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In my fantasy story, primitive humans are going up against a single powerful creature. They must kill the creature to gain their freedom, but they soon realize that the only way to slay the creature is by sacrificing oneself to do so. I'm trying to create a creature where such a scenario is impossible to avoid. Below are the details:

  • This creature needs to be humanoid in shape. It must have hands, and be able to wield a sword.
  • It can be larger than humans, but only by two or three feet max. It should not be shorter than humans.
  • This creature is magical, but I'm trying to avoid magical answers to this question if I can. If there's just absolutely no way such a creature can exist with biology alone, I'll allow a very small amount of hand-waving.
  • The primitive humans fight with this creature, and can avoid its attacks.
  • If one of the primitive humans wants to kill this creature, they have to lethally wound it (behead, stab through chest, etc.). Bleeding out and debilitating injuries are not going to have any effect (this can be due to some sort of healing magic if necessary). Killing the creature this way has to kill the human.
  • Both human and creature have to die in combat, or shortly thereafter. So no prophecies or other delays involving 'if you kill the creature, you also die eventually.'
  • The human needs to die trying to kill the creature, but he also has to be successful. This is very important.
  • Finally, primitive humans are going up against this creature with the simplest of iron armor or anything less effective (ie, toughened hides - not very effective). They are using a single sword.
  • Note: A number of answers have assumed the creature is trying to eat the humans. This is not the case. Remember this 'creature' is humanoid, and does hold and use a sword with skill. I am using the word 'creature' here to avoid certain connotations other labels might imply.

I'm after a creature which is unkillable unless the attacking human sacrifices himself in the process of killing it. This has to occur during combat (so no sacrificial rituals or anything like that).

For example, maybe the creature can only be slain by running a sword all the way through it, but its blood is poisonous. To get close enough to kill the creature, the human would invariably get some of the blood on his hands.

The problem with this and similar ideas is that it's not fool-proof, and that is the most important part: The sacrifice has to be ABSOLUTELY necessary. There is no doubt: if the human kills the creature, he will die. Period. In the above example, one could easily go after the creature with a lance, and thus avoid the blood entirely. Such workarounds cannot be present.

So here's my question: can you design a humanoid creature which is impossible to kill, unless you sacrifice yourself in the process? Remember that the need for this sacrifice has to be unavoidable. Remember also that I want to stick to biology. If there is simply no way to get this effect with biology alone, get as close as you can, and then hand-wave the rest. But try with biology first.


This question is not primarily opinion-based. While I will allow answers incorporating some magic, I will value the biology answers more. If such a creature can be designed using biology alone, that will be better than an answer using magic. Similarly, if two answers both use magic, the one with the least amount of hand-waving and the better matching biology will be better. Answers which use just hand-waving will be ignored.

EDIT: Concerns have been raised that this question is primarily opinion based because it is about a story (despite the above explaining the exact opposite). I will explain why this is not the case:

Yes, this question is for a story (as are well over half of the questions on Worldbuilding SE). However, the question is purely a creature-design question, and perfectly on topic because of that. Yes, the question is based on a single event which happens in the story, but that does not mean I'm asking about that specific event, and how it can unfold. Instead, I'm trying to design a creature so that anyone going up against it (not just the character in my story) would have to die if they were to slay it. If am specifically not relying on plot devices to accomplish this, and instead designing a creature to fulfill this need. This is the very essence of the tag.

Also, this question is not a duplicate of this question. That question was trying to pin what I needed on combat, which was why it was closed: it was asking for a story. This question is asking for a creature design where the creature is unkillable save by sacrifice.


Post-Answer edit: I'm including this edit for future viewers. I felt that the best answer to this question was a combination of two answers. I would like to point them out to future viewers. I feel that a weak spot (Loren Pechtel's answer) is a must, as a point protected from all angles but below prevents any ranged shenanigans. However, I feel that some sort of gas (SealBoi's answer) is better than a spray, as the cloud cannot be blocked and, if large enough and deadly in any amount, guarantees death. As a bonus, an armor plate can protect the weak spot and must be pried open (Cyrus' answer), thus further ensuring archery is not an option.

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    $\begingroup$ When the poisonous blood comes in contact with a living human body, it reacts to create a chemical that shuts down the creature's self-healing. Or the mixture explodes violently, which is the only thing damaging enough to actually put the creature down (but the hero is consumed in the explosion too, poison not necessary). For bonus points, the contact has to be with a specific part of the body... $\endgroup$ – Ben Voigt Aug 11 '18 at 18:00
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    $\begingroup$ By the way, does it have to comply with Earth biochemistry and have to have evolved from hominids? If not, I may have an answer. $\endgroup$ – SealBoi Aug 11 '18 at 19:35
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    $\begingroup$ By the way these humans are not particularly primitive if they have iron armor and swords. Empires had emerged and had fallen, pyramides were built, religions and philosophies were spwaned, seas were navigated before we have mastered the making of iron. $\endgroup$ – b.Lorenz Aug 11 '18 at 20:05
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    $\begingroup$ Stanislaw Lem already has an answer for it in the 14th voyage of the Star Diaries. It involves the hunting of mountain-sized creatures, which have a skin so thick that no weapon can penetrate it. The traditional hunting method is to take a bomb with you and make the creature eat you, so the bomb can kill the creature as it explodes in its stomach. The protagonist only survives because he acquires a special concoction which makes the creature vomit him out before the bomb explodes. Just remove that feature and you have your creature. $\endgroup$ – vsz Aug 11 '18 at 21:40
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    $\begingroup$ That sounds like a problem with story not anatomy, you could write a story where even killing a human would require such sacrifice. $\endgroup$ – John Aug 12 '18 at 22:08

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The creature is all but unkillable because got an exoskeleton of armor plate that's too tough for the attackers to get through. It does have an achillies heel, however, where someone underneath can stab up into it.

Doing so, however, will result in a spray of deadly bodily fluids upon the attacker and the dead creature will collapse upon the attacker also.

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  • $\begingroup$ Couldn't this be prevented by the simple expedient of a shield to both block the spray and deflect the crushing weight of the creature? $\endgroup$ – Thomas Myron Aug 12 '18 at 4:55
  • $\begingroup$ Note the position: Underneath--I would think anything adequate to protect you is too unwieldy to be handled there. Remember, you can't even be splashed or dripped on. $\endgroup$ – Loren Pechtel Aug 12 '18 at 5:09
  • $\begingroup$ This is the answer $\endgroup$ – Redwolf Programs Aug 13 '18 at 1:52
  • $\begingroup$ @RedwolfPrograms I don't see how this answer - while admittedly simplistically brilliant - is 100% fool-proof. If a shield is not an option, one could easily roll under the creature, stab upwards, and then roll away. $\endgroup$ – Thomas Myron Aug 13 '18 at 5:43
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    $\begingroup$ Creature, meet rock dropped from tower. $\endgroup$ – Joshua Aug 13 '18 at 15:54
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What you are looking for is mutually assured destruction. You need a deadman's switch:

Baneling

The ensuring a human must die to kill this creature is not actually the hard part. It's trivial to come up with weapons so brutal that they are guaranteed to kill a human. The hard part is making the creature a satisfying part of the story. If it has this weapon which is a guaranteed kill when needed, why doesn't the creature use it without dying? If there's not a good answer to that, the creature is hard to believe, and unsatisfying.

The solution is MAD. Create a creature which develops an overpowered weapon. The acid sacks of a Baneling from Starcraft 2 is an excellent example. If it proves insufficient for your needs, give the creature the fuel to create a 100ft wide fireball or release hydrogen fluoride gas or something nasty like that. Make it so nasty that the creature itself would not survive.

Then put that on a deadman's switch. If the creature isn't actively keeping the system stable, it triggers and sterilizes the nearby area with whatever nastiness you choose.

Now the creature's weapon is believable. It is basically walking around daring everyone to call its bluff. It would not want to trigger the effect early, because doing so is suicidal. Thus it's not an IWIN button until the creature is mortally wounded. Then, the creature has nothing left to lose.

Famous examples of this:

(Of course, in the movies the good guy gets to escape the blast, because he's a good guy. But it's easy to see how it's more believable if he's caught up in an unavoidable blast.)

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  • $\begingroup$ Your first YouTube link is something completely different. $\endgroup$ – Fabian Röling Aug 12 '18 at 15:32
  • $\begingroup$ @FabianRöling Is it? ;-) I could have probably found a SC2 cinematic with banelings in it, but it's so.... catchy! $\endgroup$ – Cort Ammon Aug 12 '18 at 16:30
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    $\begingroup$ @Ben Voigt The OP specificall mentioned use of a single sword. That being said, it is not defeated by ranged weapons. You just have to remember the first rule of using such MAD weapons: There is no overkill. There is only "open fire" and "pause to reload." $\endgroup$ – Cort Ammon Aug 12 '18 at 21:43
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    $\begingroup$ I think this is narratively problematic, because this gives the agency to the bad guy. Rather than the good guy heroically sacrificing himself to kill the bad guy, the bad guy is making a last ditch effort to do some damage with terrible consequences for the good guy. In order to sell this you really have to paint the bad guy as an automaton with cause and effect so that it feels like the good guy is "causing" the bad guy to blow himself up. $\endgroup$ – Mario Carneiro Aug 13 '18 at 5:18
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    $\begingroup$ @SeanBoddy I'm just using MAD weapons. The mercenaries have a much larger ruleset. Glad someone caught the reference =) $\endgroup$ – Cort Ammon Aug 13 '18 at 6:49
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This sounds like a myth. Or a prophecy. It requires a mythic answer.

Mate with the monster.

The men try and try but the monster is invulnerable. It cannot be killed. But where did this monster come from? The oldest remember: long ago this monster was born of a woman.

And so a woman offers herself to the monster. They mate, and its cycle complete, the monster dies. The woman returns to the village carrying the monster child. Like its grandmother, she dies in birthing it. The monster child leaves into the forest. The cycle continues.

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    $\begingroup$ Or they kill the woman before she gives birth. $\endgroup$ – Alexis Aug 11 '18 at 22:18
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    $\begingroup$ I need the creature to die by combat unfortunately. I've edited the question to clarify. $\endgroup$ – Thomas Myron Aug 11 '18 at 22:27
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    $\begingroup$ Even if this isn't suitable as an answer, I think this has a good approach to answering the question, perhaps there's another way to bind the solution to a myth? $\endgroup$ – Ruadhan Aug 13 '18 at 8:25
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The creature, while damn hard to kill and practically impossible to contain, can still starve to death. Normally this wouldn’t be an issue as the creature will break or burrow out of the most well made trap when it got hungry.

But it has a couple of interesting biological quirks. The first is that it swallows its food whole initially, but partway down its throat has a particularly stiff ring of muscle. When a large piece of food hits this ring it contracts, the throat muscles push the food back up to the mouth, and multiple rows of serrated teeth set in powerful jaws masticate the food until it’s small enough.

Now, a skilled hunter can dive head first into the beast’s maw, wait until they hit the ring and feel it contract, then ram a specially designed ring of barbs into place, effectively permanently closing the ring (doubly so as the creature’s throat heals around the barbs).

They will then be regurgitated and mashed into a pulp, but thanks to the barbs they will never be small enough to pass down the oesophagus, even if they are reduced to a liquid. A relative of mine once suffered from Schatzki rings (rings of cartilage that constricted and prevented liquids from passing down the throat) and it took surgery to stop them choking when they tried to drink water. This creature, unable to receive medical attention, would rapidly weaken and die, unable to ever eat it’s final meal.

EDIT:

Just noticed the height constraint. The same tactic can apply, but the hunter will have to close up the throat while also being savaged to death...

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    $\begingroup$ The question is asking about a humanoid creature that is, at most, 2-3 feet taller than an adult human. I don't think that squares with a monster that can swallow people whole, even if its jaws unhinge. It also doesn't specify that this adversary eats people. $\endgroup$ – user49466 Aug 12 '18 at 1:19
  • $\begingroup$ Problem: You could design something that would be triggered by the rings and inflict the same damage. $\endgroup$ – Loren Pechtel Aug 12 '18 at 3:41
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    $\begingroup$ @LorenPechtel: the tribe are primitive, so to get the right placement/timing etc would require too much engineering (while ramming your arm down the monster’s throat gives you a precious few seconds before it bites your arm off). $\endgroup$ – Joe Bloggs Aug 12 '18 at 9:34
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Go for the mouth.

Most animals have a relatively weak skeletal structure, if any, between the roof of their mouth and their brain. If you can get in very close and make a very accurate thrust upwards, you can strike some critical part of the brain and it keels over dead on the spot.

But in order to have the necessary range and accuracy (you don't want to just scrape the brain and give it memory problems or the sensation of being hit with a fish), you need to be right up in its mouth. Obviously this is an incredibly dangerous place to be; even a reflex clenching of its jaw could cut you right in half. It's not technically guaranteed death, but the odds of survival are extremely slim.

If you wanted to make it more deadly, you could add something like acidic saliva so that hiding in its mouth isn't a viable option, or some other form of postmortem danger that will take out anyone lucky enough to survive the jaws.

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  • $\begingroup$ I do like this idea, though the creature isn't big enough for someone to actually be inside it's mouth, which is what I'm inferring from your answer. Remember it's humanoid and at most just nine feet tall. This is easily applicable to using a sword though... $\endgroup$ – Thomas Myron Aug 11 '18 at 19:32
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    $\begingroup$ Oh, sorry. For some reason I was picturing a colossal beast of some kind. Regardless, the idea of a vulnerable point that requires you to stand your ground right in front of it and suffer its own blow in return could be useful. $\endgroup$ – Cadence Aug 11 '18 at 21:33
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    $\begingroup$ Along the same lines, you could have an external weak spot which requires getting very close, and isn't an instant kill -- maybe you can cut a vein or artery, so it starts bleeding out quickly, but it still has 60 seconds, and in that 60 seconds it's angry, knows it has nothing to lose, and wants revenge on you. Sure, it's probably technically possible to dodge every attack, but in practice, when it no longer has to care about any attacks you might launch at it or any damage it might do to itself, it's probably a lot more dangerous. $\endgroup$ – Nic Hartley Aug 13 '18 at 16:55
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A. Lethal trap

The creature can only be killed by a specific trap, which also kills the person who triggers it:

E.g. The creature can only be killed by inhaling a specific toxic gas. There is a chamber containing a suspended vial of this gas, but when the cord holding the gas vial is severed, the doors to the room close. The creature must be lured into the room, the cord severed, and the person to do so, is sealed in the room with the creature.

This could work with any trap-room, such as a collapsing ceiling, etc.

B. Mortal wound magic

The creature can only be felled by a blow from someone who is mortally wounded. It will heal all other wounds. If the attacker survives, the creature resurrects.

C. Suicide weapon

The creature can only be killed by explosions, and the protagonists have access to some sort of primitive suicide vest, which they don't truly understand due to their level of technology. A magical version of this might be a sword that kills the wielder approx [x] minutes after it is touched. This could be a cool concept where the wielder only has [x] minutes to slay the beast, and they already know they'll die...and if they fail, someone else will have to repeat the process.

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    $\begingroup$ I like your first two suggestions. The 'lethal trap' won't work story-wise, but the concept is a good one, and could be altered to fit my needs. The second idea is a cool concept: tying the creature's life force to that of it's attacker. Would definitely get the job done, although it unfortunately again won't work for story reasons. But they are both great concepts. Thanks! $\endgroup$ – Thomas Myron Aug 12 '18 at 15:00
  • $\begingroup$ @thomasmyron any time 👍 $\endgroup$ – user49466 Aug 12 '18 at 15:12
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The creature has some sort of power that can be turned against it. For instance, let's say the creature can absorb animals (Thing style) and gain powers from them. But it can be killed if it absorbs a person with a particularly dangerous poison in their blood, a subcutaneous bomb that can be remotely detonated (but will only work if detonated internally), or somebody afflicted with cancer. The creature will avoid trying to absorb let's say, a squirrel loaded with poison, but it can be made to forcibly absorb someone if they rush the creature.

Or the creature regenerates unless some sacrificial action is taken to prevent it from regenerating. For instance, there may be some critical organ from which it regenerates that needs to be ingested. Or it may require some kind of magic to seal it away that also consumes the user.

Or the creature may have some ability that renders it invulnerable unless the combatant performs some kind of suicidal technique. For instance, too strong to be hurt without opening some kind of limiter / performing some kind of demonic transformation. Going back to a regenerative creature, it may be that destroying that there is a mystical element which requires some kind of telepathic / magical means of destruction which also destroys the opponent. Perhaps it can only be taken down by a certain kind of explosive, but it's too fast to be hit by the attack unless it's held in place. Those are more situational though and less in the vein of being part of its biology.

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  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to Worldbuilding.SE! We're glad you could join us! When you have a moment, please click here to learn more about our culture and take our tour. Thanks! $\endgroup$ – JBH Aug 12 '18 at 22:15
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Okay, here's my idea.

Inside the cells of the creature, there's a specialized organelle which produces some form of nerve gas (maybe sarin?) when there is a major disturbance like a blow from a weapon. Every time the primitive human lops off an arm or something, the nerve gas is released, killing the assailant. However, any non-lethal injury is repaired promptly by the healing magic.

This healing magic is generated from an organ in the chest, but the magic must be "instructed" to be generated neurologically. Like sight, it needs both a brain and the organ to function. So, when the attacker either stabs the organ (In an effort to puncture the heart), or decapitates the creature, the connection is broken, and the healing magic cannot be generated. However, the cells still produce the nerve gas, killing both combatants.

TL;DR: With any injury, the creature's cells generate a nerve gas to which it is immune. Non-lethal injuries are repaired by healing magic, but for that magic to work, an organ in the chest and its connection to the brain must remain intact. Damaging the organ or severing the connection will render the magic redundant, but the nerve gas is still released.

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  • $\begingroup$ Simple and effective; I like it. Since the human fighting has to realize what needs to be done during the course of the fight, the nerve gas can easily be altered to be lethal only in high doses. Any little nick on the creature will make the human realize what he'll need to do if he's to kill the creature. When he does, the ensuing cloud of gas can be as large as necessary to prevent any escape. And to maintain a fantasy atmosphere, the gas can be invisible if necessary. A very fine answer. $\endgroup$ – Thomas Myron Aug 12 '18 at 14:54
  • $\begingroup$ @ThomasMyron Thank you very much, I'm glad I did it justice. $\endgroup$ – SealBoi Aug 12 '18 at 14:56
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A fully magical solution so not entirely up your street: in one of my stories I use a spirit that inhabits someone (and eventually posesses them), enhances their body and when killed it takes over the body of the one that killed him. So if the human that manages to kill him dies the spirit dies.

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The only way to kill the creature is by eating it. Its flesh is poisonous and any who do eat part of it will die.

Give the creature magical healing that lets it pull itself back together. Even if you chop it up into bits or burn it, the bits/ash will pull themselves back together within a matter of seconds. The only way to truly remove part of it is to eat that part of it.

This is based off vampires from a certain series that would convert anyone they bit to a vampire. To avoid constantly creating new vampires they would have to consume the entire human. It was also one of the more effective methods for vampires to kill other vampires.

A more advanced society might be able to find ways around this such as acid or molten metal (eg. Terminator 2) but for a primitive society with magic involved this might be the only rather gruesome method that would work.

You could have a part of this be that one human as a last ditch method bit the enemy before dying. Then people could notice that wound was the only part of the enemy that did not heal.

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The general evolutionary strategy of this creature would be this: killing it is the easy part. Getting away with it is nearly impossible. Sort of like poisonous frogs which are generally defenseless, but still give you good reasons not to eat them.

Option 1: this creature is extremely resilient thanks to the healing magic, and can survive for minutes even with its heart impaled. However, it sleeps very tight most of the time, so it's possible to sneak up and mortally wound it. That wakes it up though, and as it's much faster and stronger than any human, it has plenty of time before death to rip you apart.

Option 2: the creature has (possibly magically) formed a symbiosis with the local, say, birds of prey. It provides them with meat, they protect it. Granted, it's not really feasible for the birds to monitor it from the sky around the clock, but it's totally possible to slaughter everyone in the vicinity of the creature's last (magical?) distress scream. This is why the local predators tend to avoid it.

Option 3: This creature does not even exist. This ritual of regaining freedom is actually a twisted form of decimatio. This group of humans are actually exiles. They're sent into the desert to kill the creature you described and gain redemption. At some point it becomes clear that the creature is nowhere to be found, and the water's running out. The prosecutors have stated explicitly that they wouldn't let them back unless they're missing a comrade, and conveniently forgot to demand a proof of kill. The solution seems obvious. They slaughter one of theirs and head back home, thinking they've fooled everyone. They're then told to spread terrible stories of the creature and scare potential criminals into obedience, lest it becomes known to everyone that they killed a comrade out of cowardice.

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    $\begingroup$ The birds makes a surprising amount of sense, but only if they are collectively an even more terrifying predator than the first creature! $\endgroup$ – Joe Bloggs Aug 13 '18 at 6:15
  • $\begingroup$ These birds are large solitary predators that never hunt together. In a normal situation, you won't see that many of them in a single place, and so they aren't really dangerous to a human. However, once several scores of them gather in a single thanks to the magic, they're capable of neutralizing basically anything (at the price of heavy losses, which is why they don't normally do it): well-armed groups of humans, elephants, packs of predators, or even human fortifications. $\endgroup$ – DrunkenSailor Aug 13 '18 at 18:11
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Here are some options I thought of when reading your question:

The Sacrifice Happens at the Beginning of the Fight

It's possible the creature has a natural resistance to ionizing radiation, but is emitting a lot of it (maybe it was irradiated at some time, making it highly radioactive). Or, the creature is a carrier for some highly infectious fatal disease.

It's possible, even, that your creature could continue to socialize. It might interact through servant intermediaries possessing a familial resistance (maybe not immunity), so that they can survive being in the creature's proximity for a short time. The servants may bolster their resistance by putting on proper gear like lead clothes, or clothes that they wear once to meet the creature, then burn.

To a primitive people who does not understand radiation, resistance, disease, or immunity the situation is simply this - those who are not the creatures heredity servants following their rituals for approaching the creature die quickly if they are so bold as to enter the creatures presence, instead of using the servants as intermediaries.

In either event, the human made his/her sacrifice stepping into the ring. The human's death is guaranteed. The first onset of symptoms might arrive in minutes. Killing the creature sounds as simple as landing some sort of lethal blow. Even deceased the creature will continue to emit radiation / be a source for the disease.

The Sacrifice is the Only Way to Win

A more magical solution is that the creature's immunity to physical harm is comprehensive. Where the creature is vulnerable, instead, is spiritually. In this event, the hero is slain in the fight and then his/her ghost delivers the blows that kill the creature before being taken to whatever afterlife your world has.

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The creature regenerates unless the flesh of its heart is brought in contact with the fresh/still-living heart of a human. The only practical way to achieve this is for the two to be impaled together. Inspiration (not exactly heart, but close enough that that was how I remembered it) from Lifeforce (1985); see clip (spoiler, if anyone cares about old B movies): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A4CPMdmuOq0

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A Magical, Parasitic Bond with the Human that kills it.

Some of these answers are fantastic, but for the purposes of your story I believe magic may need to come into play - possibly for the boon of the readers. Imagine hunters who coat their blades before battle in their blood which reacts and forms a magical, parasitic bond with the creature when absorbed into the bloodstream of the creature. This could work in a variety of ways but leaves the story open and adaptable.

If a hunter stabs the creature and does not kill it, maybe the hunter 'feels' the creature and is drawn to it. Maybe the opposite happens and the creature tries to escape after melding with a hunters' blood in order to 'feel' where the human settlement is. Either way, the bond is not symbiotic - the human is tied to the creature but in a negative way. If the creature dies, the human dies - however if the human dies once melded the creature lives on and has to be melded with another human in order to be fatally wounded.

This could be expanded into further story behind the connotations of being a hunter - young hunters do not fully understand the melding and are happy to try to get the first blow on the creature after chasing it down. Once the first blow occurs and the melding takes place the young hunter feels instantly 'different' but the veteran hunters then charge in, finish the creature with regular weapons now that it is vulnerable, and the new hunter dies as a result. This could explain the shortage of hunters in the world.

If you are looking for some lore regarding a similar bond, try the plot for Dragon Age: Origins. The Grey Wardens drink the blood of a Darkspawn in order to carry 'the taint' which in turn allows them to mutually kill the Archdemon (who also carries the taint). The taint also allows the Grey Wardens to 'feel' the Archdemon and sense the Darkspawn as they draw near.

Apologies, I will try to expand on this further. I am on a break at work and this question prompted me to sign up for Worldbuilding.

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  • $\begingroup$ I like this idea, it has a great theme for ritualistic Hunters, The creature is actually unkillable by mortal weapons, but by binding life-with-life magically, a hunter becomes linked to it and by sacrificing themselves can kill the creature via a kind of magical Entanglement. For bonus points, have a tribal elder invoke "The Old Ways" to introduce the concept. $\endgroup$ – Ruadhan Aug 13 '18 at 8:33
  • $\begingroup$ Thank you. I think it also opens the possibility of humans tracking the creature back to its' lair after a hunter has melded with too. However the opposite would also be true so when the creatures have a good breeding season the humans must be careful not to let melded hunters return to town lest the creatures find them and besiege them (with few veteran hunters left having all of them sacrifice themselves in city defense seems a bad endgame). Opens hit and run culture into the hunters/warriors. What a great story to write. $\endgroup$ – John Ward Aug 13 '18 at 8:55
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The creature has a keen sense of smell. It can detect, among other things, when any warrior is nearby, and when an adversary is close to death. When it comes time to feed, the creature will engage in single combat, making sure no other threats are nearby. Upon delivering a mortal blow to its prey, it will begin to remove its impenetrable helmet in order to feed. If the warrior can summon enough strength with their last breath, they will have a split second when the helmet is removed and before the creature begins to eat them, to deliver a killing blow to the creature's exposed throat.

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  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to Worldbuilding.SE! We're glad you could join us! When you have a moment, please click here to learn more about our culture and take our tour. Thanks! $\endgroup$ – JBH Aug 12 '18 at 4:19
  • $\begingroup$ Thank you for your answer. However, as has been mentioned in the comments on other answers, this creature is not trying to feed on the humans at all. I have edited the question to clarify. $\endgroup$ – Thomas Myron Aug 12 '18 at 4:59
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The creature is invulnerable to any attack but one. Recently live human brains are poisonous to it. To kill it, hop into its mouth and dive down its throat. Animal brains do not work.

Any human can kill it but dies in the process, as it is the digestive process that kills it.

Human brains may be close to its natural food but sufficiently different to be poisonous. It may have methods to keep the brain active while consuming it. An alternative variant would be for it to be telepathic. When it connects to the human mind, both die.

The reason I made it the brain is so that a living person has to be sacrificed. You can't just throw corpses or amputated legs in its mouth. If that's not necessary, making human flesh poisonous would work.

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  • $\begingroup$ The creature is not that big. Remember we are dealing with a 8-9 foot tall humanoid. The most a human could do is stick their head in the creature's mouth, and at that point, the creature is far from obligated to bite down. Rather, it can just stab the human and be done with it. $\endgroup$ – Thomas Myron Aug 13 '18 at 5:47
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The creature has a weakness: the fresh blood of a human is acidic to the creature. The human would cut themselves before going into battle. The blood covered blades will damage the creature to the point that it cannot move. To finish the job, the human cuts open his guts, samurai style for a dramatic touch, and bleeds out on the creature, killing them both.

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  • $\begingroup$ Couldn't this be accomplished by fighting the creature with sling-shots and sacks of pre-wrapped human blood? Same effect and no need for sacrifice that way. $\endgroup$ – Thomas Myron Aug 13 '18 at 5:45
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The human must impale himself on spiky armor to get at the weak point

The creature has overlapping plates of spiky armor all over its body. It is also very fast and strong of course, preventing easy capture with nets, etc.

To kill he creature, a human must use one hand to lift up an overlapping armor plate and one to stab a knife into the creature's throat/brain underneath. Unfortunately, that leaves the human with no hands left to hold himself in place on the creature long enough.

The solution is for the human to impale himself belly-first on the spikes growing from the creature's chest, keeping him in place for a few seconds with both hands free near the creature's throat.

With the primitive technology and the resulting injuries to vital organs this is a death sentence for the human. The creature's fate is all but assured by the combination of surprise and the very awkward position of the human inside the reach of its arms, where it can't exert much force.

If the human tries to brace himself with his feet on the creature, it can much more easily reach him and dismember him. From the back of the creature it's also impossible to reach the weak spot, unless again the human impales himself on the spikes.

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Several ideas.

A chink in the armor.

The creature is armored, but has a small vulnerability, perhaps the chest or neck. It's a very small vulnerable point, but a very small knife or a weapon like an icepick can get in. The armor plates overlap, but an upward thrust would do the trick. It would have to be jammed in, and held open so the creature's natural defenses wouldn't be able to kick in. The poor human wouldn't be able to hold out.

Poisoned meal

The creature is known to have a vulnerability to a particular poison, but it is smart enough not to ingest it, as it recognizes the poison. The person would have to take a deadly dose right before fighting the creature. The creature would have to eat enough of the person or drink enough of their blood to absorb enough of the poison to kill it, killing the person.

Creatures's weapons used against it.

The creature has some sort of breath weapon that acts from chemicals excreted from a gland bursting into flame when exposed to normal air (the creature's natural exhalations keep it from igniting while in it's body. Cutting the creature in such a way as to expose the glands will cause the creature to self-immolate, but also incinerate our brave warrior in the process.

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How about the creature can only be killed by its own body part. So maybe have the creature grow a spike on its head or back that can be snapped off by someone who is very strong, but also must be agile and fast enough to do so, thus not anyone can do it. However, breaking this spike off would result in a slow (relatively) acting, lethal poison (the creature is immune to it) being sprayed and entering into the person's bloodstream. The poison can be such that it ignores non-living material such as armours or cloths and gets absorbed into the person's skin. The poison can also be delivered as a cloud of gas which the creature is immune to. The attacker then can use the spike to impale the creature in the heart or head or whichever body part you choose for its lethal point. The creature dies but so does the attacker, a few minutes later (and whoever else inhaled/ingested/absorbed the poison).

If the attacker was not successful in finishing off the creature then the creature just grows another spike again within a couple of weeks or so.

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Why do you have to fight 1on1? It is a powerful creature and I think it is ok to bring in some of your friends.

When reading your question I had to think of this episode of Dragonball Z: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Cf30guKbc4

As you can see Goku and Piccolo have to fight an mighty opponent they can not defeat alone. Goku has to hold on their opponent until Piccolo charges up his attack and killing them both with a single blow, willingly sacrificing himself to safe his friends.

In your world this mustn't be energy beams shooting at each other, but one human may hold the creature in place, while the other stabs it in the chest with a sword, killing both in the result.

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An Unprotected Killing Blow

What if the monster can only be killed by cutting a certain part that will always leave the human open just before the strike? If the monster is a perfect swordsman maybe you need to start the fight assuming you will need to die to have a chance to kill it. This assumes it can't be captured and you don't have bows.

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One idea not suggested that I can see - the creature is actually an expert defensive swordsman, to the extent that it's practically impossible to kill it without significant superiority of numbers. Fast and agile, almost every attack will be blocked before reaching it, and injuring it nearly impossible - it seems to know where blows are coming from through skill / speed / precognition.

There are two possible weaknesses here.

  • If it is some form of precog / skill then it simply cannot understand that one human being could willingly sacrifice themselves in order to bind the weapon and allow others to kill / or even simply to deliberately run themselves onto the sword to allow that final killing blow.
  • In all cases then by using all of their bodies together they can overwhelm the creature by simply not giving it any space to escape - and one of them grabs the sword, but the creature manages to pull it back - so they realise that only by using their body to sheath the sword will they be able to let their fellow humans get close enough to kill the creature.

Both of these ideas have a sort of proviso that the creature's sword needs to be part of it, so it can't simply drop the weapon and continue to fight unarmed.

They can't simply retreat and regroup, as the creature will gradually kill them all if they don't deal with it quickly.

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The creature is "magical" thus possesses a body which is imbued with dark magic. Anything that comes close to it will inevitably be cursed. Once cursed, dire effects will haunt the victim, like bleeding from every orifice, disintegrating body parts, excruciating pain, madness, etc. During a fight, the effects won't occur, but afterwards they will. It could also be distance based (instead of only time: Get close for the curse, get far to trigger its effects). Humans feel their impending doom once cursed, even if the effects do not yet occur.

Given the power of the creature, it is basically inevitable to avoid proximity at all times to it, if one decides to face it. The curse aura pierces any matter, and could also be caused by its long range attacks, but also by being hit by spells (it may be linked to the caster), or by victims being hit by spells (healing would also cause the curse). Meaning if you fight it, and it is indeed superior in strength, it will ensure the death of most people involved, if not everybody. Exceptions could only be archers, who would prove to have secondary or negligible roles at best.

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If magic exists in your setting, the human must be afflicted with a curse/poison/ etc that causes their temperature to rise steadily until it reaches a maximum of a few thousand degrees. This is obviously fatal to the human, but if the creature has eaten them, it will be fatal to it too (as it's unprotected from inside).

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The 'creature' is actually just a vessel for a mind controlling magic or parasite. This parasite takes over the body of a host, then uses this to achieve whatever ends after a short incubation period where the body of the host changes and adapts to what the parasite requires.

In this case the parasite would take the body of a human host and increase its size, make changes to the nervous system for faster reflexes and maybe make other changes required for fast healing and recovery.

The parasite resides in the head of the host body. But for the rest of the body to be usable and healable the head needs to be connected to the rest of the body. So stage 1 here would be to behead the creature.

The parasite could regrow the rest of the body with magic if it was beheaded so you can't just chop off the head and leave it trapped somewhere. But regrowing an entire body might take a lot of effort and time. Transforming a new host body might be preferable to the parasite. So we can use this part of the killing process.

To kill the creature you have to lure it out of the hosts body and into a new body. This would be our sacrificial hero beheading the creature and becoming the new host body for it. And while this new body is busy changing to suit the parasite it needs to be trapped, contained, then killed. The parasite would be left trapped without a living body to use as protection. And it can either stay trapped there or somehow killed. That's up to you.

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The creature is aspected on both planes, physical and spiritual. To slay it on one plane alone would never kill it permanently, as any single facet of it's existence is mutually a re flexion of the other. To slay the creature, the warrior must ascent to a similar status, through magic and ingestion of strong but very poisonous substances, into a battle trance that, upon wearing off, will inevitable lead to death.

First post in here, sorry for the English :)

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