Leshy
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Basic Information

The Leshy (also Lesovik) is a feral spirit of the woods from Slavic myth, similar to the green man or woodwose, the schrat and possibly the satyr. He appears as a hairy, ape like man with a blue face (due to his blueish blood), often with claws and fangs and/or a club. His eyes are said to be green and fiery and to bulge out of their sockets. Sometimes he will wear a random item of clothing such as a scarf, but he is usually naked except for his fur. Depending on need he may be as big as a giant or as small as a blade of grass, and he is said to have other shape-shifting powers as well.

Although not actually evil as such, the leshy is wild, ferocious and unpredictable and may react to encursions into his forest with anything from curiosity to violence. Like many nature spirits they are often tolerant of those whom make a modest living from the forest, but can react badly to those that cause wanton damage or take more than the Leshy considers fair. Clearance of forested land is particularly likely to upset them, although cutting a clearing to live in might be accepted if there isn't a natural one nearby. Their normal approach to humans involves the playing of annoying practical jokes - some of which, such as hiding paths so that people become lost in the woods - can turn deadly, but normally more in the order of driving off livestock and hiding tools. As with fairies, turning your clothes inside-out and wearing your shoes on the wrong feet can be a useful protection against the Leshy's powers, especially it's path hiding abilities. If approached correctly - and often when bribed with baked goods - he is often ameanable to making bargains, usually to leave people and crops in peace, but occasionally to teach magic of some kind. Like many feral entities the leshy is not always reliable and apt to fulfill bargains by trickery and other non-preferred methods. Occasionally pacts with Leshy are said to involve giving them the cross amulet from around your neck and bringing them the Eucharist from a Communion Service. This may or may not be a good thing1.

Some legends say that there is a variety of kikimora that is a wife to the leshy - does this make the leshy a relative of the dormovoi or do the kikimora just get around a bit?

Conflicts between rival leshy are said to lead to devastation within the forest with trees scattered about and the animals nervous and unsettled.

Sources

Bibliography
1. full source reference

Game and Story Use

  • The leshy may be a form of yeti or sasquatch.
  • Equally, the whole Christianisation-bargain bit of the Leshy myth might be a metaphor for the conversion of indigenous Slavs by Russic settlers (or something similar).
  • The magic teaching business is quite sophisticated for a wild man type entity, although the English Green Man is said to provide similar "wisdom".
  • PCs, especially those of a druidic bent, or otherwise fond of "nature magic" might find themselves hunting down a leshy for tuition. Finding it may be only half the battle.
  • A modern logging or construction project (let alone open cast mining) in a Leshy's woods could be the focus of all kinds of trouble.
  • For a Wierd War 2 game, troops operating in a wooded area might well fall foul of a Leshy.
    • Actually, this could occur during any war in Russia.
  • Forest dwelling communities report strange behaviour amongst wild animals and trees scattered about the forest - adventurers may need to resolve the conflict between two Leshy before it causes serious problems.
    • Perhaps there's only one Leshy, who is in a rage because his kikimora has eloped with a dormovoi…
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