Dangers in the wild: the Beastmen

Beastmen of the Ruins

The Beastmen are the only well-known surviving relic of the old days and not often seen anywhere except the largest and most untamed ruins. They’re the boogeymen that parents use to scare their children with: beastly men who live under the soil and eat people. Over the last 100 years or so, they’ve become a myth for most people.

What’s the inconvenient truth is that they still exist. For Peimar, they’re the reason why the ruins of old Åbo have not been reclaimed. For Kirkoslet and Hanö, they’re the reason why the eastern borders are well guarded and why traders avoid the road that passes by the ruins of old Forssa.

The polymaths have studied the creatures and have developed theories about what they are, and of course most know that they used to be a serious menace in the past days. Theories vary, but the core is this: when the old world was destroyed, some people took shelter underground and never emerged from the tunnel networks and bunkers under the cities. Polymaths have fairly good information about where the ancestors of the present population came from, and realized a long time ago that very few survivors of the comet impacts and the nuclear wars took shelter in the cities. Something happened to those who went into the shelters and the result of that was the emergence of beastmen.

As far as anyone knows, not a single beastman has even been taken alive in battle. Polymaths know the basics of their anatomy based to bodies recovered in different skirmishes against them. Their skin is pasty white and grey, often blotchy. The neck is short and stouter than a human’s neck and the limbs are long and thin. It’s not uncommon for them to be covered in warts and boils, though this seem to vary.

As to their culture, only a few things are known. They seem to frequently carry weapons like spears and knives, sometimes wear clothes and apparently don’t move about much in the wintertime. They use tools, since search parties and military patrols have occasionally encountered booby traps and traps used to hunt animals. They don’t use fire, or at least it has never been confirmed by investigations into beastman lairs discovered.  Common military wisdom says that beastmen never fight in the open, instead they ambush people and attack settlements and camps at night. Sometimes they leave bodies behind, both their own and those they’ve slain, sometimes not. There doesn’t seem to be a coherent pattern or reason for the attacks, but it is known that sometimes people are taken alive by them. This has lead to behavior by soldiers where they rather shoot their comrades than allow for them to be dragged away by beastmen. Some remote military outposts even give soldiers suicide pills.

Why do beastmen exist in Lions of the North?

I try to avoid cliched stuff as far as I can, but I wanted to have an understandable monster for gamemasters to use, something that isn’t a straight away ripoff of classic “radiation mutants”. If you want to run survival horror in the wilds, beastmen are a pretty good opponent to throw at player characters. They can be killed but they don’t fight fair and they’re rather scary. At least I think so.

Oh yeah, before I go. The beastmen aren’t mutants. They’re something else entirely.

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