Forgotten Realms

Simpathetic

2125



Simpathetic
Climate/Terrain:Plains
Frequency:Very rare
Organization:Solitary or flock
Activity Cycle:Day
Diet:Carnivore/scavenger
Intelligence:High (13-14)
Treasure:Nil
Alignment:Chaotic evil (see below)
No. Appearing:1-6 or 4-400+
Armor Class:7
Movement:3, Fl 18 (B)
Hit Dice:4 hp
THAC0:20
No. of Attacks:1
Damage/Attack:1-4
Special Attacks:Alignment alteration
Special Defenses:Immune to fire-based attacks
Magic Resistance:90%
Size:T (1’ wingspan)
Morale:Fanatic (17-18)
XP Value:650

Originally from the Seventh Hell, this “bird” now makes its home in a number of grassy plains throughout the Prime Material Plane. Although everything about it indicates that it is a bird, there are some very unusual aspects of the creature that indicate something more sinister and alien.

Its mottled brown feathers offer excellent camouflage against the variegated grasses of most plains. When it flies, it is distinguished by its distinctive black wings and tail coverts. The coverts are presumed to be used for display during the courtship dance, though it has not been confirmed. Simpathetics are shy at all times and seemingly invisible during courtship.

The simpathetic has a dark yellow beak and legs. Reports of the bird when it first appeared indicated a much different creature. The feathers were described as a sooty gray-black and the beak and legs as blood-red. It seems that the simpathetic has rapidly evolved during the short time it has been on the Prime Material Plane.

Combat: The simpathetic has one physical attack. It attacks with its beak for 1-4 points of damage. It prefers to run through the tall grasses and hide rather than to attack, but both the male and female will attack to save their nestlings.

If an intruder comes too close to a nest of eggs or chicks, the parents scurry off in opposite directions. Each flails about, dragging one wing, chirping hideously, in an effort to draw attention away from the nest. These efforts are always effective against semi-intelligent or lower creatures. Of course, once a predator has been distracted far enough away from the nest, the simpathetic flies away, suddenly whole and sound again.

It is when the simpathetic performs its injured-wing routine in the presence of humans of good alignment and demihumans that the bird uses its attack. Humans of any good alignment who can see the bird flap about and hear its pitiful cry are attracted by the bird’s plight. Characters of neutral alignment are immune to the simpathetic. Characters of evil alignment are also immune to the simpathetic, but are often on the lookout for such birds. Such characters must successfully save vs. spells with a -5 penalty or they must stop to help the simpathetic.

If a character successfully saves vs. spells, he or she is forever immune to the simpathetic’s charm. At no time in the future will he or she ever be inclined to help the “injured” bird.

Those who initially fail their saving throw stop whatever they doing and follow the bird. They try to catch the simpathetic and hold it on their lap for 1-4 rounds. Once the bird is caught it remains quietly in their hands.

Characters must successfully save vs. spells, again at the -5 penalty, for each round that the bird is to remain on the characters’ lap. Each time the characters make an unsuccessful save vs. spells, they feel their alignment being sapped away. Each failed round causes the characters to move a bit closer toward evil.

For example, a lawful good paladin who has stopped to help a bird after an unsuccessful save vs. spells, rolls a four to indicate the number of rounds she will hold the bird. Her saving throws are unsuccessful in the first three rounds, but she is successful in the fourth round. She is now no longer lawful good, but instead has become lawful neutral. However, she can take some comfort in the fact that she will never fall for the simpathetic’s ruse in the future. For the purpose of this alignment attack, alignment runs in order as follows: lawful good, chaotic good, neutral good, lawful neutral, chaotic neutral, true neutral, neutral evil, chaotic evil, lawful evil.

If characters successfully save vs. spells during the 1-4 rounds they are holding the bird, they suddenly realize the error and throw the bird from their lap. The characters are also immune to the bird’s cries in future encounters. Thus, if the paladin in the above example had made a successful saving throw on her second round holding the bird, she would now be chaotic good as opposed to lawful neutral.

The simpathetic is 90% resistant to magical spells and magic-based attacks. It is immune to all fire-based attacks. Some sages think that this immunity must be a result of the species’ origination point, the Seventh Hell. Yet other sages rationalize that the immunity is because the simpathetic is originally from the Elemental Plane of Fire.

Very old rumors abound about the simpathetic having a third attack. This attack is the spitting of burning blood. However, no one in recent times has reported such an attack, and this rumor is believed to be nothing more than an old wives’ tale.

Habitat/Society: Simpathetics typically form family groups that consist of two adult parents and 1-4 nestlings. These family groups are the core unit of simpathetic society. The simpathetics seem totally devoted to the raising of their chicks. They are excellent parents, readily feeding and protecting the chicks, even against terrible odds. One renowned ornithological sage noted in his observations a pair of simpathetics who decided to nest in a rocky incline, despite it being home to a red dragon. They valiantly raised their first clutch, driving the dragon away several times. Unfortunately, the dragon grew more skillful once the second clutch arrived. Mother and chicks were eaten shortly after the eggs hatched. The father flew away, chirping mournfully.

In the fall of each year, simpathetics come together in flocks as small as a few family groups to several hundred groups. It is at this time of year that the birds are most visible, for in flocks they tend to become quite noisy, chirping and crying day and night. The skies are filled with spectacular aerial displays, and only lately have sages begun to believe that these displays are messages acted out rather than simply good spirits.

It is a fact that sages have observed the flocking together of simpathetics in what can only be a prelude to migration, but no one knows where they migrate to. The birds simply gather, put on their aerial displays for a few days to a week, and then suddenly disappear. Sages have observed the birds during this flocking pattern, only to notice a sudden quiet fall on the flock in the deepest part of the night and to find the birds gone by morning. The assumption is that the birds use a means of planar travel to reach their destination. In the spring, the birds once again appear as suddenly as they disappeared. The aerial displays and noise recur for a few days and the birds then depart once more in their family units.

Sages have discovered only recently that the birds are quite intelligent. Simpathetics are capable of a contorted version of Common, which makes them quite difficult to converse with. But they do know and can speak fluently all avian and avianlike languages. It is also presumed that they can converse with creatures from the Planes of Hell.

There are a number of neutrally-aligned sages and wizards who have become interested in the simpathetics from a scientific standpoint. A few of these characters have even gone so far as to capture certain simpathetics and selectively breed them. Unfortunately, the simpathetics’ loyalty to one mate has hampered these experiments. The experimenters have been forced to isolate from birth a selected pair in the hope they will bond only with each other when mature and thus become mates. These experiments are quite long-range in scope, however.

It is the sages’ theory that the simpathetic is gradually evolving away from the truly evil creature it was in the Planes of Hell. They believe that, by selectively breeding the birds, they can speed evolution along. The result would be simpathetics that produce eggs that will teleport to planes other than the Seventh Hell. These sages hope to either develop strains of simpathetic eggs for every plane or an ultimate strain that will teleport the consumer to the plane of his choice. As a physical indicator of their success, they believe that the birds plumage color will identify the progress. As such, they have been trying to breed light-colored birds to eventually produce white simpathetics.

Ecology: Located in grassy plains, the simpathetic is found in either family groups that consist of a male (cock) and female (hen) plus 1-4 chicks, or flocks that consist of 4-400 or more family groups.

The simpathetic mates for life and does not take another mate even if one of the pair should die. It is believed that they live for about 20 years and that they mate when about five years old.

The creature raises three clutches of 1-4 eggs a year. Both parents care for the nestlings for two months, feeding the chicks bugs, small rodents and reptiles, and bits of carrion. At the end of two months, the nestlings are sent on their way. Usually they gather with other nestlings to form loose flocks. The young birds tend to remain in these flocks and wander. Pocket populations of the simpathetic are clearly attributable to the nestlings. Once mature, the birds pair off and disperse, leaving to form new family colonies. The actual mating selection has never been witnessed.

Simpathetics are hardy breeders and so have spread to new territories. They have done so easily because of their secretive nature and few predators. Red dragons have been known to eat whole flocks of the bird as an appetizer, though it is uncertain how the dragons catch the birds, as the birds are both immune to the red dragons’ breath weapon and agile fliers. Only a few other animals actually hunt the creatures, most notably the leucrotta, but only where their territories interconnect.

Evil planar creatures trapped on the Prime Material Plane and characters of evil alignment who wish to journey to the planes hunt the simpathetic for its eggs. However, a number of evil creatures have died doing so. The eggs are only edible, and thus usable for teleportation, early in their gestation. If a baby simpathetic has begun to form within the egg, the results of swallowing the partially shaped creature are most undesirable. It is assumed that the planar energy within the egg is at an extremely concentrated state while the bird is forming, and some sages speculate that those creatures who swallow the contents of such an egg implode and are transported to an entirely empty void. Most intelligent creatures have learned to hold a light source behind the egg to check its contents.

Historical Note

The simpathetic was presumably on the verge of extinction when a mated pair was teleported into the Prime Material Plane by a mighty wizard. She had heard of an obscure legend that the creature’s eggs could be eaten as a means of planar travel.

The wizard worked her spells and successfully brought the simpathetics to her homeland, but they were vile creatures who, according to records, hissed burning blood whenever she was near. However, her magics were strong enough to keep the birds captive. In due course, the female laid an egg. It was then that the wizard became greedy. Instead of performing experiments on the one egg, she cracked the egg and boldly swallowed it raw.

The wizard’s assistant then witnessed an amazing sight. He said that he could actually see the egg slither down her throat and into her stomach, glowing dully beneath her robes. He then noticed the wizard’s face, for she had the strangest expression he had ever seen. He expected her to be in pain, but her expression was one of utter amazement instead. Her body then imploded inward and he could see through the wizard and into a strange spatial dimension showing stars and nebulae. Then the wizard abruptly disappeared, leaving behind only the metal items she had worn, including her buttons, buckles, ring of protection, and amulet of the planes. Her assistant could only assume she had meant to use the amulet to come back from the planes.

The assistant never saw the wizard again. As a reward for freeing him of his apprenticeship, he let the two birds loose. The birds subsequently secured a new home in the wastelands surrounding the wizard’s lair.


Last Modified: March 22, 2014, 12:44:41 GMT

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd Edition


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