Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Five Varieties of Feathered Men

The Infinite City on the Water is full of feathered bird-men of many different varieties; in the crocodile's mind clothes became feathers and the shouts of sailors the cries of birds. It arranged these odd avian things into different types and in its memory their roles have crystallised into things radically different from what they actually did. All of them have a bird-like intelligence and most have a tendency to flock; except for certain solitary types elements of their behaviour is social, and they can be browbeaten or persuaded into service.

Bald Spinners

The lowliest sailors - fishermen and divers - were largely naked, and the crocodile mainly saw them manipulating ropes and nets and climbing rigging. They appear in its memory as birds almost entirely plucked raw - all bumpy pale brown flesh - but with great agility and sinewy strength in their humanoid hands and clawed feet. They are able to produce a spidersilk-like substance from their wrists, thick and brown and strong, which they use to ensnare their prey.

HD 1, AC 12, AB +2
*Can attack with claws and beak for d3 and d2 damage
*Can climb any non-smooth surface at full movement speed
*Can spend 1 round producing 30' of sticky rope which, if thrown at a target, acts as an ensnare spell; it can spend 2 rounds to produce a web or net which can be used as a web spell

Flamboyant Starlings

Merchants and traders, with their extravagant coloured clothing and dramatic gestures, have become in the crocodile's memory a race of very splendid passerine birds with shimmering florid coats and cacophonous songs. They hop and flutter about in flocks, chattering and singing in deafening volume.

HD 2, AC 14, AB +3
*Can attack with claws, beak and wing buffet for d3, d2 and d2 damage
*Can fly
*Emit a constant song which dampens all sound within a 60' radius and prevents all spellcasting within a 30' radius; once a day the starling can elevate its song, causing d6 hit points of damage to any non-starling in a 60' radius and deafening them permanently on a failed save vs. magic (this is alleviated by a cure serious wounds spell).
*Starlings never surprise opponents and are always surprised themselves

Iridescent Magpies

Armoured men - the warriors of the ancient city - puzzled the crocodile. They appeared to be another strange variety of this vast nest of birds, yet their appearance, gleaming and heavyset, was at odds with those around them, and the other birds appeared to give them a wide birth, indicating danger. It envisions them nowadays, when it thinks of them at all, as corvid-types with bright metallic feathers (of silver, gold, copper or even deep blue) that glisten and glimmer and sparkle in the sunlight.

HD 3, AC 16, AB +4
*Can attack with claws, beak and wing buffet for d6, d4 and d3 damage
*Can fly
*Sunlight bounces off their feathers in a dazzling light, causing opponents to be at -2 to hit; an iridescent magpie can sacrifice making attacks for one turn to flutter its wings and tail so that sunlight bounces into the eyes of an opponent, blinding him or her for d3 rounds.

Dun Sparrows

Many of the people the crocodile saw on boats floating on the sea's surface, or thronging the distant quays, were dressed in drab brown or grey clothing and carried on their business inconspicuously. They are in its memory something like a sparrow or dunnock: furtive, fast, and flighty.

HD 1, AC 14, AB +2
*Can attack with claws and beak for d3 and d2 damage
*Can fly
*Will only attack if present in double the number of opponents, and will immediately flee if reduced to less than double

Rhythmic Drummer

The slave oarsmen flitting between the great trading ships in the harbour of the ancient city were forced to keep time to a constant drum beat. The foremen were to the crocodile naked of feathers, like the other slaves, but with an inflatable throat-chest sack which they puffed full of air like a frigate bird in order to emit their deep pulsating rhythm. They appear in its memory like a plucked bird with a huge sagging sack of skin hanging from its throat, which it puffs up full of air and then throbs to strange effect on those around it.

HD 1, AC 12, AB +2
*Can attack with beak for d3 damage
*Spends a round inflating its throat sack, and then uses it to emit a magical pulsating rhythm. This can have one of the following effects:
-Boosting the activities of allies, giving them +2 to hit and damage rolls and a +2 bonus to initiative
-Causing enemies to drop their weapons and dance as though compelled, on a failed save vs. magic; the dance ends if the Rhythmic Drummer is forced to stop by being hit and taking damage in combat
-Dispelling magic within 30'

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