Tuesday, August 17, 2021

THE HALF-DEAD (Ghoolegh from the Chronicles of Corum)

I have a very strong mental image of what the Ghoolegh look like. This is not it, but this is what I could find.

AC as armour     Move 50% Normal Human     HD 5+5 (hp only)     ML 12 (see below)

Balanced on the very edge of death, their blood runs cold and slow and only at the behest of their Fomorian controllers/creators.

They are death pale with bloody red eyes. They are dull-witted, clumsy and sluggish, but capable of operating devices and independently carrying out orders. Their speech is halting and sombre, without emotion. They dimly remember their mortal life and skills.

The Half-Dead act as handlers to packs of Hounds of the Horn (Fomorian hunting dogs) and may be mounted on Ghoul Horses (unarmoured light warhorse, immunity and attacks as a Ghoul and Horse, will not accept rider with more than light armour & shield; carnivorous, intelligent, disloyal and sly).

They must obey whoever blows/holds the Horn of the Hounds, allowing new saves vs. charms etc. If they do not respond promptly to the first two blasts, the third will instantly slay them.

  • Always loses Initiative/acts last in a combat round.
  • Only defeated when finally cut to pieces or beheaded:
    • On critical and/or 9+ damage hits, they lose a limb. On 12+ damage hits, they lose their head.
  • Attacks as a Normal Human at -1 to Hit, damage bonus of +2 (or as Strength 16).
    • Makes missile attacks as Dexterity 6.
    • Can also make unarmed strikes, grapples and overbearing attacks.
  • Immune to cold and do not breathe, but are otherwise not undead and can't be Turned.
  • The Half Dead are without fear of mortal foe, but fear fire (ML 8), though they can and do use it and are not especially vulnerable to it.
  • When the Horn blows once, they panic, struggling to interpret meaning and respond (ML 6).


I'm genuinely surprised that I can't find more gaming material related to The Chronicles of Corum (Michael Moorcock), though that might be because they (especially the more strongly pseudo-Celtic second part) made such an impression on me rather than any wider merit or need.

In an attempt to fill that gap, here's the Ghoolegh (pronounced however you like) in approximately older edition D&D dress-up. I'll follow up with the Hounds of Kerenos, the Brothers/Children of the Pines, and the Fhoi Myore.

I've used Dragonwarriors Zombies converted to D&D adjacent - all those hit points represent how much punishment they can take. In the books, one still slithers on its belly to attack when all the bones in its body are broken.

If you don't like the cop-out of a big sack of abstract hit points, use regular Zombies or even Normal Humans but make them Invulnerable Monsters.

I've seen the suggestion to use the AD&D Juju Zombie, though I don't think it's a good fit.

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