Monday, July 11, 2011

We tried, my Lord, but it ass-flamed us!

The Bonnacon (Bonacon, Bonasus, or Vilde Kow)

Only the Anglo-Saxon word can do this creature semantic justice in English.  It sprays fiery shit from its nethers.  The medieval bestiaries are clear on this matter:

Even to us today, the humor and disgust are evident.  I presume that the bonnacon is the inspiration for the stench kine (singular, kow), the cattle that roam D&D's nine hells.  But the medieval Europeans inherited this foul bovine from their beloved Pliny, who passes this on: "There are reports of a wild animal in Paionia called the bonasus, which has the mane of a horse, but in all other respects resembles a bull; its horns are curved back in such a manner as to be of no use for fighting, and it is said that because of this it saves itself by running away, meanwhile emitting a trail of dung that sometimes covers a distance of as much as three furlongs [604 m], contact with which scorches pursuers like a sort of fire" (Naturalis Historia, Book 8, 6)  That's more than 1200 feet away.  Four playing fields between you and a bonnacon and you'd still be in danger, depending on whether you're thinking American or Association Football.  Take a look at The Medieval Bestiary and The Aberdeen Bestiary Project.  The text of the latter seems to agree with Pliny that it is contact that causes combustion, but with the "fumes" rather than the dung itself.

It is clear that a creature this awesomely awful deserves an honorary place in mythopoesis.  You can decide if they were they fall on the continuum from mere rumor to straightforward magical creature within your imaginary world.  I can't help but relate them to another mythic bovine, the cattle of the Sun (appearing most famously in Homer's Odyssey xii.127–137), although one could also relate them to the medieval (bovine) gorgon, the biblical golden calf, or the Hindu taboo regarding cows.  I have added a Rumor Table to the Dungeon of Game-Mastery.  GMs can decide which parts of the rumors are true and which are false for themselves, just as I will for Ygg.  (While I've tailored the rumors to my world of Ygg, those few details can be changed as needed for other worlds by GMs who want to adapt them.)  Later this week I will add stats for a S&W version of the bonnacon that I have been working on, perhaps with further Ygg-specific text, in the same section.

Here's wishing you a merry Mythopoeic Monday!

NB.  I have tried to name each file for its origin.  There are a couple that I cannot trace, but if anyone informs me about these, I will correct the names.

EDIT: Here is a link to a creature (the charnel cow) for Pathfinder RPG that was put together by two pals of mine, Mike W. and Sarah C., inspired by the stench kow mentioned above.   Thanks for your faithful support of M.R. and of consumers of fine (er, disgusting) monsters everywhere!


  1. That one on the bottom has always been my favorite bonnacon illo. Dude's expression is just perfect. "So this is my life, now."

  2. Cows are just evil in general. Except for their delicious hamburgers and steaks, that is.

    Say, would it be bad form for me to pimp my charnel cow, the Pathfinder successor to the stench kow:


  3. I love how self-satisfied the second beast from the top is. :)

  4. You could say that there is a modern day parallel to these illustrations.

    Cattle breeders use an "electro-jack", which is a giant ass dildo for bulls connected to a car battery, using it to generate an ejaculation in the bull.

    Of course it also induces another kind of ejaculation. And many an unwitting veterinary intern has been tricked into standing behind the bull when the jack is charged (the senior vet takes the cup and gets the juice), placing the poor fools directly in the line of fire of a literal bullshit explosion.

    For them the illos above would no doubt resonate.

  5. Jeff & Christian: Many of those images are begging for captions. Priceless expressions on men and kine alike.

    Jason: I approve of your carnevorism, but the bonnacon overcomes my appetite.

    Mike: Are you kidding!? I wanted to include that conversion, but sadly, I forgot the name and that it was you that made it. Shouldn't you be creating a database for me or something so I can keep track!? ;-P I'm going to add a link above. I haven't checked, but wasn't the Stench Kow in Tome of Horrors? If so, we should be getting a PF conversion and a S&W conversion in the upcoming releases.

    Karlis: I have to admit, memories of incidents with baby were enough to make me all squirmy. Do you have experience with cattle? I like my cattle to come from the butcher, all clean and yummy.

  6. I'm a vegetarian.

    But my brother did a veterinary internship in rural Alberta.

    One day he came home in the middle of the afternoon covered in shit and told me of the electrojack while I hosed him off in the yard.

    Veterinarians by and large have some pretty sick material, a lot of it sinks even lower than bull assplosions.


  8. Jasmitch: I'm getting a 404 error here. What's up?

  9. It was a sculpture of a Bonnacon using the "fart" to project itself as a rocket to attack what looks like an ogre.



  11. Actually, SupaStah! Mike did all the real work on Charney.

    And as I mentioned to a certain Sage of the Crystal Spheres recently, Charney would be even more horrible if equipped with a bonnacon-inspired weapon. Doubly so if it used it for fiery VTOL takeoffs.