Monday, April 9, 2018

Hyena

Hyenas are cat-like pack animals that live across Africa and Southwest Asia, having once also lived across Eurasia. The striped hyena lives in North Africa and the Arabian and Indian peninsulas, while the larger spotted hyena dominates the Sub-Saharan plains. Hyenas are found in almost all habitats except dense forest or forest above 13,000 feet altitude, deserts and coasts.

Spotted hyenas, so named for their short spotted fur, are fairly social, living in "clans" of up to 80 individuals, depending on the activity of their prey. They hunt their prey themselves in long chases, running for several miles at 37 miles per hour (132 hexes per second) as a group of 1 to 5 hyenas. These hyenas typically weigh between 90 and 150lbs (d6/HD), although some exceptionally large specimens can weigh up to 250lbs (d8/HD). Their bite is stronger than a brown bear's, capable of breaking the neck of a giraffe (2-8 damage).

Striped hyenas, again named after their fur, live in smaller family groups of one or two members and are mainly scavengers, especially of the kill of gray wolves, which share much of their range. They are smaller than the spotted hyenas, weighing between 50 and 120 lbs (d4 or d6/HD). Their coats are grey or brown, longer and thicker than those of the spotted hyena, with dark bands or stripes. It mainly steals the kill of its sympatric predators, such as the aforementioned gray wolf, along with sloth bears, Eurasian lions, tigers, leopards, cheetahs and caracals.

All hyenas emit a shrill, laughlike call, though the spotted hyena does so the most. This has contributed to their image as tricksters in animist cultures, and their associations with djinns in the Muslim world. Hyenas may also prey on humanoids: while they are often seen eating the dead on battle fields, they will attack the sleeping or sick at night if able. While most humanoids abhor hyenas and rarely hunt them, some tribes who admire the hyena's cunning may tame the creatures like dogs and use them as hunting animals or even as mounts. Striped hyenas are both hunted in Egypt and are used for hunting. Striped hyenas may also be used in blood sports akin to bear-baiting.

A hyena's den is a network of underground tunnels, recognizable from the strewn bones and feces that may lie at its edge. Their territory is marked out with "hyena butter", a malodorous gooey substance with the scent of boiling soap. The substance is said to be used by hyena-riding magicians and witches for torch fuel.

The hyena's organs are commonly components in love magic. The anal glands, genitalia, butter or burned fat of a hyena are said to make men irresistible to women and when worn as an amulet act as a boon to fertility.

Pachycrocuta (giant hyena)

A giant species of hyena, mostly displaced by the smaller and nimbler aforementioned genera, but which may still be found in isolated cavernous regions across Eurasia and eastern Africa. The giant hyena, weighing 420 lbs on average (2d4/HD), hunts in packs like other hyenas, but is capable of taking down much larger prey, including humanoids.

A similar species, the cave hyena, is also found in northern Siberia.

Probable Encounters

#1 (hunting): a more common encounter in the savannas, a small hunting group of 1-5 hyenas may be seen at night.

#2 (scavenging): a more common encounter in the Middle East and India, a lone hyena or small group of 1-4 creatures may search for carrion to steal.

#3 (resting): if the den is discovered during the day, hyenas will typically be found resting within.

Hyena-humanoids

Hyena-like humanoids known as gnolls occupy much of the same area as the cave hyena.
In Africa and Arabia, were-hyenas are said to prey on people at night, sucking the blood and leaving bite marks in the neck much like vampires. (placeholder for further content).

See Bestiary

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