One of the canonical D&D monsters and a really hard one to conceptually Goosify.
- Things about the Owlbear;
- I don't know if its copyrighted.
- Its goofy as fuck .
- I already did a version of it in FotVh as 'Imperator Ape'.
- It doesn't seem to do anything even mildly interesting mechanically.
- Ecologically there is almost nothing interesting.
- Is basically - a big ferocious hyper-territorial bear.
- Added to all this is the difficulty of making an "this instantly attacks you" encounter something for GG&G
Ok lets summon some Galaxy-Brain energy and break this one down;
Interesting things about Owls;
- Utter silence.
- Can fly real slow too.
- Because of the super-silence they are not waterproof, will avoid rain and can drown easily.
- Whiteness (for barn owls) linked with death.
- Seem to stand upright, more so than other birds.
- Forward facing radar faces (unusually characterful for birds).
- Dumb long legs.
- Young ones sleep face down.
- Fucking terrifying talons.
- Hypersenses in the dark.
- Mythic associations with death, wisdom.
- Super soft feathers but very murdery.
- Pose well on fenceposts and Godess shoulders.
- Very goth.
- Derpy in internet images - the old-school 'O Really' meme was an owl I think.
- Puke out nuggets of dried stuff which you can collect and dissolve to retrieve the fine bones of their small prey.
- Have a cool spooky call (though the cool-looking barn owl actually just does a screech).
- There are small tunnel-dwelling owls that live in and around prairie dogs and native Americans used to call them the shaman of the prairie dogs.
- HEADS ROTATE I can't believe I fogot that, can't turn their massive eyes, probably due to their size and the thickness of the optic cord piping shitloads of bandwith to their tiny brains so move their heads like periscopes.
Interesting things about bears.
- Fucking massive.
- Act kinda dumb.
- Climb like motherfuckers.
- The most dangerous thing a modern man can meet in the forest.
- Can kill their way through most stuff.
- Colour coded (very D&D).
- Deep mythic associations with strength, potency, bigness, toughness, arguably a sub-association with being a bit dumb/direct.
- This association strong enough that there are a few names which mean 'bear', like Bjorn, (so far as I know, no-one ever called their kid 'Owl'. Though it might have been cool if they did.
- Fish for salmon.
- Polar bears are basically bears-plus.
- Dumb short legs.
- Look kinda fat.
- Very not goth.
- Look slow but actually quite fast.
- Like HONEY - famous for it.
- Killed Timothy Treadwell.
- Have to scratch their backs on trees, look derpy doing this, have favourite trees and you can tell which ones due to all the bear hairs.
- Get in your garbage.
- An old name for "Bear" might actually be a kenning or side-name as if you used their true name they might turn up and they were so potent and feared that you had to be real scared of them much of the time.
- you can allegedly kill one by waiting for it to rise up on its hind feet then get a spear underneath them, then when they come down on you the spear runs them through
- (this method seems one of those ok in principal but how the fuck do you actually do it deals).
Curious things about Owlbears
- They are alone in their imaginary phylum - there are no colour-coded bears or "this-terrain" bears. fifty kinds of giant but only one kind of owlbear.
- They don't have any noted interactions with any kind of monster race - no "hobgoblins ride/keep owlbears as guards" or "wizards love to have owbears patrol their gardens", they seem to be pretty much dangerous to everything all of the time.
- No reason for them to have treasure, other than by accident - like they carried a body back and its former stuff is hanging around lost in the dirt.
- No particular, specific reason for them to be in the adventurers way, at least any more than any other wild beast, they don't guard a special plant or love useful-to-humans areas.
- Its just this single encounter, out in the forest, with this single creature, which is the only thing of its type.
- And it specifically says that when it attacks it just goes the fuck at you till either you die or it does...
- Almost the quintessence of the D&D single monster attack encounter.
- They don't even have some bullshit mythic origin, its literally "yeah probably a wizard did it".
- They have almost none of the particular and interesting elements of either owls or bears, they are not silent, cannot fly, do not have barn-owl radar faces, do not swivel their heads, are not nocturnal, have no hypersenses, are not goth, have no mythic associations, do not hibernate (I think), don't scratch their backs on trees, maybe they eat salmon and honey??
THINGS TO KEEP
- Soft, white, silent predators.
- Can fly.
- Expressive radar faces.
- Head rotates.
- Derpy as fuck.
- Fucking huge, like the size of a bear.
- Easily freaked out by loud sounds, bright lights and strange behaviours.
- Also vulnerable to water and rain as not waterproof, can drown easily.
- Very soft.
- They look round but remove the feathers and they look very odd indeed.
- Sleeps lying face down like an idiot.
- Head rotation.
- hibernates but randomly, stores up huge amounts of food before hibernation causing it to raid everywhere nearby, then finds some place it likes (often just a barn, attic or stable) and falls asleep there face down for who knows how long.
- If you wake them up from this they freak the fuck out, but you can move them in a group so long as everyone is extremely quiet.
- Silly long legs.
- Cool spooky call.
- (Or maybe a really stupid but somehow still sinister call? Like "WHOOOO WAKKA WAKKA WAKKA". This is meant to be a game for families so something the DM can do which will be fun would be nice.
- Can kill its way through most stuff.
- Walks like a dumb violent penguin when it finally hits the ground (an innovation on my part rather than synthesis).
- Often flies into trees and stuff with a WHACK also houses, barns, windows, anything really.
- Has really great taste in food, honey, salmon, cavier, mice, resteraunt bins, cooked food.
- Real, reaaaaal dumb.
- Like its a terrifying apex hyper predator due to its size, supersenses and natural abilities, but the side effect is that it is a moron.
- Like you can fool one by making mice out of honey, dressing up as a mouse, pretending to be a salmon in distress, hiring honeymice (its natural prey) to lure it. (Note to self, add 'Honeymice' to the game.)
- If they eat a person they poop them out as one wet bag of skin and guts and also puke up a dried nugget of bones, clothes hair and shoes - to put the person back together you need to find all the wet bits and the dry nugget and bring them to a barber, or at minimum, a really good seamstress, and reassemble them.
- Like to scratch their backs on trees, soft feathers can be collected from here, quite valuable.
- Fowlbear??? - like a terrifying duck-headed bear?
- barn bear???
These are all terrible
So, the mysterious...
(better names in comments please);
Beehives, Honeymice, resteraunts, confectioners, butchers, food delivery people and fisherment are attacked in the glaoming or the darkness by a creature of 'a terrible whiteness'. Something utterly silent, fleeting in on pale wings as quiet as the dawn.
At nights, the mysterious call of the Strigybjorn echoes through the woodlands and shadowed hills; WHOOOO WAKKA WAKKA WAKKA it cries mournfully, WHOOOO WAKKA WAKKA WAKKA WHOOOO!
The Strigibjorn, an Owl with the size, ferocity and temperament of a Grizzly Bear, and the intelligence of a cart-flattened hedgehog. Once this unearthly and untraceable creature moves into an area it preys on all nearby sources of honey, fish, truffles, picnics, caviar, fresh pizza and pie. Ghosting through the darkness in the most absolute and terrifying silence, swooping down to seize its prey in talons like scimitars and either feasting where it lands, or leaping off into the night.
The Strigibjorn flys alike unto the bumble-bee, its flappy wing arms, which seem insufficient to support its weight in flight, thrumming with increadible blurring speed, yet still with the unearthly silence of the night-haunting owl, its huge body vertical, swaying slightly with the inertia of its flight, the Strigibjorns head swivelling this way and that like a periscope.
The Strijbjorn tunnels its lair beneath a massive tree, or in some dry and sandy ground, either using its own scooping limbs or cohabiting with some other large tunnelling beast. There it lies in the wan day, huge, majestic, face down on pizza boxes like an idiot, surrounded by its own dry vomit.
As night falls, the Strigibjorn emerges to pose on a tree, hopefully one large enough to bear its weight, but as the Strigibjorn is real dumb it often lands on a wrong-sized branch, which bends or snaps off, sending the Strigibjorn to the ground.
Then it rises like a spirit into the starless dark, using its incredible hearing, smell and telescoping night vision to locate its prey; always some kind of delicious food, nothing cheap you know?
That food can be a person! But not a poor one.
After taking its prey in the darkness, slicing homeward through the air, maybe hitting barn, also possibly a tree or two, the Strigibjorn retreats to its dry tunnelled lair where it eats the prey (if it hasn't already) and then, after digesting it for most of the night, goes outside to drop a wet glutinous poo, before returning to vom up a dry nugget of bones, hair, shoes and coin.
In daylight a Strigibjorn often wakes up woozy, with a terrible itch. Unable to easily scratch itself the Strijibjorn will, (after a few attempts) roll over and get itself up, then stagger out into the wild like a murder penguin, its head rotating this way and that, eyes narrowed against the glare of the sun. Then it will locate a particular tree which it favours, and rub and roll itself against it, attempting to salve the itch.
The Strigibjorn cannot move its eyes due to its huge tubular optic nerves, instead rotating its head around like a bottle top. If it has an itchy head it will press it against the tree trunk and rotate it, going "WHRRRRRRR ZE ZE ZE, WHRRRRR ZE ZE ZE".
The extremely soft, silent and valuable down feathers of the Strigibjorn are often left embedded in this tree, marking it. These feathers are so soft that shoes packed with them will make no sound and a pillow full of them can put anyone to sleep, even severe and cursed insomniacs
During much of the year the Strigibjorn is a threat in the dark to all, but at unknown times, (for the Strigibjorn never really knows what month or season it is, being surprised each night), the Strigibjorn decides the time has come to hibernate. It will put on weight and prepare itself for the long sleep.
Thence begins a reign of terror as the Strigibjorn goes into predatory overdrive, attempting to eat everything in its chosen territory, smashing into butchers and takeaways, eating delivery boys, stealing cheese and annihilating the populations of Honeymice.
When it has eaten enough, or just forgotten what it is doing, the Strigibjorn will decide that the time to hibernate is NOW and will lay facedown somewhere dry to sleep it off. Though not necessarily anywhere out of the way, it might be a stable, your bedroom, your attic or shed, the post office, an aunts house, who knows?
The Strigibjorns hibernation will last for an unknown period of time. The creature can be moved out of the way, but this must be done VERY CAREFULLY, by several people with slender poles either stretchering it out or putting a bag over its head and carefully and softly, and QUIETLY, rolling it.
YOU NEED TO BE REALL GODDAMN QUIET OK?? IF THIS THING WAKES UP IT WILL FREAK THE HECK OUT AND KILL US ALL!!! DEAD YOU HEAR ME? DEAD! SO BE QUIET!!!!!!
The creature has few weaknesses. One is its incredible stupidity, though this is as much a threat as a weakness. Another is water, for the Strijibjorns stealthy feathers are not waterproof at all. It will flee from rain, can easily drown if forced into deep water and drenching it makes it look utterly crazy and severely limits its flight capacities.
For those eaten by the Strijibjorn, there is a slim hope. If someone can invade the creatures lair and locate exactly the right death nugget, and can also find the wet pooping place outside and find most, or even all of the victims wetter elements, they can return to town and dissolve the nugget, revealing the bones, teeth, hair, clothes, cash and socks.
Then, perhaps, a seamstress of incredible skill, a great barber or a Possible Witch could sew the victim back together, with varying degrees of success and horrorfication, depending on the amounts recovered, how well they were assembled, what they ended up being stuffed with and the size of their stitches.