Fantasy creatures have been a part of the human imaginal for thousands of years but were only to become codified and made more vividly real within the pages of fantasists, shamans, witches, dark wizards, sorcerers, necromancers, and the grimoires of alchemists during the middle-ages onward. I’ve not listed the traditions of China, India, or the Far East, Middle-East, etc. Only those of the West. I have only listed a few of the most popular for in truth there are thousands of various fantastic creatures of dark fantasy.
- Dragons: Dragons are massive, flying, fire-breathing reptiles. They are often portrayed as ferocious and untamable, but some dragons allow humans to ride them. They appear in countless fantasy works from The Hobbit to Game of Thrones.
- Giants: Giants are massive beings that tower over humans. There are many different types of giants, including brutish ogres and the one-eyed cyclops.
- Merfolk: Merfolk, including mermaids and mermen, share qualities with both fish and humans. Most live exclusively in water but have amphibious qualities that briefly sustain them on land.
- Lizard folk: These reptilian hybrids fall somewhere between lizards and humanoids. Friendly lizard folk often resemble geckos while evil lizard folk may take on the appearance of crocodiles.
- Nymphs: Nymphs are characterized as protectors of the wilderness—particularly trees and plants. In most works of fiction, they are closely related to fairies.
- Dryads: Dryads are also known as tree nymphs. In works of fantasy, most dryads bond with a particular tree and consider it an extension of themselves.
- Satyrs: Satyrs are half human and half donkey. They typically have an appetite for carousing.
- Centaurs: Closely related to satyrs, centaurs are half human and half horse. These hybrid mammals tend to avoid human civilizations in works of fantasy. Sometimes they appear as barbarians and sometimes they appear as stewards of nature.
- Demons: Demons can take many forms in fantasy stories, but they are almost always motivated by evil and malice.
- Imps: Imps are connected to both demons and fairies. Most are motivated by mischief more than evil. Like dryads, imps closely associate with trees; some are even born grafted to trees in fantasy novels.
- Orcs: Orcs are commonly depicted as brutish monsters motivated by evil and cruelty. In some traditions, orcs are corrupted elves. Orcs had fallen out of standard fantasy tropes until J.R.R. Tolkien made them the key horde of antagonists in the Lord of the Rings series.
- Goblins: Closely related to orcs, goblins are smaller, smarter, and easily spotted thanks to their green skin. Hobgoblins are larger goblins that closely resemble orcs.
- Werewolves: Werewolves are typically depicted as humans that turn into wolves during a full moon. In some folklore, they are revenants—the undead corpse of a human killed by another werewolf.
- Hydra: A hydra is a many-headed serpent that traces back to ancient Greek mythology. Depending on the work of fiction, some are aquatic and some live on land.
- Nosferatu: More decidedly evil, however, is the vampire, or nosferatu, in which every Romanian peasant believes as firmly as he does in heaven or hell. There are two sorts of vampires-—living and dead. The living vampire is in general the illegitimate offspring of two illegitimate persons, but even a flawless pedigree will not ensure anyone against the intrusion of a vampire into his family vault, since every person killed by a nosferatu becomes likewise a vampire after death, and will continue to suck the blood of other innocent people till the spirit has been exorcised.
©2023 Art by S.C. Hickman