The Burnt World of Athas

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By and

A large wyvern stood on the edge of a large cave on the side of a peak in the Windbreak Mountains, stretching its huge wings out. Its brown coloring blended nicely with the mountain side. The huge beast looked down at the thin verdant belt separating the mountain range from the Crescent Forest, let out a low guttural growl, and then expanded its senses to search for life. Within moments, it sensed a large gathering of lifeforms less than a mile away and took flight, flapping its huge bat-like wings as it soared through the mountains toward the lifeforms. The mountains ended abruptly, and the Crescent Forest exploded before the wyvern. It banked right and flew over the thin strip of verdant belt, spotting a small herd of carru within moments. The beast noted the direction of the wind and the location of the sun, then positioned itself downwind in a way that the sun would not cast a shadow near the herd, which was grazing peacefully in a small meadow. The great beast began its dive, almost totally silent during its final approach. However, one of the carru happened to look up and spot the attacking reptile, letting out a cry and causing the whole herd to bolt for cover. The wyvern, agitated that its kill would not be so easy, imagined its prey coming to a stop and dissipated the kinetic energy within the carru with mental energy. The carru stumbled but managed to stay on its feet. Angry that its prey didn’t fall, the wyvern sent a ball of mental energy toward the motionless carru, striking it full in the head. The great animal bellowed and fell over, and the wyvern quickly fell upon it with its sharp talons. As soon as its claws were deeply embedded in the carru, the wyvern took to the air, its deadly tail stinging the carru until it hung motionless in the wyvern’s claws.

Wyvern from AD&D Monster Manual
2e Mm Wyvern by Artist Unknown

Wyvern, Athasian

  • CLIMATE/TERRAIN: Mountains near Forest/ Scrub Plains / Verdant Belt
  • FREQUENCY: Uncommon
  • ORGANIZATION: Solitary
  • ACTIVITY CYCLE: Dusk & Dawn
  • DIET: Carnivore
  • INTELLIGENCE: Low (5-7)
  • ALIGNMENT: Neutral (Evil)
  • NO. APPEARING: 1-6
  • MOVEMENT: 6, Fly 24 (E)
  • HIT DICE: 8+8
  • THAC0: 12
  • NO. OF ATTACKS: 2 or 1
  • DAMAGE/ATTACK: d6/d6 or (2d6 or 1d6)
  • SIZE: G (35’ long)
  • MORALE: Very Steady (14)
  • XP VALUE: 5000
  • PSIONICS SUMMARY: Dis 3/Sci 1/Dev 3; PSPs 50
  • Att: All; Def: All
  • PLAYER’S OPTION: #AT 3/2; MTHAC0 13; MAC 7
  • Psychokinetic - Sciences: Project Force
  • Psychokinetic - Devotions: Momentum Theft
  • Psychometabolism - Devotions: Photosynthesis
  • Telepathy - Devotions: Life Detection

Wyverns are huge flying lizards with a poisonous stinger in their tails. They have 35-foot-long dark brown to sandy yellow bodies, half of which is tail. Their leathery bat-like wings are over 50 feet from tip to tip, and their heads are 4 feet long and filled with long, sharp teeth. Wyverns have only hind legs, which they use in the same way that hunting birds do. The tip of their tails is a thick knot of cartilage from which a 2-foot-long stinger protrudes, similar to that of a scorpion. Their eyes are red or orange, and they do not have a strong odor, although their lairs may smell of a recent kill. Wyverns can make two sounds: a loud hiss, which sounds like a hot sword plunged into water, and a low, deep-throated growl, similar to that of a bull crocodile.

Combat: In combat, wyverns are rather stupid but sly and aggressive. They will nearly always attack, preferring to be flying if possible and seizing any opportunity to take flight and continue combat. If trapped on the ground, they will bite (2-16 points of damage) and use their stingers (1-6 points of damage), attacking the most convenient target. Their tails are very mobile, easily striking over their backs to hit an opponent in front of them. The stinger injects type F poison (Death/0) into the wound. Even if the save is made, the victim suffers 1-6 points of physical damage from the sting.

From the air, wyverns are far more deadly opponents. They dive upon ground targets, attempting to knock them down with Momentum Theft and Project Force and then snatch them up in their two taloned claws (1-6 points of damage each) and fly off. Man-sized victims are snatched if at least one talon hits for damage, while larger victims require both talons to hit in order to be snatched up. Wyverns cannot fly while carrying anything bigger than Large-size. After a dive, it takes a full round for a wyvern to circle again, and on the next round it can make another dive attack. Once airborne with prey in its talons, the wyvern stings and bites each round, both at +4 to hit, until the victim is motionless. In aerial combat, wyverns will make a pass during which they will utilize their Momentum Theft, then either bite or sting. They will then land and feast, not hunting again until the next day.

As hunters, wyverns are cunning. Due to their great size and need for a large amount of food, they often use their Life Detection power, which has an increased range of 1 mile. They avoid letting their shadows fall across prey as a warning and the final approach of their dive is done in complete silence, imposing a -2 surprise modifier on the target. They trail their prey from downwind whenever possible. Mature wyverns often wait for the right moment to strike and are willing to let prey go that is too powerful or within easy reach of cover.

Habitat/Society: Wyverns are solitary creatures, nesting only with their mates and young. They tend to lair on mountainsides that overlook forests, scrub plains, or verdant belts, staking out territories of about 25 miles across. If game is sparse, they will hunt with a small group of their own kind. Only young wyverns attack others of their kind, usually to establish new territory. Older wyverns settle disputes by way of psionic combat, without actual physical combat. This is the only time wyverns will use their Psionic attack modes, unless they are being attacked psionically.

Ecology: An adult wyvern consumes the equivalent of a man-sized to Large creature once per day. This could be an erdlu, crodlu, or carru. While it eats them whole, the bones are not digested, and neither are metallic objects. The wyvern eats carrion only if truly desperate.

If food is scarce the wyvern will use its ability to photosynthesize. To do this it must lay spread out, preferably on a warm rock, with its wings spread wide to soak in as much sun as possible. During this time the wyvern is AC 7. It must continue to stay prone, absorbing the sun’s energy for one hour. If it doesn’t have enough room to spread its wings it can still receive the energy but the time needed is two hours.

The wyvern has no natural enemies save for cloud rays. Wyverns are noted for the foul taste of their flesh. No one has found a way to cure its hide and the bones are light and brittle to aid in flying. Certain body parts are used by spell casters as spell components, for which they will pay a reasonable price.