Ghasthounds

Ghasthounds are semi-undead canines that roam the boarders of the Deadlands.

Origins

The creation of ghasthounds was one of the many consequences of the Teluvian Cataclysm. While possibly created in the initial disaster, it is more likely the ghasthounds are the descendants of dogs lost or left behind when villages in the Deathmark and Illmark were abandoned. Over time these dogs adapted to the dangerous levels of necrotic energy infusing the Deadlands becoming changed by it without being consumed. The first accepted sightings of ghasthounds occurred about fifty years after the Cataclysm.

Description

Ghasthounds look like zombie dogs. Much of their fur is missing and what is left is mated and torn. Cuts and rips in the skin show exposed muscle or even bone. Their teeth are large and pronounced and their eyes are cloudy white during the day and glow pale green at night. The cartilage in their noses has often rotted away, exposing bare cavities, but this does not hinder the ghasthound's sense of smell anymore than their eyes dim their sight. The beasts are more than capable of tracking any prey a normal hound could.
While to all appearances seeming undead, ghasthounds have two traits that keep them from being true undead. First, they appear to sexually reproduce and bear young. Although rarely seen, ghasthound puppies have been documented. Secondly, ghasthounds seem to grow in size based on how much flesh they consume. Adult ghasthounds start at the size of Labradors and grow from there. Ghasthounds corpses ┬áthe size of ponies have been brought back from the Deathmark, and legends of ghasthounds the size of horses persist around campfires.   Ghasthounds have two distinctly supernatural traits. First, they seem to have either extreme resistance to necrotic energy, or at least are immune to dying from it. While ghasthounds venture through the Illmark and out of the Deadlands to hunt, they dwell in the Deathmark, and are the only living (or semi-living) things that can exist permanently in it. There are even stories of ghasthounds being seen beyond the Morlibus in the inner Deadlands, but venturing close to the Morlibus effects people's ability to think clearly, and these sightings could just be hallucinations.   The Ghasthound's most feared ability is being able to deliver a surge of necrotic energy with their bite that is instantly fatal to human sized beings. Unlike a wight's similar ability, ghasthounds cannot use this to raise a victim as an undead. Ghasthounds cannot use this ability continually, they must recharge it between uses. Some scholar's theorize that this is connected to the ghasthound's necrotic energy resistance, instead of spreading thought their body and killing them, the ghasthounds are somehow able to isolate and contain the energy buildup and then periodically discharge it.   Ghasthounds are pack animals, with pack size normally being between five and ten. The pack is led by the largest ghasthound, male or female, who takes the largest share of any kill, insuring in them staying the largest. They are smart hunters, preferring lone travelers, and working to isolate prey from larger groups. If forced to hunt from a group they prefer to attack at night. If potential prey fights back a ghasthound will normally disengage if it thinks it can't win, however, the creatures are not always the best judge of an opponents capabilities, especially when it comes to magic users. Even then the bests are canny fighters and an opponent facing down a ghasthound should beware one or two attacking from his back. If cornered ghasthounds will fight to the death.

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