When mortals in Idalos are subjected to Nightmares, what comes quickest to mind are the fearsome beasts from beyond the Veil who stalk the borders of reality and search for prey. While other entities may be involved or responsible, the by far most common cause of a Nightmare is the invasion of a hungry or otherwise motivated Nightmare Beast. While not true for all of them, most answer to Kielik and his followers and are personally invented by them, designed for the purposes of infiltration of Idalosian Dreamscapes in order to prey upon the mortals’ minds and souls, ever furthering the agendas of Kielik and his associates.
This guide aims to provide guidelines to the creation of the Nightmare Beasts for use by players, Storytellers and guest storytellers alike, creating a comprehensive framework for these creatures and making the process easier. The beasts come in three different categories, herein referred to as “ranks”, and each will be detailed briefly before moving into the Traits that these beasts can possess.
There are three ranks of Nightmare Beasts; Minor, Moderate and Major. Straightforward and simple in division, but the differences between them can be rather dramatic. They have different limitations when it comes to what they are capable of and what sorts of abilities they have access to, and any one beast won’t be able to surpass the limitations as listed here unless it has been created by Kielik, himself, or personally interfered with by him in some form after its creation. The limitations exist for the sake of balance, as the beasts are not meant to be invincible and are a threat that can be conquered.
2 Minor Traits, 75 Skill Points (up to a maximum of 30 in any skill)
The most basic of the beasts, regularly feral and mindless, are the Minor beasts. They possess very few traits and weak abilities otherwise, incapable of sentient or intelligent thought and limited in capacity. They are most often joined by a more powerful entity or appear in pairs of two or more, seldom spotted off on their own because they are unable to make decisions for their own behaviour and are reactive and instinctive without guidance from an outside source. They are common and easily defeated in Nightmares, unless accompanied by more of their kind or more powerful masters who can put their potential to full use. They are limited to physical and instinctive skills because they are not capable of advanced thought, perception or reasoning.
Sentient, 4 Minor Traits & 2 Major Traits, 150 Skill Points (up to a maximum of 60 in any skill)
Representing the bulk of the Nightmare Beast population are the Moderate beasts, possessing Sentience. They develop mannerisms of their own and respond to outside stimuli and are able to react to and take initiative in more complex ways than their lesser cousins. They are regularly stronger because of it, but are more often than not bestial and primitive, like supernatural predators who have the power and cunning to hunt down their prey. While they are usually spotted as they prowl alone, it’s also not uncommon to see them travelling in groups of three, but they tend not to gather in larger groups than that. They are able to learn skills that require sentient thought and the ability to perceive and learn from their environment, but more intellectual skills still evade them. Because they are sentient, they are able to understand their creator’s native language and count as being Fluent in it.
Intelligent, 6 Minor Traits & 4 Major Traits, 300 Skill Points (up to a maximum of 90 in any skill)
The “elite” among the Nightmare Beasts are the Major ones, who have developed intelligence of their own and are capable of more advanced and complex thought, comparable to and often surpassing that of mortals on Idalos. They develop complete personas and become more independent, devising agendas and commanding their lesser cousins in an effort to further those agendas. They are rarely seen on their own and regularly travel with other beasts of lesser rank, unwilling to have their authority challenged by others of the same rank. Because they are intelligent, they are able to learn any skill they put their mind to learning and may develop additional language proficiencies as a result, improving their abilities to manipulate the mortals of Idalos to maximise their gains and truly distinguish themselves above their lesser brethren. Because they are intelligent, they are able to understand their creator’s native language and count as being Fluent in it, and are able to learn more by investing in Linguistics. As a rule, the beast should use their creator as a frame of reference when pursuing academic skills in order to determine what would sensibly be availabe to them from the get-go.
As a rule of thumb, Nightmare Beasts are monstrous and disturbing to look at. Their design is limited only by the creator’s imagination, but the cosmetic features granted to the beast in their appearance may not always provide tangible effects. All actual features that can be utilized in thread beyond cosmetics are represented by “Traits”. For instance, a Nightmare Beast can be designed to have wings, but won’t be able to use them to fly unless the trait “Flying” has been taken. Likewise, they can have horns or claws, but unless “Natural Weapons” has been taken for each of these, they are not able to be used as weapons and as such are treated only as cosmetic details for the monster. Beyond that, their appearance is limited only by imagination and a few set guidelines specific to certain traits. For instance, if the monster is supposed to have “Bestial” or “Humanoid” appearances and mannerisms, the respective traits need to be selected. Otherwise, they are simply non-descript monstruous.
A primary feature of the Nightmare Beasts are their Traits, which determine their capabilities and abilities. They are limited in number, and some have further restrictions and implications included in their descriptions. There are two kinds of Traits; Minor and Major. Minor traits are standard abilities that provide a benefit or characteristic for the monster that will serve them as they are used in Nightmares. Most of them are standard and are well-represented by their physical appearances. The Major traits are more significant and have a potentially dramatic effect for the beast that possesses them. They are powerful abilities, their aces up their sleeves, something that sets them apart from the rest of the Nightmare Beasts and gives them an edge.
Below are lists of suggested and available Traits of both Minor and Major variety. When creating a Nightmare Beast, you are free to design Traits that aren’t otherwise provided in these lists if the situation calls for it, and all Trait descriptions are vague to give optimal creative liberty within defined frames.
- Minor Traits
- The beast has many of the characteristics and the appearance of a specific kind of beast. While it doesn’t have to be exactly like the beast it’s based upon, it takes many of the defining traits of said beast. A Nightmare Beast based on a wolf may have the snout and fur, but beyond that have a nightmarish and monstrous appearance. Taking Bestial means that the beast has enough defining characteristics based on the animal that they are easily identified by it.
- Winged Flight
- The creature is able to fly by means of being winged. The form of these wings and other cosmetic details are determined by their creator and should be appropriate to the context of the Beast's other traits. Faster and more versatile than Levitation, the Winged Flight offers greater speeds and maneuverability much like any other winged beast or creature, though the inherent weakness of depending on their wings to fly means that, if they are incapacitated, they are unable to utilize their flight.
- The creature has armoured scales or tough hide, or otherwise some form of protection over their body that serves to shelter them from physical assault. It doesn’t make them completely immune, but makes their exterior more difficult to penetrate with physical means.
- The beast is able to move at superhuman speeds and has an impressive reaction speed, moving quick and lithe over the ground (or other surface or lack thereof), requiring a keen and attentive defense from their victims.
- Natural Weapons
- Note: Taken repeatedly for each separate form of natural weapon.
- The beast possesses some form of natural weapon, be it horns, claws, teeth, a tail or similar. For each form of weapon they naturally possess as part of their body, this trait needs to be taken once for each. Without this trait, all such details are treated as cosmetic and have no tangible benefit to the beast in practice.
- The beast possesses some form of poison or toxin which they can excrete, whether that’s through pores in their flesh, through bite or claw… the choice is down to the creator and should be detailed when taking the trait. It ought to be appropriate to the beast’s other features, and the effects of the poison also need to be detailed when the trait is chosen. Lethal effects are prohibited.
- Note: Taking this trait also means that the creature is physically blind.
- The beast is able to perceive their surroundings through other means than their physical sight, reacting to sound, movement and scent in their close vicinity. They are effectively blind to everything at long range from them, but are able to accurately sense opponents in a 20-foot radius of them without fail, provided they have no magical assistance.
- The creature is incorporeal, lacking a solid form and is unable to interact with physical objects and also unable to be interacted with physically. Whether that’s because they are ethereal or gaseous is up to creator’s discretion. Because they don’t have a physical form, they require other means of interacting with their opponents.
- Multiple Arms
- Note: Naturally, requires the creature to have arms. “Grip” is a prerequisite trait.
- The beast has more than the natural, expected amount of arm-like appendages, with full control of every single one. They can be used independently or at the same time, performing different tasks if need be.
- While creatures with four legs and no other appendages aren’t required to take this trait, it does provide the solid boon of being a quadruped creature. They are naturally faster and sturdier on their feet, capable of greater strength and utility. This permits them to charge and trample, to name a couple of examples, which aren’t available without this trait.
- All Nightmare Beasts are able to instill fear in their victims, but none quite as effectively as those with this trait. Whether through an aura effect, a particular mannerism, expression, sound or posture, they are able to unnerve and frighten their victims to the point of flight or inaction unless they possess Resistance, Discipline or Meditation, dependent on the type of fear and where it originates from. The exact level required is down to Storyteller/creator’s discretion.
- The creature’s size is somehow noteworthy. A normal Nightmare Beast is between the size of a large dog or small horse, but with this trait their size can be specified in vastly different and impactful ranges, from tiny to humongous.
- The creature is capable of levitation, giving them a permanent state of weightlessness where they float harmlessly off otherwise deadly heights, traverse over liquid surfaces and may elevate themselves slowly into the air, maintaining altitude for a few moments before descending again to floating a few inches above ground level.
- A creature who is breathless doesn’t need to breathe. While other creatures are normally susceptible to this by virtue of possessing organs like other creatures, the Breathless do not have this restriction and are able to exist underwater or in inhospitable air conditions indefinitely, and are immune to gasses and similar effects.
- The beast is able to change the colouring and texture of their flesh subtly in order to blend into their surroundings, effectively camouflaging themselves into the background. It’s not flawless, but nevertheless effective for stealth.
- A Shapeshifter is able to change their appearance partially or completely, though their Traits remain the same. They are able to change all cosmetic details in the frame of their abilities on a whim.
- Thermal Vision
- While not completely blind, the creature is able to perceive things by temperature---and nothing else, in their vision. This vision penetrates certain thin barriers and allows them to spot certain kinds of prey easily depending on the environment and surroundings. This comes with the natural drawbacks of depending solely on thermal vision, where their senses can be fooled by changing temperatures.
- Keen Sense
- A single one of the beast’s existing senses are keen and improved over the normal, giving them increased benefits. This can account for any of their natural, normal senses, or any acquired through other Traits.
- A creature that is Painless suffers no pain and is therefore not deterred by taking damage or by effects that specifically aim to cause pain. It continues to take damage as normal, but will not be distracted by the pain of their injuries.
- The beast is, for whatever reason, able to swallow another creature or person whole and hold them within their bowels for digestion. Their appearance should ideally reflect their ability to do this. With the trait comes also the desire to devour and consume, creating in them a craving that wasn’t there before. When swallowed, it takes almost a trial for their victim to completely digest, and unless they escape it will be lethal within half a trial.
- The beast has a physiology that enables them to flatten themselves, bend their joints dramatically out of place, or otherwise readjust their bodies for the purposes of accomplishing impressive feats of contortionism and agility.
- The creature, on any of their appendages, has the ability to grip items or weapons, whether they’re tendrils wrapping around a hilt or fingers and opposable thumbs. Taking the trait provides the benefit to any number of the creature’s appendages.
- Major Traits
- The beast is able to regenerate their flesh, recovering quickly from the most grievous of wounds. If not immediately slain, they are able to stabilize and recover with time and may regrow lost appendages and limbs. In order to completely destroy a creature with Regeneration, the head must be severed or destroyed from the rest of the body or the vital organs rendered nonfunctional before the body has a chance to start regenerating again.
- Note: Must not be “Incorporeal”.
- The beast is able to switch between being corporeal and incorporeal at will, whether they take the form of mist, smoke, or simply fade into an ethereal shade of themselves before returning to their physical selves. Everything carried by the beast when becoming incorporeal, likewise, becomes incorporeal along with them and rematerializes alongside their owner.
- Supernatural Flight
- Note: Must possess "Levitation".
- Unlike winged flight, unlocking this trait gives the beast the inherent ability to fly without the help of external appendages simply by propelling themselves through space with the same magical power that initially permitted them to levitate. It's an upgrade to the Levitation ability that grants them the mobility and freedom of actual flight where altitude and direction is no longer limited. The speed of flight is unaffected by air resistance and friction and the equivalent of possessing a wingspan equal to ten arm lengths. While mostly ineffective underwater, the ability allows the beast to propel themselves forward slightly faster than if they were swimming normally.
- Note: Only Major beasts.
- A creature with this trait has a humanoid appearance and the benefits that come with it. Though it doesn’t have to resemble a human, it possesses the abilities of a humanoid and is capable of speech, has opposable thumbs and two legs unless otherwise specified. Can be combined with other traits for strange creature combinations.
- The creature is capable of communicating with thought, and to a limited degree perceive the surface thoughts of those they focus on in their vicinity. Their communications are limited to images and emotions unless they possess proficiency with any language.
- The creature is capable of rendering itself completely invisible to the physical eye. It is a visual illusory effect and as such has no effect on other senses, and the creature still physically impacts the world around them as they normally would. They do not cast a shadow from light sources, however. They are still vulnerable to physical interaction and may be perceived by magical means.
- Supernatural Sense
- Note: Does not possess “Keen Sense”.
- The creature possesses a sense of a supernatural kind, the likes of which is difficult to otherwise replicate. Whether it’s the ability to see the movements of Ether, see through invisibility, see through solid walls or objects temporarily or feel the subtlest of movements and tremors in the ground or air around them… The sense manifests in a dramatic and powerful way.
- The beast is able to wink in and out of existence, travelling short distances this way. They are not capable of full-scale teleportation, but are able to at-will transport themselves a few feet at a time in any direction, instantly blinking from their former location to the new one.
- Extreme Biology
- A creature possessing this trait possesses a biology that defies all reason. They may be entirely made up of stone, crystal or metal or even partially be composed of them, or have several of their organs replicated or replaced by others. Any other beast would not be able to survive with this type of biological make-up.
- The beast is able to disperse into a swarm of smaller creatures, like wasps, birds, bats, rats, spiders or other small bugs, critters, avians or even aquatic animals. The type of creature they are able to disperse into a swarm of is detailed when the trait is selected. Once the swarm converges, the creature is able to recover their physical form. Any of the smaller creatures being destroyed will result in visible injuries and damages on the beast’s recovered form.
- Setting themselves truly apart from their lesser brethren, the Commander is a beast with the ability to command and dominate other creatures and Nightmare Beasts of lesser rank than itself. It is able to impose its authority on creatures around it, commanding them according to its own will. While all Commanders are able to command Nightmare Beasts of lesser rank, upon taking this trait, a single type of non-humanoid creature needs to be selected that the Commander has authority over. This authority is executed in the form of direct verbal or telepathic commands (based on the Commander's communicative abilities), independent of if the creature in question possesses the ability to understand their language. The commanded Beast or creature will be compelled to execute the command, and unless they possess natural resistances to mental magics and control or high Meditation or Discipline, they must obey.
- Note: Only Major beasts, must possess "Commander".
- Perhaps more impressive still than the commanders of their kind, the Conjurers take their ability to dominate and command the step further, gaining the unique ability amongst Nightmare Beasts to create more of its own kind. Designing their own personal vanguard, they are able to create and subsequently control three Minor Beasts, or one Moderate Beast, following all the normal rules of Nightmare Beast creation but tailored to the needs and desires of the Conjurer.
When creating a Nightmare Beast for use in a Nightmare thread, unless created by and puppeted by a moderator/Storyteller, it needs to be submitted to the Prophet Support forum for approval or checked by the responsible moderator supervising the guest moderated thread.