Germany is a country with many folk tales and stories. Most of them are grim in nature and give a warning to both young and old. The harsh marshy and cold forested landscapes of medieval Germany gave rise to many bone chilling stories. One of these is the story of the “Nebelpfeifer” or “Fog Whistler”.
The tale of the Fog Whistlers is very intruiging. Where most folk tales speak of witches at worst, supernatural fiends are a rare sight (unless they are the devil themself) in such stories. Very often it’s just people being horrible to other people.
Below we have a German Rhyme that has survived throughout the ages, warning of these creatures.
“Wer Nächtens durch die Nebel geht,
häufig find’ sich allein und kalt.
Zählt’s nicht wie Mantel’s Wärme steht,
das grausig’ Pfeifen hört man bald.
Und kennt man nicht das liebste Lied,
hat der Herrgott längst gegrüßt.
Die Melodei noch bevor es schied,
ohne die, mit dem Leben wird gebüßt.
So locken sie allein zumeist,
hinaus ins Dunkel alt und jung.
Doch in Not werden auch diese dreist,
den Scharen wiedersteht nicht schlau noch dumm.
Der Nebelpfeifer holt auch dich,
drum bleib im Heim bei dunkler Nacht.
An deinen Ängsten nährt er sich,
nimmt auf die Fülle deiner Lebenspracht.”
a German Rhyme about the Fog Whistler
Loosely translated, this German rhyme warns of venturing out in the fog, especially during the cold and night. Those that do will find their jackets not being sufficient to stave off the chill they will experience as they hear the horrid whistling in the dark.
Should you not know the favorite song of the fog whistler before it died and became what it is now, god will already have greeted you (as in: you’re basically done for). They try and lure you out into the darkness and hunt for young and old mostly alone. However, if there is a state of destitution upon the land, they might band together and come in larger numbers.
The rhyme warns that the Fog Whistler will get you as well, unless you stay at home by night. They are said to feed off the fears of their victims and absorb their lives essence.
One of the earliest documented mentions of the Fog Whistlers beyond poems and rhymes comes from the Eighty Year’s War, which was fought along the borders of the Holy Roman Empire.
The city of Münster recounts for 1573 a night of near pitch black darkness. Thick fog hung all around the city after days of rain. During this night, even the light of torches did not let you see your own hand strechted out before you in the thick fog that swallowed the whole city.
“Nicht Hand noch Fuß konnt’ man erspähen, so dick war des Teufelssuppe.”
“Neither Hand nor foot could be seen, so thick was the devils’ soup.”
Just as the bells tolled midnight, a whistling could be heard all around and throughout the city. A high pitched song of a long forgotten tune. First one, then two and finally so many it was impossible to keep them apart to count.
“Nur die, die mit Wachs, Käse oder Fingern die Ohren stopften waren am Morgen noch geblieben.”
“Only those that plugged their ears with wax, cheese or fingers would remain on the morning.”
More than 389 people vanished literally over night and could never be found again. With the heavy rains finding tracks of the people that were lost should have been easy enough, but nothing suspicious could be identified. This is the largest and most famous attack in numbers and on a fortified settlement that has ever occured by Fog Whistlers.
Today, the creatures are almost forgotten and it is uncertain if they ever existed. I like to believe there was more to their stories than fancyful campfire stories… except, at night when the fog lays thick upon the lands.
Use the Fog Whistler as a 5e compatible monster
Below you can get the Fog Whistler Monster Sheet as a CR2 5e Monster as well as the Token for your own DnD campaign!