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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 DEMON 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: Though its diminutive size may make it look comical, make no mistake that Wretchimp is a deadly threat. Rising from the fiery depths of the Netherworld, this fallen creature makes up for its unimpressive physical statue by sporting a vast array of arcane attacks to dazzle and destroy its enemies. If allowed to read dirty magazines, Wretchimp can evolve into Suckubis, a seductive demon who enchants its enemies with a glance. Suckubis specializes in attacks that stun and paralyze its enemies, leaving them helpless as other monsters whale on them, After landing the final blow against a stunned monster, Suckubis can evolve into Inkubutt, an equally seductive demon who excels at bargaining. Inkubutt can grant buffs to allies and enemies alike by having them sign contracts, though after a certain amount of time it will exact a price for its aid by draining strength from its marks into itself. If allowed to sit upon a fiendish throne, Wretchimp can evolve into Asmodante, the largest of all the Demon Arkies. With three hideous heads and immense power at its disposal, Asmodante is held back only by its immense sorrow at looking like such a freak. When given a successful pep talk, Asmodante can evolve into Milucifer, a shining demon lord whose power is matched only by its supreme arrogance. Armed with a powerful lance and extreme arcane mastery, it makes up for its slight loss of physical strength and endurance with magic versatility and extreme overconfidence. If encouraged to wallow in its own misery, Asmodante can evolve into Beelzebud, a fly-like demon lord who delights in its hideous nature. No act is too depraved for Beelzebud to consider, and it excels at working with its allies darker impulses, leading them to victory through the dirtiest methods imaginable. After wandering through the woods for a while, Wretchimp can transform at a crossroads to become Hernhunt, the mysterious stranger of the woods. Speaking with a deep, melodic voice, Hernhunt leads its enemies astray by encouraging their own worse impulses, breaking foes by talking to them more often than not, though it still has considerable physical and arcane might at its disposal. If given a notebook to write its thoughts in, Hernhunt can evolve into Devigami, a malicious trickster who turns friends against each other and sews discord for its own amusement. In addition to sporting a wide arsenal of debuffs and confusion-sewing spells at its disposal, Devigami can instantly defeat one opponent per battle by writing their name in its notebook, though there must be at least two opponents still active for it to use this ability.