The Ghostchasers, also known as Ivory bats or Mourners, are migratory songbirds that live along rivers, or lakes in lightly forested or grassland areas. They are common in plains of Parna. They are known for their ability to see the invisible and the undead, and their loud displeasure with any such creature that approaches their nest.
Behavior: Ghostchasers are nocturnal, remaining largely inactive during the day. They nest on the ground and lay their eggs in shallow pits that they dig. Their breeding season last from mid-summer until early autumn, with nest building occurring in early-summer and the first brood being laid shortly afterwards. Female Ghostchasers usually lay at least two broods during the mating season with the second being laid shortly after the first brood has left the nest or sooner if the brood was lost for some reason. During the nesting period time both she and her mate guard the nest. Ghostchasers are extremely territorial. A male Ghostchaser will harass any other male Ghostchaser that enters within a small stones throw of his nest, particularly if this is during the roosting period. Both the male and the female will harass any perceived threat that approaches their nest. This is most often a small land mammal or snake prone to nest predation, but when defending their nest Ghostchasers are fearless and treat all potential threats the same. They have been seen harassing giants, cattle and even mounted soldiers (or vehicles) that have gotten too close to their nest. However, the animal or creature has to get very close to the nest to stir a Ghostchaser. What has earned them their name, however, is that Ghostchasers are capable of detecting and perhaps seeing the undead or the invisible. Thus when a ghost or spirit approaches a Ghostchaster's nest the parent bird will begin to harass the approaching aberration just as if it was badger or goblin.
Diet: Ghostchasers are insectivores. They have incredible night vision, perhaps even supernatural, and hunt insects in midair during the night. Ghostchasers can be observed making seemingly erratic turns and dives as they chase insects. This behavior is seen by some as similar to that of bats and thus they are sometimes referred to as Ivory bats.
Appearance: Ghostchasers are a small bird, though relatively large for songbirds. Males are generally all white with a black beak, red tounge and black eyes. The males generally weigh around 300-600 grams depending on the time of year, while the females generally weigh around 250-500 grams depending on the time of year. Birds reach the peak of their annual weight directly before migration. The female birds are often beige or brown with spotting of white or grey and as result blend in better with brush or dry grasses. Their eggs are a brown color with flecks of green in them. A typical nest will contain 4-6 eggs.
Song: The song of the Ghostchaser is a distinct and haunting song heard along bodies of fresh water during the summer. Only the males sing and they are heard most often after sunset or just before dawn. While each male's song is unique there are shared characteristics. The male's song may vary in pitch but the tones are either a WA-WA-NO-WA-WA or WA-I-WA-I-WA-I. Some taxonomists have suggested that these are indeed different subspecies, in that WA-WA-NO behavior is never observed in the same region as the WA-I-WA-I song.
Ghostchasers are better known for their aggressive calls than their mating songs. When harassing another bird or creature the Ghostchasers will repeatedly make a taunting chirp that sounds like Kee-Kee-Kee or an I-I-I. The female will make an alarm sound if the nest approached will her mate is away. The alarm call is described as being a loud WA-Kee.
Combat: Ghostchasers don't truly engage in combat (with the exception of fights between males during the mating season). Ghostchasers, working in pairs, will harass creatures that are near their nests by swooping at them and aggressively chirping at them. The birds rarely engage in prolonged physical contact with other creatures and in general will not sacrifice themselves for their nest.
Economic Value: The use of Ghostchasers as alarms for the undead has been met with limited success. Their undead harassing behavior appears to be limited to the mating season and training them has proved difficult. Ghostchasers and their eggs can be eaten, but they not valued as being particularly tasty and they are not meaty birds. Some arcane scholars assert that the eyes and tongues of Ghostchasers can be used in constructing detect undead potions or in casting various alarm spells.
Mythos: The origin of the Ghostchaser has several myths behind it. The first relates the story of a young Ivanvil swords man who broke with his family to marry a Mitirangu woman. Shortly after their marriage she died, perhaps murdered and the young man was inconsolable. In his grief he went to a Priestess's of Telomerase and by force of arms compelled her to call his love back from the dead. When the ritual was done, he was told to go home to wait for his loves return. Just before down the next day the animated corpse of his wife approached the home they had shared. Of course she was not truly resurrected, but instead her soul was trapped and tortured inside her rotting corpse. Her husband destroyed the beast that was his former wife, but the grief related to the act caused him to shatter into a flock of birds screaming 'why' or 'no'. These birds are still mourning to this day. An Orcish myth states that these birds are actually vesicles for the souls of cowards, and that they are terrified of the souls of warriors.
Special Abilities: Ghostchasers have supernatural vision. It allows them see efficiently in both night and day. They also have the ability to see invisible creatures or creatures only partially present on this plane.
Game Use: This is a mood-setting creature with hopefully enough detail to silence any birders in your group. While walking through the grassland at night a character might see two birds swooping and chirping at seemingly nothing. This could be a ghost or it could be raccoon. On the flip side a character may be trying to sneak up on a camp while invisible and trip over a Ghostchaser's nest.
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? Responses (10)
This is really good Axle! This has enough realistic detail and as you have said, has good game use. Where they could possibly be very valuable is as a wizard's familiar.
A nice little lifeform, full of color and (hard-to-use) potential, I do like it.
That was even before the Orcish bit about souls of cowards, that sealed it for me. Great bird, axlerowes!
the orcish bit about the souls of cowards rocked.
::Stamp of Really Good::
Until now I always thought ornithology and roleplaying games were mutually exclusive hobbies. This is really good! Well-written, a novel idea, and very realistic background. As I read this, I'm thinking of a dozen different uses for it in my own campaign. Excellent work, Axle!
Useful in most games.
I recently had an idea about soul-carrying birds, and started writing, then ran into this. LOVE THEM TO DEATH!! No, really. *POOF* (they now populate most of my campaign worlds). Thank you.
I just absolutely love these birds.
Damn good sub sir - this is excellent!
A well-detailed sub, presented in a scientific way.