While notable in many regards, perhaps this cryptid is most exceptional in its near blanket distribution of sightings across the globe. Despite the lack of hard evidence for breeding populations or an ultimate native biome, Homo viatoris waldensis has been sighted literally all over the world and throughout history. Bas reliefs in ancient Egyptian pyramids depict the cryptid lurking on the outskirts of construction sites. Ranchers in 19th century Australia tell fireside tales about the time they glimpsed an H. v. waldensis, or “striped ambler” as it’s more colloquially known, loping alongside the herd in the mid-summer twilight. And no neighborhood in a major urban center is complete without the legend of the skinny man someone’s brother’s sister’s cousin’s personal trainer saw one time striding down an alley with no exit, only to vanish from sight on turning the corner.
With such a plethora of oral traditions, how can photographic evidence of this nomadic hominid never been captured, particularly in this modern age of digital photography and a camera in every hand held device? Some cryptozoologists speculate that a striped ambler’s spectacular natural coloring acts as the camouflage equivalent of the big lie, overpowering the human visual cortex, so that it is seen only in bad light or out of the corner of the observer’s eye.
One parapsychologist with the Spengler-Stantz Institute theorizes that reports of H. v. waldensis seen wielding and using tools, particularly a walking stick, suggests the possibility of an advanced society of cryptoterrestrials living alongside or among humanity without detection, as Mac Tonnies hypthesized. Such a civilization would certainly need excellent camouflaging technology to go unperceived by the human race. Alternately, a small clique of self-proclaimed sensitives attached to the Mt. Shasta School for the Gifted of urban legend insist the Walking Man is not an unknown species of creature, but a single entity all throughout history, a physical expression of this sephiroth‘s basic essence of change and motion.
Whatever its motivation or origin, H. v. waldensis seems content to stroll across the earth in solitude, seemingly without purpose, destination or visible means of support. Only when provoked does the ambler become aggressive, as two amateur cryptozoologists found to their chagrin. As human settlement of the planet continues, it’s only a matter of time before someone stumbles upon a habitation zone or other physical trace of this peripatetic cryptid. The truth may prove far more surprising than anyone could imagine.
 Thanks to ThoseLilRabbits’YouTube video for the initial laugh and inspiration.
If you’re not sure what to do with the dero and tero referenced in The Dyatlov Incident, check this post at The Gralien Report out. Micah Hanks covers a quartet of books about the forms of the underworld and its inhabitants through human history, as well as the particular expression that Richard Shaver brought to the public’s attention through the Amazing Stories magazine.
Little or elusive people, extensive realms beneath the surface of Earth and problematic relations between the overworlders and underworlders are long-running tropes in role playing games. Just look at the Dungeons & Dragons‘ recurring setting element, the Underdark, one of the highest profile examples. The Shaver underworld, with its detrimental robots — or “dero” — and the fallen remains of a by-gone civilization that left Earth for a planet with a less harmful sun gives the whole thing a delightful pulp flavor.
The Shaver Mystery has an ancient, lost world to explore beneath the ground, antagonists in the dero, who delight in kidnapping and tormenting surface dwellers and potential allies in the tero, the remnants of the original race below. It’s everything a role playing game needs. From Hanks’ write-up, it sounds like the key books for someone wanting to add them to their arsenal of material would be Caverns, Cauldrons and Concealed Creatures and This Tragic Earth are the best suited as idea vaults. The other two, Pulp Winds and The Pulsifer Saga, are examples of how other authors took Shaver’s ideas and ran with them in their own fictional works.
If Champ isn’t enough Vermont cryptid for you, Cryptozoology Online recently posted a rundown on one of Vermont’s other lake serpents, dwelling in Lake Memphremagog1 between Newport, Vermont and Magog, Quebec.
For your monster hunting needs, the post comes equipped with some folklore verse for your players to uncover, a timeline of sightings of the serpent from 1816 forward and even more resources to tap, including Memphreusa.com, a site dedicated to the creature.
1 Not sure how to pronounce Memphremagog? Try “memf-ruh-may-gog.”
Original by Sandi Mansi.
Following on from that news item this past summer about something in Lake Champlain using bio-sonar, here are five possible sources for a Champ-style lake monster in modern day weirdness or urban fantasy campaigns. Some of these play faster and looser with the traditional Champ story than others, but that’s the case with every tale that builds on those which came before, isn’t it?
Vacationers from the United States of Lizardia.
The USL is one of the odder worldlines in GURPS Infinite Worlds, where a civilization of bipedal saurians, dubbed neo-troodons by Homeline paleontologists, arose. In this case, the photographic evidence of Champ is obviously way off base, as the fleeting glimpses of those neo-troodons whose holographic camouflage ran out of battery juice obviously don’t do the raptor-descended beings much justice. Oh yeah, and how did the neo-troodons get the secret of parachronics? And who convinced them the middle of a freshwater lake in a highly developed worldline was a dynamite vacation spot?
The blog Phantoms and Monsters, which circulates stories of weird happenings and odd creatures, posted an article on the “wild man” of the North Country. It relates some of the stories told over the years, by native peoples and more recent arrivals, about Bigfoot-like creatures, often with a menacing taste for flesh, roaming both the Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York and the Green Mountains of Vermont. I see the beginnings of more than a few scenario possibilities in the idea of ape-like carnivores coming down out of the hills to terrorize the populace. It also puts me in mind of a Call of Cthulhu game I played at OGC in 2007, where the characters were lost scions of the Martense family from Lovecraft’s The Lurking Fear.
Or, suppose an old spur off the Long Trail, built in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps and mysteriously dropped off the maintenance schedule a few years later, is officially reopened to use in the modern day. The PCs are all disparate hikers who happen to overnight together in a trail shelter. As dusk falls, a lone howl pierces the gloom. And then it’s joined by others.
Are the wild men merely aggressive carnivores looking for dinner? Or are they protecting something more, maybe an outpost of their society previously undisturbed by modern humanity?
Cryptozoology blog Cryptomundo, which provided some interesting coverage of the summer’s major Champ sighting, also reported a presentation on the use of bio-sonar in Lake Champlain at ECHO Lake Aquarium in mid-July:
Bio-acoustician E. von Muggenthaler will discuss her research that led to the discovery of bio-sonar signals in Lake Champlain. Only dolphins and whales echolocate underwater, as a form of communication and as a food searching technique, and there are none in this Lake. What creature is making this high frequency sound?
Cryptomundo goes on to discuss Elizabeth von Muggenthaler’s research into the use of sound by animals for communication and navigation, including giraffes, rhinos and okapi.
Let’s think about just what’s swishing around the lake, sending out bio-sonar signals and generally befuddling your player’s characters in a game of paranormal weirdness.
It really is Champ.
Vermont’s favorite lake monster, fabled descendant of a bygone epoch, enjoys the security of shrouding in myth. The creature uses bio-sonar to navigate the depths of the lake. The PCs, on a cryptozoological research expedition, track the signal to a secluded cove . . . when all of a sudden, the source emitting the bio-sonar appears to multiply twelvefold.