4 Horror War: The Spiralkin Arkies

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 Cosmic Horror, THE SPIRALKIN 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:

As charismatic as it is vain, Tomieworm ensures that all attention is focused on it when it takes the field. Enemies that try to attack Tomieworm’s allies will hurt themselves or their team-mates instead, while enemies that try to attack Tomieworm itself have a high chance of being paralyzed with fear when they do so. While incapable of dealing much harm on its own, Tomieworm’s mind-bending powers, enormous health pool, and ability to heal itself make it a pesky problem to get rid of.

After eating spoiled sushi, Tomieworm can evolve into Gashark. A foul smelling cyborg, this corpse-powered machine is extremely durable and dangerous in close range, while the foul smelling stench it emits fills enemies with debilitating nausea.

After dying in combat four times in a row, Gashark can evolve into Shorthing. A hulking leviathan, Shorthing can temporarily swallow its allies to protect them from attacks for up to four turns, before regurgitating them out unharmed. With high defenses and an enormous health pool, it is a stalwart protector that can buy its team quite a lot of time.

After scoring four kills in battle, Gashark can evolve into Tastree. Incredibly durable, this monster is good at both long and close range fighting, specializing in breaking through defenses raised by other monsters, as its attacks almost never miss their intended target.

If encouraged to focus solely on its own beauty, Tomieworm can evolve into Baloonoggin. A swollen airhead, this Arky’s attack rises whenever it’s confronted with a foe who also has a high charisma stat, lashing them with its metal chord before strangling them to death in a jealous rage.

After finding a special hole made just for it, Tomieworm can evolve into Drrdrrdrr. A victim of strange compulsions, this creature is capable of enduring enormous punishment relatively unscathed thanks to its ludicrous defense stat, and encourages its foes to do the same to their own self destruction.

After spending a night stargazing, Drrdrrdrr can evolve into Startarus. Enormous even by Arky standards, this nightmarish hellstar is slow to act but unleashes devastating attacks when it finally makes contact, and its mere presence often drives foes to despair.

After ruminating on the odd patterns in nature, Drrdrrdrr can evolve into Concept of Spirals. Though at first seeming innocuous if peculiar, Concept of Spirals radically alters the battle just with its mere presence, making friends and foes alike act in odd ways and inducing debilitating transformations upon the enemy, until everything spirals out of control to its immense amusement.

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