Thursday, April 5, 2018

Axe Beak

 These highly aggressive flightless birds are omnivorous, but with a noted appetite for eating meat, whether of their own kills or scavenged. They are fast runners (movement cost is 1/4 AP per combat hex) and vicious in combat, leaping while twisting their bodies, so they can attack with their hind feet and their heavy beak all at once.

The more common form is that encountered in tropical regions that experience wet and dry seasons; in these climes, axe beaks will hunt in numbers, often seeking a carcass large enough to feed the group. Males and females are indistinguishable from one another. Females will mate with any of the males once per year, at the end of the dry season, producing 2-5 eggs. The eggs are usually buried in soil and protected by the whole flock.

A less common known form has a heavy white plumage and an excessive number of pin-feathers, as it dwells in the cold climate of the Kamchatka Peninsula. The origin of this species, far from its more commonly known tropical ancestors, has long been a mystery. The Kamchatka variety is less aggressive and has been effectively domesticated as a war mount for xvart clans of the Xachta Kingdom. No other race has successfully domesticated an axe beak and attempts among the tropical variety have proven ineffective.

Wild Encounters

#1 (aggressive): during months of the year when food is short (during the dry season prior to mating), the axe beak becomes more and more aggressive towards conspicuous humanoid signs, seeking food and potentially attacking a party numbering less than half the size of the bird's group. Typically, 1-4 of the group will become aggressive and threatening, seeking a confrontation by rushing others and pulling back, all the while squawking and encouraging the rest of their flock to join in, which they will in groups of 1-3 if blood is drawn. If not driven back physically, the axe beaks will try to tear their way into structures or tents to find food.

#2 (scavenging): during the wet season, when food is plentiful, most of the meat that axe beaks will consume will be scavenged from carcasses left over from other predators, supplemented by fruits and tubers that are scratched up. Axe beaks during this time can be approached within 2-8 hexes, carefully (hands out and no weapons drawn) and even caught with a noose.

See Bestiary

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