The Herxheim Chronicle: Vorator features a race of monsters that are kind of like vampires, kind of like werewolves, and kind of like neither. The first of their kind, a Neolithic man named Max, has been roaming around and slaughtering people for close to 7,000 years. There’s no way that a man like Max–who could shapeshift into a monstrous beast and wasn’t shy about traipsing into a village and laying waste to everything–would go unnoticed or un-spoken-of. But I wanted my Vorator to be unfamiliar to the majority of humankind.
I solved that conundrum by giving Max a kind of messed up sense of amusement.
It happened accidentally at first. He would go somewhere, kill an entire village, and move on to find that someone actually survived. That survivor has been telling everyone about the monster that attacked his village, and the stories explode from there. According to Vorator, every human-eating mythical creature on Earth is actually Max–and he delights in that fact.
In North America, Max becomes a wendigo.
Max was originally an Adena Indian from Ohio c. 1000 BC, but I made him much older in order to better include more monster myth beginnings. Weirdly, I didn’t even think of using a wendigo, even when Max was Native American: I got the idea of including the wendigo from the TV show Supernatural.
Max has been to every corner of the world (he’s had a really long time to travel), and he definitely ended up in North America for a while. Now, humans arrived into North America way before Max was born: some time between 40,000 and 16,500 years ago, so there was already the framework of a wendigo myth in place. Max just galumphed in and reinforced the hell out of it.
So, What is a Wendigo?
Wendigos are mostly an Algonquin thing, prevalent in northern America and Canada amongst the tribes there. There are several things about wendigos that make them a very nice fit into Vorator lore:
- Wendigos are strongly associated with cannibalism. Some believed that a wendigo was a human who had eaten another human. In harsh northern winters, cannibalism might have been the only way a stranded hunting party could survive, but perpetuating the practice of it was obviously not something that anyone wanted. It was common knowledge that being a cannibal increased your risk of becoming a wendigo. Kind of like smoking and cancer.
- The wendigo is described as being starving. Often depicted as rail-thin, gaunt, like a walking skeleton, the wendigo was representative of famine and starvation. It was constantly hungry, constantly searching for its next human meal. The Vorator, as well, are always hungry. Their lightning-fast metabolisms make them digest food quickly, and their high energy output requires equally high energy input. They can starve to death in a matter of days.
- The wendigo is described as being gluttonous. At the same time as being starving, the wendigo is a glutton and will keep eating and eating no matter how much food it’s presented with. In some myths, the wendigo will grow in proportion to the meal it just had, so no matter how much it consumes, its belly is never full. The Vorator can consume their own body weight in a single sitting. Talk about gluttony!
- The wendigo is a giant. In some myths, the wendigo is much larger than a normal human. When a Vorator adopts its Vorator form, it swells in size. It’s not a giant, but it’s definitely much larger than a normal person.
Max was just doing his monster thing, nomming upon unfortunate humans, when suddenly he’s this monster of legend. But he didn’t mind; on the contrary, he likes it. He likes it so much, he starts to make up parts of the myth himself. He’d stand in a crowd of people talking about the wendigo and he’d say, “Yeah, I heard wendigos are forty feet tall! And they can fly! And they’re damn good-looking!”
And then everyone turned and looked at him weird, and he grinned and strolled away.