World of Al'Dravin
In the lightless depths beneath the ground, an empire
of devouring ambition grows and plots and dreams.
Its citizens call themselves the People, but the rest
of Midgard calls them the Lords Subterranean, the
Ghoul Imperium, or simply the Empire of the Ghouls.
Their cities lie out of sight, their agents infiltrate the
underworlds of a score of surface cities, and their goals
know no limits.
To them, if you are not a member of the People, you are
food. Their empire maintains complex social structures
and forges serious alliances, particularly among the
undead princes of Morgau and Doresh. Unofficial
embassies exist in Zobeck, the Ironcrag Cantons,
Krakova, and Magdar. Other hidden outposts may lurk
below the Seven Cities, Illyria, or beyond.
They scheme and plot. They hunger for the flesh of the
living. They are the darakhul.
INTO THE BIG, WIDE WORLD
Some darakhul venture into the wider world on the
business of the Empire. Maintaining their state requires
envoys and ambassadors, messengers and scouts, traders
and commerce, as well as knowledge of events in the
surface world. These undead diplomats engage with
races they might otherwise consider food out of duty
to the Empire and with a specific purpose.
Other members of their kind, however, have no
such obligations. For adventuring darakhul, those
in self-imposed exile, or those who never belonged
to the Imperium, the quest to master their own
hunger, to transcend their role as predators of sentient
beings, is as much a part of their journey as the current
quest. These characters typically want to grow beyond
their ghoulish appetites and regain some part of their
former lives in the cultures and societies of the world’s
surface. No one knows better than them that they can’t
overcome their nature unless they confront it.
But no matter how urbane or well-controlled the rare
diplomat or merchant might seem to be, the prejudice
of the living against the undead is powerful and
visceral. Humanity views the darakhul with suspicion
if not outright hostility, and it is difficult—but not
impossible—for a darakhul to allay those fears.
THE CUT OF YOUR CLOAK
A quality disguise is one of the best tools for a darakhul
trying to make its way among the breathing. Almost all
ghouls traveling on the surface maintain a disguise kit
and a concealing outfit to match their cover identity.
With a good costume, a ghoul might pass unchallenged
among humans for a long time. Possibilities include
the wrappings of a leper, the enshrouding robes that
are common within the Magocracy of Allain, the veils
of Siwali ladies, or the head-to-toe garb of the desert
raiders of the Tamasheq. Each of these disguises requires
appropriate details to help the deception withstand
scrutiny: the right language skills along with knowledge
of the region and its customs.
Even a convincing disguise doesn’t explain a
darakhul’s need to eat alone and behind closed doors.
Darakhul can use cultural or religious requirements to
justify such behavior in most situations.
In cases where a costume and a cover identity are
impractical, a skillful application of cosmetics and a few
gold coins slipped into the right hands are often enough
to make a request for privacy seem more reasonable.
Ensuring a sufficient supply of raw meat is a challenge left
to the imagination of the player.
Both ordinary ghouls and darakhul arise from the
infected corpses of other races. Most traits of the previous
race are gone (see the Humanoid Heritage table). Even
their cosmetic features—pointed ears, long beards—fade
over time into the skull-like faces, fanged mouths, and
taut, gray skin of the ghouls.
Your darakhul character has certain characteristics in
common with all other darakhul.
Ability Score Improvement. You Constitution score
improves by 2.
Age. An upper limit of darakhul age has never been
discovered; most darakhul die violently.
Playing a Darakhul
Life as the ravenous undead comes with challenges for
an adventurer. People revile the darakhul universally
as scavengers at best, and as loathsome, murdering
abominations at worst. For such a being, participating
as a member of an adventuring party is complicated.
To survive on the daylit surface of the world, a
darakhul must be clever and thorough.
Alignment. Your alignment does not change
automatically, but you have a strong draw toward evil.
Size. Your size is determined by your Humanoid Heritage
Speed. Your base walking speed is determined by your
Humanoid Heritage (see below).
Type. You are of the humanoid (darakhul) type.
Darkvision. You can see in dim light within 60 feet as
though it were bright light and in darkness or bright
light as if it were dim light. You can’t discern color in
darkness or bright light, only shades of gray.
Natural Weapons. Your heavy jaw is powerful enough to
crush bones to powder. You gain a bite attack that deals
1d6 piercing damage.
Humanoid Heritage. Darakhul arise from humanoid
stock, and that determines some of their traits. Choose
one humanoid heritage from the table and apply the
Hunger for Flesh. You must consume a meal of raw meat
each day or suffer the effects of starvation. If you go
24 hours without such a meal, you gain one level of
exhaustion (this is an exception to the darakhul’s
immunity). You cannot stave this off with half rations.
While you have any levels of exhaustion, you cannot
regain hit points or remove levels of exhaustion until
you spend 1 hour consuming an amount of raw meat
equal to a Small creature (about 30 pounds).
Sunlight Sensitivity. When you, the target of your attack,
or anything you try to perceive is in direct sunlight,
you have disadvantage on attack rolls and Wisdom
(Perception) checks that rely on sight.
Undead Vitality. You are infused with the dark energy
of undeath, which frees you from some frailties
that plague living creatures. You have resistance to
necrotic damage and immunity to poison damage. You
are immune to exhaustion and to the charmed and
poisoned conditions. If you die, you cannot be returned
to life by revivify, raise dead, or reincarnate; resurrection and true resurrection return you to life as your original
race. A create undead spell cast so that it targets only your
corpse affects you as a raise dead spell affects the corpse
of a once-living creature. You don’t need to drink or
breathe. You don’t sleep the way living creatures do, but
during long rests, you enter a dormant state resembling
death; during that time, you have disadvantage on
Wisdom (Perception) checks.
Languages. You can speak, read, and write Darakhul and
Dragonkin Strength +1 Medium 25 feet (not slowed by
Dwarf Wisdom +1 Medium 25 feet (not slowed by
Elf Dexterity +1 Medium 30 feet Elvish
Gnome Intelligence +1 Small 25 feet Gnomish
Halfling Charisma +1 Small 25 feet Halfling
Human Any (not Constitution) +1 Medium 30 feet Choose one
Kobold Intelligence +1 Small 30 feet Kobold
Ravenfolk Dexterity +1 Medium 30 feet Huginn’s Speech
Tiefling Charisma +1 Medium 30 feet Infernal
Orc Strength +1 Medium 30 feet Northern
To pass for a living creature, a darakhul needs a
convincing costume, matching language and speech
patterns, and appropriate mannerisms and behavior.
The best tactic for most darakhul is to mimic the culture
it lived in while it was alive, because it has a lifetime (if a
short one) of knowledge to draw on. Whether it’s better
to try to blend into the local culture is an open question.
Someone who looks just like everyone else on the street
draws less attention than someone who looks like an
exotic foreigner—but a person who looks like everyone
else yet acts oddly can rouse even more suspicion than
the exotic stranger, especially in a crossroads of cultures
where foreign travelers are common.
Under normal circumstances, a darakhul with a
careful disguise can move among the living without
rousing suspicion. As with any ability check, dice
should be brought in only when the character faces
an unusual situation or a challenge. If, for example,
a darakhul gets involved in a chase or a battle in a
crowded city market, there’s a chance a bystander
might notice the pallor of undead flesh beneath a
flapping cloak or the rictus grin inside a deep hood
that’s momentarily pushed back. Palace guards
inspect supplicants to the Queen more carefully than
an innkeeper or a merchant inspects customers. If
rumors get around that there are murderers, monsters,
or darakhul loose in the city, everyone is more alert.
In those situations, the GM can call for a Charisma
(Deception) check and either compare it to the
NPC’s passive Perception score or make an active
Wisdom (Perception) check for the NPC. Opposed
checks should be reserved for those times when an
NPC intently scrutinizes the character or is already
suspicious. If a group of NPCs is involved, it’s best to
make one check with advantage for the group instead
of one check per NPC.