The Bestiary of the New World of Darkness
The key thing to remember is that
no one has assembled a complete bestiary of supernatural creatures
in the World of Darkness -- not IC, not OOC. If the Cosmology is like the work of physicists, then assembling a Bestiary is like the work of zoologists. Most of the big and prominent creatures are well-known and well-studied, but there's lots of little variations out there waiting to be cataloged, and strange things may yet live in strange places.
Native vs. Outsider, Corporeal vs. EphemeralSome definitions are helpful to understanding the full scope of the supernatural world.
A Native is any creature that is native to the Material Plane. Humans and animals, obviously, but also vampires, werewolves, changelings, mages, Prometheans, and so forth. Most supernatural creatures are infused, partially, with the power of other dimensions, but they're still fundamentally local.
An Outsider is any creature that is not native to the Material Plane. Ghosts, spirits, Abyssal intruders, Fae, and so forth. They claim some other dimension as their 'home' plane, and are only visiting Earth.
A Corporeal Entity is a creature that is physical. It has weight, mass, can pick things up, and so forth. It uses the usual Attributes+Skills+Merits build.
An Ephemeral Entity is a creature that is not physical, and when in our world hangs around in the Twilight unless it's able to use some kind of Manifestation in order to materialize or possess someone. It uses the Power/Finesse/Resistance build.
Generally speaking, Outsiders are Ephemeral, Natives are Corporeal, but there are exceptions. Fae are all Corporeal Outsiders, for instance, while a mage or shaman projecting outside their body would be an Ephemeral Native. Also note that these are somewhat rough classifications -- there's room for debate as to whether angels are Natives or Outsiders, for instance. Natives
: Mortals are, well, regular people. Human beings without inherent supernatural power, though sometimes with knowledge or unique tricks. Called various mortals, mundanes, Kine, or muggles, most supernatural creatures don't give mortals very much respect, but mortals do have the advantage of numbers and -- if you factor in police and military -- firepower, so everyone steps lightly around them.
: Broadly speaking, a vampire is a creature that feeds off the life-force of human beings. Traditionally, the term is used to describe a group of undead humans who drink blood, are subdivided into Clans, and call themselves the Kindred, though like most definitions, this one gets fuzzy around the edges as there are certain creatures in existence which consider themselves Kindred and are definitely vampiric, but don't quite fall into the usual five-clan classification (in London, one may look to Rajani Ravindra for one such).
Ghouls: A ghoul is a human or animal who has drunk a vampire's blood and been granted a measure of that vampire's life-energy. Ghouls are invariably blood-addicted and vinculumed, but possess a certain amount of vampiric powers (most notably, they're immortal so long as they get regular blood), but are still mortal and alive. Mages
: A Mage is a human being that has been exposed to a fragment of Supernal knowledge, and is able to filter this knowledge of higher reality through an arcane
(like alchemy or shamanism) in order to affect change in the Material Plane. They are subdivided into Paths, that is, by which of the five Watchtowers (ancient artifacts and beacons located in the Supernal) they used to break into the Supernal, however briefly.
Sorcerers and SorceryA brief note on definitions. Sorcery is a rough, catch-all term for magic practiced by mortals that does not recognizably belong to a major template (such as Awakened Magic). A Sorcerer is a practitioner of the same. This is an in-character term, and is also applied to mean any magic-user who looks human but whose power source is unknown.
Supernatural creatures who have far more than the usual amount of occult knowledge and magical skill, such as Abonde or the Jack-of-Crows, are also sometimes called sorcerers (usually phrased as blood-sorcerers or fae-sorcerers or the like). Changelings
: A Changeling is a human being who has been taken away to Arcadia by the True Fae, and was able to escape and return home (their captivity is called a Durance). They are invariably altered by the experience, and it's theorized that some or all of their soul was taken away by their captors in order to create a Fetch.
Fetch: A Fetch is a construct created by a True Fae out of whatever materials are on hand, bound with a soon-to-be-changeling's shadow and a dose of faerie magic. Some fetches are perfect replicas of the original person, maybe even better than new. Others are crude and sloppy imitations that lack any vital spark. Most fetches are ignorant of their nature and continue to live out their lives, though some do become self-aware. Claimed
: Possession is when an ephemeral entity takes control of someone's body and goes joyriding about in it.
is when such an entity merges with a human host, creating a hybrid being with a mind derived from both the human and the ephemeral entity (though some level of disassociation is enormously common). More information on Claimed can be found
. Some notable sub-types of Claimed are:
Possessed: More properly the Demon-Possessed, these are mortals who have had a demon take up long-term residence in their bodies. Unlike standard Claimed, the Demon-Possessed actually do have two minds, one demonic and one human.
Sin-Eaters: A Sin-Eater is a human being that has been Claimed, at the moment of death, by a ghost-spirit hybrid known as a Geist. They're rather more durable than regular Claimed, and their minds seem to derive wholly from the human aspect (very rarely does a Geist communicate with its host in any comprehensible fashion). Shapeshifters
: Shapeshifters can be best thought of as 'evolved' or 'naturalized' Claimed. Like Claimed, they're a merging of human and spirit, but over hundreds of generations they've become standardized and streamlined. Relative to Claimed, they're much less crazy and usually less powerful. They're almost always based on animal spirits -- other spirits are just too alien to naturalize in the same way. Werewolves are far and away the most common shapeshifters, making up about 80% globally, though other shapeshifters are regionally prominent. In the British Isles, selkies and water horses are the other native shapeshifters alongside werewolves, and werespiders have recently arrived from West Africa.
: When human beings die, especially in a sudden or traumatic fashion, they sometimes leave parts of themselves behind. Ranging from broken, animated after-images unable to do anything but re-enact their death to intelligent, malevolent once-human spirits with power over whatever kind of calamity killed them, the World of Darkness teems with vast numbers of the restless dead. More ghosts exist in the Material Plane than every other supernatural creature put together, but the truly powerful independent specters of legend are rare, as ghosts can only grow to such heights in the Underworld, and must be summoned back to the Material Plane.
Geists: A Geist is a ghost that has had its nature essentialized until it has become a hybrid of a ghost and a spirit of death. They tend to be relatively powerful, but are incoherent and mad even by the lax standards of ghosts and spirits.
Kerberoi: The Kerberoi ( singular: Kerberos) are the guardians of the Underworld. They enforce the Laws, and are usually quite powerful creatures. Originally, they may have been ghosts, spirits, or even mortals roped into performing a function, but their duties transform them into alien creatures of Law. They are rarely seen in the Material Plane, only when pursuing a ghost or occultist that has broken the Old Laws of their particular underworld. Spirits
: Animist religions describe the world as being full of spirits, every object, animal and place hiding a spirit within it. They’re partly right; everything in the world apart from humans does cast a spiritual reflection, even transitory events and strong emotions, but all spirits apart from the cunning or a powerful few are confined to a world of their own. Spirits are the manifestations of
, whether the concept of rock or lust or car or death -- most are locked away in the Shadow, but some escape to the Material Plane, and a few potent ones are able to make their homes in both realms. More on spirits can be found
: Angels are the servants of the God-Machine, and are perhaps the only truly 'native' creatures among the ephemeral entities. When an angel is needed, the God-Machine is as likely to build the angel right there as to direct an existing one to journey to the site. Being essentially tools designed by an intelligent if unknowable creator to fulfill specific functions, angels are far more specialized than spirits or ghosts. They’re also usually more subtle and able to go unnoticed even when Manifested, but are extremely single-minded, aiming to complete the task they’ve been sent for and then vanish. Angels
hunt down individuals who have failed to die at the proper time, acquire replacements for lynchpins that have unexpectedly failed and make corrections to the flow of causality, carefully setting up minor events (the closing of a door, the drop of a pen, a sudden distracting sound at just the right time) that have increasingly large repercussions.
: Servants of the Principle, Qasmallim (
: Qashmal) are living incarnations of divine fire, directed to the Material Plane to accomplish some grand Mission. Where they come from or why they do what they do is unknown, though they are greatly like angels, purpose-created and directed. In truth, more than a few occultists think that they
angels -- the very little information available on either has enough points of similarity to be suspicious, but also certain points of difference. Qashmallim are even rarer than angels, however.
: The denizens of Arcadia and the Hedge, the Fae are creatures of narrative given form. Where a spirit is the living embodiment of a singular concept (rock, car), a Fae is a much more esoteric thing, a living embodiment of
, of narrative and drama. Unlike other Outsiders, the Fae are physical things, devoid of souls or spirituality. In addition to the changelings (humans infused with a portion of Fae reality) and Fetches (artifical Fae constructs with a portion of something human), there are also:
True Fae: Called variously the Gentry, the Others, the Keepers, and many other names, these are the demigods of narrative, the Lords of Arcadia. Each one has, essentially, unlimited power -- they create realms where they are sun, moon, and stars, raise mountains and part oceans -- but they limit and fetter themselves like other creatures breathe (because what is the point of a story where the protagonist is omnipotent?) They thrive of conflict and drama, and collect human slaves in vast quantities.
Hobgoblins: This rough classification covers quite nearly everything that lives in the Hedge, from black beasts and whispering sirens to cat-faced hobs and living plants. Hobgoblins are more bound to base matter than the Others, and seem more durable in their nature, though far less powerful. Most are patently inhuman, though it should be noted that it can at times be difficult to tell a mad changeling from a particularly human hobgoblin from a banished and weakened True Fae. Astral Beings
: An astral being is basically any creature that exists in the Astral Realm (the land of dreams). At its broadest, the definition covers all dreamers (who enter Astral space when they dream) as well as changeling dream-travelers, but the term is generally used to refer to the native denizens of the Astral Realm -- creatures born of dreams who sometimes gain an independent existence. They are something like spirits and even more so like Fae, but generally speaking stay in their own Astral Realm. They are sometimes called
, the term formally meaning any astral being that is not native to a given dream-space, and which also covers various oneiromancers.
: The Abyss is this dark anti-universe that separates the Material Plane from the Supernal. Abyssal Intruders are creatures from that hideous void that have somehow managed to
the Material Plane. They are probably the most diverse of all Outsiders, since they can be just about anything, from tentacled horrors to tempting demons to viral thought-memes to alternate histories and physical laws that overwrite conventional reality. Invariably, their long-term goal is to draw everything into the Abyss (or turn everything into the Abyss), though they can be more subtle and varied in their short-term goals.
are Abyssal beings that are willing to make pacts with mortal summoners in exchange for some service, and
are Abssal beings that are somehow imprisoned or bound in the Material Plane.
: The problem with any formal definition of Demon is that occultists tend to slap the label willy-nilly on any dark creature. Abyssal Intruders, spirits of vice, evil ghosts, dark Astral Entities, the Gentry, Angels diverted from their purpose have all been called Demons in this or that grimoire. That said, there are such things as Demons -- a demon may be considered an ephemeral entity that gains particular power from sin and vice. Most interestingly, other ephemeral entities may
demons by becoming particularly in-tune with sin (ghosts that do so are called Larvals, spirits Immundi, and astral beings Deceptors), and if a proper demonic Testament is written, they become Dominions, the classical demons of yore. Demons are, in some ways, the most comprehensible of all Outsiders, since they are basically selfish and power-hungry, and conversely, usually understand humans better than any other Outsider. A Demon, importantly, is
an Abyssal Intruder -- the former wants to corrupt humanity so as to better itself, while the latter wants to infect and destroy all reality.