Creatures of Ereth
Strange and wondrous creatures can be found on Ereth. Some, which may seem familiar, have attributes that may be unexpected. It is wise to become familiar with the creatures you may encounter. Some are common to the known areas; some are rare or perhaps mythical.
Balatros are huge silver-feathered birds used by the fates to send messages to the gods. They fly very high in the heavens and are often only discerned by the cloud trail they sometimes leave across the sky. Occasionally they are seen flying at night; their red eyes glowing in the darkness, the fierce light of star torches clutched in their talons rivaling the constellations.
During times of trouble between the gods, many balatross can be seen in the skies. They are usually considered a bad omen.
Called Firegliders by the Elven races, these dragon headed tree snakes are from 6" to 2' long. Their scales resemble green leaves, providing camouflage amidst the foliage. They have wings for gliding. On the front of the wings are hooked claws that help them climb.
Biccles are fire breathers. They use a breath attack with an effect like a very small torch. They live in damp areas in the rainforests, eating toasted insects, frogs, small birds, and other snakes.
The fire-breath organ can be removed and is a handy tool.
Dumbasses are herbivores, related to unicorns. They have dark brown, zebra like stripes. The background color changes from light brown to white during the winter months. Their hooves are like unicorns, but their manes and tails are shorter. They have two horns, one high on the forehead and one below it. Dumbass make no vocalizations, but communicate by high whistling sounds made through their noses. Not suitable for riding or pack animals, they are foul tempered and aggressive if disturbed. Females and young live in family groups. They are very reclusive and territorial. Each female has one or two offspring a year.
Male dumbasses are solitary creatures. They are combative if annoyed. During the mating season they are particularly testy. This is the only time the female dumbass tolerates the presence of the males.
Gargoyles are considered a sign of luck. People often carve their likeness into buildings and install statues of them on the tops of walls. Gargoyles like to settle on the roofs of tall buildings where they can sit and enjoy the sun. Most people don't realize that the nice stone statues on the roof are actually living, breathing creatures. It is common for people to find little fragments of stone below where a statue once stood, and in its place a different statue. Rarely will a gargoyle interrupt it's sunbathing to interfere with human affairs.
Giant Cave Beetles:
They are about 4 feet long, weighing roughly 95 pounds. Cave Beetles are cumbersome, slow moving, solitary creatures. They live in caves, feeding on offal and carrion that they gather into huge piles in which they incubate their eggs. They are heavily armored with a hard exoskeleton. Their heavy mandibles inflict crushing damage on their victims. They are unintelligent and do not see or hear well, depending on their senses of taste and touch.
If attacked or disturbed they will bite. They can also emit a spray of acidic vapor from the rear end of their abdomen. This spray causes damage to exposed body parts.
The mixture of two substances produced by separate glands creates the acid. It is combined in a third organ from which it is forcibly released. They can only produce it once every eight hours.
Glow Light Beetles:
They are 3 1/2 feet long and weigh about 65 pounds. Found in deep caverns, they eat molds, slimes, and fungi. They often drag dead or decaying matter to their nest sites for the saprophytic plants to feed on.
Generally non-aggressive, they have small mandibles but can deliver a painful bite. Their main defense is a tough horn, which can be up to 3 feet long.
Glow Light Beetles have glands above their eyes producing a substance that can cast a luminous glow. The beetles apparently use the glowing "eyes" to frighten away predators. If the glands are removed while active, the glow persists for 6-12 hours. If they can be removed when not active, they can be stored and used as a light source by crushing them. They do not seem to produce heat.
Griffons are the offspring of eagles and lions. They have the heads, wings, and talons of an eagle and the body of a lion. Strangely though, they have pointed ears like a dog. The feathered head is white with a golden beak. Their feathers are a dusky golden color, and the fur of their hindquarters a dirty yellow.
Griffons favorite form of attack is to carry their prey to a suitable height to be dropped. They also use their powerful hind legs to rake an opponent when they make a pass. When a griffon is protecting it's young it fights on the ground. They use their wings to beat at an opponent's head, then jump onto the chest like a cat, tearing flesh with talons and beak and raking with their claws.
The dwarves pay homage to the griffons at midsummer, and guard the nests. Even dwarves are not protected from the griffons and never get too close.
Griffons will attack any horse on sight. No one can explain why horses are so hated. It is rumored that if a young griffon is captured, it can be trained as a mount, but this has never been confirmed.
Hoolie hounds are large wolf-like creatures with rust-red to black coats, six toed feet, and glowing red eyes. They are exceedingly fast and agile. Their hearing is exceptional; it is said they can hear a man's heartbeat at a hundred paces. The sound drives them mad, they invariably attack this area first, and the heart is the only thing they eat.
Legends say that Gorak hated unicorns and decided to take a hound and fashion it into a fearsome beast. This thing slaughtered herds of unicorns. Soon there were very few left.
Then Toran sent a great warrior, Tristar, to slay the beast. Before he had done so, the beast had mated with many hounds of Ereth. It's offspring live on in the form of hoolie hounds, with a hatred of man for killing their sire.
Pythera; Serpent Guardians
Pythera are said to be huge serpents with somewhat humanoid heads. It is unclear where they would be found in nature. Legends tell of them being summoned by magic users to guard great treasures. It is suspected by some that they come from Celestia or perhaps the Land of the Fates.
Formidable beasts, they can inflict a painful and poisonous bite with their fangs, or crush victims with their powerful snakelike bodies. They say all are highly intelligent and capable of speaking many languages.
Jewel spiders, also called Magorian crystal spiders, are very rare. Large orb spinners, they are found in the forests of Magoria. Usually clear white in color, they are occasionally reported in shades ranging from light pink to deep red.
Paralyzed victims have many small bite wounds. Human victims typically have a distinctive bite mark near the eyes. The venom is extremely fast acting, causing intense pain, incapacitating convulsions and gradual paralysis.
Magorians are believed to have an antidote.
Swinemen are about five feet tall and weigh roughly 150 to 200 pounds. Their facial features are definitely porcine, with snouts, small eyes and pig-like ears. Their pale skin has a greenish tinge. They have three toed hooves and five fingered clawed, partially webbed hands. Males are tusked with sparse bearding. Normally bipedal, they can run on all fours.
They sometimes hunt in packs. Capable of setting an ambush, they have been known to stake out an injured victim to lure others in for an attack. They communicate through a rudimentary language of pig-like grunts. They have been reported to use weapons when they are available.
Nocturnal by nature, they usually avoid humans. They live in underground lairs.
There are occasional rogue boars. These solitary creatures attain great size, frequently weighing up to 275 pounds. They are extremely vicious and territorial; attacking anything that enters their range. They develop extremely tough hides and are difficult to kill. Their tusks lengthen and they sharpen them frequently to a sword-like edge. It is unknown what triggers this transformation in some swinemen. They have been known to attack humans without provocation, even entering towns and villages.
Tabors are large saber toothed cats. Their beautiful, brindled coats are highly prized. They are solitary hunters. Formidable opponents, they can sneak up on you with barely a sound. Watch out in mountainous areas, especially under trees and overhanging rocks. They hunt both by day and by night. Their chilling cries send shivers of fear through even the bravest hunters.
Wolfen may stand upright like humans, but they are beasts none the less. They travel in packs that may be family groups.