Thursday, May 14, 2020

What on Calidar is a Vultron?

Here’s a beastie from a dark world far way from Calidar, rendered in D&D BECMI format. It hails from Draconia, a world that is dead on its surface but entirely hollow. Within its inner space dwells a realm beholden to a queen of black dragons and their living goddess. She commands, as you might have guessed, the Draconic knights, sworn enemies of the Hero Kingdom of Meryath. The queen enjoys power over defeated rivals who submitted to her, while she still wages war against a loosely allied coalition of unyielding red, white and blue rulers. Rumors of gold dragons persist, but no one seems to have seen any. Dragons and their knights have the power to teleport in and out of their hollow world, which is otherwise impenetrable other than through natural cracks in its mantle. As with Calidar, Draconia possesses its own world soul, which makes the entire setting defy the laws of physics and enable life within.

Zarnese Vultron by John Dollar ©2014 Calidar Publishing

Zarnese Vultron
AC 4 (natural scale armor), HD 6+2**, 32 hp, MV 120’ (40’)/300’ (100’) flying, AT 2 talons/1 beak or breath, D talons 1d4 each/beak 2d8 or special, Save F4; Size L—Dex 10, Int 5, ML 9, AL Chaotic, XP 950.
Breath of decay—30 ft.-large cloud; victims contract a rotting disease unless they succeed their saving throws (treat as mummy rot); organic equipment may suffer decay as well.
A swarm of four vultrons can effect a limited teleportation once per day, up to 20 miles. 
A horde of ten led by a hetman can teleport once a week up to 100 miles.
A vultron hetman has 10+2 HD, Int 9, and spellcasting (as a cleric)—level I x3, level II x2, level III x1.
Gas-based attacks.
This iridescent green, scaly creature has the body of a griffin, with feathered wings and the neck and head of a vulture. Zarn is the realm of Lord High Viridar, who rules green dragons on Draconia. He’d created the vultrons as part of his army to defend the skies above Zarn. At the height of his war against the Black Queen, vultrons fought a huge aerial battle with Draconic skyships above Viridar’s fortress at Tarnhûss. Casualties were heavy on both sides. Since then, the lord high submitted to Sayble, and units of Zarnese vultrons occasionally fight alongside her forces.
            These flying creatures are slightly smarter than primates. They see clearly through the perpetual darkness of Inner Draconia, at least up to 100 yards. They can breathe clouds of decay once a day, about thirty feet across. Aside from immediate damage, they cause rotting diseases to those whose stamina is insufficient to resist. The infections inflict progressive damage until healed at a temple. The clouds’ effects are such that organic materials (leather, clothing, food, potions) may also be damaged. Scarring from advanced decay can never be healed. Vultrons are immune to poison and their own breath.
            They typically fight in swarms of four to six that concentrate on a single target before moving on to the next. The strongest in the swarm is the leader. A swarm of at least four possesses a limited ability to teleport—once a day, up to twenty miles away (or to the closest spot if an obstacle stands there). Ten swarms form a sky horde under a hetman’s control. This commander is a spellcaster that can be recognized by tattoo-like birthmarks on its skin. As smart as a human being, a hetman is the vultrons’ equivalent of a prior. Though bound to the lord high it serves, it obtains its spells from Draconia’s world soul. A sky horde has a greater ability to teleport: once a week, up to a hundred miles.
            Vultrons often feed on carrion which helps them develop their breath weapons. They live in small flocks, hunting local wildlife and taking their carcasses to a common rotting pile in a crevasse or some place generally hard to reach. Males and females reproduce only a few times during their life cycles of two or three hundred years. The brightest of them become hetmans. Their calling leads them to seek out the lord high and serve him. The best of them are assigned to military units when summoned to war. Mature vultrons responding to Viridar’s call are fiercely loyal to their master and the hetman he appoints to command them. 
            Though it is uncommon, these creatures can be used as mounts. The lord high maintains a cadre of dragon kin heroes who possess an innate bond with such mounts. The Warriors Green or Viridar’s Few, as they are called, act as the lord high’s elite bodyguard, commandos fighting behind enemy lines, scouts and champions among vultron forces. Though now allies, Draconic knights and Viridar’s Few maintain a visceral hatred of each other.

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