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Hollow Moon Cultures: Pteryx of the Apenninesby Sharon Dornhoff
Technology: Iron Age, steel forged; few complex machines used, but "assembly line" manufacturing processes are common
Lifestyle: Pedocratic communal fish-eaters, alien and aloof/oblivious
Population: About 6000 pteryx; 27,000+ troglodyte servants/menials; ~1000 assorted others (pets, livestock & experimental subjects)
Mystaran Origin: Brasol Range of Davania, c. 12,500 BC
Literary Inspiration: ERBs Pellucidar novels (Mahars), Edwardian socialists' "techno-utopias", and the animated sci-fi film "Fantastic Planet"
Less a "range" of individual mountains, than a continuous ridge of upthrust rock between Mare Imbrium and the Great Spindrift Sea, the steam-capped lunar Apennines present a forbidding appearance from a distance. Though not exceptionally steep or geologically destructive -- the lava-wells which dot the southeastern side of the ridge seep molten magma only gradually, like a line of slowly-bleeding wounds in the barren rockface, never cresting the banks of their heat-eroded channels -- their weathered slopes and tephra-buried ledges speak of an antiquity which none of Matera's younger, still-growing volcanoes can match. On the northwestern face, overlooking Mare Imbrium's crystalbarrens, the Apennines appear stark, lifeless and featureless, save where the vast, crevice-riddled cliff which serves as their foothills abuts the stagnant Marsh of Putrescence. If approached from the seaward side, the southeast face bleeds its sluggish, glowing magma-rivers out of many shallow, maw-like caverns, that gape open in scattered arrays from as high as 28,000 feet above crystal-level -- just shy of the Apennine ridge's windswept apex -- to as low as a few hundred feet above the sea's waves. No race lacking the power of flight, or a conviction of its own impunity in the face of Matera's natural cataclysms, would ever dream of venturing into such a lava-striped and treacherous territory ... much less, of establishing cities and places of refuge (!) in the very cave-mouths that vomit forth both incandescent magma and sweltering heat.
Yet such are the places in which the pteryx -- oldest civilised race of Mystara's prehistory, and indisputably THE most powerful race of the present-day Hollow Moon -- have built their homes. By stupendous feats of magic and engineering, the ancient pterosauroids have tamed and channelled the Apennine lava-flows so as to minimise the impact of Fire Times upon their homeland, ensuring no single eruption or tremor can build up the seismic force to endanger their unique "suspended cities". These are massive, communal aeries, cooled and ventilated by brisk montane winds and illuminated by the red-glowing magma below, which dangle like gargantuan stalactites from the roofs of the lava-spilling caverns. Their weight supported by a combination of magic and superior metallurgy, these cities cling like angular, unearthly beehives to the basalt ceilings of the lava-caverns, and are home to the pterosauroids and their most prized pets and servants. Far below these hanging communities, at the rear of the great lava-caves, multiple levels of dug-out workshops and manufacturies -- mazes of unlit shafts, labour-halls and barracks, that burrow deep into the caverns' walls -- provide quarters and work-space for the thousands of troglodyte labourers whom the pteryx (who consider themselves above all menial chores) employ and keep order amongst. Subterranean passages from the dug-out levels offer clear access to the northwestern cliff-face and to the troglodytes' Marsh of Putrescence, as well as to those roosting-places which are shared in common by the city-dwellers; but only flight (and a perilous flight at that, through the unpredictable thermals which rise from the lava*) can bring one into the pteryx's suspended research facilities and archives, thanks to the SoRs inhibition of mortal Teleport-magics.
(* - Persistent rumours among Materans hold that the pteryx can actually redirect the flow of lava from their caverns, if necessary, sending floods of magma down the mountainsides at enemy armies ... and while no nation in living memory has dared send so much as a scouting party, to trespass upon the pterosauroids' domain, most HM natives consider these rumours plausible. With the pteryx, Materans say, it's a lot wiser to assume they can do anything, than to deny out-of-hand that they can do something. ;-))
Weather in the Apennines is quite stable -- even boring -- in contrast to the dramatic terrain. A steady cloud of vapours rises from the boiling coastlines where oozing lava meets the Great Spindrift Sea, to drift upward and blanket the seaward face of the mountain range. Carried the prevailing southeast winds, this perpetual fog-bank slowly rises up until it crests the ridgetop; crosses over the last few peaks in vast "streamers" of mist, which give the Great Spindrift its name; and finally condenses into rain, above the mountains' northwestern flank and the Marsh of Putrescence, as the chill air of the crystalbarrens supplants the heat of the Apennines' lava-streams. Only during Circle Tides does this unending fog -- which normally obscures most of the range's southeasterly face, save its glowing traceries of molten magma -- blow to one side or the other, revealing the mountainsides clearly to outside observers. At Storm Times, the fog-bank turns black and roiling with rain and thunder (lightning is rare, but conditions are still fairly hazardous for pteryx to fly through); Fire Times, though they never generate full-fledged eruptions, may kick off showers of hot pebbles and ash, at points downstream from the lava-rivers' cavernous "headwaters".
Temperatures in the lava-caverns are sufficient to do damage (1d4 hp/hour) to unprotected creatures, in the deepest portions where lava wells up. But careful funnelling of cold winds off the Great Spindrift into the upper portions of these huge chambers keeps the inhabited sections of the caverns at a comfortable (to Mesozoic reptiles) 90-100 degrees Fahrenheit: sweltering enough to leave most of the Hollow Moon's mammalian races on the verge of heat exhaustion, yet balmy and soothing to the pteryx and their troglodyte servants. The same humid winds that cool the caverns' inhabited portions also blow away noxious gases and smoke emitted by the lava-floes, or churned out by the smelters and industrial facilities in the troglodytes' dug-out manufacturing levels. In the upper parts of the cavern and the suspended cities, the air smells pleasantly of the sea, while the lower caverns and the trog-warrens reek of brimstone, ash, and troglodyte stench.
Of natural wildlife and vegetation, the Apennines have very little, save a few lichens and marmot-like multituberculates. The pteryx subsist primarily on fish from the Great Spindrift, hauled up in huge nets by their troglodyte fishing-fleet. But the pterosauroids also enjoy fishing for their meals as a recreational activity, and have constructed many artificial ponds and small lakes on ledges in the mountainsides. (These are rimmed with high walls of basalt, designed to blend in with the background stone for aesthetic reasons, and they are not easily recognised from below.) Most of these small fishing-ponds are stocked with trout, eels, pike, frogs, and other freshwater delicacies which the sea can't offer, and are laid out to look like natural bodies of water. Comfortable perching-rocks are laid out on their banks or situated as tiny, artificial islets in the water. A few of the larger ponds are left unstocked, and are used for special banquets in which "exotic" foodstuffs -- young giant squid for example, or pesky-yet-edible animal varmints (such as trespassing humanoids) that have proven too much of a nuisance to turn loose -- may be sampled, as a change of pace in one's diet.
As for the permanent habitations of the pterosauroids, their city-aeries appear half-finished and utilitarian to other races' eyes. As creatures of the air, they dislike close confinement or being walled in; as natural telepaths, they have no concept of privacy or bodily modesty. The typical pteryx roosting-complex -- of which each city has several, with about 40-80 pteryx in residence at each -- consists of a central column 30-60' in diameter, securely affixed to the cavern's ceiling. Up to a dozen metal-braced floors encircle this column; these living-platforms (shared in common by the residents) are spaced out so each is at least 20' beneath the previous floor, the better to maximise air-circulation and allow room for its occupants' extended wings. Each circular floor of a pteryx roosting-complex is open to the air on all sides, and the floor's outer rim is kept clear of obstructions to offer convenient landing pads and launch-points for takeoffs by the residents. The uppermost level of a pteryx roosting-complex houses no pteryx, but troglodyte house-servants and food-preparators live there full-time, catering to the occupants' needs; their level DOES have a railing -- something which the claustrophobic pteryx would abhor -- and its outer edge is draped in cloth to block out the lava-light, since trogs prefer darkness. Embedded in the uncut stone of the cavern's ceiling, at the "root" of the building's central column, a small contingent of troglodyte guards watch over the network of secure corridors and shafts, that link each roosting-complex to the trog labourers' warrens, far below city-level in the walls of the lava-cavern. Supplies for the residence are hauled up from the warrens-warrens with a block & tackle array, mounted on the underside of the bottom-most platform. That floor, suspended directly over the magma and prey to the worst smoke and heat, is also left to servants' attentions, and serves mostly for storage (as well as the complex's latrine).
Within those parts of the complex which the pterosauroids (as opposed to their servants) inhabit, everything is arranged to suit the pteryx's rhamphorhyncid bodies and communal temperaments. Floors are textured with small furrows, providing traction for the ungainly pteryx walk/scrabble; faint illumination is reflected inward by brass parabolic mirrors, mounted on struts along the rim of the next floor up, that catch the red light of the incandescent lava below. Furnishings such as sculptured rocks for roosting are placed farther in, near the central column. Still-flightless pteryx chicks -- what few there are -- can be found there, safely away from the platform's rim, as well as the warm, finely-crafted nursery-boxes in which busy pteryx mothers brood their single eggs. Networks of pipes, dumbwaiters, and servants' passages within the central column provide magically-channelled drinking water and fresh fish dinners to residents upon request, the servants' attention being attracted by pull-ropes and bells. Magical knick-knacks and minor artistic works, such as slowly-shifting displays of illusory shadows or delicate, abstract sculptures that project emotions upon those who touch them, are exhibited in niches along the column's walls, for all to admire and comment upon.
The real focus of pteryx life isn't their roosting-places, however luxurious: it's their places of study and research. For every major discipline pursued in a given pteryx city, there's a building dedicated to that pursuit, similar in design to the roosting-complexes, but much more varied in the contents of its floors. Most academic buildings -- which include such things as temples for clergy ("theologians") and the offices of city government ("scholars of administration"), as well as schools of art, magic, history or science -- come complete with a library (some volumes engraved on metal plates, others stored in glass orbs as telepathic impressions only a pteryx can "read"); scriptorium for record-keeping (as copious and tedious as befits a 13,000-year-old, sage-run bureaucracy! ;-D); facilities for communal study in the relevant discipline (wizards' and natural philosophers' labs, historical archives, art studios, museums, or whatever fits the topic); individual facilities for each of the more-prominent local scholars (as per communal facilities, but with better equipment and security); and -- of course! -- a teeming contingent of troglodyte guards, maintenance crews, stock-workers, janitors, and assistants/orderlies (to do all the grunt-work). Academic competition is about the only territorial impulse which the pteryx DO demonstrate, so individual scholars' workspaces are secured against plagiarising snoopers (or pilfering troglodytes), and are walled off from each other on either side. On the open-to-air face of their personal labs, pteryx wizards or clergy often lay magical wards -- always powerful, though non-lethal -- to discourage unauthorised pterosauroids from entering, on-the-wing. Those pteryx not skilled in magic usually hire extra troglodytes, loyal only to them*, for on-site security at their workspaces. Unlike roosting-complexes, pteryx research-facilities don't link up to the trogs' warrens in the walls of the lava-caverns: everything there, including the servants and guards**, is either hauled up via block & tackle, flown up by the scholars themselves, or transported via Levitation or other magical means. The most highly-sensitive workspaces, such as isolation chambers for experimental spellcasting or cages for newly-discovered creatures under zoologists' observation, are built into the central columns of their academic buildings, where yard-thick stone and resplendite sheathing can contain magical mishaps or irate monsters' escape attempts.
(* - Note that troglodyte guards are there to report snooping, corral the occasional wayward laboratory specimen, and curtail other trogs' kleptomania ... NOT to hurt pterosauroids who succumb to curiosity, and DO snoop. Pteryx "rivals" never let differences in opinion escalate to the point where one or the other might be personally offended, let alone wounded. Ironically, a pteryx may amicably share its sleeping quarters and mealtime conversations with the very same "rival scholar" it wards its workspace against! Likewise, magical wards never inflict harm on intruders, even to the point of waiting until they're a safe distance from the floor's rim before paralysing them or otherwise rendering them helpless.)
(** - Among other things, this means that the (flightless) troglodytes can't get out of the building without pteryx assistance! Even the block & tackle requires a pteryx to fly down and authorise its unlocking, before it can haul anyone to or from the trog-warrens beneath the suspended city. Matera's ever-suspicious troglodytes aren't too happy about this arrangement -- most of the best jobs are in the academic buildings; yet working there means agreeing to trap themselves hundreds of feet above molten lava, with no way out (except "extra-crispy" ;-D), should their bosses somehow become dissatisfied with them -- but they've never been able to convince the pteryx (to whom the notion of "fear of heights" doesn't translate at all) to change it.)
While the open-air design of pteryx city-aeries might make them appear vulnerable to flying attackers, the pterosauroids' benign security-wards on their workspaces are only the tip of the iceberg. Materan folklore speaks of an immense spinel dragon -- one of the largest lunar dragons that ever lived -- who attempted to destroy a pteryx city several centuries ago, in retaliation for its being driven out of the Apennines. No sooner had this dragon flown into the suspended city's lava-cavern airspace, than screens of magic similar to Walls Of Force sprang up from the rims of the buildings' platforms, sealing off every building in the city from breath weapons; the brass mirrors which usually direct light into pteryx dwellings swivelled to track it in flight, each one beaming forth a different-coloured ray of light like one of the seven layers of a Prismatic Sphere; and the metal chains and derricks of the buildings' block & tackle arrays began crackling and throwing huge sparks at one another, with the dazzling red energy of SoR-discoloured Chain Lightning*. By the time the magma far below the city began welling up like a geyser, directly underneath the dragon, the suddenly-humbled wyrm had second thoughts about its assault, and retreated from the cavern in considerable haste.
(* - Hey, these suckers held off module M3's Greater Carnifex (!!!) for a good 500-odd years, back in the Mesozoic! Even if pteryx civilisation HAS declined pretty far since then, they're not gonna be pushovers. :-D)
Appearance and Dress
The pteryx are a breed of intelligent rhamphorynchid pterosaurs: long-tailed flying reptiles of the Jurassic period. They are related, albeit only distantly, to the Red Steel setting's krolli race; some obscure genetic link with dragons has also been speculated about, based upon their draconic appearance, long lifespans, and inherent magical abilities. Despite a strong physical resemblance, pteryx do not consider themselves akin to skinwings or to any of Matera's lesser rhamphorynchid species, any more than humans think of themselves as close kin to lemurs or tree shrews.
Pteryx have leathery wings, wedge-shaped heads on slender "S"-curved necks, whip-like tails longer than their bodies, and stubby legs that end in flat, webbed feet. At maturity, a pteryx weighs about as much as a large human male, but is nearly twice as broad across the torso; much of its internal anatomy consists of air-sacs or lightweight, hollow bones, so its frame is much larger, for its mass, than a humanoid's. Top-heavy due to the massive flight-muscles in their powerful chests, landbound pteryx move on all fours, their wing-hands and stunted hind legs scrabbling at the ground, and the tips of their folded wings jutting out over their backs at a 45-degree angle. Slouching around in this manner is uncomfortable and awkward for them -- they prefer to fly, or paddle about like waterfowl on the surface of calm water, as a means of locomotion -- so pteryx usually only perch, thus, when they are resting or carrying out stationary tasks (reading, conducting research, coordinating servants' labours, etc). Crouched in this way, wings folded, with its neck curved like a swan's and its slender tail stretched out behind, a pteryx at rest resembles nothing so much as a miniature wyvern or dragon, right down to the reptilian "alienness" of its unblinking, inscrutable gaze.
The wings of a pteryx are of tough, leathery skin, with a sparse coat of short, heat-retaining hairs over minute scales (like a rat's tail). Each wing's membrane is anchored along the pteryx's side, from hip to armpit, and is supported at its lead edge by the forelimb and greatly-elongated fifth finger of the hand. A typical wingspan for an adult pteryx is 22', but these creatures -- like many reptiles -- continue to grow throughout their lifespan, such that venerable individuals of 600+ years may boast 30' wingspans. Halfway along their wings' lead edges, where a bat's thumb would be found, the pteryx have scaly, clawed hands with an opposable thumb and three slender fingers. While that portion of their wings which is necessary for flight is extremely muscular, pteryx hands are rather frail -- fragile, even -- and not suited for coarse labour. (That's what magic, or troglodyte servants, are for. ;-D) They CAN perform all manner of delicate tasks, such as writing, painting, laboratory dissections, or the fabrication of small objects, with their wing-hands. When working with their hands, pteryx squat on their haunches, and keep the membranes of their wings folded tightly against their sides, out of the way. Pteryx hindquarters are bow-legged and unwieldy on land, but can propel them quickly across water or beneath the sea's surface. Their three-toed feet are webbed and triangular, with stubby claws and thick, tough scales, like those of a seagull or goose. The tail is slim and whip-like, with a small diamond-shaped "rudder" at its tip ... yet another feature which suggests kinship with dragons, although a pteryx's tail-tip is oriented vertically, not horizontally.
Like modern sea-birds such as skuas or petrels, pteryx are fish-eaters built to crash-dive into the ocean and snap up tasty meals just below the water's surface. Their large eyes face forward for binocular vision, and their long, triangular muzzles bristle with many sharp teeth suitable for snatching fish out of the water. These dozens of simple, needle-like fangs overhang their lips when their mouths are closed, giving the pteryx a perpetually-fearsome, snaggle-toothed look that mammalian races find threatening. Pteryx snouts aren't beaked as in pterodactyls, nor do they have the large crests seen in genus Pteranodon; apart from mouth, eyes, and nostrils set well back near the base of the muzzle -- an adaptation to keep water out of the nasal passage and salt out of the mouth; like seabirds, pteryx void excess salt from the fish they eat through nasal pores -- their faces are rather featureless. Ears are simple holes on the sides of the skull. In common with many other reptilian races, pteryx lack facial muscles under their coarse, scaled skin, so they reveal little emotion in their stiff, unmoving features: tension in the body and wings, tail position, and overall posture serve as expressive "body language", instead, for this species.
Coloration of scales in the pteryx race varies a bit, from dull grey to olive green to reddish brown; slate grey is by far the most common. Scale colour has no great significance in pteryx society, although unusual pigmentation is considered less attractive than slate grey. Pteryx eyes are large and dark, with a hue that seems to shift from deep blue to violet to black as one watches them. A pteryx's unwavering gaze is extraordinarily penetrating, yet chilling in its coldly-analytical, unblinking intensity ... so much so, that it can freeze the unwary mammal who meets it in his or her tracks! (Fortunately, few mammals' antics are sufficiently interesting to them, to invite such depth of attention from any pteryx.) The pteryx wear no clothing -- indeed, it puzzles them when captured humanoids display some odd, instinctive urge to wrap themselves in garments, despite being ill-adapted to the lava-caverns' heat -- and they do not ornament their bodies in any way. Thus, unless they bear scars, display the leathery, drooping wrinkles of age, or are of some unusual scale-colour, it is all but impossible for outsiders to tell pteryx of similar size apart. Even the neck-slung velvet pouches they often bear, to carry personal belongings or materials for spellcasting, are virtually indistinguishable from each others'. Pteryx are fastidiously clean creatures, washing after even the slightest encounter with dirt or messiness, and bathing frequently in the Apennines' artificial lakes.
Although the pteryx themselves do not wear clothing, their troglodyte servants (who don't mind the heat) are required to dress in garments befitting their station in the hierarchy of underlings, so the pteryx can tell at a glance which employees are authorised to do what. City guards and officials' bodyguards are equipped with armour and weapons of a steel-like, resilient metal (titanium), plus special "heat-dampener" (asbestos) nose guards they can strap over their facial pits; the latter serve to prevent blindness, in the event their duties take them too near the infravision-dazzling lava. The personal servants of city officials, and the laboratory-aides and orderlies of natural philosophers or wizards, are garbed in tabards of fine cloth that are woven to display the emblems of their masters' offices. Civil-service menials, such as floor-sweepers or fishing-fleet crews, wear tunics of a colour specific to their category of labour (cleaners wear sky blue, food-provisioners wear dark green, food preparators wear dull brown, etc). House-servants from roosting-complexes dress in light loincloths and vests, the latter bearing the emblem of their specific complex on the back. For the miserable hordes "employed" in industrial work, a simple loincloth is all that is provided by their troglodyte overseers. Captive "research specimens", "pets", or "livestock" -- such as humans, cryions, vesper elves, etc -- are given no garments at all, being dumb animals, and are usually stripped naked upon first being captured ("collected") from the wild, so their foolish instinct for self-covering won't drive the poor beasts to heatstroke. ;-D
The pteryx of Mystara were a powerful, sophisticated race -- sage creatures who became masters of many fields of magic, art, and science; and shrewd innovators who devised an efficient and equitable social order, as well as a civilised way of life. Sadly, while their descendants in the Hollow Moon retain that social order and the advanced lifestyle of their predecessors, they lost their ancestors' flair for invention or originality thousands of years before the Spell of Remembrance could perpetuate it. While other races' societies "flux" from barbarism to Golden Age to decline to barbarism, over and over again, the pteryx remain in a perpetual state of ennui -- isolated, aloof, complacent -- that borders on cultural hibernation. Were their power not so overwhelmingly vast, when they DO rouse themselves to action, Matera's other peoples might well write off the pteryx of the Apennines as irrelevant to their lives. As it is, other races live with a nagging, quiet dread of these antique reptiles, whose territory virtually no one but troglodytes ever ventures near, lest such trespasses provoke a catastrophic and blistering retaliation against the intruders' kind.
The irony of this is that the pteryx aren't evil, or even warlike. The pterosaur-folk shun battle and all forms of physical aggression -- their extermination by the Greater Carnifex happened, in part, because they could scarcely comprehend, much less match, the carnosauroids' bloodlust -- and find even the THOUGHT of intentionally causing injury to a fellow sentient being (!) to be distressing. As natural telepaths, pteryx can sense each others' discomfort like their own, when in close quarters; thus, they are reluctant in the extreme to hurt or give offence to one another, and antagonism between even the most bitter rivals seldom rises beyond the level of a human shouting-match. Even THAT much expression of hostility's unusual, for pteryx are also a dispassionate race, driven by logic and deductive reasoning, rather than by emotion: unless they've gone mad, pterosauroids simply never work up the necessary anger or excitement to indulge in violence or cruelty, for its own sake. Furthermore, having only their own (telepathic) example to go by, they expect every OTHER sentient race to behave with equal circumspection -- to rise above the "animal's" impulse of aggression and brutality -- and to partake of each others' emotional and physical well-being, exactly as they do.
That's the problem. Virtually none of the races of the Hollow Moon -- not the humans, not the cryions, not the vesper elves or aardovai or margasta -- can actually MEET the extremely narrow definition of "sentience" which the pteryx -- their expectations skewed by their own telepathic nature -- have hit upon! In their own experience, mental communication and mental acuity go hand-in-hand; they don't grasp the idea that one might exist, in the absence of the other. Tool-use, clothing, magic use, settlements and agriculture -- all the things other races use to recognise sentience, upon encountering an unfamiliar creature -- mean nothing to the pteryx, for they can find precedents for all of them, in nature's most ignorant creations: sea otters use tools, caddisfly larvae clothe themselves, basilisks employ magic, ants build cities and farm crops. Nor does it occur to them that verbal speech might constitute intelligent communication, for the pteryx have no speech-centres in their brains, with which to discern patterns of sound in the voices of others (they've never needed them): they perceive spoken words as dissonant gibberish, just as a tone-deaf person can't follow a tune. With ALL these mundane signs of intelligence dismissed as mere circumstantial evidence, by the pteryx, only the direct demonstration of telepathic ability -- or a means of communication that PASSES for telepathy, such as the troglodytes' scent-speech -- could really suffice to convince them of a race's self-awareness... and a mere ESP spell won't cut it, since they've long since convinced themselves that (demi)human intelligence MUST be a myth or a misinterpretation of the data*.
(* - This deep-rooted blindness to other races' intelligence isn't entirely the pterosauroids' fault. It's about two parts ignorance (despite their interminable researches, pteryx actually don't pay all that much attention to the outside world, so know very little about other races); two parts mule-headedness (they're so set in their ways, they're almost as fossilised as IRL pterosaurs!); one part denial and/or self-exoneration (they really aren't evil, so don't want to admit they've been treating sentient beings like beasts, all along); and about TEN parts magical "mental block". The last was inflicted upon her own race by a vengeful Demogorgon -- see the "HM Magic" posts -- in order to ensure they'd attack the (savage, but harmless to pteryx) Ur-Carnifex without remorse. It's an Immortal-level curse which the crazed Entropic invoked using a major artifact, thousands of years ago; nothing less than that artifact's permanent destruction -- which I'll leave up to individual DMs, to design and write adventures about; good luck combing the four corners of the Nearside for it, PCs! ;-) -- will shake the pterosauroids' conviction that (demi)humans are dumb animals, not people. Somebody will still have to break the news to them once the artifact's been dealt with, of course.)
Thus, while it's quite possible for PCs in the Hollow Moon setting to experience pteryx society* first-hand, they're only likely to experience it in one of three ways: as "pets" of pteryx juveniles; as "beasts of burden" in a trog-overseen work crew; or as experimental subjects -- i.e. "guinea pigs" or zoo specimens -- in a magical or biological research lab. How pteryx collect and treat their pets and laboratory specimens, and how burden-beasts are "herded" and kept under control by their troglodyte minions, will be addressed under "Relations With Other Races". What follows here, under "Customs", is a description of pteryx culture, offered in terms of how the pterosaur-folk see themselves (i.e. as benign scholars with age-old traditions of learning, not ultra-powerful menaces or abusers of captives). Human or demihuman PCs, if captured by the pteryx or their trogs, will get to witness this culture from the sidelines during their period of captivity... although much of it will seem cryptic or inexplicable, given that the pterosauroids' mental communications will lie beyond the PCs' perceptions.
(* - Pteryx, due to their ready access to powerful magical items and their extreme dependency on mental contact with their own kind, are not available as a PC race. Sorry, munchkins! ;-D)
The Apennine pteryx have been a completely urban culture for many thousands of years, depending entirely upon magic and their hordes of troglodyte minions to satisfy their material needs. Troglodytes fish the Great Spindrift to feed the pteryx, manufacture finished goods in their warrens and staff the city-aeries as servants, and patrol pteryx facilities as sentinels and personal bodyguards. Such dealings between pteryx and troglodyte, the former as master and the latter as servant, date back to the decades before their mutual exile to the Hollow Moon, when escaped trog slaves routinely sought sanctuary from unforgiving Greater Carnifex slave hunters in the cities of the carnosauroids' winged foes. In recognition that these trogs were "free" in their service, the pteryx instituted a policy of paying them for their labour ... although the salary has become largely symbolic -- brass pay-tokens with no real value outside the Apennines are used, for all but the highest-ranking troglodyte guard-captains and foremen -- and both trogs and pterosaur-folk now maintain their relationship mostly out of an ingrained habit of obedience, on the part of the cave-dwellers (many of whose families have worked in the same pteryx city -- and even the same building ! -- for hundreds of generations); and unthinking complacency, on the pterosauroids' part.
However it arose, most Apennine reptiles (of either race) now consider the cities' long-standing social hierarchy -- i.e. one with the pteryx firmly on top -- to be the natural order of things, not to be questioned or disputed. Within the ranks of the troglodytes, such authority-figures as work-crew foremen, guard captains, and skilled lab assistants are held the highest esteem; the common workers and guards in the suspended cities -- whose positions are awarded to only a lucky few, and involve direct contact with the pteryx -- rank just beneath their overseers. The dug-out warrens' more-mobile workers, such as fishing-fleet crews, supply-haulers, and trading-post operators at the edge of the Marsh of Putrescence, make up a "middle class" who are privileged in their freedom of movement; and the countless weary labourers of the lower cavern's manufactories (who seldom even SEE a pteryx), are beneath everyone else. As a rule, the more mobility a trog is permitted in the course of his or her duties, the harder his or her job is to qualify for, and (especially!) the more contact he or she has with the pteryx, the higher that trog's position will be, in the larger community of servants. Whatever status they might hold among their fellows, ALL the Apennine troglodytes defer to their pteryx masters almost instinctively, and try to impress, make themselves useful to, and/or kiss up to their employers at every opportunity.
Things get more complicated, when you look at how the pteryx themselves are organised. There is no single ruler of the Apennine pteryx, nor of any individual city/aerie. Pterosauroid cities are each governed, by ancient tradition, by a council of sages -- learned elders, skilled in assorted fields, who've dedicated their declining years to administering their respective disciplines' facilities and coordinating the research of others -- with either seven, nine, or thirteen members, neither more nor less; the actual number is constant for any given city. The councils' decrees are enacted by a bewildering network of bureaucrats that have accumulated over the millennia: public works project-coordinators, oversight committees, special-purpose task forces (e.g. military-level magical research groups), and expert appointees entrusted with authority only under rare circumstances (e.g. pest-control operations) ... plus plenty of pteryx aides and troglodyte support-staff personnel, for every one of these myriad officials. The makeup of the bureaucracy varies from city to city, in accordance with local needs and academic or economic interests, but most of the core functions of a 20th Century municipal government -- food supply, water supply, policing, construction, education, disease control, sanitation -- have some counterpart in the administration of each pteryx city. Judicial or correctional offices exist solely to prevent gross criminal acts by troglodytes (petty pilferage is so ubiquitous, and insignificant to the pteryx who get robbed, that it's ignored); pteryx regard crimes by their own kind as a symptom of insanity, and entrust such rare individuals -- whose disordered thoughts and emotional state invariably betray them -- to the care of the city council's theological official (i.e. cleric). Troglodytes have no voice of their own in pteryx government; however, at least one pteryx official is always charged with seeing to the trogs' welfare and ensuring that their needs -- e.g. expanded warrens, more food or water, "new blood" recruited from the Marsh's free troglodyte clans -- aren't neglected. While pteryx government isn't very efficient -- even minor decisions take months to be made and years to be implemented, if they're anything other than routine -- it does get the job done, so far as running a "steady-state" society is concerned. Usually, this is because it's a lot less bother for officials to do their jobs and be done with it, than to let things slide: "slackers" are almost unknown among pteryx, who tend towards workaholism (and it's troglodytes who do the scut-work, anyway!); and those who fail to fulfil their duties can't easily conceal their idleness or incompetence from their mind-reading fellows, so inept bureaucrats are quickly identified and replaced. There IS a good deal of nepotism and political favouritism, but this is usually limited to buttering up council-members, appointing one's mate or offspring to a position over other candidates, or currying the fickle favour of powerful spellcasters and other prestigious scholars.
Apart from the tokens issued to troglodytes -- redeemable for food, trinkets, household items, and the like, but of no value outside the Apennines; only the abject destitution and feuding of their cousins in the Marsh of Putrescence, compared to the security and regular meals to be had in the cities, drives new troglodyte workers to seek these jobs -- there's no money, and very little trade or profiteering, in pteryx society. Any resource or commodity which is deemed necessary for a community's prosperity or security (fishing-boats, mines, manufactories, guards' equipment) is owned in common by all of the city's residents, and held in trust by the officials who oversee that resource/commodity. On another world, the HM pteryx would be immediately pegged as socialists; to Mystarans, the best analogy that might present itself is that of cloistered monks in some isolated monastery, all living and labouring in common. Allocation of food, trogs' clothing, manufactured goods, and so forth are all coordinated by the bureaucracy -- so much of each staple must be issued to each building, per lunar "day", with allowance for pilferage; special items for research are arranged as needed -- which practically runs itself, after 13,000 years of practice. Placing so much control over the distribution of resources in the hands of bureaucrats would lead to rampant corruption, over time, among most other races; for telepathic pteryx, however, any abuse of power that denied other pterosauroids basic necessities would force the abuser to "feel" the neediness of his or her own people -- to feel hungry if they're without food, deprived if they can't obtain things they need, fearful if they're without adequate security -- so it's seldom that pteryx officials take advantage of their positions, for personal gain. A limited amount of trade occurs between the pteryx cities and the "outlander" troglodytes of the Marsh, with finished goods such as cloth or metalwork being bartered for gemstones, rare ores, and other raw materials of manufacturing or magic. Because few trog "outlanders" feel at all comfortable, in the intimidating presence of pteryx -- and because this exchange of goods constitutes a very minor, inessential part of the economic life of the Apennines -- it's one of the few tasks entrusted wholly to troglodytes.
The bureaucracy makes up fully 30% of most pteryx cities' adult populations. Of the remainder, another 15% of adult pteryx engage in "practical" work -- architecture, metallurgy, ship construction for the fishing fleets, providing medical care, educating pteryx chicks, etc -- either directly (for skilled work such as doctoring) or in a supervisory capacity (e.g. directing asbestos-muzzled troglodyte work-crews in lava-powered smelting plants and foundries). Only a few jobs, such as mining (too stressful for claustrophobic pterosauroids); assembly-line work (likewise, since it's all done in the dark, cramped warrens); or the aforementioned trading, are entrusted entirely to troglodytes without a pteryx overseer. The technological level of Apennine society is quite high -- it's not on par with IRL Earth, but is certainly a match for the gnomes of Serraine or Oostdok -- but the easy availability of cheap troglodyte labour, and the lack of any real challenge to their power since arriving on Matera (i.e. no wars going on, to spur their advancement), has stunted the growth of pteryx engineering, to the point where they've never actually seen a need for machinery or automation. Staple items, such as alchemical flasks or guards' armour, are built on assembly-lines, but this is more of a way to simplify the training of newly-recruited trog labourers (since they needn't learn more than one task, before ignorant "outlanders" can get to work), than a drive for efficiency or an attempt to maximise productivity. Pteryx who (ugh!) work are generally drawn from those who never really had a "flare" for scholarship, and couldn't cut it as bureaucrats: it's a vocation of last resort, so far as society is concerned ... although a few DO find it satisfying to actually make themselves useful, so band together with other working-types in their own (rather rowdy) roosting-complexes, and to hell with what the scholars and paper-shufflers think of them! :-D
A very special 1% of pteryx hold a unique position in their society: that of "communicators". These are those rare few who are born as identical twins -- hatched out of the same egg -- and whose mental link with one another is able to function, even over distances of many miles. In ancient times, when the Greater Carnifex threatened their race, communicators were regarded as so precious as to be pampered and privileged from birth, for their exchange of long-distance messages and shared mental images of battles in progress provided their fellows with an indispensable edge over the dreaded carnosauroids. On Matera, this desperate need for communicators in warfare disappeared forever; but twins still hold an important position in Apennine society, because they allow for the instantaneous transmission of messages between pteryx cities, the effective coordination of large-scale operations beyond the mountains (such as pest-control campaigns), and reliable, "real-time" reporting of catches taken by the fishing fleet. As a group, communicators tend to be rather distanced from their fellow-pteryx, because they live so deeply within their heads -- and the heads of their own twins; indeed, some even opt to wear jewellery or other distinguishing marks, to remind themselves WHICH twin they are! -- that it's hard for them to relate to anyone except another communicator, or vice versa. There are about 30 pairs of communicators in the Apennines now, and most are split up between the various city councils, allowing the direct transmission of mental messages from one city's council-members to a twin, then from the other twin's mind to the second city's council-members.
The whopping 55% of pteryx who remain -- and for whose particular benefit, Apennine society is structured -- spend their lives in artistic, scientific, theological, literary, historical, or magical endeavours of scholarship. From their beginnings as a species, pteryx have always regarded knowledge as a "higher calling", and accorded the highest respect to those whose breadth of learning is demonstrably superior. (After all, in a telepathic shouting-match, the one who wins is the one who can THINK at their opponent, the most forcefully! ;-D) Different HM pteryx cities have focused on different areas of expertise, over the millennia -- one city will be known for its great literature, another for the invention of unique magical spells, a third for its physicists, and so forth -- although all the cities have at least a token presence, for each of the other six disciplines. Young pteryx often emigrate to the city where their own discipline is most favoured, if they have a particular flare for one field or another. The pteryx's interest in their fields isn't at all a PRACTICAL one -- applied science (or art, or magic, or whatever) is regarded as "contaminated", by pragmatism unworthy of a true, "pure" thinker -- but rather, a drive to excel in traditional subjects that have already been analysed, investigated, and debated within an inch of their lives, thereby becoming acknowledged as the foremost authority on one's chosen topic. Unfortunately, after 13 millennia, virtually every field of study has had an acknowledged "master", whom living pteryx can only struggle to emulate: so high has the bar been set, by now, that few will ever be more than a shadow of the great ones that came before them. At best, this leads their most-gifted scholars to unearth, and resurrect, long-forgotten ideas that some other pteryx discovered thousands of years ago, and which no one's gotten around to studying since; at worst, it leads those who find they can't even keep up with their living rivals' achievements to either commit plagiarism -- tricky to execute, since they mustn't gloat where anyone would pick up on such telltale emotions; profitable, in that sneaking peeks at other scholars' insights can kick-start new ideas of their own, that they CAN legitimately boast of -- or to investigate some topic that's so very obscure and off-the-wall*, nobody would WANT to challenge their "foremost authority" status.
(* - That crazy idea that humans might actually be smarter than most pteryx think -- perhaps even housebreakable! -- would definitely qualify. :-D)
Needless to say, pteryx scholarship hasn't gotten very far, in the past ten thousand years ... it's actually pretty sad, how stagnant they've become, and without even an SoP to blame it on. Most of their art and science is re-cycled from previous eras, and the Spell of Remembrance ensures that there are ALWAYS dusty old records, to confirm it's all been done before. Still, once in a generation or so, one of those "off-the-wall" scholars will come up with something that's new (and worth talking about!) for a while. But in general, the only surprising things* about pteryx scholarship are the quirky ways it's organized -- military tactics, for instance, are studied solely by a few historians, since they haven't fought a war since their arrival on Matera -- and the omission of those subjects which are meaningless to them: linguistics (they don't speak), music (they can't make out melodies either), cooking (why would you want to burn your fish...?), and the like.
(* - Pteryx have also developed some unique artistic and literary styles, in which emotional auras and thought-patterns are imbued upon the medium of expression, from which they can be "read" by touch. But unless PCs are inclined to Shapechange into pteryx-form, and thus acquire their mental capabilities, they won't be able to appreciate (or even perceive) the refinement and resonance of these cultural masterpieces.)
Relations between pteryx cities are cordial, helped along by frequent mental contact via communicators and the exchange of young immigrants to cities where their chosen discipline is favoured. In the event that cooperation between cities would be to their mutual advantage -- for instance, when the fishing fleet gets itself into trouble during Storm Time, or when pesky humanoid vermin need some culling -- city councils will hold joint mental "meetings", using communicators' minds to "link" with one another in a massive telepathic teleconference. Because pteryx cannot inflict harm on their own kind without sensing the injured party's distress empathically, there has never been a war, or even a skirmish, between different pteryx cities ... although bands of troglodytes who are employed in different cities DO get into brawls with one another, pretty often, should their paths cross.
Once in a great while, a pteryx under extreme mental distress will go insane, and become a danger to itself and others ... the more so, in that the mental unrest of a mad pteryx can cause others near it to become disoriented, morose, or even paranoid. Insane pteryx don't get violent, but they often act with a suicidal recklessness (e.g. turning loose all the beasts in the laboratories to watch them stampede) that threatens the peace and security of their cities. The reasons for insanity vary: some mad pteryx are mages who toyed with magics beyond their understanding; some unwisely attempt to use artifacts that have been non-functional since the SoR came into effect, yet retain ugly side-effects; some might even be pawns of Demogorgon, driven bonkers in some equally-bonkers new scheme of hers. Two things that are SURE to drive a pteryx insane, at least temporarily, are the death of a communicator's identical twin (as happened to Demogorgon herself), or a long isolation from all contact with fellow pteryx (their natural sociability can't stand it). The former is correctable only with clerical help, and though sanity may be regained, the bereaved communicator never really recovers from his or her grief for the deceased twin, eventually dying a sad and unbearably-lonely death. Isolation-induced madness may be overcome, even without clerical attention, after several days of immersion in the constant mental and physical company of fellow-pterosauroids.
While the pteryx count theology as one of their great disciplines of study, they aren't a very religious people. Their traditional patron Immortal, when they still lived on Mystara, was the Great One; however, theirs was a MUCH older dragon-Immortal, originating from a different world entirely, who'd held the title of "Great One" long before the present patron of dragons attained Immortality under Terra's sponsorship. The current Great One isn't as interested in the pteryx as his predecessor -- the Mesozoic dragon-Immortal was an advocate of scholarship, whereas the modern-day incarnation is more inclined to action than boring ol' books; as a former protégé of Terra, he also disapproves of how they've divorced themselves from nature -- so as the Great One's attention and sympathy towards the pteryx have waned, so has their religious devotion.
In previous eras, Demogorgon made numerous attempts -- some successful, some not -- to manipulate her former people. In the present era, having been foiled by the HM patrons and by her own deranged slip-ups far too often, she's given up on them for the moment and withdrawn from plotting in the Hollow Moon setting ... but if anything (like PCs' actions!) should rile up the pteryx for some reason, she's sure to notice (the Entropic pterosauroid keeps close tabs on the Apennines), and try to turn their unrest to her own destructive/screwy purposes. One other Immortal -- Opal, the Sun Dragon* -- has recently developed an interest in the pteryx, and is considering revealing herself to their clergy: their utter disdain for humanoid beings, and their devotion to their communities and meticulous education of offspring, appeal to Opal's own distrust of humans and advocacy for draconic "family values".
(* - Opal thinks Demogorgon is a despicable savage who turned upon her own kind, and won't tolerate the pterosaur-Entropic's making trouble for the HM pteryx, if indeed she becomes their second Immortal patron. So, if the Sun Dragon DOES get involved where the Great One can't be bothered to, there's gonna be one heck of a reptilian "cat fight" in Pandius, one of these days! :-D)
Surprise! As mute telepaths, the pteryx don't NEED personal names. Instead, each individual acquires a unique mental "signature", over the course of growing up, which identifies them to fellow-pterosauroids who communicate with them directly. When discussing a third party whom both they and the listener know, a pteryx replicates the known individual's mental signature, rather than naming that individual.
Pteryx who are strangers, and don't know one another's mental signatures, refer to each other by work-related titles (e.g. "Minister of Fisheries", "Dean of Fine Arts", "Second Senior Magist", etc). This is also how they refer to anyone the listener doesn't know, to chicks too young to have established a clear signature (e.g. "the High Theologian's daughter"), and to historical figures whose original "signatures" have been lost. Since every pteryx either has a title, or is a close relative of someone who has one, this works pretty well for identifying others without the use of verbal names.
In written documents, pteryx officials and influential scholars use personal emblems to represent themselves. Only pteryx with a high position are awarded their own emblems (designed and issued by yet ANOTHER bunch of bureaucrats, natch ;-D), so receiving one is a big status-symbol among their kind: in effect, it proves the emblem's holder is important enough for people to write about, a lot! Emblems are extremely complex, and hard to draw without LOTS of practice, so it's very difficult (but not impossible) to forge someone else's emblem.
Because they're shut out of the pteryx's mental communications, troglodytes who serve individual pterosauroids are expected to refer to their employers by their titles; by pointing to the emblems on their tunic (assuming their boss is important enough to merit one); or simply as "my boss". However, they also come up with plenty of smart-alec nicknames for their employers -- teasing at best, scathing at worst -- amongst themselves, since the speech-deaf pteryx haven't got a clue what their servants are yammering about. ;-)
Pteryx refer to their various cities with a mental image of their locale, but the Apennine troglodytes use spoken names for their respective cities of employment. In keeping with the name of the original city Ka had sent to the Hollow Moon, Attyx*, the suspended cities bear troggish use-names such as Perryx, Myttex, Corryx, Veddyx, and Nyzzax. Cities, like officials, have unique emblems for the purpose of written documents.
(* - Ironically, the name "Attyx" was given to the pterosauroids' city by the Greater Carnifex, in their early days before they'd fallen under the sway of the Outer Beings or turned against their Mesozoic neighbours! Along with "pteryx" and "Carnifex", it's the ONLY word from the original, pre-corrupted High Carnifex language that still survives, today; subsequent contact with the Outer Beings and their alien servitors so-distorted the dialect of the Greater Carnifex and their various descendants, that it no longer resembles anything of this plane.)
Thanks to their extremely close and lifelong empathic link, which inhibits their development of mental uniqueness, the "signatures" of twin-born pteryx communicators are indistinguishable from one another. Unless they address them by their assigned posts and/or titles (e.g. "Perryx-to-Myttex Communicator"), there's no way for a pteryx to specify WHICH member of a pair of twins they're telepathically "talking" about! That's just peachy with the communicators, as they seldom think of themselves as separate individuals, and don't see any need to keep track of who's who. Pairs of communicators always receive personal emblems, thanks to their importance as transmitters of information, and the emblems of any given pair of twins are always exact mirror images of one another.
Roles and Genders
From the beginning of their race, the pteryx have made no social distinction between males and females, apart from what is necessary to perpetuate their kind. Because pteryx females become fertile only once every four Materan years -- and because neither gender has much interest in courtship, except at those times; when it comes to mating, they're a bunch of "cold fish" :-) -- love and romance have little influence upon their lives. Pteryx mate for life, usually selecting partners on the basis of mental compatibility and common interests: artists pair-bond with artists, historians with historians, and so forth. There's a definite leaning towards eugenics among the pterosauroids, and young pteryx who fail to pass certain (moderate) tests of physical health and intelligence are forbidden to take mates. Communicators are an exception, as twins often begat more twins, so are permitted to court partners even if their health or intellect is weak. Widowed pteryx do not normally remarry, though there is no prohibition against it; as a rule, mating is seen as an uncouth obligation rather than a pleasure, so pteryx who've lost one partner tend to dedicate their remaining years to work, alone.
Courtship among pteryx is a lengthy, ritualised affair, involving elaborate "dances" of posture and gesture, performed on the surface of still ponds in the manner of waterfowl. Once paired, males and females immediately go back to the orderly business of their lives, only withdrawing from their work for a few hours' tryst, when the female's fertile period comes around. (Boring lot, aren't they...? ;-D) Pteryx females -- caught up in their own research or other duties -- seldom have the time to brood their single, leathery eggs, so use velvet-lined, magically-warmed "brooding boxes" the way other races use cradles. Newly-hatched pteryx are tended by troglodyte nursemaids and -- when they aren't otherwise occupied -- by both their fathers and mothers. Once they've grown enough to begin learning to fly, and have developed their own mental "signatures", pteryx chicks are educated in both physical (i.e. flight, swimming) and mental (telepathic etiquette, writing, mathematics, etc) skills, by yet another branch of the bureaucracy.
The natural means of communication for the pteryx -- unfortunately, useable only within their own species; were this not the case, Matera's history would be a LOT different -- is telepathy: the innate ability to transmit mental images and concepts from one mind to another. For most pteryx, this ability functions only within a moderate range (180' or less), and within line-of-sight of one another; a pteryx must look directly towards another of its kind -- although it's not necessary to SEE them clearly; communication is still possible, if the recipient is blocked from view by fog, curtains, or other ephemeral obstacles -- to send such messages. Solid objects, such as walls, will block telepathic contact between normal (i.e. non-twin) pteryx. Once established, a mental "link" need be maintained by only one of its participants, so one pteryx might look at another, while the other is observing something elsewhere. Telepathic links are two-way connections, and can incorporate as many pteryx as can comfortably look at one another: conversing in small groups, pteryx form rings in which each looks at the pteryx to the left of him/her; "speakers" at large gatherings place themselves in clear view of all the others, the better to "catch" their mental linkages, much as a human speech-maker will stand at a podium. Pteryx cannot truly "read minds", in the sense of picking up thoughts of those who aren't consciously sending them a message.
Twin-born pteryx, while their telepathy with others is no better than average, have the additional benefit of constant, clear mental contact with their twins at distances of up to ten miles. Contact of this sort can be blocked only by lead (not a problem in the HM, where there is none!), magical mind-shielding effects (e.g. Mind Barrier), confinement in an extradimensional space (e.g. a Portable Hole), or travel into another plane or beyond the interior of the Hollow Moon. Pteryx who telepathically communicate with one twin, automatically have their messages received by the other, from up to ten miles away ... AND by any pteryx who are conversing with that other, far-distant twin. Thus, these "communicators" act as living information-conduits, through which other pteryx speak mind-to-mind over long distances: every city council has access to messages from adjacent cities' councils, as well as border outposts, the troglodyte fishing fleet (which always bears a communicator), and other sources of news, via relays of twins that can link up minds in multiple council-chambers at one time.
Telepathic communication among the pteryx is EXTREMELY fast -- roughly eight times as rapid, in its transmission of information, as a spoken language -- and is never subject to ambiguity or the garbling of content. In addition to information, an impression of the sender's identity (their mental "signature") and emotional/psychological state are also received. It IS possible for a pteryx to hide his or her emotions from others during a mental "conversation", but this is extremely difficult for them, and often incurs more suspicion (since such reticence is abnormal) than it abates. Since communication between pteryx is so fast, and the pterosauroids themselves, so utterly silent (they lack vocal cords), PCs will no doubt find encounters with the pterosaur-folk rather eerie: the great, leathery-winged reptiles may peer at captured outsiders for half a minute, turn to one another for only a heartbeat or two, then set about whatever course of action they've decided upon with a flawless, choreographed coordination.
As a side effect of telepathy's efficiency, pteryx don't like to resort to other modes of conversation, which seem ridiculously slow and imprecise to them; nevertheless, even the best-trained of troglodyte minions sometimes require direction. To allow communication with their trog hirelings, the pteryx have developed a simple language of hand gestures and nods, with which to indicate tasks they'd like seen to or to chastise mistakes. After so many generations of service, the Apennine troglodytes have become experts at "reading" their bosses' moods and instructions, and only raw recruits from the Marsh ever make significant errors* in interpreting the pteryx's commands. For matters too complex for gestures to express, written forms of instruction -- e.g. blueprints for construction-work, maps for travel-routes, etc -- are used to clarify things.
(* - The trogs, themselves, see to the training of "new blood" in their duties. They know all the gritty details of their work, that the pteryx don't bother to keep track of... and, unlike their soft-hearted masters, the veteran servants don't hesitate to beat up or harass newbies who screw up on the job. An awful lot of "hazing" goes on, amongst the troglodytes, when the bosses aren't looking. ;-))
The written language of the pteryx, like that of the Nithians and Hutaakans or of Patera's rakastas, consists of pictographs which stand for specific concepts. (This isn't surprising, considering that's how they communicate normally: with whole concepts rather than syllables or spoken sounds.) As with the other pictographic writing styles described in Mystara-products, it takes at least a 13 Intelligence to read and write Pteryx. All HM pteryx are literate, as are those troglodyte employees (e.g. file clerks) whose positions make it necessary.
The Apennine troglodytes, in common with those of the Marsh of Putrescence -- the next "HM Cultures" topic -- have both a verbal language (which the pteryx don't recognise as such), and an olfactory "language" of scented secretions (which ancient pteryx of Mystara once understood, but the lunar ones have forgotten). Because the troglodytes' scent-based communication seems, to the pterosauroids, to work much like their own telepathy -- it transmits emotional states along with information; it's exclusive to one race; it can carry whole "images" (whole scents, rather) in a single, brief burst of information -- troglodytes are erroneously assumed to be telepaths by the pteryx, and are regarded as sentient beings. This is ironic, since the trogs otherwise share none of those traits of empathy or cooperation which pteryx assume "sentient beings" must have ... but the trogs know they're FAR better off in the Apennines, than starving and feuding back home in the swamps, so they do their best to keep their more-brutish impulses hidden from their (monumentally naive) betters. :-D
Relations With Other Races
So far as the pteryx are concerned, their relationships with "other races" are very good. The troglodytes -- a practical, hard-working, and easily-contented folk, albeit sadly devoid of imagination and abysmally lacking in culture or education -- provide them with a willing and obedient workforce, that has proven faithful for thousands of years. The hsiao, a seldom-seen race of scholarly flyers like themselves, are admired for their ability to "rough it" in the wilds of the southern forests -- not that any PTERYX would consider such a life, oh no, it's so dreadfully cold and nasty in the wilderness, make no mistake...! ;-) -- and are left to their provincial, slightly-crackpot ways. The one other mentally-gifted race on Matera, the kopru, have never met up with the pteryx face-to-face; there have, however, been a few kopru-Charmed humans who have paid diplomatic calls upon the pterosauroids (accommodated via ESP spells) over the centuries. The very existence of the kopru is unnerving to pteryx diplomats -- their mental contacts with the Dominarchy's envoys always give them the creeps -- but so long as the koprus' ability to control other beings seems limited to unintelligent creatures such as humans (which, they're happy to see, are at least of use to somebody! :-D), the ruling councils of the Apennines aren't about to make a fuss over it.
That's how the pteryx see their relations with other races.
Unfortunately -- contrary to the pteryx's beliefs -- there are a LOT of "other races" on Matera, which their artifact-induced blindness prevents them from acknowledging as sentient. For THOSE races, the only "relations" they have with the pterosauroids, are those of dumb animals to intelligent beings. Some Materan folk -- the vicious Ur-Carnifex, the supernatural bhuts, the venomous aranea and manscorpions -- are seen as inherently dangerous and unpredictable: potentially-aggressive wild beasts, like IRL cobras or grizzly bears; creatures to be avoided if possible, but killed without hesitation whenever self-defence demands it. Conversely, many small or graceful races -- aardovai, hin, margasta, gnomes, vesper elves -- are the objects of condescending affection, as they're considered cute and prized as pets. Marine races -- shark-kin, merfolk, maeshimeri -- aren't directly threatened by the pteryx, but those of the Great Spindrift often see their hard-reared schools of fish scooped up by fishertrogs, and dare not take action to stop them for fear of retaliation. The most numerous and/or fast-breeding races -- goblinoids, cryions, humans, Cacklogallinians -- and those which occasionally venture to trespass on the pteryx's domain -- Modrigswerg, spinel dragons -- are in the worst position of all: classified as "vermin", they become the targets of merciless "culling-operations", intended to (humanely) cut back their numbers, any time their populations threaten to outstrip their native "habitats" or to encroach upon the pterosauroids' mountains. Only the fact that such mass pest-control campaigns tend to happen only once in a pteryx lifetime, which is about 800 Mystaran years -- and the fact that the pteryx don't really WANT to drive such races extinct, lest they disrupt the "ecology" of the Hollow Moon -- has allowed these "vermin" to rebuild their civilisations, time and time again. The most-recent "culling operation" which the pteryx undertook was directed against the cryions of Mare Imbrium, some 140 Materan years ago (805 AC, by Mystaran reckoning); and it resulted in the deaths of more than 20,000 cryions ... fully 80% of them females, that being the most efficient way to lower a population's growth-rate. There are yet a few furred-furred old bats, amongst the eastern mnelds, who can spin haunting tales of the decimating pteryx "pest control devices" which slew their mothers and sisters, when they were only wee pups. Even today, the number of cryions who roam the northern crystalbarren is only a tiny fraction of what it once was.
That's why other races -- even the hsiao (who've long since realised the futility of breaking the pteryx of their preconceptions) and the kopru (who don't dare cross them) -- don't even go NEAR the Apennines, if they can help it. In fact, PCs who express an interest in exploring that region in the presence of Materans will be warned away; their efforts to equip themselves for such a journey will be foiled at every turn; and, if all else fails, the characters may even find themselves thrown in prison, by sympathetic but determined HM natives, for their own (and everybody else's) good! None of the "vermin" races really knows WHAT it is, that triggers the pteryx to attack them -- to ordinary Materans, it's a mystery, like Faerun's "Flights of Dragons" or the HM setting's own Doom Times -- so the best they can do, to prevent such holocausts, is to ensure NOBODY prods the pterosauroids into action, by intruding upon their stark isolation.
But just because the PCs won't have much cause to visit the pteryx on purpose, and just because other races avoid their realm like the plague, doesn't mean there's no other races in the Apennine cities, and no chance to have adventures there. While the pteryx don't like to let the "dumb animals" out beyond their mountains become a problem, they DO sometimes deem it worthwhile to "collect" such species from the wild, either as pets, beasts of burden, or specimens in their never-ending research. (Groups of travellers in regions where witnesses are few, such as small caravans or hunting parties ... or adventuring bands ... are ideal targets for a discreet capture. ;-D) Depending on how fierce a resistance is expected, a "collecting team" sent to procure such captives might consist of anything from a couple of troglodytes with blackjacks and a sack; to a few pteryx -- roughnecks of the unprestigious "working class", most likely -- sent to paralyse their quarry with their gaze; to a full-scale search-and-retrieve squad of pteryx wizards with reconnaissance-spells, trogs to beat the bushes, aerial coursers to herd the fleeing "beasts" into their captors' clutches, and mancatcher-armed troglodyte "handlers" to wrestle them into cages or (more often) magical containment devices. Captures are well-planned and executed with a choreographed precision, such that injury and stress to the quarry is minimised; troglodytes assigned to such teams are trained in wrestling and the use of such incapacitating weapons as the blackjack, lasso, or bola. Captives are routinely placed under long-lasting Silence spells, shortly after being "collected" -- not so much to prevent spellcasting, as to stop them from making a god awful racket -- and are stripped naked to prevent heatstroke (***blush***), immediately upon their arrival in the hot Apennine lava-caverns. Initially, new captives are kept in individual cages; later, those who've not yet been assigned a specific function are housed together, in spartan, zoo-like quarters, segregated by species and (assuming a pteryx can tell the difference) by sex.
How pteryx captives are treated, once taken, depends entirely on which purpose they're used for. Of the options, becoming a "pet" to some playful pterosauroid juvenile is probably the easiest to live through ... although it's also humiliating in the extreme. A chosen "pet" is outfitted with a magical collar -- removable by non-pteryx only with a Remove Curse spell -- which pinpoints the "pet's" location, screeches an alarm if he or she ventures into dangerous or prohibited areas, and can administer a mild shock of chastisement whenever the pet's "owner" commands it. "Pets" are expected to beg for treats, learn tricks, come when beckoned, and otherwise satisfy their "owner's" demands for affection; on the bright side, they tend to eat well (raw fish and seaweed), are free to move around their owners' floor of the roosting-complex (oh, joy...!), and can usually count upon being released into their "natural habitat" once their owners grow too old for playthings (which SHOULD only take a couple of decades....). Most "pets" are of small or physically-graceful races, but any captive with the foresight to act "cute" or entertaining, when an eager young pteryx drops by to gawk at the fascinating animals just in from the wilds, might luck out (?) and spend the next twenty years on a leash, rather than on a chain-gang or in a laboratory. :-D
The most gruelling purpose for which captives are utilised is that of "beasts of burden": crude menial labourers and porters of goods, entrusted to the care of troglodyte "wranglers" in coffles of six or more. Chained together at the neck, with the same kinds of shock-inducing collar as pteryx "pets" wear -- but able to issue shocks of a much higher setting, that can potentially knock a "burden-beast" unconscious if he or she won't yield to the collar's increasingly-painful jolts -- these crews are, in theory, assigned only the simplest tasks (hauling goods, pumping bellows, propelling millwheels, etc), which their limited, animal-level wits can grasp. In practice, the troglodytes also set them to more sophisticated chores, such as metal-smelting, which aren't to their taste -- when the pteryx aren't looking, of course -- as well as those tasks (such as cleaning the warrens' sewer-pipes :-P) which even a trog wouldn't lower itself to. "Beasts of burden" are allowed enough food and rest, after each work-shift, to keep up their strength, but the hopelessness of their existence causes many of them to give up, and refuse to struggle any farther. Even these aren't rendered completely useless, by their failure to perform as expected: while fish are the mainstay of the Apennine diet for both pteryx and troglodyte, it's not the only thing they eat. (Waste not, want not, as their Carnifex neighbours used to say.) Burden-beasts who fall ill or who suffer minor injuries receive medical treatment, but those who become wounded too seriously for mundane veterinary care don't usually merit a priest's attentions; as the pteryx are humane, they put ailing "livestock" down quietly -- via painless, tasteless sedative-overdoses in their drinking water -- rather than let the poor brutes suffer. With a life of such horrid treatment and drudgery to look forward to, the only good side to being assigned to a coffle of "burden-beasts", is that such prisoners are in the best position to escape from their captivity: unlike the "pets" and laboratory specimens, they aren't trapped above molten lava in the "suspended cities", but are held in the troglodyte-warrens where there are passages to the outside; they often get the chance to swipe tools or even weapons, if their wranglers are careless or distracted; and it's sometimes possible for a coffle of captives, acting in concert, to overpower their wrangler and flee as a group, perhaps bribing or coercing some other trog (maybe a menial grunt-worker almost as oppressed as themselves) into helping them depart, unnoticed.
Of all the possible fates for pteryx captives, being handed over to wizards or natural philosophers for "research" is the most uncertain. Some are merely placed in artificial simulations of their habitats, and kept as zoological specimens for the rest of their lives. Some are kept in spartan cages and fed various foods, either to determine their species' dietary preferences and/or nutritional needs, or to test chemical substances with which the foods are laced. Some are kept thirsty for hours on end, then given experimental potions to drink. Some are placed in elaborate "puzzle-chambers" or mazes, where their ability to solve such things is timed. Some are placed in cells with other captives, of their own or other species, to see how they react ... or are dumped into the cages of powerful monsters, to see how the MONSTERS react! Some are "conditioned" to perform specific tasks or bodily movements, with offerings of food or the threat of painful shocks. Some are deliberately addicted to drugs or pleasure-inducing magical energies, then tested to see if they'll pursue these stimuli even to the point of forsaking food or water. Some have their bodies altered surgically or magically; others have their brains altered, by one or the other method. Some are inspected in excruciating detail, then released back into "the wild" to rejoin their own kind, with strange indelible markings on their skin, and curious lumps (which Detect as magical) embedded underneath it. Some are taken into darkened laboratories -- shunned and dreaded by the luckier, veteran "specimens" -- and never come out again.
That's how other races see the pteryx. That's what Materans have to live with, as neighbours. That's what escaped "burden-beasts", released "pets", and trapped-and-released "specimens" get to tell the rest of the HM peoples, when those lucky few who DO regain their freedom rejoin their own kind. That's what Hollow Moon natives are reminded of, every time they catch a glimpse of those red trails of magma spilling down from the Apennines and into the sea.
I don't suppose the Hollow Worlders would care to swap, and let the Materans put up with Alphatians, instead ... would they? ;-D
History on Mystara
The race of pteryx attained its sentience around 18,000 BC, about two thousand years after the Ur-Carnifex. Even before any true intelligence emerged among them, their pterosaur ancestors had lived in vast, communal flocks that fished and soared in perfect coordination with one another. Perhaps it was this instinctive synchrony of action, ingrained for thousands of years before the pteryx became sentient, that led their race to evolve telepathic rather than verbal methods of communication; or perhaps their Immortal patron, the Cretaceous-era Great One, manipulated their development in order to permit this. For whatever reason, the pterosauroids have been able to share their thoughts, emotions, and conscious recollections with one another, for as long as they have been capable of reason.
In their earliest days, the pteryx actually looked upon Mystara's Ur-Carnifex as potential allies: the carnosaur-folk were an older race than theirs, and their courage as big-game hunters could not be overlooked. Having first spread along the Davanian coastline, the pteryx soon expanded inland, where they populated lakeshore cliffs and traded amicably with the ancestors of the Kasepauk Ur-tribe. Although conversing with the groundlings was difficult, a gestural language was developed which both could manage ... the same system of hand-signs and nods which is now used to command the Apennine troglodytes. Pteryx in the continent's interior retained a rural lifestyle, fishing for their meals, performing handicrafts such as weaving with their delicate wing-hands, and nesting in groups on high, rocky ledges where predatory dinosaurs could not reach them.
But it was along Davania's coastlines, where the populations of crowded pteryx rookeries quickly grew into the tens of thousands, that their civilisation blossomed and their culture out-stripped their carnosauroid contemporaries. Driven by their demand for food and nest-sites, the pteryx began constructing artificial ledges on which to live -- first attached to natural rock faces, then to stray pillars of rock which protruded from the sea, and eventually to artificial rock-pillars they'd built themselves -- and fishing with trawl-nets pulled by barges, rather than diving for their meals. As their society became more sophisticated and their technology and magic progressed, old customs of government by mental consensus were supplanted by Councils of the learned, as larger populations ensured that not all pteryx in a settlement could "link" their minds at one time. Education became the path to prestige within pteryx communities, and this status-seeking accelerated their race's climb out of the Stone Age and towards a mastery of metalwork and spellcasting*. In time, the growth of affluent rookery-cities and the lure of new learning drew the inland pteryx back to the coasts, leaving the Ur-tribes (who were now regarded as backward and ignorant) to their own devices.
(* - In the latter, the pteryx of Mystara had a special edge. Thanks to their ability to form "mental links", it was possible for more than one pteryx-wizard to participate in the casting of a given spell, thus pooling their resources and surpassing the usual limits on spell-allotment which are imposed by experience level. Two fifth-level pteryx mages, for example, might cooperatively memorise and cast the same selection of spells (including 4th and 5th level spells neither could handle alone) as if they were a single tenth-level mage. Alternately, this technique of "sharing" spells could be used to magnify the damage, area of effect, and range of spells which the "linked" spellcasters cast in synchrony. HM pteryx retain only a fraction of the spell-sharing ability of their ancestors, as described under "Spellcasters".)
In the millennia to follow, the pteryx developed their own styles of art, literature -- a considerable accomplishment, considering that even "words" were a foreign concept to them; had they never met the Ur-Carnifex, and learned the use of (gestural) words, the pteryx might still lack a written language! -- and architecture, as well as advancing in mundane science and magical theory. They had a brief flirtation with the "high-tech" ways of Blackmoor, but abandoned the path of automation when the soullessness of cold, unthinking machinery proved innately-oppressive to a race with so much need for constant mental companionship. Soon after, "applied" science fell out of favour among their kind, and speculative theory took the place of practical engineering as the objective of most pteryx researchers. Only those technologies which were compatible with (e.g. medicine) or indispensable to (e.g. city construction) their bustling, communal lifestyles were retained, such that by 15,000 BC -- the dawn of the Carnifex era -- they'd gone back to relying on trawl-nets for food and their own wings for travel. They'd also become more than a little complacent (not to mention arrogant!), after so many millennia without any worldly competitors or serious social upheavals.
When the Greater Carnifex arrived, the sudden disruption of their placid, steady-state society hit the pteryx like a freight train. One moment, they were the unchallenged masters of their planet; the next, their coastal territories were awash in Ur-Carnifex refugees and raiders, all fleeing the encroachment of a new breed of groundling who were hounding their barbaric cousins into the sea. Soon, delegates from these newcomers -- metal-users like the pteryx themselves, albeit still primitive by pterosauroids' cultured standards* -- came calling, making overtures of peace via the nearly-forgotten gestural language of the inlanders. Leery of the Greater Carnifex's motives, but in need of military manpower with which to control or corral the Ur-tribes, the pteryx reluctantly allowed the newcomers free passage on their shoreline territories, so long as they remained clear of the pterosauroids' offshore cities. Ur-Carnifex bands were swept up by legions of their betters, and garrisons of Greater Carnifex were established on pteryx land to guard the Davanian coasts against Ur-tribal stragglers turned pirate.
(* - At the time of their first meeting with pteryx, the Greater Carnifex had a degree of civilisation comparable to that of the Roman Empire in its beginning, although based upon magic rather than technology. They did not yet worship the Outer Beings, but were already ambitious and bent on world domination.)
Unfortunately for the pteryx, the Greater Carnifex didn't content themselves with garrisons for long. Even as the Ur-tribes were being driven extinct, the new race of carnosauroids kept finding excuses -- always logical; always well-argued; always SEEMING to benefit the pteryx, just as much as themselves -- to bolster their existing coastal settlements or to increase their presence in the domain of the pterosaur-folk. Too staid and inflexible to admit things were changing, the pteryx Councils kept giving up their lands and sovereignty, a piece at a time. By 14,000 BC -- the same year in which the last beleaguered Ur-tribes were transported from the stark Brasol mountains to the Hollow Moon -- the pteryx were virtually prisoners in their own offshore cities, having ceded every foot of coastline to their erstwhile "defenders". As the Greater Carnifex expanded, the newcomers also picked up much magical theory from the pterosauroids, for free dissemination of knowledge was a pteryx tradition that the carnosauroids were more than willing to take advantage of, gullible as the fish-eating flyers (who'd never seen how the Ur-tribes were treated) proved to be.
Even the creation of troglodytes in 13,500 BC, by carnosauroid wizards whose skills had at last come to rival their own, did not unduly alarm the pteryx; after all, the scent-speaking trogs were invaluable go-betweens, for pteryx in meetings with the Carnifex, and their own bad experiences with machinery made magically-bred, living servants seem like an excellent alternative. Were it not for their accidental discovery of the Greater Carnifex's worship of the Outer Beings -- a cult that'd supplanted Immortal-worship among the carnosaur-folk, during their conquest of the Ur-tribes; and which they'd concealed from the finicky pterosauroids -- the pteryx might not have had the opportunity to fight back, at all! But once they'd realised to WHICH malignant powers the Greater Carnifex had chosen to give their loyalty -- not only to Beings whose worship was strictly forbidden by the Immortals, but Beings whose very nature fosters INSANITY: a rational, dispassionate, mentally-adept pteryx's worst fear! -- a full-scale war to free themselves from Carnifex influence became their only possible option. Recognising their offshore cities weren't defensible against the carnosauroids' vast navy, the pteryx took wing and emigrated en masse to the very same mountains of Brasol in which the Ur-tribes had once taken shelter. Forming an alliance of necessity with the troglodyte bandits and escaped slaves whom they encountered there, the pteryx held out as best they could while they built themselves an army; cut off from the ocean's bounty, they were forced to live on mammalian vermin, or on such meagre fish-stocks as could be cultivated in artificial lakes or smuggled in from Attyx: the sole remaining ledge-city under pteryx control, which was located safely in the narrow Adakkian Sea* where the Carnifex had too few ships to overthrow it.
(* - This landlocked body of saltwater became the Adakkian Sound, in later millennia, when the strait at its northern end opened it to the ocean.)
The tale of the Carnifex/pteryx war is too long to discuss here, but the scale of the conflict was almost incalculable. Tens of thousands of pteryx and Carnifex died, in the greatest of their battles, to say nothing of the more than two million troglodytes who'd fought on either one side or the other: for the Carnifex, as indoctrinated slave-soldiers; for the pteryx, as escapees who'd rather die than return to slavery. Even a few Greater Carnifex renegades -- "throwbacks" who still revered their race's forsaken Immortals, and despised what a vile, unscrupulous breed the Outer Being cultists had made of their once-honourable people -- sided with the pterosauroid forces, in a last-ditch effort to forestall the cultists' total subversion of their race. These few, nameless Carnifex heroes led the troglodyte ground-forces while pteryx communicators coordinated pterosauroid attacks from the skies; putting principle before race-loyalty, these so-called "renegades" deserved far better from history, for their selfless deeds and courage, than to be branded as traitors by their fellow Carnifex and then utterly forgotten, as they have been.
Even with such steadfast allies, the pteryx cause was ultimately futile. The Outer worldly powers of the Outer Beings' chaplains were an equal match for the Immortals' support bestowed upon the pteryx and their allies, while Carnifex wizards' delvings into forbidden lore let them just manage to counter the mind-linked pterosauroids' blistering spell-barrages. In the end, it was the enemy's sheer numbers -- and moreover, their ability to replenish them faster -- that sealed the fate of the Mystaran pteryx. For all their millennia of study, the pterosaur-folk had never found a way to increase their painfully-slow rate of reproduction, such that a newborn pteryx could not fight in the defence of its kind for at least 90 years, nor sire or lay more eggs until the age of 200. With attrition staunchly on the side of their opponents, the pteryx's ability to defend their mountain retreats and Attyx slowly but steadily withered away, and their attempts to take the war to the enemy became more and more costly in pteryx lives and resources.
Around 12,500 BC, the Greater Carnifex launched a flotilla of unprecedented size onto the Adakkian Sea, intending to destroy this last bastion of pteryx resistance outside Brasol and to cut off the mountain-aeries' only source of saltwater fish. Seeing that the city couldn't possibly hold out against this fleet, Ka the Preserver plucked Attyx's rock-pillar from the sea and bore it to the Hollow Moon in its entirety, along with several hundred pteryx warriors and residents ... plus thousands of troglodytes who'd been working there as fishing-crews, labourers or marines. The waves unleashed by Ka's wrenching the city's foundations off the seabed swamped a quarter of the oncoming Carnifex fleet, and left half of its surviving vessels barely seaworthy; by the time the remaining fraction of the armada reached Attyx's reported location, nothing remained above the restless waters to show the last pteryx city had ever existed.
With the evident sinking of Attyx, pteryx resistance collapsed in a matter of months. Small numbers of pterosauroid guerrillas and deranged individual outlaws -- the nascent Demogorgon, among them -- continued to bedevil the Carnifex for decades; and the "free" troglodytes -- knowing what horrific fates awaited them, should they fall once more into the hands of their hated masters -- made good upon their pledge to fight on, until the very last trog had fallen. But without the pteryx's magical muscle or long-distance coordination of troops, no substantial, organized rebellion could be mustered by the remaining resistance-forces. Tiny pockets of pteryx eked out a life in hiding, or as trophies in bondage to gloating Carnifex overlords, until shortly before the end of the millennium; but as of 12,200 BC, when priests of the Outer Beings finished sacrificing all of the healthy captives, there were no pteryx of reproductive age left on Mystara. By 12,000 BC, even the few maimed or decrepit survivors who'd been passed up for sacrifice were gone.
History on Matera
True to their character as compulsive researchers/scholars, the FIRST thing the pteryx did, upon their arrival in the Hollow Moon, was ransack Attyx's archives on planar cosmology, to try and figure out where the heck they'd been sent! Based upon what their records had to say about it -- and also, the fact that they couldn't Teleport home or send messages back to Mystara* -- the pterosauroids theorised that the Carnifex had somehow banished the city to a 'pocket plane' of modest size and unusual configuration: one tiny, dim-lit universe among the multitude of Outer Planes their metaphysicists had often written about, in the peaceful years before the war's outbreak. A cursory exploration of their new environs seemed to confirm that the Greater Carnifex were responsible, as aerial scouting-parties reported the existence of countless crude Ur-tribal settlements in the wilderness ... also banished by their carnosauroid cousins, or so the pterosaur-folk assumed. Understandably, this discovery that they were so far from home distressed the pteryx first comers immensely: for not only would their fellows on Mystara be massacred, without Attyx's reinforcements to assist them in the war; but there were no wizards or clergy, among the city's few, battle-oriented spellcasters, who possessed the necessary knowledge or skill to travel from one plane to another! They would, it appeared, be stranded in this strange place for the foreseeable future, at least until the secrets of interplanar travel could be rediscovered.
(* - The SoR hadn't been established yet, so Teleportation WITHIN the HM setting was possible; but Matera's bedrock already kept its interior partially isolated from the outside universe, much as the World-Shield had screened the Hollow World from Immortals' discovery until Ka stumbled upon its existence.)
Well aware that they might be the last surviving members of their species, and haunted by the gruelling memories of their terrible war, the usually-prudent pteryx went a little overboard (!) in their quest for an impenetrable refuge in their new "universe". A thorough search of the Nearside revealed no Greater Carnifex outposts or settlements -- apparently this plane was an oubliette, a prison without wardens into which foes could be hurled and forgotten -- yet the fear of their enemies remained so pressing, they wouldn't feel secure with anything less than an inaccessible fortress ... one no carnosauroid army could even hope to REACH, let alone conquer! Several designs were tried, for cities more defensible than Mystara's offshore sea-pillars, but most were either too vulnerable to attackers who could scale walls or fly, or too boxed-in and constricted for the claustrophobic pterosauroids' nerves to cope with. After years of wild proposals, botched construction, and ultimately-rejected plans, the present arrangement of Matera's pteryx cities -- inverted pillar-buildings which hang over molten lava, out of the reach of "groundlings"; and which take full advantage of the magma's heat, light, and wing-lifting thermals -- was hit upon, and the pterosauroids settled permanently in the Apennines: in between the Great Spindrift Sea, whose bountiful sea-life could sustain them; and the noisome Marsh of Putrescence, to which many of their troglodyte soldiers and support-personnel (who'd been swept up along with the pteryx, by the Carnifex banishment-spell) had migrated.
For the first couple of generations after their arrival, the HM pteryx explored the boundaries of their new world, recovered as much of their magical lore and technology as possible from Attyx's ruins, and gradually built up their own numbers. Now that they weren't suffering losses in battle and could raise families in safety, a post-war "egg boom" set in, bringing their population-count from a few hundred shell-shocked refugees to a self-sustaining 6000 individuals, more or less. New cities were founded to house these Matera-born children, new Councils were formed to govern them, and the pre-war role of communicators as long-distance message-conduits was reintroduced. Many of the old pteryx spells had been irretrievably lost, in the transfer to the Hollow Moon -- as a lonely, backwater outpost in the Adakkian Sea, Attyx had been a humble fishing-port before the pteryx/Carnifex war, not a centre of magic research or storehouse of ancient lore -- but the old city-garrison's stockpile of magic items ... AND a small, but potent arsenal of artifacts (!) brought in as weapons of last resort, after the war broke out ... helped to compensate for knowledge which had escaped their wizards. Likewise, though much technology that could've served the pteryx well, had been left behind on Mystara, their continuing good relations with their troglodyte neighbours gave them an eager and compliant work-force, albeit one that demanded careful training and oversight. Eventually, as the trogs proved themselves reliable and the paranoid first comers passed away, the pteryx relaxed their security standards a bit, so that new access-points could be added to their roosting-places for troglodyte servants and whole warrens of trogs could labour under the supervision of foremen of both species.
The secrets of extra planar travel never WERE rediscovered; and clergy in communion with the Great One verified that those pteryx who'd remained behind on Mystara had, indeed, been wiped out by the carnosauroids. No longer having any kin to return to -- and having found their new, dim-lit "universe" to their liking, with its lack of sunlight or hungry tyrannosaurs -- the HM pteryx abandoned their search for a way home, and settled down into much the same sorts of peaceful, studious, dead-end lives their race had led, before the Greater Carnifex emerged. Beyond the pterosauroids' mountains, troglodytes were building new kingdoms and colonising new territories, and the Ur-tribes were feuding as they always had. But the pteryx were satisfied that neither these two races, nor Matera's unclaimed wilderness, presented any real danger to themselves, so had little to do with trogs apart from their own hirelings, and nothing at all to do with the Ur-tribesfolk. Just as they had on Mystara, they soon settled into smug, socially-static complacency, aloof from the petty squabblings of groundlings and outsiders.
Things once again got lively for the pteryx -- briefly -- when the Saurolunarian Conflict broke out. Awakened from her millennial hibernation by Thanatos, the homicidal (carnicidal...?) ex-communicator who'd soon be known as Demogorgon used a powerful, thought-corrupting artifact* to wipe away the notion that "speaking" races -- the first category she could think of which excluded both pteryx and trogs, but included the Ur-Carnifex -- were sentient beings from every HM pteryx's mind. Then, to provoke her former people into unleashing all-out destruction upon the Ur-tribe savages, she deliberately coaxed a group of pteryx fledglings, out on a "field trip" with their instructors, straight into a Dubi hunting-band's barrage of splinter-arrows. Seven fledglings and one teacher were brought down, speared, and devoured on the spot by the tattooed barbarians, their lack of vocal cords rendering them powerless even to scream or beg for mercy.
(* - This wasn't just your run-of-the-mill Entropic trinket, but an alien, Outer Being-bestowed device Demogorgon stole from a Greater Carnifex temple, before Thanatos put her into suspended animation and she missed her chance to use it against her sworn enemies; it was something which the deranged Entropic-wannabe could scarcely even ACTIVATE, let alone, control! Its effects upon her people were FAR more drastic, and lingering, than she'd ever intended, the bereaved communicator's thirst for vengeance against Carnifex of any form, notwithstanding. Even Demogorgon's sponsor, Thanatos himself, gets a bad case of the shudders if he thinks too long about THAT particular artifact's origin ... although ol' T-Bone would NEVER admit it! ;-D)
Horrified, the surviving members of the group raced back to civilisation, where panicked mental images the maimed, dying victims had transmitted to their fleeing companions passed from mind to mind, spreading the trauma of their experience among their elders and inciting outrage and grief-stricken anger. Having already fallen into the habit of thinking the savage Ur-Carnifex a mere half-step above brute animals, the spell-befuddled pteryx now demoted them to beasts, in every respect -- beings whose lives, although not to be taken for mere sport or idleness, were worthless in comparison to the safety of their offspring! -- and so took such measures as seemed necessary and appropriate, to bring these dangerous "wild animals" under control. Magic items from the old stockpiles were allotted to Council-appointed "pest control" teams, spells once used against the Greater Carnifex were modified for use against the smaller "nests" which were Ur-tribal villages, and in a matter of days, every single Dubi in the offending hunters' stretch of brushland had been "put down" to the very last egg. Similar extermination campaigns were launched, during the following weeks, to wipe out those Ur-tribes whose territory impinged upon the settlements of the pteryx's troglodyte trading-partners, or whose domains lay too close to the Apennines, or whose sheer numbers threatened to spill over and reoccupy the areas where they'd been extirpated.
Pleased with the mayhem she'd unleashed, Demogorgon (now an Immortal fiend) repeated her trick several times -- provoking the Ur-Carnifex into trespassing on "purged" lands, then making sure the pteryx would perceive this as a threat to their offspring or their troglodyte subordinates -- such that "pest control" campaigns became almost a routine occurrence in the Nearside, happening numerous times in the life of a pteryx, or every few generations from the Ur-tribes' point of view. Indeed, so habitual a practice did "culling" the pesky bipeds become, that these same methods of population-control were applied to a new breed of bat-like creature which had recently appeared on the crystalbarrens, and which was proving bothersome to the trogs, as well! However, thanks to the very same artifact-induced mental block the pteryx-Entropic used to circumvent their compunction against killing sentient beings, the Hollow Moon's pteryx never really SAW their Ur-Carnifex or cryion victims as "enemies"; rather, they were seen as stupid, albeit potentially-dangerous beasts ... beasts, which couldn't be allowed to run loose within the boundaries of civilisation, yet which posed no threat outside the settled lands, where they could safely be left to their "natural habitats". Thus, there was no genuine hatred felt towards the Ur-tribes, to make the pteryx long to exterminate them once and for all -- no one can truly "hate" an animal species, to the same degree they might hate other people -- and no real fear, to drive them to massacre Ur-Carnifex beyond what prudent "culling" required (as there certainly would have been, had a SENTIENT threat to the pterosauroids emerged!). Demogorgon's success was thus only a half-hearted one, for while the HM pteryx were slaughtering the Ur-tribes wholesale, there was no more passion or sense of vindication to this mayhem, than in any other menial chore to which the disdaining-disdaining pterosauroids grudgingly set themselves.
Nevertheless, while the bloodshed wasn't NEARLY enough to slake Demogorgon's sick cravings, it was too much for Seshay-Selene to stomach ... especially after the pteryx started "culling" the Immortal whale's cryion worshippers (!), along with the Ur-tribes. After a particularly-thorough purge of the carnosauroid tribes in 5100 BC, the pteryx were startled to discover that they'd been a bit TOO thorough: the whole Ur-Carnifex species seemed to have vanished from the face of the Nearside! Genuinely alarmed, for they'd never intended to drive the Ur-tribes extinct -- for all that the pteryx led an urban life, their centuries-long lifespans gave them some insight into ecology and the troublesome, long-term repercussions of disturbing the natural order -- they were relieved to find a tiny, remnant population on an all-but-inaccessible plateau, on the far side of Mare Imbrium. Regretting how they'd overdone things with their extermination campaigns, the pteryx immediately proclaimed the Ur-Carnifex Tribelands to be a sacrosanct wildlife refuge, and left its Ur-tribes strictly alone, thereafter. They also established standards of "acceptable cull ratios" and "minimal impact control measures", by which to ensure they'd never again decimate a pestiferous species beyond its capacity to recover. (Now doesn't than make us "vermin" feel better...? ;-D)
A little over a century after the Ur-tribes' near-destruction, there was an unexplained shift in the workings of magic within the pocket universe of the pteryx. Many of their oldest Mystaran magical items -- particularly those concerned with mass destruction, 'Hold' effects, summoning of other planar beings, or Teleportation -- ceased to function, while many spells that had worked fine, up until then, became entirely useless, or manifested their effects in ways never previously recorded. The cause of this shift in magical law was never satisfactorily determined, although reams of theories were proposed. Those magic items or spells which had become too unreliable for the pteryx's own safety were banned from general use; the offending items of enchantment and spellbooks of prohibited material were archived in the same kind of highly-secure vaults* in which Attyx's dangerous artifacts had been warehoused.
(* - Once in a while, a pteryx mage with more curiosity than sense will swipe something from one of these vaults, and try to unravel what's gone wrong with Matera's magical laws, so the "lost" spell or item can be made functional again. Because such wizards approach the problem with a totally-mistaken concept of their surroundings -- they're still living in the Prime Plane, yet they try to apply principles of Outer Planar metaphysics to the task -- they more often succeed in going nuts from the distorted logic of their work, than in actually finding loopholes in the Spell of Remembrance's strictures.)
In the roughly 4000 Materan years* since the magical "shift", the number of new animal species emerging in their world has continued to accelerate, such that the pteryx have been hard-put to classify and study them all. For want of any background information from outside, the pteryx hypothesise that this explosion of new breeds of (mostly) mammalian life indicates the Greater Carnifex, back on their half-remembered world of origin, have invaded another planet or plane ... one on which mammals are a very common, if not the predominant, form of life (ick! :-P). Not wishing to share space with such varmints, they are disposing of most of these verminous pests by dumping them into the Outer-Planar oubliette to which they'd consigned Attyx, so many, many millennia ago. The only other sentient races which the Carnifex seem to have rid themselves of, in this manner, are the hsiao -- a race of contemplative, forest-dwelling owls whom the pteryx feel they have much in common with; and who'd established their credibility, as "intelligent beings", via a clerical version of the ESP spell -- and a recently-arrived and somewhat sinister bunch calling themselves "kopru". The hsiao and pteryx seldom meet today, but the two winged races had many mutually-instructive exchanges of knowledge, in the days before the intervening lands became so overrun with groundlings. The kopru, OTOH, have never been encountered face-to-face -- only by proxy, via human stand-ins using ESP; the true appearance of these creatures and the geographic location of their lairs remain unknown -- but their evident power to control animals' actions across great distances unnerves the pteryx (whose own Charm-spells haven't been able to do that, since the magic-shift!), so their responses to kopru overtures of friendship have been cool at best.
(* - The SoR went up several years after the SoP, after the HM Immortals worked out all the desired modifications and Ka, Ordana and Korotiku had mustered enough PPs for a second casting. Materan "years" are 18 months long, so 5000 BC was four millennia ago, as Matera's calendar reckons time.)
Between wariness of the kopru's as-yet-unknown intentions, a disdain for "roughing it" in the wilds, and an overwhelming distaste for how vermin-infested the outer world has become, few pteryx ever even leave their home cities -- let alone, their mountains! -- anymore. About the only purposes for which they'll venture forth, nowadays, are pest-control operations, collection of critical research specimens from the field, or (for communicators) as "transmitters" in the company of the fishing fleet. The vast majority of living Materans have never seen a pteryx in their lives, and -- barring another "culling" operation that's directed at them -- never will.
New NPC/"Monster" Race: Hollow Moon Pteryx
Like devilfish or planar spiders, pteryx are not intended as a PC race. However, like those species, pteryx do have "classed" individuals among their number. Such should be portrayed as full-fledged NPCs -- complete with their own personalities, quirks, and personal objectives -- by the DM.
Because of their psychological dependency upon one another, no pteryx who is captured by "vermin" or otherwise kept away from his or her people will remain sane for very long. While a pteryx who is Charmed will regard the Charm-caster as a friendly animal, offer the caster food and water if available, and beseech other pteryx not to harm them ("But he followed me home, Mother...!"), pterosauroids will not actually join parties of outsiders or accompany them into danger except under physical duress.
Racial Ability Scores
Pteryx's statistics, like those of other "monster" races, don't vary all that much from one individual to the next. Below are the Normal Monster statistics of a typical adult pteryx. Scores of pteryx NPCs may be modified, if the DM desires, using the "Monster Intelligence Table" -- which may add variability to any ability score, not just Intelligence; note that HM pteryx clerics MUST have a Wisdom of 13 or more -- on page 214 of the Rules Compendium.
Strength -- 16 (7)
Intelligence -- 16
Wisdom -- 12
Dexterity -- 9 (14)
Constitution -- 11
Charisma -- 5 (12)
Scores in parentheses for Strength and Dexterity are those which apply, when a pteryx's delicate wing-hands are employed, rather than its entire body. A pteryx NPC uses the first set of scores in combat and for purposes of encumbrance, whereas the second set are applied whenever the creature is using a non-weapon proficiency. The first Charisma score applies in encounters with outsiders, the second in encounters with fellow-pteryx or Apennine troglodytes.
Pteryx save as magic-users with the same number of levels as their hit dice. Wizards and clergy save either as their class-levels or their HD dictate, whichever is more favourable.
Base Hit Dice and Attacks by Age
Like AD&D dragons, pteryx grow throughout their lives and gain hit dice over time. The base HD for pteryx of specific ages, and the damage inflicted by their natural weaponry, are as follows:
Hatchling (flightless; 0-15 years old) -- HD 2+2; # At. 1 bite; Damage 1-4
Fledgling (half-speed flight; 15-40 years old) -- HD 3+3; # At. 1 bite/2 kicks; Damage 1-6/1-2/1-2
Juvenile (normal flight; 40-90 years old) -- HD 4+4; # At. 1 bite/2 kicks or 1 wing-buffet; Damage 1-8/1-3/1-3 or 1-4 + special*
Adult (90-400 years old) -- HD 5+5; # At. 1 bite/2 kicks or 1 bite/1 wing-buffet or swoop**; Damage 1-10/1-4/1-4 or 1-10/1-6 + special* or varies
Elder (400-700 years old) -- HD 6+6; # At. 1 bite/2 kicks or 1 bite/1 wing-buffet or swoop**; Damage 1-12/1-6/1-6 or 1-12/1-8 + special* or varies
"Venerable One" (700-800+ years old) -- HD 7+7; # At. 1 bite/2 kicks or 1 bite/1 wing-buffet or swoop**; Damage 3-12/1-8/1-8 or 3-12/1-10 + special* or varies
(* - Treat a pteryx's wing-buffet attack as the "kick" optional attack of a dragon, such that opponents of man-size or smaller must save vs Paralysis or be knocked over. Unlike the dragon's attack, there is no penalty to the saving throw for every hp of damage suffered, nor is the knocked-down victim stunned as with dragonish wing-attacks. Maximum range of wing-buffets for pteryx are 10' to either side for juveniles, 15' for adults, 20' for elders, or 25' for venerable ones.)
(** - Because the claws on their hind feet aren't built for grasping, pteryx cannot Swoop for double damage as raptors can. They can, however, swoop down and pick up opponents on a roll of 18 or more, either using nets -- usually carried between two Swooping individuals; such nets can hold up to three humans or one ogre, before they are full -- or their toothy, fish-trappers' jaws. An adult pteryx can carry off dwarf-sized or smaller targets in its jaws, an elder can carry off human-sized ones, and a venerable one can handle up to gnoll-sized victims. Being snatched up by a pteryx's jaws inflicts normal damage on the initial strike, and either half or no damage on each round thereafter, as the pterosauroid chooses; when collecting "specimens" in the field, pteryx try not to damage captives of their jaws ... unless, of course, their struggles threaten to injure the captor! Victims who resist capture may strike at their captor with a -2 to hit, but any hits inflict only minimal damage. Spellcasting is not possible, although magical items may be activated. If a pteryx suffers more than 20% damage from a quarry held in its jaws, or is struck more than twice by them for any amount of damage, it must check morale or drop them involuntarily; if more than 40% damage is suffered, it lets go on purpose.)
Strength bonuses to damage do apply, to pteryx natural attacks; thus, most pteryx have a +2 bonus to damage. Strength bonuses "to hit", however, do not.
A pteryx wizard gains +1 hp per level, in addition to his or her age-based HD. Pteryx clerics gain +2 hp per level, in addition to HD derived from age.
There are no "warrior" pteryx anymore, as physical combat-skills were eagerly abandoned by their race after the Carnifex Wars. Only as spellcasters do their hit points ever improve, beyond what their age and physical size makes possible.
Weapons and Armour
Apart from their natural attack-forms, pteryx never wield weapons in combat. They are basically cowards so far as close-quarters melee is concerned, and only fight that way if they're cornered and there aren't any handy troglodytes to hide behind. A non-spellcasting pteryx beset by enemies will bite, kick, and batter opponents with its wings in a frenzy of panicked self-defence, but only until it is able to retreat or fly away. If confronted by a lone (demi)human inside their own buildings -- perhaps an escaped lab specimen or stray "pet" -- a pteryx whose hypnotic gaze (see "Special Abilities", below) fails to quiet them may throw household objects at the creature or bang things together to make loud noises, to try to keep the "beast" at a safe distance until trogs arrive to subdue it.
If rumours of pteryx researchers' vivisecting a select few of their humanoid captives are true*, such ghastly, meticulous procedures would inflict 1d3 hp of damage per turn upon the unfortunate "specimen" in question ... a particularly slow and gruesome end, for high-level, high-hp characters! Scalpels and other sharp laboratory implements, if seized by the "specimens" in a last-ditch attempt to escape, are far too small and flimsy to inflict more than 1d2 hp of damage per hit. Fortunately, the pteryx's aforementioned cowardice makes even THESE feeble weapons sufficient to keep would-be vivisectionists at bay, at least until troglodyte orderlies can be summoned.
(* - Which they are.)
When fighting airborne foes or striking at "groundlings" from the skies, pteryx show considerably more backbone, and make cunning use of nets, Swoop-attacks, and an assortment of magical or chemical grenade-like missiles. Pteryx weave capture-nets of a fireproof material that resists non-magical cutting implements -- daggers give no +4 bonus to saves for escaping unless they are enchanted -- and is so slippery, except at the edges where their reptilian wielders grasp them, that anyone caught by their nets is treated as 3 HD/levels less powerful, when determining the nets' Special Weapon Effect upon them (p. 63, RC). Nets are used extensively, both by pairs of pteryx who Swoop as a team, and by troglodytes trained to throw these capture-weapons or ensnare opponents with them in melee, on "collecting" expeditions.
Grenade-like weapons employed by the pteryx are usually designed to either incapacitate without injury ("collecting trips"), or to kill cleanly and with a minimum of suffering ("pest control" equipment). Chemical mixtures encased in breakable ceramic spheres are most commonly used for 'live-capture' purposes, as these may be filled with tranquillising or incapacitating dusts, gases, or oils*, then dropped to scatter over a 15'-radius area of effect. Lethal poisons of several intensities -- some causing hp loss, others instant death; the former are favoured, for use against weaker "vermin", to minimise any risk to the pterosaur-folk themselves -- are also available, to equip individual pteryx bombers who participate in "culling" operations. Deadlier effects such as firebombs (as per burning oil, but damage is doubled and continues for 5 rounds), concentrated acid-bombs (3d6 hp for a direct hit, 2d4 for an AoE "splash"; half damage on the second round), or suffocating dusts (treat as yellow mould spores) are avoided in most vermin-control efforts -- they're seen as needlessly-cruel -- although they're favoured when disposing of (legitimate) Lowlife-class monsters such as slimes or deadly plants. Magical barrage-weapons are usually leftovers from the war against the Carnifex, and range in lethality from transparent orbs that expand to encase their target in a Force Field bubble; to sound-blast missiles equivalent to a Horn Of Blasting in their power; to Eggs Of Wonder which release, not the usual bears or lizards or great cats, but ravening tyrannosaurs or enraged twenty-ton ceratopsians!
(* - Typical pteryx-made soporific gases act as inhaled poisons, such that those who are exposed must save at -2 or fall unconscious for 3d4 turns. Dusts which cause disorientation act like a Confusion spell on targets who fail a standard save vs Poison, save that a victim's response is somewhat more likely to be "do nothing" (roll reaction each round on 2d4+2, not 2d6). Gases which induce dizziness (save vs Poison or attack at -4 to hit), convulsions (save at -3 or be helpless), or blind panic (as Cause Fear, save is vs Poison) for 2d6 rounds have also been developed. When (demi)humans susceptible to troglodyte-stench are their specific quarries, pteryx sometimes carry "stinkbombs" of concentrated trog-oil -- the same secretions with which their servants weaken their foes -- for use against especially stubborn, uncooperative targets. So greatly is the nauseating reek of this substance magnified, after careful preparation by nose-plug-wearing pterosauroid alchemists, that it effectively reduces the Strength of any non-reptilian humanoid who becomes drenched in the noxious fluid, and fails a saving throw vs Poison at -4, to 3! Worse yet, while rinsing will diminish the trog-oil's effect to the usual -2 to attack rolls, this "super-stench" can't be fully washed off (!) without use of a solvent developed by the pteryx themselves: unless the character is able to assume Gaseous Form, bathe the affected skin in a potion of Sweet Water, or otherwise eliminate the oil's residue, the unlucky victim of such a bombardment will stink like a troglodyte -- oh, joy! -- for the next three weeks. (That's one way to learn whether your friends are REALLY your friends, or not.... :-P))
Some pteryx DO wear armour, when necessity forces them to venture out of the Apennines -- can't be too careful, with all those vermin about! -- or when working with particularly unruly, savage monsters in their research. Pteryx armour resembles hsiao armour in its design (metal-reinforced leather breast piece; leather thigh and shin guards; form-fitted leather helmet with metal studs) and confers a base AC of 4 to its wearer, while reducing flying speed by 1/4. Most suits of pteryx armour are enchanted to grant +2 protection or better -- the Carnifex Wars left plenty of magical armour to go around, and they've had thirteen millennia to make more -- and to resist the ravages of time and use, as well as to be buoyant in water (an important consideration, since pteryx swim far more easily than they walk!). About 10% of pteryx armour is endowed with a special power, usually one of Ethereality, Haste (as standard Armour powers), Protection (as the scarab), Water Breathing (as potion), Fear (as wand, but takes effect as per Charm armour power), Withering (as staff, but takes effect like the Energy Drain armour power), Remedies (as ring, wearer only), Spell Turning (as ring, rare and highly prized), or Regeneration (as ring).
Needless to say, NONE of this fancy armour will fit any other OD&D race's anatomy. Even hsiao are too squatly-built to fit into it, and even a tiny dragon-hatchling's forelegs would get in the way.
Troglodyte guards in the pteryx's cities are equipped with lightweight titanium-alloy weapons and armour. Encumbrance for such armaments is only 80% of the norm, for similar equipment as produced by other races. Blackjacks, mancatchers, nets, and grenades similar to the pteryx's own bombardment-weapons are issued to members of capture-squads, many of whom are selected for this job due to their great skill (Expert or better) at wrestling. Troglodytes who aren't guards have no authorisation to carry weapons outside their warrens, and must make do with their teeth and claws, or with whatever they can improvise from tools and household implements -- fish knives, mop-handles, livestock-handlers' whips, etc -- if threatened within the suspended cities. On their own turf, most Apennine troglodytes keep at least a short sword or spear -- either home-made, stolen, or purchased on the sly from the guards -- hidden away in their quarters, in case of trouble or trespassers.
Pteryx issue armour only to those guards whose duties keep them within the cities and warrens, since they prefer to take advantage of the trogs' chameleon-like camouflage gifts, when ambushing "vermin" or specimens. Chain armour increases a trog's natural Armour Class of 5 to 4, while plate increases it to AC 3; the former is issued to common guards, while the latter is reserved for personal bodyguards of officials, wizards, and other high muckety-mucks. Guards' armour, like the pterosauroids' own, is fitted to the troglodyte body and unwearable by most other races, although a broader-than-average lizard man could don such gear once the stench of its previous owner has been scrubbed away. Troglodyte guards normally carry shields -- either emblem-marked medium shields, for public appearances and for wide-open chambers; or small (sometimes knife-edged) bucklers, if they're guarding confined spaces where there's less room to manoeuvre -- but must set them aside to cast large nets or to use crossbows.
In emergencies, crack squads of troglodyte guards may be issued +1 weapons, and a select few enchanted crossbow bolts with magical Talents: Blinking, Disarming, Dispelling, Screaming, Stunning, or (for really BIG emergencies!) Slaying, as the situation warrants.
Note that some weapons wielded by troglodytes elsewhere in Matera are not included among Apennine trogs' selection of armaments. Such weapons are either unavailable as improvised weaponry (e.g. no trees in the mountains means no axes), ill-suited to the confines of the cities' narrow tunnels (e.g. no swords larger than normal ones), or simply inappropriate (e.g. trident). Full details on the troglodytes of Matera -- with trog-PC guidelines and sassy, mud-wallerin' flair, courtesy of Geoff Gander! :-D -- will appear in the next "HM Cultures" post.
Apennine troglodyte melee weapons: Blackjack, club, dagger, mancatcher*, net (medium or large), spear, staff, sword (short or normal), whip Apennine troglodyte missile weapons: Crossbow/light, crossbow/heavy, net (very small to medium), "dust bombs"** Apennine troglodyte armour: Chain mail, plate mail; shield (of shield-weapons, only knife shield is allowed) Apennine troglodyte shamans can use: Blackjack, club, net (any), staff, "dust bombs"; armours allowed, but not knife shield
* - A mancatcher is a polearm with an open, pressure-triggered clamp at one end, used to grab and subdue "specimens" in the field or to recapture escapees without killing them. Attacking opponents with a mancatcher may be treated exactly like attacking with a whip -- even damage is the same, should it be used to bludgeon instead of ensnare a foe -- but a mancatcher can only reach to a distance of 6' before it becomes unwieldy. Once the hoop-shaped clamp encircles its target, it snaps shut and cannot be opened without the captive's passing a Strength check; heavy-duty mancatchers sized for larger prey may impose penalties to this check. (A save vs Death Ray indicates the victim escapes the initial capture attempt, but this does no good to an already-seized victim.) If the wielder of a mancatcher rolls a natural 20 on the initial "to hit" roll, both the target's arms are pinned to his or her sides by the clamp, and a Strength check only allows the victim to yank the weapon's handle out of its wielder's grip, not to break free. The wielder of a mancatcher may attempt a "Hook" special weapon-effect on anyone trapped within the weapon's hoop-clamp -- even if the Weapon Mastery rules are not otherwise being used in the campaign -- and may keep them pinned to the ground, once fallen, with either a Strength check (the simple method) or a +8 bonus to his or her Wrestling Rating (if you're using the RC's Wrestling rules). A mancatcher's clamp must be sized for the target, if it is to be used effectively against them -- human-sized mancatchers can trap elves and dwarves, halfling-sized ones affect gnomes and aardovai, and cryion-sized ones affect gnolls, for example -- and, once triggered, cannot capture another target until its clamp is re-set, which takes 2 rounds.
** - These ceramic hand-hurled missiles may be filled with any of the aforementioned chemicals which are used in pteryx aerial bombardments. AoE is a 5' radius, while range (and damage, should the wielder try to break the target's head as well as the container!) is as per thrown rocks. On a "to hit" roll which equals the minimum number necessary to strike its chosen target, the "dust bomb" fails to shatter on impact and may, potentially, be thrown right back at the troglodyte who threw it; on a natural attack roll of 1, the wielder not only fails to hit, but must check Dexterity or accidentally break the missile's ceramic shell at his or her own location! (***gasp***)
The MOST dreaded weapons in the Apennines' arsenal, so far as "vermin" races are concerned, aren't hand weapons at all. These are terrible battle-constructs developed for use in the pteryx's ancient war against the Carnifex, and redesigned for the purpose of culling species whose numbers have grown too great, or too bothersome, for the pterosauroids' liking. These killing machines are typically delivered to a "cull zone", instructed at to which targets they are to eliminate within precise geographic boundaries, and then turned loose to wreak havoc without direct supervision ... thus sparing the (rather squeamish) pteryx the ordeal of actually WATCHING the carnage they've dispassionately unleashed. Most are quite capable of squashing a village flat or exterminating every living thing in it, single-handedly, in a matter of hours, and a few of the more widely-used types' descriptions will appear under "Monsters", below.
Clerics and Wizards
Those pteryx who become spellcasters -- which include a good 25% of their total adult population, albeit concentrated mostly in five cities dedicated to the pursuit of magical studies -- become full clerics or magic-users, not just shamans or wokani. The only shamans in the Apennines (apart from the occasional captive "specimen") are a few harried troglodytes, come to minister to, and preach their Immortals' words for, the pteryx's servants and labourers; vastly outnumbered by their congregations, these have little time to do anything but work with their own people. Because troglodyte wokani tend to cause trouble, either intentionally or by making the other trogs nervous, a wokan is never knowingly recruited into service by the pteryx.
Pteryx clerics may wear armour, can employ any magical items useable by human clerics, and may potentially attain the equivalent of 24th level as spellcasters, although the current highest-level cleric of the Apennines is only 16th level. They cannot Turn Undead, although they can create holy water for use against such creatures. As priests of the Great One, pteryx clerics may invoke any one (but only one) of the following granted powers, once per 24 hours:
1) Gain dragon-like immunity to any single breath weapon-type's effects, such that non-magical versions of that effect -- e.g. burning oil, blizzards, lightning storms, mundane animals' venoms -- cannot harm the cleric and saving throws against its magical forms are automatically successful. This immunity, which lasts for 1 hour, may be to fiery (red), electrical (blue), gaseous (green), acidic (black), cold (white), or venomous (sea) dragon breath. While immune, a pteryx cleric's body glows, faintly, in the colour of the chosen dragon type (pale yellow-green, for sea dragons).
2) Inflict bite-damage as a dragon rather than a pteryx, for the duration of one melee combat. 1st-4th level clerics bite as white dragons, 5th-8th as black dragons, 9th-12th as green dragons, 13th-16th as blue dragons, 17th-20th as red dragons, and 21st-24th as gold dragons. Adult pteryx clerics' damage is as per a small dragon, elders' is as per a large one, and venerable clerics' jaws are equivalent to a huge dragon's. The teeth of a pteryx cleric who is using this ability count as magical weapons, for the purpose of which creatures they can damage, with a number of "pluses" equal to the dragon-type's number of asterisks (i.e. +2 for small, +3 for large, +4 for huge). While using this power, a pteryx cleric's teeth -- normally a dingy off-white to grey colour -- will turn the same colour as the scales of the dragon-breed whose bite attack he or she is "appropriating".
3) Breathe, one time only, as any one dragon type -- cleric's choice, but no single type may be used more than once a month; gem dragons' special breath-weapon effects are not allowed, but sea dragons' venom-glob breath is a permissible option -- with the AoE of a small dragon's breath weapon and damage equal to the cleric's current hit points. A pteryx cleric who uses this granted power must save vs Spells or else fall asleep, and snooze non-stop for 2-5 weeks much like a genuine dragon, as soon as the battle has ended.
About one adult pteryx in 12 is a cleric of 1st level or more, and any group of 20 or more pteryx which leaves the Apennines will be escorted by a cleric of sufficiently high level to Cure Serious Wounds, in case such aid becomes necessary. Groups of ten or more will be accompanied by at least two clerics who can Cure Light Wounds, as will groups of any size who command more than 30 troglodytes*.
(* - Lay pteryx are not very religious and seldom suffer injuries in their home cities, so the clergy really don't have very much to do, and are eager to accompany others outside where their Great One-given abilities might be more appreciated.)
Pteryx wizards are much more numerous than clerics, and their social status is also higher, owing to the prestige accorded to researchers of any kind. About one adult pteryx in six is a wizard, their skills ranging from 1st-level fledglings* who've just barely gotten started, right up to 36th-level Wish-casters of the sort who once held the Greater Carnifex at bay, for centuries. The average pterosauroid mage is between 4th and 7th level, however, since there are very few with the drive to master the higher levels' spells, and there aren't that many sub-adult pteryx of any kind! Whatever the factor is, that makes magic-users so rare among humans, magic's as universal a knack among pteryx as it is among elves -- any pteryx COULD learn, if he or she wished to -- but unlike elves, many lack the motivation to learn or are drawn to other vocations, such as art, science, the clergy, or the bureaucracy. In fact, at the moment there are only two pteryx of 36th level in the world -- both of them cranky ol' venerable ones half crippled by arthritis, who haven't seen the outside of a laboratory in centuries ;-) -- although in times of genuine need, lesser wizards may potentially combine their skills (see below) to increase their powers to a point where they approach these millennial antiques' capabilities.
(* - DMs with a vicious streak might consider having "pet" PCs' owners be fledgling wizards-in-training, and let them use the Gaz3 rules for magical screw-ups by underage mages. Of course, many of the Glantri Gazetteer's random effects will have to be altered a bit, if they're to be suitable for pteryx kids' spell-casting mistakes. Plush toy ankylosaurs, anyone...? ;-D)
Pterosauroid wizards cannot wear armour, but virtually all of those who leave their cities wear magical protective items, instead -- collars with the effect of Rings of Protection are common, as are pectorals (decorative breast plates too flimsy to serve as armour) with the powers of magical rings (Fire Resistance, Life Protection, Quickness, Safety, Survival) or Displacer Cloaks -- either created by themselves or one of their HM ancestors, or passed down since the Carnifex wars. Likewise, few wizards of greater than 3rd level will be without a non-protective magic item of some sort*, each with a rather different shape than what PCs might be accustomed to. The pteryx wizard's equivalent of a "wand" is an odd, palm-clutched device like a squashed set of brass knuckles (with only three finger-holes, natch!) which can be gripped in a wing-hand and aimed at opponents equally-well in flight, on the ground, or while paddling or swimming underwater. Pteryx mages employ "clutchwands" that serve the same functions as every standard type of wand listed in the RC (although those which no longer work, thanks to the SoR, are kept sealed away in vaults), as well as every staff listed that is useable by wizards, save those which are employed as melee weapons (e.g. the Staff of Striking has no clutchwand equivalent). Leg bands with the properties of (non-cursed) magical rings -- Memory, Seeing, Telekinesis, Truth -- or whose polished metal surfaces can be used to scry as a Crystal Ball, are still more examples of magical items whose shapes and appearances are altered, when pteryx are their intended users and makers; DMs should feel free to work similar changes, of their own devising, on other pteryx magical items. A pteryx "scroll" is a smooth fist-sized stone engraved with magic symbols, such that it may be 'read' by touch even if the user can't see it; pteryx spellbooks are sculpted stone columns carved with similar markings, built into the very structure of their laboratories, which are likewise 'read' by touch.
(* - As with the Fire Island wizards of Ierendi, the pteryx have magic items coming out of their ears: an arsenal once intended to equip armies with thousands of mages is now divided up between less than a thousand of them! To determine a given pteryx wizard's or cleric's magical possessions, use the same guidelines as for NPC adventuring parties -- 5% per level in each appropriate category; swords, other weapons, and (for mages) armour should still be rolled, but are given to the pteryx's trog bodyguards if such an item is rolled up -- but do NOT reduce the odds of possession to 95%, for those of 20th level or higher. Instead, a %tile chance of 100% indicates the item is owned automatically; any %tile chance in excess of 100% is the chance of a second such item. Thus, a 36th level pteryx wizard will always have at least one item from each category (either for personal use or his or her bodyguards'), and has an 80% chance of having two of them. Items belonging to pteryx spellcasters will never be Cursed or otherwise baneful to their wielders.)
As a mute race, pteryx spellcasters don't use verbal components to invoke their magic; rather, a combination of finger-twitches, head-bobs, tail and neck contortions, and body-shivers serves as a form of gestural spell-casting rite. Magical items of pteryx manufacture are telepathically-receptive and triggered by direct mental commands ... which, along with their oddities of design, makes them all but impossible for other races to use.
In ancient times, the pteryx of Mystara had the power to memorise and cast wizard-spells in tandem, each sharing the thoughts of the other, such that two such wizards' combined spell-repertoires would be much broader than that which both their individual experience levels made possible. Pteryx of the Hollow Moon retain this gift, but aren't nearly as good at it as their ancestors; while the ancient "tag-team" casters could memorise and cast spells as if they were a single wizard of a level equal to their own levels added together, pteryx "tag-teams" receive a selection of spells equal to a wizard of the more-skilled partner's level, plus half that of the less-skilled partner (round down).
Thus, a 12th level wizard and a 7th wizard could study and cast their spells in combination, as if they were a single 15th level wizard: they'd be able to carry 5 1st level spells, 4 spells of the 2nd, 3rd and 4th levels, 3 5th level spells, 2 of 6th level, and 1 7th level spell. Note that this is actually FEWER 1st, 2nd, and 3rd level spells than the two could have cast, working independently of each other; however, by sharing the mental chores involved in comprehending, "storing", and executing their spells, the pair become capable of one 7th level spell per day ... a spell that'd normally lie entirely beyond each partner's understanding! Furthermore, spells the two pteryx cast together will operate at the 15th level, for purposes of damage, amount of material affected, resistance to Dispelling, and other level-determined factors. Such "combined studies" are normally used to gain access to those necessary spells of which a city's current generation of wizards is not capable -- as the 36th-levelers are so fond of pointing out, "kids today" aren't as up to snuff as their predecessors! -- or to magnify the potency of level-limited spell effects (such as amount of weight lifted via Telekinesis); in an educational sense, the technique allows mages-in-training to experience magics of higher levels than they yet know how to cast, a bit at a time, so as to gradually prepare themselves for the next level of expertise. Pteryx mages who study spells as a "tag-team", in order to access more powerful spells than they are entitled to learn separately, must memorise ALL their daily allotment of spells in this manner: the 12th and 7th level wizards in the above example couldn't choose to study their own 1st-3rd level spells, and then "team up" for the higher-level ones, for instance.
Alternately, pteryx can pool their mental resources on single spells, in such a way that they increase either the area of effect (which may only be doubled; thus, this requires only two partners), or its range or duration (either of which is multiplied by the number of pteryx who participate in such a "mass memorisation"; as many as ten pteryx mages can cooperate, although that many casters may pose logistical problems when the spell is used). Doubling of AoE for "mass destruction" spells, in the Hollow Moon, means that the SoRs effects are cancelled out by the mental pooling and the standard spells' areas of effect apply, i.e. a Fireball affects a 40' diameter instead of 20'*. Multiplication of range is typically used so that flying squadrons of wizards may rain down spells from safe altitudes, well out of range of missiles and the spells of "vermin" beneath them. Durations may be multiplied provided they are not instantaneous or dependent upon concentration, and duration-enhanced spells (e.g. 60-hour Floating Disks) are extensively employed in the construction of suspended cities. In earlier times before the Spell of Remembrance, multiplication of damage from attack-spells was also possible, but this power was lost in the "magic shift" and has not been recovered. "Tag-team" casting of entire repertoires, as above, and team casting to increase the potency of individual spells, are not cumulative; a single pteryx wizard can't participate in more than one such mental link, to his or her fellow casters, at a time.
(* - Before the SoR, of course, two pteryx who combined their powers in this way could cast Fireballs with an EIGHTY foot diameter! Not only that, but as many as ten pteryx could "co-cast" in such a manner, so that the AoE was multiplied by the number of participants. This is why Seshay-Selene barely managed to keep the Ur-Carnifex race from being exterminated, even WITH her Immortal power as a Hierarch, and why it took the Greater Carnifex more than a thousand years and nearly ten million dead troglodyte slave-soldiers, over that millennium, to pick off and destroy the slow-breeding pterosauroids.)
Spells which are memorised for "tag-team" casting must ALWAYS be cast in cooperation with the partner(s) with whom those spells were memorised, and spells which were memorised alone cannot be cast cooperatively. Casting a spell that was learned in tandem requires that the casters be mentally linked to one another -- either one must be looking at the other(s) from no farther than 180' away, or else a pair of communicators or 'relay chain' of non-casting assistants must act as a conduit between them -- and any disturbance to a participant, that occurs during the casting (e.g. any partner's being wounded) will disrupt the spell and erase it from the memory of all participants, as per any other interrupted attempt at spell use. Should a participant in a "linked" spell actually be killed while in the middle of a team casting, all other participants must save vs Death, or forget ALL spells -- "team"-memorised or otherwise -- currently carried in memory! If the team-cast spell is completed without interruption, its point of origin may be any pteryx who took an active role in the procedure, i.e. who actually cast the spell rather than serving as a passive conduit between casters.
As for the actual types of spells favoured by pteryx, much of their magic is of the sort which demonstrates their uncommonly-scientific view of the universe (Reverse Gravity, Infravision, Telekinesis), or employs basic, "raw" magical energy in lieu of discrete elemental forces (Magic Missile, Death Spell, Disintegrate), or offers protection from an outside world they regard as generally hostile to "civilised" pterosauroids (Shield, Protection From Normal Missiles, Force Field). As with all HM natives, they tend to steer clear of spells which use lightning or fire, substituting other forms of damage for these SoR-warped effects in their various battle-magics. The several material-creation spells -- Clothform, Woodform, Stoneform, Ironform, Steelform -- are used regularly in construction or artistic endeavours, but are not so indispensable to these pursuits as they are in Alphatia; Clones, Contingencies, Symbols, and Magic Doors are extensively employed by higher-level wizards -- or lower-level ones who team up to cast them -- for personal and lab security. Conspicuously absent from pteryx spell repertoires and magic items are any spells granting communication, be it verbal, written, or mental, with other intelligent species: since no such creatures are thought to exist, save troglodytes who use sign language or hsiao or kopru who use ESP to communicate with the pterosauroids, no such spells have ever been deemed necessary. Leeriness of the kopru HAS motivated the pteryx to develop a Mind Barrier spell, but as this spell also severs the subject's ability to send or receive telepathic messages from other pteryx, it imposes a huge psychological strain upon the protected party and is restricted to use only in the direst of emergencies.
Despite their seeming advantage in having a constant mental link to their twins, pteryx communicators who are magic-users gain none of the usual benefits from casting spells jointly. Indeed, since working together with their twins to carry out mental tasks is their normal way of doing things, a twin-born pair who take up magic can't memorise spells in any way, BUT in combination -- they must study at the same time, while sharing each others' thoughts -- and can ONLY cast spells jointly, so long as their mental link remains sound (i.e. no more than 10 miles apart and on the same plane, etc). Communicators have the usual allotment of spells, apiece, according to their level (which is always the same for both), but those spells can be freely passed back and forth, from one twin to another. Thus, if twins who are 4th level mages split up, one accompanying the fishing-fleet nine miles out to sea while the other remains on shore, the one who is out fishing could cast FOUR spells of the first and second levels -- two from his/her own mind's allotment, and two from his/her twin's -- leaving both the voyaging twin and the one who stays behind with no spells left for the day. Should the twin waiting on the beach be wounded while the other is casting a spell, that spell is disrupted, as the process of casting takes place in both twins' minds at once. If the fleet sails beyond the ten-mile range limit of communicators' contact, before that happens, each twin is left with the usual two 1st level and two 2nd level spells of a 4th level magic-user.
The chief special ability by which pteryx defend themselves, and by which they attempt to subdue captives, is their uniquely-penetrating, timeless, reptilian gaze. Looking into the eyes of a pteryx is like looking into bottomless pools of liquid darkness -- a darkness, which shifts subtly in tone from black to blue to purple to black, only in the darkest of shades -- and such eyes' captivating attentiveness has a hypnotic effect, upon non-pteryx, which is similar to being stunned (RC p. 150). A victim cannot attack, speak, concentrate, cast spells, or use magic items or skills while under the bewitching influence of a pteryx's gaze. Limited self-defence from other attackers is possible, but saving throws and armour class are penalised by 4. Victims are not truly paralysed -- they can move at 1/3 speed, shuffling clumsily as they stare into their captor's unblinking, fascinating eyes -- but will only do so to maintain their distance from the pterosauroid who hypnotised them, should it start to back away. If a pteryx moves closer to their position, victims of its gaze remain where they are, permitting the creature to close in and touch them, tie them up, or even bite them (one automatic hit only, then hypnosis is broken) without putting up any show of resistance. The victim of a pteryx's gaze can be "led" back to captivity, as he or she will follow the pterosauroid as it retreats, moving just fast enough to maintain the same distance between his or her self and the pteryx's eyes ... even if this means walking straight into danger (e.g. onto a precarious cliff-edge) or imprisonment. Fascination with a pteryx's gaze lasts as long as eye contact is maintained between the creature and its victim.
An initial saving throw vs Paralysis is allowed, to resist falling prey to a pteryx's gaze. Creatures for whom sight is only a tertiary sense are never affected, nor are opponents who keep their own eyes covered against meeting the pteryx's. If sight is a secondary sense, the saving throw vs Paralysis is at a +2 bonus. The pteryx must direct its full attention to an individual creature, to captivate it in this manner; thus, a pteryx cannot place anyone under this kind of influence in the same round during which it attacks or casts a spell. Likewise, a pteryx can only captivate one being at a time. The maximum range for a pteryx's gaze-attack is 10' per full HD it possesses (i.e. 20' for a hatchling, 70' for a venerable one). The stunned victim's trance will be broken instantly, if the pteryx intentionally ceases to make eye contact; however, a hypnotised victim will offer whatever feeble resistance he or she can, should others try to drag him/her away or to block his/her eye contact with the pterosauroid. A victim who is freed from a pteryx's captivating gaze will not fall prey to this same fascination, upon looking into such a creature's eyes, again in the next 24 hours. Pteryx must make a deliberate effort to place someone under the influence of their eyes, so needn't affect each and every troglodyte subordinate they glare at ... though they certainly DO use their hypnotic gaze to reprimand disrespectful or unruly servants, freezing them in their tracks to remind them who's boss.
Should their gaze fail them, or should they be faced by more than one opponent, pteryx who can't take wing or flee will hop from foot to foot -- kicking their broad, webbed, heavy-nailed feet at attackers like great, ungainly moorhens -- while snapping their elongated, fish-trap teeth. They may batter enemies with their wings, on the ground or at the surface of still water; from the air, they may make Swoop attacks to snatch up foes. All of these natural attack-forms -- already described above, under "Weapons and Armour" -- are last-ditch defences, only used by cornered non-spellcasters or by pteryx with no battle-spells memorised*. As a pteryx ages, it gains the use of more physical attacks, and the never-ending growth of its teeth and limbs increases the damage it may dish out.
(* - If a wizard or cleric who's personally threatened has the necessary power, OTOH, he or she will usually hurtle magic at the attacker, non-stop -- no restraint or pulled punches at all, nor any attempt to conserve spells for later -- until the opponent is so severely-damaged as to be, not merely dead, but physically unrecognisable! Pteryx are NOT cool-headed in a crisis, as a rule, and they do not like surprises.)
Pteryx are slow-moving and awkward on land, such that only their large size lets them sustain a movement rate of 60'(20'). In the air, however, they are fairly swift -- flying speed 180'(60') -- and quite manoeuvrable for their size (MF 3, for DoE rules), in the agile manner of dragons. If the rules for aerial manoeuvres from DoE are in use, pteryx have an inborn skill rating of 17 when flying. They can soar effortlessly upon thermal updrafts (necessary for spellcasting on the wing), but cannot hover in place unless they're using a Levitate or Fly spell to enhance their manoeuvrability. In theory, all pteryx are capable of a three-manoeuvre climb, but in practice most aren't in any physical condition to attempt such steep ascents -- too fat and out-of-shape -- so only a "roughneck" of the working class, who's kept his or her muscles uncommonly fit, might be capable of that. Pterosauroids do find it much easier to take wing from positions high above the ground, or into columns of rising air like the perpetual thermals of their lava-caverns; yet pteryx -- unlike pterodactyls, but like other rhamphorhynchids -- can launch themselves into the air from land or from the surface of water, given one round's "running room" to build up speed for take-off. A pteryx has the usual (HD x 1000, + 100/hp added) carrying capacity for a flying creature, i.e. 5500 cn for an adult. Armour slows a pteryx's flight speed, and immature pteryx are slower than adults.
In water, pteryx are every bit as much at home as they are in the air, able to see underwater as clearly as above the surface and to hold their breath for up to 20 minutes while diving. Pteryx can paddle along the water's surface at 150'(50'), or beneath the surface at 120'(40)'. Fishing, pteryx often crash-dive into the ocean's surface -- which does them no harm -- to give themselves a burst of speed, swimming downwards, of 240'(80') for the first round spent under the water. A pteryx in magical armour, which they enspell to be neutrally buoyant, is slowed down to 90'(30') underwater, or 210'(70') on a crash-dive.
The natural armour class of pteryx is 6. Most use armour and/or magical items to improve upon this, before venturing beyond the safety of their mountains.
The telepathic abilities of pteryx have already been described above ("Language"). DMs should keep this power in mind -- as well as its limitations as to range (180') and its need for line of sight connections -- whenever two or more pteryx are engaged in the same battle, as these creatures will strive to maintain mental contact with one another at all times during encounters. In military-style endeavours (i.e. "culling" operations or large-scale collecting expeditions), the precision and lightning-speed of pteryx telepathy gives their forces a +15 War Machine bonus to troops who are commanded by pteryx officers, or +40 for any units consisting exclusively of pterosauroids ... plus an additional +30 for every pair of communicators who are on hand, to monitor what's happening and instantaneously relay information between commanders.
Pteryx have an extraordinary sense of direction, left over from their distant heritage as migratory creatures. A pteryx can tell which direction to travel in, to reach the Apennines, from anywhere in the Hollow Moon ... even if it's underground, blind, or otherwise deprived of landmarks to guide it.
As an NPC race of monsters, the pteryx obviously don't have to be "balanced" with the other HM races. Nevertheless, fate and evolution have saddled them with a few drawbacks.
Because of the delicacy and frailty of pteryx wing-hands, and the fact that these "hands" are used to scrabble across the ground when walking, pteryx cannot wield weapons in melee combat. In theory, pteryx might handle small, lightweight weapons such as blowguns or daggers; in practice, those of the Hollow Moon leave all forms of non-magical combat to their troglodyte minions and pest-control constructs.
Likewise, pteryx may not use shields. Only armour specially-built to fit them is of any use to pteryx. Magic items designed for a humanoid frame and humanoid appendages -- even cloaks and rings -- are useless to these creatures, just as most pteryx-made magic items are unusable to humanoids. Having no vocal cords, pteryx also cannot invoke command-words for magic items of (demi)human manufacture.
They aren't exactly a courageous lot. Morale for pteryx isn't that bad when they're together in groups of six or more (8), nor when they believe they're in complete control of the situation, as when they're commanding a "collecting" or "culling" operation in the field (10). Should things start to go seriously awry with the pterosauroids' plans, however, the morale of their entire group slips by 1 point for every serious mishap* which confronts them, as confusion and nervousness pass from mind to mind and spread throughout the flock. Eventually, if resistance is stiff and surprises keep catching them off-guard, pteryx leading such operations will get so anxious and jumpy that they pack up and quit the field ... at least until they can regroup, calm down, and concoct plans for the next attack (usually along the lines of "sic the constructs on the filthy creatures and have done with it").
(* - DMs choice on which events might fluster and distress the pteryx. Unexpectedly-high troglodyte casualties, destruction of a major pest-control construct, or startlingly-effective tactics on the part of "dumb beasts" might all catch them unprepared; the deaths of pteryx in battle will DEFINITELY upset them and depress their morale.)
Morale for pteryx who are encountered in groups of less than six -- the smallest group to ever leave the Apennines, under normal circumstances -- and who don't feel they have the upper hand, drops 1 point for each individual by which they are short of six ... i.e. five pteryx will have a morale of 7, 6 is their morale in groups of four, three pteryx together have morale of 5, pairs' morale is 4, and single pteryx have a morale of 3. The presence of spellcasters raises the morale of pteryx by 1, for every eight experience levels their spell-casting companions possess (maximum of 10). Lone communicators count double toward the minimum group size of six, so long as their twins are within the 10-mile range of their telepathy; should they lose contact with their twins, no such bonus is granted, and the communicators' own morale drops by 2 (or falls TO a 2, if the twin actually dies).
Should a pteryx be kept out of mental communion with his or her fellows for long, there's a good chance of the creature's losing his or her wits: awash in the thoughts, emotions, and bustling physical companionship of their own kind throughout their lives, pteryx are psychologically unprepared to cope with isolation or loneliness. Pteryx can endure only 12 hours out of touch with any other pterosauroids' minds, per point of Wisdom they possess, before suffering a complete nervous breakdown. A mere 6 hours of mental isolation per Wisdom-point is sufficient to reduce an emotionally-stable pterosauroid to a nervous wreck, while 18 hours per point of Wisdom will render an already-broken pteryx catatonic; during the interval between nervous breakdown and catatonic withdrawal, the pteryx will be clinically insane and prone to reckless or self-destructive behaviour. Should a pteryx remain isolated for 24 hours per point of Wisdom it has, it will literally curl up and die for lack of company. Small groups of two or three, who have only each other to mind-talk to, can hold out longer -- for double or triple the time a single pterosauroid would last, respectively -- but it takes a minimum of four other individuals to provide enough "togetherness" to keep the pteryx emotionally secure, on a long-term basis. Thus, there are NEVER any pteryx communities, roosting-complex floors, or parties of travellers, which have less than four members.
Having huge wings that demand wide areas from which to take off, pteryx need lots of room to feel at ease. Tight spaces (less than 8' square) make them claustrophobic. A pteryx must pass a morale check to enter such a constricted space voluntarily, although it can force itself if it's a matter of life and death, e.g. if it's being chased.
With no vocal cords, pteryx must rely on hand-signals to command their troglodyte minions. In military-style engagements where the trogs can't take time to look at their commanders, this is augmented by a variety of noisemaking devices -- whistles, drums, bells, firecrackers -- each of which signals a standard manoeuvre in combat. Unfortunately, while Apennine troglodytes are drilled extensively in these basic manoeuvres, there's no way for pteryx to request novel or unorthodox tactics in the field; this is yet another reason why pteryx often call a retreat, when the tactics their trogs are trained for aren't working as expected. Pteryx forces suffer a -30 penalty under the War Machine rules, should the opposition pull some totally unexpected stunt, to which the troglodytes haven't been coached on how to respond.
In an AD&D game, pteryx would count as Large creatures, for the purpose of weapons' damage inflicted upon them.
The primary sense of pteryx is sight. They have good-quality night vision, and used to suffer -1 penalties to hit in daylight, back on Mystara; on Matera, the pterosauroids have no difficulty functioning in the dim-lit surroundings. Unless they're using spells which simulate it, pteryx lack infravision. The eyesight of pteryx functions perfectly underwater, thanks to transparent second eyelids which close over their eyes and act like goggles beneath the surface. Unlike many HM species, pteryx see quite well by red-coloured light, such that reflected light from the incandescent lava beneath their cities is adequate to illuminate their dwellings.
The secondary sense of pteryx is touch ... not merely "touch" in terms of physical contact*, but also sensitivity to air-currents and very slight movements within the air (or, when swimming, the water) that surrounds them. Feeling even the tiniest of drafts, pressure-changes, or variations in air temperature within their immediate surroundings, pteryx can tell about as much from their sense of touch as (demi)humans can tell from their own sense of hearing: whether someone is moving nearby, if they are speaking, their rough location, etc. So far as non-pteryx observers can tell, this isn't any different from normal hearing ... except that thieves suffer a -10% penalty to their Move Silently chances when sneaking past a pteryx, as the reptile can discern how a thief's body has shifted its location, even when the actual movement made no noise! Luckily, this only applies if the thief is in the same room or corridor as the pterosauroid, since the creature's sensitivity to air-movements extends no farther; if a character is in the next room over, and there's a wall between the two rooms, he/she could jump and turn cartwheels all over the place (!), and the pteryx won't notice there's something moving about next door. Outdoors, a pteryx's ability to pick up air-currents extends for 100' around it, and is used mostly to locate thermals and gusts on which the creature may soar, climb, and perform other aerial manoeuvres.
(* - The pteryx's sense of touch is keener than most other races' in the conventional way, too, which is why their writings are usually carved in rock or embossed on metal: they 'read' by touch as easily as by sight. It's also part of why they're so afraid of melee or of "wild animals" less than half their size. ALL of the pteryx's tactile sensations are enhanced, far beyond those of human or demihuman characters ... including pain.)
Tertiary senses of pteryx include hearing, smell and taste. While a pteryx CAN hear noises, tell how loud they are, and identify which direction they're coming from, it has no power to recognise individual voices or pitches of sounds; it also can't distinguish the regularities of music, language, or other pattern-based sonic phenomena. Sense of smell among pteryx is actually rather sharp at birth, but constant exposure to the lava-caverns' fumes and to various alchemical compounds "burns out" every HM pterosauroid's olfaction by the time it's old enough to fly, leaving it only the rudimentary olfactory sense of a nose-blind human*. Sensitivity to tastes is almost nil, and geared strongly toward a seabird's liking for salty fare.
(* - Ancient pteryx on Mystara could understand the troglodytes' scent-speech. Materan pteryx have lost their sense of smell, and with it, their knowledge of trogs' olfactory "language". Note that because the pteryx aren't humanoids, they remain unimpaired by the stench of their troglodytes' foul-smelling skin oils ... although even THEY don't like inhaling its rank odour, if they can help it.)
Many of Matera's pteryx are of Lawful alignment, believing that they should help their fellows and ensure the well-being of their colleagues, cities, and people. Such individuals are sincere in their intentions to do good in the world -- for all that their misconceptions about other species' intelligence keeps them from living up to those beliefs -- and would feel both miserable and ashamed of themselves, if ever they discovered the truth of what their kind have done to fellow-sentients. Bureaucrats and common (i.e. non-magical) scholars are usually Lawful.
OTOH, most pteryx wizards who make it past 4th level are Neutral, as it takes a certain fierce competitive drive -- something most Lawful pterosauroids are too staid and/or self-effacing to exhibit -- to attain much magical skill, when you've got no needs to satisfy and no enemies' magics to overcome. Likewise, the 15% of pteryx who do practical work usually develop Neutral tendencies, having found themselves stuck at the bottom of the heap in Lawful/traditional society. Clerics of the Great One are Neutral in accordance with their patron Immortal's views; natural philosophers who perform vivisections and the like are also Neutral, having hardened their hearts to innocent animals' suffering in the name of research.
Only insane pteryx are ever Chaotic. Living in and out of each others' brains, all the time -- and thus, being subjected to the constant pressure to conform, cooperate, comply with the majority -- any pteryx who DID have Chaotic leanings might well be DRIVEN insane, before long! :-)
Pteryx always possess at least one Intelligence-based skill that constitutes their field of expertise (scholars), professional office (bureaucrats), or "practical" vocation (workers). Clerics of the Great One must take the Ceremony skill by which to honour their patron, and communicators must take the Military Tactics skill by which to observe and report on "vermin" activities. No pteryx may learn any of the following skills: Language (any), Lip Reading, Mimicry, Caving, Detect Deception, Blind Shooting, Quick Draw, Riding (any), Labour (any), Deception, Music, Singing.
Troglodytes of the Apennines must learn one work-related skill of some value to the pteryx -- either Labour, Craft, or Profession -- if they are to retain their positions as "employees".
Typical pteryx city-dweller
Combat notes: Adult pteryx; AC 6; HD 5+5; hp 28; MV 60'(20') Fly 180'(60'); # At. 1 bite/2 kicks or 1 bite/1 wing-buffet or swoop; Damage 1d10+2/1d4+2/1d4+2 or 1d10+2/1d6+2 + special or varies; SA hypnotic gaze; Save M5; ML 8; AL L
Typical medium-level pteryx wizard
Combat notes: Elder 10th level pteryx mage; AC 6 (w/o magic); HD 6+16; hp 43; MV 60'(20') Fly 180'(60'); # At. 1 bite/2 kicks or 1 bite/1 wing-buffet or swoop; Damage 1d12+2/1d6+2/1d6+2 or 1d12+2/1d8+2 + special or varies; SA hypnotic gaze, spells; Save M10; ML 9; AL N
Typical Apennine troglodyte guard
Combat notes: 2nd level HM troglodyte; AC 4 (3 w/ shield); hp 9; MV 120'(40'); # At. 1 sword or 1 quarrel (+1 Dex bonus); Dam. 1d8 or 1d6; SD stench; Save T2; ML 10; AL N or C
The only living "monsters" to be found in the Apennines are the ones in pteryx laboratories and zoological collections. Pteryx are just as prone to collect monstrous creatures and mundane animals from the wilds, as humanoid races -- in fact, they see no distinction between these two sorts of capture-expeditions -- and are usually up to the task of capturing such critters alive. Thus, just about ANY sort of monster might turn up in a pteryx lab or display-cage, imprisoned by whatever method (titanium bars, magical binding-rites, electric fence, holy water moat, etc) best keeps it under control.
But it's the dreadful NON-living "monsters", also under pteryx control -- formidable constructs deployed in their grisly pest-control operations -- that have done the most to earn the Hollow Moon's pterosauroids their malign, unstoppable reputation. There are actually dozens of types of pteryx "culling" devices, each designed to operate in a different terrain or to utilise different methods of rooting out and exterminating designated "vermin". DMs are invited to invent their own enchanted death-machines to stock the pterosauroids' arsenals, but descriptions of some of the more infamous pteryx pest-control constructs follow:
Catapulters -- AC 2; HD 18; hp 110; MV nil; # At 3 missiles or 6 arms; Dam by missiles' content or 1d8 x 6; SA +4 to hit, poison gas; SD +1 weapons to hit, construct immunities; Save F9; ML N/A; AL N
Stationary battle-platforms which can be disassembled and carried into the field, catapulters are designed for use against walled towns ("nests") or underground tunnel-complexes ("burrows") full of vermin. By enchanting entire banks of catapults to fire ceramic barrage-missiles on their own, the pteryx can employ much larger projectiles and far more lethal compounds that they'd dare to risk using, with living operators. Projectiles for catapulters are massive, disk-shaped objects about 4' in diameter, of a sturdier ceramic than what is used in the pteryx's and troglodytes' chemical-filled weapons. Launched over the walls of a town or into the mouth of a tunnel, these special missiles don't break open immediately; rather, a catapulter's projectiles are enspelled so that they'll land on their edges and roll along the ground, at a speed of 150'(50'), in a random direction for 2-5 rounds or until something (such as any attack) knocks them over. At the end of this interval of rolling -- intended to let such disks wander into every corner of the vermin "nest" -- the projectile topples onto its side and shatters, releasing its contents ... poison gas (as per Cloudkill, but non-magical; SoR does NOT reduce AoE), in most cases.
Fully assembled, a catapulter construct has six self-cocking "spoons", of which half can fire their disk-projectiles in any given round; the other three will re-load themselves, bending to receive fresh ammo from chutes set behind the array of launchers, while the first three fling their projectiles at targets. All six spoons are mounted, in turn, on a swivelling platform capable of rotating up to 120 degrees, giving the weapon/creature a wide arc in which it can fire its missiles. Range for attacks is as per a standard heavy catapult, and all of its artillery-attacks are at a +4 to hit. The maximum capacity for a catapulter's ammo-bin is 36 projectiles; a pteryx wizard must cast a modified Floating Disc spell on each missile, no more than 12 hours in advance, in order to prepare the ammo to roll after launch. A catapulter counts as 8 heavy catapults, in the Siege Machine rules, and the inclusion of such a construct in pest-control siege operations may also earn the pteryx force a BR bonus by virtue of its immunity to normal weapons. Catapulters look pretty much like any other platform-mounted battery of siege weapons, up until the moment the troglodytes who assemble these things fall back to join the infantry, and the constructs' spoons start chucking missiles all by themselves.
Should a catapulter's position be overrun by enemies, and the construct is attacked in melee, it can fight back with its "spoons", bending them to strike at opponents as if the entire battle-platform were under an Animate Object spell. It can make 6 attacks per round, clubbing for 1-8 hp damage; such attacks receive no bonus to hit. Unable to flee, a catapulter that's overrun will always fight until it is destroyed. Apart from standard construct-immunities and invulnerability to non-magical weapons, a catapulter has no special defences. It saves at -4 versus magical fire.
Hover-eyes -- AC -2; HD 10; hp 60; MV fly 90'(30'); # At. 2 (spotter) or 1 (hunter); Dam special; SD +2 weapon to hit, spell and construct immunities; Save F5; ML 9 (spotter) or 12 (hunter); AL N
These flying constructs resemble 8' iron barrels with triangular fins mounted near their back end. Slow-moving yet manoeuvrable, hover-eyes are normally deployed in groups ("convoys") of five, to float 40-60' above the ground and seek out vermin to target with the magical beams of energy which are their sole attack-form. The front end of a hover-eye is one huge, shatter-resistant crystal lens, from which it can emit these rays of magic in a 30-degree cone, to a maximum distance of 90'. Hover-eyes aren't intelligent, but they are capable of combing an area systematically and of working together as a team to surround and harry their prey. Hover-eyes can only be damaged by spells or by +2 or better weapons. They are immune to any spell of 5th level or less which would specifically hamper their movements (e.g. Web, Slow). In the DoE rules for aerial manoeuvres, these constructs may be treated as beholders so far as their ability to change direction, rotate, or hover in place is concerned.
Within any convoy of 5 hover-eyes, there are three "spotters" and two "hunters". A spotter's magical beam inflicts no damage to creatures touched by it, but targets of the particular species which the hover-eye has been sent to eliminate must save vs Wands at -3, or be engulfed in luminous, orange Faerie Fire for the next 24 hours. Not only do vermin outlined in this manner become easier to spot, in the perpetual HM darkness (range for sighting affected targets is quadrupled), but the mystic energies which surround them act as beacons for "hunter" hover-eyes and other pest-control constructs in the vicinity. Until the effect wears off or is Dispelled (as 20th level caster), each and every pteryx culling device that's currently operating within a 1-mile radius (!!!) can sense the light-shrouded creature's direction and approximate distance from itself, and will close in upon that creature if not already engaged in pursuing a target of its own. Once a target has been killed or captured, the Faerie Fire effect upon it ends automatically. A spotter hover-eye can emit its beam of light-enshrouding magic twice in a single round. Often these devices will float into an area where they sense vermin are concealed and take up a stationary position overhead, then rotate in mid-air as they "paint" various potential hiding-places with their beams. Spotters can see invisible creatures, are never deceived by illusions, and are sensitive to heat, motion, and living heartbeats within a 300' range. This type of hover-eye cannot be surprised, except by incorporeal beings (e.g. shadows, wraiths) or by enemies emerging from an extradimensional space. Note that spotters have no damaging attack-forms of their own, so rely upon other constructs -- usually, though not necessarily, the hunters in their convoy -- to eliminate targets they have "painted" with their beams. If it suffers severe structural damage (20+ hp lost), a spotter withdraws from the field to preserve itself for future deployments.
Hunter hover-eyes resemble spotters, but are equipped to kill in a painless, yet efficient manner. If struck by a hunter's beam, living creatures must save vs Wands at -3 or begin to asphyxiate, unable to draw oxygen into their lungs. Victims of this effect should be treated as if they were drowning (RC p. 90), such that they must pass Constitution checks -- save vs Death, for monsters -- at an increasing penalty every round or die. Characters who succumb to asphyxiation may be revived as per drowned characters, if help arrives in time; victims who are just starting to suffer the beam's effect may be saved, before they perish, if a Cureall or Create Air spell is cast upon them. Because hunter hover-eyes often remain near their targets, keeping their beams tenaciously trained upon them until they have expired, it is often necessary to destroy the hover-eye before its asphyxiating victim can be rescued. Hunters never retreat from the field, even if faced with attackers -- such as undead or other constructs -- which do not breathe and are unharmed by their beams*. A hunter may emit a beam at fresh targets once per round, or may keep a continuous beam trained at a target that was struck by its asphyxiation-ray, during the previous round. Because they aren't too selective about their targets if sent out alone, and have been known to suffocate the pteryx's own troglodytes (!) in error, hunters are always accompanied by the highly-sensitive spotters so the latter can pick out and "paint" whichever targets are appropriate.
(* - Like all the pteryx's pest-control constructs, they're not very smart. Tenacious as pit bulls, but not smart. :-D)
Hover-eyes' rays are useable up to 40 times per deployment, before they require recharging. The procedures for recharging a hover-eye's lens are similar to those used to recharge a magic item, and require that it return to the Apennines for partial disassembly. Note that one of the hunter hover-eyes in a convoy will hold several charges (4-9 shots) in reserve, so that it can defend the other four constructs in its convoy, in the event they are attacked by monsters (or vengeful vermin) on their journey home. As their beams inflict no harm to targets, spotter hover-eyes are sometimes dispatched on live-capture "collecting" expeditions, to find and illuminate specimens which have proven too elusive for troglodyte trackers or pteryx aerial scouts to flush out.
Tentaculates -- AC -5; HD 30; hp 170; MV 120'(40); # At. 4 tentacles or 2 vacuums or trample; Dam 2d8 (x4) or special (x2) or 4d12; SA constriction, swallow, trample; SD +2 to hit, spell and construct immunities; Save F15; ML 12; AL N
The "big baddies" of Apennine pest-control arsenals, tentaculates are huge, heavily-armoured metal monstrosities that could pass for a cross between a WWII main battle tank, a robotic giant squid, and a vacuum cleaner. The low-slung, squarish body of this construct is equipped with caterpillar treads, to carry it without pause over rocky, muddy, or broken ground; on slippery ice or crystalbarrens, spikes pop out of the treads to increase traction (no movement penalties for terrain). Metallic tentacles 40' long sprout from the four corners of the construct's back/roof, coiling up atop the tentaculate when they're not in use; and two collapsible suction-hoses -- which retract into mere 5' cylinders when the tentaculate is at rest, but can stretch out 20' in combat -- wide enough to "inhale" a full-grown minotaur protrude from its front and back faces. The body itself is about 20' long, 16' wide (with 3' treads), and 8' tall. Virtually unaltered since the Carnifex Wars, when they were employed heavily against enemy infantry, tentaculates are built to kill every groundling in sight, and for no other purpose.
A construct of this sort attacks "vermin" by grabbing and constricting with its tentacles, rolling over victims with its treads, or "swallowing" them with its powerful suction-hoses. The tentacles make four attacks per round, striking for 2d8 hp of damage versus living targets, and constricting for 3d6 points of automatic damage each round thereafter until their captive is dead; alternately, victims up to 400 lbs may be hurled off cliffs or against solid surfaces (falling damage applies) to free up the tentacle for more fighting. Should their prey take cover indoors or behind heavy obstacles, tentacles may crush or tear apart such obstructions, inflicting 2d4 points of structural damage per blow. Opponents may sever a tentacle by inflicting 45 hp of cutting damage to it, or just 15 hp damage with a Slicing weapon, but such damage doesn't count toward the construct's destruction.
The suction-hoses on a tentaculate's front and rear ends may not initiate attacks in the same round as the tentacles, so are usually not deployed until the four longer appendages are all constricting foes. Each hose can suck in a sudden rush of air, vacuum-cleaner style, once every second round. Anyone within 10' of the hose's end must save vs Breath Weapon -- smaller than man-sized targets save at -2, larger than man-sized at +2; opponents larger than a minotaur or in excess of 800 lbs cannot be sucked up -- or be drawn into its open end and "swallowed" by the construct. Being "inhaled" by a tentaculate-hose inflicts 1d6 hp of battering damage, as the victim tumbles down the armoured tube's interior*. "Swallowed" victims who fail to stop themselves are sucked right into the heart of the tentaculate's "gizzard" ... a ghastly meat-grinding mechanism adapted, in a rare glimpse of pteryx morbid humour, from ancient Greater Carnifex food-processing equipment. Anyone dumped into the grinding apparatus suffers 6d10 hp damage per round, and can only escape if the construct is killed and broken open from outside. Attacking a tentaculate from within is possible -- the grinding chamber's metallic walls are AC 1, and require only +1 or better weapons to hit -- but any weapon larger than a short sword is too unwieldy to use in such confined quarters. Suction-hoses may be severed by 60 hp of damage, or 20 hp with Slicing weapons, but such losses don't count towards destroying the tentaculate.
(* - A save vs Death is allowed, to lodge oneself in the hose ... but only if the victim (i.e. the player) thinks of this RIGHT AWAY, and announces an intention to stop his/her descent, WHILE the DM is describing their plunge through the pipeline! Success on this save -- again, modified for size -- indicates the character has braced his/her arms and legs against the sides of the hose, and is clinging fast against the force of its suction. A hose which is "blocked up" by a clinging character cannot suck in any new victims, but if there's already another victim coming down the pipe, the clinging individual must make another save vs Death (unmodified) or be dislodged when this second party crashes into them; success indicates both victims are clinging to the sides of the pipe. If it's plugged up by a clinging victim -- or by anything else it's "inhaled", for that matter -- a tentaculate suction-hose will try to shake the stoppage loose, writhing and thrashing itself against the ground, inflicting 2d6 hp of battering damage to the "stoppage", and none (since the ground's not a +2 or better weapon!) to itself. Piercing or cutting attacks launched from outside, which damage the plugged-up tentacle, will inflict 1/3 damage on the clinging victim within; since both hands are needed to hang on against the hose's powerful suction, a victim can't stay plugged in the tube and attack it from within.)
If it's surrounded by too many attackers to constrict or vacuum up, or if it's lost several of its appendages, a tentaculate will trample with its massive treads for 4d12 hp damage. Like a juggernaut, it can make a normal attack-roll vs single targets, or else roll straight into a group of victims, forcing each to save vs Dragon Breath or be run over. If the first trampling hit fails to kill a large, tough target, the tentaculate may simply park itself on top of them (!) after the next successful trample, inflicting 2d12 hp of additional crushing damage per round. Even if the construct is then killed, the tentaculate's wreckage -- which weighs about 20 tons -- may still crush a pinned victim to death, beneath its bulk. "Killing" a tentaculate instantly puts a stop to its internal meat-grinding mechanism and turns off the suction from its hoses.
Tentaculates were designed to be virtually indestructible. No spell under 4th level will affect a tentaculate, nor weapons of less than +2 enchantment; fire and electricity inflict 1/2 damage against them, or none with a saving throw. Fortunately there are only six of these devices in the pteryx arsenal, which are in a functional condition.
Tentaculates don't distinguish between targets very well -- they can only tell creatures apart by their size and general shape (i.e. humanoid, quadruped, winged, etc) -- so are never employed in combination with troops. More often they are released alone to wreak havoc, after an initial extermination-attempt with troglodytes and chemical bombardments has failed.
Crushers -- AC 8; HD 50 (see below); hp 300 (see below); MV 30'(10'); # At special; Dam special; SD +1 to hit, construct immunities; Save F25; ML N/A; AL N
Simplest of pteryx constructs, crushers were invented as magical siege weapons for use against Greater Carnifex fortresses, and are now used against vermin whose "nests" -- castles, deep caverns, etc -- prove inaccessible to other constructs. Crushers differ from other pest-control equipment in that they are not self-directing; rather, a pteryx wizard of at least 25th level -- or a "tag team" of pteryx whose shared minds are equal to such a character -- must fly above the crusher, mentally commanding it to move, turn, and crush everything in its path. Crushers' controllers are normally escorted by additional pteryx spellcasters as bodyguards, as they circle above these gargantuan, sluggish engines of demolition.
A crusher's appearance might seem innocent enough, under other circumstances: it is, after all, nothing more than a featureless sphere of smoothly-polished basalt. But it's a *REALLY BIG* sphere -- half a foot in diameter per hp, which is about 12 stories high for a 300-pointer...! -- enchanted to slowly but inexorably roll along the ground, flattening everything in its path. The actual HD of a crusher would lie as far beyond the D&D game's boundaries, as the hit dice of the PWAs' Behemoth. Rather, 50 HD of damage is the minimum number of hp which must be inflicted, to break off a sufficiently-large chunk of stone from its surface so this no-longer-rounded portion will halt its movement. Once a crusher has rolled onto the part of itself which was "flattened" by too much damage, it's effectively harmless, having no attack-forms apart from rolling over things. Crushers have a very poor armour class and only the most basic immunities for a greater construct; given their sheer magnitude and the immense quantities of magic necessary to enchant them in the first place*, the ancient pteryx who crafted these babies didn't see any need for bells and whistles. :-)
(* - In effect, crushers are a combined product of construct-crafting techniques, and the "huge magic item"-creation methods now used by the Alphatians for floating castles and the like. Combining these two fields of enchantment was one of the last and greatest innovations of the Mystaran pteryx, a breakthrough now lost to the few survivors of their race.)
As a crusher rolls along, under its controller's mental direction, it inevitably demolishes every obstacle it encounters -- buildings, forests, bridges, walls -- except mountains and other terrain-features larger than itself. The effect is as devastating to the landscape as an Earthquake spell, cutting a swathe of flattened destruction of a width equal to 1/8 its circumference (e.g. a 300-hp crusher carves a 60' wide path) across the land's surface, and causing cave-ins and collapsed ceilings throughout any subterranean tunnels underneath it. Creatures so foolish as to remain in front of a rolling crusher will be killed if they don't save vs Death, with success indicating they've managed to dash to one side at the last minute. Luckily, the extremely slow movement rate of this spherical construct, and the deep, powerful rumbling that's produced as it rolls along, give mobile creatures ample opportunity to get out of its way; unfortunately, other pest-control devices are usually on hand to attack, and cull, those "vermin" who abandon their dwellings and flee.
Crushers can roll equally-well on land, or along the sea bed, although they are obviously ill-equipped to ascend steep slopes -- anything over 30 degrees is impassable -- or to roll down narrow mountain roads. Deploying these huge constructs is also a problem, as it can take many months to roll them from their storage-facilities to parts of the Nearside where they are needed, and they inflict great damage to the intervening terrain. Thus, most crushers which have seen use in pest-control operations aren't stored in the Apennines at all; rather, they are hidden in strategic positions throughout the Hollow Moon, in those regions where pteryx population-surveys suggest they'll be most useful. To prevent vermin from chipping away at the inert crushers, they are covered in soil to disguise them as hills, rolled into the sea to become "islets" encrusted by barnacles and seaweed, or simply parked in the least-hospitable portions of the crystalbarrens, where even cryions do not venture.
Needle-swarms -- AC 1; HD 1 per 5 needles; hp 1 per needle; MV fly 240'(60'); # At 1 swarm; Dam 1-4 per HD; SA surprise on 1-4 or 1-5, instant kill, ignore armour; SD weapon and construct immunities, self-replenishment, concealment; Save NM (single needles) or F1 per 10 needles (whole swarm); ML 12; AL N
While greater pest-control constructs of the pteryx are usually leftover war engines, needle-swarms were originally invented on Matera. These lesser constructs are designed for eliminating "vermin" which live in mixed company -- i.e. who share their communities with species the pteryx DON'T want to "cull" -- without causing any collateral damage to the "non-vermin" ... a show of selectivity which their other, mass-destruction-oriented devices are incapable of. So different are needle-swarms from other pteryx culling devices, and so rarely does the cause of death for their victims come to light, that most "vermin" have no idea that these tiny, deadly constructs -- mistakenly assumed to be a tool of mage/assassins -- are the most plentiful weapons in the pterosauroids' arsenal: simple, subtle, painless and (thanks to their minimal HD) extremely easy to make. This sort of construct is usually deployed in cities or other gathering-places, smuggled past the city's walls inside some innocuous parcel borne by a troglodyte lackey who releases the deadly swarm in secret. It isn't that often that the pteryx find it necessary to employ needle-swarms: they're mostly a tool for rooting out vermin who've slipped past the pterosauroids' killing zones, and taken cover among creatures that aren't considered pests.
A needle-swarm consists of 20 or more ordinary-looking steel pins, about 2 inches in length and finely-pointed at each end. Ordinary-looking, that is, except that they fly! Like minute Brooms Of Flying, the needles which make up a swarm can zip through the air with great speed and a phenomenal manoeuvrability (MF 8 for DoE rules), darting about so quickly and erratically that they cannot easily be seen with the naked eye. They can surprise primarily-sighted creatures -- their usual targets -- on a 1-4, if they simply attack from the air. More often, needle-swarms will set themselves down in places where they are either concealed (e.g. within the thatch of a roof or the mattress of a bed), or won't be noticed (e.g. on a shop's shelf among mundane needles and nails). Under such circumstances, they surprise with a 1-5 on d6. Needle-swarms are patient hunters, and may wait for days or weeks before a target of the designated "vermin" race appears. If discovered by creatures which aren't of the proscribed species, they don't move, resist being handled, or otherwise give away their nature; indeed, some Materans have used needles from a needle-swarm as tailors' pins, or as tacks for posting handbills on public walls, without ever suspecting it!
The deadliest ability of a needle-swarm is its surprise attack. If a swarm can surprise its designated target, there is a chance of it killing them instantly, as a single, well-placed pin streaks toward them at lightning-speed and drives itself into some vital organ (brain, heart, etc). The chance of death is equal to the victim's chance of being killed by a headsman/thug (RC p. 184), whose HD are equal to those of the entire needle-swarm (i.e. 1 HD per 5 needles). Cause of death is usually difficult to determine, since the entry-wound is tiny and is delivered at discreet locations -- a nostril, an ear, beneath the victim's hair or fur -- whenever possible. The killing needle remains securely lodged inside the victim's body, leaving the swarm short one member, and making Raise Dead ineffective unless the needle (which now ceases to be magical) is physically extracted. Should the "instant kill" attempt miss or its %tile roll fails, no damage is inflicted, and the needle-swarm will either flee (if "non-vermin" witnesses are present) or resort to pack attacks similar to those of mundane rats, piranha, or other "swarming" OD&D monsters. For every 5 needles in a swarm, damage for "pack" attacks increases by 1d4. Because needle-swarms can target even the tiniest exposed areas of an opponent's body, they ignore the base AC value of armoured targets when fighting as a "pack"; only magical bonuses, shields, and Dexterity contribute to the AC of someone assailed by a swarm of these flying steel pins.
Successful bludgeoning attacks on a needle-swarm will "kill" a number of needles equal to the number of hp of damage inflicted; thus, bludgeons such as maces or clubs are the best means of vanquishing a needle-swarm. Slashing/cleaving weapons only "kill" one needle, for every 2 hp damage they inflict (round down), while piercing/stabbing weapons can only "kill" one needle per hit. A needle is "dead" if it gets bent -- even very slightly -- by the force of an attack, as this causes its magic to dissipate. Needle-swarms obviously aren't very sturdy compared to other pteryx constructs, but since they're meant to kill instantly from ambush, they don't have to be. A swarm that is reduced to less than 5 needles can't attack effectively, so any survivors will retreat when they've been whittled down to 4 or less. Obviously, a needle-swarm with just 5 members will be unable to attack a second target, if its first victim is slain and the killing needle remains behind, embedded in their carcass! Should two decimated needle-swarms encounter one another, they merge and become a single swarm, hopefully with enough members to attack new targets.
Although needles of this sort are expended quickly in any pest-control operation -- not only are they easily destroyed, but their successful "instant kills" always cost the needle-swarm one member -- they are able to replenish their own numbers, by transforming non-magical pins and needles into new swarm-members. One pin, needle or nail may be transformed every 72 hours, if it's left in a pile with the other needle-swarm members; at least 10 already-enchanted needles must be present, in order for new pins to become a part of the needle-swarm construct. Bent or rusty pins/nails, or former members of the needle-swarm which have been "killed", cannot be transformed into new swarm-members.
Because most HM natives who've heard stories about these things believe such deadly metal darts are created by non-pteryx, there are a number of shady individuals -- eager to replicate what seems like an ideal assassin's weapon -- who'd pay adventurers well for a captured needle-swarm with its enchantments intact.
All pteryx pest-control devices have the standard immunities of constructs (i.e. poison, mind-control, disease) plus an immunity to cold-based attacks. Models designed to operate in volcanic environments are immune to fire and heat rather than cold.
Pteryx mages have developed spells to repair damaged constructs, of comparable power to clerics' Cure Wounds spells. There's a Repair Light Damage spell, a Repair Serious Damage spell, a Repairall, etc. The spells' levels are as per the corresponding clerical Cures; they will only affect constructs of pteryx manufacture. Pteryx constructs cannot be mended by conventional Cure Wound spells.
One noteworthy pteryx whose work might impact upon PCs is the Second Senior Comparative Psychologist, Emeritus Scholar of the Institute of Developmental Medicine in Nyzzax ... better known as "Ol' Skinneybeak" to his troglodyte assistants.
Second Senior Comparative Psychologist, aka Ol' Skinneybeak
History: After a long, respectable career in theoretical comparative psychology -- one of many, many branches of obscure, erudite, and ultimately-useless science which HM pteryx resort to researching, now that everything else has been hashed over ;-D -- the Second Senior Emeritus (a dignified elder who certainly should've known better!) gradually began to fall prey to a strange delusion ... namely, the belief that some of his long-term research specimens -- a pale-skinned human female, a darker-skinned human male, a giant spider, a small furry primate, and a half-grown male gnome* -- had demonstrated an inordinate amount of cunning, over the years, in escaping from their cages. None of the five showed any indications of kopru manipulation, nor any capacity to communicate with one another (e.g. if one was shown certain objects, it could not direct any of the others to select the same objects from an assortment of possible choices**), yet their performance in solving puzzles and mazes suggested their brains might NOT be as woefully underdeveloped as traditional comparative psychology held them to be. Ol' Skinneybeak has kept these thoughts carefully hidden from other pteryx, lest his academic reputation be ruined; nevertheless, he has devised an elaborate experiment to look into the possibility that humans, spiders, and other lower life forms might be capable of rudimentary cognition and planning.
(* - The human female was a captive Cynidicean thief, while the male was a low-level Vedali mystic. The aranea was one of the rare few of her kind who lack the minimum Intelligence to practice magic, in the HM setting; thus, she'd acquired some of the skills of a traditional thief, to compensate. The gnome had a knack for mechanical devices, like most of his brethren back in the Taurus Mounts. The small furry primate -- a perfectly ordinary night monkey from the margasta rainforests -- was just lucky. :-D)
(** - The fact that none of the captives spoke the same (verbal) language, of course, never occurred to the Second Senior Emeritus! Pteryx telepathy, after all, has no separate languages or dialects. Similar mistakes have been made throughout the history of the HM pteryx, in their observance of other races' behaviour.)
Personality: Ol' Skinneybeak is a typical pteryx -- fastidious, workaholic, unimaginative, a bit out of shape and more than a little out of touch -- who's stumbled upon findings which markedly conflict with the safe, traditional world-views of his discipline and his people ... data he'd LIKE to discount as nonsensical, but which have been nagging at him constantly, in the back of his mind, for many years. This uncertainty is terribly distressing to the old psychologist, and he's mostly doing his experiment to prove he's mistaken about his specimens' performance, because he can't cope with such doubts! His mate is no help, in this time of personal crisis -- indeed, he hasn't seen her for months; she studies a different branch of the life sciences altogether, and won't be fertile for another 2 years -- nor has re-reading the classics of theoretical comparative psychology allowed him to regain his equilibrium. Perhaps the test results will show him that his past results were just a fluke, and he can go back to being his contented, complacent, close-minded old self again; certainly, those are the results he's hoping -- and unconsciously confounding his experimental design, by making it far more lethal than necessary -- for.
Appearance: The distraught Emeritus Scholar is an elder, with a wingspan of about 28' and a small scar (from an escaped lab animal) across the left side of his muzzle. His scales are slate grey. He wears a brass legband that functions as a long-range potion of Clairvoyance (300' range) three times per day, with which he observes experiments in progress by shutting his own eyes and looking through those of the test specimens. "Ol' Skinneybeak" has no other distinguishing features: if you've seen one pteryx, you've seen them all.
DMing Notes: If you've come up with loads of ideas for cunning dungeon-traps or brain-teasing mechanical puzzles, but haven't gotten around to using them in an adventure yet, now's your chance! PCs who get captured by the pteryx just might wind up "assisting" the Second Senior Emeritus with his experiment: a gruelling physical and mental trial, staged inside a huge, 3D mechanical maze, in which any weapons must be found or improvised, and many of their spells have been rendered ineffectual. There, the characters must think their way past elaborate death-traps, bypass obstacles using only the props provided for them, and overcome pitfalls through teamwork, wondering all along how come they're being forced to run a gauntlet of mental challenges ... and how (or IF!) they'll be able to escape from the pterosauroids' clutches, once they've survived their captor's artificial "dungeon". Suitable obstacles to incorporate into this giant rat-maze can be gleaned from old modules or issues of Dungeon Adventures -- in which a number of "all-puzzle" scenarios have appeared -- as well as from puzzle-books, novels, websites, and other resources. Additional inspiration for 'PCs-as-lab-rats' adventures can be found in the teen sci-fi book "House of Stairs" by William Sleator, the mature anti-vivisection novel "Doctor Rat" by William Kotzwinkle, or the 1998 sci-fi/horror movie "Cube", directed by Vincenzo Natali. :-D
The Second Senior Emeritus, by virtue of his long career and impeccable -- at least up until now -- scholarly credentials, has three troglodyte orderlies, five lab-techs, and two guards (with chain mail and swords; the other trogs are unarmed) assigned to his service. He is also assisted by three pteryx adults, who are students of the Institute of Developmental Medicine.
Combat Notes: Elder pteryx; AC 6; HD 6+6; hp 42; MV 60'(20') fly 180'(60') swim 120'(40'); # At 1 bite/2 kicks or 1 bite/1 wing-buffet; Dam 1-12+1/1-6+1/1-6+1 or 1-12+1/1-8+1 + special; SA knockdown, gaze; Save M6; ML 6 (with assistants) or 3 (alone); AL L. Str 15 (6), Int 16, Wis 10, Dex 9 (14), Con 11, Cha 5 (11). Languages: Troglodyte hand-signals or telepathy only. General Skills: Knowledge of Theoretical Comparative Psychology, Knowledge of Experimental Design, Snares, Profession of Scientist. Magical Items in Possession: Legband of Clairvoyance.