The Myth Behind The Monsters of The Witcher 3

The Northern Kingdoms of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt [official site] is a realm ravaged by war, pestilence, and greed. And, try as he might, Geralt continually finds himself trapped between the political maneuverings of the Northern Kingdom’s most ambitious contenders. So it’s easy to forget that Geralt’s true calling in life is as a monster slayer. Lucky for him the Northern Kingdoms has no shortage of monsters.

While some of these beasts have enjoyed plenty of spotlight in other fiction, CD Projekt Red have dug deep into their own Eastern and Northern European ancestry to bring to life a mythology underrepresented in the echelons of generic fantasy creatures. We’re all familiar with dragons and vampires, but what about the lesser known beasts that bloody Geralt’s blade? The leshen, alps and botchlings? I’ve rounded up some of my favorite monsters from the Witcher series and the legends that inspired them so that we can contrast their depictions in the game, while getting a mythology lesson at the same time.

Alp

Sadly, alps within the Witcher universe aren’t nearly as wonderful as their mythic counterparts. In The Witcher, they exist as little more than blade-fodder for Geralt. Seen as scaley, naked women, they tend to behave more like common vampires than the beasts from which they share their name. In German folklore, however, alps become infinitely more interesting. Though they are sometimes likened to vampires, they are infact more closely related to the traditional idea of elves (alp is even a variation of the word “elf”).

Contrary to the Witcher, alps are actually male, while “mare” or “mara” tend to be the female version of the same creature. (In German they can be known as “Nachtmahr”). Alps seek out female victims during the night, controlling their dreams and twisting them into horrific nightmares (in German, “Alptraum” or “elf dream” means nightmare).

When alps attack, they sit upon the chest of their sleeping victim, becoming heavier and heavier until the crushing weight forces the sleeper awake. Terrified and breathless, they are unable to move or scream and must wait for the attack to subside. Interestingly, these types of attacks from various creatures are so common across different cultures that the modern belief is that victims were actually suffering from sleep paralysis.

Aside from terrifying night attacks, alps also are known to be quite the mischief makers. They enjoy such perverse acts like putting babies back in soiled diapers, souring milk, and even crushing small farm animals. Oh yeah, remember when I said they’re often likened to vampires? That’s because they like drinking blood from the nipples of men and young children. They also enjoy breast milk too, if that helps at all. At this point, I’m starting to understand why alps weren’t adapted as faithfully into The Witcher universe. Could you imagine a quick-time event to prevent an alp from sucking Geralt’s nipples off?

Leshen

One of the most visually striking foes of The Witcher universe is undoubtedly the leshen. These gnarled, root-like monstrosities can be found in dense, ancient forests and are fiercely territorial. Their attacks manipulate nature itself, using roots and branches to assail their opponents.

Fortunately, leshen made the jump from Slavic folklore to the Witcher 3 relatively unchanged. The biggest difference being their appearance and name. In the Witcher novels and in Slavic folklore, leshen are actually called “leszy” or “leshy”.

In terms of appearance, leshen seem to have drawn inspiration from popular depictions of “wendigos”, a spirit of the Algonquian people from the Great Lakes region of Canada and America. Though wendigos can appear in a variety of forms, they are often seen as humanoids with the skull and antlers of a deer, an appearance similar the Witcher 3’s leshen. In Slavic folklore, however, leshy are said to simply take the likeness of a woodsman. In their native forests, leshy are rumored to be as tall as the trees, shrinking down to blade of grass if they step outside of their forest.

In both depictions, they are guardians. Whereas in the Witcher they are downright hostile and violent, in folklore, leshy tend to be more mischievous. They like kidnapping children and leading travellers astray.

Noonwraiths

Your first encounter with a noonwraith in the Witcher 3 is an unforgettable moment. As far as monsters go, they have enough tricks up their sleeve to seriously confuse a new player, and their tendency to only appear during the midday makes them an especially memorable foe to discover.

In folklore, however, noonwraiths are much less unsettling. In fact, they serve merely as the personification for heatstroke that laborers risk suffering out in the fields during the hot summer months. In Poland, she is referred to as “Poludnica”, which in English can be translated as “Lady Midday”. Unlike her ghoulish appearance in The Witcher, Poludnica takes the form of whirling clouds of dust and carries a scythe or shears. In art, she was often depicted as a young woman robed in white, though it isn’t uncommon to see her shown as an old woman either.

Lady Midday was also the inspiration for “The Noon Witch”, a symphonic poem written by Antonín Dvořák that tells the story of a mother who conjures Lady Midday to discipline her disobedient child. Startled that the spirit actually arrives to take her son, she attempts to flee with him before losing consciousness. When she awakes, she discovers that she smothered her child to death while attempting to protect him.

You can listen to the piece below, and you should because it is beautiful.

Botchlings

Perhaps the most famous series of quests in the Witcher 3 has to do with the botchling of the Red Baron. I won’t spoil the events of the quest just in case you haven’t experienced it yet (and really, you should), but these tragic monstrosities are actually derived from an equally tragic Slavic and Scandinavian lore.

In the Witcher, Botchlings are grotesque infant zombies denied the peace of death because of the trauma of being discarded or aborted without burial or a given name. Botchlings hunt at night for expectant mothers, looking to enfeeble her and drain the fetus of its strength. After several successful attacks, when the mother is too weak to defend herself, the botchling violently assaults her, sucking her and the fetus’s blood until both perish.

Now, that’s pretty horrific. Fortunately, the myths surrounding botchlings aren’t nearly as nightmarish, but are sadly just as tragic. In Scandinavian folklore, botchlings share similarities with “mylings”, the phantasms of unbaptized infants who are discarded when the parents are unable to care for them. They are said to jump on the backs of lone travellers, demanding to be taken to a graveyard and receive a proper burial. As the traveller nears a graveyard, the myling becomes heavier and heavier. If the carrier cannot make it, the myling kills them in a fit of rage.

Slavic mythology has a similar spirit known as the “drekavac” which translates literally to “the screamer”. Compared to mylings, drekavac aren’t nearly as frightening. That said, they do share a terrifying similarity with “banshees“, as both possess a blood chilling scream. The legend of that scream is so strongly woven, that drekavac sightings have happened as recently as September 2011.

Succubus

Of all the creatures that Geralt encounters on his journey, few are as sexualized as the succubi. Not wanting to spoil the potential for interesting “role play”, CD Projekt Red has always ensured that every encounter with a succubi is a memorable one. In fact, they’re one of the few creatures Geralt encounters that doesn’t ever involve drawing a sword (at least not the silver kind).

In the Witcher universe, however, succubus actually have more in common with the “faun” than the ones told of in most legends. In Roman and Greek mythology, faun are half-men, half-goats with horns on their head. Though they used to be quite distinct, they are now often confused with “satyrs”, who were Dionysius’ permanently erect soldiers with horse-like qualities. In most forms of folklore, succubi are portrayed simply as stunningly beautiful women, cloven hooves optional.

Where succubus are often considered as erotic seductresses in The Witcher 3, the folklore they draw from is more disturbing. They may appear lithe and sexual from a distance, but closer inspection of a succubi can reveal alarming deformities like claws or tails. Even worse, the act of sexual penetration is, by some accounts, likened to entering a cave of ice. Other legends tell that a succubi might force you to perform oral sex, the result of which is probably better left to the imagination.

Plague Maiden

In the Witcher 3, plague maidens share a similar appearance with their sisters, the noonwraiths. Even so, the plague maiden is without a doubt the more disturbing of the two creatures. This is mostly due to a contract that Geralt can undertake to lift a curse on a tower on Fyke Island that results in one of the most repulsive and tragic moments of the whole game.

Plague Maidens are derived from “Pesta” of Scandinavian folklore. An elderly woman, robed in black, is the embodiment of the pestilence and disease that ravaged Europe when the Black Death rolled into town. From 1346 to 1353, the bubonic plague devastated entire populations and communities. Denmark lost a third of its population, with Norway losing almost half.

The legend of Pesta states that she would travel from farm to farm, bringing with her the ill omen of the plague. If she was seen carrying a rake, people believed that only a few of the populace would die, but if she was seen carrying a broom, the settlement would not survive the disease.

The Wild Hunt

Perhaps the most iconic adversaries of the whole game, The Wild Hunt are a spectral horde of elves from another dimension. Atop their ghastly steeds, this throng of hunters rides across the night sky, harbingers of war and death. They are heavily armored soldiers that pursue their foes by teleporting between dimensions, striking without warning, and wherever they go a crippling frost precedes them.

In mythology, the Wild Hunt are actually quite similar but lacking the refinements needed to make them a suitable antagonist. Their legend is spread across most of Europe and, interestingly enough, remains fairly consistent from culture to culture. As in the game, they are depicted as a phantasmal group of huntsmen riding horses and accompanied by vicious hounds. Unlike the heavily armored warriors of The Witcher, however, the Wild Hunt tends to be more humbly armed.

Like the game, the WIld Hunt is known for kidnapping those unlucky enough to cross them, taking them back to the world of the dead. Though the legends change from country to country, it is also common for the King of the Hunt to be an established character from that cultural folklore. In Germanic folklore, the King is often thought of as “Wodan” (the German name for Odin).

Much of the established lore of the Hunt is owed to Jacob Grimm, the famous German mythologist who in his book “Deutsche Mythologie” coined the term “Wilde Jagd” to describe the riders. In his interpretation of the legend, Grimm believed that the Hunt and its King were a natural transformation of the image of Odin, who had lost his more sociable persona to become a dark and troubling spectre.

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67 Comments

  1. Cator says:

    Also, Lubberkin = Kłobuk.

    • neotribe says:

      I must admit I’m relieved to find out that this particular quest and monster has a basis in real mythology, as I’m playing the game right now and was beginning to suspect the whole thing was some weird crypto-Catholic pro-life sermonizing. Because CDRP is Polish, and I am a jaded American watching election debates. I should have given them more credit.

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        Angstsmurf says:

        The traditional Scandinavian myling is definitely an anti-abortion myth. In the tales, they are usually the ghosts of aborted foetuses that have returned to accuse and punish the mother.

      • Saiko Kila says:

        The books by Sapkowski have references to abortion and abortion “debate”, but abortion is available in the fictitious world (herbalists and magic users can perform it) and the “debate” is ridiculed. Sapkowski is rather anti-catholic, and pro-choicer, and choosing his universe as a medium for anti-abortion agenda would be quite a feat.

        The little monsters are of course originally anti-abortion myth in Slavic culture too, but this trait was probably enhanced by the Church, which appropriated/reclaimed pagan myths for its own purposes. In Slavic beliefs the monster (“poroniec” in Polish) could by created by multiple means, including natural death of foetus, or performing certain chores by mother, and intended abortion was just one of many ways. It could be also created from an infant.

        • Auldman says:

          Yes, I wonder if some of the feminist detractors of the games realize how pro-choice Sapkowski is? There is a rather lengthy defense of abortion in one of the stories in “The Last Wish.”

        • vorkon says:

          I was really quite impressed by how subtly and even-handedly Sapkowski handled the abortion debate in Baptism of Fire. Despite every character involved being pro-choice, and there being a definite undercurrent of “of COURSE she has the right to choose what she wants to do about the baby, and we’d be terrible people if we tried to stop her” throughout the entire conversation, Geralt still manages to convince the mother to think through the ramifications of her decision and that she shouldn’t do something she might live to regret later on, and she ends up deciding to keep the baby.

          It was really sad when she eventually miscarried. ;_;

  2. TheAngriestHobo says:

    I grew up with some of these stories, so it’s cool to see how they’ve been re-interpreted for the modern era. Of course, this isn’t the first time we’ve seen some of them in vidya games. I think a number of us still think of the leshy as this dapper chap: link to esotericarticles.com. Oh, and I have to say that I found QFG’s domovoi much less horrifying than his Witcher counterpart, despite being a naked old man: link to i.ytimg.com.

  3. B1A4 says:

    Polednice is poem written by Karel Jaromír Erben, A. Dvořák ‘just’ compose that piece.

  4. TheAngriestHobo says:

    I liked the leshy better in QFG. link to esotericarticles.com

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    gritz says:

    I hadn’t really thought about it before, but it seems like a very large percentage of Witcher “monsters” fall into the “pretty lady that turns into sexually revolting thing” category.

    • Cator says:

      Well, quite a lot of mythological monsters were of this kind. Though I wouldn’t look to much into it. Most of the monstrosities in both legend and popculture are based around male traits.

      • Steven Messner says:

        That’s my take on it too. Mythological beasts and demons, especially from European folklore, tend to represent various weaknesses that people had. It was only natural that men would demonize their sexual attractions.

        Interestingly enough, you’ll also notice a great deal of cross pollination between various types of demons of this nature. For example, the succubus actually became pretty synonymous with sirens in a lot of later legends. I’m not sure it was until some of these creatures began being portrayed in more modern fiction that they became quite as defined as we think of them now!

        Just my thoughts :).

    • Thankmar says:

      Definitely so in Witcher 1 (cannot say for the other parts), and thats one of my major complaint about it. You have the alps/bruxas, the noon/nightwraiths, the devourers (says in the journal they look like ugly old women), the brothel full of vampires ands such, plus the sexually charged good otherworldly beings like dryads and the Lady of the Lake.
      The only male thing comparable I can think of is the drowner/drowned dead, who has his little thingy hanging about, but thats not sexually charged.
      One might argue this mirrors the misogyny of the society in the witcher (which is in RL the source of the legends, putting the blame on the women that man “cannot resist their urges” and demonising them for that), but why not a male counterpart just for varieties sake? Why no faun, no satyr? Rhetorical question.

      • neotribe says:

        I’m not sure why I say this, given that there’s plenty of other syncretism in the Witcher’s mythologies and monsters, but a Dionysian cult does not seem like it would fit the setting well. Maybe it’s just the feel of the war-ravaged and famine-threatened locales that I’m familiar with from W2 and W3 (so far). Admittedly, I haven’t read the novels.

      • GepardenK says:

        “(which is in RL the source of the legends, putting the blame on the women that man “cannot resist their urges” and demonising them for that)”

        That’s a very negative way to look at it. It is very understandable why these myths were formed throughout history. People were people 500 years ago too ;)

        Monsters in myths are often representations of ones weaknesses and fears. Throughout history men have done a lot of stupid shit in the name of sexual attraction, essentially ruining their own lives by falling prey to their urges. It is only natural that this would be represented in myths as seductive females that turned out to be monsters.

        The female version of these myths often take form in monsters that lure young women out of their beds and into the woods, where they are either never seen again or transformed into a wicked creature of their own. This is a play on “that crush that you can’t live without but everyone else see is not good for you”

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        Thulsa Hex says:

        You could argue that human men in the Witcher series are the real monsters.

        • Auldman says:

          Exactly. There are plenty of male monsters in The Witcher. It’s one of the messages in the novels and the games that mankind often enough reveals itself as the worst of the entities occupying the Witcher’s world.

          As for the game itself there are male monsters unless one chooses to overlook the Leshen or the serial killer stalking Novigrad who turns out to be non-human etc.

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          gritz says:

          And yet none of them turn into anything resembling a male version of a lip smacking titty horror

          • Thankmar says:

            Precisely.
            Most monsters even are not really gendered but considered male (ghouls, fleders), but because of our socialisation, the default form of anything in our minds is male, and females are a diversion from that standard.
            I wouldn’t even want from a Witcher game to be aware of this. But there could be a clearly male, hunky ghoul, sixpack and pegs and such, sexy, you could say, but with that monstrous face. There is not, because it is totally okay for Geralt to stick his meaty sword in anything that has an hottish torso, monster or not, but god help us there would be a hint of the possibility of him romping with a sexy male(thing).
            Still loving the game very much because it does so much right, but this stands sorely out for me (even more than the romance cards, since these at least try to be a little bit positive about sex, in their prepubescent way).

          • Distec says:

            *Looks at the screenshots in the article*

            You have a very interesting use of words.

          • GepardenK says:

            Most default monsters or enemy in any video-game (or movie/book/what have you) is male. Why is that so you think? There are two main reasons for this:

            1: Throughout history it has been generally men who had to play the part of being an expendable grunt. They were expected to sacrifice themselves to the benefit of women, children and older men.

            2: Because of point 1 we are kinda used to see or kill men by the hundreds as long as there is a basic conflict to justify it. Making an fps where you only gunned down women would simply be creepy and would most likely be so upsetting to people that you have to pull the game from sales (unless the game presented a plausible reason for enemies to be women specifically)

            As such we mostly see men as the default enemy in games. It all boils down to which gender we are comfortable labeling as expendable grunts. Women as enemies are still used but usually with a background explanation or specific design reason

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            Thulsa Hex says:

            Point taken, Mr. gritz.

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            Thulsa Hex says:

            Or, perhaps, Ms. Hah, there we go again.

  6. aircool says:

    That was a great read :) I spent my younger years growing up in Germany and they have some scary shit.

    Whhhaaaaaaaaaaat? You haven’t heard the story of Die Krankenschwester und Der Augenblick?

    • gorgonaut says:

      Why, that sounds like something Franz Gutentag/Schlechtnacht could say. I read it in his voice!

    • Juan Carlo says:

      This is probably the most disturbing German thing, as far as children are concerned:

      link to en.wikipedia.org

      Pretty good English language musical made of it too:

  7. pillot says:

    It’s worth pointing out Sapkowski authored this lore originally and CDPR took many of the monsters from the novels

    • Sekraan says:

      The novels actually had very few monsters. I was surprised and disappointed to find that after the first two books (mainly the first one) there was extremely little monster action in the series. The few good ones that were in the books were finally put into the games with Witcher 3 I’m happy to say.

      CD Projekt Red did most of the heavy lifting in creating the extensive and interesting bestiary of the games.

      Also, what do you mean by “authored this lore originally”? The “lore” originates from traditional folk tales, primarily of Slavic and Germanic origin. Sapkowski elaborated on a few but more often just name dropped mythical creatures with zero to minimal description. When reading the books I sometimes found myself looking up creatures in the game wikis to have some idea of what the hell he was talking about.

  8. shagen454 says:

    Nice article!

  9. Turkey says:

    I’ve always found it more entertaining when authors use the old and strange characteristics and motivations of monsters from folklore. It makes them a lot less generic.

  10. Heliocentric says:

    Noonwraith=Lunchghost

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    steves says:

    What are you doing right now?

    Oh, just listening to Dvořák, learning ’bout monsters, the usual.

    Great stuff.

  12. Lobotomist says:

    Great article !

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    steves says:

    And while we’re on mythical monsters, Kelpies have always scared the shit out of me. I never much liked horses before I found this, and then…

    link to imgur.com

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      Sleepymatt says:

      That was awesome, thanks for the link!

      I remember being a bit freaked when I first read about Kelpie folklore, beings a wee kid growing up near Loch Lomond. I don’t imagine this would have helped at all back then!

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        steves says:

        You clicked ‘Load remaining 2 images’, right?

        Nightmare fuel…

        But all things considered, for this city boy, “growing up near Loch Lomond” sounds like a fair trade for a bit of horrific folklore.

  14. gunny1993 says:

    I’m a massive fan of any fiction that uses these more obscure creatures as the basis of plot or character, a few that come to mind are the Jim Butcher “Dresden files” series which I fecking love and Mark Chandbornes series that I didn’t really like but was pretty good.

    • brokeTM says:

      Yep, I dig those to, also love Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid series. Similar to the Dresden lore but with more emphasis on the different pantheons such especially the Celtic, Norse, Roman and Greek ones.

    • Shiloh says:

      The Wild Hunt pops up in Julian May’s Many-Coloured Land series as well (as “the Flying Hunt”).

      She implies quite a bit of folklore in it (for Tanu, read elves, for Firvulag, the little folk), although given it’s set six million years ago in the Pliocene, it’s a bit of a stretch to say we humans remembered anything of them to inspire our myths.

      • neotribe says:

        A version of the Wild Hunt shows up in The Dark is Rising sequence (Susan Cooper) as well.

        In the graphic novel world, what Neil Gaiman did in The Sandman may be the ultimate in recombination of mythologies. (Expanded upon, somewhat, by The Books of Magic and Lucifer. And existing alongside the uses Hellblazer has made of various mythologies over the years in, theoretically, the same fictional universe.)

        And of course this is still what Gaiman does (very well) in most of his novels. The Crones in W3 invite direct comparison to the Lamia & Lilim in Stardust (who also appeared in Sandman and its offshoots, along with takes on the Fates and the Eumenides). And then there’s American Gods and Anansi Boys and etc etc.

  15. Neurotic says:

    On the other hand, polędwica is a delicious, juicy steak. :D

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    Angstsmurf says:

    I quite like this depiction of a pesta from Wikipedia:

    link to no.wikipedia.org

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    Mungrul says:

    Charlie Fletcher’s two books through his Oversight trilogy, and that features Alps quite prominently, although he’s added a further disturbing twist in that they press down on the chest in order to suck your dying breath from you, which prolongs their life.
    link to goodreads.com

    In addition, I’ve been watching a lot of Grimm on Netflix recently, and that seems to draw inspiration from a lot of the same sources as Witcher lore.

    To be honest, one of my main criticisms of Witcher 3 is the lack of monster variety. The original Witcher was constantly surprising me with new and interesting beasties and the lore associated with them. I miss those one-off monsters that used completely different models and textures. In particular, there are various different species of vampire in Witcher 3, but they all inevitably use the same bat-faced monster model.

    And Alps are conspicuous by their absence, particularly as they were used in the marketing.

    I also found Witcher 3 werewolves a lot less interesting than Striga from the first game, being a lot more generic, and again, somewhat too common to retain that aura of mystery. And aside from one stand-out side quest, they’re often just plain monsters with no back-story.

    I also feel they missed a beat in Witcher 3 during one of the end game events. I thought it was an excellent way to repopulate the bigger beasties of the world and give you some extra contracts while playing after the main story, but alas, they didn’t follow through with it.

    Moaning aside however, this is still one of my favourite games of recent times; so much so that I’m currently about a quarter of the way through my third play-through, a New Game + Death March game that I intend to play the expansion content with.

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      Thulsa Hex says:

      Just regarding your point about monster variety and the first game: are you sure? I remember being put off by a distinct lack of variety and felt I spent most of the game slogging my way through ghouls and drowners, with the odd bruxa popping up here and there. Found the latest game to do a better job than the other two, in this regard. I mean, there certainly are a lot of drowners in the Witcher 3, but most of them are avoidable since they congregate near random loot chests.

  18. Laurentius says:

    And all because of, or despite this and shiny graphics, Witcher 3 isn’t scary at all or even spooky. Just compare Witcher 3 to The Fields in Witcher 1 Act 4 , it’s so much more atmospheric and spooky location, even Noonwriatsh there are way scarier then new ones.

  19. USER47 says:

    Regarding Polednice/Noonwraith, the short poem was written by Karel Jaromír Erben. Dvořák’s later symphonic version was inspired by that.

    You can read the English translation here, down on the page:
    link to britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk

  20. BathroomCitizen says:

    Is there any good folklore/mythology book that you guys recommend?

    I’m in the mood of Dominions 4, and it’s pressing all my nerdy folklore buttons. I want MORE

    • USER47 says:

      Try this Czech classic:)
      link to jantarpublishing.com

    • Gilead says:

      If you want a massive amount of random folklore and myth, look for a copy of Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. It’s a very large, well-written encyclopaedia of all that sort of thing, as well as obscure facts and the origins of some old terms and idioms.

    • neotribe says:

      Nerdiest folklore button:

      [ Aarne-Thompson Folklore Classification System ]
      link to en.wikipedia.org

      [A-T Motif Index]
      link to frankelassociates.com

      • neotribe says:

        Also, unless you’re writing a screenplay, best to ignore Joseph Campbell & ‘The Hero with a Thousand Faces’ completely.

      • neotribe says:

        …and here’s a tool that shows folktale types on a global map, which is something new since the last time I looked over this stuff.

        link to starling.rinet.ru

        • BathroomCitizen says:

          Thanks a lot guys!

          These links, I’d say, they are certainly the folk-nerd type of stuff I was looking for!

          • LennyLeonardo says:

            The book of imaginary beings, by Borges, is a great coffee table book. The Lore of the Land, bu Westwood and Simpson is full of fascinating British folk stories. Icelandic Folk Tales (the one with the foreword by Magnus Magnusson) is weird and fun. I would also recommend The Mammoth Book of Celtic Myths and Legends,by Peter Berresford Ellis. Also Hellboy.

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    Thulsa Hex says:

    Also of interest: the Wild Hunt’s ship, the Naglfar, is named for a similar vessel in Norse mythology, which is “made entirely from the fingernails and toenails of the dead”:

    link to en.m.wikipedia.org

    This is further referenced in the Witcher 3 by two auld ladies on Skellige who ask you to clear the monsters out of a burial site so that they can cut the dead folks’ nails.

  22. Ejmir says:

    Actually, succubi and incubi from the Greek and Latin folklore are like the “alptraum”. They seduce repectively men and women while they were sleeping and suck their blood until their death.
    The myth has evolved, especially in the Middle Ages, but that’s what they were originally. Someone who looked tired upon waking and had terrifying nightmares (or moved a lot during his sleep) was certainly the victim of a succubus who came night after night to steal his vital energy.

    And it probably gave birth to two “lines” of myths : the “alptraum” kind, with several kinds of monsters who take the vitality of their victims while they are sleeping, and the “seductive vampire” kind, with the modern succubi and vampires, who heavily sexualized creatures of the night.

  23. Scrote says:

    Thanks for this post, loved it!

  24. Ivan says:

    When I was a kid growing up in the Soviet Union, my grandparents and mother would totally threaten me with the leshy, who would come take me to live in the forest with him if I was bad.

    I then named my very first WoW character (a night elf, obviously) “Leshii.”

    • LennyLeonardo says:

      Stories like this excite me more than is rational. Also they make me quite jealous.

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    heretic says:

    Very cool article, thanks!

  26. myllva says:

    Some additional informations:

    1. the Alps could be compared to Polish “zmora”, you should include that if you mentioned the similar mythological creatures from other countires

    2. botchlings come from Polish “poroniec” (drekavac is a completely different thing!)

    3. Plague Maiden is derived not from Scandinavian Pesta (it’s the name chosen for English version of the game), but from Polish “morowa dziewica”