A blemmy (Latin, pl. blemmyae - also akepholos / akelpholi in Greek) was a mythological creature found in both classical sources and medieval bestiaries which was predominately humanoid, except for its lack of a head, having instead a large mouth in the centre of its chest and eyes located close to the shoulder.
Blemmyae were usually said to live in Africa - Herodotus records them as being found in ancient Libya, whilst Pliny the Elder places them in Aethiopia1. Other sources found them in other parts of the world - anywhere suitably remote would usually do. Like most mythological creatures, they were said to eat people, although in some legends they merely remove the extraneous heads from their victims, possibly without hostile intent.
Should not be confused with the blemmere … which apparently was some kind of plumber, nor with anything else that lacks a head because someone has removed it. Also, a blenny - which appears similar in writing - is a small and inoffensive fish.
Game and Story Use
- Discarding the apparent humanoid shape, the anatomy of a blemmy would actually need to be very different from that of a human.
- For those who want a more mundane explanation, these are actually exaggerated accounts of some Neanderthal like race whose different physiology and posture means that their neck extends more forward than up, making their head more or less level with their shoulders and appearing to grow out of their chest.
- Alternatively, go with the original design and, for added humour, give them a symbiote, parasite or the like which creates a head-like structure between their shoulders.
- Or have them disguise themselves with fake heads when stalking humans…
- Cthulhu mythos fans may note the passing resemblance between Y'golonac and these creatures (accepting, however, that Y'golonac has no eyes and his mouths are in his palms, not his chest.