~ Winning creature contest entry ~
Known to inhabit the rocky and uneven plains of sandy wastelands, the Desert Prowler is almost exclusively seen hunting and roaming alone in the wild. With a generally aloof personality, these creatures will as often as not leave adventures alone after a chance encounter within its territory… the exception to this rule occurs during times of feeding.
When feeding Desert Prowlers should be considered extremely dangerous even to the most steadfast of explorers.
Eyeless and without the use of sight these creatures are forced to rely on their natural abilities and super sensitive hearing to hunt. When hunting Desert Prowlers will often be heard making loud, near deafening screeching sound. The purpose of which is due to the two hollow inclines at the front of the Prowler’s head; these holes allow the creature to pick up rebounding sound vibration from objects and animals close by. As well as helping the animal to navigate, the Prowler’s natural screech ability is loud enough to stun nearby creatures and temporarily render them immobile. This special ability is often used in battle and to finish off prey.
A further natural ability for this creature is the ability to spit poison from glands locating behind its mouth and under its tongue. If the poison comes into contact with an individuals exposed skin it will slowly begin to burn the skin and cause considerable pain. Over time and with repeated attacks the victim will become weaker as the poison penetrates his bloodstream and begins to attack his muscles, stiffing limbs and sapping the victim’s strength. Fortunately the affects of this poison are quite slow and are easy to treat. Also with rest and limited exertion the victim will recover from the poison in about a day.
When battling a Desert Prowler, because of this thickness and shape of the bones in its head, high attacks with a sword or hammer will do little damage. Instead attacks should be directed to the creature’s neck, midriff area, and the ribcage -along the side of its body. As the Prowler will often try to get very close to its attacker during battle and slash him using the sharp claws on its wrists, attacking a Prowler's weaker areas can prove quite challenging.
When killed, hunters will often remove the thick chunks of fur from the neck, hump and limbs of the Desert Prowler. The reason is because of special characteristics seen in the fur, which make it very heat resistant. When attached or woven into pieces of clothing or armor the Prowler’s fur provides added durability against natural elements such as fire and ice for these items. Because of this defensive boon, Prowler fur is a rare and expensive item often seen on black markets. Also it should be noted that because the creatures claws very rarely contain disease there is a niche market for jewelry made from Desert Prowler claws. Overall there is a profitable trade for hunters brave or foolish enough to attempt to pursue these animals.
~ Runner up creature contest entry ~
The Kur'vai, that is how this species is called nowadays, were first observed by the famous explorer Ankhe Lao, although there are vague reports dated much earlier, which seem to describe the Kur'Vai as well. Ankhe Lao stumbled upon them in the year 252 of the Age of Shadows. As he wanders through the vast and unexplored land of South Ter'Varus, following the Kur'vai, he writes: "Never have I seen such extraordinary creatures as the Kur'vai. They appear angry and devilish at first glance, but are actually quite peaceful, as long as one does not approach their nests. In my time that I have followed the Kur'Vai, I have but rarely seen them attack another creature out of sheer anger. The nests, which appear to be a sort of iglo made of branches, leaves and mud, serve as a place to sleep and hide. The Kur'Vai mostly seem to live from smaller animals, like rabbits and the like, but I have seen them chase wolves and other bigger creatures as well. They are excellent runners, very fast and yet gracious, because of their large paws and stabilizing tail.
One of the most remarkable features I have discovered about the Kur'vai, is that they seem to have a very short term memory. It happend, once, that I saw a group of Kur'vai leaving their nests. I decided to go and take a closer look and just as I was about to enter one of them, a Kur'Vai came back and saw me. I started running as fast as I could, but he was already following me. He would have certainly grabbed me, were it not that a bunny crossed his path. He stopped, looked a bit foolish, then attacked the bunny. A fact also underlining their short term memory is, that when they return to their nests, they just seem to pick one randomly. Even if the nest happens to have some young Kur'Vai in it, the animal just starts to take care of them, not bothering whether or not they are his offspring. Another characteristic of the Kur'Vai is their unpredictability. Probably this is related to their memory issues, but their actions always seem rather impulsive and vague, without a clear goal. A Kur'Vai may abruptly decide to climb up into a tree with such ferocity and speed that it may scare you. But then, when he reaches the top, he just sits there, staring around and wondering how in the name of Occul he got that high... It is then off course, quite entertaining to watch him eventually try to get out of the tree.
The general idea one gets about the Kur'Vai after being around them for a while, is that they just seem to live out their lives, not caring much about what happens around them. They enjoy their own foolish actions as well as those of others, although they never seem to quite understand what's going on. An interesting species, that is for sure."
~ Runner up creature contest entry ~
The Sand Drannix is a desert dweller, and one of the largest animals in these regions with males reaching a height of 8-12 feet tall, and females usually larger at an average of 10-16 feet tall. It preys mostly on small creatures such as spiders, sand snakes, and desert mice, but cannot fill it's needs for moisture by this means alone. It requires much larger quantities of water to survive, and for this reason it is drawn to the Quillium tree. Chances are that if you are fortunate enough to stumble across one, there will be a Sand Drannix close by. This is a very valuable piece of information to remember if you are ever stranded in the desert. The presence of a Sand Drannix is a guarantee that there is water in the area.
The Sand Drannix is not normally aggressive by nature but a mother protecting her young should be avoided at all costs, and even the most passive of these creatures can be very deadly if provoked. It's leathery, mottled brown skin is almost impervious to weapons, and it has the ability to defend itself with a thick, muscled tail and large, deadly, front claws. It also has extremely powerful hind quarters with large, flat feet that enable it to achieve great speeds over the sand. For these reasons, a ranged attack with magic is by far the safest and most effective method of killing one.
The tough hide is an excellent resource in itself and is used in armor and for covering shields. But why, you might ask, would anyone want to provoke such a dangerous adversary? It's hide alone is not worth the effort or the near certainty of death. The answer is simple. One prick or slash of these claws can be lethal. The Sand Drannix's body produces a venom that is highly concentrated in the claws. The claws, when ground into a fine powder, produce one of the most deadly and highly sought after components for poisons. When ingested, It's affects are almost instantaneous, rendering the victims' internal organs to jelly in a matter of minutes. Some have boasted of being poisoned in an attack and living to tell about it by means of a special cure. While this may be possible, since the venom takes longer to enter the bloodstream through a flesh wound, it is certain that most, if not all, have assuredly suffered a horrible and painful death.
The grell is a beast often domesticated by goblins for purposes of transportation and mounted combat.
Coloring ranges from tan to blue-gray to deep maroon, with the face and underparts of the body typically cream or yellow. Male grells can grow to over 8 feet tall and weigh more than 250 pounds.
Grells are normally docile creatures preferring to feed on grasses and other vegetation. They need very little water to survive and can go for months without drinking. Grells are fond of wide open spaces and can get nervous or even aggressive if confined to enclosed locations for any duration of time. Grells prefer to rest in the shade during the day and come out at late afternoon and night when it is cooler.
The grell has remarkable ocular placement, with one eye pointing forward and the other gazing to the sky. The upper eye is believed to be an evolutionary feature which grells use to protect themselves from airborne dangers such as dragons. Grells also have highly developed hearing and can detect movement from as far away as a mile. They have hair tufts that range in color from amber to pale green, which allows them to blend into the surrounding vegetation. All of these features help protect the grell from would-be predators.
When cornered, however, the grell is well able to defend itself. It has powerful hind legs, which allow it to spring 15 feet in the air and move up to 40 miles per hour. It is said the kick from a grell is strong enough to knock an ogre onto his back. The grell has a long, muscular tail which serves as a balance when the animal jumps and can be used as a whip in combat to stun its opponent. Four razor claws on each paw are useful for striking at the underbelly of attacking dragons and otherwise protecting the grell from danger.
For these reasons, only the most skilled goblins are able to find and domesticate grells. Goblins prefer to raise grells as whelps and in fact have numerous farms dedicated to this purpose. Goblin cavalry are typically bonded to a grell whelp and participate in the grell's upbringing, so that by the time it is mature the grell is a natural extension of the goblin's self. Mounted atop their grells, goblins are fearsome archers and warriors. There are few beasts in TerVarus so well suited to mounted combat as the grell, and for this reason they are highly prized among goblins.
Typically found in grasslands, plains, and drier regions, this omnivore stands about five feet tall and is 12 feet long from tip to tail. The fur and hide of the finder beast tends to be a tan to golden brown in color. Its claws, while very useful as a weapon, are the primary tools of the finder beast for collecting its favorite food: termites, as well as getting water from the knobs of a Quillium tree. Although it is an omnivore, the finder beast is not too fast and makes for a poor hunter. Though it is capable of hunting, and even fishing in shallow water if there is the opportunity, the finder beast truly excels in the role of scavenging and finding odd sources of food to sustain itself.
It is in the scavenging role that the finder beast is truly beneficial. Friendly, it will allow most other creatures to tag along as long as those other creatures don’t attack it in any ways. Despite its tasty meat, most travelers often spare the finder beast, especially in more arid regions, because of its abilities to find the necessary resources to live.
While finder beasts get along with most creatures, they do have one natural enemy: dragons. The meat of the finder beast is incredibly tasting and surprisingly nourishing, despite it having scavenger tendencies. The finders use their upward pointing eye to help them keep an eye on the skies so they can try to take cover if they see a dragon overhead. Finders are scared of all dragons, even smaller ones, and will try to do anything to hide or get away. It is little wonder that finders have this incredible fear of wyrms, as the latter’s word for the finder beast has the same meaning to dragons as chocolate does to humanoids.
It is believed that it uses its strong sense of smell and its forward eye looking down to find most of its food. Its large ears are mainly used to help it communicate with others of its kind, and it often makes a low growling noise, which travels farther than more high pitched sounds, to help in longer distance communications with others of its own kind. Its horn while can be used to gore, is mostly decorative and rarely used outside of fighting for potential mates. Though females do have horns, they are generally smaller than the horns found on male finder beasts.
Most often, they are found solitary, but mated pairs and small family units do exist in places with more abundant supplies of food.
Name: Tuffs, after generations of being Tufts, because of their fur tufts, but the name was changed due to slurring and people didn't like saliva in their face from the people trying to say "Tufts". Were also called spit beasts for the same reason.
Likes: Jumping around, digging holes which it will bury things in or use as shelter.
Dislikes: Rocky areas (hard to dig, could hurt feet on sharp rocks), rain/large bodies of water (mats their fur tufts), tangled/dirty fur tufts, high places (don't want to fall because of a bad jump).
Mannerisms: Using the holes it digs as traps for would be predators, uses claws as combs for fur tufts which they are very proud of (dirty/tangled tufts are signs of a bad Tuff), have been found in forests testing their jumping abilities by going at full jumping speed and trying to dodge the trees.
Abilities: Tail attacks, digging holes, jumping, slightly above average hearing.
Habitat: Areas with plenty of room to jump around and soft dirt to dig into.
Diet: Grubs and any fruit that fall to the ground or it can reach.
The Shaarae is an aggressive, plains dwelling creature that is distant cousin to the Arrwic race. But while the Arrwics evolved for both speed and versatility, the Shaarae evolved simply for physical survival and so never organized as their more intelligent relatives did.
While they are quite bright, and employ a number of sophisticated hunting maneuvers, their intelligence does not extend far beyond the basics of animal instinct.
Their eight-foot long bodies are built solely for speed, with massively powerful hindquarters supporting a sturdy but light torso. When pressed, an adult Shaarae can extend its neck and body to become a perfectly aerodynamic missile, dwarfing the speed of even their fleet Elloran cousins.
To accommodate their speed, their eyes are placed vertically, one on the forehead and one just above the nose. This allows perfect vision both when walking and when stretched out to sprint. They make up for their lost peripheral vision through their superlative hearing and sense of smell.
They use this speed to great effect when hunting. They are the dominant predators of their habitat and had known little fear, save from bands of Arrwic and Centaur hunters. While hunting, they will normally circle their prey, corralling it toward a cliff or sheer rock face that they choose at birth and use for life. When the hapless creature has nowhere to run, the Shaarae will dart in and use it’s short but powerful arms to slash with razor sharp claws. Against smaller opponents, they may simply attempt to trample it.
They make their dwellings inside of caves or beneath rock outcroppings, for they despise the rain and will push themselves to the brink of starvation during a long rainy spell.
In order to keep its speed and agility intact, the Shaarae lost most of it's burdening fur thousands of years ago. Instead, during the winter and autumn it will migrate from it's homeland, to as far away as the plains beneath the Mist Elf city of Aurenor. Here, sheltered by the high mountain ranges to the north, they stay, hunting rarely and spending most of their time providing for their newly born cubs. When the weather once again becomes hospitable, their slightly diminished numbers head back to their ideal hunting grounds.
The Shaarae are known for their speed and agility, to be sure, but what they are most renown [and feared] for is their astounding ability to leap enormous distances, especially when already running at top speed. During mating season, a few low-flying mist elves are almost always lost to a defensive leap from a Shaarae parent, as their frail bones cannot take such a large impact.
The Shaarae's main source of food is the crag spider, and as such they have developed an immunity to their poison. This is something that a group of traveling Raknar discovered when an enormous male Shaarae suddenly set them upon. Raknar are still warned of the area, and any hunting Shaarae that finds them is almost certain to attack.
The Mhuauhm is a very uncommon creature. Mostly found near forests it has the peculiarity to be one-sided, that is it only has one arm and one leg on the same side of the body.
This unbalanced shape gives the Mhuauhm a hard time moving around, so it naturally teams up with another Mhuauhm which is sided oppositely. They lean against each other and then, in an amazing and natural coordination, they manage to walk and even run as if they were one. Most of time, Mhuauhms are born by pairs of opposite side so they fortunately usually find their mate at their younger age.
A traveller once said he saw two left-sided Mhuauhms team together, which resulted in a frenzied spinning dance ending with the death by exhaustion of the two unlucky Mhuauhms. That is, Mhuauhms have a very low intelligence. Fortunately this lack of intelligence helps them, they are very instinctive creatures, and when it comes to choose which direction to follow, instinct gives a greater chance for two teamed Mhuauhms to choose the same direction. Confusion is their greatest enemy.
The Mhuauhm is a harmless creature, its food is mainly made of leaves and grass. Its hand is armed with four huge claws which appears to be absolutely useless since nobody has ever seen a Mhuauhm using them. Some legends say that Mhuauhms were created accidently during the Age of the Ancients and that they inspired so much pity that Meeka took them under his protection more than any other animal on TerVarus. This protection lasted through the Ages and people rarely dared harm a Mhuauhm, which explains how they could survive until now.
The Volrin, or the Mossy Birdsnest as it is sometimes called, is the premiere quarry for the hunters of TerVarus. Standing 3'6" at the shoulder and measuring 5' from "nose" to tail the Volrin has a graceful stride and can reach speeds up to 40 mph. Often mistaken as hair are several patches of long edible moss that grow on the underside of the limbs, neck and on the back of the creature.
Making its nest in the moss on the back of the Volrin is the tiny Chim Chip bird. The Chim and the Volrin enjoy a symbiotic relationship in which the Chim Chip gets a home and source of food in the moss and the Volrin gets much needed early warning of predators by the Chims vociferous warning cries. Such help is needed by the Volrin due to its one major weakness, its lack of proper sight.
The Volrin has three organs on its face in addition to its ears, none of which is a true eye. Located on the crown of its head is a senory organ used for a primitive form of echolocation, used all the time this is the Volrins primary sense. The organ in the center of the Volrins face is actually an eye, or sorts. It is in fact a short range heat receptor that the Volrin uses to find "hot trees", trees that are home to insect colonies. Once found, the Volrin uses its spiked paws to hack into the tree and uses its long tongue to extract the meal of bugs and sap. The third organ, appearing as small dots on both sides above the animal's mouth are part of the Volrins respiratory system. Wholly discrete from its digestive system, this allows the Volrin to breathe not only on land and underwater but in a continuous cycle both exhaling and inhaling through alternate organs above the mouth. When the Volrin does venture underwater in search of small fish and crustaceans it is common for the Chim Chip to seek refuge in the Volrin's mouth for the duration. In this way the Volrin also maintains good dental hygeine as the Chim Chip feasts on the scraps of food left in its teeth.
The Volrin is truly at home in the water, hunters often miss this amphibious creature as it floats lazily in a pond looking very much like an old mossy log. Although blind and with no sense of smell the Volrin is very worthy prey. The Lizardmen of Sra Vi To hunt the Volrin as a rite of passage, returning to the tribe with Volrin head in hand and an angry Chim Chip bird not far behind. Elvenfolk often make the dangerous trek through Lizardlands to obtain some of the Volrin's moss which has been found to lessen the pains of The Flahnn.