The Ghoul is the first card to be from the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Monster Cards to feature the undead. And what an undead! The Ghoul is a terrifying menace that feeds on the flesh of other humans or humanoids. The Ghoul was one the monsters introduced in the earliest edition of the game, appearing in the 1974 “White Box.” Let’s take a look at the Ghoul’s remarkable Monster Card.
Art on this card is by Erol Otus. I cannot think of a better artist to capture the bizarre unworldliness of this undead fiend. The Ghoul’s features are not traceable to their origin. This is not a dead human or humanoid. Once you become an Erol Otus Ghoul, you become something else, something far more terrifying. This Ghoul has long claws and tongue, broken splayed 4-toed feet, an elongated muzzle, bizarre hair and the same alien style eyes that Otus gave to the Displacer Beast.
Those features combined with the gradient background that moves from orange to purple, all captured in Otus unique style, give us a unique creature that a party will not soon forget.
Stats on the Monster Card and the entry in the 1st Edition Monster Manual line up nicely. No surprises in statistics. The one big element not on the card, but in the Manual would be the mention of the marine variant of the Ghoul, the Lacedon. The art in the Monster Manual is good. This version of the Ghoul, which I believe is by David Sutherland, is crouching in an inky black graveyard, waiting to recruit unsuspecting party members into ghoulhood.
The art in 2nd Edition Monster Manual is almost comical by comparison. This Ghoul by Tony DiTerlizzi is a Frankenstein-like muscle-head. Scary? Sure, but just not quite as menacing.
The Ghoul has only 2 Hit Dice, make it a fairly low level creature. But its ability to paralyze characters makes them a formidable foe at low to mid-levels. A pack of Ghouls can tear through a party of experience adventurers with their earth caked claws and bizarre body hair. Okay, the body hair doesn’t really tear through the party, but I guarantee if you show this card to your party, at least one player will comment on it. Of course, that was the Ghoul’s plan all along. To distract you with shapely, but unnecessary body hair, just long enough rake you with their clawed hands.
Random Ghoul Encounter
As the party rests for the night, they hear muffled cries coming from underneath a large nearby rock. Attempts to sleep are impossible, these cries sound unworldly. Moving the rock is easy for two characters of average strength, but once they do, a ghoul, still half pinned under the rock lunges at them.
If surprised the ghoul gets an opportunity to attack, if not the adventurers keep far enough away from the ghoul and are safe from future attack. Now they just need to figure out how to kill it without getting too close.
As they continue the adventure , they will be haunted by the sound of the ghoul whenever they try to make camp. Are their ghouls under every rock or is it their imagination?