Cwn Annwn

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Climate/Terrain:Shadow World, Vosgaard
Frequency:Uncommon (Shadow World), Very Rare (Vosgaard)
Activity Cycle:Any (Shadow World), Nocturnal (Cerilia)
Intelligence:Low (5-7)
Alignment:Lawful evil
No. Appearing:3-12
Armor Class:4
Hit Dice:7+2
No. of Attacks:3
Damage/Attack:1d8/1d8/2d8 (claw/claw/bite)
Special Attacks:Fire breath
Special Defenses:Immune to fire and surprise, magic or silver weapons to hit
Magic Resistance:Nil
Size:L (7' long)
Morale:Fanatic (17-18)
XP Value:2,000

Cwn annwn (coon-a-NOON), sometimes called the hounds of Azrai, are enormous supernatural attack dogs that hunt elves.

Cwn annwn are strong, vicious, and fast. They stand about 5 feet high at the shoulder and are about 7 feet long. They have blue-black coats, razor-sharp teeth and fangs, flaming eyes, and wicked claws. The sound of a cwn annwn baying is considered an omen of death.

Elves harbor an innate, ancestral fear of the Shadow World, and cwn annwn are part of the reason why. These hounds roam the Shadow World in packs, hunting elves. Once they catch an elven scent, they pursue their quarry mercilessly.

Even if an elf is not among the party, PCs who have had close dealings with an elf in the past week may find themselves pursued by cwn annwn.

The ominous baying of cwn annwn can be heard up to two miles away. Thus an encounter with the hounds is rarely a surprise - though always harrowing.

Combat: An encounter with cwn annwn is almost always hostile in nature.

Cwn annwn are such superior hunters that they cannot be surprised.

The sound of a cwn annwn's baying is in itself so terrifying that all who hear it up close (within 100 yards of the hound) must succeed at a saving throw vs. paralyzation or become frozen with terror and unable to act for 1d4 rounds.

If a party comprises both elves and nonelves, cwn annwn attack the elves first, focusing all their attention on the member(s) of that race.

Nonelves eventually fall under attack as well, for they carry the scent of their elven companions. (However, the creatures devour only their elven prey.)

The hounds surround their prey, first breathing fire from up to 10 yards away. Each fire attack inflicts 1d4+6 points of damage; a successful saving throw vs. breath weapon reduces the damage by half. Cwn annwn then attack with their claws and bite. On a natural attack roll of 20, a hound manages to trap its prey and breathe fire on it, inflicting both bite and fire damage.

Cwn annwn are immune to fire-based attacks. As supernatural creatures, they can be hit only with magical or silver weapons. As beasts of the shadows, however, they have difficulty seeing in direct sunlight or magical light. If opponents making use of such light sources can also confuse or obscure the hounds' sense of smell, the ferocious canines suffer a -2 penalty to all attack rolls.

Peaceful encounters with cwn annwn are extremely rare. If an elf is among the party, they will attack to the death. If not, they are capable of such stealth that PCs won't even know their exact location.

Though cwn annwn have no conscious control over the Seeming, a slight amount of it clings to them, often making them appear even larger and more bloodthirsty than they really are. Bloodline: None; Blood Abilities: None; Perception/Seeming: None/Slight)

Habitat/Society: Cwn annwn are native to the Shadow World. In recent years, however, they have been spotted in Cerilia, particularly in and around Tuar Annwn. The elves there maintain constant vigilance against the hounds penetrating the shadow barrier, but every year a half dozen or so manage to pass through and devour a few unfortunate elves before being brought down. Though no sightings of cwn annwn have been reported elsewhere in Cerilia, it is possible that the hounds have managed to enter other areas of the continent.

Cwn annwn, when not hunting on their own, can be encountered as part of the Wild Hunt.

Ecology: Cwn annwn maintain a very limited diet: elf. Nearly forgotten elven folklore says that at the dawn of time, when Cerilia and the Shadow World were one, the cwn annwn were domesticated beasts that the elves kept as hunting dogs. The same force that opened up a rift between the two lands also empowered and encouraged the great hounds to turn against their masters, transforming them into supernatural beasts of the night - or so the legends say. Now, inspired by a deeprooted hatred which some believe Azrai himself instilled in them, the hunting dogs hunt new prey.

Scholars believe cwn annwn are related to hell hounds. But while hell hounds can be domesticated, cwn annwn are always wild.