Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Guide to Berk - Monsters

Okay, imagine these guys, but the size of bears coming in through your basement window because they have collapsible skeletons... (image from Wikimedia Commons)
Some people believe that, since the First and Second Events, there are no cute animals left in Berk. This is not the case. Some of the remaining animals can still be considered cute; it's just that they'll tear your head off if you give them half a chance.

Most of the animals have been mutated by the radiation left over from the First Event. All of them have developed a bad attitude as a result of having lived in Berk for generations. They are bigger and tougher than their pre-Event counterparts, and they have no fear of humans. In fact, for some, the sound of an approaching human is the sound of a dinner that delivers itself.

The most common animals from pre-Event Berk are still the most commons animals post-Event. People going on a stroll in Berk are likely to encounter...

Attack Squirrels

Attack Squirrels are the most commonly-encountered animal in Berk. Vicious creatures the size of small dogs, Attack Squirrels are doubly dangerous due to their phenomenal climbing abilities. A squirrel can climb up nearly any surface with its strong claws in order to bring itself level with its target's face. They move quickly, too: a squirrel running along the side of a crumbling wall can keep up with a fleeing human.

Though they have strong, sharp claws, Attack Squirrels attack primarily with their teeth. Their teeth are long and constantly growing, and Attack Squirrels like to grind them down on the bones of their victims.

The best defense against attack squirrels is to get out into the open, where they can't use their climbing ability to get the drop on you. Though they are much tougher than pre-Event squirrels, Attack Squirrels have relatively light bodies to allow them to climb easily, so a well-placed bullet or a solid blow from a melee weapon will bring them down, often with a very satisfying splat.

Attack Squirrels usually hunt alone, but will sometimes form temporary packs when food is scarce, or in order to bring down large victims. These packs will surround their victim and attack from several directions at once. If you fear that a pack of Attack Squirrels is attacking you, your best bet is to funnel them to you so that they have to attack from one direction. For instance, you could set a blaze of gasoline around yourself with a single opening that the Attack Squirrels would have to use. Then again, when you do, you'll be in a circle of fire with a pack of Attack Squirrels. Maybe not such a great idea after all.

Death Pigeons

Death Pigeons strike from the skies, their beady, mad eyes fixed on your face as they dive straight at you. By the time you hear them coo, it's already too late...

Not all pigeons in Berk are Death Pigeons, though an ordinary pigeon could snap at any moment and become a Death Pigeon. It's not known what pushes a pigeon over the edge and causes it to attack. All that people know is that one moment, a pigeon can be looking at you with curiosity, and the next, it's a Death Pigeon launching itself at you, unwilling or unable to relent in its attack until one or both of you are dead.

Death Pigeons are notorious for attacking all-out until they die. If a Death Pigeon manages to peck one victim to death, it will pause only to find its next victim before taking to the wing again. Their most common tactic is to fly up into the air, then turn, tuck their wings close to their bodies, and zoom toward the unsuspecting passerby. This usually builds up so much momentum that a Death Pigeon is unable to pull out of its dive; therefore, the best defense against a Death Pigeon attack is to dodge out of the way and watch the bird become a stain on the sidewalk.

For some reason, Death Pigeons leave Robots alone. Well, that's not true. They don't attack Robots, they just crap on them. All things considered, that's probably preferable.


Bearcoons are the apex predators of Berk. Raccoons the size of bears, Bearcoons will eat anything: food scraps, Attack Squirrels, people, other Bearcoons, bricks...

Bearcoons are notorious for taking up residence in basements and lower floors of Berk buildings. Usually the houses are abandoned, but every now and then a Berk resident will go downstairs to look for something, and the last thing they will see is a pair of eyes glowing at them from the darkness.

The most dangerous aspect of the Bearcoons is not their enormous fangs, their sharp claws, or their ravenous, indiscriminate appetite. It is their collapsible skeleton, which allows them to flatten themselves and squeeze into surprisingly small spaces. Even a dog door can be an entry point for a Bearcoon. It's better to leave the dog door off and let Fido bark to get inside, or else you might as well hang up a "Bearcoon Buffet" sign.

The best defense against a Bearcoon is large-caliber ammunition applied with great frequency and force, and followed up by a thorough dismemberment with bladed weapons. Turnabout is fair play: by some accounts, Bearcoons are delicious.


Of all the animals of Berk, cats have remained the most unchanged. It's actually eerie how closely the cats of Berk resemble their pre-Event predecessors. Some people take this as a sign that the cats know something other species don't. Others just take it as yet another example of how insufferable cats can be.

The cats of Berk are generally pretty unfriendly toward people and flee at their approach. The few domestic cats in Berk all originate at the Great Library, where some cat-friendly Librarians managed to tame some. That is a good thing, because nobody would want a Berk Rat to get into get into the Library.

Berk Rats

The rats of Berk would not be so dangerous were it not for the Rat Kings. Unlike the pre-Event Rat Kings, who were composed of several rat bodies with their tails tangled, the Rat Kings of Berk are single rat bodies with many tails.

The rats of Berk are born with one tail each and grow more tails as they become older, wiser, and more cunning. They get bigger over time, and soon grow larger than cats. Berk Rats are also the most likely animals in Berk to hunt in packs. Often the leader will be a rat with at least five tails.

The Berk Rats seem to be strangely intelligent. Rat burrows will often have mysterious symbols scratched in the walls where no other creature could have reached. The Rats also have an unnerving way of watching people from the tops of walls or sewer entrances, and retreating when the people approach.

All animals in Berk are tough, but Berk Rats are famous for being unbelievably resilient. The only known weakness of Berk Rats is cats. For some reason, even a cat half the size of a Berk Rat can often wound or kill large numbers of them in a fight. For this reason, Berk Rats hate cats and will go to great lengths to draw them out and kill them with overwhelming numbers.

There is a legend in Berk that no rat can gain its seventh tail without killing a cat, and its eighth tail will only grow once it has killed a person. This legend is usually met with shudders, given how many Berk Rats have been found with eight tails.

The Dogs of Berk

There are vast packs of feral dogs, often lean, mutant and vicious prowling around the wasteland outside of Berk and the outskirts of the city. There are very few dogs in Berk proper, though. Rats seem to hate them almost as much as they hate cats, and Bearcoons treat them as a favored delicacy (along with styrofoam, kimchi, and nails).

Most of the dogs that exist within Berk are kept by people who have moved to the city from the wastelands, where a good dog is considered as useful as a fully loaded Ay-Kay. Dogs can warn of approaching danger before it becomes visible, they do not consume ammunition or fuel, and if necessary they serve as an emergency food source.

It's true that the dogs of the wasteland tend to be heavily mutated, but if two eyes and two ears lend good sight and hearing, five eyes and a half-dozen ears must be even better, right?

Packs of dogs tend to hunt around sundown and sunup, so it is advised to keep a fire to keep the packs at bay. If they come nosing around, killing as many as possible in a short period of time may intimidate the rest of the pack into leaving, as will finding the pack alpha and killing it. If these options aren't possible, many wastelanders will try throwing a stick and shouting "Fetch!" It hasn't worked yet, but that doesn't stop people from trying.


The skunks of Berk are called Skunxecutioners. They have sharp teeth and claws, and can leave nasty bites and scratches, but that's not why they're called Skunxecutioners. You really don't want to find out why.


The general term for all manner of mutant arachnid, insect, and arthropod in Berk is Clickers. These can be anything from giant centipedes with pincers like hypodermic needles, to berserk hermit crabs living in canisters of nitrous oxide discarded by Gibsons, to the old sci-fi classic of giant ants. Or giant ants that, upon closer inspection, turn out to be composed of hordes of tiny ants swarming over each other.

Yeesh. Maybe I'll pass on describing the Clickers, too. Spend some time in Berk and you'll find out anyway.......

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