What I find odd about the first monsters I’m developing for the kids, is that they are not directly pulled from folktales and myths. I have a bunch of notes and sketches of more “traditional” monsters that I’ve collected and obsessed over the last couple of decades, and yet the first thing I do is start creating something new.
Not really sure what that means, but I think it will be fun to see play out. Now I have a number of partially formed plans that do involve real traditional monsters to let the kids run into later, but for now, I think I’m just focused on the particular situations and the types of quests I think would be fun and exciting.
With that, here are the first two monster illustrations:
The Grave Grim who haunts musty old tombs.
The Iron-toothed Grubkins, sentient plant imps that enjoy pilfering things from hunters and gatherers.
Later on, I will write out the full monster sheets for each of these with various stats, instincts, precautions, etc.
The mummy is a dusty old walker originally hailing from the hot lands of the far south. Opposite of the ghoul and other abandoned dead, the mummy is unable to make the journey to the underworld because it is bound to our world by elaborate funerary rites, either intentionally or by accident.
Sometimes less is more when saying goodbye, particularly when removing and pickling parts. These rites must be undone if the dead is to find peace.
The wraith has spent so much of its life twisting every thought and every discussion back to itself that it failed to notice its own death. Its form has become as warped and wracked as the shriveled black heart inside, obsessing about losing their skill, power, or beauty.
Not only do they do this creepy backwards walking crawling thing, but their very touch, and I dare say five minutes conversation, will drain one of vigor and will to live.
The Draug is what you get when the biggest jerk in town finally eats grave-dirt. These people were so vile in life that it corrupted the body so much it refuses to die and turns into a big, bloated, blue-skinned monster.
They are vengeful wights seeking to do harm and guard wealth they hoarded in life. Unfortunately, being nasty has given their corpses some pretty sweet powers, such as ability to walk through walls, light fetch fire, the evil eye, and shape shifting.
The ghoul is the walking corpse of a person abandoned in the wild who likes to consume both the living and the dead. These leathery, eyeless husks seek revenge on those who abandoned them through snacking. They cannot end their eternal buffet until they receive proper burial rituals.
The vampire is an extremely bitey Walker who uses seduction and mesmerism to drink the blood of those whom it knew in life. Quite the flirt, these creatures can draw in victims through longing, guilt and the allure of eternal death, though they’re constantly leaving grave dirt on the floor and have dank carrion breath.
The barrow wight can be found in old tombs or lonely moors trying to warm themselves with fetch fire. While they are one of the hungry dead, instead of flesh and blood, these wights seek the warmth of human touch.
Do not take pity, for they are deadly and the merest touch will chill you to the bone, much like the winter nights when someone—you know who you are—tries to slide their icy rump under the covers and stick it right on you.