Saturday, December 21, 2019

The 12 Birds of Christmas

We had a very special gift exchange on the OSR Discord:  The Secret Santicorn.  As a sort of "secret santa" thing, participants designed something for someone else that they had requested.

I had no idea what I was going to get, but my request (from Ryan at Kobolds in the Sewers , I think that their entry will be their opening blog entry) was something that I thought I could achieve: Birds (monsters, treasures etc) for an avian-themed dungeon. Did I deliver? I don't know, but Happy Holidays anyway!

A long time ago, the great wizard Enftebtemang, founder of the Yellow City, decided to start collecting birds. He hid them in a secret dungeon and created a race of guardians to watch over his collection. He placed subtle enhancements to preserve the collection, and even though he now has moved on to another form of existence, his guardians carry on.

The Golden Goose:
This is the classical goose that lays golden eggs - or at least, gold-shelled eggs (each worth about a gp, the egg itself is an ordinary goose egg). The goose is seemingly very valuable, but it is in fact a big pain. It has to eat gold to lay gold, so the net gains are non-existent. Furthermore, it's kind of a jerk, and dangerous if provoked. There are 3d6 eggs in the room (Although over the centuries there should be a literal hoard of these, the goose has been eating them to regain the gold it needs to lay more eggs).

The Delicious Duck.
An average sized but impressive looking duck. If prepared properly, this will be incredibly succulent - the best meal of the character's lifetime. Restores all HP, cures illnesses and poisons, and the characters will be useless for 2d6 hours as they revel in the bliss, post feed torpor, and regrets at the certain knowledge that no food will ever so good again. Feeds half a dozen people or so. If cooking check fails, the duck will be rubbery and mediocre tasting, food fit to stave off starvation and not much more. If the cooking check failed by more than a margin of 5 (or similar for a non d20 system), the duck tastes a bit disappointing but not terrible, and will then inflict terrible bowel pains for 1d4 days afterwards (save vs poison with significant penalty). The delicious duck could be sold for a few sp - or several hundred gp, depending on the buyer. It is a meal fit for a king, after all.

The Mechanical Bird of Terror.
This brass mechanical bird is decorated with small bits of topaz and can be sold for 50 gp for its artistic value alone. A silver key is attached to its back. If wound up, it will intone, in a flat yet threatening voice, predictions of the future, dire secrets or other types of dangerous information. All of its prophesies and revelations are harmful and will inflict harm via people reacting negatively to them, self-fulfilling etc etc. "The rogue will betray you" would be a mild example. A rumor that causes an empire to collapse is definitely in the realm of possibility. If smashed up, worth 1d4 gp.

The guardians of the dungeon. Despite their creator being long gone, they still carry on their mission fatefully to this day. Bipedal, feathered, muscular, large anime eyes and short beaked faces. Armed with broad-bladed spears and bronze scale mail (armor as chain). Use bugbear stats but without stealth/ambush ability. They give the Lead Parrot a wide berth. They eat dungeon pigeons. They will not give up the collection, but some arrangement might be reached?

Dungeon Pigeons
Plump birds, poor flyers, that eat bugs and rock dust. Easily caught, hardy, breeds rapidly, only poops in suitable places, nice tasting. Their feathers can be use for insolation. The *real* treasure in the dungeon, they are everywhere, roaming freely.

The Lead Parrot
An 8 foot tall golem made of lead, made to look like a parrot. Stats: as stone golem but without special defences: it does not take magical weapons to injure, but each time it is injured, the golem releases a cloud of lead dust in a 10 foot radius. Save vs poison or lose 1 point of intelligence permanently (Unless cured for poisoning within 1 day). Multiple exposures can remove multiple points of intelligence, but one cure will work on several exposures. Clobbers with its wings. AC as chain mail. Has no other magical abilities, but heals 1 hp per hour. The Lead Parrot is not fast (maybe 20 feet a round?) but will take cover from missile fire (there are few long straight corridors in the dungeon) and chase the party around for a few minutes while squawking "THE EVE OF DESTRUCTION" repeatedly.

The golem's instructions are written on the back of its head, although they are hard to see. If someone was to wrestle with it and scratch off the words (not *too* hard), it will stop fighting. Reprograming the golem may be achievable. The Lead Parrot will not attack avian beings.

Chicken Warrior
A human warrior, Captain Sonders, who foolishly discarded a protective amulet and bought a magic sword instead. Has been trying to make its way through the world since. He and a few allies tried to rob this dungeon a few years ago but the rest of the party was slain. The owlbugbears took him in, but he wants out, and will try to get the PCs to help him out.  Stats as a 3rd level fighter with some experience in command.

Sinister Owl
Speaks with an erudite accent and will ask the PCs to get it out of this horrid place. It was once the familiar of a powerful wizard (a rival of Enftebtemang), and it knows many arcane secrets and can give good advice. It will try to corrupt a PC into summoning a greater demon that will kill the PCs and free the Sinister Owl from its task - it failed to get his previous owner to hell but really, any sucker will do.

Prophet Flock
This rooms is filled with several dozen small song birds of various species, who frequently sing, filling the large room with a somewhat pleasing cacophony. In the middle of the room, a large clay bowl is placed, within it short strips of parchment, each with a single word. Should someone take the strips and fling them into the air, the entire colorful flock takes fight, putting the strips back in the world. Should a question be asked, one of the bird will present the paper-tosser with a single strip with a single word that best answer their question (the GM should make an honest effort to pick the best word, although in some cases this may not be particularly helpful). The strips only have common words, no proper nouns (so "wizard" could be an answer, but "Gandalf" would not).

Should someone ask more than one question to the birds per day, the flock grows angry at their greed and will attack the questioner (others will be ignored), inflicting 1d6 points of damage per round. They will not pursue someone outside the room.

Goblins with Clipboards
This pair of goblins, armed with clipboards and pencils, one wearing spectacles and the other a fancy hat, follow the party around and seem to take notes on their activities but do not otherwise interfere. The avian inhabitants ignore the goblins. The goblins will have little to say, but will make approving/disapproving sounds when the PCs do something particularly well/poorly. If attacked, they flee, leaving their clipboards behind. Examining the clipboards will reveal scribbles, fragmentary and poorly spelled notes, and mostly crude doodles. The goblins may be bribed in revealing more about the dungeon with a piece of well-cooked Delicious Duck. Otherwise, they eat dungeon pigeons without any preparations whatsoever, with satisfied crunching sounds.

Final Ravens
These ravens are never clearly seen. From the corner of your eye... did that shadow have a raven form? Hard to say. They only come out when someone is dying, preferably in the midst of combat. At the fight rages on, they step out of the shadows and peck at the grievously wounded, hastening their passage to the next life. (mechanically, inflicting "coup de grace" attacks on characters with 0 hp or less but not dead yet). Are these attacks acts of mercy? A sinister attempt to steal the soul of the dying? A hunger for tasty, tasty eyeballs? No one knows.

The Guano Room
A crude cavern, located somewhat far from the rest of the dungeon. Although Enftebtemang spell of preservation have kept the collection in good shape far beyond the birds' natural life span, they still need to poop. Over the centuries, a great mass of guano has accumulated here. Each cart load could be sold for a few coppers to peasants (who are always keen to get more fertilizer). This may not seem like much, but there are several tons here. Alternatively, a skilled alchemist could extract several hundred pounds of good quality saltpetre from the load. Saltpetre, being the chief ingredient of gunpowder, is quite valuable.

A partridge in a pear tree
The partridge is a nice looking, tame and pleasant bird, suitable both as a pet or as a meal, but not otherwise exceptional.

The pears (3d6) have healing properties, curing 2d4+2 hp, and will stay fresh for 1d3 weeks after picking. It could be possible to preserve these pears (jam?) so they last longer. If the party attempts to transplant the tree, it will animate as a treeant and lay waste to them.

Planting a seed from the pear is possible. The soil must be watered with the tears of a dying person for the new tree's fruits to aslo have healing properties.

P.S. So what did I get? An *excellent* list of Troika! spacecraft! Very pleased, truly an honor to get something from Thrones of Salt :)

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