Monday, 16 May 2016

Bird of Paradise Men

In the lowland forests of Sepik there are many tribes of bird of paradise men, of colours and shapes as multifarious as the flowers of the jungle. They are intelligent, powerful, and brimming with an avian ferocity which is only outdone by their vanity. Their aggressive territoriality and absolute arrogance prevents them cooperating beyond groups around 100 strong.

When creating a tribe of bird of paradise men, generate their type and abilities as follows:


Roll: 1-2 - Small (1 HD); 3-5 - Medium (1+3 HD); 6 - Large (2+1 HD)


Roll d6 times for colours for males of the tribe, once for females:

1 - Red (resists fire)
2 - Yellow (can Blink 1/day)
3 - Royal blue (can Command 1/day)
4 - Turquoise (can Detect Invisibility 1/day)
5 - Sea green (1 in 6 magic resistance)
6 - Tree green (can Pass Without Trace 1/day)
7 - White (cannot be charmed or slept)
8 - Black (can cast Shillelagh 1/day)
9 - Purple (can cast Audible Glamer 1/day)
10 - Pink (can cast Mirror Image 1/day)


Roll once for tail length or other ornamentation for males of the tribe (females have ordinary tails):

1 - Short tail (tribesmen are renowned for being aggressive fighters; +2 to 'to hit' and 'damage' rolls)
2 - Long (weak fighters; -1 to 'to hit' and 'damage' rolls, but all individuals act as 2nd level druids for spell-casting purposes)
3 - Extremely long (very weak fighters; -2 to 'to hit' and 'damage' rolls, but opponents must save vs. magic in order to attack, or else be stricken with awe and fail to act)
4 - Spray (use spray of feathers to befuddle attackers, giving natural +4 to AC)
5 - Springy/twisted (tribesmen compensate for their lack of glamour with vigorous energy; all individuals have maximum HP)
6 - Long "eyebrows", wingtips, or other ornaments (the tribe is considered dangerous and eccentric even by other bird of paradise men tribes: all individuals are mildly psionic)

General Rules

All bird of paradise men can fly (180) and have a natural +2 bonus to AC. They typically arm themselves with blow pipes and clubs, and wear hide armour.

In a village, there will be around 6d10 warriors, 6d10 females, and 6d10 children. They will be lead by a Big Man with an extra HD who is married to half of the females; the other females are married to individual warriors, with the leftover warriors being bachelors.

One in ten females is a shamaness (druid or cleric) with d3+1 levels.


  1. A little surprised this (third one) wasn't invoked.

    1. Nobody can really do justice to how weird and wonderful birds of paradise truly are.

  2. I’ve been reading this blog for years and this post, brief at it is, remains one of my favorites. I’m not certain if it’s due to the inherent pageantry of birds-of-paradise, the way you brilliantly use color* as a form of mechanical differentiator, or just how useful these tables are in creating unique, compelling enemies. For me, the existence of bird-of-paradise men instantly spawns a variety of adventure hooks: some mundane (gathering feathers for tribal or ornamental purposes) and some exotic (escorting/protecting an eccentric scientist who wants to observe bird-of-paradise men mating rituals in person). Will we see more information about them in Behind Gently Smiling Jaws, or was this more of a one-off idea?

    *This is particularly interesting to me because it mimics nature’s use of warning colors. After a certain number of encounters PCs will know not to use flaming oil on red bird-of-paradise men, or Sleep on white ones. Love these kind of mechanics.

    1. Thanks! They appear in one of the sub-worlds of BGSJ. I should post more about BGSJ I guess. I have been doing very hard thinking about it and made some conceptual breakthroughs.