Monsters and Demons
Unlike all other species inhabiting the planet Evo, most monstrous life forms cannot absorb elemental-aspected magic directly from leylines and nodes. Thus, they must either consume the flesh of other creatures or feed from tainted pools of power in order to sustain themselves. While not strictly parasites, monsters and demons fit poorly if at all into local ecologies, as their nature is so malleable compared to creatures that have evolved over many thousands of years. By the time a given ecosystem manages to adapt to or fight off a particular species of monster, they have often already begun to transform considerably. In addition to being a great deal more aggressive and cruel than most animals, certain monsters can achieve a level of intellect rivaling human beings, complete with spellcraft and rational thought.
The distinction between monsters and demons originates from the divergent methods through which such creatures hunt for sustenance. Monsters are corrupted beings that consume magical energy from the living tissue of plants, animals, and people, as well as from fresh corpses and reservoirs of tainted power. Thus, the behavior and abilities of most monsters are specialized towards hunting a specific type of prey, although they contribute nothing to the local ecosystem like the land’s natural predators. Demons on the other hand, are a rare subset of monster that are able to feast directly from the tainted energy residing within monsters and other demonic beings. They are apex predators, uniformly deadly and often highly intelligent. Consuming many doses of concentrated corruption tends to make the physical forms of demons a great deal more malleable than those of monsters, allowing them to continue to transform as they become increasingly powerful over time.
Deadly monstrous life forms known as bosses, also referred to as boss or war-class entities, possess incredible power well-beyond that of their lesser brethren, often sufficient to alter the outcome of a conflict between units on the battlefield. Even lesser bosses generally require a well-prepared party to defeat, as running into one unexpectedly is usually a death sentence for a lone adventurer. Rumors of even more powerful entities have reached the Travelers’ ears, but as of now they remain only that.
Striders: Covered in dense sheets of muscle, striders are deadly predators that boast physical characteristics of both avians and reptiles. They are capable of short bursts of incredible speed and can inflict serious wounds with their razored beaks and heavy talons. Striders walk upright on bulky legs like an ostrich or emu, ending in wide feet equipped with wickedly sharp talons. The species native to the Softlands boast muscular bodies, possess no wings or arms, and are covered in thick, gray feathers almost scale-like in appearance. The heads of striders are elongated and end in a bird’s beak filled with an alligator’s teeth, equally capable of inflicting thrusting, crushing, or rending attacks. Despite their bulk and awkwardly chimeric appearance, striders are capable of moving with surprising grace, proceeded by a whip like tail dappled with thumb-thick spikes. Striders are uniquely territorial, and will not pursue prey beyond their chosen turf unless starving. There are rumors of other species of striders residing in other biomes, but as of yet these have not been confirmed.
Hob: One of the few known monsters capable of human speech, the Hob are a brutal and cruel species, delighting in the torment of others. Hob come in an unusually broad variety of sizes, ranging from the mass of adolescent children to well over that of an adult. All Hob are strong for their size, and are capable of using a range of weapons and crude armor. Hob will shy away from direct conflict if they are clearly outmatched, preferring to weaken superior prey through guile before committing to a full attack. Unique among monsters, Hob love alcohol in all forms and will go out of their way to attack a caravan if they spot even a single barrel booze. There are legends that particularly ancient Hob may undergo a transformation into even more powerful beings, but these remain unconfirmed at this time.
Skal: One of the few demonic life forms presently known by the Travelers, Skal take the form of powerful hunting cats, covered with blood red fur that always appears wet, as well as crimson fangs and claws. Skal are known to hunt by sound rather than smell and possess the ability to detect the heartbeats of nearby prey. Even more worrisome to those that encounter them, Skal are able to heal by consuming the fresh blood of their victims, rapidly regenerating wounds that would be lethal for most other creatures. In rare cases, well-fed Skal can mutate into the deadly broodmother, a boss-class entity able to propagate new Skal at an alarming rate as long as there is sufficient magical energy to sustain the process.