A slender bodied large cat with spotted coat, small rounded head and a long spotted tail. Lightly built, the cheetah can outrun almost any other creature over short distances. They are active throughout the day and have adapted many natural ranges throughout Africa, Arabia, Persia and the Indian subcontinent. They are most common upon the savannas and veldts of east and southern Africa.
Carnivores, cheetah prefer to prey upon antelopes and other smaller horned animals ranging from between 51 and 123 lbs. in weight. They have been known to stalk elves and other small humanoids. Cheetahs can take down much larger prey, up to 290 lbs., if necessary.
They can be quite gregarious and can even be trained; pet cheetahs are a favorite companion throughout South Asia, though training them to accept a master means diminishing their aggression. Pet cheetahs do not make good guard animals.
Cheetahs will rarely stand and fight, unless cornered. They prefer to escape. When stalking prey, they will crouch and move slowly upon their intended prey, until getting within 40 hexes (200 feet). This is well out of the range to be detected by most creatures (see stealth). The cheetah will then put on a burst of speed. The cheetah reaches a speed of 70 mph with less than two action points (about 3.2 seconds); this will effectively cover the distance between when it has hidden itself and its target in less than a round (the cheetah moves at 102 feet per second at its fastest). The target will be surprised on a 5 in 6; it is entitled to an initiative roll ~ but a successful initiative roll will allow the target only one action point of movement before the cheetah attacks. For most creatures, this is not enough to run very far or fight back, except with open hand, fist or if the defender has the ability to make a weapon attack with 1 AP.
If the target runs, when the cheetah gains on its target it will attack with its dewclaw first; a hit, regardless of the amount of damage done, will trip the target and dump it to the ground. Because of the cheetah's speed and agility, there is no saving throw. The cheetah's second attack will be its bite; if this hits a dumped target, the damage done by the speed of the strike will be double damage.