Ghouls are flesh-craving creatures that have been brought back from the dead. Due to the ghoul's corruption-based origin, the Blight has no effect on ghouls beyond having them succumb to the hive mind. They are typically Fae in origin, but cases of humans, half-fae, and others have been recorded. Only souls that have never been at rest (escaped a reaper, died in Allutheria, etc.) may be used for fully-functioning Ghouls. Souls that have crossed over to the Essence cannot be pulled out in full, but pieces may escape the Essence. These Ghouls will have very limited functions beyond what a typical zombie would have but may have access to fragments of memories. With additional tampering and creativity, these ghouls can be made to act like their original selves, but they will never be autonomous.
During the creation process, it is possible to call for a specific soul, but it is more likely that a nearby one will be summoned instead. There are two types of Ghoul, depending on how they were created: those born from the Black Cauldron and those created with a Philosopher’s Stone.
The Cauldron-Born are the stronger of the two types but also have higher risks associated with them, beginning from creation as the Black Cauldron is more likely to consume sacrifices than to make ghouls. The cost of their magic will eventually result in insanity.
The Stone-Born are the more reliable of the two types. Although it takes a person to bind a Philosopher’s Stone to a corpse in order to make a ghoul, ghouls do not have set masters upon creation. If a master wishes to tie a ghoul to them, they must inscribe an identifying rune (such as their name) into the stone prior to binding the stone to the ghoul.
The first Ghouls were created by Autumn, later known as the Horned King, through the use of the Black Cauldron during the Great War between Gods and Fae. The Black Cauldron was a power augmentor that took the remaining power from living Fae and the used power from dead Fae and converted this energy into a Philosopher's Stone. In some cases, this combined power ended up bringing a Fae back to life, thus forming a Ghoul. The Philosopher's Stone could be used as a power augmenter by anyone, so long as they remained near the Black Cauldron while they used it. The farther away they were from the Cauldron, the less potent the power augmentation had.
Experiments with the Philosopher’s Stone for additional power were attempted by the Horned King after the War. Eventually, it was discovered Ghouls could be created without the use of the Cauldron and with more control, but these Stone-Born Ghouls were less powerful than their Cauldron-Born counterparts. It was also discovered that imperfect Philosopher's Stones would create an unstable, less functional, or weaker Ghoul.
Social interactions are highly dependent on individual Ghouls and how they prefer to hunt, live their second lives, etc. They can blend in seamlessly with humans or Fae, depending on where and when they were raised and who was around to update them on what they missed while they were dead. The glamour each ghoul possesses is enough to mask their scent and aura so they are indiscernible from the living so long as they are kept well-fed.
Ghouls take on the appearance of whatever corpse happened to be used to host the soul inside. Whatever wounds, fresh or scarred, the corpse received during its lifetime will remain with the ghoul for the remainder of their life. In order to blend in with others, they have the ability of glamour to hide their true appearance. This base ability does not allow them to shapeshift or take the form of anyone else.
Ghouls are not capable of biological reproduction. The only way to create a new ghoul is through imbibing a corpse with a sorcerer’s stone or sacrificing a corpse to the Black Cauldron.
All ghouls have the same base abilities: glamour and enhanced strength, smell, and durability. These abilities are not taxing on the ghoul’s body. All other abilities are taxing on the body and require the ghoul to feed on creatures of magic to continue using their own. Feeding does not replace the full amount of magic restored, however, just a portion of it, and is the only way to heal their physical injuries. There are two types of ghouls based on how one was created, each with its own advantages and disadvantages.
Cauldron-Born: (Note: These ghouls are solely for story purposes as the Cauldron has been missing for 2000 years. The ghouls created with this method would be dead by now.)
The ghoul may have access to powers its soul had in its previous life with the fresher dead being the strongest and the longer dead having less power. The Cauldron is a neutral entity, and it is just as likely to consume the souls and bodies placed in it as it is to create a ghoul. Thus, not every body dropped into it is guaranteed to come back. The majority of the time, the body/residual power of that life will be converted into a philosopher's stone.
Stone-Born: The range of power is also dependent on what was sacrificed to create the philosopher’s stone. Since all entities sacrificed to the Black Cauldron during the war would have been Fae ranging from newborn to 1500 years old, all philosopher’s stone source material has Fae background and includes the same advantages and disadvantages Fae of those ages would have. It’s more likely Fae under 1000 years old were sacrificed so these stones would not be as powerful as someone with a stone that took the life of a Fae that had reached full maturity. The stone overrides any powers the revived soul may have in its previous life as the stone is serving as the ghoul’s life force. Each practice of magic siphons power from the stone, and the stone cannot replenish power on its own.
Ghouls will live as long as their source material had lived. Sacrifice a 500 year old Fae? You’ll only be able to live another 500 years. For ghouls who use magic and were created by the Cauldron, expect for them to devolve into instinct-based, crazed, half-rotting monsters long before they reach the end of their unnatural lifespan. For ghouls who use magic and are powered by a philosopher’s stone, this number varies depending on how much magic is being used. If it’s part of their everyday lives, expect the lifespan to be cut in half.
Healing arts have no effect on ghouls except to cause pain and even be damaging in some cases.
Decapitation or extreme head trauma will kill a Cauldron-Born.
Removing the Philosopher's Stone from a Stone-Born will make the ghoul go dormant, and the Stone cannot be used for other purposes as it was bounded to the ghoul when it was used to bring it to life. Although the body forms a very durable and protective shell for the Stone, all it takes is for the Stone to be destroyed to kill the ghoul.