Many monsters in the world of Monster Hunter are built to be intimidating, scary or downright unstoppable to give the player a sense of dread when they come face to face with them for the first time, as well as a sense of accomplishment once the finishing blow is dealt.
It’s common knowledge that the poster monster (the monster portrayed on the cover for the game it’s on) is basically never the final boss. It’s almost always a mid-tier monster that one encounters a decent way through their village questing. They certainly look amazing, but they are far from the final boss.
After that, the monsters start to get bigger. Tougher. Stronger. The player starts to encounter monsters only mentioned in myths and legends. The player starts to be tasked to hunt monsters that are unclassified by the guild.
So, at the end of the game, what kind of beast would serve as a sufficient challenge? What lies at the top? This end-game monster changes depending on games, but some of my favourite (and one of the most iconic) end-game monsters are the Fatalis trio – Fatalis, White Fatalis and Crimson Fatalis.
How powerful are Fatalis, anyway?
A monster at the end-game needs to be immensely powerful to prove difficult for hunters who have challenged element bending beasts. And the Fatalis group of monsters clearly hits the mark and hits it HARD.
The first quality that alludes to its immense power is it’s categorization under the “Elder Dragons”. To be put under such a selective category speaks volumes for it’s terrifying nature.
The Monster Hunter Wiki states that Elder Dragons ( 古龍種 ) “…are made up of rare, elusive monsters that have lived eternally since ancient times, that are able to bring destruction to whole ecosystems”
Clearly, this is no ordinary boar hunt. These monsters lie on the very top of the food chain.
That’s not all – among the incredibly exclusive Elder Dragons, the Fatalis has still established itself as a powerhouse among these creatures.
However, just to get an idea of the power of this dragon, a brief look at another elder dragon is necessary: The Lao Shan Lung.
One of the largest monsters in the Monster Hunter universe, the Lao Shan Lung stands as an intimidating, terrifying Elder Dragon. Said to possess the physique of a mountain, Lao Shan Lung are monsters among monsters. In fact, when a Lao Shan Lung was approaching a Guild Fort, it was considered to be an emergency on a grand scale.
The Village Elder in Monster Hunter Freedom Unite gives a 6-star quest to kill or repel a Lao Shan Lung. For context, in that same quest line, you could hunt a Rathian and Rathalos simultaneously, or engage in hunting in the hunt of another Elder Dragon – Teostra.
Just getting the Lao-Shan Lung to back off a little deserves as much credit as these other tasks.
And yet, here is a story extract from the Monster Hunter Wiki:
“The Guild had to find hunters one day because of the approaching [Lao-Shan Lung] heading for their town. It was later found out that the Lao-Shan-Lung was running from a Fatalis”
The fact that such a beast was running in fear in the presence of a Fatalis should speak for itself.
The Fatalis has a description in Monster Hunter Freedom Unite. The hunter only has a right to challenge the Fatalis when they complete each and every Battle Training Quest monster. The description is as follows:
“A legendary black dragon said to have prowled these lands from the days of old. Many skilled hunters have sought to challenge it, but none ever return. A monster shrouded in mystery…”
And this standard version of the Fatalis isn’t even the most powerful. A variant of the Fatalis, the White Fatalis, is arguably much, much stronger. And considering the presence of the standard Fatalis is enough to scare away a mountain-sized Elder Dragon, the power that lies within its white brethren must reach terrifying depths.
The monster hunter guild has little data on the monster. The quest in-game description is left blank, and the area where the monster portrait would usually be shown is instead replaced with a question mark.
So, needless to say, the Fatalis group of monsters are pretty powerful. But Capcom has been known to draw monster inspiration from real life myths and dragons, so let’s have a look at the potential dragons the Fatalis may be inspired by.
Where to look first?
Because it came first, and the variations came later, we will be searching for depictions of the original Fatalis. The Crimson Fatalis and the White Fatalis are awesome, no doubt, but if we want to look at the origins of the monster, we should go back to the very, very start.
First of all, there are loads of dragons of legend from many differing cultures. So the first thing to do is narrow the playing field – that way, it’s possible to be specific as to where to look and how to find the dragon that likely inspired the Fatalis.
There needs to be a clear distinction – the word “Dragon” carries different meaning with different audiences. Some people define ‘dragon’ with main overriding traits like a lust for blood and dominance over all living things, and some people narrow it down, counting limbs and wings. However, to narrow the playing field, let’s be specific.
The Fatalis is a “dragon”. This seems unnecessary to state again, but look closer at the other “dragons” in Monster Hunter and it’s clearer why. Although often described as a dragon, the Rathalos is not a dragon, but a wyvern. Note the lack of hands. Wyverns only have two legs and wings, and the Fatalis has more than that.
The idea of wings is important to dragons too. Basically, every dragon is typically depicted with wings or some extent of airborne manoeuvrability. In fact, to some, a wingless dragon is basically just a salamander. So, the Lao Shan Lung is indeed just a very big, armoured salamander. And don’t get me started on the Kirin – although it is categorised under an “elder dragon”, it’s clearly a unicorn zebra. As such, the “elder dragon” category seems to be much more fit for the monster’s impact on the universe instead of their dragon-like features.
So, now that we have the idea of what dragons are nailed down, we can move on to eliminate dragons until one matches nicely with the Fatalis.
The first kind of dragon that needs to be eliminated is any and all eastern conception of dragons. This is because that in the East, a ‘dragon’ is seen as a serpentine beast that slithers across the sky. Some depictions allow these dragons legs, others are more focused on it appearing more like a snake. Regardless, eastern dragons do not have wings. Modern examples of eastern dragons include Shenlong from Dragon Ball, and in Monster Hunter, the Amatsu and the Dalamadur. Physically, the Fatalis shares very little in common with these monsters.
The extremely famous array of Norse dragons, including Nidhogg, can be eliminated as well, and for two main reasons. The first being that these are typically two-legged serpentine dragons, so they would fit better with being wyverns. Also, the lack of fire-breathing and wings in the classic depiction of Nidhogg does do damage to the idea that it is the Fatalis. Although it must be said – when it comes to the scale of the power of this dragon rivalling the gods, Nidhogg comes closest so far to the power of the Fatalis.
So, what we are looking for sounds incredibly classic. A large, scaled, winged, black dragon with the ability to breathe fire. A creature extremely hostile to all other living beings, and with immense power sufficient to strike fear into other dragons and beings of legendary status.
Unless someone who works at Capcom can somehow confirm/disprove this, I have a sneaking suspicion that the Fatalis is based off the dragon depicted in the ancient English epic poem – Beowulf.
The Dragon in Beowulf = Fatalis?
Beowulf is not a story told like a typical novel – in fact, Beowulf is actually an extremely long poem of 3182 lines. Many have said that this is the oldest surviving poem in Old English, and is often referred to as one of the most important works of literature to date.
The story follows the story of the hero Beowulf as he goes through many adventures and overcomes challenge after challenge. However, the ‘final boss’ of the story comes in the form of ‘the dragon’, and after an incredible high-stakes fight, the dragon was slain, though leaving Beowulf with mortal wounds.
There is the first paralel between Fatalis and the Dragon of Beowulf – both Dragons are final bosses of their respective stories, and they both possess immense levels of power. In fact, the battle between Beowulf and the Dragon was seen as either extremely altruistic or even reckless – the dragon possessed incredible strength, but letting it run free would mean an end to the freedom that the people enjoyed.
The dragon does breathe intense fire, and needless to say, the Fatalis’ fire isn’t anything to laugh about at all. Their shapes are similar enough, and the base of the Dragon from Beowulf even made the foundation to form the creature of Smaug from The Hobbit.
As such, if the Dragon from Beowulf was the basis for Fatalis, I guess that makes us, the hunters, the equal of Beowulf? Such a claim wouldn’t be too outrageous – the original Beowulf poem was one of the very first depictions of a dragon slayer. And the stakes are indeed high – the Fatalis does threaten the peace of the monster hunter universe.
But the thing that really does seal the deal between the Fatalis and the Dragon of Beowulf is a file that can be found in Monster Hunter Freedom 2. In hunter trivia, a file called “The Legend of The Black Dragon” can be found – and similar to Beowulf, follows the form of a poem or song. Here’s an extract from the ninth page:
He is called Fatalis
The wyvern of destiny
He is called Fatalis
The wyvern of destruction
Call for help
Run for your lives
And don’t forget to
Pray to the skies.
This can either be interpreted as either the fact that seals the deal or the final nail in the coffin – all because of the one word “wyvern’.
It was established a bit earlier that “wyvern” and “dragon” are different. Wyverns don’t have arms, but clearly, CLEARLY, the Fatalis does. Regardless of variation, from regular, to white, to crimson, the Fatalis clearly does have arms. So either Monster Hunter is wrong, or the definition of “Wyvern” isn’t too accurate.
Frankly, neither. This is because the Dragon from Beowulf is, described in Old English, to be a ‘wyrm’. This Old English word roughly means ‘worm’ or ‘serpent’, but was used to describe dragon. In other words, in the language of Old English, wyrm, wyverns and dragons had very little distinguishing features. As such, the ‘wyvern’ in the poem found in Monster Hunter is likely an allude to the Old English. After all, the author of the article in Monster Hunter Trivia states:
“‘The Legend of The Black Dragon’ is said to exist everywhere, and while there are changes in the lyrics depending on the location, the content of the song is the same. So please understand that the lyrics printed below are representative of the song as I know it. The lyrics may be different where you are located”
Clearly, the song is not universal. It was stitched together from different places, times, and interpretations. So surely the use of the word ‘wyvern’ is also representative of this – especially considering the word ‘wyrm’ was used in the original Beowulf text.
Dragons that bring the end of the world are no strange concept to fiction. We see it in Alduin of Skyrim, described as a world-eater. We see it in Dark Souls in the form of Seath the Scaleless, and Mag’ladroth of Warhammer 40k. The Fatalis is no newcomer, but it does make an impact.
With variations like the White Fatalis and the Crimson Fatalis, the monster truly does remain one of the most memorable, intimidating and exciting designs of Monster Hunter to date. Props to you, Capcom.
This has been An Idiot’s Guide to the Origins of the Fatalis – but hey, don’t take my word for it. I’m just an idiot.