Friday, March 27, 2015

The Terrifying Bearded Vulture, a CR 6 monster

(C)2007 Richard Bartz.  Used with
permission under a Creative Commons
The bearded vulture is terrifying enough in real life.  Since it's so damned scary, I decided it should become a Pathfinder monster as well.  For your pleasure, the...

This giant buzzard darts from the sky towards a decomposing body, the maw at the end of its long neck scouring the flesh off of a femur before it devours the entire bone with a single gulp.

Bearded Vulture CR 6
XP 2,400
Neutral Large Magical Beast
Init +5; Senses darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision; Perception +10

AC 18, touch 8, flat-footed 18 (+10 natural, -1 dex, -1 size)
hp 72 (8d10+4)
Fort +10, Ref +5, Will +4
DR 5/piercing or slashing

Speed 20 ft., fly 60 ft. (average)
Melee bite +13 (1d8+4), 2 claws +12 (1d6+4)
Space 10 ft.; Reach 10 ft.
Special Attacks Bone swallow

Str 19, Dex 9, Con 19, Int 6, Wis 14, Cha 10
Base Atk +8; CMB +13; CMD 22
Feats Flyby Attack, Improved Initiative, Skill Focus (Perception), Weapon Focus (bite)
Skills Climb +9, Fly +10 (+4 racial), Perception +10 Racial Modifiers +4 Fly
Languages None
SQ Black and white, Blood bath

Environment Temperate Hills
Organization solitary, nesting pair (1 bearded vulture and 1 young bearded vulture)
Treasure Incidental

Special Abilities
Black and white (Ex) Naturally black and white, when bearded vultures lack access to fresh blood to dye their white feathers red, they instead use dirt to dye their white feathers either yellow or brown.  Bearded vultures that cannot partake in a dirt bath for two days lose their coating, exposing the bright, white feathers.  In normal or bright light, bearded vultures without their dirt coat are dazzled.
Blood bath (Ex) As a full-round, a bearded vulture can revel in the blood of a helpless enemy subject to the bleed condition or who has taken piercing or slashing wounds in combat.  Bathing in blood grants the bearded vulture a 30 ft. fear aura (DC 17) and changes DR to 5/----.
Bone swallow (Ex) As a standard action, a bearded vulture can swallow the bone of a size small or smaller creature whole.  Swallowing a bone whole grants the bearded vulture the grab and swallow whole abilities for an hour.  Swallowed bones must first be separated from the rest of a carcass, which requires a full round action.  After swallowing an enemy whole, a bearded vulture attempts to return to its nest and kill its victim before feasting on her bones.

Bearded vultures are larger versions of their normal-sized cousins, scavengers that survive on their targets’ bones rather than their meat.  With razor-sharp claws and a lightning quick beak, a bearded vulture can scour the meat and hide from a bone in seconds before devouring it whole.  Their flesh takes on features of the bones they eat, rendering it tougher than other birds’ meat.  Despite their ferocity and rarity, their tough skin makes them an unpalatable meal at best.
Bearded vultures attack animals, but their preferred prey are small humanoids and the children of medium-sized humanoids.  A bearded vulture will take this prey, even alive, and drop it from great heights to before carrying the carcass back to its mountaintop lair.  Bearded vultures naturally attack animated skeletons on sight.  Sages are divided about whether this reflects animosity against the undead or if animated bones simply taste more appealing than truly dead ones.
Bearded vultures are solitary creatures, each one claiming territories of hundreds of square miles.  Outside of their mating season in early fall, a bearded vulture will fight any other vulture that invades its territory.  Bearded vulture females lay two eggs, but raise only one hatchling to adulthood.  The mother encourages the stronger hatchling to devour its weaker sibling. 

Bearded vultures’ feathers are naturally black and white, but vultures will stain their lighter feathers with brown dirt or yellow dirt.  When possible, vultures prefer to stain their feathers red by bathing in the blood of their slain enemies.  Bearded vultures are eight feet tall with wingspans up to ten feet.  They weigh up to 500 pounds.