A wendigo (WEN-di-gō) or (WĒN-de-gō in Algonquin) is a supernatural creature appears to be created when a human becomes infected by the ethereal parasite, toxoplasma wendigum. Those who practice cannibalism are especially vulnerable to transformation into a wendigo, but this is not required. The parasite lodges in the brain of the infected mage and causes nightmares and a craving for human flesh. If left unchecked, the parasite will grow in power, feeding from the life force of its host and of the people devoured. The host will become taller and stronger, although no matter how much they eat, they retain their gaunt appearance. Eventually, the host’s body will die and leave the corpse under the control of the parasite. That being is known as a wendigo. That said, there are recent developments that seem to indicate that the transformation into a wendigo is due in some part to corruptors.
Wendigo look like dead humans with sunken eyes and gangly limbs. They are often seven to nine feet tall and extremely powerful. They do not feel pain and are completely immune to cold. Wendigos are extremely hostile and will attack any humans they see on sight.
Wendigo do not live in groups or societies and will generally ignore each other, although they have been known to fight each other for the chance to feed on human flesh. They have no real need to sleep, but they do have periods of quiescence where they appear to rest in caves.
There is no cure once a human being becomes a wendigo, however, healers theorize that if caught early enough in its development, there may be a way to eliminate the parasite. The magical community continues to research and experiment in the hopes of one day delivering a cure. Wendigo are naturally immortal but may be killed through violence. They are immune to all mundane weapons except fire, and even then only during the day. At night, they are not only resistant to fire, but they have a natural spell resistance making them very difficult to destroy through magical means.
Wendigo are hunted throughout the Mishipeshu Province, usually with fire magic. They are culled in the early spring and late summer during the equinoxes, as well as, in some areas, as part of the celebration of the winter solstice though this has recently fallen out of favor to some degree.
As part of the object lesson about being too hungry for power, students of Great Plains School of Magical Arts are conscripted into a hunt to slay their former classmates who have succumbed and become wendigo. Modern examinations from Wizards speculate that the affliction is a result of an ethereal parasite that searches for young, immoderate wizards, and that if caught quickly enough with early symptoms, intervention can save the student before the transformation occurs.
Wendigo live in forested areas across the northern midwest Canada, which comprises primarily of Mishipeshu Province. They prefer cold weather and nighttime.
A juvenile wendigo looks like a gaunt human between seven and nine feet tall. As they age, they grow more bestial, with the skull elongating and the head becoming more skeletal in appearance, teeth lengthening and claws forming, and finally antlers will grow from their head. Wendigo do not reproduce, but are created as part of the lifecycle of the Toxoplasma wendigum parasite. The parasite spreads through the bite of the wendigo, as well as surviving on the dead flesh of humans, which if consumed, will infect the eater. The more human flesh that is consumed by a wendigo, the larger it will become.
Wendigos have an all-consuming appetite for human flesh and will hunt and track their prey to the exclusion of all else.
Wendigo have no magical uses. They are currently being studied by healers to see if a cure can be found to the parasitic infection. In general, it is considered prudent to destroy a wendigo with fire as soon as it is discovered.
Wendigo are fast, strong, cunning, violent, resistant to damage, and can continue fighting after sustaining terrible wounds. Fire and heat attacks are the most effective method of destruction, though the creature will not recoil in fear or panic, even when burning. Successful wendigo hunting parties are reliant on strict discipline and concentrated magical attacks from multiple Wizards, and no hunting party will allow a reckless or uncooperative Wizard to join.