Ghoul, Emperor

Family: Ghouls

Medium undead, neutral evil

Armor Class 20 (natural armor)
Hit Points 204 (24d8 + 96)
Speed 30 ft., burrow 15 ft.

18 (+4) 14 (+2) 19 (+4) 20 (+5) 17 (+3) 21 (+5)

Saving Throws Dexterity +8, Wisdom +9
Skills Deception +11, Insight +9, Perception +9, Persuasion +11
Damage Resistances cold, necrotic
Damage Immunities poison; bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage from nonmagical attacks
Condition Immunities charmed, exhaustion, frightened, poisoned
Senses darkvision 120 ft., passive Perception 19
Languages Common, Draconic, Gnoll, Undercommon
Challenge 20 (25,000 XP)

Special Traits


  • Multiattack. The Emperor makes one bite attack and two claw attacks. He can make one attack with his scepter in place of a claw attack.
  • Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +10 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 13 (2d8 + 4) piercing damage, and the target must succeed on a DC 18 Constitution saving throw or contract darakhul fever.
  • Claw. Melee Weapon Attack: +10 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 11 (2d6 + 4) slashing damage, and the target must succeed on a DC 18 Constitution saving throw or be paralyzed for 1 minute. A paralyzed creature can repeat the saving throw at the end of each of its turns, ending the effect on itself on a success.
  • Scepter. Melee Weapon Attack: +10 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 9 (1d10 + 4) bludgeoning damage plus 17 (5d6) necrotic damage.


  • Blood Armor. When the Emperor takes damage from a creature he can see within 60 feet of him, the attacker takes necrotic damage equal to half the damage it dealt to the Emperor.

Legendary Actions

The Emperor can take 3 legendary actions, choosing from the options below. Only one legendary action option can be used at a time and only at the end of another creature’s turn. The Emperor regains spent legendary actions at the start of his turn.

  • Attack. The Emperor makes one claw or bite attack.
  • Cantrip. The Emperor casts a cantrip.
  • Font of Power (Costs 3 Actions). Roll a d8; the Emperor regains one spell slot of that level or lower.

Lair Actions

On initiative count 20 (losing initiative ties), the Emperor takes a lair action to cause one of the following effects; the Emperor can’t use the same effect two rounds in a row:

  • Until initiative count 20 on the following round, all creatures other than undead and constructs who take necrotic damage take an additional 7 (2d6) necrotic damage.
  • The emperor targets a creature within 30 feet that he can see. The creature must succeed on a DC 15 Constitution saving throw or take 18 (4d8) necrotic damage. The emperor regains hp equal to the damage dealt.
  • A wall of ice springs up from a surface within 100 feet of the emperor. The wall is 60 feet long, 10 feet high, and 5 feet thick. A creature in the wall’s space when it appears must succeed on a DC 15 Dexterity saving throw or take 10 (3d6) cold damage; then the creature is pushed to either side of the wall (the creature’s choice). Each 5-foot section of the wall has AC 10, 15 hit points, resistance to piercing and slashing damage, immunity to cold, poison, and psychic damage, and vulnerability to fire damage. The wall disappears when the Emperor uses this lair action again or when the Emperor dies.

Regional Effects

The region around the Emperor’s lair is warped by his magic, which creates one or more of the following effects:

  • Creatures within 1 mile of the lair who are infected with darakhul fever have disadvantage on Wisdom saving throws against spells and effects generated by ghouls or darakhul.
  • Dead bodies within 1 mile of the lair have an 80 percent chance to reanimate as skeletons or zombies 24 hours after their deaths. These undead never attack ghouls or darakhul but instinctively obey their commands.
  • Phantom lights appear within 10 miles of the lair, more frequently the closer they are to the lair. Each light sheds dim light in a 10-foot radius. An undead in this dim light gains 1d6 temporary hp at the start of each of its turns. Temporary hp an undead gains from this regional effect add to any temporary hp the undead gained from this regional effect but not from other effects. The undead’s temporary hp can’t exceed half its maximum hp.
  • If the emperor dies, dead reanimated as skeletons or zombies crumble to dust after 1d10 days. The other effects end immediately.


This man of middle years, with black hair and flesh as white as ivory, wears black and purple clothes and a silvery crown set with emeralds. His feet are sheathed in black boots, and his arms and fingers are covered in rich gold and silver jewelry. He holds a skull-topped scepter.

Hungry Dead Nature. The Emperor requires no air or sleep.

Section 15: Copyright Notice

Empire of the Ghouls © 2020 Open Design LLC; Wolfgang Baur, Richard Green, Jeff Lee, Christopher Lockey, Kelly Pawlik, Mike Welham.