Saturday, August 21, 2021

OSR: Coatl

Rooster and Hen have not had a good relationship, even before their separation.  Hen was hurt by his infidelities and when she returned the favor by laying with Serpent and producing the Cockatrice, he raged against her and tried to kill her.  Only the intervention of Iel, Goddess and Queen of the Orzane, prevented this murder.  She whisked Hen away, but since then, Hen's children have lived under Rooster's curse, who declared that his children and hers would be perpetually at war.  

Since that day, roosters have been cruel to hens and Rooster's other children, such as the Griffon, Hippogriff and Hookbeak, have loved the taste of chicken and their eggs.  They sometimes eat roosters too, of course, but this is of little concern to their distant father.

But there was one of Rooster's children who did not approve of this.  He was the smallest of them, and the weakest.  He was a bastard, a snake with an impossible dream.

by Sarah Dalinger
The Youngest:

His name was Chickenhead, or Chicken Snake.  He resembled a serpent, except for a tiny pair of vestigal wings behind his head, so small they resembled a rabbit's fuzzy ears.  He was mocked and teased for this, and for his small size.  Chickenhead was tiny compared to many of his siblings, and could only harm hen's children by sneaking into their coops and striking them when they slept.  He could overpower a hen, but if they all ganged up on him, he feared he might lose an eye.  This intimate perspective he alone had convinced him that this feud between Mother and Father was not only pointless, but cruel and ugly.  He did not want to harm those that could have been his siblings.

He went to his father to discuss this, but his father informed him that he did not care about Chickenhead's feelings.  "You are my most lowly son," Rooster told him, "You cannot even fly.  The least you can do is be obedient.  And if you cannot do that, then you are no son of mine."  So Chickenhead left in shame, certain that he must obey his father.  For it was true.  He could not fly.  There was nothing he wanted more in his life than to be able to take to the skies and soar with his brothers and sisters, but he was stuck upon the ground. 

But as he mourned his fate, he met a queer creature.  This creature had fiery-orange fur, a long muzzle and white paws, with a bushy tail tipped in white like a painter's brush.  This creature introduced himself as Raynard the Fox.  Chickenhead had never met such a creature before, and asked him what he was.  Raynard replied that he did not exist, so he couldn't say.  But he was a good listener, and heard Chickenhead's plight.  When Chickenhead told him he could not fly, Raynard pointed out something obvious.  "You have wings, do you not?  What else is needed for flight?"  Then Raynard departed, leaving no sign he had ever been there.  But his words stuck with Chickenhead, who decided to find out what he needed.  What was the secret of flight?

First he went to Dragon, who had been split into many different forms.  They were all arguing with each other, each declaring themselves to be closest to the original.  When he spoke, at first they could not hear.  But when he finally gained their attention, he asked them, "What is the secret of flight?"  In resaponse, all the Dragons began talking over each other, each making a different suggestion.  Some suggested it was strength, others magical ability, others beauty.  Chickenhead listened to them argue, but none of the answers seemed true to him.  So he departed.  The Dragons did not notice, and continued to argue amongst themselves.

Then Chickenhead went to West Wind, who was the wild bringer of Freedom, who was in his cloud-palace, attended by servants and slaves.  Chickenhead managed to obtain an audience with the Noble Wind, as his father and the West Wind were drinking buddies.  So after approaching the throne, Chickenhead was able to ask his question.  The West Wind told him that flying is something that one had or did not.  It could not be obtained through effort, one either could fly or could not.  But as he spoke, the West Wind realized that this had saddened his friend's son.  So to save the boy some hope, he quickly added that even he did not know everything.  But the one who would have the answer, that was the Simurgh, Queen of Birds. 

So Chickenhead decided that he would make the long journey to the Simurgh.  He trekked to her mountain home, climbing high above the land, until he rose above the clouds and sat beneath the glittering stars of Heaven and the distant palaces of the Gods.  There he found her, huge and majestic, her wings sufficient to block out the sun and her beak sharp enough to shred clouds like paper.  He lowered his head and pleaded that she might speak to him.  And speak she did.  "What troubles you, little son of Rooster?"  Chickenhead was terrified of this astounding creature, this royal Spirit, but he had come to far to give up.  "I want to fly," he told her.  "But I cannot.  Flight is something you are born with, and I was not born with that gift."

At that, the Simurgh rebuked him.  "Who told you that?  The winds?  The birds of the air with their hurtful songs?  Your siblings, insecure because of their own sins, jealous of your noble heart?  Your Father, who never truly loved you?  Why would you believe them?"  She spread her wings.  "You are a child of the air, of feather and beak.  You have everything you need to succeed at your goal.  So tell me, what is stopping you?" 

With that, Chickenhead had his answer.  He approached the edge of the Simurgh's nest and looked down.  There was an abyss beneath him.  If he couldn't do it, he would surely die.  But he couldn't stand to wait anymore.  The Simurgh twisted her head to look at him.  He looked back at her, then fixed his eyes on the horizon.  Then Chickenhead leaped, throwing himself from the peak out into the sky.  And before he could fall back to Earth, he spread his small wings and flew.

by Manzanedo

The Coatl:

From that day on, Chickenhead rarely touched the ground.  He reveled in his ability to fly and as he spent more time in the air, as he mastered his wings, he mastered himself.  When he did that, no creature could best him.  So when others attempted to pull him or others down, Chickenhead struck them down, teaching them the errors of their way.  Soon he became known as a champion of the oppressed, a symbol of hope to those who despaired.  He, the smallest of serpents and the weakest of birds, could fly.  And as he won battle after battle, he grew and grew, until his coils could crush mountains and scatter clouds with a flick of his feather-crowned tail.  And from that day on, he was known as Coatl, which means Courage or Hope, or in the oldest of tongues, Faith.

To this day, his children carry on his noble legacy, battling injustice where they see it, dueling the Dragons, Rocs and other great winged beasts for control of the skies.  Coatls are noble protectors, bringing rain to lands plagued by drought and sending storms to swallow up the unrighteous.  They save the innocent and liberate the oppressed.  Many a tyrant has loosened his grasp after seeing the colorful wings and shining scales of a Coatl in the heavens above. 

Number Appearing: 1
Alignment: (see below) or Any Good Alignment
Languages: The Lingua Franca plus 1d20 other languages
Treasure: Coatl flesh, feathers and fangs are all extremely valuable to Alchemists and Sages.  Coatls also often collect valuable things- see below.

HD Varies, see below
AR Varies, see below
Atk Varies, see below
Mor (7+1d4 per size category)
Saves (7+HD/SHP) or less
Immune to Lightning and Thunder Damage

Flight: Coatls can fly.  They get +4 to their initiative rolls when in the air.  Coatls cannot hover, but must keep moving to stay in the air.  They are too large to gain any Armor Rating (AR) bonuses when in the air.

Electrified Body: Coatls channel the power of the storm through their bodies.  When a creature wearing metal armor or wielding a metal weapon strikes them, that creature takes 1d4 lightning damage.

Lightning Blast: Coatls can, as an action, blast a bolt of lightning from their mouths.  This bolt of lightning does 4d6 lightning damage, save for half to one creature and any creatures within 30' of the target if they are wearing metal armor or are wet.  If the ground is wet, all creatures must automatically save.  The Coatl can only fire a blast of lightning once every 1d4 rounds. 

Great Jaws: If a Coatl chooses to bite someone, that creature is automatically grappled on a hit.  The Coatl can then choose to swallow that creature on it's next turn as a free action.  That creature may attempt to beat the Coatl's STR roll with a STR check of it's own, or attempt a DEX check.  Coatls have a STR modifier equal to half their HD/SHP.  If the creature wins, it escapes and is not swallowed.  If the Coatl wins, the creature is swallowed.  Swallowed creatures are blinded and grappled and cannot do anything that requires large or precise movements.  They also take 1d6 acid damage a round.  If the Coatl takes damage equal to half it's HD/SHP, it must save.  On a failed save, the Coatl spits up the creature it swallowed.  Coatls can also choose to spit up creatures as a free action on their turns.

- Fly overhead, fry them with lightning
- Sweep in, swallow a creature
- Stay out of range, unless your opponents are very weak

artist unknown

To customize a Coatl, roll on the tables below:

How large is the the Coatl?


1- Small.  The Coatl is a Large creature, as long as a watch-tower is tall.  It has 6 HD and 2 AR.  It also takes -1 damage from all sources smaller than it per size category.  A Medium creature does -1 damage to it, a Small creature -2, etc.  
2- Big.  The Coatl is a Huge creature, big enough to encircle a small fort in it's coils.  It has 10 HD and 2 AR.  It also takes -1 damage from all sources smaller than it per size category.  A Medium creature does -2 damage to it, a Small creature -3, etc.
3- Monstrously large.  The Coatl is Colossal creature, big enough to encircle a small, walled town in it's coils.  It has a Damage Threshold of 1d4+4 and an equivalent number of SHP.  It ignores any attack that fails to equal or breach it's Damage Threshold as if it did no damage. 
4- Awesomely Huge.  The Coatl is a Gargantuan creature, with coils that stretch across the heavens like arcs of lightning or great cloud formations.  It has a Damage Threshold of 1d4+6 and an equivalent number of SHP.  It ignores any attack that fails to equal or breach it's Damage Threshold as if it did no damage.   


Large Coatls can make 1 Bite attack and 1 Tail attack that each do 1d10+3 damage.

Huge Coatls can make 1 Bite attack and 1 Tail attack that each do 2d10+1 damage.

Colossal Coatls can 1 Bite attack and 1 Tail attack that each do 3d6 damage each.

Gargantuan Coatls can 1 Bite attack and 1 Tail attack that each do 4d8 damage each.

What is the Coatl's morality?


1- Patronizingly compassionate.  The Coatl doesn't like hurting sentient creatures and it regards humanoids with a patronizing kindness.  The Coatl probably genuinely means well, but man is it insufferable.
2- Just, but absolutely merciless.  The Coatl believes in punishing injustice, no matter how slight.  It is always fair, but never considers anything beyond the fact that a crime was committed and that punishment must be exacted.  Even those who admire the Coatl will fear it. 
3- Amoral.  The Coatl rejects it's noble inheritance and chooses to live as it pleases.  It may harm you, or help you, but it does this because it wants to, not for any other reason.
4- Selfish and cruel.  The Coatl has been corrupted by it's power and lives at the expense of others.  It justifies this behavior through some kind of elaborate moral theory or tortured reasoning.

Does this Coatl have any other powers?  Roll X times on this table for each 2 HD or SHP it has above 6.


1- The Coatl can, as an action, create 1d8 spheres of ball lightning.  These spheres float freely for 1 round, then attack the nearest creature within 50' wearing the most metal.  If there is no one with more metal than anyone else, then the closest creatures.  Creatures targeted must save or take 1d8 lightning damage.  The Coatl can only do this every 1d4 rounds.
2- The Coatl can, as an action, make it's scales magnetic.  Attacks against it with metal weapons have advantage, but they stick to the scales.  Creatures holding metal weapons that get stuck to the Coatl take 1d4 lightning damage a round and cannot let go unless they pass a STR saving throw.
3- The Coatl can, as an action, flick it's tail and create a massive blast of wind that strikes all creatures within a 50' cone.  All creatures within that cone must save or be blown 1d6*10' in the direction of the wind.  If there is anything hard in the way, such as a wall, cliff face or grove of trees, those creatures take Xd6 damage, where X is the multiple of 10 they flew, save for half.  The Coatl can do this every 1d4 rounds as an action.
4- The Coatl can, as an action, create 3 miniature tornados that zip along the ground, each targeting one creature.  Creatures must save or be grabbed by the tornado, either a CON save to sprint far enough fast enough, or a STR save to grab something and hang on.  Creatures who fail their saves carried 30' in a random direction and take 2d6 damage, save for half, before being deposited on the ground as the tornados run out of steam.
5- The Coatl can, as an action, fly high into the air and snatch up a cloud.  Shredding it into pieces, it then hurls those bits to earth as a rain of ice javelins, striking all creatures within a 50' diameter circle.  All creatures within must save or take 3d6 damage, half ice, half sharp.  Creatures with shields can, on a successful save, take no sharp damage.  The Coatl can only do this every 1d4 rounds.
6- The Coatl can, 1/Day as an action, change the weather in a local area, making it rain, snow or sleet for 1 mile.

artist unknown

Coatls like to dwell in high places, such as the tops of gargantuan trees, mountaintops or atop desert mesas.  However, when such places cannot be found, they will also choose to dwell in places that are vast and open, such as sprawling grasslands, isolated islands, or barren deserts. 

Coatls also have great sway with the Air and Water Elementals who control the weather and use this power to influence it in their territory.  Good Coatls send rain to those who need it and hold back destructive weather, sending it to isolated regions, such as barren lands or over the sea where it can harm fewer potential people.  Evil Coatls hold the rain ransom and send terrible storms to destroy their enemies. 

In either case, this great power and magnificence can draw creatures to the Coatl, those who seek it's protection, provision, pardon or power.  Coatls do not seek out humanoids or lesser creatures to worship and serve it as Dragons do, but they will accept servants and subjects who share the Coatl's moral code.  Assume that all creatures who serve a Coatl have the same Alignment as it. 

Note that Coatls of 7 HD or smaller do not usually have followers, as they have not established enough of a reputation to earn a following.

Also note that the following results assume a Good Coatl, some adaptation might be required for an Evil Coatl.

Who serves this Coatl?


1- A squad of celibate warrior monks (or nuns) who wish to fight for the Coatl's cause and die honorably and heroically.  Their leader is a fanatic who wields a silver spear that allow him to channel and redirect the Coatl's lightning without hurting himself.
2- A village of former refuges who set up shop here after being expelled from their former lands.  The Coatl helped them cultivate this formerly worthless land and make it a verdant paradise.
3- A Chaos Cult that brings offerings to the Coatl, believing it to be a dread servant of Chaos (wings, lightning, bright colors).  Their leader is attempting to convince the Coatl of his ideology and to convince the Coatl to join them in destroying the institutions of Law.  The Coatl is either embarrassed of it's zealous followers, attempting to reform them, or unaware of how radical they truly are. 
4- A collective of Sages, Artists and Magi who revere the Coatl and wish to study it.  It is helping them with their various artistic, magical and philosophical projects, along with their poetry.  Secretly, one of them is evil and is stealing little bits of the Coatl's mana, just enough that the Coatl is unlikely to notice it.  He just needs to steal enough to become a Storm-King, and then all those who laughed at him will be sorry.
5- A Stampede of Hippogriffs, who spend their time grazing and eating small animals.  They dwell under the shelter of their younger, but far larger brother. 
6- An Anthem of Griffons who devour wild horses and frolick through the air with the Coatl. 
7- A group of former criminals who have come to atone for their sins through lives of honest labor.  They live under the iron law of the Coatl and the strong hands of his incorruptible enforcers.  This Coatl can tell if someone is lying by having the person place a hand on it's muzzle when they speak.  
8- A Sorority of Amazons, who worship the Coatl as a symbol of perfected masculinity and seek to reform men by instructing them to act like the Coatl does.  Their leader is a strong-willed Maiden who has developed a more personal relationship with the Coatl and has fallen in love with it.  She wants to join with and bear the child of the Coatl, but she is not sure if such a thing is even possible. 

What treasures does the Coatl have?


1- Coatl scales from the larger specimens contain a large amount of metal in them.  Some of these metals are precious.  If you could collect some of these scales, you could burn off the organic material and draw out the metal.  Even common iron extracted from these scales could fetch a good price.  You wouldn't even have to kill a Coatl, just steal some scales from the Coatl's nest or burrow.  Just don't get caught.
2- Coatl Eggs are about the size of a humanoid curled up in the fetal position.  Each one glitters like it is bejeweled and is worth it's weight in diamonds, gold, or dragon's blood.  If you steal a Coatl egg and get away with it, you could sell it for an unimaginable sum of money.  The only problem is getting away with it.
3- Coatls sometimes use their lightning to superheat glass and mold it into beautiful and eerie shapes.  These sculptures sometimes decorate their sandy lairs, while others are merely abandoned.  For the especially beautiful specimens, some wealthy patrons would pay large sums for.  Trouble is, Coatls never lair near these people and it's a long journey, full of any number of things that could break the glass into a million pieces.
4- Coatls sometimes confiscate magical items that it feels are too dangerous for a mortals, or at least a particular group of mortals, to possess.  Roll on the sub-table below to see what the Coatl is protecting from those who would misuse it.

What Magic Item did the Coatl confiscate?


1- A statue of black basalt, draped in cloth of gold.  Finely made yet strange, for it depicts an ugly creature squatting on what looks like a throne of bones and metal.  The first person who spills their blood on the statue will be able to hear it speak.  The statue will promise them power, sensual pleasure, fame, glory or whatever it takes to get them to feed it.  The statue wants worship, offerings of virgins, grain, animals and human sacrifice.  If sufficiently supplied with power in the form of worship and fresh blood, it can send dreams to you or others, scry on creatures it has seen before offer advice from it's thousands of years of experience in advising rulers.  It can also give you magic powers, in exchange for service and more sacrifices.  If 100 HD of sacrifices are ever offered to it within 1 year, the demon imprisoned in the statue breaks free and will attempt to take over the world.
2- An unfinished portrait, with the face and head of the subject missing.  If you finish the portrait, it will become the phylactery of whoever is depicted in the painting.  As long as the painting is intact, the person will not die.  If their body is destroy, the person will persist as a ghost.  But should the painting be destroyed, the person immediately dies.
3- A horn that if blown, can bind a crowd of people, all who hear it, to the next potential leader who speaks to them.  If blown in front of a group of bandits and the Fighter goes out to speak to them, they will immediately decide that the Fighter is the best man to lead them and will become his loyal servants.  The problem is that the person who blows the horn will take 1 HP damage a day and will not be able to recover HP.  This continues until that person dies.  After which, the charm breaks and the bandits will lose their new loyalties.  They may still follow the Fighter, but they will grumble and demand more, and question his leadership, where as before they did not. 
4- A halberd with a wide, cruel blade meant for chopping and crushing, the other side bearing a long spike for impaling shields and puncturing through weak points in armor.  The wood is yellowed and the blade rusty, but it still strikes with terrible, fluid strength.  Though it will not be immediately obvious, this is the Plague Weapon Ecibix, which spreads a disease of the same name that makes a person grow feverish, cough and then vomit blood, before causing their innards to dissolve and spill out as they die.  The bearer of the weapon will become a carrier, spreading the disease but unaffected as long as they carry the weapon.  Should they ever abandon it, it will prey upon them just as it did all it's other victims.  By communing with the Plague Spirit that is linked to the weapon, the user can gain the ability to projectile vomit infected blood, survive wounds that would be fatal for others and the ability to command the biting insects that come to feast on the carrion the user generates. 
5- A book of erotic instructions, vivid drawings and carnal feats.  A manual on how to be charming and persuasive, especially to the opposite sex.  If the user wishes to seduce or charm someone, he can find the instructions in this book.  But the more he reads, the more he will become addicted to the book.  Eventually, the book will devour him and he will be trapped as one of the illuminated drawings in the book, unable to even scream as it claims his soul.
6- A cleaver, notched and seemingly mundane.  When a creature is killed by this cleaver, it automatically butchers and transforms them into cuts of meat such as loin, steaks and sausage.  The cleaver also attracts Ghouls, though this might not be a magical compulsion.

Plot Hooks:


1- A powerful spirit of the Upper Air, leading a procession of servants and retainers, all laden with treasures.  It has come to 1dX [1= Ask the Coatl to join the Spirit's Court; 2= Help the Spirit in the latest war it is embroiled in; 3= Leave the local areas, as people are starting to make offerings to the Coatl instead of to the Spirit; 4= To marry the Spirit.]  The Coatl has, so far, politely declined all offers.  The Spirit is not one to give up easily though and recruits you to help it with it's current problems.
2- A King has heard of the benevolence of the Coatls and after hearing reports of one near by, he wishes that you track down the Coatl and convince it to come to his land, so his people can enjoy abundant harvests and he can enjoy full coffers from tax revenue.
3- As above, except the opposite.  The King is worried about the Coatl and tells the player it is a deceitful beast and asks them to drive it away, preferrably without hurting it too badly, so it doesn't come to take revenge.  But as the players travel, they realize how tyrannical the King is and how bad some of his policies are.  Maybe they should bring the Coatl to him instead, or take care of him themselves.  Or perhaps not, that could be really dangerous.
4- A Coatl and a Sphinx are feuding, perhaps over territory, or some other esoteric privilege.  Perhaps the Sphinx feels it is better left to guard an artifact a Coatl has seized, while the Coatl thinks the Sphinx should take a hike.  The two of them are nearing a violent confrontation, and if not stopped, their battle will devastate the surrounding area and bring ruin to all nearby.  Stop them.
5- A Chaos Warband is currently burning and pillaging their way across the land.  Their destination, the city the players have just arrived at, is as obvious as it is doomed.  Reinforcements will not arrive in time to prevent the city from being burned to the ground and it's inhabitants sacrificed, eaten or worse.  The city's leadership have only one idea of how to save their people, the Coatl who lives in a very inconvenient but nearby location.  Journey there as swiftly as you can and gain the aid of the creature, and bring it back to save the city.  Unfortunately, when you arrive, the Coatl is dealing with a problem of it's own and cannot simply drop everything and go help you, even if it wanted to, which it might not to.
6- A local noble has heard that a Coatl has seized a magic item that would help him with his specific and intractable problem.  He will pay top dollar for you to go and steal the item and return with it.

1 comment:

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