Sunday, May 10, 2020

The Birth-Cursed Ghouls (Sunless Horizon)

The Ghouls were never meant to exist. They are a byproduct of Keter's biolabs, misshapen mutants grown from human stock meant for the Empyreans (I should probably rewrite that article, but here's the simple changes - they are no longer a dystopia, there are a load of them spread through the ship, and it's built to be an area found very late in a campaign, that leads into finding out Keter's goals) or modified genes built for His Seraphim.

When they are found by the Disciples, they are removed, and left in Ein Soph to die.

Their Society

Batches of Ghouls tend to stick together, forming small groups. Once they move to safety, they create encampments of tiny metal shacks and communal fires. Their technology is nearly nonexistent - they hammer together dull glass-tipped spears and small metal shields for hunting, set simple mechanical traps to defend their camps, and fill the halls of Ein Soph with firelight.

These tribes are very local, rarely ranging more than a mile from their camps. They are also very small, with about 50 people at the most.

Strangely, Disciples tend not to react to the presence of Ghouls, a fact they are happy to take advantage of. Many tribes keep a few Acolytes or other low-level Disciples tied down somewhere in their camps, to use as weapons and labor. According to the Navigator Houses, this means Ghouls are intrinsically evil - look at how these dark spirits follow them!

Alone in the Firelight

Ghoul nests are spread throughout the worldship - some were found by the Navigator Houses before the Retreat, where they were treated like pests. Jackals would be sent to kill them, wiping out entire nests in a day with incendiary weapons and mass gunfire.

The Houses feel no different after the Retreat, but they have had unexpected difficulty with these Ghouls. 

Even before the Retreat, the Ghouls here were hunted by the many Oasis Kingdoms, and each survivor teaches new nests ways to protect themselves. Older nests are not the simple villages Jackals are used to - they are fortified complexes webbed with thin tunnels the unencumbered Ghouls slip through with ease as Jackals are trapped by the bulk of their equipment.

Some nests are even larger threats - so dangerous that they are either destroyed at all costs or carefully avoided. These nests are those gifted with a broken Seraph. Ghouls call these crawling, mewling creatures Hanged Kings, and idolize them as the last remnants of their pasts. They are only spoken of in the past tense - they are only fragments. They are already dead.

Their Stories

The Ghouls say that once, in the past, the world was beautiful. They were tall and strong; they built cities under a benevolent god, and ruled over all they surveyed.

But slowly, painfully, that god died. Its body calcified into a maze of impervious walls, all without the light it used to radiate. Its spasms threw the world into disarray, shattering the utopia the Ghouls once had.

Some pieces of it still survive. Fragments, hidden in metal shells. These are servant-angels, left by their god to help them. Its heart still beats, and with every pulse more Ghouls rise from its blood. This heart is suffering, forever. It must be killed, so it can be at peace.

They say their god was not the only one who died. All the strange peoples of the worldship come from their own gods, entangled with this one. If you could dig your way out into the void, you could float among an infinite plane of frozen corpses.


  1. Do the ghouls actively hunt others for food or are they persecuted mercilessly?

    1. They don't eat people (although you'll definitely hear stories of them doing that), but they will raid villages and attack travelers. They are persecuted mercilessly (see: "wiping out entire nests in a day").

  2. I am glad to read more of Sunless Horizon. Thank you.

    1. I'd been hoping to get back to it for a while, but the Ghouls were surprisingly difficult to make.

  3. This is wonderful, thanks for writing it


Sunless Horizon Beta 2.3 Release

Commissioned from Scrap Princess excited screeching I've been posting about  Sunless Horizon  for about a year, and after finally gettin...