Nightmare (Creature)
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Basic Information

Besides the bad dream version, the word nightmare can also mean a demonic horse, usually black and often with flames emerging from the nose, feet or other places1. Despite the implication, the name may apply to demonic horses of either gender or none2. In some cases, nightmares can fly - or at least run through the air - in others, they can run across (or between) dimensions3 … which is probably okay if the rider is definitely in charge, less so if the mount is. Speaking of which, intelligence also varies - in some cases the nightmare will merely be an animal from hell and therefore no smarter than the average horse4, in others it is sapient and malevolent in its own right - this may be related to whether nightmares are a "species" in their own right or merely an alternate form of some more conventional demon. They may - or may not - have some ability to disguise their demonic nature for day-to-day use. In some cases nightmares are adverse to daylight and vanish when touched by the rays of the sun (or at least become invisible/intangible/dimensionally shifted).

For those who like complicated fantasy biology, there is probably adequate potential for crossbreeding nightmares with other equine species, mundane or otherwise.

These are an archetypal, high end villain mount in the same sort of vein as black unicorns and black pegasi - although the highest end villains have them as long term servitors or allies (possibly even as a form of familiar, especially for the martially inclined), rather than temporarily accquired through summon magic. This is probably equivalent to the difference between owning a BMW5 and renting one. Still an upgrade from the economy model undead horse however, and probably more comfortable to ride than a construct one.

Other potential users include some versions of The Wild Hunt.


1. full source reference

Game and Story Use

  • An ideal mount for the BBEG - or The Dragon.
  • You may need to work out the details before you start your campaign - if the nightmare is an intelligent demonic ally, its role in proceedings will likely be a lot different to an dumb (but still mysteriously evil) animal.
    • That doesn't mean you need to tell the players - unless their characters take the appropriate knowledge skills. Anyone can tell that the black horse with burning hooves standing outside that building means a bad guy is inside - but it's worth knowing whether or not it is giving him a running telepathic commentary on your strength, dispositions, tactics and dress sense before you go storming in after him.
  • Less wholesome PCs may summon one of these for use as a temporary flying/dimension travelling mount - for use very much at their own risk.
  • If these are shape shifting demons, expect these to take the form of a prestige car in the modern era.
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