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Basic Information

The tamanous is a creature from Native American Mythology that could only feed on the flesh of humans who had engaged in cannibalism. This and the wendigo were probably the result (or the cause…) of the extremely strong cannibalism taboo amongst the First Nations peoples, although presumably the two kinds of monster can't have got on particularly well with one another. According to some tales the tamanous could be identified by the tarry black footprints that it left behind wherever it walked, but otherwise appeared as a more or less normal person. Not merely content with hunting down and eating voluntary cannibals, the tamanous was also said to try and trick people into eating human flesh so that they would become its legitimate prey. It is not immediately clear whether the tamanous is a spirit, demon, undead, transformed human or some other species of monster - but most legends seem to agree that it is not unique.

Of course, given the huge number of cultures covered by the term "Amerindian", there is roughly the level of ambiguity you might expect in Tamanous legends and they also appear occasionally mentioned as having fought primordial horrors in the dawn of the world and/or punishing miserly or accquisitive people for their behaviour in a non-fatal manner. Of course neither of these roles precludes them from eating people, nor does fighting primordial horrors mean that they are not necessarily a primordial horror themselves … and expanding the portfolio of something that punishes people for eating their fellow man to include those who only prey metaphorically on their fellows is well within the normal scope of legends.

Where there is any doubt, the "evil", man eating version with the tarry footprints may be called the Black Tamanous, to distinguish it from the less malevolent kind.


1. full source reference

Game and Story Use

  • When in the Great North West, the solitary indian who invites you to share his camp-fire and his stew may not be all that he seems.
    • Of course, these days, they may not look Amerindian anymore.
  • Or the tamanous may be on the loose in the food industry, selling soylent soy or secretly adding post-consumer human to mass market foods so that he and his people can feed more easily.
    • It could even just be running a diner or restaurant somewhere … or a hot-dog stand on a street corner.
      • Perhaps good for a supernatural detective game, as PCs finally come to the realisation that all that links the missing people was that they all bought hot-dogs from the same stand. With luck they will be able to persuade their superiors that mincing the victims up for hot-dogs was all the vendor was doing.
  • As noted, prepare for conflict with ghouls and wendigo - unless they all turn out to be different races of the same species.
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