Red Steel (Mystara)Campaign Setting Logo

Climate/Terrain:Temperate hills and mountains
Activity Cycle:Day
Intelligence:Semi- (2-4)
No. Appearing:1d4
Armor Class:6
Movement:0, Fl 28 (B)
Hit Dice:4+1
No. of Attacks:1
Special Attacks:Dive, breath weapon
Special Defenses:Surprised only on a 1
Magic Resistance:Nil
Size:L (10' wingspan)
Morale:Steady (11-12)
XP Value:975

This large flying creature spends its entire life in the air, hunting the skies over the Savage Coast.

The ghriest's body is wedge-shaped, hanging mostly below its extremely wide wingspan. Its large eyes give the creature near-perfect vision, with a 360-degree range. The creature's long, narrow head tapers up into a kind of fin. The ghriest's sharp beak is lined with a row of tiny teeth.

Two feet lay along the underside of the ghriest; atrophied from generations of disuse, these scrawny appendages are weak but agile. The ghriest's body is covered with feathers except on its head and along a bony ridge lining the front of each wing.

Combat: The ghriest attacks by stabbing an opponent with its long, pointy beak. Despite its sharp, tiny teeth, it never bites.

When attacking, the ghriest flies above its prey; it then dives toward the target with incredible speed and accuracy, catching most opponents completely by surprise. Its dive inflicts double damage (4d6), impaling the target. After a successful dive, the ghriest uses its feet to pull the victim from its beak. If the victim is still alive, the ghriest then stabs it again while holding on tightly. The ghriest can remain aloft even while carrying a small human.

Once per day, a ghriest can belch forth flames, much like the breath weapon of a small dragon. The flames are directional, striking a single target for 4d6 points of damage. If the victim makes a successful saving throw vs. breath weapons, it takes only half damage.

Habitat/Society: Ghriests travel in family units. The creatures carry their eggs with them in belly pouches, transferring both eggs and newborn ghriests back and forth with their nimble feet. Once able to fly on their own, a young ghriest stays with its family for protection for at least six months. Ghriests generally have two young per year. Males tend to be somewhat bigger and more colorful, though the female is the more deadly hunter.

Though its weak legs could not possible maintain its weight, this is not the reason that a ghriest never lands. Strangely, a ghriest cannot land, or it will die. Requiring a constant and heavy flow of air past its breathing cavities, if it were to land, the ghriest would choke to death within a few minutes. Even after the first few seconds, it is unlikely that the creature would have the strength to return to the air.

Ghriests live above the Forbidden Highlands and over the mountains on the Arm of the Immortals. They prefer to soar above hills or mountains, relying on the numerous updrafts to help keep them aloft while eating or mating. They also prefer to stay away from humanoid habitation, with the exception of the ee'aar. The ee'aar have even been known to join the creatures in flight.

Ecology: Ghriests occupy a spot near the top of the aerial food chain. Ghriests hunt almost anything else in the air, impaling them with their deadly beaks and ripping them apart. They can be befriended and tamed by ee'aar, but they are occasionally hunted by other races for their feathers. Every ghriest possesses 4d4 “pilot” feathers along its wings with special flying abilities. Arrows and crossbow bolts tipped with these arrows fly 50% further and have a nonmagical +1 attack bonus.