Here’s my 11th hour submission to Nuketown’s Monster Week 2010.  While not strictly a creature feature, I thought that Doctor Who Series 4 Episodes 8 and 9 (“Silence in the Library” and “Forest of the Dead”) would make an excellent topic for the heading.  WARNING: Spoilers ahead.

While exploring the largest library in the universe, the Doctor and Donna Noble encountered the Vashta Nerada.  As the inestimable Doctor himself put it, “Most species have an irrational fear of the dark.  Thing is, it’s not irrational.”  These are two of the most terrifying episodes in the show, and what follows is a brief summary of the creatures and a few logical extensions of their role in the show.

The Vashta Nerada are what lurks in the dark.  They live in trees and travel in the shadows.  When in an area with a possible infestation, be sure to count your shadows and never, ever let them cross one another.  The Vashta Nerada will strip the flesh from your bones in the time it takes you to realize you have two shadows.

The Vashta Nerada make a great creature for any RPG, especially those with a horror leaning.  The way they travel in the darkness, possibly infesting any shadow, makes them especially insidious and a perfect tool for freaking the hell out of your players.

In a fantasy setting, the Vashta Nerada make a wonderful forest predator.  The forest is their home, and perhaps they are simply trying to live in peace, far from the foresters felling their habitat.  On the other hand, imagine them as the creeping horror in a Grimm-inspired story.  Animated shadows falling upon the unwary…

The Vashta Nerada are also an excellent monster for a Lovecraft-inspired tale.  Investigators researching in the library of Miskatonic University might find that they are out of their depth.  Or perhaps an ancient artifact recovered from a lost temple contains an infestation of the Vashta Nerada (great for a pulp story, too).

In Silence in the Library, the Vashta Nerada learn to use space suits as a pseudo-body, so they could even make a good zombie-like infestation.  They shuffle along, consuming all meat in their path, and there may be no way to kill them…

I leave you with that.  I hope you find the Vashta Nerada useful in your gaming and storytelling, but please remember that I do not own them and cannot give you permission to use them.

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