My recent talk about the World of Darkness games had me thinking some other thoughts unrelated to classes and such. I've always been a fan of werewolves. I like vampires too, but I've always come down on the hulking ragebeast of primal fury side of things, rather than the dead and have no blood and am probably impotent because of having no blood and digested blood doesn't work well when injected into a circulatory system side of things. Anyway. That got me thinking about classic monsters and types of monsters from film and literature and where they are/if they have a place in my game. So that's what this post is going to be about. It's primarily going to center on The Known World, because.
So sometimes you find creatures come from other worlds or dimensions, they're strange and unknowable and usually much more advanced than us. For some reason, they typically want to do stuff to your butt. It's weird. But hey, dogs sniff each other's asses, so maybe it's not that weird. Most people like dogs. But I suppose dogs don't have lasers and stealth spaceships and don't extend their butt sniffery to other species. This is one type of creature that exists in my world, but I haven't really spent much time thinking about it. I mean, the universe that Hekinoe exists in is certainly as big as our own, so I'm sure there are just as many extraterrestrial lifeforms out there as there are in our universe (whatever that amount may be). I also wrote a post a while back about the planets of the solar system that Hekinoe sits in and said that a few of them were inhabited. Frankly, I'm busy enough writing/thinking stuff that directly impacts Hekinoe and the continents there. I don't have the energy/ambition to start worrying about Xenomorphs or Yautja sending hunting parties to Hekinoe. Though that would be kind of awesome. Imagine it. D'alton, Xein, and John are stalking Norvenmik in the swamps of Fresgulen. Maybe their gyrocopter went down. Maybe they're on a rescue mission. Maybe they have a native guide. They suddenly see a hazy indistinct shape in front of the them up in a tree and a red triangle of light appears on John's chest and they hear a weird electronic distorted voice speaking a weird language. Chaos and hunting ensue. It finally comes down to the hunter and D'alton, but D'alton has his shadow and his powers. D'alton becomes the hunter. How can you track a man who's very shadow guards his back, hides his steps, and obscures him from the sight of all? How can your thermal vision find a creature with room temperature blood? Stephen King plays D'alton in the movie version. Twenty-three years later, Adrian Brody finds D'alton as the creepy, bat shit crazy whispering survivor on the Yautja hunting world and a good film is made exponentially better by his presence.
Ah yes, the creepy backwoods fuckers that eat people. Or the crazy backwoods post-apocalyptic fuckers that eat everyone. I'm not going to lie, there are some creepy and malicious tribes in The Beast Lands. I mean, this land has been stuck in the fucking Bronze Age for ten thousand years. There's a lot of superstition and weird ritualism down there. Some of it has to do with believing that eating your enemies grants you their strength or that non-tribe members aren't people, aren't anything more than cattle. So yeah. Watch out for some of the tribes in The Beast Lands. There's also the Children of Volung. They're cannibals, not out of any sort of weird creepiness or mysticism though. Meat is meat to them. If you've already gutted two hundred pounds of long pork, why let it rot in the sun? Why feed maggots when there are hungry soldiers back at camp? It's a waste.
Fell Soulless. A fusion of machine and humanoid. Granted, it's a sorcerous machine fused to a sorcerous humanoid. But hey, it's still a cyborg. Technically, any pirate with a peg leg is a cyborg. Even the d20 Cyberpunk supplement for d20 Modern says so. I'm not saying Traith Harris is Hekinoe's version of Robocop, but Robocop is awesome and so is Traith, so draw from that what you will. I wonder who will be Hekinoe's version of Luc Deveraux. Hmm.
The supernatural bargain maker, the fiery creature of nightmare and evil. The maker of pacts and corrupter of souls. I've got nothing. You could make a case for the Nel I suppose. They are supernatural creatures capable of great sorcerous feats, but they don't fit the motif of evil. Self absorbed and arrogant, certainly. But they're not wish granters and pact makers the way a demon/devil or an evil djinn is.
Sigh. They're giant ass Komodo dragons in my campaign world. They're greenish brown, the have acidy spit and poisonous venom. They do not fly (usually) and they aren't super intelligent and immortal magical creatures. The conventional dragon does not exist in Hekinoe. Granted, my dragons never stop growing, and the live long lives and grow progressively more cunning and intelligent as they age. But they've no hoards, aside from incidental stuff from dragging prey back to their lair. They are not shapeshifters, they do not parlay with adventurers and they will eat the fuck out of any hairy toed fuckheads that wander into their cave. They will smell the fuck out of you with their tongue like any self respecting varanid would, and they will ambush you. Or they'll wait till something else takes you out and clean up the mess.
The incorporeal undead. The Fallen Empire of Man is where it's at. See, as the campaign book states, Fallen cannot die. Ever. Their animating energies never cease. Ever. Even if their body is completely destroyed and burned and their heads hacked off and so on and so forth, their spirit/soul/whatever exists and is still sentient. The same magic that allows them to see with dead optic nerves and hear with rotting ear canals lets them see and hear in this form, but they are not conventional ghosts. There aren't too many spells that can be cast with only will in Pathfinder (no hands for somatic components or holding material components, and they can only really speak to fellow incorporeal Fallen or with the intervention of a spell cast by someone else), so they are incredibly limited in what they can do to affect the world around them. No rattling chains and ghostly visitations. The Fallen have developed certain devices that allow them a means of communication, which led to the creation of the Soulless, but most incorporeal Fallen consider this a cage and the first step to becoming chained to a Soulless as its animating energy.
Night of the Lepus, Jaws, Godzilla, etc. The giant and savage beasts. Creatures of terrifying size and violence and appetite. The Great Beasts of The Beast Lands. We've got your giant bears and oversized boars and wolves. Huge freshwater eels the size of anacondas. Freshwater crocodiles that can grow as big as thirty feet. They're all big and nasty and have been terrorizing humanoid tribes of The Beast and Wild Lands for millenia.
Gods (of the Angry and/Or Vengeful Type)
It happens. Someone makes off with Thor's favorite beard trimmer. Someone lets humans have fire. Someone sees a goddess naked. Someone eats shellfish or pork. Boom. Divine might and wrath get slung around rapid fire and there is much gnashing of teeth and wailing of women. There's not a good spot for this "monster" in Hekinoe. There's aren't gods in Hekinoe. The Immortals aren't gods. Neither are the Nel. They're powerful and supernatural, but even calling the Nel demigods is something of a stretch. You could make a case for the rulers of the Nel being gods. They truly are all powerful when it comes to their kingdoms. They can deprive their people of their powers, and even just unmake them from existence if they desire it. Which makes mortals harder to kill than Nel for the rulers of the kingdoms. Evandor and Andorian could easily kill Karrak with a spell or two and little sword or staffplay. One dead pirate, slightly crispy and slightly bludgeoned. But Merobel could just look at Andorian and Evandor and poof. Nothing left.
Sometimes there are immortal creatures in books and film. Sometimes it is a curse, sometimes it is a blessing, other times it is a curse and a blessing. It's usually supernatural in nature and involves a complete inability to be slain, with occasional loopholes. Really Witch-king of Angmar, you didn't figure out the loophole in not being slain by the hand of man in over 4000 years of undead witchery and kingery? Dumbass. True immortals don't exist in Hekinoe. Even the Nel can be slain, and it doesn't take a tricksie little prophecy to do it. You just have to hack them up enough to where they can't regenerate enough to fight back anymore. Granted, they have one trick left up their sleeve even if that happens, but it isn't just waking up later. Keroen Skathos might be truly immortal. I say might be because I honestly haven't ever decided that about him. I don't know what could kill him in the first place. He's said a few times in my stories that he felt his death coming for him when he was hard pressed and bleeding all over the place. I'm not sure. If we're talking immortal as long as no one tries to hack us apart, well, any Wizard of 20th level can do that, so can Alchemists, and the Children of Volung, Elduman, and Nel are all living and immortal.
Most times, it's radiation that ends up warping and twisting people and animals and turning them into kaiju or hulks. You can find mutated animals and people in my campaign, they're just warped by sorcery rather than good ole rads. The Fell Humans in particular are empowered/afflicted in this fashion, but sorcery does have a tendency to just up and mess with anyone in the course of prolonged us.
Robots (Or Possibly Golems)
The created (I think that is also a type of creature in World of Darkness), usually created in lab of a scientific or alchemical (or both) nature. Sometimes homocidal, sometimes enslaved by its creator. Sometimes just ugly and misunderstood. This one is pretty easy, Rankethlek and Soulless. They're both a created race of metal and non-living parts imbued with sentience. Obviously it's magic and not technology, but golem and robot are synonyms in my brain.
Vampires do not sparkle and they do not wander around freely in daylight. You know who is immortal and sparkles in the sunlight and typically has magic powers and hunts/torments/kills/occasionally aids mortals? Faeries. Anyway, I don't have conventional burn up in sunlight and spread the curse like a disease vampirism in Hekinoe. However, Fell Humans and Fallen do have the ability to take a feat that centers on consuming blood and using it to heal, plus a bunch of feats in my head that duplicate various vampiric powers.
The savage animal man, the cursed bloodline that lets loose the killer under the full gaze of the moon. I love werewolves. I hate most representations of them in modern film, there's always too much rubber suit or stupidly weird looking CGI. I've seen some of the werewolves in the World of Darkness books, and the pictures I've seen almost always look badass. To find them in Hekinoe, we return once again to The Beast Lands. There's a lot of shamanism and ritual in that land. Looking at the world around these tribesmen, how can you doubt the strength and ferocity of the animal world? What warrior would not want to emulate that power while in combat? There are various lodges of totem warriors in The Beast Lands. Warriors who have a blood bond with the great beasts and (because magic) have taken on aspects of the great beasts in battle. There are also lots of shamans and witches, and some of them are nasty little fucks all too happy to curse others to think and act as beasts or transform wholly into them. So yeah, there are werewolves in Hekinoe.
This one is easy, The Fallen Empire of man is an empire full of crazy old undead sorcerers. A big chunk of their armies are groaning undead that they raise from the earth and send at their enemies.
So there are some "classic" monsters and their places in Hekinoe. Wee.