Beast from 20000 fathoms

Beast from 20,000 fathoms

Power Level:
Game system: DC Heroes Role-Playing Game

Prehistoric Sea-Giant Rages Against City ! They couldn’t believe their eyes ! They couldn’t escape the terror ! And neither will you !


This was a 1953 movie, in the “atomic horror” giant monster genre. We like those.

These monster mashes, such as Them! or Godzilla, were emblematic of 1950 pop culture. Beast From 20,000 Fathoms, with its stop animation, was an inspiration for Godzilla.

The film’s plot came from a story written by Ray Bradbury called The Foghorn. It was published in the Saturday Evening Post. But the Beast’s destruction of the lighthouse is the only part that was kept intact.

Another Ray played a major role – Ray Harryhausen, the master of stop animation monsters.



  • Real Name: The Beast.
  • Marital Status: N/A.
  • Known Relatives: Ancestor to Brontosaurus.
  • Group Affiliation: None.
  • Base Of Operations: Mobile; formerly somewhere similar to New York. The Hudson Submarine canyons were the only place remains of the Rhedosaurus were ever found.
  • Height: 33’ Length: 98’ Weight: 50 tons (11 APs).
  • Eyes: Black Hair: None

Powers & Abilities

The Beast is a fictional dinosaur, the Rhedosaurus. It is almost 100‘ long and very powerful.

The Beast is a very good swimmer and can operate under water as well as on land. Its skull is at least 8 inches thick making it very hard to damage.

The Beast is also a giant prehistoric germ carrier. Therefore, contact with its blood can be fatal.



A nuclear test in the Arctic caused the awakening of a prehistoric dinosaur, a Rhedosaurus.

Two field scientists spotted the beast. One was killed in an avalanche. The other, Professor Thomas Nesbitt, fell unconscious from exhaustion but not before firing a shot to signal rescuers.

He was returned to base deliriously shouting about the monster. A blizzard blew in and concealed the beast’s tracks.

Roaming free

The Beast acted on instinct. It swam along the arctic current towards New York harbor which was perhaps its former hunting grounds. The only known location of Rhedosaurus fossils is the under-sea canyons found off New York’s coast.

In its path was an unfortunate fishing vessel, the ketch Fortune. The beast sank the tiny ship off the Grand Banks near St. Pierre, Nova Scotia. The attack was reported by a sole survivor. Soon after a second ship was sunk.

Paleontologist Professor Thurgood Elson’s assistant, Miss Lee Hunter, became intrigued with Professor Nesbitt’s story. Together they tried to identify the Beast by scouring the many pictures of dinosaurs she had.

After Nesbitt chose the sketch he believed to best resemble the Beast, they tracked down the sole survivor of the Fortune and he confirmed the sketch as well.

Shore party

At night the Beast climbed free of the water and attacked a light house off the coast of Maine. (Very cool stop animation scene by the way). The Coast Guard was now on the lookout for the Beast and the lighthouse attack was reported to Nesbitt.

Along with that report came several other reports of destruction along the coastline. The Beast was moving south. Nesbitt had enough circumstantial evidence to convince both the respected paleontologist Dr. Thurgood Elson and the Coast Guard.

The Beast on a busy street

Dr. Thurgood took a diving bell down into the trenches to see if he could find the monster. It continued on and found its old home, New York, full of humans and their structures. The Beast moved through the city smashing cars and buildings and eating people who were foolish enough to try and stop it.

Eventually, the police of New York made a stand against the Beast with shotguns. The Beast turned from the barrage and barreled through an apartment building. The Beast went into hiding in the area it had come ashore.

Hide and seek

The police were put on twenty four hour alert and the national guard was called out. Once spotted, the Beast was injured by a bazooka blast and some high voltage lines. Injured, the Beast again went into hiding. Under-water mines were activated in the water along with anti-submarine nets.

It was soon learned the creature’s blood was full of bacteria. All soldiers who had contact with the creature or within the vicinity of its blood were “out on their feet” and became very ill. Nesbitt had an idea, fire an isotope into the creature killing all the bacteria there.

The Beast in the wind

The Beast was found at Coney Island amusement park, destroying a roller coaster. The military surrounded the area with plenty of bazooka men. Nesbitt put his plan into action taking a sharp shooter to a high spot on the coaster track. He would only have one rifle shot to get the isotope into the Beast’s wound.

The shot was successful. The Beast broke through the roller coaster but could not escape the isotope lodged in its body. The Beast died right there on the sand.

The Foghorn History

The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms was based upon the short-story, The Foghorn, by Ray Bradbury. Recounting the story is all well and good but ultimately meaningless for it is poetic prose, its power not in a recounting of events but in the very way it is worded.

The story takes place in a lighthouse on a November night on an unnamed coast. The Lighthouse Keeper, McDunn, carries on a conversation with his new assistant Lighthouse keeper, Johnny, who is the narrator of the story.

The Beast in the big city

One night, McDunn discusses the mysteries of the sea. He recounts an incident from a few years back. It seemed that every fish in the sea surfaced one night and stared at the Lighthouse as if looking up at its one bright eye towering above them and worshiping it, a shining beacon beyond their comprehension, a luminescent deity filling their dark and cold world with warmth and light.

He then explains that there is a reason he brought that story up on this night. For the past three years, something has been drawn to the lighthouse on this very night of the year and he is sure it will come again this night.

It is something primordial, rising from the depths to the modern world as if searching for something it dimly remembers from long ago. McDunn tells Johnny that he finally has to share this with someone else and he will understand if his young friend leaves the next morning and never comes back.


And then it was there, rising from the depths, something that should have been gone millions of years before and perhaps wished it had been. It moved rapidly toward the tower and McDunn did something he had not done the previous times. He switched off the light.

The creature, clearly an aquatic dinosaur, did something it had never done before. In a panic at the vanishing of the light, it charged and, though they managed to switch the light back on, it was too late.

It smashed into the tower, shattering glass and crumbling walls, its anguished screams in harmony with the forlorn braying of the foghorn, its soul, if such a creature has a soul, if anyone does, crying out from a million years of loneliness for another like itself or perhaps a desire to end its empty existence at last and go to what it perceived as its god.


McDunn and Johnny never knew and never could know what truly drove it. They only knew that it finally gave up its quest and returned to the deeps.

Drawing of the Beast attacking a lighthouse

By the next year, Johnny was working in a nearby town and had married. McDunn returned to a new lighthouse that was built upon the site of the old, destroyed one. As for the creature, it did not return.

McDunn conjectured that perhaps it had learned a painful lesson. Its time was over and it was alone, doomed to spend eternity that way. Perhaps it had returned to the darkness and the depths, hoping to sleep until its kind returned or perhaps only wishing to sleep forever.

It was gone and its true motives could never be other than a mirror for whoever conjectured about them for in its motives and sadness, they were seeing themselves.


The beast is a giant carnivorous dinosaur over a hundred million years old. It moves about on all fours and drags its tail behind it.

It has black eyes and long snake like fangs. A single ridge runs the length of its back and tail.


The Beast from 20,000 fathoms is a creature out of time. When it broke free from the ice it was back to business as usual. The Beast feels it is the king of its world.

The Beast from twenty thousand fathoms model

It will attack whatever it sees as a threat or prey. The canyons off the shore of New York is its old home. It will instinctively return there and assert its dominance.

DC Universe History

The lighthouse keeper could easily be Arthur Curry’s human father (Aquaman’s human father), particularly if one merges Bradbury’s poignant short story with the pioneering giant monster film.

Arthur as a child unknowingly used his powers to summon the many fishes and then the beast to the lighthouse.

Marvel Universe History

Another candidate for the Savage Land .


Richie: “You know every time one of these things (Nuclear explosion) goes off I feel as if we were helping to write the first chapter in a new Genesis.”
Tom: “Let’s hope we don’t find ourselves writing the last chapter of the old one.”

Radio news reporter: “New York is like a city besieged. A state of emergency has been declared and the entire police force put on twenty four hour duty. Civilian defenses fully mobilized and shelters have been opened in an effort to stop the mounting hysteria. All traffic has been halted and Time Square the heart of New York has stopped beating. The National Guard has been called out fully armed to repel the invader. This is full scale war against a terrible enemy such as modern man has never before faced ! Ordinary bullets have no effect and the method of destroying the awesome creature has not yet been formulated but the battlefield has been cleared. Herald Square ! 34th Street ! Broadway ! Every section of the city is guarded. No one knows where the monster will strike next ! It was last seen on Wall-Street close to where it came ashore but lower Manhattan has become no-man’s land where the Beast at present lies hidden ! The National Guard is barricading the entire area in an effort to confine the death and destruction of what is already the worst disaster in New York’s history !”

“Grrrarrrraw !”

A drawing of the Beast among tropical trees

The Foghorn Quotes

Johnny: “A cry came across a million years of water and mist. A cry so anguished and alone it shuddered in my head and my body. The monster cried out at the tower. The Fog Horn blew. The monster roared again. The Fog Horn blew. The monster opened its great toothed mouth and the sound that came from it was the sound of the Fog Horn itself. Lonely and vast and far away. The sound of isolation, a viewless sea, a cold night, apartness. That was the sound.”

McDunn: “All year long, Johnny, that poor monster there lying far out, a thousand miles at sea, and twenty miles deep maybe, biding its time, perhaps a million years old, this one creature. Think of it, waiting a million years; could you wait that long ? Maybe it’s the last of its kind. I sort of think that’s true. Anyway, here come men on land and build this lighthouse, five years ago. And set up their Fog Horn and sound it and sound it out towards the place where you bury yourself in sleep and sea memories of a world where there were thousands like yourself, but now you’re alone, all alone in a world that’s not made for you, a world where you have to hide.

“But the sound of the Fog Horn comes and goes, comes and goes, and you stir from the muddy bottom of the Deeps, and your eyes open like the lenses of two-foot cameras and you move, slow, slow, for you have the ocean sea on your shoulders, heavy. But that Fog Horn comes through a thousand miles of water, faint and familiar, and the furnace in your belly stokes up, and you begin to rise, slow, slow. You feed yourself on minnows, on rivers of jellyfish, and you rise slow through the autumn months, through September when the fogs started, through October with more fog and the horn still calling you on, and then, late in November, after pressurizing yourself day by day, a few feet higher every hour, you are near the surface and still alive. You’ve got to go slow; if you surfaced all at once you’d explode. So it takes you all of three months to surface, and then a number of days to swim through the cold waters to the lighthouse. And there you are, out there, in the night, Johnny, the biggest damned monster in creation. And here’s the lighthouse calling to you, with a long neck like your neck sticking way up out of the water, and a body like your body, and most important of all, a voice like your voice. Do you understand now, Johnny, do you understand?”

McDunn: “It’s gone away. It’s gone back to the Deeps. It’s learned you can’t love anything too much in this world. It’s gone into the deepest Deeps to wait another million years. Ah, the poor thing ! Waiting out there, and waiting out there, while man comes and goes on this pitiful little planet. Waiting and waiting.”

Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG

Tell me more about the game stats

The Beast

A 1395 points Character

Dex: 03 (04) Str: 12 Bod: 08 Motivation: Survival
Int: 00 Wil: 01 Min: 01 Occupation: Monster
Inf: 01 Aur: 00 Spi: 01 Resources {or Wealth}: N/A
Init: 004 (005) HP: 005

Claws: 13, Cold Immunity: 04, Growth: 07, Poison Touch: 03, Skin Armor: 03, Suspension: 50, Swimming: 05, Water Freedom: 04

Bonuses and Limitations:

  • Growth is always on, innate, and already factored in. The 1AP of Swimming gained from Growth is also already factored in (-1).
  • Poison touch represents the creature’s blood. Poison Touch has Area Effect. (+1) Poison Touch attacks each Day instead of each phase.
  • Skin Armor is ineffective in the first attack of any combat and by every new attack type (even if the switch is as small as small arms pistol to a shotgun) (-2).
  • Suspension is Automatically Activated when the Beast’s Current BODY drops to 0 or below due to damage from cold and can only be used in this manner (-2FC).

Thief (Stealth): 05



Strange Appearance.


Design notes

The Beast had no negative effects after being awakened from its long hibernation. The mechanics of its hibernation I mimicked Suspension from the Captain America writeup as he was similarly frozen.

It was completely immune to the cold of the arctic. I gave it Cold immunity on par with the Polar Bear from the Animals file.

Swimming is an AP slower than a shark’s speed.

All attacks seemed effective in the first attack, perhaps only surprising the Beast. Any follow up attacks were ignored as if they did no damage at all. So, I gave the Beast the limitations to its Skin Armor.

Thief (Stealth): 05. This is a point below GINO’s Thief (Stealth). They both pull off the disappearing act in NY. The Beast however is discovered after dark hiding among buildings.

The Beast from Bradbury’s Foghorn short story

The stats above work for the Beast from the short story with some tweaking. There are only a few small differences.

One is the Foghorn beast is practically immortal, going into a hibernation (suspension) whenever it pleases. It has a dislike for heat and the sun and may need to be in or near the ocean (Fatal vulnerability). Also, Drawback: Psychological instability (extreme loneliness).

As for its physical description it has a very long neck, some 40 feet of its 100 foot body. The Foghorn beast has a long whip like tail and large paws.

By Ethan Roe.

Source of Character: The 1953 film The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms (story by Ray Bradbury, animation by Ray Harryhausen).

Helper(s): Doug Mertaugh, William Chamberlin, Darci, unicorn epiphany, Animals file on Worg, Captain America and GINO file on Worg, Wikipedia (for the height and length of the Beast). The Fog Horn History section written by Doug Mertaugh.

Writeup completed on the 4th of January, 2014.