Tag Archives: monster hunting

Q&A: Monster Hunting Solutions

So this may not be in your expertise, but in my setting (modern fantasy) my characters mostly fight monsters. My characters are faster than normal humans, and mostly have to use melee weapons, as monsters are resistant to normal metals, and the magical metal is too rare to reliably make bullets. I have no idea how to armor them. Speed feels like its the most important, as I can’t see how most armor could hold up to even a normal wild animal, much less one that is faster and stronger. Advice?

I don’t know what kinds of monsters your planning to throw your characters against. Enhanced reflexes would help, but, alone, it wouldn’t be enough to go into melee against anything significantly more dangerous than a human. So, if you’re fighting vampires, werewolves, or magically empowered mole men, your characters are in a bad situation.

I’d almost say the most important thing for monster hunting is practical knowledge of the creature your characters are tracking. Things like where it hides, what it feeds on, how it will behave. This becomes harder if you’re dealing with creatures possessing human levels of intelligence. Hunting a monster that is, basically, just an exotic apex predator is dangerous, but it’s something your characters can plan ahead for. Even in cases where they’re dealing with something that rivals human intellect, knowing how the creature is inclined to behave will give them a significant advantage for anticipating its actions. Remember how we’ve said, “instincts will get you killed?” Yeah, this one of those times.

Things can go wrong when you’re dealing with creatures that are significantly more experienced than your hunters, as this flips the script a bit. These aren’t the first hunters to come after this monster, and as a result, they’re the ones going through the familiar motions, and getting picked off.

Armor depends on what your character is fighting. If your characters are hunting monsters which can pass for normal humans, and have human (or better) intelligence, they can use a gun on their hunters. This is a problem for a modern vampire hunter, because while guns won’t (fully) affect the vampire, they will take down humans who come after it. Similarly, for a werewolf, if they shoot someone, that’s just a murder; however, if they wolf out, and tear someone limb from limb, now everyone knows something strange is going on, and monster hunters have more reason to come knocking. At that point, ballistic vests are your best bet. Just because you can’t shoot something doesn’t mean it can’t return the favor.

Also worth knowing, most modern armor has a shelf-life. Older kevlar vests would break down in hot and humid conditions (sort of like if you’re wearing them while being physically active for months and sweating on them.) I’m not 100% sure if this is still an issue. Additionally, taking bullets will mean you need to replace your armor. There’s also stuff like plate carriers, where you’ll need to replace the plates eventually.

In contrast, (assuming your vampires have enhanced speed and strength), sending your humans into melee combat with them is a death sentence.

So, you have a limited solution. You have melee weapons which can kill monsters. But, you still have guns, you just need to get more creative with them.

Ultraviolet (1999) did some interesting work chewing around this idea. (I’m spoiling some things here, sorry.) Because the vampires are immune to lead bullets, the vampire hunters use pressed carbon rounds to, effectively, stake vampires at range using conventional firearms. As a theme, the show presents both the vampires and vampire hunters adapting to modern technology, and using it to their advantage. I’d almost put this one as a must view for urban fantasy simply because of how it discusses monsters in the modern world.

Some other, “fun” things to remember about are dragon’s breath shotgun shells, which eject highly reactive metal strips that ignite on contact with air, essentially turning a shotgun into a sort of flamethrower.

White phosphorous is similar to dragon’s breath above, except, it’s a single bullet. Also, phosphorous is really nasty when it connects. The moisture in the wound will keep the phosphorous burning deeper into the victim, until it hits bone. This is a very horrific round, and if your characters are caught carrying around large quantities of the stuff, they’re going to have to answer some very hard questions.

Moving from borderline to straight up illegal, we’ve got high explosive rounds. There’s a lot of ways to make these. One that comes to mind is taking revolver hollowpoints, filling the tip with fulminated mercury, and waxing over it. You don’t want to use this specific example in a semi-automatic, as there’s a risk the gun will go off in your hand. In this case, it doesn’t matter if something’s resistant to metal when you’re literally detonating an explosive in them.

Bullets can also function as a delivery method. One example that comes to mind is, ironically, from Skinwalkers by Tony Hillerman. A character loads shotgun shells with bone beads, to block another’s magical abilities. (Hillerman’s novels are worth reading, but they’re murder mysteries, not urban fantasy.)

Also worth working out exactly why a monster’s resistances work. You can’t shoot a vampire because it’s already dead. So, if you make it bleed, that won’t kill it, you’re just taking away its dinner and pissing it off. However, that’s the same thing as immune. Hitting a vampire with a rifle round designed for putting down an APC might not kill it, but it should spread it around the room enough that you can put it out of your misery, before it’s back up and running.

Another option that might be worth considering are bows or crossbows with tips made from the magical material. The critical thing here is being able to retrieve the projectiles (most of the time.) This approach relies on getting the drop on the monster, which could be quite difficult if the creatures posses heightened senses.

If your characters are inhuman, themselves. If they don’t have to worry about getting shot. If they’re fast enough and strong enough to go into melee with a 9ft tall snarling deathbeast and live, then they might want to look into more archaic versions of armor that allow them to fight their foes.

It’s also possible your characters are relying on armor that mystically empowers them, (or powered armor exosuits) to level the field. In that case, the armor they wear will be dictated by the rules of their setting. If the artifact that grants your character the ability to fight monsters looks like a 17th century breastplate, then that’s what they’re going to wear.

-Starke

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Q&A: Small Arms Monster Hunting

HI! I was wondering what modern light infantry firearms would you recommend for killing giant monsters around size and weight of elephants but with agility more akin to cats. I was thinking heavy round assault rifles and or grenade launchers.

Well, not, “light,” but I kinda suspect you mean, “small arms.” The first thing that comes to mind is a .50 anti-material rifle. That’s not just because I did an ask on the Barrett AM rifle a few days ago.

With something that nimble, you wouldn’t want to get within half a mile of it, if you didn’t need to. And, because of how sound works, at those ranges, it wouldn’t even hear the gunshot before the round connected. (Technically, it would never hear the actual gunshot, just the bullet breaking the speed barrier.) Depending on how the critters are put together, a high-explosive round might be the best payload, but I don’t know how well their accuracy holds up at long ranges.

Getting close enough to use a grenade launcher (usually around 100-200m) doesn’t sound like a good idea. At least not if they’re that fast and agile.

(For reference the M203 under-barrel grenade launcher is accurate up to around 150m, beyond that you can still put a round general vicinity of over there at up to 350m.)

By, “heavy round,” I assume you mean automatic rifles chambered in 7.62mm (and some other .30 rounds), at which point, that’s usually a battle rifle. I mean, it’s possible you might get the desired result from riddling the things with an H&K G3, but getting that close when you don’t need to be still sounds like a bad idea to me.

-Starke

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If werewolves could be badly wounded by firearms, but not killed and the only way to kill them for sure was to cut their heads off, what would be an appropriate choice of tools for such job? I’m thinking about something that could be quite easily concealed under a coat and not too heavy, yet still viable to be used as a weapon in a melee if need arises.

The simple answer is: carry more than one weapon.

Rather than trying to force a weapon to fulfill two separate needs (a ranged weapon like a gun that is also a melee weapon), take two. I mean, if it’s completely necessary and you can’t give up the idea of a ranged weapon that can also be used in melee then you can always take a bayonet. It’s not going to work for taking off the head unless you detach it from the rifle or shotgun but it is an option. A bayonet is essentially a long knife or a short sword depending on how you want to define it that attaches to the barrel and allows the gun to be used as an impromptu melee weapon. It’s not as good as an actual melee weapon (which is why soldiers also carry knives), but it serves it’s intended purpose.

However, when attached to the barrel, the rifle’s use as a melee weapon is limited in terms of motion. The gun isn’t designed for that kind of motion, it can basically slash diagonally and stab. So, if your character needs an actual melee weapon then they should carry a secondary or tertiary weapon to support them at close range. Whether that’s a tool like a machete that can be hidden easily under the coat and will work well for taking off the head or some other kind of silver sword.

I always liked the story in Hunter the Reckoning’s Storyteller’s Handbook about gang members trying to trade in their silver jewelry only to be told that they could actually buy silver bullets. Which is true, your monster hunter actually can purchase them. However, because they were so expensive and because you could never be totally sure, many of the setting’s gangbangers started putting silver bullets as the third round in rather than carrying a full cartridge. The logic was essentially that if the first two didn’t work then the third probably would. (Except it wouldn’t always as the setting had monsters with similar powers and different weaknesses such as the WereCrocs who were weak to gold rather than silver and mages with points in Life and willing to risk the backlash, Gangrel or Vampires with Protean, etc.)

While I get the appeal of a “signature weapon”, the truth is that most people simply carry more than one weapon as you’re bound to encounter different situations/scenarios and no single weapon will ever have an advantage in all of them. Try to limit yourself to about four, but in this case this character might carry as their loadout:

A rifle – for long to mid-range, especially when outdoors for picking off enemies at a distance.

A shotgun – for close range and because you can load it with a variety of different types of ammunition from buckshot, to needles, to turning it into an impromptu flamethrower. My personal opinion is that the versatility of the shotgun lends itself really well to monster hunting in particular because you can load it up with all sorts of stuff and it’s very damaging at close range.

A pistol – the pistol is just a good middle of the road weapon, it’s small enough to conceal on your person, and it’ll have more of an advantage indoors than the rifle and even the shotgun. If you’re in a situation with very cramped quarters, then the pistol is your friend as it’s unlikely to get caught on the environment in the way a longer weapon will. Depending on the type of pistol, you can load it up with different kinds of ammunition.

A short sword/knife/sword – this is the actual melee weapon. I’m more partial to the short sword for monster hunting due to it being easier to conceal than a long sword, it’s important to remember in accordance with werewolves that in general swords are not good for hunting animals. They’re meant for humans, not nine foot snarling death beasts. If you have the room then the traditional melee weapon for hunting animals of this kind is actually the spear. The spear’s length gives it substantially stopping power when it comes to the greater force of impact that an animal like a boar can generate when it charges or a wolf can when it lunges. The spear also allows you to keep the range advantage with a much larger enemy that you give up in choosing a shorter weapon. However, in a modern setting the spear will have a disadvantage indoors and give up a lot of maneuverability as an all-purpose weapon that your hunter may not be able to afford. Keep the knife or short sword as a means of taking off the head after the werewolf has been disabled and as a last ditch.

Use any variety of European longsword for the coolness factor or denotation of the One True Hero. The long sword itself is symbolic in Western Literature, so if you want your hero to be a Chosen One or a Noble Undercover then the sword is a great way to point to that without dropping a prophecy to accompany it. Just make sure to recognize the fantasy tropes and what they promise your audience because the use of tropes can mean making promises you’re unaware of and don’t intend to keep. The longsword more than any other medieval weapon has special/important cultural meaning in Western mythology/storytelling. If you’d like to avoid the standard fantasy tropes either subvert them or avoid the sword all together.

The katana is also highly symbolic if that’s your choice, however in the hands of anyone not Japanese it can easily become laden with Orientalism. So, be careful, or at least research the accompanying symbolism both for Western audiences in the recent decades and it’s meaning/importance to Japanese culture.

I hope that helps.

-Michi

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When I was reading the response to the monster hunter, it made me think of the Harry Dresden Files. Don’t know if you’ve ever read them, but I think he would definitely be considered a detective-style character. Not to mention, they touch on the problem of being prepared for anything more than once. And when they have a werewolf book, they even have a problem where there are multiple types of wolf and different ways to take down each one

My recollection is that The Dresden Files are really mystery novels by genre, and the supernatural and magical elements are just world building. More The Cat Who with mages and monsters than Mike Hammer, though the old hard boiled pulps and John Constantine are an influence.

To be fair, even though I’m not a fan of Jim Butcher, what he did with The Dresden Files was very savvy.

If you’re wanting to dig more into that side of things, I’d recommend starting with the original: Sherlock Holmes. If you absolutely need to watch it, instead of reading, I’d recommend the Jeremy Brett version.

As someone pointed out, the first season of Supernatural struck a pretty solid balance between investigating and monster hunting. Though, the show drifted away from that over time. The X-Files also started off with some fairly good monster hunting investigations, though it also drifted over time.

-Starke