2 to cycle 3 could be considered the most intense, the physical transformation from cycle 3 to cycle 4 is by far the most striking. With each wraith they absorb they start to “melt” flesh away. They begin to drip wherever they go, unceasingly, like a zombie dropping a never ending stream of flesh behind them. Their sores start to heal up and their breath and body odor begin to resolve. Ticks and habits they have had since becoming a ghoul also begin to fade away. By the time they reach the 10th wraith they look like a much emaciated, but better looking version of their old selves. However upon absorbing the 10th wraith they collapse into a coma. This is by far the most vulnerable a ghoul will be during their existence. Many attempting this cycle will hire O-Boys or other protection to guard them during this time as many old enemies, and often law enforcement, may see this time as a way to end them permanently. Over the next 7 days the Ghoul will be incredibly vulnerable and will begin growing a purple “crust” over their entire body, that becomes its hardest and thickest at day 4. But then on the 7th day, the chrysalis cracks. And what emerges is a radiant being, with an additional 100 HP.
From the crust comes a new ghoul looking like the most beautiful version of their former selves. They will still have purple fingernails, toenails, and teeth but it will compliment them. They will be super naturally beautiful. Gone will be any aura of creepiness, unpleasant odor or anything else off-putting to the senses. To many it seems they have left behind all of the negatives of becoming a ghoul and become a true god, having all of their previous powers still intact but seemingly none of the negatives. However this is not true in the least. All of the ugliness that once existed on the outside has now been moved inside and cycle 4 Ghouls show themselves to be some of the most evil and manipulative beings in the entire multiverse.
They will begin to think of themselves as famous stars. Everyone, everything, is beneath them. They will tolerate and even work with other Ghouls and O-boys of a lower cycle than them but they must be the center of attention. They will lust for stardom. And it truth it may now come very easily to them. With their super natural beauty anyone who can get past their ego may find this ghoul enchanting. Cycle 4 ghouls become hedonistic in the extreme. They desire pleasure and fame above all things. They will often enter a city and attempt to become its most famous starlet. They will use their beauty (and when necessary strength and cunning) to get whatever they want, which will usually be sex, drugs, and more than anything else attention.
These ghouls can become insanely jealous over the slightest of slights, and will kill with about as much thought as you would give to stepping on a bug. These ghouls however do not usually wish to be leaders. They would much prefer to manipulate leaders and simply take credit for their accomplishments. Cycle 4 Ghouls in a group will constantly be in the group leaders ear (or pants) attempting to sway them to their whims. This ghoul’s ego seems to be insatiable. Quick to take credit and never willing to take the blame they are the epitome of “Beautiful Bastards” which they are often called.
Only 1 in 100,000 cycle 4s will attempt to become cycle 5s
In order to become cycle 5 a ghoul must absorb 25 wraiths. This cannot be attempted until level 15.
The transformation from cycle 4 to cycle 5 is quite subtle. With each wraith they absorb a delicate interesting pattern will begin to emerge on the ghoul’s skin. The pattern is different for every cycle 5 much like a fingerprint. The color, size, location, body coverage, and overall look of the finished pattern will vary wildly between ghouls, but will always be at least partially visible most of the time, and will complement the ghouls overall look. They will also gain an additional 100 HP.
At this cycle the Ghoul continues to see themselves as a god but now one who must rule. It will soon become clear there is no one better fit to lead than themselves, regardless of the situation. Ghouls in groups will begin to try to take leadership if they do not already have it. In groups where they are not able to become leader right away they will openly plot against the current leader, sowing discord and trying to kill them, or have them killed at the earliest opportunity. Many of these ghouls will once again turn to the O-boys and are indeed quite often the highest tier leaders of many O-boy factions. They often have no problem working with other O-boy factions as long as their autonomy within their own group goes absolutely unchallenged.
They will also take on new obsessions. These can vary widely and offer a great chance for role play. This cycle ghoul will gain 1d4 obsessions. Here are a few examples to get you started:
Obsessed with diamonds or some other gem. They MUST obtain the rarest, most expensive, most sought after diamonds in the multiverse. They will plan elaborate heists and massive shows of power to gain them. They will begin studying diamonds and will learn all they can about them.
Obsessed with time. Everything must be done with absolute punctuality. Everything must happen at an exact time. Not early, not late, exact. They will find tardiness to be a capital offense. They may have dozens of clocks and watches all set to different times to track different things.
With all of these obsessions play them to whatever level works best for you and your group, and adds to the story.
Obsession with opera. They must attend the greatest operas in the multiverse and MUST always have the best seats. Anyone who interrupts a show should be tortured and killed. They may even take to kidnapping their favorite performers to have them perform private shows.
The list goes on and on.
This ghouls gains one of their most powerful abilities yet. The ability to Enthrall. By PERMANENTLY using 1 HP this ghoul can enthrall someone who will then become a zealous follower. NPC’s and players level 2 and lower receive regular saving throws but gain a +1 to save every 2 levels after 2. Enthralled characters will become permanent “super fans” and followers of this ghoul, obeying their every command and even dying for them readily. The only way to break the enthrallment is curse removal or to be separated from the ghouls line of sight for at least 7 days. Even people who have had the enchantment broken may still find themselves drawn to the ghoul afterwards.
This cycle ghoul MUST have enthralled followers. They may already have quite a following from their supernatural beauty alone, but these ghouls CRAVE the attention only their enthralled slaves give them. At any time a cycle 5 ghoul must have 6 +1d6 enthralled followers. However these slaves are only toys to them. They will not hesitate to put them in harm’s way to save themselves. Many also come to see themselves as “collectors” and will enthrall people involved with their obsessions as trophies. Using the examples above they may seek out diamond experts to enthrall, or clock makers, or opera singers. Trophy enthralled are normally kept close and “shown off” to friends and colleagues.
Only 1 in 1,000,000 cycle 5’s will attempt to become cycle 6
The final (?) cycle. To attain this cycle the ghoul must absorb 100 wraiths. As far as anyone knows this is the highest cycle ever to be obtained by a ghoul. They are EXTREMELY rare. This cannot be attempted until level 17. Upon reaching this cycle they gain an additional 100 hp.
This transformation takes place gradually as each wraith is absorbed. It starts with tiny nubs sprouting from the head of our ghoul. With each wraith absorbed these nubs grow into horns, or even antlers. The type and style of horns and antlers again varies wildly. Rams horns, deer antlers, goat horns, etc. These horns do not affect the characters supernatural beauty but, like their body pattern, enhances their overall look. By time they absorb their final wraith their horns will be fully grown and splendorous.
This cycle of ghouls gains a frightening and horrible ability. The ability to summon clouds of Oblivion. At will they can use magical energy to summon clouds of Oblivion. Objects in these clouds can be manipulated with varying effects: slowing targets, providing crushing damage, blinding foes, and many more uses are available to the ghoul through this summoned Oblivion. They can even surround themselves in a thick cloud of Oblivion and travel in it at great speed, even though the vacuum of space! Perhaps just as frightening is they seem to be impervious to the Oblivion itself! A favorite tactic for escape by these ghouls is to simply enter The Oblivion, travel through it and emerge somewhere else days later. This immunity does not spread to anyone or anything else and diabolical ghouls have been known to fly entire ships into The Oblivion, sacrificing the ship and its crew just to escape on their own later. This ability does NOT allow them to enter the terminal edge of The Oblivion however. If any ghoul goes over that edge they will be absorbed just like anything else. However they alone possess the ability to easily discern where this edge is, and unhindered by any of The Oblivion or The Crawls other ill effects, it still makes for an easy place for ghouls to hide, escape, or spring surprise attacks.
This ghoul has reached the height of their god complex. They are the absolute Supreme Being and all others exist to serve them. They may hold some wavering loyalty to former adventuring companions, and like all ghouls, have a warm spot for other ghouls of lower cycles (particularly cycle 1s, whom they very much see as children to be protected) but other than this are compassionless. They have for the most part dropped all of their former obsessions except one. This final lasting obsession will be what most ghouls dedicate the rest of their lives too. The obsession will become extreme. Anyone who stands in their way will either be enthralled or killed. To find information about their obsession they will torture without remorse. They will almost always live a solitary existence punctuated with interactions with other ghouls or with people they must be in contact with to continue their obsession. This can however go the other way, where a ghoul will set themselves to building an empire in pursuit of their obsession. They may need vast man power, wealth, or an army to achieve their goals and are shrewd and calculating enough to cultivate these if needed.
By this point their lifespan is vastly expanded, able to live 1000’s of years or longer. The downfall of many a Ghoul is their need for enthralled slaves which gradually picks away at their life force. Thinking themselves to be of infinite life force most of these ghouls enthrall without hesitation almost anyone they come into contact with keeping a following of 100 or more at any given time. A ghoul of this cycle must have a minimum of 20 + 2d10 enthralled slaves at any time or they will grow anxious and angry.
Lastly it should be noted these ghouls are often the most hated because their use of The Oblivion always draws the attention of the crawl and other wraiths even if they are at the far edge of a universe being consumed. Wraiths will travel vast light years at accelerated speeds avoiding other targets to hit worlds where Cycle 6 ghouls have used their powers. The crawl also seems to extend at an accelerated rate towards these planets. It may still be months, even years until these planets ever see any actual contact with wraiths or The Crawl, but on planets near The Oblivion proper this acceleration can be devastating. It should also be noted that interference with a Ghouls obsession will gain that ghouls unbridled attention and fury as a prize. Their revenge will be both cruel and swift.
I will be providing illustrations of the various ghoul cycles in the next few posts.