Zombies are dead people (reanimated to work for an evil magician) from Haiti folklore.
Interchangeable with the wampus cat, these creatures are known for transforming into mountain lions. When not in cat form they are human. They come from Vermont folklore, and their name is short for “cat o’ the mountain.”
(There is also a real animal called the catamount)
The Boggarts are another type of Bug or Bogie from English folklore, derived from the puca of Celtic folklore, which themselves are based on Puck, (who is derived from the fauns and satyrs and Pan of classical literature), but unlike the boggle these are more associated with the home than the, well, bog.
They put pins on the stairs.
They put butter in the slippers.
They tie the horses’ tails together.
Well, some say they are brownies that turned evil after being offended. Some say they are evil spirits that can sense your greatest fear and transform into it. Some say they are evil “pixie dust” that has built up for two long, and takes on the shape of a little monster.
These are Japanese spirits that punish evil humans and eat people. Kind of like ogres.
Kappas, also from Japanese folklore, are drowning monsters. Their weakness is if you can get them to bow their head down. You see, their power comes from some water in a bowl on their head. So:
“What?” (looks down) “AAARRGGH!” (faints and disappears beneath the water.)
The vila are spirits from Slavic folklore. They are basically slavic nymphs. They are spirits of the wind, sometimes classified as fairies, and enjoy singing in their free time. So, yeah. For all intents and purposes, these are nymphs.
OK, I’m sorry that a lot of this week’s creatures are Interchangeable Alternately Named. But that happens a lot when one gets deeper into mythology. So as these creatures get rarer, they also get, well, more repetative. But bear with me, because it’s still cool.
“Nain Rouge” is French for Red Dwarf. They take up all the normal fairy roles of Housekeeper, Shapeshifter, and hating oddly specific things, like Salt on the doorstep or horse tails with bows in them.
They spread to Canada along with the French, and in Michigan there is one specific Nain Rouge, THE Nain Rouge, who always shows up when something bad is about to happen.
When a poor man dies, his blood turns into one of these. So some old battlefields will have a whole swarm of these running around. They carry a long spear and will kill anybody they see. They are impossible to outrun, so your only chance is to outsmart them.
The good version of Redcaps. These live in mines and warn workers about cave-ins.
Imps are evil spirits, mischievous and mean. They are known for red or purple skin, devil horns, and a spiked tail. They have, over time, developed into minions for witches. However it is probable that they began as standard fairies.
On New Year’s Day, I made a New Year’s goal to make a complete fantasy card game with every single mythical creature I had ever heard of. After about ten cards, I got bored. Well, I had still compiled a huge list of mythological, folkloric, cryptic, and fantasy creatures, so I decided that I would publish them, in groups of ten, on my blog.
If you want to read the others, search ‘List of mythical creatures’ in the search bar to the left.
The Troglodytes are lizard humanoids. Examples can be found all over the place, from D&D to the Wingfeather Saga. They are known for being very unadvanced in their technology and for being evil.
Frogfolk, AKA frog bros, talking frogs, etc. are humanoid frogs. Some are almost Half-Slug, with only arms no legs. These are called Dramfrogs. Other versions include Hippodramfrogs which are part horse part frog, Dramagons which are part dragon, Dramfrogbunny I think this one is obvious, and Drambirds.
In D&D, they are called Bullywugs.
The Gargoyle is a cool creature that lives in cities. They are, of course, named after the statues on walls. That’s because to most people they just look like statues hiding way up on the rooftops. Gargoyles are sort of like the fantasy equivalent of pigeons, living in the big cities in huge colonies.
They are masters of disguise, which led to some people thinking they turn to stone during the day.
These little guys are very peaceful. They will often live in Faerie along with Sprites, Gnomes, Pixies, and Elves. In video games they are usually non-player characters, except for maybe one individual out of the race that joins the adventure (Toad).
Derived from the same root word as Ent, these are two headed giants. They are more powerful than normal giants. They are especially known for being two-headed, and the young ettins are called boggles.
The awesome grindylows recently received a popularity boost when they were included as lake monsters in Harry Potter. They are one of the few mythical creatures that completely originated in England, and are said to drown people that come near their watery homes.
Also water creatures, the vodnici are strange old creatures that live in rivers, usually by waterfalls. They look like little frogs.
In original Hindu literature, these are a type of carnivorous spirit. They were adapted by Dungeons and Dragons as a race of evil humanoid tigers. The Rakshasi have been included in many fantasy settings and worlds since their inclusion as one of the first creatures to be introduced to D&D. Some settings include crocodile headed rakshasas and such, but most stick with the tiger model. In D&D the Naityan Rakshasas can shapeshift.
The Gnoll is a humanoid hyena. It’s from D&D. Yup.
These are basically strange fairies that imitate you exactly and take your place. Sort of like changelings.
The Sphinx is one of the most ancient motifs of culture. The Egyptians, the Babylonians, and the Greeks all used it. The criosphinx is one of the most ancient sphinx types, and represents Aman the Egyptian god of winds and Allfather of the pantheon.
Ents are one of Tolkien’s coolest ideas. They are mentioned briefly in the Silmarillion because Yavanna is afraid that the dwarves will cut down many of her precious trees. So she asks Eru Illuvatar to create shepherds for the trees.
The name ent is based on the Old English word for giant, ‘Ettin’ or ‘ent’, and their treeish nature was based on folk traditions of talking trees and dryads.
These classic monsters are just giant potatoes. They are not very common, but they should be because, let’s face it, they’re awesome.
Once a boy ate his finger. Then he ate his whole body except his head, which now goes around trying to eat other people. They are very ferocious and often associated with the hoop snake in the same way hags are associated with werewolves.
The Basilisk is a monstrous serpent that can kill you just by looking you in the eye. They hate roosters and are hatched from toad eggs incubated by a snake. They commonly live in sewers and their only weaknesses are mirrors, like Medusa.
BICORN AND CHICHEVACHE
Now these are some of my favorite funny creatures, coming from French folklore. They are husband and wife and are some sort of Panther-Cow-Unicorn mix. The Bicorn eats good husbands, and so is very plump and healthy. The Chichevache eats good wives, and so is starved and thin.
The Bicorn is mentioned in Harry Potter, but does not take any sort of main role in the plot. The Chichevache is very rare, there is not even a Mythology Wiki entry for it.
The Abominable Snowman is different from the yeti because, whereas the yeti is magical, the Abominable Snowman is just really awesome. He is hugely big, bigger then a giant, and can take down frost dragons, ice elves, and even unicorns. Abominables (Bumbles) are known for bouncing when they fall from a height and melting in water. They also like Ice Cream.
The Uktena are just one example of the recurring horned snake theme in North American folklore, and are associated with rivers. This river association also runs deep, as many other legends have dragons or saurs living in streams or by Sacred Bridges. The Estakwanayv or Tie-snake is a lesser river serpent, still powerful but subject to the Uktena.
There was once a very powerful race of serpents that were destroyed by the Thunderbirds, and small saurs like lizards and snakes are all that’s left of them. The little people, the Yehusari, like to ride on Uktena while going to far off villages.
SLIME CUBE/ZOL/SLIME MONSTER
These creatures are very common, and are often included in a Monster Mash type of thing. They often can pop into a swarm of smaller slimes when killed.
Koalas are cute little fluffy critters, but their carnivorous cousins, the drop bears, are some of the most ferocious monsters of the planet. They hide in trees, and when someone walks under they leap down and attack.
Dvergr is the Norse word for dwarf, so I named this authority that because it sounds like I’m smart when I translate stuff into other languages.
DVERGR AND SVARTL
Germanic mythos was very influential. Elves, lindworms, and wights all come from there. The two other mythologies that stem from it, English and Norse mythologies, produced Ogres, Gargoyles, Bugbears, Trolls, Jotuns, Grindylow, Bogies, Bogiemen, Bogtocracies, Boggarts, Gremlins, Orcneas, Ettins, Ents, Hobgoblins, and others. Most modern fantasy derives from this.
In Norse Mythology, Dvegr live in Niddaveller. However, there is also a controversy about Svartlheim, home of the Dark Elves. Let me explain. There are Svartalfar, murky elves; Dokkalfar, the Dark Elves; and Ljosalfar or light elves. To make matters even worse, elves here are commonly called alfs.
Svartalfar are sometimes thought to be synonymous with Dokkalfar. All we know for sure is that Dokkalfar live underground (like dwarfs) and Ljosalfar live in Alfheim.
Anyway, what this has to do with dvergr (dwarfs, you will recall) is that often elves and dwarfs are indistinguishable from one another, even more so than other small fairy folk because these guys come from the same mythos. Elves and Dwarfs were two mischievous creatures that were called in by Odin for judgement.
Those dwarfs that had been particularly evil were sent to keep the fire at the center of the earth burning. Dwarfs that had only been mean little twerps were sent to mine for jewels. The elves were very nervous when Odin called them up, but he said that they had only been foolish, and sent them to Alfheim to take care of the flowers.
In this story Dark Elves and Svartalfar are not explained, but the Dark Elves were probably elves that were particularly evil, and they were sent to live with the dwarfs at the core. As for Svartalfar, maybe they were dark elves that somehow escaped from their punishment and became part of the Jotun army.
Gnomes are spirits from “Renaissance Magic.” Their name comes from a root word meaning “earth dweller,” and they were originally described as shy earth elementals, sometimes guarding underground treasures or caves. In Alchemy, they were one of the four elemental spirits, the others being Salamanders for fire, Undines for water, and Sylphs for air. Gnomes, of course, were Earth.
They are SIMILAR to gnomes, but come from different time periods of folklore. They became similar to goblins in later Fairy Tales, and began to lose their Earth Spirit status, becoming household faey and morphing with brownies, leprechauns, and kobolds.
When Fairy Tales dropped away and fantasy books took their place, writers had to choose between the many different types of Gnomes. In Wizard of Oz, the “Nomes” are evil monsters that live underground (like Earth Gnomes) and cause trouble for Oz. In early drafts of Tolkien’s mythos, the Noldor elves were called Gnomes. This name can still be found in the Book of Lost Tales, published after Tolkien’s death.
C.S. Lewis used gnomes as underground people who hate the idea of living on the surface like flies clinging to the ground. They prefer to live down in the Deep Lava with Salamanders (notice that both of these species are alchemic elementals.) They are also called the Earthmen, and are very strange looking- some have pig heads and hippopotamus heads or tails and tusks.
One cartoon series, David the Gnome, which was followed by Wisdom of the Gnomes, established Gnomes as nature protectors. Their enemies are Trolls. The whole thing was based on books by Will Huygen.
Also, the Garden Gnome statues proved to shape the modern conception of gnomes almost completely. Google “gnomes” and you’ll find little bearded guys with pointy hats gardening. Well, that’s pretty similar to a dwarf, don’t you think? And even if you forget that and trace gnomes back to their roots, you find both are underground humanoid spirits.
So, many fantasy worlds make a point of distinguishing gnomes and dwarfs.
In the Silmarillion, the origin of dwarves (yes, Tolkien uses a different spelling) is this: they were created by Aüle who was impatient for the coming of the elves. When Eru saw this, he let the dwarfs live, but said they would still have to wait until the elves came. So the seven dwarf fathers were put in mountains.
When the time came, they emerged and befriended the elves and men, except for the bad ones, “petty dwarfs”. The good dwarfs, also called Khazad, helped fight Morgoth’s armies during the First Age. During the second age, not much is known about dwarves except that seven of them were given the Dwarf Rings (You know, the elves got three, men got nine, dwarves got seven, and Sauron got one*).
*Three, nine, and seven are all magical numbers.
In the Third Age, the dwarven empires were having a lot of trouble with dragons and… ORCS!!! They have a giant war with the orcs called the War of Dwarves and Orcs (creative name).
Then Gimli is part of the quest to destroy Sauron, which succeeds!
Then the dwarves fade from history.
A lot of dwarf stereotypes come from Lord of the Rings. First, their reputation as enemies of the elves- the elves hunted the petty-dwarves to extinction before they realized they were sentient creatures, so, yeah. But in later ages the two races got a long pretty well, except for a few wars and feuds.
Second, their reputation as a fading race. Third, their gruff honor and stout pride. Literally, every dwarf has this same personality!
Just to give you an idea of how heavily Tolkien influenced dwarvish fantasy, these are the dwarves (actually Warhammer uses the “Dwarfs” spelling) from Warcraft, Warhammer, D&D, LOTR, and Magic:
Those are all pretty similar right?
The Dwelmer, aka Dwarves, Deep ones, or Deep Elves, are a “lost race” in The Elder Scrolls. They were a powerful race with lots of technology that hated magic.
In The Chronicles of Narnia, most Black Dwarfs served under the White Witch, whereas Red Dwarfs tended to side with Aslan. Later, at the time of the Telmarines, both dwarf races fought against a common foe, however some tried to call back the White Witch to help them and some tried to call Aslan.
Renegade Dwarfs are half human and lived among the Telmarines after the Old Narnians were driven into hiding. The Monopods are foolish dwarves who became one-legged when they angered their ex-star master, Coriakin.
Well, that concludes yet another Authority, folks! Next: either a fairy authority or an undead authority. I haven’t decided. If you have an idea of what authority you want to see next, comment about it! If not, just drop a Like. If you REALLY, REALLY like this blog, or actually even if you don’t, then subscribe.
Talking Animals are one of the most popular types of characters in fiction, and not just fantasy. Talking Animals in folklore and legends go back to Greek and Egyptian myths, where the gods would turn into animals. Odin in Norse Mythology had two talking ravens who would bring him all the news of the day.
THE HIERARCHY OF TALKING ANIMALS
The term talking animal is hard to define. Is it an animal that can talk? Seems obvious right? But then what about creatures that look just like animals? What about ghosts that turn into animals? What about Black Cat Spirits? These are some basic classifications of talking animals:
Semi-Talking Animal. These don’t really have conversations or anything, but they seem to be aware of what’s going on. They are usually used for comedy relief or as cool sidekicks. Like Swift in David the Gnome or that parrot in the Treasure Island cartoon.
Normal animals. That talk. Also there will usually be a kid who learns that language and helps them, or just naturally know it from the Good Karma Power of Being an Innocent Kid. (Yeah right.) This is used all over the place.
Beatrix Potter cute village animals. They have human customs, can talk to one another, and are the perfect setting for a silly story about talking animals. It seems the humans are aware that the animals are sentient social beings, (I mean it’s kind of obvious, they wear clothes and stuff) but think it’s normal. Kind of like in Brer Rabbit.
Mutants. They are humans or animals that got mutated and look like animal people because of magic or mutation or magical mutation. These are very common because they are cool: In Amulet it is a curse making all the humans in one of the cities look like animal people; the Beast from X-men is a human that becomes a beastman (at least originally), actually lots of super heroes like Squirrel Girl, Lizard, etc. turn into humanoid animals. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for example.
Sometimes talking animals are used to represent types of people. From this, certain animals get categorized into different roles. Most of this comes from Aesop’s Fables. For instance, the fox is always “sly,”
the tortoise will always be “slow and steady”,
the bear will always be kind of dumb,
the badgers remember,
Peacocks are vain,
Ravens are wise and clever, (Ravenclaw)
Lions are the kings of the Jungle,
Mice will always be lecturing people about how size doesn’t matter,
Donkeys are foolish and lazy,
And ants are hard working.
Werewolves are very common. In fact, they are one of the Classic Horror Movie Monsters. (The others are Vampires, Empty Armor Ghost, and Frankenstein’s Monster)
By the way, did you know that the legend of werewolves transforming into wolves at the full moon is not in original folklore? It comes from later black and white movies. Original Werewolves were most commonly people with curses on them.
There are other types of were-animals, like were-jaguars, were-potatoes, were-bunny rabbits, etc.
Now, these are usually the Beatrix Potter kind- animals that talk and stuff and nobody thinks anything of it. Except, here they don’t act like humans in their social structure, government, etc. They are just animals. And they talk. Nothing weird about that.
These feature prominently in folklore, such as How Man Got Fire (it’s not from Prometheus), Where Night Comes From, Why Spiders Make Webs, etc.
This is also a folklore thing. Shapeshifting type of Talking Animals are usually gods and spirits in disguise. In lots of legends people get transformed into animals and then at the end of the story they turn back into humans (e.g. The Frog Prince).
So, a lot of complicated situations can arise from this.
Anyway, the jotuns in Norse mythology would become monstrous birds, the Sun god Ra in Egypt would become a beetle, etc. etc. This was a pretty common thing.
Another type of talking animal is the Black Cat. Everyone has probably seen black cats on Halloween that live with witches, but few know the legend behind it. Black Cats were demons that took the form of animals and worked for witches. Creepy! This idea is pretty common in old folklore, and in Norse Mythology the Fylgia is part of the soul, and takes the form of an animal. Isn’t it interesting how traditions morph? For instance, the Fylgia is half Black Cat half Spirit Guide.
I know I promised to do an Ogre Authority, but I decided to also include other types of giants. As you almost certainly know, a giant is a really big monstrous humanoid.
Ogres are mythical creatures commonly featured as cannibals and human baby eaters. They appear in many Fairy Tales such as Puss in Boots, Pinocchio, and Sleeping Beauty.
Two similar creatures are Orcneas and Oni. Orcneas are one of the three races descended from Cain, alongside elves and ettins. Oni are big red Japanese demons.
In some old stories Ogres lived in England before humans, but were killed out by heroes like Beowulf.
ENTS AND ETTINS
The Anglo-Saxon (old English) word for giant is Ent. J.R.R. Tolkien used that for his Tree Giants. Ettin is a variant of that word combined with Jotun (jotun, eoten, ettin, you can see the connection) usually associated with two-headed four-armed giants. The smaller ones are Boggles.
They are used in many popular fantasy settings such as DnD and Narnia. Not to get too swept up in etymology, but ettin is an anglicized version of…
which is the Norse Mythology version of giant. However, they are not the typical legendary giant, because they include not just giant versions of humans, but giant wolves, vultures, and wargneas.
They were the first race created, living during the Chaos period. When Addnumbla the cow licks Bor into existence, the giant Ymir and his sons kill him. Bor’s son Beor and his brothers launch all-out-war on the giants. Beor’s son is Odin, who marries Frigga and that’s where the gods come from.
From then on the Jotuns live in Jotunheim, waging cold war on the gods, until Loki leads them into battle on Ragnarok.
Loki was one of the Jotuns. He is always tricking people and being annoying, until he goes a little too far by killing Baldor.
Fenrir is a giant wolf, Loki’s son, who at Ragnarok eats the Sun and Moon (The word Jotun means “devourer,” which probably has to do with this legend).
There are a few types of Jotuns specifically mentioned. There are Clay Giants, Sons of Muspl (fire giants), mountain giants, sea giants, frost giants, trolls, and wind giants. Also there are a few that seem to be half giant half animal, such as wolf-headed and vulture-headed. Trolls, Iron Witches, and wolf mosters live in the Iron Wood.
TITANS AND THEIR BROS
The Greeks and Romans had a few types of primordial giants. They were the brothers of the gods, but when the gods rebelled against Chronos (Father Time), the giants and titans sided with Chronos. Not to mention freaks like Typhon, who had dragons for hands and was half tornado. That war was the Tytanomachy.
The cyclopes, who were one eyed giants, helped the gods during the war against the titans, so they got rewarded. Some live in the north, some work for Vulcan, and some live out in the sea on islands and eat sailors.
GIANTS IN FANTASY
So, with all this folklore it is pretty obvious that modern fantasy books would taken them up. Even in J.R.R. Tolkien’s books the giants exist, seeming to come from the northern mountains. This suggests that they were bred by Morgoth, as is told in his earlier pre-canonical stories. The good giants, the Ents, were created by Eru Illuvitar.
In the Narnia books, giants exist alongside Ettins, Ogres, Boggles, and Orcneas as servants of the White Witch. In Dungeons and Dragons, giants are basically the same, and species related to giants are cyclopes, ettins, ogres, trolls, fomorians, voadkyn, golems, and verbeegs.
Well, I hope you all enjoyed this article! If you did, then subscribe, like, comment, and all that. If you did not enjoy the article then, well, anyway that wouldn’t ever happen.
Recently, I wrote a List of Mythical Creatures page that included a lot of trolls. So, I decided that the time was right, and I needed to write a Troll Authority. The other inspiration is this story.
TROLLS IN TOLKIEN
I am a big huge fan of J.R.R. Tolkien, as you can probably tell from reading this blog. In the Hobbit, his first published work, trolls are sort of comedy relief. Their names are Bert, Tom, and William. They are a bunch of blundering idiots for the most part, and end up getting tricked by Gandalf and turning into stone.
The Silmarillion, the book of Elvish legendary traditions, also includes their origin story. They were bred by Morgoth in mockery of Ents (spirits made because of Yavanna’s request to protect Trees).
A lot of modern fantasy Trolls are sort of based on Tolkien’s trolls.
DAVID THE GNOME
In David the Gnome, an old cartoon series which is actually really good, the trolls are depicted as the arch-enemies of gnomes. The specific trolls appearing in the series are really cool, and have tails. Also, like in Tolkien, they turn to stone with light. They are not the smartest, so gnomes usually can defeat them. They also steal human babies because their own babies are so weird.
DA DA DA DA DA TROLLS, IRON WITCHES, AND TROLLDOM
Da da da da da Trolls (also commonly known as internet trolls) is really just a term for people that write mean and/or dumb comments on websites. Just getting that clear.
Now, in original Norse Lore, trolls were one of the four types of nature spirits, the others are Jotuns, Purs, Risi. Jotuns are giants and enemies of Odin, Purs faded into monsters, and Risi sort of were the inspiration for Wood Elves, as opposed to Alfs.
By the way, I could not find a single picture of purs or risi, so if you are making a fantasy book, those four races would be awesome.
Anyway, Trolls became mysterious magical hermits living in large family groups. Then as time went on more traits were assigned to them, such as turning into stone during the day, hating lightning, and wanting to drink Christian blood. Grendel is a sort of Anglo-Saxon equivalent, and Tomte are Germanic.
In Old English, the word giant was Ent (Tolkien’s giant tree shepherds are based on that) and in Norse, the word is Jotun. The Trolls were a sort of more magical Jotun. The Iron Witches are also called Troll-wives of the Iron Wood. Thus, Trolldom is their word for one type of magic.
In the later Fairy Tale traditions, many older Fey Folk were adopted into more sophisticated tales. Trolls mainly were given the Ugly Stupid Dimwitted Monster treatment, and distanced from older tales of primordial wars between gods and jotuns. One story emerges from this time.
The Riddling Troll Under the Bridge.
This guy will cause you real problems if you are late for a meeting and need to cross his bridge. He is usually included in fantasy universes just for show.
TROLLS AS MAHAS AND TROLLS AS FAIRIES
Trolls were the inspiration for one guy to make a little doll with spiky hair. It was a hit!! So now it’s a big company.
Disney made a movie of it, but it does not do justice to the original troll “dolls.” These kind of trolls can also be called ma-has.
Also, many types of fey are similar to trolls, partly because over the years trolls have sucked in many other lesser known fairy-folk.
These are some links you might find helpful if you are researching trolls and other types of fairies.
Alright everybody, that concludes the Troll Authority! Hope you enjoyed it, and if you did, like and comment and subscribe. Or not, I mean, you don’t have to. But please do. Next up: the Ogre Authority and more List of Mythical Creatures!