Beasts of Atheria Part II – Bears and Horses

Brown bear rearing2

Meet Farmer Brown…

Beasts born in Atheria, like Humans born there, gain a Birthright – abilities derived from the magic of the domain in which they’re born. You can find some more details on that over HERE in the first article in this series, or some basic principles over  HERE. – and most of the Human Birthrights can be found over Here or Here.

And with that out of the way, here are another trio of beasties.

Alarian Beekeeper Bear (Brown Bear): While Alarian Bears may be either Brown or Black bears, they’re invariably large, healthy, and well-fed enough to use the statistics for a Brown Bear as a base. Like so many animals in Alaria they’re inclined to live in larger-than-usual groups – in this case usually a pair or two and their families. Beekeeper Bears instinctively understand how to use the resources of the land and are deeply attuned to it’s patterns. In the areas they inhabit they tend to root out undesirable plants, encourage the growth of trees that bear fruit and nuts, as well as desirable herbs, berry bushes, flowering vines and shrubs (for bees) and similar plants. They cultivate beehives, consuming a portion of the honey and leaving the hives and swarms largely intact – a habit made possible by some form of innate control over bees, keeping other honey-seekers away, and encouraging flowers. Telepaths, beast-speakers, and similar individuals have occasionally managed to obtain medical care or supplies from Beekeeper Bears, but it’s best to avoid them otherwise; they can be quite territorial. There are a few tales of lost children being raised by bears – but that is at least pretty uncommon, if possibly not entirely mythical.

Beekeeper Bear Birthright (24 CP):

  • Augmented Bonus/Adds (Str Mod) to (Wis Mod) for skill purposes (Heal, Listen, Profession, Sense Motive, Spot, and Survival. This only applies to Farmer, Beekeeper, and Herbalist out of the hundreds of possible Profession skills, but this is – sadly – not really enough of a restriction on a bear to be worth a price break (6 CP).
  • Presence/Charm, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect (no save, can communicate basic concepts)/only works on Bees, Wasps, Ants, and Sawflies (6 CP).
  • Inherent Spell (Summon Swarm) with +4 Bonus Uses, Corrupted for Increased Effect (swarm lasts for (level) rounds without concentration)/user may only summon swarms of bees (treat as Spiders, but have Flight instead of Tremorsense) and bees must be native to the area (12 CP).

Atherian Horses:

Horses really aren’t very bright compared to most predatory and semi-predatory mammals; it doesn’t take that much brainpower to eat plants, run away from predators, and operate in a rather simple herd social structure – but they’re still fairly big, which is the other major factor affecting Birthrights. Thus Horses typically have 18 character point birthrights – respectable, but not at the level of Humans 30-31 points or even Bears 24. Still, 18 well-spent character points can accomplish a good deal…

Dernmarkain Timedancer (Any Horse): Timedancers use the dimension-warping power of their birth-realm for one simple purpose – escaping. In general the strategy is to warp time to move well away from any sudden danger and then to keep on going further away as quickly as possible. Given that this is a simple and straightforward upgrade of the basic equine survival strategy – like a tortoise with extra armor – their behavior is a lot like any other horses. For good or ill, however, they’re harder to catch than most other Atherian horse variants and can be very difficult to keep and train. Their tendency to simply flash-step over enclosures when they feel overly confined, and to vanish when startled, tends to make training them an exercise in first getting the horse to WANT to cooperate with you. While treats and attention will usually persuade them to stick around, and even to allow themselves to be ridden, training one for warfare is quite a feat since their natural tendency is to suddenly be somewhere else as soon as combat begins. This makes combat-trained Timedancers – capable of removing themselves and their riders from danger when necessary but willing to remain in a combat situation otherwise – an incredibly expensive purchase. Of course, given that such a steed may easily save it’s rider from a major attack spell or two, a couple of deathblows, a surprise attack, and capture by the enemy, during a single battle, those fortunate warriors who manage to acquire such a steed usually consider it well worth it. There is a reason why Dernmarik is often considered a “Realm of Heroes”.

Timedancer Horse Birthright (18 CP):

  • Reflex Action, 3/Three Actions Per Day Variant, with +4 Bonus Uses (for a total of seven), Specialized/only usable for movement, whether natural or magically-assisted (6 CP).
  • Innate Enchantment (Personal Haste, from The Practical Enchanter), CL1, SL1, At-Will Use-Activated, 2000 GP effective value) (3 CP).
  • Inherent Spell (Lightning Step (from The Practical Enchanter), with +2 Bonus Uses, 9 CP).

Pale Steeds (Any Horse): Few creatures survive birth in the realms of death – and those which do are often most uncanny creatures indeed; the birthrights of death are varied and terrible. Still, the beasts of the realm are often well-fitted to their desolate and barren homeland. There the Pale Steeds wander the moors, blending with the mists – and are often mistaken for spirits themselves.

Like most other horses, the Pale Steeds employ the power of their birthrights to escape their enemies. Unlike most horses, they don’t just use it to escape simple predators… A Pale Steed can pursue the newly dead, and – sometimes – escort them back to life. That birthright works best on other equines – allowing their herds to restore lost members and maintain their numbers in some of the most hostile areas in all Atheria – but nothing stops their riders from pursuing other spirits to return them to life.

Pale Steed Birthright (18 CP):

  • Inherent Spell with +2 Bonus Uses, Specialized for Increased Effect (a level six effect) and Corrupted for Reduced Cost / requires pursuing the targets spirit into the realms of the dead, handling whatever problems you find there, catching up, and escorting the spirit back to the world of the living. This is not at all difficult if the target happens to be another Pale Horse. Other targets are as difficult as the game master feels like making the trip (6 CP).
  • Shapeshift with the Shape of Death and Incorporeal Forms enhancements, and +4 Bonus Uses, Specialized and Corrupted / only to take Incorporeal Form, cannot be maintained for more than a few minutes at a time (8 CP).
  • Blessing with +1 Target (the user and one additional creature), Specialized and Corrupted / only to share the Shapeshifting Ability. Using – and sharing – this ability allows a Pale Steed to bring back a creature who’s body has been destroyed (usually by being eaten by a predator) by simply sharing the ability to return to corporeal form with it’s spirit (4 CP).

Raising the dead is pretty difficult on Atheria – a world where humans and near-human spellcasting is normally limited to level three or less. While there are some ways around that limit, most of them are rare or specialized. For reasons known only to the Great Lords of the Fey, animal birthrights are not so limited – making Pale Steeds one of the few more-or-less readily accessible ways to manage the trick. Sadly, they’re pretty rare, even in the Death Domain – and their ability to become incorporeal makes them (once again) difficult to catch and train.

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