Inhabitants of the liminal spaces between Fairyland and the mortal plane, Boogeymen play a vital role in preserving their native ecosystem, even though doing so has given them a bad reputation both among mortals and fairies alike. The term “boogeyman” has become a perjorative in both worlds, and most boogeymen face considerable cruelty at the hands of their neighbors. Many boogeymen species were even the subject of mass extinction campaigns by humanity. Despite this, boogeymen remain some of the most successful fairies in Midgaheim.
Boogeymen tend to have less potent magic than other fairies as a result of their weaker connection to Fairyland. However, this is also somewhat beneficial, as it means boogeymen are also less restrained by the arcane and all encompassing rules of fairy culture. Unlike other fairies, boogeymen can often bend their word a great deal, and some are even able to break a promise or oath without being destroyed in the process. This is one of the reasons they tend to be infamous, as they are technically less trustworthy than other fairies – which is to say, still moreso than your typical human.
Gate Keepers and Key Masters
Being better adapted to life outside Fairyland than other species, the nine different boogeymen families all possess the valuable ability to reinforce the magical ties between Fairyland and the Mortal Plane. Without them, Fairyland would eventually drift off from the rest of reality, and either disperse into raw magic (killing all its inhabitants in the process), or warp itself infinitely, mutating its residents into utterly alien forms of life. Neither outcome is particularly favorable to the Fair Folk, and as such the work of the Boogeymen is invaluable. Despite this, Boogeymen are ostracized by their fellow Faeries, as the powers that make them valuable also make them less “fairy-ish” than their kin, which in turn makes them less desirable.
Boogeymen can perform their function in one of two ways. Some Boogeymen are Gate Keepers, creating vast territories straddling the border between Fairyland and the Mortal Plane. These territories act as a large liminal space between the two planes, not resting fully in either, and thus tie the two together. Other Boogeymen are Key Masters, and the connections they forge are far smaller and more intimate. A Key Master creates a portal between Fairyland and, more often than not, a human residence, often one no larger than a door. While a Gate Keeper’s territory remains relatively constant, a Key Master slowly draws the dwelling it enters into Fairyland, eventually making it safe for other fairies to live in the dwelling long term. Over time a Key Master will vacate the home it forged a connection with to open new portals in other homes, while other fairies take up its old haunts.
Enormous and strange amphibians, Trolls are found all over Midgaheim. They are incredibly diverse, with a multitude of different species sporting all sorts of shapes and sizes. Trolls can likewise be found in a variety of niches and environments. They are by far the most successful Boogeymen family, with large populations being found in every country on the continent. The country of Germanor is believed to be where they originated, and has sported the largest population of trolls for all of Midgaheim’s history. These Boogeymen are so famous in Germanor that “troll” has become a catchall term for anything monstrous and/or strange. Germanorean trolls also tend to be far more organized and active than other troll populations, forcefully invading their neighbor’s lands on so many occasions that Germanor has literally had hundreds of different “Troll Wars.”
Trolls tend to function as Gate Keeper Boogeymen, and their lairs are known as Trollheims. They are distant relatives of another group of common boogeymen, known as…
Nearly as common as trolls, Goblins are likewise found all over Midgaheim. One almost never finds a goblin living alone, as the large amphibians are highly social creatures that cannot abide isolation. The presence of one goblin means that there is at least a gang of ten or more nearby, if not an entire town or, somewhat more rarely, a great trooping horde. Goblins tend to be more mechanically minded than other fairies, and have created some truly strange and unique technology throughout the history of Midgaheim. Sadly, they’re also one the subject of a great deal of discrimination by Fairies and humans alike. Many clans of goblins have been cast out of Fairyland over the years, only to find the mortal plane no more willing to give them shelter. Because of this, goblins have had an unfortunate tendency to work as marauding armies for hire, working for whatever warlord will have them in hopes of claiming a piece of land for their own in the process. Like their troll cousins, goblins tend to be Gate Keepers.
The diminutive close relatives of goblins, Hobgoblins have a somewhat better standing among their fairy peers because of their sheer skill in enchanting. While other fairies may beat them in sheer magic power or technological prowess, hobgoblins are the absolute masters of imbuing material objects with magic power. If a sword, shield, or other tool from Fairyland carries any magical properties, chances are a hobgoblin was responsible. The diminutive creatures are more likely to appear in Fairy Courts than other boogeymen, albeit always in some sort of servant role. Hobgoblins work as Gate Keepers and Key Masters with equal regularity, being particularly adaptable fairies.
For some reason, humans have often confused hobgoblins and goblins with each other, and a great many bestiariers erroneously declare that hobgoblins are the larger of the two. This is false, though many goblins and hobgoblins encourage the misconception because they find it humorous.
Adapted for an entirely aquatic life, Grindylows are close relatives of goblins and hobgoblins, albeit ones that never fully metamorphose into their four limbed adult state. They tend to be far cruder than their relatives, rarely developing the rich and complex societies of their goblin kin. In fact most Grindylows live solitary existences, as they can only tolerate company when mating or swarming over a fresh kill. Despite their surly dispositions and downright bestial behavior, Grindylows work well as Gate Keepers for the aquatic sections of Fairyland.
The final member of the five goblin families, Boggarts are the most common Key Masters among all boogeymen. A boggart can generate a portal between Fairyland and the Mortal Plane faster than any other boogeyman, and boggart forged portals tend to be particularly stable. It is believed that boggarts are the sole reason “House Spirits,” i.e. Fairies that voluntarily take stewardship of a particular human residence, can exist at all, as almost every House Spirit was preceeded by a boggart that forged the connection between said house and Fairyland. This is also why some House Spirits are said to turn into boggarts if slighted – in actuality, they simply ask the boggart to come back and teach the ungrateful mortals a lesson. Boggarts have a nasty reputation for sadism that is mostly unearned, though they do seem to universally enjoy scaring the daylights out of other people.
Another group of fairy amphibians, Bugaboos are generally found working as Key Masters, and specialze in joining subterranean sections of Fairyland with the mortal plane. Bugaboos generally make their portals in dark, partially hidden sections of a house, such as under a child’s bed or in a dimly lit basement. Like many boogeymen, bugaboos reproduce frequently, and many will steal trinkets from the homes they’ve set up portals in for their offspring to play with. They carry their offspring (as well as other treasures) in sacks made of their own shed skin.
Monstrous fairies of indeterminate origin, no two Bugbears look the same, being a jumbled mix of chimeric features that often has too many or too few of the standard tetrapod’s organs. They are almost always covered in at least a few patches of shaggy hair, and likewise tend to be fairly large, with some being truly gargantuan. Despite this, Bugbears have a magical quirk that allows them to slip into any space, no matter how small. Since they, like all fairies, are natural show offs, Bugbears almost always build their gateways in small spaces, with closets being a fairly common choice. Bugbears are always Key Master boogeymen, and while they aren’t quite as skilled at forging paths as Boggarts and Bugaboos, they make up for the slight decrease in structural integrity by making portals that allow Fairyland to spill in far quicker than normal. Homes that are inhabited by Bugbears will often fall completely into Fairyland within a couple generations, rather than taking centuries like those occupied by Boggarts and Bugaboos.
The footsoldiers of Fairyland, Orcs are the only group of Boogeymen that were explicitly bred for the task, and have been made notorious by the rare occasions when Fairies declared open war on Mortal nations. Stubborn, aggressive, and often downright volatile, orcs are always itching for the next fight, and spend a great deal of their time preparing for the next war. However, contrary to common human beliefs, the sapient boars aren’t SOLELY warriors, and there are some aspects of orc culture that have nothing (or at least little) to do with fighting. There are countless volumes of orc poetry, at least a couple of which contain one or two ballads that AREN’T about some great war campaign they have fought. While not quite as prolific as trolls and goblins, orcs are nonetheless considered highly successful Gate Keepers, as no Orc homeland has ever been conquered by mortal forces.
For a long while Aitvarases weren’t believed to be boogeymen, as they occupy a far higher place in fairy culture than the other boogeymen families. Indeed, most Fairy Courts regard them as a type of House Spirit fairy, with all the social benefits that come from performing such important diplomatic work with the Mortal Plane. However, close study has shown aitvarases fit all the qualities of a boogeyman, as they are actually far less attuned to the magic of Fairyland than other fairy species (including their fellow boogeymen), and likewise are the only House Spirit fairies who can work without the aid of a Boggart, Bugaboo, Bugbear, or other Key Master boogeymen. Their ability to pass as a “higher breed” of faerie comes from their draconic heritage. Being the only species of dragons to become fairies, aitvarases retain a great deal of the “normal” arcane attunement of their non-fairy dragon ancestors, which supplements their otherwise lackluster stores of fairy magic. An aitvaras will always be found working as a Key Master, and though their portals tend to be unusually small, they also tend to be quite stable. The innate shapeshifting magic of fairy kind is present in aitvarases, though it’s quite weak – an aitvaras can take two different shapes at most, turning into a housecat and/or a chicken/rooster.
The Boogeymen fulfill two roles in Midgaheim: first, they collect many of the various fairy and fairy-like creatures that serve as “things that go bump in the night” in myth into one group, and second, they homage the common conceit in modern fantasy of there being stock “bad guy” races. The latter became a bit more prominent than the former as I worked on the concept, although the goal was always to downplay the villainy of these supposed “always chaotic evil” races.
The word “troll” was originally roughly synonymous with “monster,” being used to describe anything abnormal and/or strange, only to slowly become more specific as folklore progressed. Of course, what it specifically meant varied from culture to culture, which is why no two mythologies have exactly the same trolls. My goal for Midgaheim’s trolls is to try to merge all those different trolls together into one diverse family of creatures – but more on that when we get to their own Overview page.
Making trolls relatives of goblins, and in turn making trolls and goblins essentially giant frog/toad people, is more of a nod to modern Fantasy than it is to folklore, as folkloric goblins are almost as nebulously defined and infinitely variable as folkloric trolls are. Still, the modern idea of goblins being slimy, green-skinned humanoids is really appealing to me, and since the Fair Folk Overview already established that the names given to different species of fairies are also clan names that in turn have been used by fairies who aren’t members of those species, I feel my butt is kind of well covered on that front. Sometimes you just want to have a bunch of weird frog people in your storuy, y’know?
Goblins being the most tech savvy of fairies is another modern conceit, taking a bit from the concept of gremlins (i.e. goblins who mess up airplanes) and Tolkien’s decision to associate goblins with “the fires of industry.” While I’m generally a pro-nature side of guy, I think we can give the technology of goblins a positive spin – after all, some technology can be very, very beneficial.
I decied to stand against modern Fantasy on the subject of hobgoblins, since, contrary to what D&D would have you believe, folkloric hobgoblins were basically smaller and friendlier goblins. Sometimes you just want some obscenely cute little frog people in your story, y’know?
Since “goblin” is basically a catchall term for, like, almost any fairy basically, we could technically say there’s mythological precedence for Grindylows being “aquatic goblins,” but the idea of them being “aquatic goblins in a setting where goblins are a distinct species rather than a catchall term for a bunch of different fairies” is defnitely more of a modern one, and one I decided to run with since it let me show off what goblins might look like if they never grew legs, and really hammer home the whole “these are frog people” thing.
Boggarts, Bugaboos, and Bugbears are all essentially synonyms for the word “Boogeyman,” and thus are the three fairies who have best claim to the title. I decided that boggarts would be relatives of goblins ages ago – it just felt right – and, when I combined that with the sort of cultural history and ecological role I was developing for goblins in my setting, I realized that the Boogeyman title deserved to be expanded to include them, and as a result our list of Boogeymen tripled in size. The idea of Bugaboos being giant caecilians came from my friend BugCthulhu, while the idea of using the word Bugbear for the unique sort of generic shaggy monsters little kids come up with came from the website Bogleech.com.
I originally wasn’t going to include orcs in my setting, since the only accounts of orcs I found in myth described giant, boar faced sea monsters (i.e. the “whales” you see on old timey maps), and because orcs are kind of the face of the most unfortunate tendencies in modern fantasy fiction (specifically the idea of there being races that are inherently evil and thus ok for humans to slaughter en mass). However, once I decided to include some non-mythological monsters in the bestiary, I revisited the idea of orcs with the aim of making them feel a bit less one dimensional. They’re still a culture of warriors – that’s kind of what makes orcs, well, orcs, and to be fair there were quite a few cultures in the middle ages that were hyper focused on war – but they’re also giant boar-people who write bad poetry, and I think that counts for something.
The idea of “fairy dragons” is very common in Fantasy fandoms despite appearing very rarely in any fiction and having almost no mytholigical basis. The closest thing to a mythic “fairy dragon” is the Aitvaras, a small dragon that acts as a house spirit, turning into a rooster or cat and stealing gold for the family that inhabits the house it lives in (so long as they keep it fed). I decided to mix that idea with both the “fairy dragon” idea and the modern Fantasy take on Kobolds, which presents them as little dragon people despite the fact that mythological kobolds were actually dog fairies instead. Since the mythological Aitvaras also has a tail tip that’s constantly on fire, I mixed in a dash or two of Charmander as well, because why not?