Monsters Among Us
There are monsters, and they are not always subtle. They exist in secret societies, in lost and lonely places. They are in the cities and towns, farmland and woodland. So why doesn’t humanity know they exist?
The simplest and least informative answer is, they do. Not everyone believes, obviously, or even a large minority. But some people know and believe the hard truth. But many more people have subconscious and very valid fears of the dark, of the unknown. They may not consciously have any idea of their fear, but they still have it.
The people in the highest echelons of power have, for centuries, if not milllenia, known that there are more than meets the eye to the world. They rarely have complete or accurate information, and they generally try to ignore this as just an inconvenient fact, but there are those in the halls of power who know there are “monsters”.
Some monsters are far more widely believed to be real, and are even commercialized. Mediums and psychics and ghost hunters are all over television, delivering the “truth” of the paranormal in reality programs. And while the bulk of these are bunk and false, the acceptance of ghosts, if nothing else, is fairly widespread - recent polls indicate almost half of Americans believe in them.
Other mundane factors into the general disbelief and refusal to acknowledge monsters include: Willful ignorance, misinformation, fear of social ostracism, and lack of social support. Even when there is actual truth presented, say on a YouTuber’s channel, it is ignored amidst a sea of paranoia and other “irrefutable truth”.
Beyond the mundane, however, there are other factors. Many, though not all, monsters are relatively subtle and secretive. They don’t draw undue attention to themselves, and most who see them tend to die horribly. And then there are those who actively suppress the evidence, from wizards casting mind erasure spells to Men in Black who destroy footage and intimidate witnesses.
In short, part of the theme of BITN is that horrors exist out there, but it is difficult, if not impossible, to prove this. It is hard enough to convince people of real issues, like Climate Change, and you want them to accept that there are bloodthirsty specters lurking in the alleys of major cities.
In the World of BITN, there are many beings which defy or confound science and logic. While their origins and goals are myriad, the general accepted term for all of them is "monster". This term certainly has a negative connotation, but not all monsters are inherently antagonistic or dangerous to humans. Even some of the most malevolent monsters are no more dangerous than some completely mundane creatures.
Since the 1970s, the bulk of hunters in Southern Maryland utilize the categorization first formalized in the Compendium of Wickedness. These terms double as both In and Out Of Character descriptors.
- Animal - Based on or derived from a natural animal.
- Alien - Creatures that act or appear to be from a planet besides earth
- Construct - Artificial beings or creatures with heavy mechanical augmentation.
- Dead - Animated corpses.
- Demonic - Beings that act or behave like demons.
- Dominating - Creatures that bend the wills of others.
- Ephemeral - Beings without a physical body/form.
- Ghost - Reflections of dead people.
- God-Machine - Agents of the God-Machine.
- Humanoid - Creatures with a human body shape but are definitely NOT human.
- Infiltrating - Creatures that sneak into human society.
- Non-sentient - Beings that are non sapient
- Organized - Creatures which have a developed social system
- Peaceful - Creatures that generally do not engage in physical violence.
- Psychic - Creatures with mental powers.
- Shapeshifter - Creatures that can shift physical form.
- Social - Creatures seek constant interaction with humans.
- Spellcaster - Those that cast spells.
- Spirit - Beings from the Shadow World.
- Undead - The living dead.
- Vampire - Those that feed on the life force (generally blood) of living beings.
Creatures in Play
Black Aggie is a powerful, cruel spirit of murder and torture who lives on in local legend. She will come to those who know the means to call her, and if they do not die of fear, she will offer them a boon. However, unsuspecting children sometimes call her by mistake, not believing in her power. When called, however, Black Aggie always has blood.
Black-Eyed Kids are small children, usually found in groups of 2-4, looking for someone, anyone to help them find their way home.
It’s worse than the worse case of bed bugs. These little pests are not unlike bedbugs or fleas by overall appearance and size, though their bite is so much worse. Blood fleas transfer from host to host, generally through sharing clothing or a bed, but it is possible for them to move from one article of clothing to another in a short time, such as moving between people sitting next to each other on the bus. Once they have a host, they will feed, and they will spawn rapidly. Just one flea can create hundreds more in a few short nights.
The fleas are extremely difficult to detect, as their carapace will change color to match their surroundings in just a few hours after digging in. Normally, this is to match the color of the sheets they rest upon. Fortunately, the fleas have a short lifespan and require a new source of blood after a week or so.
The seemingly short life span of the fleas make them a curious case, as most natural pests would stay so long as they had a food source. This is because the fleas are the creation of foul magic, normal creatures implanted with demonic taint, and always sent on a mission to bring back blood to the summoner. After the week, the flea’s victim will hold a slight demonic taint to them and the fleas are unable to feed, at which point they will attempt to find a new host, or return to the summoner.
Chiroptera Vampirus is a generic term for a common strain of sorts of Vampire. Dead corpses which rise with a hunger for blood, CV’s were once human but now possess vile, batlike visages and are burned by the sun. are strong and fast, but also quite ugly. All CV'shave a preferred type of human upon which they hunt, thought in a pinch most any human blood will suffice to sustain them.
No one knows the true origin of the Crab People, but evidence suggests they have been around for at least as long as written record in the area. CPOTC, or Crab People, appear to be humanoid mutations of the general Chesapeake Blue Crab (Callinectes sapidus), and are generally around 5 feet tall and around three feet wide. They are not equal to human intelligence, perhaps that of a trained dog, but they can sometimes be sociable and even use tools. Despite their lack of intellect, Crab People have been seen worshiping, or otherwise gathering, in small circles beneath the sky on nights of the new moon.
Dead Confederates are the ghosts of Confederate Soldiers who died while interned at Point Lookout during the Civil War. For an unknown reason, a large number of these soldiers left stable, cognizant spectres upon death.
Sometimes called Grave-Dogs due to their canine features, though they have nothing to do with dogs. There are nocturnal, subterranean creatures who hunt in packs, found in abandoned catacombs, sewers and caves around the world; their primary and preferred food source are cadavers and carrion, but on occasion they hunt lone humans for food. Ghuls are only semi-intelligent, but smart enough to avoid drawing attention to themselves... accidents do happen though. Aside from a nasty bite, Ghuls are not individually powerful; their pack mentality makes them dangerous, however.
Once a scientist and agricultural researcher, the Goat Man was driven mad by dark forces and became part goat himself. Since the late 1950s, the Goatman has haunted Prince George’s County with a large axe, finding lonesome and vulnerable travellers, primarily teenagers, and removing their heads.
Everyone knows that cats are mischievous and aloof, that is part of their charm. But this aloofness is part of the reason that Hellcats are able to pass among them. Sometimes strange, unholy beings crawl into the world through the cracks in reality and seek to advance unknown agendas among the mortals. These beings are able to take over the bodies of mundane cats and live among human families and cities undetected, serving as eyes and ears for their demonic kin. When discovered, Hellcats have a tendency to bargain, granting mortals strength or beauty, at a cost.
Some children get lonely, and they invent a best friend. One that isn’t real, but they pretend is. And other children can see things that only they can see and assume that it is perfectly normal. Adults and other children just assume it is another imaginary friend. They’re wrong.
Imaginary Fiends are creatures of dream and nightmare, beings of childish innocence but also unrestrained malevolence. Their origins, like so many monsters, are unclear. They appear to be dreamed up by children, but as a child ages, they may move on to find another child. Sometimes they will hunt down a child who abandoned them.
Fiends begin their existence relatively innocent, but become more and more malevolent as a child they are attached to experiences negative emotions. They grow more powerful as their darker instincts heighten as well, feeding on them and eventually becoming powerful malevolences.
Lawn Gnomes are semi-sentient animated yard decorations which sometimes, if exposed to a spell gone wrong, can have malicious tendencies.
A Lone Wolfman is a cursed, solitary creature which changes into either a giant wolf or a Man-Wolf hybrid upon the full moon. While they can be exceptionally powerful, they do not have access to their transformed form at will, and indeed often do not wish to be a monster. Most dangerous of all, a human who survives an attack from a Lone Wolfman (rare in itself) is likely to become one of the beasts on the next full moon.
From The Compendium of Wickedness:
I first encountered The Lost Boys in 1966 near Prince Frederick. They lived in a dingy home near the high school, and rarely came out during the day. I had learned of several girls who had gone sick from unexplained anemia, and it turns out that someone or something was feeding on their blood, and that something was these Lost Boys.
After several weeks of surveillance I learned the following.
All of these Lost Boys were, as I have named them, male. There were five of them, all young and thin aside from one who seemed to be nearly thirty, and was apparently in charge. They were seducing the girls on the weekends and luring them to dark places to have their way with them, sexually. I don’t know if this was a remaining human drive or had some mystical significance, but every woman they fed from they also had relations with. The Lost Boys appeared to enjoy tormenting young men, particularly the former lovers of the women they accosted. I observed them attacking in an almost feral, animalistic manner, often beating the boys bloody with far more strength than they appeared capable of.
I eventually made an assault on their compound, and was able to destroy three of the Lost Boys before one escaped and the fifth I managed to capture. After a few nights of experimentation, I was able to learn a bit more about them.
The Lost Boys follow a leader, the oldest of the group. His name, I learned, was Craig but my captive, whose name was Alan, did not know where Craig came from. Alan was from Bowie and had little knowledge of anything, he was all of twenty himself. But through experimentation I learned that Lost Boys have a violent allergy to garlic, both raw and cooked. Over time, Alan grew weak and withered, he claimed he needed the blood of a young one, but I did not indulge his requests. I killed him after two weeks.
Lost Boys possess retractable fangs, and appear to be able to fly, though I am unsure how, and they never flew high, perhaps a fear of heights. They were not immune to harm but healed quickly. Decapitation and burning is an ideal disposal method.
A Loup-Garou is a type of lycanthropic werewolf which travels in packs of 3-8 individuals. Unlike Lone Wolfmen, which are cursed, Loup-Garou tend to to be a product of family lines, possibly from ancient curses diluted in the blood or genetic mutation. Loup-Garou are pack hunters, able to shapeshift from man to wolf at will, though they sometimes lose control of this ability.
Men in Black/MiB are a part of the world but are anything but natural. The Men in Black seek to contain and collect evidence of the supernatural. Grown in well hidden, secure vats Men in Black are lesser servitors than Angels, being biological beings. They are always close to human in appearance, though they tend to have something off about them - black eyes, a lack of body hair, unusually pallid skin, a strange odor. MiB always wear dark, nondescript suits and any items they use generally follow this pattern of being utilitarian in color and bland. They are able to interact with humanity and are intelligent, if not empathetic.
Behaving rather like mundane black mold, psychic mold grows in the presence of psychic energy. It spreads via invisible spores, and seems capable of appearing anywhere. The mold is mostly black with a slight purple sheen. When in the presence of strong, active use of psychic powers, the mold with shimmer and even faintly glow. Removing psychic mold is exactly like removing black mold.
River Dragons are a type of Cryptid. While not supernatural, they are unknown to general science. The River Dragons are the larval form of the Greater Sea Monster (Nessie, Chessie, Etc). They are amphibious at this stage, and tend to wander from water to land at times, attacking game, livestock and even people. A River Dragon is large, around the size of a moose, with blue or black or green scales, a long, slender neck, horse shaped head, four limbs with webbed feet, and sharp, vicious fangs.
Vengeful spirits from the Shadow who can materialize to violent effect. These River Spirits will venture to the physical world to seek particular victims to drag to their deaths to avenge murdered women.
Ever hear the story of a woman waking up outside, unsure how she got there? How about the one where that same woman is standing over the corpse of her husband?
Modern science has identified fugue states brought on by various psychological issues. Any hunter worth their salt has heard of possessions by ethereal spirits and demons. But then there is the other thing, the other explanation. Sleepers are otherwise normal men and women who act in ways that are out of character, strange, or wholly unbelievable. They harm others, they harm themselves, they destroy property. Predicting what a Sleeper might do is impossible, because it is impossible to see the patterns that the angels follow. Sleepers are normal men and women who have been abducted and altered through infinitely complex magical technology. Some Sleepers have their minds fully subverted and become the organic robot slaves of the angels. Most, though, are implanted and then returned to their lives as if nothing at all happened. There, they live as fully normal human beings, until the mystical signal activates whatever programming has been laid inside of them. Then... then the serve the will of the angels.
The Slender Man, or men, there may be many, appears in modern day as a tall, faceless pale human shape in a dark suit. He stalks children from forests and alleyways, abducting them away to his masters’ sinister realm
Slender Man rarely takes violent action unless he is being interfered with; he is quite potent and able to hold his own against mortals and supernatural monsters alike, but prefers to remain stealthy and abduct children without being seen. However, if spotted, he may destroy evidence.
Hoarding is a trait that many may share, and sometimes people die alone among their piles of belongings and even decay among them. And sometimes, when this happens, a Hoard is created. At the most basic, a Hoard is a semi-aware mass of collected debris and garbage which has a dark, unending hunger to add living beings to its mass and absorbing their energy. Sometimes a Hoard is successful, collapsing a pile of books or thrusting a crate of umbrellas through someone’s skull. The Hoard then buries the prize within itself, growing stronger as the subject dies. Basically the hoard is a Sarlaac made of garbage.
Worse, the Horde cannot be destroyed easily. Even if the entire location of the Hoard is cleaned and the hoard separated and thrown away, one portion will become the touchstone of the entire Hoard. These touchstones tend to end up in garage sales and estate sales, where they work their way into new homes and influence their owners to collect more, more…
Vanity Horrors are cruel, petty creatures from the shadow which feed on human arrogance. They often slip through the gauntlet and encourage people to sit in front of a mirror for hours. In modern times, however, they are known to stalk those who take too many selfies, sometimes getting caught and turning violent. When actually spotted themselves, Vanity Horror’s are gross, deformed humanoid spirits with large teeth covered in flesh and gore, and pale, filmed over eyes, and re thin and androgynous.
Despite the kitschy name, "zombeavers" are not always beavers. The name is pulled from the first incident, which was regrettably not the last incident. These creatures were born of a horrible genetic mutation, created by illegal dumping of industrial waste. After being exposed, the rodents grew hideous boils and deformities and promptly died. They stayed dead only for a few days, then started to move again, and promptly started to attack. They attacked other animals, they attacked livestock, they attacked people. The colony of beavers was put down, but the taint was not cleared. Those bitten came back and spread. The waste was not completely clean. Ever since that horrible night, there have been encounters of “zombie animals” in various spots in the area.
The zombie creatures turn extremely territorial, regardless of their previous disposition. They tend to form packs (or colonies), and rarely travel alone. The zombie animals will almost always form some kind of den or lair. Worst, the creatures will turn carnivorous.
The Compendium of Wickedness
Exerpts from the Compendium will go here.