Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Kids Stuff: Bogeys, Imaginary Friends and Childhood Terrors

"Fairy tales do not teach children that monsters exist.
Children already know that monsters exist.
Fairy tales teach children that monsters can be defeated."
- Attributed to G.K. Chesterson

Adults are far removed from the dreams of childhood. When we were children we thought, spoke and behaved as children do or so the Book has told us but so has Freud and Piaget. As adults, we are also removed from the fears of childhood. The Thing Under the Bed, the Monster in the Closet, the Beast Outside our Window. We grow up, get older and forget these things.

They do not forget us.

Children are the keepers of an ancient secret; that the monsters of childhood are real.
For a child, there is a certain magic in innocence. They believe with all their hearts that something magical is real. In sort of a converse of WitchCraft's crowd effect, the "innocence effect" can cause spontaneous thaumotogenesis; the creation of something by magic. In children where the Gift, Sorcery or Magic runs strong these imaginative beings can take shape and live. Or maybe they were always there and the children only brought them into our world.

Bogeys are the name given to harmful creatures created by children. They are mischievous and in many ways are very similar to faeries. Bogarts, Buchwans, Bwcha, and Bogeys all share the same semantic roots and the creatures are very similar. Bogeys though are also akin to demons. Some can be as cruel in their mischief as the worst demon lord.

Bogeys have one quality about them that is unique; adults can not see them. Anytime a bogey preys on a child it will scamper away if an adult comes by. The only way fight a bogey is to see it and the only way to see one is through magic. Some magic sensitive can see them (ie The Sight or Greater Sensing), but the best way to see them is through the eyes of a child or to become childlike.

Some occult scholars will blame the strange goings on around children as poltergeists or nascent magical ability. These maybe true. But there are also bogeys, and since most occult scholars are adults and not looking for them, they never see them.

All bogeys differ and can have any combination of abilities, powers, qualities and drawbacks. Even ones that are restricted to a particular group are available to bogeys. All bogeys do have Innate Magic, though some have been able to learn Magic.

Bogeys and BastIn a Classic Unisystem game or a Cinematic game with Bast, an added dimension can be used. Bogeys are the ancient enemies of the Bast. In the earliest days of Egypt's Pharos, the Bogeys entered our world and began to plague the children of Egypt. The High Priest beseeched Ra, the Sun God, to send them a protector to guard over their children. Ra turned to his protector Bast and she sent her minions to Earth.
Bast, regardless of age, always see Bogeys and most will attack them on site. In the war between them, Bast has decimated the ranks of the Bogeys. Though this is not true everywhere. In Ireland, the ancient Celts were superstitious about cats and they killed many Bast. This allowed the bogeys to gain a strong foothold in the lands of the Celts. To this day this is why you see more bogeys in England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales than anywhere else in the world.

The Red-Legged Scissor Man
(From The Menagerie Series by Christopher Golden and Thomas Sniegoski)
A particularly nasty bogey is the Red-Legged Scissor Man. Named for the giant pair of scissors he wields as a weapon. He gets the other part of his name from what he does with the scissors. The Scissor Man plagues children, especially ones that others would describe as having emotional problems. He visits them scaring them with his presence and then uses his scissors to cut off their thumbs. He will then hook the thumb onto his belt with dozens more like it causing the blood to run down his naked lower half, staining his legs in blood. He is unnaturally tall and thin, maybe 8 feet tall, but weighing only 95 some pounds. His face is fixed in a clown-like grin displaying sharp yellow teeth. His tiny red eyes dart everywhere as he nervously laughs as he talks.

The Scissor Man was believed to have been defeated in the middle of the 20th Century, but who is to say he will stay that way.

Name: The Red-Legged Scissor Man
Motivation: To frighten and maim children
Creature Type: Bogey
Attributes: Str 2, Dex 4, Con 4, Int 3, Per 5, Will 2
Ability Scores: Muscle 10, Combat 12, Brains 12
Life Points: 34
Drama Points: 1
Special Abilities: Attractiveness -3, Emotional Influence (causes fear)
Name Score Damage Notes
Scissors 12 8 Most often used to chop of thumbs
Deflect 15 - Magic defence action; deflects spells 45º

Imaginary Friends
While Bogeys are harmful to children the same creation process also can produce imaginary friends. Like bogeys, imaginary friends are created by the nascent magical ability of children. And like bogeys, imaginary friends cannot be seen by adults.

There are very few demons that actually pay attention to strife between bogeys and imaginary friends, considering both to be too far insignificant to even merit their notice. But there is one imaginary friend that they do know about and the mere mention of his name fills them with fear and dread.

That name is Buttons.

Buttons the Bear began just like another childhood toy. He was a handmade stuffed bear given to a now-forgotten child one Christmas morning in the early 1800's. As his child grew older Buttons (and this was not yet his name) was discarded for newer playthings. That is till he ended up as a donation to an orphanage. By this time Buttons had seen a fair amount of use, in particular his glass eyes were gone. The matron of the house, a young Irish nun sewed two buttons on his face for eyes; one green the other red. She gave him to a small child who had nothing and had never received a Christmas present before. It was there that Buttons felt the first tinges of Awakening, the love of this young child stirred up the spark of divinity that is in everything; even in a stuffed bear with mis-matched buttons for eyes.

An orphanage, especially one in what was now the mid-Victorian era, was ripe for all sorts of bogeys. Generally, these were the pestering kind, but every so often something more dangerous would prey on the unfortunates. Buttons (as he was now known) went from merely scaring them off to actively hunting them down at night. For many years Buttons protected the children here and in return he knew he had their love.
Things changed shortly after the Blight. Taking advantage of the suffering and death many demons moved into Ireland, one chose to use the orphanage as a staging area. He would hide in wait, corrupting the adults and torturing the children. It was not though till the demon had fully manifested itself and prepared to kill a child did Buttons attack. Though he was no longer a child's stuffed plaything; instead he had manifested into a towering black bear with razor-sharp claws and a mouthful of teeth. He attacked the demon full on.

The demon, while still very powerful, was only expecting some starving children, not seven feet, 1,200 pounds of fur, claws, and fangs. Within a few seconds the demon was not only on the defense, but nearly ripped to shreds.

On the demon's home plane a portal opened. The demons there were awaiting their Lord's return to bring them the bounty from the orphanage. Instead, the bloodied corpse of their lord was flung through followed by a huge bear with a fire red ruby for one eye and a burning emerald for the other. It let out a deafening roar; a clear warning to the demons. Since that time Buttons has killed no fewer than 17 demon lords and wounded many others. The orphanage suffered no more attacks as long as there was one child holding a tattered old bear with buttons for eyes.

Name: Buttons the Bear (Manifested Form)
Motivation: Protect the Children
Creature Type: Bogey (Imaginary Friend)
Attributes: Str 7, Dex 4, Con 9, Int 2, Per 3, Will 2
Ability Scores: Muscle 20, Combat 18, Brains 12
Life Points: 83
Drama Points: 1
Special Abilities: Bogey (Imaginary Friend), Hard to Kill (3), Manifest
Name Score Damage Notes
Claw (x2) 18 18 Slash/Stab
Bite 16 12 Slash/Stab
- Break Neck 20 28 Bash
Deflect 15 - Magic defense action; deflects spells 45º

Mrs. Cully Mully and her Pink Dog
No one is really sure who, or what, Mrs. Cully Mully is. Was she a human witch that became more imaginary over time. Or an imaginary friend that became more like a real human? No one knows for sure. Mrs. Cully Mully appears to be a woman in her 70's wearing a pinkish frock coat, horned rimmed glasses and carrying a small handbag purse.

She is known to walk the areas between Dream and Reality, between this world and the next one, and between childhood and the end of innocence. Always between worlds, but never in any one world properly. She will say things to make you believe she was once human, like "when I taught kindergarten…" and things to make you think she is imaginary, or at least question her sanity; "…of course the sky was pink then and we had three moons."

She walks the "in-betweens" helping those who are lost, or of need information. In her bag she almost anything the Cast could need, almost. She has no (and no use for) weapons. If the Cast is hungry then she might have their second-favorite sandwich (she is always out of their first favorite) or some magical bauble that may not seem to be useful now but will be priceless later on. She will of course claim she is just walking her dog.

Her dog, who is completely pink, will bark constantly in its small yippish barks. It is only when it stops barking is there reason to fear. That usually means bogeys, spirits or demons are near.

She will try to hastily retreat, pulling the Cast in-tow. IF she has to fight then her true nature (or is it?) is revealed. She has never been known to get into a fight, but in one case an occult scholar (who has since retired to working on a small farm) was lost in the in-betweens when he encountered Mrs. Cully Mully. He described her as pleasant, if seemingly addled. She agreed to walk the man home since it was "on her way" when the object of the scholar's search appeared, the Great Demon Abraxas (so he claimed). Abraxas demanded the scholar's soul and threatened to kill everyone else. Mrs. Cully Mully, he then claimed, walked right up to the demon lord and called him by his true name (also, so the scholar claims) and proceeded to scold him like a schoolboy. She was stern, but never once raised her voice. The demon, angered beyond rage, roared and disappeared in a pillar of flame. She took the man's hand and told him that we're taking a short cut, walked two or three steps and were in front of the man's home. She told him to give up this life, get a real job and find himself a nice quiet girl to marry.

Some say she is a good-natured aspect of the Crone, Goddess of the Witches. Others say she is really the Goddess Ceriweden. And still, others say she is a retired kindergarten teacher out walking her dog.

Mrs. Cully Mully
No Stats. She does not engage in combat. She does have a handbag and small pink, yippy dog.


Christopher B said...

I have never forgotten the monster in my closet. Technically, that would be monsters, as there were a horde of the little bastards, refugees from 1973's Don't Be Afraid of the Dark - easy enough for Them to say, but try putting those words into action when you spend night after night trying to keep the Beasties from dragging you from your bed and through that hole in the closet wall, the scream stuck in your throat and your limbs nothing but dead weights, frozen with horror...

Okay, enough about my childhood terrors. I really just had to say how much I love Cully Mully - she will most certainly be appearing in my soon-to-be-resurrected Kult game. (I can always use another weird NPC for that campaign.)

Thank you!

Timothy S. Brannan said...

I love Kult. I would love to hear how it goes.

Mrs. Cully Mully was my imaginary friend and years later Mrs. Culley was my kindergarten teacher, so I kinda wanted to honor her in my games.