Tag Archives: writing monster hunters

Just how fit are cheerleaders? What fighting styles might suit them best, given the muscles they use the most? Any weapon suggestions? I’m doing some research, but i’m not understanding it. I always understand your blog, though! My character will be fighting monsters larger than her, if that helps any. Thank you in advance! You’re the best!

Cheerleading:

Cheerleading is a sport, especially in the nationally competitive range. It’s like combining dancing with gymnastics except as a choreographed team event. It’s a grueling sport with athletes who are in pretty incredible condition, and like similar sports runs the risk of serious blowouts in the joints which will result in semi-permanent to permanent injury.

When you’re setting up a cheerleading character, the most important thing to remember is that cheerleading is a team sport. This is a character who is better at working with and relying on others than going it alone. The other thing to remember is that they’re athletes. These are driven, competitive, hardworking, and intense personality types when it comes to their sport. These are the girls who ditch their boyfriends for practice (if they have them), and sacrifice their off hours to being the best they can be. Like any athlete training for the pinnacle of they’re sacrificing a lot of personal/life time to be the best they can be. Netflix has the reality show: Cheer Squad, which may help you some. Bring It On is, of course, a classic.

Remember, this is a character who is used to working in a team when under pressure and has a social outlet. They won’t transfer well to working alone, and you’re going to need to either address this or remember to create their cheer buddies. If you want a similar kind of athlete whose sports background primary gears them for working solo when out on in competition then you want a gymnast.

This is part of the real life dynamic where Buffy the Vampire Slayer really lies to you, because if you went with the cheerleader background you’d end up with twenty girls fighting monsters rather than just one. Only one might have superpowers, but you can bet your bottom dollar the others would be ride or die. For the Sisterhood!

So, what does this net you for starting them as a martial artist/monster hunter? It cuts out a lot of the ancillary issues.

We’ve got someone who is: courageous, fearless, a high achiever, nicely conditioned, flexible, with an athletic history which means she’ll breeze through endurance training and the vast majority of basic physical conditioning has been taken care of. She’s got a running start.

You can push her a lot harder in basic training than you can your average recruit who starts with zip. She’s got more control over her body, so she’ll adapt faster. Cheer is just far enough off the basic combat move set that the two shouldn’t conflict too badly when it comes to her currently conditioned reflexes. Coming out of a background in choreography, she’s going to need some retraining for her timing and gets more comfortable with free flowing chaos.

If you wanted a character with parkour for a background, then this is one which can be adapted fairly quickly.

Monster Hunting:

So, you’ve got a big decision to make on the Urban Fantasy front for how this character is going to go about fighting monsters and solving crime. So, I’ll break it down by some of the big supernatural shows.

The “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” – The Buffy modus is essentially fisticuffs. You get a superpowered heroine whose essential means of fighting monsters is punching them out. There are a few other weapons here and there like crossbows, axes, and swords, but guns are persona non grata. You get magic from the support characters and someone else does the research.

In the end, Buffy’s approach to the supernatural is fairly limited on the combat front with the interesting bits happening in other parts of the narrative like the character’s personal relationships. If you want a pure human approaching the supernatural from a combat perspective then Buffy is not right for you.

The “Supernatural” – The Winchester brothers… aren’t quite human, but close enough. This model is The X-Files and Urban Fantasy Private Investigator. Your character is more of a Jack of All Trades. They need to be able to do it all: research, fighting with a primary focus on guns, and investigation (especially in the early seasons). This is “determine what the monster is and figure out how to kill it” mode with the occasional problem that can’t be solved. 

The “Charmed” – Magic is the solution. This is where the primary solution to defeating the monsters is through magic. Magic is the weapon, and the focus, and normal weapons are mostly useless.

Unless they’ve got some sort of special, mystical weapon or a setting clear on its rules, a character who hunts monsters needs a fairly wide array of skills because the ancient monsters of myth, folklore, and fairy tales often require diverse solutions that are all fairly specific.

The decisions between guns or not, the level of technology your character will be using/relying on, their skill at researching and hunting down hidden truths in forgotten folklore, and their flexibility with alternative solutions are all on the table. Whether your setting has a “barrier” between the mundane and supernatural world is also a big decision as that will affect what level of strangeness your character can get away with.

When looking at a “standard” weapon for the character to carry, you want one that will fit a wide variety of situations or the ones the character is most likely to encounter.

-Michi

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Hi there! In an earlier post, you said that you would favor a shotgun for monster hunting– would you mind expanding on that? Your blog is top of the line as always. -Evvy

There’s actually a few reasons for this.

First, shotguns are very easy to handle. In spite of their destructive capability, they’re relatively low power by firearm standards. In fact, some non-standard loads, (Dragon’s Breath, for example) don’t generate enough power to cycle the bolt when fired. This means they deliver comparatively little recoil, and make follow up shots (even on a pump action) remarkably easy for an inexperienced user.

This does mean, when using some non-standard loads, your characters will need to manually cycle the action after each shot, even on a semi-auto shotgun.

The second major thing is that shotguns are extremely versatile. There are a lot of different possible shotgun shell loadouts available, ranging from the conventional buckshot and slugs to the exotic rounds like flares, flechettes, piranha (think a shotgun shell loaded with thumb tacks) and dragon’s breath rounds. There are even bolo shells, with two heavy balls mounted to a wire, designed to cut through anything that gets between them. Though, bolo rounds aren’t entirely reliable. We’ve mentioned them before, but there are also the FRAG12 rounds, which will convert a shotgun into a grenade launcher.

This is before you consider hand loaded rounds people assemble in their spare time. These range from cut shells (which convert a buckshot shell to discharge the shot inside the victim) to magnet clusters or even unspent airgun C02 cartridges. (I don’t recommend attempting the C02 cartridges on a commercially produced shotgun.)

When you’re bringing firearms into hunting monsters, you’re often looking for specific weaknesses. For example, a vampire may be immune to buckshot, but what about a shotgun shell filled with toothpicks? It’s going to splinter and be a mess, but it will still drive those wooden shards into the monster, and have a pretty decent chance of piercing the heart.

That said, wooden slugs don’t really work. Most are too light to fly properly. (This is also an issue with silver bullets.) Though, this might be fixable by someone with enough time and an actual application in mind. Some kind of wood core sabot might be another option.

Third, contrary to popular perception (and most video games), shotguns are useful at medium ranges. In theory shotguns remain functional at 100 yards, though 50 yards is a better effective range estimate. This means, yes, you can put a shot shell into a nine foot tall snarling deathbeast at 150 feet.

Finally, shotguns are easily available to most characters. Your character isn’t going to be breaking out a full-auto AA-12, but they can probably get their hands on a Remington 870, Ithaca Stakeout, Mossberg 590 or something similar.

They’re far easier to obtain, and a Winchester 1300 loaded with rock salt shells is
far less likely to draw unwanted attention, the way most specialized monster hunting gear, or high power weapons would.

They’re not a perfect solution to every problem, and obviously just won’t work for some characters, but shotguns are probably one of the most versatile tools an urban fantasy monster hunter can get their hands on.

-Starke

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