The following rolling darkness comes from the scheming mind of BDC.
Now, this project began as a look into monsters that can F your mind up. But we’re going to begin with one that never ever intrudes into your mental space but will mess you up anyway…or, at least, those left among the living!
Now, we talked about Doresain, the Ghoul King in an earlier article that included, not only, his history/origin, but also an approach to him being your patron. This monstrosity came from his sick, cabalistic mind.
Doresain, being an elf that devoured his own just to get Orcus, demon lord of undeath’s attention, wasn’t happy with just getting his lord’s attention and becoming Orcus’ Exarch so he went on to try and create his own ghoulish super soldiers. These former elves were warped into devourers of flesh with an added bonus that Doresain intended to build the leadership of his growing ghoulish army.
No one knows how he did it or what these creatures did to get to that point, but in transforming these elves into Maurezhi demons, the ghoul king unleashed a foul and disturbing evil upon the planes! Creating them for the purpose of consuming mortal flesh was only the beginning. These special elite forces were focused on killing and completely eating those with amazing physical and mental abilities adding their prowess to the demons skill set. And, for a short time, the Maurezhi could even BECOME the consumed creature!
Giving it the ability to walk among mortals without them getting wise to them allowed this fiend to infiltrate warrior’s barracks and castles of kings. It allowed the creature to entrap the best and brightest of any kingdom and, not only eliminate them one by one, but add their skills to their own. Obviously, the old a Maurezhi got, the more skilled at martial weapons, hand to hand fighting and the smarter and more dangerous it became.
Unfortunately, they could only hold this form for about a week as it would slowly decay until the façade fell away exposing the demon to the mortals around it. So, it was continually devouring as many victims in as short a time as possible; gathering the best abilities and highest intellects of the mortal realm. Of course, the end result was to serve Doresain as generals of his armies of ghasts and ghouls. For that, he needed the best strategist and warriors in the planes.
This alone made the Maurezhi a dangerous parasite upon any kingdom. Some creatures they could devour, not only their flesh, but their memories; becoming a repository of the knowledge of several sages and warriors. And, if you thought you could just bring them back easily, a body devoured by this fiend cannot be raised but by a ‘properly worded wish, miracle or a true resurrection spell” any of which could fail anyway.
Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes features this demon as a cr7 with resistances to (man that’s a lot) cold, fire, lightning, necrotic and the big three if they’re not magical. They have telepathy and darkvision of 120 feet and can assume the appearance of any medium creature it has eaten and, on top of all of those resistances that I just listed, it has advantage on Saves vs spells or magical effects! Add to that a rechargeable ability to raise ghouls and ghasts during a fight and that makes this one a considerable danger.
For DMs, this goes deeper than the just the horror of the flesh eating ghouls, it allows this menacing enemy a chance to know many secrets, battle plans and tactics giving it an advantage skulking among them. They made great spies since they could devour instead of interrogate; knowing the enemies movement whether they be mortal or, even fiendish!
The Maurezhi can simply kill the lesser folk and raise them as ghouls to serve it. This can build a small army fast, all the while, diminishing the ranks of able fighters and keen-minded strategist among their enemy. Making them harder to take down, the longer it takes to weed them out.
As we discussed in the Ghoul King’s Favorite, Doresain would make a great patron for the Undying Warlock. But, what if instead of a mortal cursed through his bloodline or bite with the insatiable hunger for mortal flesh, we start with a Maurezhi who has been busy adding to his repertoire of skills and knowledge until he picks the wrong victim.
What if in the process of devouring and adding one particular warrior or sage’s stats to its own, it finds more of a struggle than they were ready for. This brings me to the discussion of the REVENANT. Imagine, if you will, the devoured makes a comeback as a revenant and, instead of finding itself back in its dead body, it has invaded the creature that ate it! The Maurezhi becomes one with the strong spirit and must struggle with not only its wishes, but the wishes of this returned spirit.
In the 5E Monster Manual, the Revenant is treated as a monster to be fought because it is. But to play one will take some finagling. But, without any homebrew (which may be impossible at this point), you would need to start with the REBORN lineage from Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft.
Now, it doesn’t have to be this way, but it makes sense, since Doresain was an Elf and seems likely to mess with his kin, that you begin with the High Elf racial class also. Now, taking the Reborn lineage only allows you to keep the High Elf’s Weapon Training (Proficeincy with the Longsword, shortsword, Longbow and shortbow) as well as your pluses to Dexterity (+2) and Intelligence (+1).
Add to that the Deathless Nature that seems a lot like the Elven Trance with added steps; You can continue through Van Richten’s to take a Dark Gift.
SOUL ECHOES gives you two more skill proficiencies and one additional language. But also punishes you if you roll a nat one; having the voice in your head take the wheel.
Maybe taking the Symbiotic Being dark gift makes a bit more sense. Your symbiotic being is given an Intelligence, Wisdom and Charisma score and can be a great back up if you’re having problems nailing that saving throw. Especially in the cast of a failed death saves, the symbiote can come through for you once a long rest to automatically pass it for you! As always, there’s a down side. Your symbiote definitely has an agenda and isn’t happy when you don’t go along with it. There’s a Charisma save when this happens and, if you fail, the symbiote takes over for a few hours!
Now, all of this can be a pain or a great story element. Your choice. But the way you’re reacting to this write up will tell you if it’s a good idea to go on.
Warlock makes a great deal of sense having your composite being ask for Doresain’s help to give you magic to finish what the mortal came back for. Maybe, after that, the Maurezhi can go on about its business. As discussed in the aforementioned article, the Undying Patron makes sense and, if you’re going with a martial skill, take the Pact of the Blade.
If you want to go Wizard, I think the best option is the Blade Singer. We are dealing with Elves, after all, where this tradition comes from. If the original character didn’t have access to this knowledge, you can just as easily flavor it as part of the many memories and skill sets the Maruezhi has devoured during his jaunt through the Material Plane.
I’ve played one and think this is the best combo of martial and magic available to you right now. You could even flavor it darker with the song being a bit corrupted and dark. You could easily make it your pact blade as a Warlock and go multiclass with Wizard using this subclass. You go from a beautiful, graceful fighting style to a haunting dirge that instills a mesmerizing terror in a fight adding Eldritch blasts and all the nastiest, dark spells you could ever imagine.
Your character becomes a Revenant; looking for the person or persons who have wronged them. Along for the ride is the reluctant demonic entity that has take a back seat to this mortal. Enraged and nearly helpless, it bides its time until it can gain control either by helping the mortal finish its task or gaining aid from Doresain himself.
What have you done at YOUR table? What dark little twists have you attempted? How would you use this twisted ghoul in YOUR game? Let us know in the comments or hit us up on social media!