Time To Go To Ghoul School

Out of the blue yesterday I was asked if I wanted to write for a role playing game. Specifically, write demonic and undead creatures for a role playing game.

I think the answer to that is yes.

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A ghoul drawn by artist John Bolton for the film The Monster Club. The ghoul is one of the least understood, written about, or portrayed of the undead creatures. 

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I think one of the first, if not the first account of ghouls are the two demoniacs of Gadarenes written about in the Gospel of Matthew, who, possessed by demons, took refuge in a nearby tomb and ate flesh while terrorizing anyone who came near or tried to use the nearby road. When Jesus came on the scene we all know he exorcised the demons and they fled into a herd of swine and ran over a ledge to drown in the sea. But what we have here is perhaps the first account of ghouls. These men were perverted into robbing graves and defiling the bodies of those who had been buried. It’s unlikely they did this of their own volition, or even as the result of mental illness or drugs. The reasonable explanation is that once influenced by the demons, they despoiled the graves to mock God and his creations. So, we see in the ghoul a perversion of the flesh and human sensibility, quite separate from other undead creatures like the zombie who have no stated goal. The ghouls goal is to defoul, despoil, and desecrate. And the most foul act imaginable is to eat the body of the dead. To make them disappear. To reduce the handy work of God to feces. 

Ghouls are found in Muslim tradition, too, performing much the same role. But questions remain. What is the process of creating a ghoul? Is it reversible? Time to go to ghoul school.

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