|Cerilia, generally Anuire
|Cerilia, generally Anuire
|No. of Attacks:
|M (4-6' long)
|M (4-6' long)
|Steady (11-12) or fearless (20)
Blood hounds are blooded war dogs bred and trained specifically to hunt scions.
When the gods sacrificed themselves at Mount Deismaar, their essences rained upon all who stood on the battlefield - including animals involved in the conflict. Like their masters, some war dogs present inherited divine bloodlines. Most have been diluted to nothing over the centuries, but some purebreds still exist. These animals, known as blood hounds, are prized not only for their ability to track blooded individuals, but for their exceptional hardiness and loyalty. Though faithful to any fair master, blood hounds exhibit selfless devotion to a master who shares the same bloodline derivation.
Blood hounds are generally large wolfhounds or mastiffs. They look much like ordinary war dogs, with one notable exception: a bloodmark. This sign of their blooded status usually takes the form of a patch of red fur somewhere on the dog's body.
According to popular belief, one can determine a hound's bloodline derivation by the shape of the red fur patch. (Some believe it resembles the totem animal of the god whose bloodline the animal carries.) Allegedly, the location, shade, size, or texture of the red fur is also revelatory and can be read like tea leaves by a skilled breeder or one trained in the arts of divination. Most breeders, however, assert that these latter signs are far less reliable.
Legends speak of some exceptional blood hounds that possess an additional ability from the gods. A 5% chance exists that a blood hound has inherited an unusually strong bloodline and with it, one additional minor blood ability. If so, Dungeon Masters may choose the ability from the following list (keeping in mind the animal's bloodline derivation): Courage, Detect Illusion, Detect Life, Direction Sense, Iron Will, Long Life, Poison Sense, Resistance.
Combat: Though blood hounds are trained for battle, most encounters involve their tracking ability.
A blood hound will generally try to pin down its quarry, attacking only if attacked first, if commanded by its master, or if it perceives a threat to its master. Note that in some situations, this semi-intelligent animal could perceivea threat where none actually exists. If provoked, the hound attacks with its bite for 2d4+1 points of damage.
If a blood hound shares its master's bloodline derivation, it is fearless (morale of 20) in combat and will fight to the death if it believes its master is in danger. Only a command from its master can call off such an attack.
Blood hounds have a gift for sniffing out blooded characters. At their master's command, they can locate the nearest blooded individual or pursue a specific scion.
A blood hound can automatically catch the scent of any blooded individual within a one-mile radius or who has passed through the area within the past five days (provided it has not rained).
The animal has a 50% chance of locating the trail of a scion within a five-mile radius or who has passed within five miles in the past two days. This chance increases by 15% if the scion has the same bloodline derivation as the hound, and/or by 15% if the hound is pursuing a specific scion and has been given an item of clothing or other personal effect to catch the scent. The hound gains an additional 10% bonus if the hunted scion has a great bloodline.
If commanded to find simply any scion in the area, a blood hound will lead its master to the nearest scion not in the hunting party. However, if the nearest individual does not share the hound's bloodline derivation and another scion in the area does, the hound will lead the party to the scion who shares its bloodline.
Because blood hounds are specifically trained to track scions, they suffer a penalty when commanded to hunt unblooded individuals. They have a only a 50% chance of finding a specific commoner within a one-mile radius.
The blood hound's hunting instinct enables it to perceive that something is not quite right about a creature cloaked in the Seeming. It cannot, however, determine more than that. (Bloodline: Varies, tainted, 1d3; Blood Abilities: Bloodmark; Perception/Seeming: Slight/None
Habitat/Society: Blood hounds are never found in the wild. They are raised by skilled animal handlers who specialize in breeding these dogs. Only three such kennels exists in all Cerilia, though wealthy regents might support their own.
In the kennels, puppies are kept with older hounds, who actually assist in the younger dogs' training. Most blood hounds require four to five years of training before they are ready to be sold.
Although blood hounds are generally amiable toward dogs of different breeds, other dogs regard them warily. Many trainers believe this unease comes from the dogs' ability to sense the blood hounds' divine essence. Though the bloodline itself doesn't pose a threat, dogs who don't carry one perceive it as unnatural.
Ecology: Bloodhounds typically live 16 to 18 years. Some dogs, however, inherit long life in addition to their bloodmark as a gift from the gods.
Blood hounds usually arrive as single births, not as part of litters, which adds to their rarity.
People typically encounter blood hounds in two ways. First, a scion might know someone who owns a blood hound, or seek to purchase one himself. Only blooded individuals can become masters of blood hounds; the animals cannot form a bond of loyalty with a commoner and thus will not serve one.
The bond of loyalty between a blood hound and its master transcends that of most pets or hunting dogs. When a scion purchases a blood hound, the breeder conducts a special imprinting ritual. As long as the master takes good care of the animal, the blood hound will consider him or her its master for life, even if kidnapped or purchased by another would-be owner. Only mistreatment of the animal, the master's death, or an imprinting transfer ritual between an old and new master can undo this bond once formed.
Blood hounds are rare and expensive - typically costing 2 Gold Bars or more - so people generally don't own more than one. Still, a few very wealthy regents keep small kennels of the animals. Because the hounds are so pricey, some scions own blood hounds as status symbols regardless of whether they ever have need of the animal's unique tracking abilities.
The second manner in which a scion might encounter a blood hound is to be hunted by one. An owner's intent in pursuing a scion can range from noble (finding a lost child) to devious (finding victims for bloodtheft). Blood hounds typically are used to track blooded persons, not to attack them once found. The animals are, however, worthy opponents in combat.
Individuals might wish to own a blood hound as a watch dog, to find unknown scions in their realms who might make a play for the throne, or to bring along on dangerous journeys. Don't forget that awnsheghlien are scions, too, and that blood hounds are just as good at locating them as they are at finding humans and demihumans. A blood hound can bring its master into contact with all sorts of interesting personages.
Adventurers speak of a wild variation of the blood hound, which they call “Vos hounds”. These sharp-fanged carnivorous animals call no mortal master and roam in packs, hunting the blooded for late-night feasting. Some believe them capable of bloodtheft.