Saturday, 3 December 2011

Mikelmerck - pheasants (but not as you know them)

Mikelmerck Pheasant

Although extremely tasty and a prized delicacy, Mikelmerck pheasant is a rare dish.  There are good reasons for this.  At any time of year, the cock and hen pheasants represent a challenge.

Pheasants roam the moors of Mikelmerck almost entirely undisturbed.  Their peculiar defences mean that they breed untroubled.  Naturally this also means that their population must be culled if pheasants are not to take over the landscape and so hunting is a necessary, as well as a taxing sport.

During their breeding season, pheasants attract mates with their colourful plumage.  Males grow lengthy tail feathers which quite literally set fire to their surroundings.  Once a nest is built and eggs are laid, the females use their petrifying gaze as a defence.  Few creatures will live near a pheasant nest.  If the cocks are not setting fire to the landscape, the hens are creating sculpture gardens of unwary creatures.

The chicks do not develop their potent defences until the end of their first moult, and remain close to their home nest and parents until they do.  Anyone fortunate enough to come upon an unattended nest may capture the chicks without difficulty.  Pheasant feathers are highly prized as magical components as well.  A single pheasant chick can provide enough wealth to keep a family for many years. 

Almost their only natural enemy is the common weasel.  For some reason, weasels are immune to the gaze of the hen pheasant and they represent the prime enemy to the birds.  Humans too take advantage of the mustelids hunting ability and immunity.  Hunting parties arm themselves with weasels and ranged weapons and take to the hills in search of pheasant.  Such hunts are not for the faint hearted - and indeed the sport is mostly confined to the nobility.  Commoners prefer to find less exhausting ways to die.  Nonetheless, there are enough people brave or desperate enough to try to capture the birds.  Nobody knows how many worn stone cairns were once optimistic poachers.

Mikelmerck Pheasant
Armor Class: 6 [13]
Hit Dice: 3 during breeding season/2 during hunting season
Attacks: Gaze (1d3+ turn to stone (hens)/Fiery tail (1d4 + further 1d4 every turn until save) (cocks)
Saving Throw: 11
Special: Gaze turns to stone/Fiery tail
Move: 6/18 (when flying)
Challenge Level/XP: 4/600

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