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 Atomic Horror, THE XENOFAUNA 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:
Similar to our earth ants, except larger of course and wearing a nice pair of trousers, Bugslack is a powerful brawler with decent defenses and slightly below average speed.
If fed delicious sulfur powder, Bugslack can evolve into Jotnaran, the Venusian dinosaur! With a redundant set of organ systems that lacks any critical weakpoint, this monster is great at playing defense for its team, though its clawed hands also allow it to excel as a close range brawler.
If given a strange meteorite to hold, Bugslack can evolve into Leapencreep. A massive bag of protoplasm, any physical attack that hits this blob will instead damage the creature that dealt it, though arcane attacks do double damage to it in turn.
If taken aboard a derelict spaceship, Bugslack can evolve into Gighug. When hiding in its egg it is almost invulnerable, though it must leave its defensive shell to deal any damage. It excels at close range fighting, but rarely gets to stay in combat for more than one round due to its extreme frailty.
After killing at least one enemy in battle, Gighug can evolve into Ridlien. A vicious and swift fighter, Ridlien’s acidic blood deals damage to any monster that damages it, which, when combined with the monster’s savage close combat skills, makes it an incredibly dangerous foe.
If given a crown to wear, Ridlien can evolve into Regalien. A big, beautiful xenobeast, this queen mother may be slowed down by its swollen ovipositor, but it makes up for it both with its brute strength and with its incredible ability to inspire monsters working alongside it, whipping them into an aggressive frenzy as they rush to do right by their queen.
If Ridlien engages in an 80’s action movie quote-off with its owner, it can evolve into Zaroffian. A stealthy hunter of the most dangerous game, this alien excels at hiding its presence from its enemies until ready to deal a critical blow.
After passing by the site of a horrific tragedy, Bugslack can evolve into Mothmun. Specializing in buffs and debuffs, Mothmun uses its psychic powers to help allies avoid disastrous attacks, while unnerving foes with its sinister aura to throw them off their game.