The Hodag is a legendary creature of the Wisconsin North Woods. Originally the subject of bunkhouse tall tales of the lumber camps, the hodag was first sighted near the town of Rhinelander in the autumn of 1893 by a real-estate broker named Eugene Shepard. From Shepard’s description, the beast was about seven feet long (just over 2m) and lizard-like. It had a large head with horns growing from its temples; large fangs, green eyes and a row of spikes running down its spine to its powerful tail. Despite having a lizard-like body, the beast was covered with short, black hair. It’s nostrils spouted smoke and flame and the creature emitted an odor like a “combination of buzzard meat and skunk perfume.”
Attempts by Shepard and some of the local townsfolk to find the Hodag were not immediately successful, but later he claimed to have capture a live one which he displayed at the Oneida County fair and later the State Fair in Madison. At least that’s what he said it was.
The fact that Eugene Shepard had a reputation as a notorious prankster has cast some doubt on the veracity of the Hodag, but has not stopped the City of Rhinelander from making the Hodag its unofficial mascot.
Game and Story Use
- Loggers working in a remote part of the deep woods have encroached upon a hodag’s territory. Now the hodag is fighting back. Several lumbermen have gone missing or have been found dead, ripped to shreds by some terrifying beast. Who will be brave enough to hunt it down?
- The party is traveling through a deep forest. They become aware that something is watching them. They sense the rank smell of the beast, see strange clawed tracks and observe claw marks on the trunks of trees like those of no known beast. Perhaps the beast will be content merely to watch until the party leaves it’s territory. Or perhaps it’s simply waiting for an opportunity to strike…
- An eminent naturalist has heard the legend of the hodag and has become obsessed with capturing a live one. He’s looking for help.
- It’s not a natural creature at all, but a bizarre hybrid created through genetic engineering to serve as a watchdog for its creator’s remote laboratory. What secrets can the hodag be guarding?