The Bureau of Monster Affairs is the governmental organization in charge of regulating monster hunting in the United States. One of its most important duties is designating what creatures qualify as “monsters,” so that hunters don’t kill the wrong things. In the early days of the organization, the BMA did this by maintaining the Official Monster List (OML), which designated which creatures were considered monsters.
As the bureau (and the profession of monster hunting) grew and researchers learned more about monstrous creatures, it quickly became obvious that the “monster/not monster” dichotomy didn’t work in all cases and new classifications were added. Although the term “Official Monster List” technically refers only to the list of creatures designated monsters, most hunters use it to refer to the BMA’s overall classifications of unusual creatures.
The BMA currently uses eight classification categories:
Afflicted humans are normal people (including Peaceful Sentients) suffering from a curse or unnatural disease or who are victims of mind control, possession, or some other unnatural influence. Examples include werewolves, victims of demonic possession, and traditional (ie, non-undead) zombis. The method of dealing with these creatures varies according to the nature of the affliction, but the general rule is to attempt to deal with the affliction in a way that does not bring harm to victim. The only exception is if the person poses a threat to human life, in which case hunters may use reasonable force to protect themselves or others.
Cryptids are creatures that have been reported but whose existence has never been confirmed. Examples include sasquatches and many lake monsters. Whether or not a cryptid is considered a monster depends on its actions in each particular case. If it has not caused any real damage (other than perhaps scaring the locals), hunters should document the creature and its location for future research, but should not attempt to harm or capture the cryptid unless threatened. A cryptid that has caused harm to people or serious damage to property may be treated as a monster, but hunters are encouraged to capture the creature alive if it can be done relatively safely.
The likelihood of a cryptid’s existence is measured on The Fields Scale, which goes from 1 (extremely unlikely) to 10 (extremely likely). Creatures with a Fields Number of 1 tend to be either legendary creatures that have not been encountered in modern times or creatures who are the subject of a handful of reports from mostly unreliable witnesses. A Fields Number of 10 means that the creature’s existence is backed up by numerous reliable reports and some physical evidence, but that its existence has not been irrefutably proven.
This category is for ghostly manifestations that don’t cause any physical, psychological, or property damage to the people who encounter them. Monster hunters are under no obligation to help get rid of these creatures, but are free to do so as long as there are no objections from the locals--some communities and property owners want to keep their ghosts.
Monsters are creatures that pose a threat to human life or property. They include both non-intelligent beasts who prey on humans (such as the living dead) and sentient creatures who are malevolent by nature (demons, for example). Anything classified as a monster should be considered dangerous and eliminated in the most expedient way possible unless it is of a type that requires further study of live specimens, in which case capture is an option if it can be accomplished without undue danger to monster hunters or civilians.
This classification is for non-intelligent creatures (or those exhibiting an intelligence so alien that humans cannot meaningfully communicate with them) who do not normally pose a threat to human life or property. The most well-known example of this type of creature is the unicorn. As far as monster hunters are concerned, non-violent creatures should only be killed if there is evidence to support that they have attacked someone or if they pose an immediate threat. If they are merely being a nuisance, capture or relocation is preferred.
Some creatures with this classification fall under the jurisdiction of federal or local Fish and Wildlife Services, either as protected species or as species whose hunting is regulated, and hunters who illegally kill such creatures without reasonable cause may be subject to fines or prosecution.
The United States government legally defines sentience as a combination of advanced intelligence, meaningful ability to communicate with humans, and the ability to make decisions that place the good of society above the natural instincts and urges of the individual. Examples of peaceful sentients include Martians, Frogmen, and werewolves in human form. In the U.S., peaceful sentients have the same rights as human beings. In terms of monster hunting, that means that they are governed by the same use of force and due process guidelines as humans.
The “decision-making ability” part of the sentience definition is perhaps the most important in differentiating peaceful sentients from sentient monsters. Demons, for example, exhibit intelligence and can even function in society to some extent, but ultimately they are slaves to their own evil nature; any seemingly selfless act that a demon performs is ultimately done to further its own goals. It should be noted that just because a creature has the capacity to put society’s good above his own does not necessarily mean that he will do so. If that were the case, many humans would not fit into this classification.
Creatures in this category have been confirmed to exist, but the BMA does not have enough reliable information to officially classify them. As a general rule, unclassified creatures are governed by the same guidelines as cryptids.
Occasionally monster hunters encounter something that doesn’t fit the description of any known (or even reported) creature. When this happens, the hunters should do whatever is necessary to defend themselves and others, but should not actively hunt the creature until they have contacted the Bureau of Monster Affairs. The BMA (possibly in consultation with other agencies) will then issue instructions about how the creature is to be handled based on the available information.