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The madness and monstrosity lay in the figures in the foreground- for Pickman's morbid art was pre-eminently one of demoniac portraiture. These figures were seldom completely human, but often approached humanity in varying degree. Most of the bodies, while roughly bipedal, had a forward slumping, and a vaguely canine cast. The texture of the majority was a kind of unpleasant rubberiness.
~ HPL, Pickman's Model


This subject contains information from the "Lovecraft Circle" Myth Cycles, and while guided by HPL are not based on his work alone. This subject contains information from the Expanded Cthulhu Mythos, and not based on H.P. Lovecraft's works directly. This subject contains information from the Mythos Adjacent Works, and while share similar themes and features of the Mythos are not based on his work, or generally considered a part of the Mythos proper. Ghouls are a species of cannibalistic humanoids featured in several of Lovecraft's works.

They are first depicted in the short story "Pickman's Model", where the eponymous main character meets with the beings regularly to paint them in various poses and activities. It is revealed in "The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath" that Pickman is in fact a partial or full-blooded ghoul, and now resides with them in the Dreamlands as a chieftain.

In combat, they are known to use items such as headstones and were unfamiliar with other types of weaponry up until their battle with the Moon-beasts. It was here that they first discovered, and quickly mastered, the use of spears and of javelins. With this newfound technology, they were able to annihilate the garrison of Moon-beasts on the nameless rock off the coast of Sarkomand in the Dreamlands.

On specific planets they worship a number of gods such as Baoht Z'uqqa-mogg (EXP: "Mysterious Manuscripts" RPG Module Thomas M. K. Stratman) or Mordiggian (ADJ: "The Charnel God" Clark Ashton Smith).

Overview

Loathsome humanoids with rubbery skin, hoof-like feet, canine-bestial features, and long claws, they dwell near crypts and graveyards, traveling via underground tunnels to feast upon the unspeakable delights of rotting remains.

Due to their appetite for corpse flesh, ghouls are never far from human settlements and live in secret at the edges of civilization. During times of strife and war, when the number of human dead rises, ghouls gather to enjoy the bounty of misfortune. The ghoulish delight for dead flesh is considered by some scholars to arise from an ability to consume the memories of those devoured—the remains of a person containing their essence and memories of life— which are sweetmeats for ghouls.

While ghoul tunnels crisscross the soil beneath human feet, certain deep tunnels go beyond the Waking World and enter the Dreamlands, with ghouls able to pass physically between the realms. Such tunnels, in the main, connect to the Crag of Ghouls that lies above the dark and bone-filled Vale of Pnath where it is best not to tread.

Ghouls have an uncertain relationship with humanity, as, much like humans, each is an individual who may or may not want to entertain a dialogue. Certainly, some are known to have commerce with witches, sorcerers, and those seeking unspeakable pleasures, while others see humans as nothing more than an unprepared meal and readily attack anyone who foolishly ventures into their dark domain. Such curious relationships may in part stem from the lore that suggests humans may transform into ghouls over a prolonged period if certain conditions are applied, and if certain unwholesome foods are consumed. If this lore is to be believed, then in any population of ghouls, a number may consist of those who were once human. If there is a distinction between “true” ghouls and those who were once human, the secret remains unknown, as some speak of all ghouls once being human. Given their propensity for longevity, those who were once human would, after many centuries, would be indistinguishable, with little of their original humanity left.

Whatever the case, ghoul-tongue comprises sounds best described as “meeping” and “gibbering,” although some—perhaps those of human origin—are able to articulate human tongue when it suits them.

Ghoul Cults

Human ghoul cults exist, offering their members access to “special” banquets where they can partake of forbidden foods. Such cannibal cults seem to operate at all levels of society, from elegant and sophisticated soirées for the jaded and wealthy elite to the dark and earthy gatherings of those at the bottom of the social order, who have little option but to dine upon the free meat available in any graveyard. Most cults of this kind are close-knit and do not readily accept new members, others may be comprised solely of a family unit for whom cannibalism is a tradition. Of course, some groups have dug deeper and become intertwined with real ghouls, developing a symbiotic relationship, with each providing something the other wants: humans can provide protection and discretion for a local ghoul community, while the ghouls can provide access to illicit gastronomical pleasures.

For some humans, the eating of corpse flesh is the spark that sets them upon the road of transformation into a ghoul.

For others, it appears the consistent proximity of ghouls alights the change, perhaps aided in part by the consumption of meat “prepared” by the ghouls. In some locales, long-standing ties can be found between humans and ghouls, and who work together to ensure no one interferes with the arrangement they have.

Gallery

Main article: Ghoul/Gallery
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