Welcome to Monstrously Helpful, a take on using the most dastardly villains and dreadful monsters to create positive experiences for everyone involved.
The Fiendishly Fierce Fey Feline
The displacer beast is a malicious and intelligent hunter that comes from the mystical land of the Feywild. This six-legged and be-tentacled black panther-like creature is the size of a horse and stalks forests and wooded areas for prey with it’s pack. In addition to its terrifying size and vicious mien, the displacer beast has a defensive ability from which it gains its name. The displacer beast is able to create an illusion of itself that appears a few inches away from where the displacer beast should be. This makes attacking it difficult as someone might swing where they think the beast’s head is only to hit thin air. Depending on your exact interpretation, displacement can be used as a descriptive tool to build up tension or suspend information on what this creature may initially be. For example, beast could appear while displaced as a whirling conglomeration of feline aspects and tentacles. The beast’s unsettling movements may make it difficult for the players to pin down what it might be as it stalks them through a black night. It almost seems to peel itself off of the darkness it blends in perfectly with. Then once the players drive it off, it comes back with its pack while they’re sleeping.
The displacer beast has not always been the creature it is today. It’s kind were corrupted and molded into what it is now by the wicked court of the Unsealie, the black-hearted and cold faction of the fey creatures that inhabit the Feywilds. They were trained and bred for hunting exotic and magical creatures and became a scourge on the wilds. In time they were hunted to endangerment within the Feywilds by more good-natured fey and some displacer beasts ultimately fled to the material plane. They continue their heritage of hunting for sport wherever they may be found. Though they cannot speak, displacer beasts are intelligent pack creatures that can understand language. This aspect of a monster’s intelligence should never be overlooked as it makes them far more than just an aggressive animal.
Strengths to Model
Potential for Change- It may be odd to think that a bloodthirsty tentacled monster could have strengths to model, but the displacer beast is an excellent example of modeling the complex interplay between nature and nurture. The history of the displacer beast implies that at one point they were not the cold-blooded killers they are now. What they used to be, whether goodhearted guardians of nature or a Feywild big cat predator analog, is up to you. The fact remains that the displacer beast has an original nature that does not reflect what it has been nurtured (though I wouldn’t call this type of corruptive influence nurturing) into being. Using this aspect of the displacer beast’s history is an excellent use of modeling to show that positive and nurturing development can have even a stereotypically evil beast turn into an upstanding member of the forest.
To demonstrate this you may choose to give your players a situation where they must manage one, or several, displacer beast kittens over the course of their adventures. Perhaps they were found abandoned in the forest, or rescued from local banditry that were planning to raise them as hunting beasts. It sets an interesting question on what they would do with such baby animals. For the most part people tend to like small and cute baby animals, tentacles or not, and the players may want to keep them. Though there may be some dissenters of adopting them in the group saying they are “evil monsters”, it could be suggested a history skill check be made to see if players remember anyone they could consult on keeping displacer beast kittens. They could be directed to a Feywild expert who tells them of the marvelous opportunity they’ve been given to redeem the displacer beast in raising a litter of these creatures from a young age.
The kitten, or kittens, become an ongoing model of responsible pet ownership, as well as an example that creatures, and people, develop according to how they are raised as well as their biological nature and instincts. By nature the kittens are still big cats and may want to chase creatures smaller than them, or enact other feline funny business, but this can become a teaching moment for the players to ward it away from more aggressive or malicious acts. In time what the displacer beast becomes as it reaches its full maturity is up to you, or could be determined by the players once you deem them to have sufficiently raised it.
Friendship through Adversity- The history of the displacer beast mentions that the good fey that hunted them use their own magical beast to assist them; the blink dog. The blink dog is the antithesis to the displacer beast, a noble canine that is able to teleport short distances and seeks to protect others. Due to this ancestral enmity displacer beast and blink dogs attack each other on sight. As flavorful as it is to have evil cats fighting good dogs it doesn’t model much other than make cat people feel bad about their pet preference.
A storyline that counters this enmity as adaptive is a storyline where a displacer beast and blink dog have become friends and face adversity for their relationship. Whether a tale similar to the Fox and the Hound or Romeo and Juliet in your game, it gives an excellent example of putting aside difficult history to work together towards a more positive future. This is also a story that can build perspective taking by giving the players atypical examples of a displacer beast and a blink dog, but also allowing for some empathy towards them as the two feel cast out by their former packs.
It is an excellent open-ended story for the players to create their own ending. The displacer beast and the blink dog are alone but they both need the players to help them with no expectations of what that might look like. The open-ended nature of the situation allows for open dialogue to be had amongst the table and the course of action that they would like to set to make it better. Perhaps they go back to the point dogs and displacer beast packs and try to mend those bridges. Perhaps they create a sanctuary for antithetical creatures to exist in harmony together. It is an excellent “yes, and” opportunity once the table is come together and settle on an agreed upon solution.
Story Hooks and Rewards
Players may encounter the kitten or the mismatched pair just about anywhere in their adventures. The interplanar and Fey nature of the displacer beast and blink dog make it reasonable to encounter them just about anywhere in the wilds. If you would like to take a lighter tone, perhaps a party encounters a traveling merchant from the Feywild that offers them a kitten they are having trouble selling. Or, there is the possibility that a basket full of displacer beast kittens find their way to the party’s doorstep one morning. As for encountering the pair of creatures it may be possible for the party to hear rumors of a valley of peaceful and ancient creatures from eons past, only to find that it simply contains the cat and the dog hiding from everyone else. They live amongst the ruins and footprints of the giant things that used to inhabit it and the players help them make it feel safe and like home.
These sample encounters stand to grant the players a reward not in terms of a powerful item, but possibly a powerful ally. A fully grown and well trained displacer beast can be a useful member of the team. If using the safe haven valley, perhaps other creatures start showing up looking for help themselves and eventually allying with the party once being aided as well.
The displacer beast is an excellent monster that has a potential to highlight the good not often seen in monsters. It also has the versatility of being exactly what it was made to be: a ferocious and dreadful foe that hunts your party for the sole satisfaction of the chase. Whether the displacer beast finds its claws sunk into your players or their furniture is up to you.
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Andrew Brazzale, LSWAIC, is a group facilitator and individual counselor. He approaches therapy with an earnest and open approach while helping clients develop better self-determination, valued living, and life satisfaction.
Game to Grow is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to the use of games of all kinds for therapeutic, educational, and community growth. We offer therapeutic social skills groups, trainings for mental health professionals, educators, and community members, and individual counseling services.