To celebrate Horror Flora‘s four year anniversary, I’ve prepared a special treat for you: a bestiary for a non-existent monster catching game inspired by this website’s Iconic Characters of Horror Fiction essay series. Welcome to 4 Horror War, where people raise different Archetypal Fears – “Arkies” for short – into powerful monsters, and then battle each other to prove the superiority of their chosen fears. I’ll be posting a different Arky family each day from now through Halloween – today’s Arky family of the day belongs to Gothic Horror, THE GHOST FAMILY!
Now, before we dive in to the gritty details, an explanation/reminder of how this non-existent mons game works. Unlike Pokemon, evolution is not necessarily an upgrade – in other words, the first stage of a given family is generally on par with the most “advanced” stage. Evolution reshuffles stats rather than straight-up improving them, allowing the Arky to function differently on the team.
In addition to giving you alternate options/strategies for a given Arky, the family tree of each Archetypal Fear is sort of a huge meta-reference to how actual horror archetypes have, well, evolved in fiction. Though I’ve had to stretch now and then with the families to make every monster I wanted to make fit, the meta commentary is more or less accurate enough to make my inner horror nerd happy.
Ok, enough pre-amble, let’s dive in:
The first Arky in the Ghost line is Paractivity, a whispy spirit made of vaporous ectoplasm. Though it lacks a solid, tangible form, it can possess objects, float through walls, and modify its amorphous shape into new and terrifying forms.
Spectorgeist evolves when Paractivity possesses a corpse, warping it into a tangible if still eerie phantasm. Though no longer capable of passing through walls or shapeshifting, the newly corporeal spirit makes up for this by having greater physical prowess in battle.
Opragast mutates from Spectrogeist when it hears a tune that reminds it of its former life, adding a great deal of magical power to its arsenal of attacks at the expense of some of its durability. A melodramatic soul, this spirit is prone to spontaneously bursting into song, and believes nothing is worth doing if it can’t be done theatrically.
A personification of death itself, Grimorte arises from an Opragast that has studied the arcane arts of the great Fear Crafter Poe, and seeks to harvest souls of the living like a farmer harvests wheat. Durable and proficient with attacks and debuffs, Grimorte’s only real weakness is its slow speed, for though Death comes for us all, in most cases it gives us quite a head start.
If Paractivity is allowed to use a Ouija Board, it can evolve into Banshriek, a spirit capable of foretelling the deaths of the living with its powerful wails. Its sonic attacks are so strong that they rip holes in Banshriek’s spectral form, though it can heal these wounds if given time.
If Banshriek is allowed to explore an old, forgotten well, it can emerge from it as the powerful spectre Onryoko. Stringy haired and ominous, Onryoko specializes in haunting technology, emerging from TV screens and cell phone signals to kill its prey.
When given a Jack-O-Lantern as a weapon, Banshriek can evolve into Dullachrom, a corporeal spectre who makes up for its headlessness by having spectacular speed and attack power, rolling its massive pumpkin head over its foes and slicing their heads off with its deadly axe.
If given a house to haunt, Paractivity can turn into the dreadful Haunthausu, an ambulatory house with wicked intent. The most massive member of the Ghost Arky family, this colossal spectre is the most durable of all the ghosts, though it can only use its considerable attack power if other ghost arkies share the field with it, as a haunted house is deadlier the more ghosts inhabit it.