Monday, October 29, 2012

Monster Monday - Corvus Rex

Partially inspired by a petty God of Assassins I recently had cause to make up for my Rat Catcher in Pahvelorn, with a few additions from the Samurai movie "Onibaba" - the Corvus Rex, Crow King or Burning Medicine Spirit, is a powerful monster designed to present a trick or plot advancement rather than an enemy to combat.  Though setting one on a character who has betrayed someone spectacularly or finding one in a locked room of a sinister assassin cult would be perfectly reasonable.
No Enc. 1
Movement: 40'
Armorclass:0 + Special
Hit Dice:8
Attacks: 2 or Special
Damage:1D8 + Special +Poison
Save: CL 6
Hoard Class:None

The Corvus Rex - also known as a Crow King, Raven's Vengeance, Betrayer's Wight or Burning Medicine Spirit is a manifestation created by the psychic pollution of betrayal.  In addition to being creatures called into existence by terrible acts of betrayal Corvus are a weak avatar of the animal spirit "The Beaked Stranger", in its guise as god of assassins.  Each entity appears differently, wearing the guise (and body) of a victim of betrayal who was later devoured by crows. This limited set of circumstances lead to Corvus Rex most often forming in the aftermath of great battles, where one side has won through deceit, and most crow kings have the outward appearence of an officer or soldier of a defeated army.  Other Crow Kings appear as those who have died by execution and been left on the scaffold for the crows to devour.  In any case these spirits manifest when the shock and hatred of the betrayed victim is so strong that the crows feasting upon him have no choice but to carry the word of injustice to their carrion herding god. 

All Crow Kings share a few key traits whatever body they possess.  Most obviously each wears a crow mask, seemingly without eye holes, and with an ornate tie around its beak, as if to keep it from cawing.  Additionally, when not in combat or stressful situations (such as pursuit or practicing their assassin's craft) Corvus Rex appear grievously wounded, most often with a seeping, overflowing, bandaged wound.

Both of these tell tale features effect the powers of a Crow King.  Attempts to heal the creatures wounds or otherwise help it with its obvious plight will place the Crow King in the debt of the one who gives aid.  The Crow King will be compelled to kill one person whom the helper asks, though it will never let this be know, simply saying "I am in your debt" or more rarely "my life is saved, and someone must take my place at my master's table".  These are highly formal utterances and will be spoken in the most solemn and ritual of tones, but otherwise Crow Kings speak little, and when they speak their voices are muffled by the mask.  There is one exception to this debt - when the good Samaritan is himself guilty of a serious betrayal the Crow King will utter the formal words, and then attack mercilessly.

If the magical sealing rope is removed from the Crow King's beak (which it will generally try to prevent, but not violently oppose - unless already in combat) the Crow king will collapse, like the long dead corpse it is.  Within 1D4 hours a large crow will peck its way free of the creature's body and wing off to the abode of the Beaked Stranger.  The sealing rope is difficult to grab and an attack against the Crow King's AC of 0 must be made at -4 to do so.  Once grabbed a Strength check is required to free the magically bonded cord.

If a Corvus Rex's mask is removed, which is only possible one the creature is destroyed,  it will reveal the face beneath is a bloody ruin, completely devoured by crows. If a Corvus resurrects without its mask, it will first seek the mask, using violence to recover it if necessary.

Despite their considerable power Corvus Rex are not aggressive creatures, and seem rather aimless, unless doing the work of another - they will placidly wander the site of their betrayal until interrupted, and if moved or brought elsewhere remain calm and docile unless exposed to aggression.  Corvus aren't even concerned with revenge on the individual or group that betrayed them, their anger more general and their goals focused on the esoteric whims of the Crow Spirit they represent.  Only occasionally will the Beaked Stranger have any affairs in the material world that need attending, though so Crow Kings are only rarely called to act on the Stranger's behalf.

Special Attacks:
Corvus Rex are the Avatar of a God of Assassins and are of course adept Assassins.  Each Crow King has the abilities of a 10th Level Assassin (Generally they can use most Thief or Specialist Abilities as an 8th Level Thief or with a 5 in 6 chance of success).  In combat they may strike from concealment or at the unsuspecting for either a back stab (+2 Hit, x6 Damage) or instantly killing any humanoid target of under 10th level who fails a saving throw vs. Death (depending on your rule set).  Likewise, a Corvus Rex in my system would Critically hit for x2 damage on any hit role above a 15 if fighting one enemy in melee.

Corvus Rex are also adept at using poison, and they can produce a magically potent poison that kills instantly with the first hit of their weapons (Corvus will often carry several poisoned throwing knives or darts in addition to their main weapon).  Even unarmed a Corvus Rex will poison its claw like nails (which also do 1D8 points of damage), though they prefer to wield weapons. One strange side effect of this poison is that its victims will rapidly take on the appearance of a raven pecked corpse.

Special Defense
Corvus Rex are hard to kill, and unless Exorcism or a similar spell that banishes powerful spirits is performed on their body after it has been "killed" they will rise in 2D6 days and continue as before.  Even destruction of the body is ineffective, as it will reform within 1D6 weeks, looking no worse for its ordeal.

Beyond their ability to hide in shadows and move silently as a high level Assassin, Crow Kings are also capable of supernatural concealment.  When they are actively hunting a victim on behalf of another, or their deity, a Crow King may move from shadow to shadow at will, effectively replicating the  Magic-User spell Dimension Door.


  1. Very cool!

    I like this guy and I think I have a place for him in one of my games.

  2. Cool monster--and really nice illustration, too.

  3. Thanks guys, the drawing was actually a quicker one - done during last night's Pahvelorn session. I am trying to play around with better use of negative space and large patterns, such as the cloak here.