(PfCoCAfRL Spotlight) The Valley of the Headless Men

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TristramEvans

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The little survival guide it came with was really the best part.

I don't think the game is very "RPGifying-friendly" though. It's not exactly abstract, but doesn't led itself to going in and playing a team first person. And it's also more of a "roll and see what happens to you" kinda game than one that relies on skill or player choices, in my experience
 

Acmegamer

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Probably, though from what I gather, the entire body was ripped into pieces
Or as those who have some knowledge of such things, what you normally find when animals eat from a body specially if given some time. The parts end up scattered around, not just the fucking head gone and the rest of the body not gnawed upon and parts scattered around depending on what critters are around and how endangered they feel by other predators. That the yahoos in previous instances kept reporting the missing heads as the being taken away by animals without there being other signs of the body being eaten just feels very disingenuous or willfully incompetent.

As an aside, I truly love whenever you all post pictures of old Avalon Hill, SPI, Mayfair Games etc material. Warms me up and makes me smile over distant memories.
 
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TristramEvans

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Yeah, that's why I don't think the nature of how that body is found is as significant as the events leading up to the death. It's not weird like the headless and burnt corpses, just gruesome.
 

Simon Hogwood

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Probably, though from what I gather, the entire body was ripped into pieces
My point was that given similar excuses were used for previous decapitations, it's not at all unlikely the same thing happened in this instance.

I've already mentioned how I would game this out - my thought for a system would be Call of Cthulhu, maybe even Delta Green.
 

Fenris-77

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if I were going to BRP this, I might go with something a little more focused on wilderness survival. I like BRP games when the characters are more targetted.
 

Acmegamer

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if I were going to BRP this, I might go with something a little more focused on wilderness survival. I like BRP games when the characters are more targetted.
That's where my mind went after I at first pondered Free Leagues Twilight 2000 with the stress mechanic from their Alien Rpg.
 

TristramEvans

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NAKANI

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Dene tribes from all over the North, from the eastern shores of the Mackenzie River to the forests of Alaska, spoke of mysterious wildmen who harassed them at night, often lurking in the shadows just beyond the light of the campfire. The Dene were terrified of these elusive creatures, who were as vividly real to them as the wolf and the raven, and went to great lengths to avoid crossing paths with them.

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One of the first frontiersmen to write about these wildmen was Father Emile Petitot, a 19th Century Oblate missionary who lived among the Slavey and the Sahtu Dene of the North Country’s two great lakes. In 1876, Petitot wrote of a fear that spread among the Indians each summer like an epidemic: “They live at times in continual terror… of an imaginary enemy who pursues them without rest and who they believe to see everywhere even though he doesn’t exist at all.”

According to ethnographer Cornelius B. Osgood, belief in the Nakani was strong among the Dene as late as 1929. When they suspected that a Nakani was lurking nearby, entire Dene bands would often abandon their camps and seek shelter on a nearby lake island, secure in the belief that their pursuer, for one reason or another, was unable to cross over to their new campsite from the shore. On other occasions, according to a Hudson’s Bay Company trader named John Firth, entire encampments would instead stand their ground and fire their muskets “into the forest at suppositious wanderers in the night.”

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According to HBC trader B.R. Ross in his 1879 report entitled Notes on the Tinneh or Chipewyan Indians of British and Russian America:

A strange footprint, or any unusual sound in the forest, is quite sufficient to cause great excitement in the camp. At Fort Resolution I have on several occasions caused all the natives encamped around to flock for protection into the fort during the night simply by whistling, hidden in the bushes. My train of hauling dogs also, of a large breed of great hunters, would, in crashing through the branches in pursuit of an unfortunate hare, frighten some women out gathering berries, who would rush in frantic haste to the tents and fearfully relate a horrific account of some strange painted Indians whom they had seen. It was my custom in the spring, during the wild fowl season, to sleep outside at some distance from the fort. Numerous were the cautions that I received from the natives of my foolhardiness in doing so…

The Dene regarded the Nakani as hairy cannibalistic giants, vaguely human in appearance, with red eyes and long, muscular arms.

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English adventurer Michael H. Mason in his 1924 book The Arctic Forests, describes the Nakani as “terrible wild men, with red eyes, and of enormous height, completely covered with long hair.” Their tremendous size was attested to by the three-foot-long, human-like footprints that they left in their wake, as well as their alleged ability to tear entire birch trees from the earth with their bare hands, roots and all. Similarly, Philip Godsell, who spent much time around Dene campfires during his years as an inspector for the Hudson’s Bay Company, described the Nakani as “troglodytes, twice the size of ordinary humans, who went about naked save for a coating of evil-smelling hair…” In some articles, he likened them to gorillas and gargoyles, and commented upon the superhuman strength and speed they were said to possess.

An article entitled “Cursed Treasure of Deadman’s Valley,” published in the magazine Saga, maintained that the Nakani were “hairy demons who stand as high as a Kodiak bear, are as swift as a bird in flight, and… kill all things they can reach by cutting off their heads… Their skin is so tough that a bullet will not penetrate it, and cutting it with a knife is more difficult than cutting stone.”

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Many frontiersmen wrote about the incredible size of this creature’s footprints, which they left behind in the snow and muskeg. Their tracks were purportedly manlike in appearance, yet much longer and narrower. In some accounts, their big toe stood out from the remaining four.

The Dene long maintained that the Nahanni Valley was the domain of the Nakani, and that these fearsome monsters resided within its foreboding caves and canyons. This belief is attested to by the region’s toponymy; according to Dene language expert Allan Adam, “Na’aahdee”, an old native word for the South Nahanni River, means “River of Giants.”

Nakani attacks occurred almost exclusively during the spring, summer, and early autumn. The subarctic winter, on the other hand, though dark, miserable, and bitterly cold, was mercifully devoid of these dreaded encounters. Where the Nakani retreated to during the winter months was a mystery to the Dene. Some said that they retired to carefully-concealed burrows that they dug from the permafrost, where they spent the winter hibernating like bears. Others claimed that they migrated south to a place where their kind were more numerous.

The Nakani hunted travelling Natives, stalking them from concealment in the brush. Oftentimes, a Nakani’s intended victims only became aware of its presence when one of their number- perhaps a scout on reconnaissance duty- stumbled upon its strange tracks in the forest, or caught a glimpse of its dark figure out of the corner of his eye, darting noiselessly into the bush. In other instances, the uncanny feeling of being watched might serve as sufficient proof that a Nakani was somewhere nearby. When a Nakani targeted a particular camp, it took up residence in the trees just beyond the light of the campfire and waited. Sometimes it taunted its intended victims by throwing rocks or sticks at them. It also, on occasion, emitted strange whistling sounds or noises resembling human laughter, or "howling wails that were like the sound of the wind passing through the mountains."

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On rare occasions, intended victims- most often young women- narrowly escaped the Nakani’s clutches and returned to tell the tale. Those who survived such encounters often described a powerful, nauseating odor which preceded the attack. Others reported being beset by an overwhelming, almost petrifying sense of dread, as if the Nakani had exercised some sort of hypnotic power over them.

Interestingly, an entirely different version of the Nakani legend appears in the recordings of ethnologists studying the Dene. In this version, the Nakani are not huge, hairy hominoids, but rather strange-looking bedraggled Indians. According to their Dene informants, Nakani were Indians who became wild after engaging in murder or cannibalism. As a result of their hard life in the bush and their separation from society, they acquired a frightening, grotesque appearance. Their faces were gaunt and their bodies emaciated on account of malnutrition. Their skin was often caked with filth and grease, their hair unkempt, and their clothing worn and ragged. Oftentimes, their outfits were strange or incomplete. One knife-wielding Nakani, for example, was said to have been seen wearing nothing more than hard-soled shoes made from untanned hide and a headscarf.

This version of the legend appears to share common traits with tales of the Wendigo.

Writing on the subject of the Nakani, Poole Field theorized that legend is probably a relic of bygone times, when the Dene tribes of the Canadian North were in a state of total warfare with one another:

In trying to run the stories down and by careful investigation I have finally come to the conclusion that it originated from the old days, when practically all the Indians at one time or another used to make raids on each other and would take anything of value found in the camp conquered, killing the men and taking any women or young girls or boys back to their own camp. After Dawson was struck and the civilized portion of the country became policed, it was given up, but still some of the younger men and also some of the older ones would take hunting trips into the country that was claimed by other tribes, and while doing this they would hang around any Indian camp at night in some case they would capture a young girl that some of them had taken a fancy to and take her back to their own tribe. Each tribe if the occasion just came right would give a foreign tribe a good scare any way even if they didn’t do any worse. In the tribe that I was travelling with, there was a grandmother that had been stolen as a girl from the Pelly’s and another from the Loose Shoe tribe at Peel River and I know several on the Pelly at the time of which I write.”

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Nakani sightings still occur with casual frequency in the wilderness of Northern Canada On July 28, 2016, for example, the CBC published an article describing a Nakani encounter reported by Tony Williah, a Dogrib native from the settlement of Whati, NWT.

Earlier that month, while boating from his hometown to the northern tip of Lac La Martre (the third largest lake in the Northwest Territories, situated roughly halfway between the Great Slave and Great Bear Lakes), Williah spied a plastic bag bobbing in the water. Hoping to retrieve the object, he pulled his boat alongside it. While he reached down to grab the bag, a rogue wave tipped his boat over, and Williah found himself immersed in freezing water. After struggling in vain to right his vessel and climb back inside, he decided to swim for the nearest island. Hampered though he was by his waterlogged clothing, he managed to reach the island and crawl onto its rocky shore, exhausted and chilled to the bone.

“All of a sudden,” Williah told the CBC, “there was a big man standing beside me. He must have walked away, because I heard some branches break throughout the bushes. I packed up my clothes in a white bag and readied myself to leave.”

And leave he did, though not before spending a terrifying 48-hours alone on the beach, certain that the isle’s mysterious resident was watching him from concealment. On July 19, 2016, Williah was rescued by an RCMP and Canadian military search party and taken to the Stanton Territorial Hospital in Yellowknife, NWT, where he made a full recovery. He later claimed that he never slept a wink throughout the entire ordeal.
 

TristramEvans

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THE WAHEELA

Besides the Nakani, the other most commonly discussed legendary resident of the Nahanni Valley is the Waheela, a species of enormous white wolf-like beast that is the size of a full grown bear, with long, pure-white fur.

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"Waheela" is not the Dene name for the creature, rather it comes from cryptozoologist Ivan Sanderson, after a communication and description of the creature from his colleague Frank Graves.

Graves made a survey of the Nahanni Valley in 1965. He was hunting for bigfoot at the time, and his path took him from British Columbia up into the Northwest Territories, where he spent some time at Nahanni Butte, a "Designated Authority" in the Dehcho Region of the Northwest Territories, located at the confluence of the Liard and South Nahanni Rivers in the southwestern part of the NWT.

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Inaccessible by road until 2010, Nahanni Butte is the last vestige of civilization before entering the Valley and currently has a listed population of 86, 80 of which are First Nations. Frank Graves made friends with the Indians in the community and recorded one of the first major modern surveys of the Nahanni legends, interpreted from the point of view of a Cryptid Hunter.

In the Summer of 1965, one of the natives took Graves on an expedition up to the Kraus Hot Springs.

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The Kraus Hot Springs lie on the South Nahanni about sixty kilometres upriver from Nahanni Butte. In order to get there, they had to pass through an obstacle known as the Splits- a deadly labyrinth of islands and log jams that had claimed the lives of many a canoeist. The Springs themselves are described as a "secret paradise" in the Canadian North. The climate is tropical year round, and vegetation grows there found nowhere else in Northern climates. It is here that many cryptozoologists believe that a surviving dinosaur species could make it's home.

Graves was personally interested in finding wildmen, and indeed during the expedition came across several large tracks by an unidentified species that Graves (optimistically in my view, though optimism is probably a required trait in his profession) believes made by some form of hominid.

But Graves was to have an encounter of an entirely different sort during this trip.

“An enormous white thing that I at first thought must be a Polar bear sort of wandered out of the trees. It wasn’t a bear; it looked more like a gigantic dog. It stood straight up on rather long legs, more like a dog or a wolf. I had seen plenty of wolves and some of them are enormous enough up there; but this thing was twenty times the size of any wolf I had ever heard of. By a sort of reflex action I fired at it- and it was less than twenty paces away and only partly screened by little bushes. I hit it with two barrels of ball-shot. It didn’t even jump, but turned away from me and just walked back into the forest. I reloaded and fired again, and I know I hit it in the rear, but it just kept on walking."

Graves' companion identified the animal as a "Ghost Wolf". Though many believe that the Ghost Wolves that frequent the tales of Natives from Northern Ontario to Alaska describe something akin to a Dire Wolf, based on Graves' description of what he saw, Sanderson believes that the creature was more likely a descendant of the Amphicyonidae, or "Bear-Dog".

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Though the theory I find more likely is that Graves encountered an emaciated Kermode bear...

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Try as I might, I couldn't find the origin of the term "Waheela" that Sanderson applied to the creature, but it stuck and is widely used to this day.
  • The Waheela appears in the animated cartoon, The Secret Saturdays.
  • On reality television, the Waheela is hunted on Alaska Monsters.
  • A waheela named Istas is a character in the novel series InCryptid. In the books, waheela are therianthropes who can shift between a human form and a giant bear-dog form.
 
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