- "Outcast from their more civilised brethren, these slavering creatures more closely resemble Ghouls or Daemons than the idealised human forms of von Carsteins, Blood Dragons and Lahmians. They are consumed by hatred for almost all living things, but particularly for the other Vampire bloodlines."
- —Ludolf Traugott, Priest of Verena.[2a]
The Strigoi Ghoul Kings were once proud and mighty Vampires of the Strigoi bloodline that had previously ruled as masters of the ancient human civilisation of Strigos and its ancient capital city of Mourkain. However, ever since their downfall, these Vampires have since been shunned and hunted down by other Vampiric bloodlines and forced into a state of troglodyte existence. Since then, these Ghoul Kings have spent their days creeping through crypts and catacombs, awaiting the coming of night where they would enact a dire vengeance at the head of a shambling Undead army.[1a]
The creation of the creature known by many as Ghoul Kings came about right after the fall of Strigos and the death of their Vampire King, Ushoran. The downfall of Strigos came about when Ushoran's sister, Queen Neferata of the Lahmian bloodline finally enacted her long-planned revenge to punish her younger brother for all the insults he had done to her over the centuries. Manipulating Vampires from the other bloodlines into her cause, Neferata caught the kingdom of Strigos between the armies of the Undead and the hordes of Greenskins that were beginning to invade the lands of the Old World during the Time of Woes.[1a]
With their master's death, the Strigoi Vampires fled northward where they hoped to find sanctuary from Vashanesh. However, he had no time for their perils, and fell upon his former brethren with a cold fury. After many similar bloody betrayals, the few remaining Strigoi Vampires were forced to scatter themselves all across the Old World in the hopes of evading persecution. Whenever they met Vampires of different bloodlines, the Strigoi Vampires had to hide from the wrath of their kin. From catacomb, haunted wood and moss-covered ruin they would spy on the Lahmian and von Carstein Vampires at the balls and banquets of the aristocracy. The nobility and wealth of their finely-dressed kin reminded the Strigoi of what they had lost, and bitterness and envy started to gnaw at their minds.[1a]
In their desolation, many of them lost their sanity completely and became solitary, pathetic parasites, wary of feeding on humans for fear of attracting the attention of Witch Hunters or, even worse, their own contemptuous kin. For this reason, they hid in graveyards, digging out recently buried corpses to drink their cold, foetid blood and hiding during the day in the dank crypts near their feeding grounds. Their physical appearance soon came to reflect their miserable condition, and over the centuries, the remnants of the Strigoi turned into hunched and grotesque monstrosities.[1a]
Packs of flesh-eating Crypt Ghouls are attracted to these dismal Strigoi and often form grotesque courts around them. Grave robbers, and those who steal from the bodies of the fallen, have learned well that they must practice their depraved crafts in the twilight and be home before nightfall. Under cover of darkness, different breeds of scavengers fall on these places of death. It is little wonder that the people of Sylvania refer to the Strigoi as the Ghoul Kings.[1a]
Even if most of them have to some degree lost their minds during their long exile, the Ghoul Kings still possess many of the innate powers common to all Vampires. They can tear out a victim's throat in the blink of an eye, and their authority over the Undead and the myriad creatures of the night is still strong. The Ghoul Kings have not lost the power to raise the dead from their slumber and bind them to their will, but they do so in their own instinctual way. Their magic is less subtle than the forms of necromancy practiced by other Vampires, but in the cut and thrust of combat, their savagery gives them a definite edge.
At times, powerful Strigoi Ghoul Kings raise vast armies of the living dead around themselves and push south in a desperate attempt to recreate the kingdom they lost. So far, their advance has always been halted by warmongering tribes of Greenskins blocking the way to the Badlands, or by disciplined armies of the Tomb Kings that stride out from the desert as an act of revenge for the Vampires that destroyed their once beautiful homeland. Yet across the Old World, the minions of the Ghoul Kings have been sighted ever more frequently. Some say the ancient brethren of the Strigoi are uniting under one leader and massing great armies of degenerate beasts in their cavernous lairs. If this is true, no creature, living or dead, is truly safe from their wrath.[1a]
Notable Strigoi Ghoul Kings
- Ushoran - The first and greatest of his monstrous kind.
- Prince Rametep - Spends most of his time sleeping under Miragliano beside his huge collection of treasured magic items, none of the grave robbers who disturb his lair ever leave again.[3a]