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The Worthy Opponent is a monster. Mysteriously able to assess and match any hero he meets, this creature is unknown to have any limits to his abilities, up to and including the use of tactics that eerily resemble hero skills, and so is a notoriously difficult monster to overcome.
Worthy Opponents are in a class of monsters all to themselves. Though resembling the Ghost class in their fighting methodology, they are unmistakably corporeal. Though able to divine the secrets of heroic psychology like the Illusion class, they are entirely diurnal. Though physically amorphous, like the Shapeshift class, they will always have a head, two legs, and two arms. Fingers and toes are not as dependable.
The Worthy Opponent's most striking characteristic is its ability to instantly determine a hero's level, skills, and fighting preferences, and to emulate them, so that they always provide the hero a steady challenge. These monsters are also considered to be herovores, as they appear to hold a chemical draw for heroes and heroines alike. Many a deity's last earthly communication from his or her hero has been, "At last! I have found a worthy opponent against whom to test my mettle!" A resurrection soon follows.
Worthy Opponents may have formal fighting techniques and training unique to monsters. Resurrected heroes recently killed by Worthy Opponents have been known to wake up screaming, and to report last-remembered sensations usually associated with death by liana eyebrows or snu-snu. Heroes are advised to avoid these monsters until further investigated, or take copious notes if altercations are unavoidable.
Fighting a Worthy Opponent is most often a losing battle. Winning tactics differ from hero to hero and from Worthy Opponent to Worthy Opponent. Pinning down strengths and weaknesses is similarly difficult, so the below are strictly the most generic.
- Adaptability: The Worthy Opponent can determine a hero's level and abilities and turn itself into an equal match to the hero, despite the monster's age, size, or experience level.
- Irrecognizeability: The Worthy Opponent's appearance changes from fight to fight, even with the same hero. So if the Worthy Opponent has to flee because a hero employs a successful tactic, then the monster later has to fight the same hero again, the hero will not recognize the Worthy Opponent and so may not be able to use the successful tactic again.
- Individual/Hive-Mind Hybrid: Recent studies indicate that the Worthy Opponent's evaluative abilities are not as instantaneous as once thought. Instead, an apparent lag in Worthy Opponent knowledge immediately after a hero level increase suggests that all Worthy Opponents operate on a mental network or species knowledge database that requires contact with another Worthy Opponent to update. To take advantage of this, the Godville Department of Fight Science (GDFS) and the Autonomous Godville Association for Safe Travel (AGAST) recommend heroes attempt to only encounter Worthy Opponents shortly after increasing the level of their persons or one of their combat skills.
- Mirror Effect: Like other monsters that mimic heroes, the Worthy Opponent cannot seem to render himself any more effective than the hero he is imitating. Though the same Worthy Opponent has been seen fighting a level 68 hero and a level 12 hero, and fighting as the most capable hero of each level, the Worthy Opponent could not maintain his level 68 skills upon engaging the level 12 hero.
- Up-to-the-Minute Telemetry: The Godville Department of Monster Zoology (DMZ) and AGAST have teamed up to radio tag the vast majority of Worthy Opponents. By all reports, the DMZ's cryptozoologists know where they live, work, eat, sleep, breed, and die. At all times. These monsters have lost the element of surprise.