The bogeyman (also referred to as the boogyman, bogyman, boogieman, boogey monster or boogeyman) is a folkloric monster, tales of which are often used as a kind of behavioural modification tool by parents to frighten misbehaving children. Many children throughout the world believe in the creature as a result of such tales.
The bogeyman has no specific appearance, and conceptions of the monster vary drastically even from household to household within the same community; in many cases he simply has no set appearance in the mind of a child, but is just an amorphous embodiment of terror. Bogeys may or may not be invisible to adults and/or helpless in the face of anyone who isn't afraid of them. That said, they may be very good at picking a frightening appearance. The bogeyman legend may originate from Scotland, where such creatures are sometimes called bogles, boggarts, or bogies. These - and similar creatures may (or may not) be some kind of fae, probably of the unseelie persuasion. Certainly virtually every culture on the planet has at least one creature that can occupy this slot1.
In general the bogeyman is an abductor - stealing the children (and, in some cultures, adults) for varying purposes (generally to eat or to enslave them), and in many cases will carry a sack into which the victims are stuffed.
Presumably a suitably unpleasant person could invoke a bogeyman to abduct a specific target - although this could be as entry level as finding a way to give it another victim when it comes after you. Alternatives might be using them to dispose of unwanted (step)children or heirs prone to inherit ahead of your own children. Particularly aggressive examples might even interpret a passing or conflicted parent or carer's desire to be rid of a child as permission to cross the threshold of a home and abduct … there may be a reason they have form for taking "naughty" children.
Where they are able to enter a home, bogies will tend to manifest in enclosed spaces which are darker than the surrounding area - under beds, in closets and wardrobes for example.
Since children traditionally hide under the blanket to escape from bogeymen, comedic (but perhaps mythopoetically astute) sources suggest that pulling a blanket over the head of a bogeyman may force it into an existential crisis … more grimdark interpretations suggest that that might not be a good idea. The presence of guardian animals (especially dogs) is also effective against bogeys, and even symbolic guardians (such as toy bears) may provide suitable protection.
Game and Story Use
- Belief is what grants fears power, and fear of the bogeyman is no exception. The good intentions of parents the world over have generated enough belief in the bogey man to give that fear physical form.
- Numerous children have begun to disappear from a small town. Upon further investigation, it is determined that the only possible link between the missing children is that they were all well known for throwing tantrums, bullying others, or exhibiting similar behavioural problems.
- A reformed child killer is being released from the State Hospital, having recently been declared fit for reintegration into society. When initially arrested, the man claimed that the bogeyman killed his victims and that he had been wrongfully convicted. When he is released, the local killings resume.
- Or, a child killer is arrested and convicted on solid evidence whilst making the same claims. Once he has been incarcerated - or even executed - the killings begin again with exactly the same MO, including a number of details never released to the public (and possibly not used at the trial either).
- See also Mythago.
- And then there are those who regard bogymen as aspirational figures
- Recovering lost children may be a potential adventure hook - where do they go and what does they bogeyman want with them? Food? Or are the abducted children transformed into bogeys in their own right?
- How about a bogeyman being tricked into abducting a genuine evil child?