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2/26/2011

The Crypt Cockerel: A Dungeoneer's Best Friend

Like the near-extinct grimalkin and the ubiquitous dungeon cur, the crypt cockerel is a domesticated beast bred to serve those who venture underground. More than a pet or companion, these animals are specialized scouts trained to communicate simple details and warnings to their masters. 

In the words of Dalt Doogins the Delfer, the notorious explorer and tomb-pilferer: "I'd trade ye five cowardly henchmen for a single, seasoned crypt cock. For one, the fowl is smarter. For another, he's more loyal. And of course he'll taste better when ye've reached the end of yer rations."

An adult of the Archplume variety.
Appearance & Characteristics
Leaner and somewhat longer than their common yard bird cousins, crypt cocks are keen of eye and eminently skilled at squeezing through small spaces. They can fly short distances horizontally (usually 10 feet, but some have achieved up to 20). Most notably, these birds are completely silent until they are required to communicate. Feather colors vary according to the several sub-breeds available, with the blue-and-red Archplume being the most common.

Skills & Habits
Until his services are called for, the crypt cock is well-adapted to riding in a light basket which can be slung over his owner's shoulder. His need for sleep is minimal and his feeding requirements are modest -- a handful of dried corn and a bit of water will keep the bird sated for an entire day. Crypt cocks find rancid goblinflesh to be incredibly delectable, and owners must be cautious to keep their birds from over-gorging themselves when such fare is available.

Crypt cockerels have 60' infravision.

The creatures have three distinct modes or skill sets and will carry out instructions given in short cluck-commands. They prefer to travel five to ten yards ahead of the party while on-task and will usually (90%) report back to their masters immediately when hand-signaled.
  • Cocks can zero-in on sources of fresh water (springs, streams or underground lakes) with 4-in-6 accuracy from distances of up to one mile.
  • Cocks can scout out rooms and tunnels in advance of the party and then relay both the number (5-in-6 accuracy) and the type of occupants (varies; usually 3-in-6 accuracy) through a system of scratches and clucks. They are trained to act with extreme caution in such situations and possess the ability to Hide in Shadows equivalent to a sixth level thief.
  • Finally, in a combat situation crypt cocks will attempt to blind their foes either by pecking or scratching out eyes. They attack as fighters of a level equivalent to their age in years (cocks are adults at one year and may live up to twenty years or more), maxing out at 12 years as the equivalent of a 12th level fighter. Each successful attack does 1d4 points of damage and has a 2-in-6 chance of blinding one eye. Cocks have 1d6 HP.

Cost
An adult (1-year-old) cockerel typically sells for 50gp. Seasoned (3 years in the field or more) cocks can fetch up to 400gp in some cases.

Additional Notes
Most goblins (5-in-6) have an instinctive dread of crypt cocks and will flee from them on sight as though they are under the effects of a Fear spell.

Crypt cockfights are a common occurrence behind taverns frequented by adventurer-types.

The oldest crypt cockerel on record, Molf's Brigand, lived to be 86 and 1/2 years old. Rumor has it that he was regularly given healing potions in lieu of water.

1 comment:

  1. how did I miss this? snagged. the islands loaded with roosters and hens, my group would love this guaranteed.

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