Sunday, October 30, 2016

Monsters in Rêve

Jabberwock illustration by John Tenniel

Just in time for Halloween, here is a selection of monsters from the Rêve role-playing game.

Contrary to Tenniel's depiction above, a Rêve jabberwock (also called a bandersnatch) “has the appearance of an enormous toad, with a horse head, burning red eyes, bat wings, scaly hide, claws like daggers, pointed spines along its back and sides, and a hideous burbling roar.”  It weighs more than three tons so it cannot fly.  Since the jabberwock “hates all light,” it “inhabits the lightless depths of the deepest caverns, leaving only to hunt on moonless nights.”

The bane looks like “a small, grey-green hippopotamus” except it has two rows of sharp teeth in its crocodile-like mouth.

There is “a kind of giant roach” called chrasm (pronounced 'krasm').  It has “a crab-like carapace and hairy joints.”  Also possessing “strong and sharp mandibles, it is feared for its mortal poison.”

“The zider is a flying reptile akin to the pteranodon, having large membranous wings.”

A felorn is a talking cat “with grey-mauve fur.”  Its bat-like wings (“covered in downy fur”) permit the felorn to fly great distances.  “At first adorable,” we are told, “a companion felorn can soon become rather tedious.”

The gleepzook is a green monkey that seems to have a language; however, “gleep and zook are the only two phonemes used, and these are pronounced with a great variety of tones and in infinite combinations.”

The gong looks like “a huge toad, with scaly skin and claws and fangs.”  It is named thus because “it makes a sound almost exactly like the tolling of a bell.”

Grindlings are small larvae “about 1 to 2 cm in length.”  We are not told what the larvae turn into but, when their “tiny translucent scales” rub together, they generate “the sound of chalk grating on slate, but a hundred times louder and more wearing on the nerves.”

The killerbeast is thus named supposedly because its “raspy and guttural cry sounds like the word kill.”  (I wonder how this creature was named in the original French.  According to Google, 'killer beast' translates as tueur bête, neither part of which I can imagine being pronounced in a raspy and guttural manner.)  Anyway, “The killerbeast is a simian-like creature covered in spiny scales.”

“The razorfly is a giant dragonfly, some 2 meters long with a wingspan of three meters, with wings as tough and sharp as razors, beating at prodigious speeds.”  We learn that the razorfly “can cut through a 3 cm diameter bamboo stalk without slowing down.”

While anthropomorphic, stonebones “are not humanoids, as they do not have a language.”  They are “covered in a mineral-based, shell-like carapace” and “their heads have a stony crest.”

The necromorph is sometimes referred to as “a false ghûl or a black ghûl.”  It “is a human-sized, anthropomorphic, bipedal, upright animal, with a leathery, hairless grey-black hide.”  I suppose that – like the stonebones – the necromorph fails to qualify as a humanoid due to the lack of a language.

A turntooth “is an enormous [three meters tall and 800 kg] bipedal monstrosity, vaguely anthropomorphic, covered in extremely hard, overlapping horn plates.”  The plural of turntooth is turntooths, but this may be a translation choice since, in French, the word for tooth (dent) is made plural by the usual means – adding an 's' (i.e., dents).  Its arms, having 360° articulation, end in mouths “filled with sharp, pointed fangs.”  A turntooth “has no head, only a large blister in its place with a yellow eye 'in front' and one 'behind'.”  It seems that turntooth “genital glands” have commercial value; perhaps fortunately, the rules do not expand on this.

All of the above are 'creatures', meaning that each individual is dreamed by a Dragon.  Aside from creatures, there are 'entities' which come from the “collective unconscious.”  They are “the product of currents of the Dreaming, which, when they become too dense, spontaneously incarnate.”  Entities are categorized as either 'dream' or 'nightmare'.

Dream entities include the chimera (which can travel to any dream) and the unicorn (which can inflict curses or – with regard to an individual having “only the purest of intentions” – grant a boon).

Nightmare entities can be either embodied or disembodied.  Embodied nightmare entities include such familiar monsters as kraken, shadows, skeletons, and zombies.  Other embodied nightmare entities include:  coqmares (three-meter tall roosters whose cries, at sunset, can result in “hideous nightmares”), death dogs (they appear only at night), and sludgehammers (“like a great mud man...with two long tentacles for upper extremities”).  Disembodied nightmare entities are spirits that “appear as phantom specters with humanoid silhouettes.”  These entities attempt to possess corporeal beings.  Three of these entities are despair, fear, and hate.

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