Don't Forget Your Boots

Meandering aimlessly around the GURPS landscape

Tag: critters

Dire Chicken

I could have sworn I did this once before, but now I can’t seem to find my notes. So, here, possibly again, by request: ¬†The Dire Chicken.

Dire Chicken

Dire Animal

ST: 18

HP: 18

Speed: 5

DX: 10

Will: 8

Move: 5

IQ: 3

Per: 9

HT: 10

FP: 10

SM: +1

Dodge: 8

Parry: 8

DR: 0

  • Peck (11): 2d-2 pi+ at Reach C, 1.

  • Scratch (11): 1d+1 cut at Reach C, 1.


Bestial; Cannot Speak; Enhanced Move 1 (Ground Move 10); Feathers; Hidebound; Lifting ST +4; No Fine Manipulators; Peripheral Vision; Sharp Beak; Sharp Claws


Brawling-11; Survival (Jungle)-10.

Roosters add the Penetrating Voice Perk.


TKotBO might be picking up some divine allies soon. (They’re on the list of possibilities, anyway. I think we’re up to over 100 points in stuff on the wish list.) If so, one of the first is going to be a divine steed… in the form of a dire riding chicken. With healing powers, from what I understand. The gonzo, she be a-comin’. ūüėČ

I’m not seeing the dire chicken as native to the Tembladera mountains, so much as the interior jungles. More than likely, somewhere out there, there’s a bunch of Stone Age cannibal elves riding dire chickens armed with swords made from obsidian flakes embedded in wooden clubs.




A Symbiotic Monster

(I promise, I never would have come up with this on my own. ¬†It’s a specific, special request from one of the players. I’m just adding the crunch and gristle.)

One of the stranger creatures discovered in the New World was dubbed the Sanguisocius, or blood-bird. Sages believe them to be related to stirges, though they are smaller. A fully grown blood-bird is about the size of a overfed pigeon, weighing about a pound with a wingspan of about two feet.

They appear to be sickly crossbreeds of bird and bat, with sparse, bristly feathers and a narrow, pointed beak. Their eyes are over-large and uncomfortably moist, with a cloudy nictitating membrane. In coloration, they resemble the cassowary, with dark feathers and bright blue skin. The females have scarlet wattles, while the males have bright orange crests.

Blood-birds are prone to allergies, rashes, and eye irritations. They are slow-moving and phlegmatic. Their wings cannot support them in true flight, but can be used for climbing and gliding in an ungainly fashion. In the wild, they hunt by climbing into the lower branches of trees to wait for warm-blooded animals to pass beneath. When a target presents itself, they drop and flutter onto it. There, they work their way to the victim’s neck and use their sharp beaks to open one of its¬†veins. While this is initially uncomfortable for the victim, the blood-bird immediately inserts its long, barbed tongue, which exudes a numbing saliva. It then nourishes itself on the creatures’ blood. If left alone, they will stay¬†with one¬†host indefinitely.

The first human explorers in the New World didn’t think much of the wild blood-birds they encountered, initially. They were considered yet another new, hostile inhabitant of the jungles, on par with the reeks and miniature slugbeasts the explorers had already seen. They became considerably more interested when they encountered hostile elves, and noticed that some of the elves were hosts for the birds. In fact, the humans eventually noticed that the elves with blood-birds on their neck tended to be the particularly hostile elves. The berserkers, as a matter of fact.

As it turns out, the blood-bird is somewhat symbiotic. While feeding, it can share its own energy with the host. Effectively, the host gains 2 Fatigue, which can only be used for physical feats — not for spell-casting. On the down side, having an ugly blood-sucking bird hanging from one’s neck is unpleasantly distinctive. The host effectively suffers from Odious Personal Habit 1 and Unnatural Feature 3, and will be marked by polite society as some kind of weirdo, at best.

Some of the peoples from the Old World took up the habit of hosting blood-birds, just as people have inexplicably taken up other bizarre and unhealthy habits. It’s never become particularly popular, but there is a subculture of blood-bird breeders in and around Tembladera. A healthy (for their kind) chick, ready to bond with a sentient host, can be had for $1,000 once a breeder¬†has been located. Finding one, and establishing a relationship, can be tricky. Voluntary blood-bird hosts would do well to make sure to stay on the good side of their breeder contact until they’ve put points into Veterinary and Animal Handling (Blood-Birds), as the creatures are very troublesome pets, in need of constant care (and feeding, of course — constant feeding of warm blood directly from the vein).

A blood-bird can’t be casually removed from a host. Hasty removal can badly injure both the bird and the host. The host rolls HT-2, taking cutting damage to the neck equal to any¬†margin of failure. The bird dies if it can’t make a¬†roll against its own 9 HT. ¬†If it survives, it will immediately start seeking a new host. It will feel compelled to flee the area at all costs to do so, as its instincts tell it to fear retribution from its former host.

Having a blood-bird hanging from one’s neck can interfere with many forms of neck armor. They don’t care for being confined too much, so a mail coif, for instance, would be intolerable. One can be coaxed into putting up with a greathelm with an Animal Handling roll. Making the roll exactly gains ten minutes of cooperation, with an additional ten minutes for every point the roll is made by.

A blood-bird on a host can be targeted in combat. It is SM -5, and nearly any damage will force a HT roll for survival. (You could consider them to have 1 HP, or you could just hand-wave it and say that they make HT checks upon encountering anything stronger than harsh language.)

Blood-birds are not silent. They do have their own distinctive caw. They’re placid enough that a host’s Stealth is not penalized, particularly. In the event of a critical failure of Stealth, Camouflage, or other sneakiness, however, the bird might become disturbed and start a ruckus of flapping and crowing, drawing attention.


Tin Hen

Yet another nuisance monster to pad out the wandering monster tables.  The tin hen is a chicken, made of metal, standing 18-24 inches tall, covered with razor-sharp metal feathers. The male of the species, the Tin Cock, adds the Penetrating Voice Perk.

Being at home underground, and liberal in what they will eat, the tin hen is cultivated by many intelligent dungeon dwellers. Despite their inorganic form, their eggs are perfectly edible. Particularly well-formed examples of their feathers may be used as cheap daggers in a pinch.

It is not unknown for blue-painted barbarian berserkers of smaller races to use tin hens as mounts.


Dire Animal
ST: 8 HP: 8 Speed: 5

DX: 10

Will: 12

Move: 5

IQ: 5

Per: 12

HT: 10

FP: 10

SM: -3

Dodge: 9

Parry: 9

DR: 9

  • Razor-Sharp Feathers (6): 1d-2 imp at Reach C.

  • Peck (14): 1d-1 cut at Reach C.

  • Scratch (12): 1d-1 cut at Reach C.


Body of Metal (Doesn’t Breath, Immunity to Metabolic Hazards, IT: Homogenous and No Blood, Sealed); Wild Animal (Bestial, Cannot Speak, Hidebound); Feathers; Bad Temper (9); Berserk (12)


Brawling-14; Survival (Dungeon)-13.

Coeurl, a Displaced Beast

The classic D&D monster, the displacer beast, was loosely based on Coeurl, the alien creature from¬†A. E. van Vogt’s short story, “Black Destroyer“. In the story, it called both itself and its race “coeurl”.¬†As described by one of the characters of the story: “It looks like nothing else than a big cat, if you forget those tentacles sticking out from its shoulders, and make allowances for those monster forelegs.” Among other things, it could manipulate electromagnetic radiation and electricity.

The displacer¬†beast is a feline monster, six-legged, with tentacles like a squid’s growing from its shoulders. It had the power to appear to be shifted — “displaced” — a few feet away from its actual location, making it harder to hit. It lost a couple of legs in the illustration for AD&D 2nd Edition, leading to many lame jokes about it being displaced by “two feet”. ūüėČ It has regained the legs since then, but seems to be getting thinner and more raggedy-looking as time goes on. Sad, really.

In honor of the classic monster, here’s my own homage to the classic alien.

Coeurlian Cats

This template can be added to any wild or domesticated feline.

DX +2 [20]; IQ +5 [100]; Per -5 [-25]; Will -3 [-15]; Basic Move +2

Traits: Damage Resistance 1 [5]; Extra Arms (2, Extra-flexible, Long +1) [50]; Charm perk and any one spell at IQ+6 [total 29 points]; buy off Cannot Speak [15] and No Fine Manipulators [30]; Uncontrollable Appetite (resist on 12 or less) [-15]

A coeurlian cat is more intelligent and agile than the base cat species. Its flesh is more dense, as well.  It has squid-like tentacles on each shoulder. When you apply the attribute modifiers to the felines in Campaigns, p456, they end up with IQ 9, Per 12, Will 13.

Coeurlian cats can speak, but¬†rarely learn any humanoid language. They have their own language, common to all coerulian cats, regardless of base stock. It¬†is rarely taught to members of other species. Learning it requires a Perk, “Trained By An Cat With Tentacles”. Only cat-folk and similar feline races can learn to speak it beyond Accented level. There is no written version, though hunting groups will sometimes leave marks for one another by scratching tree trunks, aligning small stones, and similar tricks; these are all a function of Survival skill. Coeurlian cats that hunt in groups often put points into Gesture, as well.

Each species of coeurlian cat can innately cast one spell. For coeurlian panthers, the spell is Blur, producing the Tembladera equivalent of the classic D&D monster. The spells of other species are left as an exercise for the GM and a surprise for the players.

Coeurlian cats aren’t just meat-eaters. They are imbued with an unholy hunger for the flesh of sentient humanoids. While they can live on the meat of dumb animals, they don’t much care for it and will always prefer humanoid meat.

While the template doesn’t require any particular mental Disadvantages, individual coeurlian cats are prone to Overconfidence, Sadism, and other unpleasant issues. They are as likely to work alone as they are to gather in groups, without regard for the base species’ habits.¬†Individual coeurlian cats will either prefer the habitat of their base species, or they will prefer to live underground, either in natural caverns or man-made¬†dungeons.


Clockwork Lock-Beast

When the empire of the dwarves was at its height, they created many technological wonders. One of these is the Clockwork Lock-Beast.

A lock-beast is a construct shaped like a chunky dragonfly, about four inches tall. They have six legs, using the front pair as arms, and a delicate set of wings. They are made of a network of metal and semi-precious stones. While each one is unique, they all have a keyhole in their thorax. They are found clinging to a door or chest, where one might expect to find a lock.

Each lock-beast has an¬†ornate key, obviously designed and decorated to¬†match, that fits its keyhole. If presented with that key, they release their grip and allow passage. They’re not very bright, and don’t have great senses, so they can even be fooled by a skilled picker of locks, with a Regular¬†contest of DX-based Lockpicking versus the beast’s Professional Skill (Lock). If the beast wins such a contest, if the object it protects is attacked, or if it is simply pulled loose from its perch, the lock-beast goes on the offense.

When agitated, the lock-beast’s mandibles open wide, revealing a small but vicious buzzsaw. The saw’s edges are sharpened and reinforced to cut through armor. Even worse, the saw is envenomed, from a magically-refilling internal reservoir. Anyone cut by the saw must roll HT-3 or take an addition 2 points of toxic damage.

While a lock-beast attacks aggressively, its goal is primarily to preserve the object it has been set to defend. It will pursue fleeing would-be thieves for a few seconds, but will break off pursuit and return to its base as soon as possible.

Being Reprogrammable, a lock-beast could be made to perform tasks beyond acting as a lock and guardian, but there are a couple of reasons this rarely happens. First, they aren’t terribly bright, don’t much care for change, and only really understand the life of a lock. (If left idle, a lock-beast will often choose some nearby object and lock it to the surface it rests on.) Second, being a remnant of ancient dwarvish technology, they’re mostly found guarding the treasures of long-dead dwarves. Even if their masters were available to transfer ownership, the method by which this can be accomplished is long lost.*

* Quest!


ST 4 HP 11 Basic Speed 6.5
DX 13 Will 4 Basic Move 3
IQ 4 Per 9  
HT 13 FP¬†n/a SM -7 (4‚ÄĚ tall, 8‚ÄĚ wingspan)
Dodge 9 Parry 9 DR: 3 (Semi-Ablative)
  • Buzzsaw (13) 1d(2) cut, Reach C.
  • Poison (follow-up) +2 tox, resisted by HT-3.
Traits Clinging; Damage Resistance 3 (Semi-ablative); Doesn’t Breathe; Doesn’t Eat or Drink; Doesn’t Sleep; Electrical; Extra Legs (4 Legs); Fanaticism (defended item or door); Flight (Small wings); Fragile (Unnatural); Hidebound; High Pain Threshold; Immunity to Metabolic Hazards; Incurious (6 or less); Indomitable; Injury Tolerance (No Blood, Unliving); Night Vision 3; No Sense of Smell/Taste; Numb; Reprogrammable; Slave Mentality; Social Stigma (Valuable Property); Unfazeable; Unhealing (Total); Wealth (Dead Broke).
Skills Professional Skill (Lock)‚Äď15.


Home-brew Monster: Bee Cat

Bee cat

ST 6 HP 6 Basic Speed 6
DX 14 Will 11 Basic Move 10 (15 sprint at cost of 1 Fatigue)
IQ 6 Per 12 (14 w/ vibration sense)  
HT 10 FP 10 SM -3
Dodge 10 Parry 11 DR: 0
  • Claw (16) 1d-4 cut plus follow-up venom, Reach C. Victim of venom rolls HT-1 or is Nauseated. If the HT roll is failed by 5 or more, or is a crit failure, the victim is also Retching. Both last for 1 minute times the margin of failure, minimum 1 minute.
  • Bite (16) 1d-4 cut, Reach C.
  • Tail Stinger (16) 1d-2 imp plus follow-up venom, Reach C. Venom is 1d-1 tox, Cyclic (4 cycles of 1 hour). Victim rolls HT-3 to resist each cycle, including the first; success ends the damage. If suffering over 1/3 HP from the venom, the victim is Nauseated until the damage heals.
Traits Appearance (Attractive); Bestial; Bloodlust (9 or less); Cannot Speak; Catfall; Chummy; Claws (Sharp Claws); Combat Reflexes; Enhanced Move (1/2; Ground; Costs Fatigue); Extra Legs (4 Legs); Fur; Hidebound; Horizontal; Night Vision 5; No Fine Manipulators; Teeth (Sharp Teeth); Vibration Sense.
Skills Brawling-16; Jumping-14; Stealth-14.

The bee cat is a hybrid of, unsurprisingly, a feral cat and a honeybee. Bee cats are the size of a large house cat, but are both stronger and more intelligent than their common cousins. They generally resemble a house cat, but have larger claws, insect-like antennae, and a wicked stinger on the end of their tails. They are quite agile and able to leap long distances for their size.

Unlike many other felines, bee cats live in groups. A swarm of bee cats could include dozens of individuals. If treated well, a bee cat might be willing to accept a group of humans as its swarm and become somewhat tamed. They do not breed in captivity, and so cannot be domesticated.

The venom of the bee cat is found primarily in its tail stinger, with a weaker version being delivered by its claws. While it is not unknown, a single sting is unlikely to kill a healthy, adult human. The problem is, it is rare to see a single sting. Once aroused to violence, a bee cat is a persistent and stubborn foe, refusing to stop fighting until they are sure their opponent is dead, and irritating one bee cat is likely to draw the ire of the rest of the swarm.

Bee cats reproduce by laying eggs, about the size and shape of a quail’s egg. These eggs are dimly bio-luminescent, shedding a light blue glow. Bee cats feed their kittens on honey, in a fashion similar to the way house cats feed their kittens on milk. Bee cat honey is prized as a delicacy by the humans of Tembladera, and is one of the many exotic trade goods shipped back to the Old World. It keeps indefinitely,¬†so long as it is¬†covered.

Bee cat, tame, adult: $400

Bee cat egg: $25

Bee cat honey, 1 meal: $25, 0.5 lbs


Lurker Above

The lurker above is a sort of huge, flying, man-eating manta ray. Its¬†coloration blends in with rocky areas. Its¬†favored hunting method is to climb up to the ceiling of a¬†dungeon room and flatten itself there to wait for prey. Motionless, in this position, it has an effective Stealth roll of 18 ¬†(11, minus 3 for size, plus 10 for Chameleon). Adventurers might take -2 to their PER checks to notice the lurker if they’re not specifically paying attention to the ceiling at the expense of watching the floor. In rooms with high enough ceilings, they might also take penalties due to darkness. If their light sources don’t reach the ceiling, the lurker might be effectively invisible.

When the time is ripe, the lurker will launch itself through the air. In motion, its effective Stealth roll drops to 13. Its visual “comfort zone” is a -5 darkness modifier, and it takes a -1 penalty for each level away from -5 at the current lighting level; for example, torchlight gives a -3 penalty, so a lurker above suffers a -2 to Vision in torchlight. Even so, it can make a Blind Fighting roll to avoid any penalty. They prefer to strike from behind with a slam followed by a grapple.

While the lurker above seems to lazily flap its “wings” while flying, it doesn’t actually use them for flight at all. They are buoyed by pockets of lighter-than-air gas, and can hover.


ST 28 HP 28 Basic Speed 6
DX 11 Will 10 Basic Move 6 air (0 ground)
IQ 4 Per 14
HT 13 FP 13 SM +3
Dodge 10 Parry 9 DR: 2+2 vs crushing (tough skin)
  • Constriction Attack (ST vs ST/HT) Grapple at 13.
  • Bite (11) 3d-2 cr, Reach C.
  • Wing Buffet (11) 3d-2 cr, Reach C, 1-2
Traits Bestial; Chameleon 5; Combat Reflexes; Constriction Attack; Damage Resistance 2 (Tough Skin); Damage Resistance 2 (Tough Skin, only vs crushing); Discriminatory Smell; Flight; Hidebound; Injury Tolerance (No Blood, No Brain, No Vitals); Loner (6 or less); Mute; No Fine Manipulators; No Legs (Aerial).
Features Night Vision 5 (Visually impaired by day, take -1 for each step away from comfortable zone)
Skills Blind Fighting‚Äď14; Climbing‚Äď12; Stealth‚Äď11; Sumo Wrestling‚Äď13 (+2 ST bonus).

Gelatinous Cube


ST 10 HP 30 Basic Speed 4.5
DX 4 Will 0 Basic Move 4
IQ 0 Per 10
HT 14 FP 14 SM +3
Dodge 7 Parry 5 DR: 0
  • Pseudopod Punch (9) 1d-2 cr, Reach C. Always takes a random hit location.
  • Paralyzing, Corrosive Slime (aura) The cube is covered in slime which does 1d corrosive damage to anything it touches, with the exception of stone and metal. Any living thing touching this slime must make a HT-5 roll (add DR) or be afflicted with Paralysis for a number of minutes equal to the margin of failure, and Stunned after that, until it can make a HT roll (one roll per second).
  • Engulfing: When it encounters paralyzed creatures, the cube will pick them up and engulf them, adding them to its internal Payload. A cube of this size can carry up to 600 lbs at one time. Anything inside the cube will continue to be affected by the Paralysis effect of the cube’s slime, and will begin to suffocate, but will only take corrosive damage at a rate of 1 point per 10 minutes.
Traits Bestial; Chameleon 7; Doesn’t Breathe; Doesn’t Sleep; Hidebound; High Pain Threshold; Immunity to All Mind Control; Immunity to Metabolic Hazards; Injury Tolerance (Homogenous); Invertebrate; Lifting ST 13; Mute; No Legs (Slithers); No Manipulators; Payload¬†60 225; Vibration Sense.
Skills Brawling‚Äď9.

Another classic monster. I’m counting the Chameleon bonus (+14 to Stealth when motionless, or +7 when moving) as a penalty to Vision checks. Counting the +10 “in plain sight” modifier and its Size, this means a delver needs to make a Vision roll at -1, plus any darkness penalty, to notice a motionless¬†gelatinous cube at arm’s reach.

Rust Monster

Another classic monster. ¬†I expect the very thought of it will bring TKotBO to tears…


ST 9 HP 9 Basic Speed 5
DX 13 Will 10 Basic Move 5
IQ 3 Per 12  
HT 10 FP 10 SM +0
Dodge 12 Parry 9 DR: 0
  • Bite (13) 1d-3 cut; Reach C.
  • Antennae Touch (13) 1d-3 cr; Reach C.
  • Rusting Touch (aura) Any touch does 6d corr damage, only to metal. Effective on any contact, through antennae or when hit by a metal weapon.
Traits Bestial; Cannot Speak; Detect (Metal); Enhanced Dodge 4; Extra Legs (4 Legs); Gluttony (12); Hidebound; Horizontal; Infravision; Social Stigma (Monster); Teeth (Sharp Teeth); Wealth (Dead Broke).
Skills Climbing‚Äď13.

Home-brew Monster: Raposalada


One of the kids drew me a picture, knowing that I’ve been looking for monsters lately. Thus, the world of Tembladera gains a new creature…

ST 15 HP 15 Basic Speed 5.75
DX 12 Will 12 Basic Move 5
IQ 10 Per 10  
HT 11 FP 11 SM 1
Dodge 8 Parry 9 DR: 0 (face 4)
  • Tail Lash (12) 1d cr; reach C, 1
  • Lightning Bolt (12) 1d burn surge jet, range 10
  • Mask (special) Enchanted with Fascinate (see M135), always on
Traits Acute Hearing 2; Animal Empathy; Appearance (Beautiful, Androgynous, Universal); Blindness; Curious (12); Dependency (Mana; Constantly); Discriminatory Hearing; Doesn’t Breathe; Doesn’t Eat or Drink; Doesn’t Sleep; Double-Jointed; Flight (small wings); Fur; No Fine Manipulators; No Legs (Aerial); No Sense of Smell/Taste; Para-Radar (360¬ļ, Penetrating); Plant Empathy; Regeneration (Regular: 1HP/Hr); Resistant (Mind Control college spells; +8); Social Stigma (Monster); Supernatural Durability (vulnerable to magical electricity); Trickster (12).
Skills Aerobatics‚Äď12; Body Sense‚Äď11; Innate Attack (Beam)‚Äď12.
Equipment Face mask (DR 4), fine, ornate (+1), enchanted with Lighten x50% and Fascinate (always on) at 15. $21,102; 0.75 lbs.

The raposalada are a rare faerie race from the jungles of the New World. They take the shape of a faceless, winged hybrid of fox and serpent. Sensitive about their missing faces, the raposalada invariably wear ornate masks, decorated to match their fur in color and markings. They are about man-sized, but with their long, snakelike bodies, they are SM +1.

Being faceless, the raposalada are naturally blind, and have no sense of taste or smell. They make up for these deficiencies in two ways. First, their sense of hearing is particularly acute. In fact, they mainly identify each other by the sound of their voice. Second, they possess a sense of perception with a base range of 200 yards, which extends in all directions and can sense within objects. This sense can resolve small objects, but isn’t sufficient to recognize faces without a PER roll.

Raposalada masks appear to be decorative, but are actually quite rugged. More remarkably, they are enchanted with the “always on” version of the Fascinate spell, at a minimum skill of 15. More powerful, experienced, and wealthy raposalada might have masks with a higher skill level, or additional enchantments.¬†Since they cannot make eye contact, they are immune to the magic of their masks. Note that these masks come without eye-holes, limiting their usefulness (and resale value) for¬†most buyers.

They take damage like normal, but can only be killed by magical electricity. This includes their own lightning-bolt attack, which strikes forth from their chests in a thirty foot jet. Summer duels among the clouds between young raposalada are sometimes mistaken for heat lightning. When they are injured, they recover amazingly quickly.

While not terribly strong-willed, the raposalada are highly resistant to spells from the Mind Control college.

The raposalada are curious tricksters, constantly getting themselves into the business of those nearby. They often ally themselves with neighboring tribes of elves. Some exceptional individuals learn the ways of the druids or bards.


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