Avian Shoggoths

We’d been chasing reports of a condor for over week when we saw it, soaring high above us on the thermals rising out of these canyons. It looked massive from here, and our photographer struggled to track it. We needed pictures to see if it was banded, part of a breeding program, or a wild born animal we hadn’t yet identified in our conservation efforts. Suddenly our photographer screamed and dropped his camera. He curled into a ball and started babbling about blinking eyes and slavering mouths. He said it wasn’t a condor. He said a lot of things, but we didn’t believe him then. I wish we had.

These strange creatures are remnants of the great war for independence which the Shoggoths fought against their Elder Thing masters. During the conflict, intelligence and communication played a key role in forming battle strategies. Therefore, a variety of shoggoth was developed to specialize in quick, long distance aerial reconnaissance and messenger services. At first the project was an utter failure, as the Elder Things would easily spot and then destroy any flying shoggoth they encountered. However, the creatures soon learned the key to survival—camouflage. Avian shoggoths began assuming the shapes of the various flying animals in the areas they operated in, so long as they were close in size. While this disguise is not effective up close, at a distance their silhouettes are nearly indistinguishable from the animals they are attempting to mimic. 

During the war, their mission was to transport messages between command centers and fly aerial reconnaissance over target areas and report their findings to leadership enclaves. While these creatures were very skilled and rather intelligent, without direction they tend to be aimless.  Today, what few avian shoggoths that remain are still patrolling the regions they were assigned, reporting their findings to no one, at the abandoned and ruined command centers of long dead shoggoth commanders. 

The great flying pterosaurs they once mimicked are now dead. Today these creatures assume the shapes of the largest bird and bat species in their territories, although they can still mimic the form of various flying reptiles from Earth’s distant past.  In our current ages, the forms they mimic are typically albatross, pelicans, condors, vultures, swans, flying foxes, fruit bats, and eagles. However, they often appear much larger than the animals they mimic, and sometimes give rise to local legends of enormous flying creatures or cryptids. However, up close, their disguises don’t hold up well. They can’t vary their colors much, usually appearing black, white, and all the shades of grey between them.  Feathers and fur are clearly imitations up close, and all over their bodies small eyes blink open and closed, gathering as much information as possible.

In combat or when hunting, these creatures attack much like the avian forms they mimic.  Some take fish from the sea, others hunt small mammals and other birds, while some consume fruit by night. However, if the opportunity to take more substantial prey, such as large livestock or human beings, presents itself they may risk it. They’ll usually attack with their beak, jaws, talons or claws, then fly off with their kill before pulling it into their bodies to be dissolved.  Dangerous targets might be swooped down on out of the sky and engulfed whole, being pulled into the interior of the avian shoggoth and devoured alive. They won’t hesitate to attack anyone threatening their “command post.” These are typically ancient ruins deep in the desolate wilds, a former shoggoth leadership facility used during their war of independence.

AVIAN FORM

char.
STR
CON
SIZ
DEX
INT
POW

roll
(4D6+8) × 5
(2D6+6) × 5
(4D6+2) × 5
(2D6+12) × 5
(2D6+6) × 5
(2D6+6) × 5

average
110
65
80
95
65
65

Average Hit Points: 14
Average Damage Bonus: +1D6
Average Build: 2
Average Magic Points: 13
Move: 5 / 12 flying

SHOGGOTH FORM

char.
STR
CON
SIZ
DEX
INT
POW

rolls
(4D6+10) × 5
(6D6+6) × 5
(4D6+2) × 5
3D6 × 5
(2D6+6) × 5
(2D6+6) × 5

averages
120
155
80
55
65
65

Average Hit Points: 23
Average Damage Bonus: +1D6
Average Build: 2
Average Magic Points: 13
Move: 10 rolling

Combat
Attacks per round: 1 (bite, rake) or 1 (crush or engulf)
Avian shoggoths may use the regular attacks of the form it mimics (pecks and bites with its jaws or beak and rakes with talons); its most effective attack is to engulf its prey into its bubbling gelatinous body.
Engulf: a successful attack means the target is seized and begins to be sucked into the avian shoggoth’s body mass, where it can be digested. While being digested, the victim suffers the creature’s damage bonus in damage each round from caustic acids and digestive fluids. Those held may attempt to break free with an opposed STR roll each round. Unlike their larger cousins, Avian shoggoth can only feed on a single victim at a time, and said victim must be under SIZ 60.

Fighting (avian form) 75% (37/15), damage 1D6+DB
Crush (true form) 80% (40/16), damage DB
Engulf (true form; mnvr) 80% (40/16), damage DB
Dodge 40% (20/8)

Skills
Navigate 80%, Spot Hidden 80%, Track 60%

Armor: none; halve damage caused by fire and electrical attacks; mundane weapons (incl. bullets) deal only 1 point of damage per hit; regenerates 2 hit points per round (death at zero hit points).
Spells: none.
Sanity Loss: 1D6/1D20 Sanity points to encounter an avian shoggoth; plus 1/1D3 Sanity points for witnessing an avian shoggoth change from avian to shoggoth form.

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