Sunday, June 19, 2016

Owls

The Simurgh is the ruler of all birds.  They are her subjects and her flesh.

But owls are not birds.  To us, they look like birds, and they act like birds, but they are not.  They are some alien clade, some painted deceiver.  They are unnatural as beastmen (and similarly, birds have a hard time recognizing how unnatural a beastman appears to us).

Owls are from the moon.  They have more in common with the tall, soft-handed people of that place than they do with the birds of the earth.

And while most of the owls you'll see are degenerate cousins of the lunar owls.  They are the equivalent of the illiterate, spear-wielding descendants of crashed space marines.  Most owls are just owls: silent killers who are slightly more intelligent than we give them credit for.

But some owls are educated.  Some owls remember the moon.  They have a written language.  They have fashion.  They have opinions about your poetry.

by Lisa Kee
Owls are wisdom, but they are also death and night.  They are silent.  They are pacifists.

They do not fight, but they have protectors.

They have an ancient pact with serpents, who sometimes serve them.  They regurgitate all the mice they have ever swallowed, and from those crumbling pellets they raise up the skeletons of their mice servitors.

They build nests.  Enormous nests that have more in common with wicker furniture, engineered and refined across generations.  They are man-sized wicker men, and the owls nest atop the necks.  They resemble wooden men with owls for heads.

They are at war--a quiet war--with the other birds.  Sometimes they'll capture and imprison songbirds in their chests.

And that is how you usually see them: owl-headed wicker men, striding through the quiet places, trapped songbirds flickering in their chests.

Owlbears despise them, and will attack them on sight.

the costume, at least, is from Lord of Tears
Owl
HD 1  AC leather  Talons 1d4
Fly 18  Int 12  Mor 2

*Pacifist: They'll never make a melee attack nor cast a damaging spell.  They'll flee before they resort to attacking hit points directly.

*Zone of Silence: All sound is negated within 20', except for the owl's voice (should it wish to talk).

Wicker Golem
HD 3  AC leather  Claws 1d10
Move 12  Int 12  Mor 2

*Wicker Nest Golem: When an owl abandons their wicker nest-golem, it will attack all nearby creatures and guard the area that it was abandoned in.  It accepts any owl that sits on it as a pilot.  When an owl rides a wicker nest golem, the owl can be targeted separately if the attacker accepts a -4 penalty to attack.

Who Protects This Group of Wicker-Rider Owls? [d6]
An owl's protectors are not pacifists by any means.

1 - A swarm of undead mice skeletons (HD 4), hiding in the earth.
2 - A great serpent (HD 7).
3 - An enormous wicker golem (HD 7) capable of imprisoning a person inside.
4 - Werewolves.
5 - Human scholars, seeking wisdom.  Some are alchemists.  A few are wizards.
6 - Human fighters, raised from childhood to be loyal.

from Jacques Collin de Plancy's Dictionnaire Infernal
What Powers Do These Wicker-Rider Owls Have? [d6]
They have different abilities, depending on the trapped songbird.  It is not clear whether this is derived from the particular songbird, or if the bird is merely worn as a badge.  Sometimes the wicker golems all hold songbirds of the same type, sometimes the group of golems contains a mixture.  Beware golems that contain multiple songbirds, or more exotic birds not on this list.

1 - Mockingbird.  Can cast ventriloquism and invisibility at-will.
2 - Blue Jay.  Can cast illusion and ESP at-will.
3 - Waxwing.  Can cast sleep and cure madness at-will.
4 - Wren.  Can cast rust and warp wood at-will.
5 - Swallow.  Can cast prismatic spray at-will.
6 - Blackbird.  Can cast doom 1/day and curse at-will.  (Technically, doom is not a damaging spell.)

What Are They Doing Here? [d6]
They will not disturb you if you do not disturb them.  Remember that everything they do is in perfect silence, due to their magic aura.

1 - Digging up graves and replacing recent corpses with indistinguishable replicas.
2 - Weaving flax into a gift for the moon.  The moon watches, appearing twice as large in the sky.
3 - Solemnly binding songbirds wings and feeding the still-living birds to a fire.
4 - Battling 1d2 owlbears.  They will be grateful if you help.  The owlbear will not.
5 - Watching you sleep.  If you allow them to watch you, they will give you a silver plate (worth 100c) in the morning by laying it on the ground and bowing.
6 - Selling forgotten lore from a bower of woven trees.  These owls have been communing with their brothers on the moon.  If the answer to your question does not exist anywhere on Centerra, either in written or remembered form, then there is a 4-in-6 chance that the owls know it.  (If it does exist somewhere in Centerra, then it really isn't forgotten lore, is it?)

Appendix: Spells

Cure Madness
Plot-level Cleric Spell
Range: Touch
Removes a madness from the target for 1 week.  At the end of that month, the target rolls a save; if they fail, the madness returns.

Doom
Level 4 Wizard Spell
Range: 50'
Target will die in exactly 3 turns, as long as you pronounce doom on them on your next two turns.  Pronouncing doom is a free action that shares all the restrictions of this spell (must be verbal, must have line of sight, etc).

Curse
Level 1 Cleric Spell
Range: 50'
The next time the target creature would roll a critical success, it becomes a critical failure instead.


By Peter Trimming

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