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  1. CrimsonReaper
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    CrimsonReaper Active Member

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    Unused monsters

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by CrimsonReaper, Jan 30, 2011.

    Hello. Starting an urban fantasy and have the general plot worked out. Now I am fleshing out the background a bit more and just wondered what everyone thought were some generally underused/misused supernatural beings.

    No vampires or werewolves please. Not mocking them. I like both and have already worked them into the storyline. I'm also using various groups of the amoral Fair Folk (mostly the Irish ones as I know those better).

    And if it helps:

    1) I'm not modernizing the origins, or at least not trying to find scientific explanations for anything. Vampires are vampires because they are corpses reanimated by demonic spirits that want a form in our world, not because they are emo teens that have a virus.

    2) I'm not using the "all myths are true" angle, but many mythologies developed out of the same facts. Thus bits and pieces of some mythologies are true. So don't worry about whether the creature is from Norse, Celtic, Shinto, Tibetan Buddhist, or whatever origin. I have no problem with my main character, a mortal armed with an Asgardian weapon (it is not Thor's mighty hammer; Thor is really possessive about that thing), fighting the Feathered Serpent God Queztwhatever. That in fact could be quite awesome. Especially if we can work some chi-drinking vampires and drunk leprechauns in there. Why drunk leprechauns. Why not?!!!

    3) Not looking for ethereal beings here. These need to be physical creatures that can be killed or at least injured. At the very least they need to be relatable in some way. I kept the Fair Folk's almost universal fear of iron (and certain other forged items with the reason tied into their backstory) for example, and as alien as their morality is they and humans can understand one another if need be. Magic powers are fine, but no invincible gods or intangible/unknowable beings that drive men mad when barely glimpsed (I'm looking at you Mr. Lovecraft). That does not mean they need be slobbering beasts. I in fact prefer intelligent beings that can pose an intellectual and well as a physical threat to the heroes. Or at least who would make interesting characters.

    Any suggestions are welcome, as our fingers pointing me to useful resources for further research.
     
  2. spklvr
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    spklvr Contributing Member Contributor

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    http://www.monstropedia.org/
    I site I like to look at now and then to get inspiration for my monster stories. Not all monsters there have a lot of info written about them, but you get the general idea and can do some more research on them.

    The show supernatural is also a good idea to watch as all monsters they use are taken from myths. You usually get to know how to kill them as well.

    My personal favorite of unused monsters is N√łkken, from Norwegian/Scandinavian folk tales. A man (I got it into my head that he was green, but I'm not sure if this is "true") who lives in ponds and plays music to lure little children to him, then eat them.
     
  3. Headintheclouds
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    Headintheclouds Member

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    There are so many weird and wacky creatures out there. I'll list a few of the more interesting ones:

    -Doppelganders: a creature that can become a double of someone
    -Djinns: like Genies
    -Salamanders: fire spirits of sorts
    -Changelings: faerie babies which are swapped with human children and bring a curse upon the household
    -Selkies: women who can become seals
    -Cath Sith: black fairy cat the size of a large dog
    -Elbst: Swedish version of the loch ness monster
    -Horse-heads: sea snakes/fishes with the heads of horses
    -Jidra: a plant-like animal that eats anything that comes within its range
    -Tengu: Japanese giant winged humans with bird heads, long hair and sharp talons
    -Mada: ancient Indian monster with a large mouth filled with razor sharp teeth

    And there are so many more. Look up mythology or fantasy creatures on a search engine, and you'll find a plethora of results
     
  4. FrankABlissett
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    FrankABlissett Active Member

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    You could look to cryptozoology. Here's a wikipedia list:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_cryptids

    Some are extinct animals that a few think still exist, while others are possible animals that may remain to be describes formally. A good number are folk "monsters" though.

    Hope this helps.

    -Frank
     
  5. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    I was going to suggest the same thing Frank did. There are tons of cryptids out there, and I'm sure many of them have never been used in fiction.
     
  6. Vintage
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    Vintage Member

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    You could also go for the Eldritch Abomination angle - this simply means that whatever monster you have in mind is so horrid and so far from anything humanity might recognise that the very sight of one defies description and causes insanity. As described in a bit of MTG flavour text:

    "Words describing it fail. Pages relating it shrivel. Tales recounting it end."

    Simply something so horrid that it is impossible for a normal human being to grasp the sheer concept of the creature. H.P. Lovecraft did this to great effect.
     
  7. Pen
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    Pen Member

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    Personify a negative emotion or state. I don't necessarily mean turn something into a living, breathing entity but you could go down that route.

    Say for example "the Fog", a mist that gathers about crime scenes, which manifests itself as terrible thoughts inside somebody's mind that mirror those of the perpetrator, propagating itself when the compulsion to repeat the offence overcomes the person who was exposed to the fog for too long.

    As a somewhat related example, I wrote a short story once in which a character, on strangling his former fiancee is troubled by the stare she seems to give him as he carries out the act- he stabs out the eyes of the corpse to some relief before hiding the body, but gradually comes to imagine himself transfixed by stares from all angles- he resolves to turn himself in after a terrifying episode in his flat, but on the way, hounded through the night by his own thoughts he runs into somebody who makes the mistake of looking at him, and his relief at cutting out that person's eyes apparently starts the cycle once more.
     
  8. jaywriting
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    jaywriting Member

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    Take some parts of one or more animal and graft them onto a human. Hey presto scary monster!

    Lets see; head of a squid, body of a porcupine, feet of a velociraptor, claws of a crab, seven foot tall and talks with a german accent. Wouldn't like to meet one in a dark alley.

    If you want monsters with an established literary history some great links have already been suggested.
     
  9. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    The Wendigo is pretty cool.

    Basically, a Wendigo is a tall, spindly, ape-like former human that lives in freezing cold mountains. If you're lost, you'll hear its call, and that will mean it's hot on your trail; when it finds you, it'll either eat you or turn you into a wendigo.

    Details are much creeper...Google it or something. :)

    Also, Kubolds are little goblin-things that aren't often used, so they are a better alternative to orcs/goblins/elves etc (so you're not seen as a Tolkein ripoff)
     
  10. Honorius
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    Honorius Active Member

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    The Book of Imaginary Beings by Jorge Luis Borges is perfect for this. For instance, small scale is Shang Yang, the bird which makes rain. Just a tiny bird that stands on only one leg. The vegetable lamb of tartary is a favorite of mine. you can find lots about it online. The catoblepas is a decent alternative to the basilisk.
    From china, theres the chiang-liang, which has the head of a tiger, face if a man, four hooves, long extremities, and a snake between its teeth. Also the Hsing-t'ien, a headless creature with eyes in its chest and its mouth is on its stomach. The hua is a flying serpent fish. The ti-chiang is bright red, has six legs and four wings, but no face or eyes.

    From u.s. folk tales, there's the roperite, which is the size of a pony, and has a rope like beak which it uses to catch rabbits with. The Axehandle hound has an axe shaped head and a axe handle shaped body with stubby legs and only eats axehandles. The upland trout is a fish which lives in trees and flies well, but is afraid of water. the goofang is a fish that swims backward so it doesnt get water in its eyes. The goofus bird flies backwards because it doesnt care where it goes, only where it has been.

    My favorite is the hairy beast of la ferte-bernard, also know as la velue. It was said to have survived the great flood without having been on the ark. It is the size of a bull, but with a serpent's head and was covered in shaggy green hair and spines that would instantly kill a man. It had large tortoise like feet and a serpentine tail which it used like a whip. It could also breathe fire. It preferred to eat virgins and children. You can only kill it by cutting of its tail.

    Also, from babylonian myth is the humbaba, with lion claws, rough brassy scales, talons like a vulture, and horns like a bulls. It's tail and "generative organ" ended in a snake head. There was also the scorpion beings, which were giants that were half human, half scorpion.

    Also, I would check out the classical demons from old christian demonology books. You can find a lot on wiki. A ton the monsters from Castlevania are based on those. I think the wiki page for the lesser key of solomon is a good place to start. Though, wiki isn't working for me at the moment, so i cant be sure.
     
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  11. AxleMAshcraft
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    AxleMAshcraft Member

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    With everyone's fancy researched answers here it makes me feel rather stupid to say it but:
    What about dragons?
    I like dragons, and I think most other people do too.
    Big, killer dragons if you need a monster that needs to be kill/slayed :p
    Little almost pet-like dragons if you need a best friend.
    Who wouldn't want a best friend that could double as a fire-breathing monster?!
     
  12. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    Dragons are really cool, I agree, but the OP indicated a preference for monsters that aren't used a whole lot, and dragons come into fantasy stories quite frequently. :)

    Animal-combination monsters can be scary if you find a unique way to describe them -- however, just saying "body of a panther, head of a snake, feet of an elephant" etc really doesn't seem frightening. It just seems like a bunch of animal photos from magazines cut out and pasted together.

    Not to say it's a bad idea, but be careful with it and don't be too lazy.
     
  13. AxleMAshcraft
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    AxleMAshcraft Member

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    HAHAHA I don't read fantasy (which probably means I shouldn't be commenting on this thread) so I wouldn't know :p (no offense to people that do, it's just not my preference)
     

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