klokwerkaos

Long Dead
Herald of the Dead
Immemorial
Malleus Monday
OG 2020
Old World
Harbinger
Nov 8, 2020
117
69
63
Ghouls generally speaking, are the undead cannibal types.

Aesthetically I picture them associated with rot, disease and exaggerated teeth/jaws and tongues. but I think a lot of liberty can be taken here, since you could go the mummy route, or the passable supernaturally looking human with different skins, or straight up zombie, clad in bones, or lots of directions really.

From a systems point of view I'm designing them around the alchemist archetype because of their eating habits being a signature of the namesake, I'm also using some notions of the warhammer marauder for inspiration.

Firstly ghouls eat corpses in an animation to regain health, this provides an advantage in that other types can drain them, but they simply eat the remains, so they should always have plenty of food during and post combat. This also lets them feast on corpses of just about anything, not just the living, they can eat the ashes of their allies, dead inhuman monsters and similar, bearing in mind dead large monsters should provide multiple charges of this (and thus demand multiple interactions) before their corpse disipates. This doesn't make them combat immortal, because they still have to feast, but they can eat the flesh and essence of the dead. Flesh from creatures with two or more charges can be stored for later eating at a 50% ratio, ie, storing it uses 2 uses of flesh on it, but preserves only 1 as a consumable, this grants them a sort of "alchemist" sort of style where they can preserve certain flesh in their packs for later consumption. This is something that probably shouldn't be specced into to improve function or it can quickly scale to insanity. Additionally these special properties will decay in real time over the course of maybe 72 hours where they lose additional benefits and are simply health pots with no additional effects, ie, the ghoul can still eat decayed meat, it just doesn't have the same essential properties that are infused on it when it was fresh. This ability can also be performed in graveyards by burrowing up the dead and consuming their flesh, but it isn't preservable, nor does it have special properties, nor will it replace their buffs.

They will use their abilities and health resource to alter their physical forms similar to a warhammer marauder, allowing them to fill a variety of supporting combat roles.

The first ability I really see them using is that the last corpse that they ate has a variable quality to it based on the tags of what corpse was eaten. This gives them a passive boon that is heightened from unique and boss monsters, this means that the player will need to choose when and what to eat to be able to sustain better passive buffs. As such they shouldn't have typical sources of passive health regen in their kit or non-legendary gear. Eating always provides health regen, but the buff can affect various aspects positively and negatively, this feeds into them eating not just the flesh, but also the dying essence of the creature, I say dying because if it's drained of essence by a wight player, the buff should still apply as intended.

I don't have a pool of associated tags, but lets say for fun some examples are:
Skeletal: the ghoul grows extra plates of bone armor and bone spikes that do reflect damage to attackers
Mortal Flesh: The ghoul gains extra health pool
Divine Flesh: the goul gains extra health and essence pool
Elemental Fire: the goul gains X% resistance to fire damage, etc.

And so on, there should be a bunch of these to allow for diverse gameplay. These effects need to bleed off over time, reducing effectiveness slowly after first and ramping up at the end of the cycle. I think a 15 duration on these temp abilities is likely sufficient for most ARPGs The one thing that shouldn't happen with this is that there is one buff that is significantly better than others that players need to trek out to go to get before starting adventuring as a mandate.

There is also a well fed buff they get when they eat while at full health that gives them +X temporary health depending on the grade of the creature eaten that stacks. The temp health isn't temporarily increased pool like that gained from eating mortal flesh, it's just a buffer that is depleted before all other sources. This isn't to say it isn't worth it to farm a particular type of creature and stow it for later, but that's a whole separate thing. Additionally it may be worth farming some flesh in particular if setting out to a particularly difficult raid that specializes in some kind of thing. Further, raid bosses should have charge per player, not total charge, to prevent players fighting over who gets to eat what. Additionally max specc'd well fed stuff should be able to be invested in with progression points of some kind.

Special loot drops can also happen for them when eating from the corpse (not preserved) that involve like a specially preserved gizzard, brain or something that doesn't lose charge. This provides a risk/reward for eating from the corpse VS preserving. Ideally the balance should be that the stored stuff is just some bag space with some emergency health pots.

Ghouls can also eat rare resources and gold for health, though this is much more costly than eating preserved meats.

A PBAoE disease cloud that is channelled at first and can be specc'd into to become a persistant toggle but with reserved essence seems like a good fit.

Ghouls need strong leaping mobility powers and natural speed. this should probably be reflected in their run animations (possibly on all fours). This not only helps their overland traversal, but also allows them to use guerilla tactics in prolonged engagements and difficult boss battles.

In general they need an animation attack that lets them leap onto a creature and eat their face as a must. These guys need the "hannibal lecter" button in their kit. Flesh from a non corpse though, wouldn't replace their buff but does provide maybe +X extra temporary HP (minimal). The main issue I'm seeing with this is that while corpse feat animations don't need to be too complex, this would make it difficult as models would need a special rig point for this for every large or non human enemy and that seems like adding extra work to make sure it's tested and doesn't look awful for every single model type, and that's a lot. Still, if undertaken, would be cool. Could also be limited to just living humanoids. This move also serves as a gap closer as it has an inherent leap effect and also temporarily immobilizes an enemy combatant if successful. It wouldn't be great for bosses who would likely be immune or easily unaffected, but great for reducing the amount of trash adds in an fight. This effect could also be sustained with additional uses on a target to essentially take them out of the fight, but also the ghoul is then occupied and also unable to defend or interact otherwise. Additionally this bite ability adds disease "ghoul fever" stacks that can be specc'd into, potentially causing paralysis/stun effects.

Ghoul Witch's brew skill:
While in a player hub of any sort with appropriate interactable facilities (these also might appear at certain key locations in the overland where thematically appropriate, such as a witch den or similar), ghouls can distill the special drops they get from eating directly from corpses, this requires recipe instructions and different combinations of parts to create potent effects that persist through death and last something like 4 hours IRL upon consumption. These concoctions can be imbibed themseslves for greater effect, or by other undead for lesser effects. Ghouls can spec into various concoction potencies. This gives ghouls also a marketable skill in game. The brewing itself is a non combat feature and can't be specc'd into, ie the pots work as stated to prevent that getting crazy out of control.

Mummy rot touch: this infects the target with creepy crawly carrion that eat them from the inside out, nice damage DoT that also can stun living opponents in agony, or for supernatural beats, debuff them, but has no good effect on undead. If specced this can last longer, do more damage, and if the target dies from this action, they will explode in a pile of carrion and bits in a radius that can then infect other enemies at no cost. The remaining meat is still delicious to the ghoul though charges are likely halved ;)

As a fun hidden passive, ravens, vultures and other carrion eater birds should be triggered take flight when ghouls approach within a certain distance, for funsies. The ghoul is the greater predator and it's better to find greener pastures elsewhere than contend with a ghoul.

Narrative ability: the ghoul can opt to use 1 charge of flesh on a corpse of a named NPC corpse to discern a secret bit of information by eating it's brain that applies to the given quest chain and will benefit their later decisions. This can also reveal related hidden secret ballot votes to the player that are relevant to the character that they don't have answers for yet. This ability can't be used in combat.

Rend flesh, targets that are unarmored can take a massive blow via having a pound of flesh removed that applies a large bleed, specc'd to flavor.

I really feel like they should have some kind of burrow ability, but I hesitate to ask for one because I've literally never seen this executed well in a video game.

Ghoul Variable talons flurry attack: Ghouls posses a great degree of control over their iron metabolism. As such they can manifest their arms into various weapons using their essence resource. At a base level this is just talons/claws, but with investment this can take a few forms from a spike, a pincing claw, a blade or axe head and similar, consider if it's something that the T 1000 can make they can manifest this with proper speccing. The various types could be specc'd into, and additionally they can also launch a flurry of these types of blows cycling through several forms, to unleash a devastating combo.
 
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Livin

Ancient
Herald of the Dead
Ashen_Ring
Immemorial
Ageless
OG 2020
Zorins Treat
Dog Adopter
Magus
Old World
Harbinger
Mar 20, 2019
307
397
108
Got to admit, the ghoul reveal got me interested with the old noggin going and I've got a couple ideas I'd like to share.

First, I know there was talk of zombies being in the game as a type of drone for the liche. I think it should go to the ghouls, turning what remains of their meals into the walking dead; but it doesn't stop there. It should also be possible to turn the living as well, only they are still alive but consumed with satisfying their hunger for human flesh; and they may be easier to kill than the undead but if they survive long enough while consuming the right quantities then they become lesser, subservient ghouls themselves. My hang up with zombies is that they always quickly become a constant rather than an evolving threat and this might be a good fix for that.

The next thought has to do with their bodies having properties on par with the liche's, decaying to a degree and seeming to be capable of more extensive modifications. This reminded me of the Melchahim from Soul Reaver/Nosgoth, a clan of vampires that functioned as necromancers whose flesh decayed and turned that weakness into a strength as it opened up endless possibilities for them to reshape their forms. I've wanted it to be possible for a liche to build themselves bodies of extreme sizes and shapes but now I'm think that might be better served by the ghoul, and perhaps one day a player might manage to build their ghoul into the spitting image of Melchiah.
 

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