|Climate/Terrain:||Any wilderness||Any wilderness||Any wilderness|
|Activity Cycle:||Dusk, night||Dusk, night||Dusk|
|Intelligence:||Animal (1)||Very (11-12)||Exceptional (15-16)|
|No. Appearing:||1 (2)||2-5||1|
|Movement:||1, Fl 27 (D)||3, Fl 18 (E)||1, Fl 35 (C)|
|No. of Attacks:||3||3||3|
|Special Attacks:||Swoop, surprise||Surprise||Swoop|
|Special Defenses:||See below||Nil||Never surprised|
|Size:||S (4’ wingspan)||M (20’ wingspan)||S (6’ wingspan)|
|Morale:||Unsteady (5-7)||Steady (11-12)||Champion (15)|
Owls are a family of nocturnal birds of prey. There are many different species and varieties are found in every clime but owls are most common in temperate and subarctic climates. Owls are predators that hunt rodents, small lizards, and insects, attacking humans only when frightened (or magically commanded). Some cultures view owls as symbols of wisdom; others as symbols of imminent death.
Owls range in size from the pygmy owl, which is 6 inches long, to the great horned owl which is 2 feet long and has a 5-foot wingspread. The owl statistics listed above are for larger species. Most owls are noted for their heart-shaped faces and huge eyes (also notable for a nictitating membrane or inner eyelid). Some owls have swept-back ears that look like horns. Their cries range from gentle hoots to ear-piercing screeches.
Combat: Owls have double normal ultravision, quadruple normal hearing, and fly in total silence, so they will surprise their prey more often; others are -6 on their surprise roll. Owls cannot be surprised during hours of dusk and darkness (sunset to sunrise). During daylight hours, their eyesight is worse than that of a human, so owls can be surprised more easliy; they are -3 on their surprise roll if discovered in their daylight resting place. Owls attack with their sharp talons and hooked beak. If they swoop from a height of 50 feet or greater, each attack is +2 and inflicts double damage, but no beak attack is possible.
Habitat/Society: Owls live in virtually every part of the world. Most owls live in tree hollows, but the burrowing owl lives in holes made by prairie dogs. Owls try to find the lairs of other birds and drive them away. Some daylight birds (crows, ravens) that are preyed upon by owls flock to attack them during the day; because of this, hunters sometimes use owls as decoys. Owls either live in solitude or in pairs. They can be domesticated somewhat if taken young, but cannot be trained to hunt.
Ecology: Owls prey on rodents, toads, frogs, insects, and daylight birds. No creatures are known to prey on owls other than monsters such as wyverns that will attack most flying creatures.
Giant owls have their own language. They appear as giant versions of large owl species, with a larger proportionate wingspan. These nocturnal creatures inhabit very wild areas, preying on rodents, large game birds, and rabbits. Like ordinary owls, they attack with their talons and beak. They are too large to gain swoop bonuses but can fly in nearly perfect silence; others are -6 on their surprise roll. Giant owls are intelligent and may be friendly toward humans, though they are naturally suspicious. If encountered in their lair, there is a 20% chance there will be 1-3 eggs (25%) or 1-3 hatchlings (75%) 20-70% grown. The parents will fight anything that threatens their young. Eggs sell for 1,000 silver pieces and hatchlings sell for 2,000 silver pieces on the open market.
Talking owls are rare and magical creatures indeed. They appear as ordinary owls, but speak common and up to six other languages (DM’s option). Talking owls swoop as do ordinary owls. Their primary role is to serve and advise champions of good causes on dangerous quests, which they will willingly do for 1-3 weeks if treated kindly on their first encounter. (A talking owl sometimes feigns a broken wing to see how the party treats it.) Talking owls can detect good. Talking owls have a wisdom score of 21, with appropriate spell immunities (cause fear, charm person, command, fear, forget, friends, hold person, hypnotism, ray of enfeeblement, and scare).
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