Monster Focus: Ghouls (PFRPG) PDF

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Feast on the Living!

Hunger is a ghoul’s constant companion. The desire to consume rotting flesh dominates their thoughts, leading them to strike out at the living to acquire the carrion that they so desire. Unlike other lesser undead, ghouls possess a terrible cunning that they use to plan out their next meal. Monster Focus: Ghouls is here to give the busy GM everything you need to put your players on the menu!

Inside, you'll find a number of options for player characters facing off against ghouls. Options like the Mind over Muscle feat, which allows a character to fight off paralyzation, or the aromatic sachet, an alchemical item that protects against stench. In addition, there are a wide variety of new rules for the Game Master to use in their game. You can set your table with a ghoul banquet, a hazard that can nauseate anyone that draws too close, or have your group face off against the powerful ghast lord, a new type of spellcasting undead! Game Masters will also find plenty of new magic items, new ghoul varieties, and adventure hooks inside. In total, this PDF contains:

  • 5 New Feats
  • 5 New Alchemical Items
  • 4 New Spells
  • 4 New Magic Items
  • 1 New Hazard
  • 1 New Undead Creature
  • 2 New Types of Ghoul
  • 3 Adventure Hooks
Monster Focus is a series of short, easy to integrate PDFs, designed to make one classic monster the central theme for an adventure or even a small campaign. Each PDF in the series includes options for player characters and game masters, including new feats, spells, magic items, and more! Written by veteran game designer, Jason Bulmahn, you can be sure that these rules will fit seamlessly into your game.

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4.80/5 (based on 5 ratings)

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An review


This pdf is 6 pages long, 1 page front cover, ~3/4 of a page SRD/editorial, leaving us with ~4 1/4 pages of content, so let's take a look!

The pdf kicks off with a short list of sample DCs to unearth information on ghouls before introducing us to 5 new feats:

-Grave Claws: Stagger foes with your paralyzing attacks even if they succeed at their saves. Okay, I guess - but not impressed.

-Mind over Muscle: Allows you to save again against paralysis each turn. Not a fan of this.

-Nauseating Stench: 1 round nauseated when subject to stench quality, even be sickened for 1 round on a successful save. Still not impressed.

-Resist Undead: Immunity to stench and +2 to saves versus e.g. energy drain etc. I dislike flat-out immunities granted by feats.

-Unholy Feast: Consume pieces of a corpse to get +2 to Str and 1d6 temporary hit points for 1 minute per HD of the consumed creature. I don't particularly like HD-metagaming effects like this.

We also get 5 alchemical items, though: From a satchel of herbs to help versus stench, a nail to enhance the ghoul touch spell, a tooth to enhance undead creation to make ghasts, flesh to enhance undead and a type of oil that punishes those seeking to bite those coated in it, these items universally are nice and thankfully come with relevant craft-DCs and gp-value. Nice ones!

Next up are 4 new spells, one to resist paralysis, animate undead as ghouls, hide behind a semblance of living or incite terrible, ravenous hunger. Nice spells, though I personally preferred the ghoulish spells provided by Legendary Games' Sepulchral Swaths of Tanoth-Gha.

The pdf also features 4 new magical items, one of which would be a blade to inflict painful wounds and sicken those hit with pain, a mask that nets you a bite attack that may paralyze foes, a mask that duplicates aforementioned spell to disguise undead nature as well as a scarab that allows the wielder to negate paralysis and the staggered condition by expending its limited charges.

We also get a new hazard - the ghoul's deadly feast that emits a terrible stench. Among the new creatures, we get a CR 5 Ghast Lord and two new templates, the gluttonous ghoul at CR +1 and a massive, charging ghouls called Leaping Ghouls that are particularly agile (also at CR +1).

The pdf closes with 3 nice adventure ideas.


Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly 2-column standard and the pdf features hand-drawn b/a-artworks, which, while not superb, are really nice to get at this low price point. The pdf has no bookmarks, but at this length, that's still okay.

Honestly, the pdf was off to a bad start - the feats honestly didn't wow me and feel unfocused - not bad, but not exciting either and the undead-hunter feats feels strangely displaced in this pdf that is otherwise devoted to the ghoulish creatures. The spells, while not bad, also falls into this category, though to a lesser extent. The alchemical items and magical items, hazards and monsters as well as the templates, though, are actually really great, especially for the low price-point. While hence imho not perfect, this still remains a worthy addition to your gaming table. My final verdict will thus clock in at a solid 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.

Lot of depth in a simple package


First of all, I loved the Knowledge skill breakdown. As a GM I'm fairly firm about metagaming, but I encourage Knowledge checks and my players make them all the time. Now, I probably didn't "need" one for the ghoul (because I have been playing since before Jason was born), I loved that it was in there. I think any 3PP author doing a dedicated monster product should include this feature or something like it.

The feats were solid, and in my opinion, well balanced. Many fall into the category of "Why didn't I ever think of that?" Which is good, because that means they're clear, straight-forward, and fit the theme. There are some which beneficial to those who fight ghouls, adding value to the PDF.

One feat that has been questioned allows one of two consequences—either the ghouls existing ability plays out as described in the Bestiary, or they can apply a condition for 1 round. This stacks and so continues as long as the target is hit by the ghoul and continues to make their saving throw. It does not compound upon the creatures special ability if the target fails their save. A feat that requires you to succeed on an attack, and then allows you to apply a condition for 1 round doesn't seem out of line to the Core Rules to me—specially when that condition is not helpless. Fighting monsters is dangerous, folks!

The alchemical items are imaginative but also quite practical.

(That is a theme throughout the PDF, this is stuff isn't gonzo, these mechanics are practical and yet imaginative.)

The spells are well balanced and what I would expect. One spell could be used to create or augment an entire encounter. Something a group of PCs would never expect. Kudos on that one in particular. There is an item which does something similar and makes a wickedly good addition to the game.

It is as if Jason has seen some issues with certain types of encounter design, and he's developed some solutions for them. Not in a contrived fashion, but with solid new mechanics.

To sum up, for two dollars this is a nice package of ready to use mechanics, creature variants, and items which will definitely add some spice to any campaign where ghouls will make an appearance.

Ghoulish Delight!


I have been a huge fan of ghouls ever since I read The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath and take much delight when encountering something new about them!

I cannot add much more to what the other reviewers have already said but to say that Mr. Bulmahn has done it once again by putting together a great package that offers everything a GM needs to surprise players who think they know everything about ghouls they could know. However, don’t worry, as the tasty bits are just as useful to players!

All in all Monster Focus: Ghouls is a tasty product that would make Vincent Price cackle with glee!

Well worth the cup of coffee.


This gem of supplemental rules dives right into the subject matter-- there's no bits of fiction or setting material, which is a nice touch and leaves campaign integration as an exercise for the reader.

The content is almost entirely for the GM, with the feats, spells, and items geared for giving ghouls a wider role in the game. Certainly, there are those necromancers and clerics who will want the new spells for player use, and I thought all of them were solid.

I especially liked the spellcasting implements and the hazards, as both immediately inspired ideas for their usage. The variant ghouls had readily apparent hooks available through the new spells and items to give them added roles within a game.

The art is low key, and entertaining, but the maze-as-trade-dress is, frankly, inspired. Editing and layout are straightforward, leaving the focus where it should be-- on the material. For the price, you can't go wrong; this is a welcome jolt to make your players sit up and pay attention to their foes when they may have thought they could sleepwalk through an encounter. If you're wondering about picking this up, stop. Go ahead and get it, you won't be disappointed.

Great Green Gobs of Greasy Grimy (Gopher?) Guts


Product Layout: 1 cover page and 3/4 taken up by OGL and writer information, with ~ 1/4 used by art you're getting 4 solid pages of rules for ghouls.

Skills: Section is much improved with information the GM can convey to players based on their roll.

Feats: For the most part these are well done, but there is one feat that I feel is a little too powerful. You'll have to decide for yourself but I wouldn't use it unmodified in my campaigns.

Alchemical Items: Useful and interesting items, 4 alchemical items and 1 spell component enhancement. Having an alchemical item that makes your spells more effective is very cool and I hope to see more items like this.

Spells: 4 spells with a mid level and two low level spells aimed at aiding the undead and one for fighting them.

Magic Items: There are 3 Wondrous Items and 1 Weapon in this section, priced for mid level adventures. While they are too expensive for lower level adventurers (the type to fight book standard ghouls), the items are very useful for a group facing the up scaled ghouls from this supplement.

New Hazard: Appropriately themed and a good addition to the GMs bag, the Ghouls Banquet is a good way to add danger to an adventure without directly damaging the players.

New Creature: The Ghast Lord is CR 5 and will make for an appropriate leader of a ghoul pack. The Gluttonous and Leaping Ghoul templates are +1 CR modifications that will prove a nasty surprise for any player that thinks they know what a ghoul/ghast can do.

Adventure Ideas: 3 adventure seeds that give you some idea how to use the material in Monster Focus: Ghouls.

Overall I think this product is a strong addition to the Monster Focus line, and the best one so far. While I do have misgivings about one feat I don't feel that's worth a star, as it is easily house ruled.

Feast Upon the Living Now!

Going... going... gone! Sold to the nerd in the corner.

Enjoy sir. I think this might be my favorite one of the series to date. It was a lot of fun to put together.

Jason Bulmahn
Minotaur Games

Nicely done. I'd love to see a collected bundle in a single file, or possibly grouped by themes like undead, draconics, goblinoids-- but I guess that depends on the intended ambition. As it is, it's a perfect little bump for jolting your game.


Thanks Ben, glad you like it!

As for collections, I may consider it in the future.

Jason Bulmahn
Minotaur Games

Third 5-Star review! You guys rock. Glad you have been enjoying the series!

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

I give this one my own "thumbs up" in the reviews.

Lead Designer

Thanks to everyone who picked this up in the past two weeks. You made Monster Focus: Ghouls #1 on the list of pdfs from other publishers!

Jason Bulmahn
Minotaur Games

Thank you for making Monster Focus: Ghouls #1 on the Paizo store on the list of PDFs from other publishers last Friday. As a special thanks, here are a trio of extra adventure hooks for use with the supplement.

Cannibal Plague: It all began when a lone peasant was found dead one morning, half of his body consumed. Now, what started out as a single attack on a dark night has started to spread. Bodies are showing up on the streets regularly, and common folk turn to feast on each other without reason. Everyone is starting to think there is some sort of cannibal plague going around and no one is safe from its unwholesome urges. In reality, a ghoul witch is feasting on the populace and using the ravenous urge spell to cause others to feast as well, hoping that the “plague” will help cover its tracks.

Lord of the Hungry: The PCs must venture to an ancient necropolis to gather an item that they need to save a nearby town, but upon entering they are set upon by dozens of ghouls that capture them and take them to their “king” who sits upon a throne of skulls at the cemetery’s heart. Calling himself the lord of the hungry, this ghast lord refuses to give the PCs the item they need, and instead threatens to devour them unless they help the ghouls. The ravenous undead want fresh bodies, and unless the PCs can find a way to convince the town to turn over their dead to the ghouls, the ghouls might have to start find a fresh source of meat.

Missing Dead: The PCs return to town after having explored part of a dungeon only to realize that they must return to find a key that must have been on one of the bodies of the monsters they slew. Upon returning, they quickly come to realize that all of the bodies of their enemies have gone missing, leaving behind bloody smears that lead deeper into unexplored areas of the dungeon. One of their previous foes has risen as a gluttonous ghoul and it has grown fat on the bodies of the fallen. If the PCs hope to find their key, they are going to have to find the ghoul, defeat it, and then search through its gruesome remains.

Thanks again, you guys rock!

Jason Bulmahn
Minotaur Games

Reviewed first on, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here, on OBS and's shop. Cheers!

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