Monstroniverse lore
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Dark strider vs Rasmiel
Author Note
Under the large continent of Karandia lies even larger underground world. Underworld is a complex, interconnected web of tunnels, halls and abyssal chasms, inhabited by unique creatures, monsters and even civilizations who exist without ever seeing a single ray of sunlight. Countless expeditions of brave explorers venture into its depth throughout thousands of years, bringing back crumbs of knowledge, which combined allow us to get a more or less clear picture of what Underworld is, how it came to be and what one should expect to encounter there.

The builders of the Underworld
It is impossible to create a map of the Underworld, as its layout and placement of tunnels slowly but steadily change. Today you may walk through a straight tunnel, but in a year this very tunnel may turn into a hall with new passages leading into unknown directions. Or it may collapse, completely closing the path forward.
Majority of surface dwellers don’t care about Underworld. They don’t plan to ever visit it. Some fear it and avoid at any cost. That’s why few know the truth about Underworld’s origin, and why it constantly changes. In truth, the entirety of the Underworld was created by living creatures - gigantic earthwarms, known as Sunless lords.
These strange, ancient creatures spend their entire lives carving through earth, leaving behind countless tunnels.

Interesting facts about Sunless lords:
- They can’t see, smell or hear, but they have a great sense of direction, composition and density of soil - Sunless lords know where the surface is and stay away from it.
- The way of reproduction and their number is unknown. Some even believe that these creatures don’t age and exist from the beginning of time. As absurd as this sounds, history knows of only one dead Sunless lord, found within a ravine left by a powerful earthquake. Exposure to the sun killed and mummified it, what allowed Monstrologists to study its physiology and to come up with theories of how the creature functions.
- These are the slowest creatures in Monstroniverse. Depending on consistency of the earth, they can cover from 10 to 20 meters each day at best.
- Sunless lords have no natural enemies. The only direction they can be approached is from behind, through the fresh tunnels they create, but the worms constantly emit a toxic aura from its back. This toxin seeps through matter and skin of living creatures and is very potent, able to kill anyone within less than a minute.
Gladly it also has a strong salty smell, so it’s not difficult to figure out that a Sunless lord is close and to get away from it in time.
- The reason why tunnels, left behind the Sunless lords, are not filled with earth is directly tied to their physiology. Soil, stones and minerals they swallow don’t come out not from behind the worm’s body, but pushed to its sides through special large pores. This act compresses the tunnel walls, reinforcing them, but also negatively affects older that lie nearby.
- Sunless lords are not a part of Underworld ecosystem, but direct creators of it. When the earth comes through the worm’s body, it gets energized with nutrients, which allows dormant seeds of Underworld flora to grow and flourish.

The layers of Underworld
Scientists separate Underworld into three major layers:

Upper level
The least interesting and the least populated part of Underworld. Tunnels here are always pitch dark, because, void of any functioning luminescent crystals. There are very few types of fauna who can survive here, and this is the main reason why most Underworld creatures avoid visiting these parts. The tunnels of this layer may come close to the surface and sometimes collapse, creating openings that serve as natural entrances into the Underworld. It’s not uncommon for more daring predators of the Underworld to sneak out into the surface and to prey upon faura and humanoids living there. And on the contrary, some of the surface creatures venture deep into the underworld, get lost there and either die, or adapt and survive.
That’s why there are many creatures that can be met in both Underworld and on the surface.
Realm of dark light
This layer begins around 150-200 meters deep underground and is the most significant part of the Underworld. The soil of this depth is littered with luminescent crystals, former body parts of deceased Dark striders. These crystals provide dull but constant illumination throughout the tunnels and halls.
This layer of Underworld serves as home to the majority of beasts and monsters native to Underworld. There is also where the highest number of goblins live. Being the dominant humanoid race of the Underworld, they breed, wage constant tribal wars, become food to predators and travel to the surface to snatch slaves.

In the deepest places of Realm of dark light stand rare fortifications and cities of dwarves. These are the only Underworld creatures able to openly oppose the influence of the Sunless lords. Unlike goblins who lead nomadic lifestyle and have to adapt to the everchanging layout of the underworld, dwarven cities are reinforced by thick, sturdy walls of stone and concrete, able withstand any shifts of the earth.
Unknown depth
Everything below 3 km is a mystery. The appearance of creatures here becomes disturbingly bizarre and the dangers increase exponentially. Very few explorers manage to descend so deep and return, and unfortunately for them, the information they bring back with almost always viewed with skepticism. Some things, however, seem to be mentioned quite often, such as slug-like humanoid creatures, multi-head monsters, strangely shaped and massive in size glowing plants, mushrooms and insects.
It is also still unknown how deep this layer goes and if there are even more layers below.
Abyssal chasms
One of the most exciting, mysterious and frightening discoveries of the Unknown depth layer are the abyssal chasms. These massive open spaces are met more and more frequent the deeper you go. Their origins are unknown and have no connection to the Sunless lords. In fact, these creatures show very limited activity at this depth, instead preferring to living within the Realm of dark light.
The most interesting aspect of these chasms is that local inhabitants actively avoid approaching them too. Explorers, who found them, often described presence of strange uneasiness, worry and even dread when they were near them. Such feelings multiplied whenever they looked down the bottomless holes. Some even claimed that in the pitch darkness of the abyss they could see silhouettes of gigantic monstrosities, but such claims have not been taken serious and are dismissed as hallucinations, caused by stress.
Author Note

Author Note

With so many monsters inhabiting the outdoors of Monstroniverse, travelling may seem as an overly dangerous and difficult task. Gladly nature is not always cruel. While Gifts of nature make encounters with P-type monsters somewhat tolerable by granting a chance to receive a boon for the troubles, there exists another interesting rule of nature that offers an opportunity for relaxation in the middle of the wilds. Night-rule is an observable shift of behavior that affects majority of monsters at a specific time of day.
From 11 in the evening to 5 in the morning monsters who follow the Night-rule ether fall asleep or lower their activities to absolute minimum. During this time both predators and P-type monsters cease hunting and would not attack humanoids unless they’re approached too close.

However, as great as it sounds, one should never rely on the Night-rule too much. First of all, Night-rule applies only to monsters, what means that beasts and other humanoids are not affected by it.
Second, Night-rule has the following exceptions:
- Predator monsters who didn’t eat for too long may break the rule and would keep hunting at night out of desperation.
- All S class monsters and monsters native to Underworld ignore the Night-rule.
Author Note

Second most famous curse, also widely exploited in literature all around the world. But unlike vampirism, it is presented much more accurately.
This curse is often mixed with shape shifting magic, which, in fact, is responsible for its creation. Both allow partial full physical transformation into a beast. However, unlike magic, the curse affects the body of the owner at all times.
Unlike other curses, Lycans are not forced to seek certain type of nutrition. The biggest challenge of lycanthropy is the constant struggle of humanity and animalistic nature within the person’s mind. This curse attempts to turn the afflicted feral, drive them crazy and consumed by primitive instincts. Strong will-power and constant focus of mind is the only way to keep it in check.
Alchemy provides certain recipes and potions to help this struggle, but even they do not fully solve this problem. This inner struggle is much more difficult for Lycans than for vampires, as it presents for as long as the person is afflicted. Unlike vampires Lycans can’t fully adapt to the curse.

Lycans can go through different stages of shape shifting. They can be in human form at all times, but once they need extra strength or speed, they can gain them by calling to their inner beast. Usually this process is followed by uncontrollable growth of hair on entire body, even those areas where hair shouldn’t grow at all (It’s important to note that extra hair fall off once Lycan leaves beast form, so no, they don’t need to shave their entire body every time it happens). The final form is the beast form, which resembles human very loosely and comes with massive changes in Lycan’s physiology.
Inexperienced Lycans typically experience intense spikes of pain and discomfort during shape shifting and rarely can control the process mid-way. But with experience comes control and the ability to shapeshift partially or to even reverse it as it happen.
Use of transformation carries dangers to the Lycan - the more bestial features the person gains, the more intense inner struggle becomes. No Lycan can lives in beast form at all times without losing themselves completely.

Apart from the ability to shapeshift, Lycantrophy offers other benefits to its carrier, in both humanoid and beast forms:
- heightened senses, especially smell detection and hearing.
- Increased strength, high resistance to cold, heightened endurance of pain and increased regeneration, similar to the Gift of nature of the same name.
- Lycans are much harder to distinguish from normal people in their humanoid form, as their appearance doesn’t go through any specific changes. Some male Lycans may have more facial and body hair than before being affected by the curse, but such observation may hardly be used as evidence for any accusations.

Another thing that stories got right is Lycans’ weakness to silver. Wounds caused by objects or weapons containing this material lose their regenerative abilities for a significant amount of time.

Origin of Lycantropy
(Created with help of Glacier36 who provided most of the ideas and concepts)

Of all known curses Lycanthropy has the most well-documented origin history, expressed well in both historical archives and folklore stories. Let’s take a look at a condensed version of the events that led to it.

Shortly after the Great collapse a chaotic age of civilization reigned all over the planet. In relatively short period of time multiple kingdoms rose and fell, unable to survive in the new hostile environment.
Somewhere in the end of the first millennia after the Great collapse one such kingdom appeared in the central region of Karandia and was called Lycaria. Vast valleys and mountains covered in colossal ancient forests infested with monsters hardly were fitting for a small nation to survive. But despite all the difficulties, people of Lycaria found a risky yet effective way of survival through the wide use of Nature magic. A tool that they adapted and perfected through tireless work of their scholars.

Numerous spells to soothe and even control beasts and monsters became prized legacy of Lycaria, may of them outlived the nation itself and can be encountered even today.
But they didn’t stop there. With Nature magic playing a huge part in the Lycaria’s culture, its influence rose on par with the nation’s prosperity and ambitions. From just a tool of survival it became a subject of worship. Scholars became Mystics, Spells became Gifts of the wild. No longer people of this nation wanted to simply survive in the wilds – they craved to conquer them.
“If we can’t defeat monsters, we will become monsters” the famous mantra of Lycaria expressed the course of unprecedented exploration of Nature magic. An entirely new branch of spells has been created – Mutation.
Spells of this branch allowed people to take partial of full form of beasts. Allowed them to adapt and harness abilities unavailable to simple humanoids. And the access to this highly dangerous magic was not simply limited to the tight circle of Mystics. It has been widely taught and encouraged to use among the entire population of Lycaria.
After three hundred years, during its peak of prosperity Lycaria became known as the Nation of beastmen. In those chaotic times it was the only nation in the world which no longer feared the wilds but lived in harmony with them and even had power to influence them.
During these times the only conflicts Lycaria knew were the internal ones. Not all could handle the bestial instincts and cruelty which inevitably crept into one’s psyche – an inevitable side effect of mutation spells. On the other hand, greed and lust for power are inseparable traits of humanity, and become especially active during peaceful times of prosperity.

Wide access to powerful spells of mutation created a strange precedent within Lycaria’s society. When even the weakest held power to rip whoever they wanted apart, when even a minor disagreement between neighbors could lead to a bloodbath – the nation became too hard to control. Impulsive behavior and aggression became a norm on the streets. The nation became a threat to itself. An unstable beast that needed to be taken under control…
Or at least, such were the ideas the Elders of the nation held. They were unhappy about losing influence over the population and craved to return limitless powers they once held.

This is when the established principals of Lycaria have been betrayed by the Elders. They summoned the most gifted Mystics and tasked them with creation of new, even stronger spells of mutation. This time the new spells would not be shared with the population. They would be used only by the Elders and those most loyal to them.
But to create anything more powerful than the nation already possessed meant to delve into a highly dangerous territory or life origins. Ancient artifacts of questionable origin and unknown power have been collected from all around the world and a series of terrifying experimentations took place. They starte with prisoners of war and criminals, and ran out of those, continued with their own citizens. Twisted experimentations on mutation, pushing living bodies to unthinkable limits, inevitably leading to loss of mind or deaths.

At some points these experiments stopped being secrets of the Elders and became known facts among Lycaria. People of every social layer split into sides, signaling the start of an all-out civil war. During days of internal bloodshed several Elders were pushes back into Lycaria palace and locked themselves inside. Desperately, they sought any means to turn the tide of war and descended into the storage of ancient artifacts they’ve experimented on.
It is unknown what exactly they’ve attempted to do, but on the night of that day a colossal outburst of rampant mutations spread out of the palace and far beyond the walls of city itself. Overnight most population of the capitol has been struck by an unknown affliction that twisted and ravaged both their bodies and minds. The affliction didn’t discriminate, from those that followed the corrupt Elders and those who wished overthrow them to civilians who took no part in the struggle everyone in the city became afflicted with wolf-like appearance and driven into feral, animalistic state of mind.

Newly changed Lycan people quickly turned on one another in a night of blood and frenzy, damning the Civilization. Feral Lycans that survived the slaughter in the capitol escaped the capitol and spread all around the land, finding and infecting populations of other settlements of the kingdom. The curse of Lycanthropy in its early stage differed from the one we know today. It spread like a wild-fire, consuming almost the entire nation within just a year. As for the rest of the settlements who reacted fast and closed their gates to the infection, without the military support of the capitol became targets of hostile and jealous neighbors who didn’t dare to attack Lycaria in its full power. Soon even these settlements fell under the constant raids and sieges. Lycaria ceased its existence.

With the nation’s collapse, for a long time the territories became uninhabitable due to large number of feral Lycans. The first generation of Lycanthropes who survived and bonded together were seen as nothing more than humanoid-like monsters that bore a distinctly wolfen appearance. Acting similar to wolf packs, they were hostile to any outsiders and to other packs. Surrounding nations dared not trespass their territories, fearing not only the might of the beasts, but also the further spread of the infection. For the longest time Lycans have been killed on sight anywhere outside the borders of former Lycaria.

Throughout the next two hundred years the characteristics of the curse began to change and weaken. With every new generation humanoid side became more and more dominant, slowly taking under control the animalistic behavior. Carriers of the curse became civilized once again and slowly but steadily began rebuilding what was lost. The feral side of the curse never fully gone away, but carriers of the curse have learnt to endure it and to even use its power to their advantage.

Strangely enough, descendants of Lykaria never re-created a nation of their own, and instead preferred to exist in small groups. With the end of the chaotic post-Great collapse age, they’ve spread across the world and assimilated within other nations. Even to this day every nation contains small communities of Lycans who rarely act openly but who are believed to keep contact among each other.
Each such community has different set of values and goals, but each resembles a small family with strict hierarchy and traditions. The idea of a wolf pack is deeply rooted in the mindset of a Lycan. Some choose to live in the large cities, others prefer to stay away from civilization, building small settlements of their own in the untamed wilds. Individual Lycans who don’t know about such communities or even refused to join them are rare but they exist too.
Author Note