A long time ago, I wrote a post about indigenous monsters, and I talked about displacer beasts and carrion crawlers in that post. I’d actually forgot that I’d done that, and wrote up a whole new post about carrion crawlers for “Monstrous Monday” that said a lot of the same stuff. Instead of doing that for displacer beasts, I’m going to lazily re-post the bit about displacer beasts that I wrote two years ago:
Their description states that they are “very rare” and that they “stay far from human habitations.” But what happens when those human habitations start to encroach on a once remote area already inhabited by these creatures? As the local lord pushes his boundaries and human settlements begin to encroach on previously untamed wilderness, hunters and woodsmen would no doubt begin to encounter this creature.
Such a creature would likely be more than a match for a solitary woodsmen, but a skilled hunting party or an exceptionally talented fur trapper could conceivably deal with such a threat. Also, let’s not assume that these beasts would actively hunt humans. In fact, it is likely that they would choose to avoid contact with this new threat. The humans, however, would probably do the opposite, hunting and tracking this new beast, and creating a new market for “Shadow Cat pelts.” Depending on how magical your world is, these pelts could be eagerly sought after by wizards for use in creating displacement spells and items, or they could simply be a trendy garment among elements of the nobility, such is their rarity. The point is that the creature’s existence becomes part of the world around it, and in the scenario given, has a tangible impact on both the economy and local professions.
You could take this a step further even. Maybe displacer beasts aren’t “Lawful Evil” in your world and are instead “Neutral” like other wild cats (this is the case in my world). Maybe the locals have became so adept at hunting this creature that it is endangered, and a nearby order of druids feels obligated to step in and protect the poor displacer beasts from extinction. Again, the key here is to make the creature exist outside of the vacuum of a solitary encounter. Make it feel like it belongs in your world.
So that was the re-post about displacer beasts. Hopefully some people saw it that otherwise wouldn’t have. This same idea could work with dozens of other monsters, and I really think this sort of thing does make fantasy worlds feel more real. Just swapping out a top tier predator or two with something fantastic (I can’t imagine there being many mountain lions left in that region claimed by displacer beasts) – and making this fact part of the local lore and economy – really does go a long way.