Al-Qadim (Forgotten Realms)Campaign Setting Logo

Climate/Terrain:Any landAny land
Activity Cycle:NightNight
Intelligence:Exceptional (15-16)Genius (17-18)
Alignment:Neutral evilNeutral evil
No. Appearing:1-31-3
Armor Class:00
Movement:18, Sw 1218, Sw 12
Hit Dice:89
No. of Attacks:3 or 13 or 1
Damage/Attack:1d6/1d6/2d6 or special1d6/1d6/2d6 or special
Special Attacks:PossessionWithering
Special Defenses:Immune to non-wooden weapons+2 or better weapon to hit
Magic Resistance:NilNil
Size:M (8-10' tall)M (10' tall)
Morale:Champion (15-16)Fanatic (17)
XP Value:6,00010,000

The ghul-kin are related to the great ghuls, and like them are undead jann. Unlike their cousins, ghul-kin are differentiated into two distinct types, Soultakers and Witherers. While they prefer to feed on dead human bodies, ghul-kin find no pleasure in haunting burial grounds. They are far more social creatures than their cousins and often interact with mortals and even live among them undetected for long periods of time. Their greatest desires are to rule over a cowed mortal population, to corrupt mortals and use them as their servants, to have a steady supply of victims whose bodies they can devour, and to achieve enough personal power and learn enough secrets to successfully control other genies.

Like their cousins the great ghuls, ghul-kin are shapechangers. They will usually assume attractive, seductive shapes, though they occasionally take on forms designed to look virtuous or wise. They may even assume the appearance of a real person they have seen at least once, though there is always something not quite right about such impersonations (eyes the wrong color, incorrectly shaped ears, etc.) If they have heard the person speak, they can perform a mimicry of the voice, achieving a close approximation.

In their true forms, both male and female ghul-kin are 8 to 10 feet tall, with long, gangly arms and legs. They have thick, tangled hair, bone-white pock-marked skin, clawed hands, and powerful jaws filled with sharp yellow teeth. Their eyes shine with a feral light, and their ears are sharply pointed. Ghul-kin exude an unpleasant odor and are rubbery and cold to the touch. They usually take great pains to disguise both their repulsive appearance and odor in order to move about in society undetected.

Combat: Ghul-kin attack with their claws and powerful jaws. They can forgo these attacks in order to make a special attack if they wish. The special attack and its results are different for each type of ghul-kin (see below). They can use each of the following spell-like abilities at will: invisibility and polymorph self. Being undead, they are immune to sleep, charm, hold, and cold-based magic and are unaffected by paralyzation or poison. Soultakers can be turned as spectres, while Witherers are turned as vampires. Both suffer 2d6 points of damage from holy water. They are able to function in daylight, though they suffer a -1 to their attack rolls and saving throws when in bright sunlight. Jann slain by ghul-kin become ghul-kin themselves.

Ghul-kin are immune to the binding and capturing powers of sha'irs. All ghul-kin have the ability to become sorcerers, sha'irs, or priests, and all can use any magic items usable by wizards or priests. Ghul-kin take perverse delight in collecting magic items capable of doing them harm, carefully hiding them where others cannot find them. They are always searching for genie-control devices.

Habitat/Society: Ghul-kin live wherever they find it convenient to do so. They often live in cities and even engage in trade without their neighbors being aware of their true natures. They prefer to live in small family units and often form a pack with lone great ghuls. In such cases, the ghul-kin usually occupy the positions of leadership. They disdain common ghouls, finding them far too unrefined.

Ghul-kin enjoy fine clothing, elegant furnishings, and jewelry. They appreciate art and often have their dwelling places elaborately tiled or painted. Though they usually defer to the dominant style of clothing worn wherever they reside, the materials will always be the finest available and the clothing expertly tailored. Though they have no desire for normal food, they are fond of wine and seem to enjoy highly spiced meats and stews. They love all scents and perfumes, from bath soaps to sachets, and their tastes tend toward the exotic - frangipani or frankincense - for its superiority in covering their own unpleasant smell.

Ecology: Ghul-kin serve genies when forced to but try to avoid contact with their more powerful cousins unless they believe they have the upper hand. The chief motivations of ghul-kin are personal power and entertainment. Being undead, they have no limit on the time they can spend perfecting a plan or setting up an elaborate base of operations. Most of them are accomplished actors and delight in playing a role they have developed for years. Sooner or later, however, the ghul becomes bored and has to reveal itself to friends and neighbors. Such revelations are often followed by a great slaughter as the ghul-kin seeks to kill anyone who has learned its secret. They revel in establishing cults and secret societies where they can control mortals and lead them astray while only marginally concealing their true natures.

Some few ghul-kin help mortals who seek them out and flatter them or offer them genie-controlling devices. Some have been known to repay a kindness a mortal paid to them while they were disguised. All ghul-kin react more positively to those mortals who are both polite and respectful.


Soultakers are slightly smaller than witherers, rarely reaching 10 feet in height. There is an equal chance that a soultaker will be male or female. Though they look down upon great ghuls as being lesser cousins, soultakers are themselves subservient to their witherer kin. Because they must often subjugate their own desires and plans to those of their greater brethren, soultakers are often frustrated. For this reason, they are the more vicious of the two types of ghul-kin. They gain great satisfaction from possessing a victim and forcing that victim to obey their every whim. They feel some of the anger, terror, and despair their victims experience and enjoy knowing that it is their will which causes such misery for the poor possessed slave. Soultakers may become wizards or priests of up to 7th level (providing the god they serve accepts them). They are immune to nonwooden weapons.

Soultakers have a special attack form which they can use in lieu of making their normal attack. In order to use it, however, the soultaker must make an attack roll at a -3 penalty. If successful, the soultaker has kissed its victim on the lips. Victims who fail a saving throw vs. spell (at a -2 penalty) are possessed by a portion of the soultaker's essence and fall under the ghul's control. Though the victims' minds are still present in their own bodies, they are helpless prisoners, unable to speak or make their plight known to others. Instead, the soultaker speaks and acts for its victims, always working to the detriment of its victims. companions, though often in cunning and subtle ways.

Once the possession has occurred, the soultaker can control its victim at any range so long as they are both on the same plane of existence. If the victim is a spellcaster, the soultaker can use whatever spells the victim had memorized at the time possession took place but cannot force its victim to relearn or pray for new spells. Soultakers may possess and control one victim for every two points of Intelligence (rounded down).

The possession may be detected by various means. First, any attempt to detect alignment on the victim will result in a reading of neutral evil. In addition, strangers react to the victim with distrust and suspicion, just as though he or she were under the effects of an evil eye. The victim may say or do evil things, and his or her behavior may undergo a radical change. He or she may even attack his or her own party without apparent cause. A sha'ir of 3rd level or above may detect that there is genie work connected with the victim; a hakima of 9th level or above may tell that the victim is possessed; a priest able to cast detect evil may learn that the victim is under the control of some evil force.

Several spells may be used to combat the effects of the possession. A protection from evil or protection from evil, 10' radius spell will keep the soultaker from exercising its control while the spell is in effect. An anti-magic shell will negate the possession if the victim is in the area of effect when the spell is cast, and remove curse will break the possession. Dispel evil cast on the victim will break the possession and cause 3-24 (3d8) points of damage on the soultaker. The soultaker will not willingly go near a priest or mosque, nor will anyone possessed by one. It will force the victim to fight to prevent the possession from being broken and may attempt to summon its possessed victim to its lair rather than allowing him or her to be freed of its influence.


Both male and female witherers are usually taller than soultakers (averaging 10 feet in height) and more dominant. They have greater intelligence and cunning and are usually the instigators of long-term grandiose plans. Such plans are invariably designed to gain more power for the witherer and to corrupt mortals into serving the ghul-kin. They delight in showy rituals and sacrifices of both sentient creatures and treasures. Witherers use soultakers as lieutenants in many of their plans and often find great ghuls to use as pawns. Humans and demihumans are allowed to serve them as semislaves, becoming either shock troops or food sources as the need arises.

When thwarted, witherers retreat to plan their revenge, sometimes taking decades to perfect their tactics before returning to the place where they failed. They are not adept at coping with premature disclosure, however, and they will often make poor decisions in response to the unexpected, thereby revealing their machinations or causing their own downfall.

Male witherers are rare and usually less ruthless than their female counterparts. They may sometimes be found masquerading as hermits or reclusive sha'irs and may be induced to help mortals if offered a substantial enough reward or if the matter interests them. Opportunities to act out some great dramatic role are also effective in persuading male witherers to aid non-ghuls. Claiming some sort of kinship is also an effective ploy if there is the slightest evidence to back up such a claim.

Witherer ghul-kin may become mages or priests of up to 9th level (provided the god they serve accepts them). They can only be hit by +2 or better weapons. Instead of their three regular attacks, they may use a special attack: a touch which weakens and withers the target creature while strengthening the witherer. This withering touch causes 1d10 points of damage (which are temporarily added to the witherer's hit point total). Damage against the witherer is subtracted from these added hit points first (if not used, the hit points remain for one hour). Furthermore, the touch drains one point of Strength and ages the victim by a year. If the victim's Strength falls to zero, he or she dies. The victim also dies if the aging is enough to push the character past his or her normal lifespan. Those slain by a witherer must have remove curse cast on their bodies before they can be raised or resurrected.

The aging is only reversible through use of potions or other magic which restores youth or reverses aging, but the Strength loss is not permanent. If not drained completely, the victim recovers any Strength points lost at the rate of one point per turn. Lost hit points must be recovered normally or through magical healing.