Ghouls and Ghasts: Consumers of the Dead

We’re not quite at zombies yet. But we’re basically doing zombies now.

I’ve got a soft spot for these two. They’re nothing especially incredible. For an early-game pair of monsters, they’re fairly decent. Overall, they’re just above average.

But… well, you always remember your first. The first time I DM’d for a game, these were the guys I threw at my players. Sure, neither they nor I really knew what we were doing. But it was a damn fun time regardless!

Still, I’ll be fair and critical. Even if it makes me sad.

Lore: Corpse Eaters From the Abyss

Ghouls thrive wherever there is death and decay. It consumes decaying bodies for sustenance, only hunting the living when there are no more corpses around. They gain no nutrients from eating these, but they are driven by an endless, insatiable hunger. Their flesh is eternal, allowing them to pursue this hunt for their entire immortal lives.

These monsters come from the Abyss. The first of their kind, an elf named Doresain, worshipped Orcus. He turned against his people and fled on their flesh to honor his god. To reward him for his efforts, he was transformed into into the first ghoul. He then served Orcus in the Abyss, creating more ghouls. This continued until Yeenoghu the Gnoll Lord robbed him of his domain. When Orcus refused to help, Doresain went to the elf gods, who took pity on him and helped him escape. Since then, the elves have become immune to the cursed powers of the ghouls.

Ghasts are more powerful ghouls, infused with more power of the Abyss by Orcus. These creatures are cunning and capable of leading their lessers. As such, they are far more dangerous than their peers.

Design: A Ghastly Predator

Get it? Like… like a ghast? Because… okay, moving on.

Fuck, this thing is menacing! With that long tongue and massive claws and lanky-ass arms, you can immediately tell that this is a monster that can and will make a snack out of you.

I also like the little details hinting at their elvish origins. The sharp features, the pointed ears. Am I looking too deep into it? Yeah, maybe. But that’s what I’m gonna go with.

Creatively speaking, this isn’t the greatest monster. It is just a big pale monster with claws and fangs. But it’s a bit more unique than ‘just a centaur’ or ‘just a ghost’, so I’ll call this one a success.

Stats: Simple and Dangerous

For the sake of ease, we’re talking about both the ghoul and the ghast. Otherwise, next week’s article would be really short.

Defense wise, neither one is especially impressive. The ghast’s AC is only one higher than the ghoul’s and his HP only a small chunk higher. Both are immune to poison damage and a small list of conditions (charm, exhaustion, and poison), though only the ghast is resistant to necrotic damage. For a low-level monster, it is fairly balanced in this department; not too dangerous but not a pushover.

The ghast also has a few special abilities that the ghoul doesn’t have. With Stench, any creature within five feet of it needs to make a CON check or be poisoned. If they succeed, they’re immune for the next 24 hours. What they can’t fix is Turning Defiance; with this, both the ghast and any ghouls near it get advantage on all saving throws against turn undead.

Action wise, these guys are almost the same. They can either bite or claw at you in its turn. The former just does damage. The ladder can paralyze its victim if they fail a saving throw. The only real difference is that the ghast has higher damage numbers.

For a low-level fight, these two are pretty good. They won’t provide your players with a challenge that’ll push them to their limits. But as an introductory fight for a campaign, it’s a rock solid choice.


This is a decent monster. Not absolutely amazing, mind you. The lore is okay, the design is the same, and so are the stats. Everything about it is thoroughly good.

With all that in mind, let’s put the Ghoul and the Ghast on the Best of the Bestiary!

  1. Beholder
  2. Death Tyrant
  3. Dragon Turtle
  4. Green Dragons
  5. Red Dragons
  6. Blue Dragons
  7. Black Dragons
  8. White Dragons
  9. Silver Dragons
  10. Couatl
  11. Behir
  12. Aboleth
  13. Bronze Dragons
  14. Brass Dragons
  15. Copper Dragons
  16. Gold Dragons
  17. Chuul
  18. Chimera
  19. Death Knight
  20. Fomorian
  21. Bone Devil
  22. Dracolich
  23. Faerie Dragon
  24. Ankheg
  25. Empyrean
  26. Efreeti
  27. Dao
  28. Drow (all four of ’em)
  29. Shadow Demon
  30. Marilith
  31. Drider
  32. Aarackockra
  33. Azer
  34. Demilich
  35. Spectator
  36. Marid
  37. Cambion
  38. Animated Armor
  39. Banshee
  40. Basilisk
  41. Yochlol
  42. Bulette
  43. Cloaker
  44. Darkmantle
  45. Doppelganger
  46. Ghoul and Ghast <———————-
  47. Ettin
  48. Pit Fiend
  49. Erinyes
  50. Chain Devil
  51. Bearded Devil
  52. Barbed Devil
  53. Spined Devil
  54. Ice Devil
  55. Djinni
  56. Nalfeshnee
  57. Glabrezu
  58. Chasme
  59. Barlgura
  60. Horned Devil
  61. Balor
  62. Shadow Dragon
  63. Vrock
  64. Dretch
  65. Goristro
  66. Hezrou
  67. Manes
  68. Duergar
  69. Quasit
  70. Dryad
  71. Flumph
  72. Planetar
  73. Imp
  74. Flameskull
  75. Displacer Beast
  76. Carrion Crawler
  77. Rug of Smothering
  78. Bugbear Chief
  79. Bugbear
  80. Vine Blight
  81. Twig Blight
  82. Needle Blight
  83. Bullywug
  84. Ettercap
  85. Gas Spore
  86. Cockatrice
  87. Lemure
  88. Solar
  89. Deva
  90. Cyclops
  91. Centaur
  92. Ghost
  93. Fire Elemental
  94. Water Elemental
  95. Air Elemental
  96. Dinosaurs (All six of them)
  97. Earth Elemental
  98. Galeb Duhr
  99. Flying Sword
  100. Crawling Claw
  101. Violet Fungus
  102. Shrieker
  103. Gargoyle

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