Friday, September 16, 2016

Bird Gods of the Hunt

Kenku champion stalks his prey.
Kenku champion stalks his prey. 

Some say they are immortal spirits of the first birds of prey. Others that they were born of the hunt. They dispense gifts – enchanted trinkets, stalking totems or spirit weapons – to those who are worthy, who mastered tracking, pursuit, killing and devouring of prey. They value cleverness, ruthlessness, bravery, avarice and ambition. They despise weakness, fear, moderation, restraint and compassion. They are known by many names, but their true names can only be pronounced by those, who have a beak.

Their most numerous followers are the kenku, but almost all birds worship, or at least fear and respect them. Only exception are the owls, who betrayed them eons ago and allied themselves with serpents.

They exist on many worlds (or planes/dimensions/planets, whatever fits your setting) even having some of them completely conquered. Those are their proving grounds, where mettle of the brave hunters is tested and their skills honed. From there proven champions are summoned to other worlds, where they aid their supporters in the great hunt.

That’s how I introduced the kenku to my campaign years ago. I made them weak, compared to their brothers from other worlds. Living on an isolated island. Still struggling to open their first portal, through which one of the champions of the hunt might emerge to help them a bit. They might hunt the PCs or they might hunt with the PCs. Most of my players treated them as kill-on-sight enemies. But one group sort of befriended the kenku, started helping them in their hunts and eventually witnessed opening of the portal. They were really uncomfortable when they glimpsed the conquered world of the proving grounds through the portal but really started thinking how to get out of this mess when through the portal came a champion. A sort of demon or spirit, looking vaguely like a giant humanoid hornbill with four arms. He rewarded two of the best hunters in the party with his sacred gifts. One got a magic bow and the other grew a sharp beak.

For proving his worth in the hunt the bird gods reward PC with…
1-5. Stalking totem. It’s a sculpture of a bird made of reed, clay, hemp rope and feathers. It comes to life once per night and functions like a spy drone. PC can look through its eyes. After about an hour of stalking it comes back to the PC and turns inanimate again.
6-10. Wind rock. Looks like a shard of volcanic stone. It’s magic and has a power of minor air manipulation. It allows kenku (and other winged creatures who normally would be too heavy) to fly. If PC lacks wings he can still probably do cool stuff with it. Like blowing candles. Or looking cool in a cloak. (Or think of something else if in your campaign all/none of the kenku can fly.)
11-15. Small mummified bird amulet. Like a bird-shaped ushabti. If crushed or otherwise perforated it will release a spirit of an ancient kenku warrior, that will aid PC in battle for d6+2 rounds. It fights like a d4+1 HD kenku and can only be harmed with spells, magic weapons or turn undead. One use item.
16-20. Pendant necklace made of strange looking leather. If a tooth of a creature is attached to the pendant, the wearer gains +1 bonus to tracking and combat with other specimens of the same creature. (Think ranger's favoured enemy.) Multiple teeth of the same species can be attached, but they have to come from different specimens for the enchantment to work. Maximum accumulated bonus is +4.
21-25. A bag of d12 healing worms. When consumed each worm heals 2d8+8 HP and feeds PC like a full meal. After about a week worms die and loose their healing power. However, their lives can be extended by allowing them to feast on a carcass of a freshly killed creature.
26-30. A kenku egg. It will hatch in d12 days. The hatchling, if cared for, will turn into a sort of bird familiar in d12 months. And into a full grown, loyal kenku follower in d6 years. It treats PC like its parent. (If you don’t like the randomness of those dice rolls my AD&D2nd Monstrous Manual says that kenku hatchlings gain one hit point a month and become a one HD kenku after 6 to 8 months.)
31-35. Stick man. It looks like that thing from Blair Witch Project. If burnt in a campfire it will release a protective spirit, which will shield the PC and his party from any wandering monster table type threat as long as the fire is burning. One use item.
Image result for blair witch project stick
36-50. A magic item. Roll on your favourite magic item table. Or rather roll on the magic item chart you deem most appropriate. The one with Cloak of Camouflage and stuff like that.
51-65. A magic weapon. Roll on your favourite random magic weapon table. Or rather roll on the one that you deem most appropriate. The one with Bow of Hunting and that kinda stuff.
66-70. PC's digestive system mutates and now resembles that of a vulture. PC can eat rotten meat without getting sick, also gains immunity to most non-magical poisons taken orally. PC's poop smells really bad though.
71-75. Not sure if it’s pheromones or magic, but birds like the PC. Like that scene in Disney’s Snow White. (Translate that to a system specific bonus/advantage to reaction/charisma/animal handling rolls.)
76-80. A beautiful, feathered crest grows from PC’s head down his spine. The crest opens up when PC gets excited.
81-85. PC's hair (including body hair) turns into plumage.
86-90. PC's eyes turn avian. Basically like built in binoculars, night vision goggles and also check out that ultraviolet. You can look up “bird vision” on wikipedia.
91-95. Something changes in PC’s brain. He starts to understand the language of birds, but he loses other random previously known language.
96. PC grows talons on his (1) right hand (2) left hand (3) both hands (4) feet (5) all appendages. Counts as natural weapons.
97. PC grows a sharp beak. Counts as natural weapon.
98. PC grows a pair of wings. They allow him to glide.
99. PC grows a pair of magic wings. They allow him to fly.

00. PC turns into a kenku.