Ghouls just want to have fun

I read on a Discord how the common ghoul was not representative of the creature at its mythological roots. This inspired me to go down a wee rabbit hole, starting with the Wikipedia entry:

Some state that a ghoul is a desert-dwelling, shapeshifting demon that can assume the guise of an animal, especially a hyena. It lures unwary people into the desert wastes or abandoned places to slay and devour them. The creature also preys on young children, drinks blood, steals coins, and eats the dead, then taking the form of the person most recently eaten. One of the narratives identified a ghoul named Ghul-e Biyaban, a particularly monstrous character believed to be inhabiting the wilderness of Afghanistan and Iran.

According to the same article, the word, ghoul, comes from Arabic, meaning “to seize.” Opening one of my trusty etymological dictionaries, I ran across a proto-Indo-European word, ghend, that also means “seize” (I would bet the two words are related). Instead of bucking the accepted lore around what we now call ghouls, I’m going to create a separate monster that harkens back to the mythic roots and call it a ghend. I’m not sure at all yet what the stat block will look like. Any ideas?

I posted a quick video:

One thing I’m really grooving on is the potential connection to hyenas. With that in mind, I think I want the creature to vocalize as using hyena-style calls, laughs, and whoops.

How are ghouls made?

This is a bit of a cross-over with my ongoing starter adventure creation. If we recall, the cultists that are the antagonists of the adventure had captured the daughter of the local ruling noble. My original thought was that she was out with a hunting party and the rest of her party were killed in action or died in other cells in the dungeon.

As I mused upon the ghoul, I thought that one of her party might have been fed to the ghoul. NOW I think that, drawing upon this new sort of ghoul, that not only had the ghoul eaten the poor unfortunate, it has now assumed its form!

Someone in one of the stream chats brought up the idea of having a magic blade stuck in the ghoul and I liked the idea— still do!— and now it becomes even more of a tool and tell than it was before as the ghoul will seem more normal as it won’t be outwardly undead-looking.

Slightly off topic but this came up in the Discord and I think it’s a grand idea so i want to note it before it gets lost in the ether: what if (some) undead can create lesser undead?

The example that came up was the idea that a zombie that consumes the flesh off of a fresh kill (or any corpse?) could create a skeleton. I really like the idea and it might be interesting to build an ecosystem pyramid of sorts of undead.