The first ghouls were humans who rose as undead because they had indulged in unwholesome pleasures in life. The original ghasts rose as undead for similar reasons, but their sins were of vaster scale. A man who broke a taboo by consuming dead bodies to avoid starvation might rise as a ghoul, but a man who murdered his wife and children, then cooked them up as a delicious meal for himself and his mistress would instead rise as a ghast. Cursed with a terrible stench of death and corruption that serves as a warning to the living, the ghast's greater sins in life grant it greater power in undeath.
The first dread ghasts were villains of still broader scope. Leaders in life, they influence the actions of scores of others and led them to participate in terrible atrocities. Today, the dread ghast “race” of undead perpetuates itself through the transmission of vile power. A creature killed but not consumed by a dread ghast rises as another dread ghast. Though the new dread ghast is not under its creator's control, it usually succumbs to its progenitor's exhortations to perform the same sorts of evil acts that led to the creation of the “race.” But dread ghasts are careful with this power. Since they have no control over the other dread ghasts they create, they consume the bodies of any victims that seem likely to be more powerful in undeath than themselves.
A dread ghast appears much as it did in life. Its decayed and rotting flesh clings tightly to its bones and its eyes burn with an unholy light. Dread ghasts often have long teeth and wicked claws. Their long, dry tongues loll out of their mouths, making rasping sounds when dragged against their fangs.
“Dread Ghast” is an acquired template that can be added to any living creature (referred to hereafter as the base creature). A dread ghast uses all the base creature's statistics and special abilities except as noted here.
Challenge Rating: Same as base creature +2.
Type: The creature's type changes to undead. Do not recalculate base attack bonuses, saves, or skill points.
Alignment: Any evil.
Aura: A dread ghast gains the stench (20-foot radius, Fort save negates, 1d6+4 minutes) and unnatural aura (30-foot radius) universal monster abilities. The DC for the stench ability is Charisma-based.
Armor Class: Natural armor class improves by +4.
Hit Dice: Change all of the base creature's racial HD to d8s.
Speed: If the base creature has a climb speed and a land speed, increase the climb speed to match the land speed unless it is already higher. If the base creature lacks one of those speeds, the dread ghast gains the missing mode of movement at a speed equal to the other. If the base creature lacks both modes of movement, the dread ghast gains both at a speed equal to one-half the base creature's highest speed.
Attacks: All of the base creature's natural attacks gain paralysis (1d4+1 rounds). If the base creature possesses at least one mouth but has no natural attack with it, the dread ghoul gains a bite attack with each mouth. The bite attack is primary if the base creature has no natural attacks; otherwise it is secondary. If the base creature possesses at least one arm but has no natural attacks (Except slam) with it, the dread ghoul gains a primary claw attack with each such limb. In the case where the base creature has slam attacks with its arms they become claw attacks.
The damage for the gained bite and/or claw attacks depends on the base creature's size. Damage from any bite or claw attacks granted by this template is treated as if the base creature was one size category larger.
Special Attacks: The dread ghast retains all the base creature's special attacks and gains those described here.
As a free action, a dread ghast can automatically command all normal ghasts and ghouls within 30 feet (as the command undead spell). Normal ghasts and ghouls never attack a dread ghast unless compelled.
Any creature killed by a dread ghast that lies undisturbed until the next midnight rises as a dread ghast at that time. The new dread ghast is not under the control of its creator. A protection from evil or gentle repose spell cast on the corpse prevents its conversion.