1. Karkajous —Wolverines
A karkajou is a nightmarish wolverine-like creature, roughly three feet tall. Its muzzle holds two rows of triangular, serrated teeth and its paws are tipped by three-inch long claws capable of scoring stone. The monster’s fur is dark brown, shot through with lighter coloring around its muzzle. Its eyes are large, with oddly shaped and disturbingly human irises. The karkajou is ferocious and ravenously hungry at all times. It preys on any animal, and can even wipe out small herds of deer that wander too near its lair. Karkajou often strip trap lines (and, on occasion, their unlucky owners) and once it sets up housekeeping in a new lair, it quickly drives away all other animal life. In order to conserve its energy, karkajou hide under rocky overhangs or fallen logs near game trails and water holes. They lunge at their prey in a whirlwind of fangs and fur, and usually make short work of any animal up to and including full-grown bears.
2. Catamounts —Mountain Cats
The catamount is a large wildcat that is nearly impossible to spot thanks to its chameleon–like fur. It often conceals itself in trees, sometimes hooking its rear claws into a branch and swinging down on unsuspecting prey. In addition, it is an uncanny mimic, and often imitates human screams or even cries for help. As intelligent as a man and twice as big, the catamount is a fearsome abomination. It stalks hunters and often turns their own traps against them. Catamounts are found primarily in the major mountain ranges.
3. Wogistas —Wolf-Bears
The wogista is a massive beast that resembles a bear with a giant wolfish head and gray and brown markings. It possesses large claws that allow it to move easily over snow or through mud. The beast hibernates in summer, but emerges from its slumber in the late fall. The predator is a dedicated carnivore, and its massive size and appetite enable it to hunt any and all creatures—especially humans.
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4. Pakbaras —Monkey-ish
This abomination is a small gray or brown creature with a vaguely monkey-like appearance, a large head, long arms, and short legs. Its hands and feet end in vicious claws, and it has a round mouth filled with jagged teeth. Pakbara are nocturnal, and their large, round, milky black eyes provide excellent night vision. Grounders say that a pakbara is produced when the Maunon take note of one who willingly betrays a family member. Pakbaras feed on the blood of animals (usually domesticated beasts like goats), and like to get the drop on their prey. Besides drinking blood, the pakbara also likes eating the soft, tasty bits of its meal, such as eyes and lips, and can also reach its long arms down the throat to pick out other “delicacies.”
5. Spinas —Giant Spiders
Spinas are enormous spiders that stand about 3’ high. Eight legs, each over a yard long, emerge from the bulbous carapace. The head contains a set of sharpened, hollow fangs. These arachnids are terrifying opponents, made more so by the potent acid they inject or spray at targets. Alternatively, they may shoot webbing at their prey to incapacitate them for ease in liquefying their internal organs. Should a spina be defeated, its remaining acid is released to destroy the creature.
6. Flairipas —Devil Bats
Flairipas are large nocturnal predators who hunt in packs. They attack by hurtling from the night and grabbing prey with their taloned feet. If the bat is successful, it races into the air and drops its prey from the apex of its swoop, hoping to dash it to death on the rocks below. The things then settle down to devour the victim, whether he is dead or merely stunned.
7. Jus Wogs —Blood Wolves
Jus Wogs have blood-red eyes, and they constantly drool bloody saliva that coats their fur with gore. Their ferocious appearance is accentuated by the strong stench of carrion that clings to their mangy pelts. The beasts have no fur on their muzzles and possess long, rock hard claws that are ideal for digging. Wicked canine teeth and near-human cunning complete the awful package. Blood wolves can appear in small packs anywhere, but are especially attracted to wherever corpses—whether animal or human—are left unburned. They are one of the primary reasons the Grounders began burning their dead instead of burying them. They communicate with one another by laughing—yipping barks, similar to hyenas, that raise a man’s hackles. They are bigger than standard wolves, and have a dark stripe along their spines and dark spots on their flanks. Blood wolves do not always wait for death. Often, when a battle is ended, the wolves begin feasting on the corpses while the dying look on in horror and wait their turn. The smell and sight of a blood wolf causes normal animals to flee, and it doesn’t do much good for people either. Those who are bitten by the beasts and survive their encounter risk being infected with a form of rabies known as branjus or “bad blood.”
8. Spikas —Horned Serpents
A spika’s belly is solid black, while the rest of its long body is covered with scales of multiple shades of green and blue. Its head is viper-like, similar to that of a rattlesnake or water moccasin. From the crown of its head to the base of its neck, however, runs a series of small, bony horns. On either side of this crest is a single long, sharp horn, each about a foot long. These creatures dwell in the deeper rivers of the area where they lurk beneath the surface, and wait for prey to approach for a drink. When the serpent strikes, it delivers a poisonous bite then coils around its victim to hold the poor sap while it feasts. If it’s cornered, it never gives up without a fight.
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9. Bugshis —Death Crickets
The mercifully rare bugshi is related to the common cicada. It mostly keeps to itself, but when it gets the urge to mate it lets out a terrible screeching whine intended to attract a bugshi of the opposite sex. Unfortunately, few other creatures can take the noise, which covers a huge range of frequencies at a ridiculously high volume. The bugshi’s mating call is so piercing that it prevents anyone from getting any sleep for miles around. Villages usually go into a tizzy if they’ve got a bugshi infestation, because nobody can get any sleep, which makes everyone irritable and prone to violence. The bugshi is a cowardly little critter that loves to hide in hard-to-reach places. If attacked, the insect modifies its mating call to be downright deadly. Usually, bugshis find a mate after about a month. When it finally shuts up, however, any nearby villages have already suffered outbursts of violence thanks to its influence.
10. Jusjaks —Pit Wasps
The jusjak or pit wasp is a gigantic version of its smaller namesake. Its spiky exoskeleton is predominantly red, so those folks unfortunate enough to live close to a hive of the critters call them jusjak or “redcoats.” The things range between two and six feet long. Pit wasps consume wood, and so usually build their nests in forested regions, but have been known to demolish small villages in search of sustenance. Jusjak nests are usually 12 to 30 feet tall and 20 to 90 feet across, with tunnels and pits dug beneath them. The tunnels branch out into the ground, and the entrance to the nest can be located up to a mile from the main body of it. These underground passages sometimes run close to the surface, and it isn’t unheard of for a person or animal to fall through the ceiling of a tunnel. Fortunately for any wasp hunters, these nests have the consistency of paper, and burn fairly easily.
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11. Sanspikas —Sand Crabs
A sanspika looks like a three-foot-long,sandy-colored crustacean. A long spike projects from the narrow end of the shell when it’s attacking, and small tentacles emerge from the crown to pull the abomination through the sand. Beneath its shell, the sanspika is a large, non-water mollusk that buries itself in sand, and is usually found in colonies of 20 or more. This creature uses its spear-like appendage to inject a powerful paralytic toxin into its victims. Once the target is paralyzed, the sanspika uses the same organ to drain his vital fluids, leaving only a desiccated corpse behind.
12. Skitas —Giant Mosquitos
These hand-sized insects (six inches long) are gigantic versions of normal mosquitoes. The skitas travel in swarms, descending on animals and humans alike to feast on their blood. These nasty bloodsuckers have been sighted up and down the swamplands, as well as further east. They prefer swampy terrain, and the bayous and bogs are a fertile breeding ground for these pests. Unlike their smaller cousins, skitas need a lot of blood to survive and tend to attack in large enough swarms to kill rather than simply annoy.
13. Biga Slithas —Giant Snakes
The biga slitha is a 30-foot-long snake as thick as a good-sized tree trunk. It has a pair of horns on its head, between which rests a small, brilliant, diamond-like bone. Its neck has seven faint bands of color, one for each in the spectrum, and its heart rests under the violet stripe. All Grounders fear its power, but those with a death wish occasionally hunt slithas in an effort to secure its unique gemstone-like bone. Not only does this make the creature nearly immune to injury, but it also has an almost hypnotic effect on its prey. Slitha uses their distractive power to render their victims helpless, then slowly approaches so it can feed upon them.
14. Ratas —Rats
Ratas are, in fact, just rats. Slightly larger—about the size of an otter—ratas travel in large groups. While not overly dangerous in few numbers, as they can be easily killed, stumbling on a warren can be deadly. Much like the aquatic niblas, ratas will swarm their victims eating them alive.
15. Pauna —Giant Gorilla
This enormous mutated gorilla can grow up to 15’ tall and weighs much more than a ton. Luckily, few of these creatures exist, and usually they are alone. This is mostly because they are hyper-aggressive and only suffer the company of others of their kind to mate. An apex land predator, pauna fear no creature and will crush their prey in their massively powerful hands before eating them, or, if the beast decides something is an enemy instead of food, it will pound the thing into the ground so viciously as to leave only a bloody mess.
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16. Swimripas —Devil Rays
Swimripas are 15’ wide manta rays with bony tail spikes. The creatures have pitch black skin, small black eyes on their leading edge, and a mouthful of razor-sharp teeth on their underside. Two small, knobby projections jut from above their eyes, giving the impression of horns. Swimripas swim quickly enough to launch themselves into the air, allowing them to glide more than 10 feet above the water’s surface. They usually use this ability to sweep boat decks clear of potential meals. These abominations are found only in saltwater and travel in schools of 10 or more.
17. Thrasha —Giant Alligator
This enormous crocodile can grow up to 30’ long, and its business end is dominated by jaws that can crush small water craft into matchsticks. They are found primarily in the swampy areas of what used to be Florida, Mississippi, Alabama, and Louisiana. Occasionally, the crocs might wander up-river and find themselves in a more northern river or lake, but it’s size prohibits movement in many of the smaller water sources. Giant crocodiles use their jaws and terrifying death rolls to devastate their prey, with the tail attack reserved to guard its rear.
18. Mudsuka —Giant Leeches
These man-sized, leech-like creatures lair in muddy banks near stagnant waters, including bogs, ponds, and swamps. Individual mudsuckas hollow out small chambers to store their meals for later consumption. When hunting, they lie in the shallows of murky waters and grab their prey as it passes nearby. Although their bite is not terribly formidable, mudsuckas tend to latch on and won’t let go. Once attached, mudsuckas inject their venom, which incapacitates the victim so it can be safely dragged underwater.
19. Niblas —Piranha Swarm
These fish resemble their larger South American cousins, the piranha. They are between three and four inches in length and fairly narrow. Their scales are a blood red color and their mouths feature a pugnacious underbite filled with needlelike fangs. These ferocious little biters live in both fresh and salt water, and freely travel between the two. They normally travel in schools of 300 or more, and infested waters may contain thousands of individuals. Any animal entering such waters is likely to survive only a few moments before being completely stripped of its flesh.
20. Stedaunon kom Woda — Death in the Water
The Stedaunon kom Woda, sometimes known as a “river fiend,” is a monster about 40 feet across, with tentacles about 20 feet in length. Most of the time, this critter sits on the bottom of a river, tentacles extended upward to grab prey. It can also rise to the surface of the water, and sometimes adopts a wrecked ship or other large object as an improvised shell before it goes off in search of prey. Whether the creature is actively hunting or lying in ambush, it first attacks with its long tentacles. In fact, many victims see nothing of the monster but the tentacles, which they sometimes believe are black, eyeless snakes. Those who live past their capture, though, might just catch a glimpse of the fiends body before the tentacle deposits them in the thing’s mouth.