Saturday, January 11, 2014

[Cryptworld] Dippin' Into American Monster Folklore

One of my favorite creative pasttimes is Monster Making. The numerous Mutant Future creatures I've created for "Mutant Menagerie" entries is testament to that hobby. (And be sure to pick up my Deviant Database supplement at Drivethru RPG and Lulu! Where was I? Oh yeah...) Creating monster concepts for a post-apocalyptic RPG is fairly simple -- take an animal or plant, dose it with radioactive poisons, mutate it a bit, and voila! A twisted abomination lurching through the Blasted Lands. Monster concepts for fantasy games can also be fairly simple, if you just read up on myths and legends, find an interesting demon or creature from lore, and stat it up. Lovecraftian creatures are also straightforward as the Cthulhu Mythos is well-documented.

But when I turned my attention toward the genre of "modern monster hunting/investigation" ala Cryptworld or Monster of the Week, I began drawing blanks. The usual horror creatures have been overdone (vampires, werewolves, mummies, etc.), so I turned my attention to the myths and creatures of American Folklore. You know -- those regional monsters and cryptids that folks know all about "around these here parts," but you may not have heard of them in another part of the U.S. Three such creatures appear in Cryptworld, in fact: the Sasquatch, Chupacabra, and Jersey Devil. And when I started doing some research, it turns out that the planet is being overrun by little-known regional monsters
Wikipedia is a great source for leads on these modern monsters, as they have an entire section dedicated to Legendary Creatures sorted by culture. Just clicking through any subsection will give you amazing monster ideas all based on "true" accounts. The American folklore section alone has given me ideas for the Boo Hag, the Hidebehind, the Wendigo, and the Beast of Bray Road. And checking out the obscure regional folklore from other countries has given me ideas for the Manananggal, Ya-te-veo, and Minhocao. (No links as I want 'em to be a surprise!)

Another resource I stumbled across is, which seems to be a Cryptid Sighting Clearinghouse. They collect sighting reports, undocumented creature descriptions, and other unexplained events and post them for discussion and further investigation. One surprise: The very lake I grew up on -- and wheremy parents still live -- supposedly has its own cryptid lurking under the waters! Never heard the legend of The Mill Lake Monster, but I'll be checking it out, statting it up, and perhaps doing my own late night, lake side investigation!

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