Friday, May 18, 2012

Arduin's Air Sharks

I was recently fortunate enough to obtain a copy of the Arduin Grimoire Trilogy from Emperor's Choice (who, by the way, are awesome people; there was a slight problem with my order, and they were incredibly helpful with it, even giving me a free Arduin map for my trouble).  It's roughly what you would expect based on the accounts of others.

Like Maliszewski says, some of it really resonates and some of it isn't terribly noteworthy (then again, that's the beauty of the thing; take the stuff you want and ignore the stuff you don't).

One of the things I appreciated were some of the monsters.  They're gonzo and silly, but some of them are malicious and terrible in ways that fit my demented sensibilities.

So, air sharks.

Air sharks are flying sharks.  Exactly what it says on the tin.

As with the Wednesday Werk posts, it is possible to find such creatures in 4e settings, such as the Plain of Sorrows.

So, without further ado, we present this excerpt from Professor Uaaru's Beasts of Bloodstone: A Bestiary of the Bloodstone Crags and the Stonemarch Beyond.
The Stonemarch is best known for the proliferation of so-called monstrous humanoids, perhaps best exemplified by the feared Bloodspear tribe that decimated the eastern Nentir Vale (or so the caravan tales say).  Nevertheless, strange threats are occasionally found in the eastern wastes, and so, a most curious tale is recounted by one Torabell Naaldim, a former Nerathi soldier and adventurer.  Now in her sixties, Torabell described her encounter with the Knights of Thunder.  "All was quiet on the cracked plain," she explained," and we expected no trouble.  Udoven saw no tracks nor spoor to indicate danger — only the goblin tracks we were pursuing into that accursed place.  Nay, danger came from above.   We sighted five figures in the air, and at that distance, we thought them birds.  As they grew closer, Udoven noted they were much larger than any birds we knew.  He thought maybe they were Aarakocra, although he had noted no tribal markers.
"We soon saw them — sharks, flying through the air, each with a small rider, dressed in scale mail.  Graceatris was from an old sailing family, and she noted with trepidation that they were grey reefs.  That was the last comment before the shower of arrows came.
"Out on the plain, we were sitting ducks.  Udoven was prepared to return the volley when they were atop us; rather than staying out of reach and firing from safety, they descended upon us!  The riders — goblins by their look — switched their shortbows for spears.  It was chaos.
"We were forced to retreat.  Only Grace and I made it; Udoven was devoured by a pair of hungry sharks.  I always tell myself that Davice and Vicgold were slain, but I almost recall their screams as we ran, getting further away as if carried off by the shark-riders..."
Beasts of Bloodstone continues, describing what is known of the creatures from their physiology.  It is unknown if they occur naturally or are somehow bred, but it is known that the goblin group known as the Knights of Thunder commonly use them as mounts.  Other creatures have been seen riding the creatures, but the Knights of Thunder are well known for their air shark mounts, just as they are known to torture and consume those they capture.  According to Headmaster Ebenezer Jepson, the air sharks stay aloft due to a special "phlogiston bladder" in their bodies, which converts absorbed and stored phlogiston into magical energy to keep them aloft.  They are apparently quite flammable, and will sometimes explode when killed.  This stored phlogiston is also quite volatile, apparently evaporating quickly after death.

(Of course, the whole "phlogiston bladder" theory is incorrect; the extraneous bladder in the shark's abdomen actually contains hydrogen.)

Air sharks may be found with or without riders.  When found in the wild, they attack relentlessly with their Bite attacks, preferring bloodied characters.  Riders (particularly Knights of Thunder) typically enter the fray with Rip and Tear.  What follows is a typical specimen, possibly one of the grey reef air sharks noted above.  On the open market, such a mount is worth 1,800 gp.  (Incidentally, the base creature is a modified shark from Monster Vault, pg. 299.)

The Knights of Thunder are the best known riders of air sharks.  A group of goblins, the Knights of Thunder are feared for their merciless ways.  Although they are not the only creatures to train and ride air sharks, they are the most infamous.  The Knights of Thunder are known for torturing and eating those they capture, and they are utterly fearless (although they have been known to retreat from open flame, as they know that will detonate their mounts).  What follows is an average Knight of Thunder, most likely mounted.  He typically uses Shortbow until getting close, in which case he charges to take advantage of Knockdown Charge (as well as Rip and Tear, if mounted on an air shark) before switching to Spear attacks.

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