Gustave the Crocodile
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Basic Information

Gustave is a large (estimated >5.5m and >900kg) male crocodile living in and around Lake Tanganyika and the adjoining Ruzizi River. Local legend holds him to be over a century old - although herpetologists have observed that he appears to have a full set of teeth, which would be virtually unheard of in a crocodile of that age. Legend also suggests that he has eaten over three hundred people over his lifetime, although the source for that figure is unclear - it has also been suggested that he may have turned to hunting humans, as well as larger game, as his vast size restricts his ability to take smaller prey.

He has demonstrated an ability to avoid traps on several occasions, including one where, during a fortuitous storm, the capture cage intended for him was destroyed, alongside the camera watching it, and the goat used as bait disappeared. More violent techniques have also failed to date - photographs show that he carries scars of four significant wounds, three of them apparently from bullets.


1. full source reference

Game and Story Use

  • Presumably "something of a nuisance" given that the lake is both a significant fishing resource and a major transport highway for the region. Large craft are probably not at risk - Gustave wouldn't have lived this long if he was prone to attacking metal hulled motor vessels, but unpowered fishing boats, rafts and canoes are probably at risk.
  • Easily ripped into a pre-modern setting where such a big crocodile would be a serious threat - the "dragon of the Wran" from Tad William's Osten Ard novels appears bigger, and is said to eat mainly other male crocodiles who come to challenge him for his territory, but serves a similar function.
  • Given the state of things in Central Africa, a lot of humans, dead, partially dead and merely angry get tipped into Lake Tanganyika … not all that surprising that the local wildlife develop a taste for them.
  • Speaking of which, "Gustave got them" might turn out to be merely an excuse or assumption for anyone that goes missing (deliberately or otherwise) in the area.
  • In the right setting, Gustave may be the incarnation of the spirit of the lake or some other potent local entity - that sort of thing could explain all sorts of peculiarities, up to and including convenient storms…
  • Given the whole "allegedly over a century old, but looks a lot younger" thing … there may be more than one very large crocodile out there and "Gustave" may be a gestalt of several, perhaps several generations, of animals.
  • The whole mythago thing is a distinct possibility
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