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I’m plugging along with my 1st Edition AD&D database and have reached data entry for the Night Hag. That was an excuse to look up the legend. I had no idea that the Night Hag was the supposed cause of sleep paralysis. Here’s a video care of the Infographics Show, which keeps coming up in my Facebook feed.
Creatures like the Night Hag exist throughout the world’s mythological traditions. Sure enough, the 1e Monster Manual gives the Night Hag powers relating to sleep. The night hag will cast a sleep spell, and if successful strangle the victim to death. If a sleep spell doesn’t work, the night hag will hound the victim’s dreams every night, draining a point of Constitution each night until the victim dies at 0. They do this to evil characters in order to harvest souls for the devils of Hell and the demons of the Abyss, but they’ll attack any good character on sight to keep night hags relevant to the game.
I really like flavor like this, but sadly such flavor seems to be largely discarded among modern gamers, or at least among living campaigns. The most you’ll ever see is an NPC that’s facing something like that, and the PCs enter the scene partway through to rescue the NPC. PCs having such a curse imposed on them that lasted for several sessions (until cured or dead) would probably anger modern players, but I’d enjoy it.
In Eastern Chinese mythology, it’s a mouse that causes sleep paralysis. A mouse. 😐