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Friday, November 23, 2012

Murderous Menagerie: The Hounds of Skaith

I am Flay.

He was big. The ridge of his spine would have reached Stark's shoulder. His withers were high and powerful. The thick neck drooped with the weight of the massive head. Stark saw the eyes, large and unnaturally brilliant, the broad heavy muzzle, and the fangs, two white cruel rows of them sharp as knives.
Flay stretched out a foreleg like a tree-trunk and unsheathed tiger claws. He tore five furrows into the frozen ground and smiled, lolling a red tongue.

I am Flay.

The eye were bright. Bright. Hell-hound eyes.
Swift panic overcame Stark, loosened his muscles, weakened his joints, dropped him helpless on the ground with cold nausea in his belly and a silent scream in his brain.

I am Flay.

-- The Ginger Star, by Leigh Brackett





The Hounds of Skaith

Number Encountered: 2d4
Alignment: Neutral
Movement: 150' (50')
Armor Class: 6
Hit Dice: 4 + 1
Attacks: 1 (bite or fear)
Damage: 2d4 (bite)
Save: F2
Morale: 8
Hoard Class: None
XP: 300

Large grey pack predators which closely resemble dire wolves, the Northhounds stalk the arctic wastes of the frozen poles. They are capable hunters, tracking prey by scent and employing similar tactics to those of their cousins. What sets these powerful creatures apart from their cousins is their psychic abilities, allowing better coordination amongst the pack and the dreaded ability to strike their prey dumb with fear.

All Northhounds can communicate telepathically up to a range of 30', speaking in a simplified version of the common tongue. This is most often used amongst the pack, although they may also taunt prey before devouring them.

The fear ability of the Northhounds also has a range of 30' and may be used against any creature which may know terror. Victims of this ability must make a savings throw versus paralysis or collapse in absolute horror (75% chance), unable to move, or flee at top speed, dropping everything they are holding (25% chance). Only one victim may be targeted per round, with the fear effect lasting 1d6+2 rounds.

Creatures of less than one hit dice and men-at-arms are even more greatly effected by the fear ability of the Northhounds, requiring a save vs. death or suffer from a fatal heart attack. Success means that they are paralyzed, as above.

Having acclimated to the arctic plain, Northhounds do not adapt well to warmer climes. If a Northhound is forced to stay in subtropical or warmer climes, the creature will suffer from a -1 to attacks and saves, as well as a -2 to morale.

Greatly desired by Beast Masters, Northhound puppies will go for 1000 gp apiece. Some foolish Beast Masters will even attempt to control an entire pack by challenging the alpha male. While this is possible, a Northhound pack not bound to the Beast Master is much less predictable than usual, requiring a Morale roll every time he exposes his team to unnecessary risks, panics in the face of danger, or suffers a humiliating defeat. Should the Morale roll fail, the Beast Master will be challenged by a member of the pack for dominance. The consequence of losing such a contest is death, as the pack will rip their former master to shreds.
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