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Monday Monster: The Wendigo

Monday Monster: The Wendigo

Grandmother’s Bay, Saskatchewan, Canada (WKQ News): A rash of murders in this Cree community has folks wondering just what law enforcement plans to do about the problem. While some folks think the tribal elders should turn matters over to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, many believe this tribal matter should remain under the jurisprudence of the local officials. Whichever force investigates, it will have its hands full, with seven murders so far this winter. Each victim suffered deep slashing cuts and – disturbingly – all of the victims were cannibilised. [More…]

As winter took hold of his small village, Michael “Little Bear” Campbell and his family realized that they didn’t have enough food to last the season. The roads were impassible due to the winter storms and his wife and five children were hungry, so Little Bear grabbed his hunting rifle. He hoped his ancestral spirits would provide a moose or caribou, enough food to feed his family until spring.

Little Bear packed minimal food for his excursion. He refused to take food from the mouths of his family; if his hunt was successful, his family would be blessed with a bounty of food. If he failed, it was one less mouth to feed on the limited supplies at home. For 10 long days, he trudged through the frozen plains, searching for game. Hunger gripped him, but Little Bear pushed aside the hunger pains and kept on a promising trail. But the cold was just as unrelenting. Soon, the hunter succumbed, and collapsed in a snow bank.

What happened next depends on which version of the story you prefer. The authorities say that soon after Little Bear died, his family was murdered by a crazed serial killer. Others whisper of a worse fate: They say Little Bear’s hunger ate his spirit, preventing it from joining his ancestors. They say his body grew larger yet more gaunt. His fingers twisted into hideous claws, and his teeth became saber-like fangs.

Little Bear became a wendigo. His hunger consumed him and he returned home, eager to finally eat. Thankfully, his children didn’t know what took place before the wendigo devoured them. His wife, though, knew exactly what had happened to her husband. In a final act of defiance, she cursed him for his weakness, for his failure to provide for his family, and for succumbing to the foul spirits that made him a brutal monster. Then all was dark.

A wendigo is a large, gaunt beast. When a human becomes a wendigo, he grows to a height of 10 feet, and his body becomes emaciated. Wild, thick fur grows on the body, varying from light brown to snow white. Long claws extend from his mangled fingers, and flesh-ripping fangs jut out of his mouth.

An immense craving for human flesh drives wendigos. This desire is never sated, no matter how much or how often the beast eats. As a wendigo devours the flesh of his victims, its body grows but its hunger never ceases. This constant growth drives the wendigo desire to eat.

Two Stories, One Creature
Two distinct creation stories are told about the wendigo, though both lead to the same horrible creature. In one tale, a foul spirit seeks out a victim suffering from severe hunger. This evil spirit possesses the poor victim, driving him insane while also turning him into a beast.

In the other tale, wendigos form whenever a human becomes depraved enough to cannibalize another person. As the person feasts on the flesh, it transforms him into a wendigo. The cannibal is forever cursed to seek out human flesh while never having his hunger satisfied.

In both legends, however, the final outcome is the same – a depraved beast who was once a man, now forever driven to hunt other humans.

In Your Modern Game
Among the Algonquian Indians, a culture-bound disorder known as wendigo psychosis fills its victim with a craving for human flesh. A culture-bound disorder is one whose diagnosis and symptoms are specific to one society or culture. You can leverage this phenomenon by leading your players through an investigation that culminates in the reveal of a normal person suffering from this disorder who gave in to his cravings.

In Your Fantasy Game
In a game with supernatural beings – either the modern world or a fantasy realm – the malevolent nature of the wendigo makes them interesting foes for your players. As a single entity, they present an interesting target for the characters to hunt and kill. Perhaps even more chilling of a scenario, however, is an entire village turned to wendigos, on the prowl for any flesh they can find.

Wendigo CR 11

Large giant

Init –1; Senses low-light vision; Listen +10, Spot +10

Defense 23, touch 8, flat-footed 23 (–1 size, ¬1 Dex, +15 natural)
hp 157 (15d8+90); fast healing 5
Massive Damage 26
Fort +15, Ref +6, Will +7
Resist Cold 10

Spd 50 ft.
Melee 2 claws +18 (2d6+8/19-20) and
       Bite +13 (1d8+4 plus 1d4 Con)
Space 10 ft. by 10 ft.; Reach 10 ft.
Special Attacks Consume flesh, rend (3d6+12)

Before Combat Wendigos aren’t especially stealthy, opting to simply burst into combat at the earliest opportunity. A wendigo will charge its target of choice, hoping the suddenness of the attack grants it a brief advantage so it may begin to feed.
During Combat A wendigo fights furiously and focuses all its attacks on one victim at a time, tearing at flesh with claws and teeth. Wendigos have just enough self-control to delay eating the flesh of dead targets long enough to attack another nearby victim if the wendigo feels threatened.
Morale The typical wendigo is a relentless killer. Its desire for human flesh is strong, and the creature can barely control itself. A wendigo will fight to death rather than run once it tasted flesh.

Str 27, Dex 9, Con 23, Int 6, Wis 14, Cha 10
Base Atk +11; Grp +23
AP 2; Rep 0
Feats Alertness, Blind-Fight, Improved Critical (claw), Improved Damage Threshold, Lightning Reflexes, Power Attack
Skills Intimidate +6, Listen +10, Spot +10

Consume Flesh (Su): Wendigos possess a strong craving for human flesh, but no matter how much they consume the craving is never sated. Whenever a wendigo successfully bites a target, it inflicts 1d4 points of Constitution damage. When a wendigo consumes the victim (by killing it through this Constitution damage) it may increase in size and strength. When it consumes victims with hit dice equal to its own, it gains a new hit die, acquiring all the benefits (increased hp, skill points, base attack bonus, and so on). In this manner, as it grows its hunger is never truly sated. Creatures who acquire this ability through the shapechange spell (and similar effects) do not retain any of these extra hit dice when they resume their normal form.

Rend (Ex): A wendigo that successfully strikes with both claw attacks in the same round against the same target violently rips the flesh from the victim, inflicting 3d6+12 hp damage.

Environment Cold wilderness
Organization Solitary (unique)
Treasure None
Allegiances Chaos, Evil
Advancement 16–22 HD (Large); 23–34 HD (Huge); 35–46 HD (Gargantuan); 47–58 (Colossal)
Level Adjustment

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