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Monsters and Mythic Races in Western Literature

Updated on September 29, 2014
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Dragon

The masters of the monster world, their size and strength allows them to easily destroy entire civilizations. Similar to dinosaurs, Dragons are often thought to be extinct or rare. In fact, the survival of a country often depends on their extinction while their over population has been known to result in the apocalypse.

Dragons are strongly associated with the elements of nature. Traditional dragons are known to breath fire, but have also been known to breath ice, electricity, or water.

When dragons are given a mind of their own, they become collectors of power and the symbols of power such as gold, jewels, and kingly titles. Dragons with a milder disposition may become collectors of wisdoms and may sometimes share this knowledge with lesser races.

The Western style dragon is derived from European folk traditions.

Environment: deep caves

Personality: greedy and destructive


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Druid

While any humanoid can obtain the powers of a druid that allow them to control nature or befriend beasts, the druid culture separates them from other forest dwellers. Druids are often solitary nomadic travelers who prefer the company of animals. However, they may form camps outside of towns or work as traveling merchants.

They are not know for their beauty. Instead, they have a rough and wild look resulting from simple or handmaid clothing that makes them look dangerous. Ordinary people are often suspicious of and hostile towards druids, referring to them as gypsies.

Environment: between forest and city

Personality: secretive and kind

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Dwarf

Short and stocky humans that could be mistaken for children if they did not grow such long beads. They are known for their ability to mine precious metals and gems and craft the strongest armor, weapons, and strongholds.

They are sometimes thought to be ignorant and cowardly because they rarely leave their mountain home.

Environment: mountains

Personality: suborn and greedy

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Elf

With their fair skin, long pointed ears, and skinny bodies, they are considered the most beautiful humanoid race.

They spend their time learning to live in harmony with nature as they collect knowledge about the world. However, they are as quick footed as they are cunning and will defend their forests from all intruders.

Environment: deep forests

Personality: wise and condescending


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Fairy

Insect sized humans with wings who make their clothing from flower petals and leaves. They have the mentality of a child, spending most of their days playing, teasing humans and animals, and caring for plants.

Some stories say that fairies are capable of granting wishes and making people fly.

Environment: forests or grass fields

Personality: friendly and mischievous


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Goblin

Ugly creatures that may resemble toads. They are small and weak, but are born with some magic capabilities. They are also very pursuant and tricky creatures from being born in an environment of where they must compete against other animals and their own kind for food and survival.

While they are cowardly and do not seek battle, they desire positions of high status and comfort. The older, larger, and more intelligent goblins may become rulers of their own species. Smaller goblins may become companions of strong individuals to raise their status through association.

Environment: swamps

Personality: greedy and rude

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Gryphan

A beast with a lion's body and a bird's wings and beak. They avoid battle, but are highly proud and protecting of their own species. A wild gryphan will not normally let a person get close to it, but are kind towards other living things. If a person is lucky enough to befriend an orphaned gryphan than they will have a friend for life.

They are often used as mounts. Over time various combinations of bird and beast have been used to create new species such as the Hypogriph seen in Harry Potter.

Environment: mountain tops

Personality: noble and playful

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Kobold

Often seen as a large lizard. They live in underground colonies with the mindset of protection in numbers. Their culture imitates those of humans where they live in one place, building up resources needed for an easy life. People consider them to be monstrous pests.

Although intelligent, Kobold's are not very good craftsmen. Most of their equipment is stolen. They are better known as thieves than fighters. However, those who meet these creatures know that Kobold's strike first and ask questions later as they they fear they will be killed otherwise.

Environment: underground caves

Personality: cunning and cowardly

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Orc

A more intelligent and human shaped beast. They travel together in tribes destroying and pillaging the homes of others. They are obsessed with war and violence. As a result they will continuously attempt to expand their territory.

It can be said that there is no such thing as a weak Orc since their pride demands that the weak get killed. Dying in battle is a considered a fitting way to go. If they are left alive after defeat they will forever hold a grudge against their enemy and will seek revenge.

Environment: rocky fields and mountains

Personality: fearless and battle loving

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Phoenix

A mythical bird coated in flames. These birds live for hundreds of years and retain immortality by burning and reincarnating from their own ashes. Not much is known about these birds except that they are extremely hard to find.

Sometimes they are called upon as a force of destruction being able to burn through any enemies. Other times they are like a protecting angel. They are said to have the ability to cure poison, heal illness an injury, and identify those with honour.

Environment: secluded mountains

Personality: gentle and proud

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Troll or Ogre

Large, violent, and very stupid beasts. They are somewhat comparable to elephants. They eat any living creature they can catch. They are quite docile, with a lesser understanding of pain and discomfort. They prefer to sleep though the day and only leave to hunt food.

At the same time, their stupidity can also make them unpredictable and dangerous. They do not respond well to negotiation and quickly turn to violence to solve their problems.

Environment: caves and mountains

Personality: brutish and violent

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Sorcerer, Witch, or Wizard

A person born with the ability to control the elements of wind, water, earth, and fire. All nature of spells can be crafted from these elements. Some magic use items to channel their power such as incantations, wands, and enchanted stones. Natural ability only goes so far.

The ability of each magic user differs greatly and a magic user may find it easier to control a specific element. Ultimately, a magic user must train themselves to improve. Magic users often spend most of their lives in school or questing for a greater knowledge of magic.

Environment: town and city

Personality: most pursue knowledge

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Werewolf

A person who can transform their body into that of a wolf, often as a result of a magic curse or infectious bite. The werewolf is distinctly larger in size compared to a common wolf and may retain their human posture. Their strength and mood is said to be affected by moon phases with their most powerful and violent time being the day of a full moon.

Known abilities include transformation into an animal (wolf), fast healing, and the ability to overwhelm enemies with the brutality of their attack. They are weak against silver.

Werewolves are often depicted as misunderstood humans who feel cursed with a violent nature and neatly appearance which causes humans to hate them. They are often thought to be the natural enemy of vampires.

There are other 'were' transformations into all nature of beasts.

Environment: near forests

Personality: brooding and spiteful

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Unicorn

An ancient white horse with a long strait horn in the middle of it's head. They are known to represent purity and goodness. They have an ability the sense evil intent and will trample any creature that they view as a threat. While they may help strangers in a greater quest for good, they are never tame.

The blood of the unicorn is said to have healing properties while their horns are used whole or crushed to cast powerful magic spells.

Environment: clean forests

Personality: loyal and richeous

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Vampire

Considered to be a demon or cursed individual. They can infect others by biting and injecting either their own blood or a type of venom. The bitten individual can become either a mindless bloodthirsty ghoul, a half, or full vampire. In all cases they go through a physical death as they lose their humanity.

Known vampire abilities include speed, mind control or hypnosis, transformation into bats, and control over their own blood. They have a weakness towards sunlight which burns their pale skin. It is also claimed that they are weak against garlic, religious symbols, and water.

Environment: cities

Personality: prideful and vain

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    • Anate profile image

      Joseph Ray 

      3 years ago

      Very interesting article on fantasy creatures.

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