The Wild Hunt
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Basic Information

The Wild Hunt is a occurence in North European myth, in which a number of supernatural horsemen and their hounds range through the night skies in search of prey. Who hunts what depends on who you ask.

The myth seems to originate with the Norse, where the hunt was led by Odin himself, whilst in most of Britain the hunt might be lead by Herne the Hunter (identified with the Celtic deity Cernunnos) or some historical figure and in France the hunt was lead by the Hellequin (or Harelquin). Various other regional incarnations were lead by assorted pagan deities, historical figures or a stag-headed huntsman similar to Herne. Occasionally the wild hunt were also said to be faeries - in which case the hunt would be lead by Oberon or The Erlking and possibly associated with the sluaghs.

Mostly the hunt seems to have served a psychopompic function, chasing down fugitive souls and supernatural beings but it was still not necessarily benign - or safe - and could take up unwary wanderers who crossed its path. Some versions - especially those in Germany - were downright malevolent and hunted whatever crossed their path, human or animal and were also known to hunt the schrats of the forest. Mocking the hunters, or otherwise treating them disrespectfully could lead to becoming prey, and those who took a more positive interest might find themselves obliged to join the hunt - possibly forever, and possibly only for that night, leaving them stranded and far from home, although sometimes with a memento or reward for their efforts. In some cases, those joining the hunt would find themselves transformed into hounds rather than huntsmen.

Some hunts were said to bring a blessing to where they touched the earth, others were best avoided altogether. In some cases a passing hunt would leave a mysterious black dog behind on a family's hearth. Such dogs were best either exorcised or well cared for - half measures being thought unsafe. Traditionally such beasts would re-join the hunt the following year.


1. full source reference

Game and Story Use

  • Summoning the hunt might be a good - if rather dangerous - way to clear an area of hostile spirits and/or undead.
    • A magic horn or some bloody, game based ritual would seem appropriate means.
  • In the classic cRPG Darklands the Hunt is a purely satanic force, summoned by the witch cult to destroy their enemies and, whilst eminently killable, regenerates unless driven off by the invocation of a specific saint.
  • The wild hunt might make a memorable encounter for PCs travelling at night. Especially if they're not certain what tradition the hunt will be following.
    • Being taken up with the hunt might be an adventure all of its own.
  • The uninvited pet dog might also be an amusing interlude.
    • Especially if it's a transformed human.
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