Presented Several Ways
So, it’s been an… interesting… couple of months. I still have real paid (by tabletop RPG standards of ‘paid’) writing to do, but since I did want to kick this moribund site into a less moribund… lessibund?… state, I saw this picture and was somewhat inspired. Please note, regardless of what you read on Facebook, these are not Ancient Egyptian Parrot Mummies, they are Modern Belgian Art Exhibits. Sure, when they create creepy dead birds, it’s “art”, but when I do it, it’s “a warning sign of severe psychosis”. Bah! Where was I?
BTW, this page has been a real pain to produce, as the new “Gutenberg” layout editor, which I stupidly keep trying, remains a festering pile of dingo’s kidneys, but after a year or so of improvements, it tricked me into thinking it might be usable, then it erased the entire page (fortunately, I hit “save draft” like a rat in a psych lab hits the button which dumps the cocaine in), so I gave up and hit the “revert to classic editor”, which preserved the text but also contains, invisibly, all the CSS and other crap from the original, so Ghu knows how this will look. Also, the plugins and crap I use for fonts have gone all pear-shaped, so either the font renders correctly in my edit window but wrong in preview, or vice-versa — it’s the wrong font in edit but it looks correct in preview. WYSBNRTWYG.
For instance, the headers in my editor are set to “Metal Mania”, but look like they’re Times Roman in this editor, but when I go to preview, it looks correct. And the AD&D version, below, is set to “Nunito”, which looks pretty close to the Monster Manual, but, again, looks like the generic serif font. It’s the year 2020, and with a global infrastructure capable of processing petabytes of data every second, we have editing tools grossly inferior to MacWrite 1.0.
NO. APPEARING: 2-8
ARMOR CLASS: 3
HIT DICE: 4
% IN LAIR: 90%
TREASURE TYPE: B, S, T
NO. OF ATTACKS: 1 bite
DAMAGE/ATTACK: 1-6 plus disease
SPECIAL ATTACKS: Spells, see below
SPECIAL DEFENSES: See below
MAGIC RESISTANCE: Standard
ALIGNMENT: Neutral Evil
PSlONlC ABILITY: Nil
Attack/Defense Modes: Nil
The ancient folk of the desert lands, wise in necromancy and architecture, left behind many undead guardians. Not all were formed from humans blessed, or cursed, to stand eternal watch over the treasures of the kings. Some were formed from common beasts, and given powers beyond those of simple animals.
Mummified parrots are almost exclusively found in tombs, ruins, or crypts once associated with powerful magic-users (including illusionists) or, more rarely, clerics. Tomb-robbers, sometimes called “adventurers”, consider spotting them a sign that some magical treasure may be in the area, though it’s rarely of the most potent sort.
Their bite causes significant injury, due to the necromantic potency of their undead form. They also cause a weaker form of mummy rot. It infects only if the parrot rolls a ‘6’ for damage, and the victim may save vs. magic. If it takes hold, it negates healing magic (as normal for mummy rot) but natural healing is 20%, rather than 10%. It will still kill in 1-6 months unless a cure disease is cast. During the disease’s duration, the infected will being to sprout dull-grey, droopy, and rotting feathers, their features will slowly become bird-like, and they will have a pronounced tendency to squawk. This is reflected in the Charisma damage done. (See the description of Mummy Rot in the Monster Manual, p. 72)
Each parrot mummy will also “know” one spell (80% magic-user, 15% illusionist, 5% cleric) of levels 1-2, which it can cast 3 times/day as a fourth level caster of the appropriate class. The DM may randomly select or choose. The spells will usually be those directly useful in combat such as magic missile or acid arrow, or those which can be used tactically such as grease or web. Curative spells from clerical birds will be reversed. Spells requiring communication, such as command or charm person, work quite well, as the undead avians have sufficient awareness to issue appropriate orders. Obviously, these spells are cast without somatic or material components, but silence will still work. Parrot mummies cannot cast spells which have no verbal component.
Parrot mummies take half damage from all non-magical weapons. Sleep, charm, hold, and cold-based spells have no effect upon them. Poison or paralysis do not harm them. A raise dead spell will turn the creature into a normal parrot (a 1/2 HD bird of animal intelligence with no magical abilities; for all practical purposes, it is a non-combatant, to be ignored unless there is some special plot element, such as the living birds being the only creatures to recall words in a dead language needed to bypass some portal) unless it saves versus magic. As with other types of mummies, the parrot mummy suffers damage from fire, both normal and magical. A blow with a torch will cause 1-3 hit points of damage. A flask of burning oil will cause 1-8 hit points of damage on the first round it covers the parrot mummy and twice that amount on the second melee round. Magical fires are at + 1 per die of damage. If holy water is splashed upon them they suffer 2-8 hit points of damage for every vial-full which strikes.
A few strange and perverse magic-users have found ways to convert one of these creatures into a familiar. This requires the following:
- That one be captured “alive”, that is, animate.
- Care must be taken to keep the creature contained while the ritual is prepared and performed. If the ritual is not even known when the parrot is captured, this will be an ongoing problem. Fortunately, as undead, it can be sealed up somewhere, as it doesn’t need to eat, drink, or breathe. However, curious apprentices, household servants, and visiting in-laws all have a distressing habit of poking about where they should not.
- That a rare arcane rite be known. This may be found in an ancient tome, scroll, or set of tablets in the general vicinity of the mummy parrots, or it might require a quest. This will take 2-8 weeks, and cost 1000 gp/week for consultation with sages, travel, and purchase of fragmentary arcane records.
- That the magic-user already possess a familiar, and have done so for a year or more. This must be sacrificed, with the usual effect of losing a familiar. This act is both chaotic and evil.This is done at the end of the rite.
- In the case of a special familiar, it will fight to the death once they realize what’s going on. If the familiar to be sacrificed was of good alignment, the magic-user becomes chaotic evil one the rite is done, period, full stop. The reaction of the forces of darkness to the magic-user’s rejection of their ‘gift’ of an imp or quasit is up to the GM.
- Performing the rite consumes 4000 gold pieces worth of reagents and takes 24 hours, during which, the magic-user may do nothing but enact the ritual, eat (no more than one hour divided among three meals) and sleep (up to 6 hours, but no more than 1 hour at a time with at least an hour of wakefulness between).
When all of this has been accomplished, the mummy parrot is bound to the magic-user and obeys it as a familiar, including the increased hit points. As with normal familiars, it will fight for its master only in the most dire of circumstances. It grants infravision, 60′ range, and a +1 bonus to saves against any innate abilities of the undead, such as a ghoul’s paralyzing touch, but not against spells cast by undead, or against similar powers from living creatures. Furthermore, if the spell the parrot knew prior to being bound by the magic-user was one its new master does not know, it may be scribed in their spellbook with a 100% chance of success, regardless of Intelligence. (Normal costs and time apply.)
It also offers a unique advantage: When the ritual is complete, the magic-user must choose either:
- To grant the mummy parrot the ability to cast one single spell of second level or lower which the magic-user has in their spellbook, twice a day, on command. The chosen spell cannot be changed.
- To grant the mummy parrot the ability to cast any spell or second level or lower which the magic-user has in their spellbook, once per day… but the spell may be changed every 24 hours, usually when the magic-user prepares their spells.
- The spell chosen must not require material components worth more than a few gold pieces. This is not an issue for official spells of 1st or 2nd level, but just in case people bring in other material, it’s mentioned.
Issuing the command takes but 1 segment. The parrot’s casting takes as many segments as the spell normally requires.
Should the mummy parrot familiar be slain, the usual penalty of losing — permanently — twice its hit points applies.
The DM may wish to consider the forbidden and ancient lore a parrot mummy may possess, and occasionally have it blurt out clues to lost tombs or fragments of forgotten mysteries.
Pathfinder 2 Version
It is rumored these creatures were first invented by the lich-kings of an ancient and forgotten desert kingdom, but the secret of their creation has endured in forbidden tomes and crumbling scrolls for many generations. Their colors faded, their flesh rotting, their beaks and claws yellowed and cracked, they are normally found as the eternal guardians of the resting places of masters of the arcane… but some among the living (or the relatively recent unliving) have been known to have one as a companion or guardian.
They have a potent bite, given their size — their unliving muscles given strength from necrotic power, their beaks, cracked and brittle, are yet capable of shattering bone. They can produce a sound which induces agonizing pain to anything alive. But it is their magical abilities which are unique. While a living parrot can mimic words, these undead creatures mimic spells… taught a handful of lesser arcana by their creators, they reproduce the words exactly, ignoring any need for gestures or material components. When the mummy parrot uses the Cast A Spell activity, it takes the same number of actions as the spell normally should, and it has only the verbal component. The mummy parrot cannot be taught a spell which lacks a verbal component, and it cannot be taught a spell whose material component has a listed cost of more than 1 silver piece.
If applicable, they may choose to spontaneously heighten a first level spell to consume a second level slot. They have four first level slots (2 spells known) and one second level slot (one spell known).
More powerful undead parrots with wider spell selections are not impossible.
Generally, they are taught directly offensive spells, but if a group of 3 or more are encountered, one will likely have tactical or support magics, generally chosen to coordinate well with the others. The majority of parrot mummies will have been deliberately placed; as such, will have been taught spells appropriate to their location and duty.
Parrot mummies have an odd place in the hierarchy of undead. They are not truly self-aware, as a lich or mummy is, but neither are they mindless automatons like a skeleton. They have their original animal mind and instincts, but they also have a necromantically-imposed set of tactics and reactions, enabling them to cast spells efficiently and effectively, wisely choosing targets and cooperating with each other.
If a parrot mummy has exhausted its spell slots and can be immobilized, someone who is trained in Religion or an appropriate Lore (Ancient Lore, Undead Lore, another Lore relating to the historical time the parrot mummy is from) can try to trigger it to recite phrases it may have learned in life or unlife. This takes 10 minutes, and is a DC 24 (secret) check. This can only be done once per day, and each successive attempt increases the DC by 1, as there are fewer key words/phrases to try.
Critical Success: The parrot mummy reveals something of value in a clear way. (“Squawk! The guardian golem’s password is ‘Asp’s Caress’! Squawk!”)
Success: The parrot mummy reveals some useful hint or clue, but not everything. (“Squawk! The guardian golem’s password is shiny shiny! Sparkle! Wanna play! I’m a good bird!”)
Failure: The parrot mummy repeats some random or irrelevant phrase. (“Squawk! Get out of here! Put down that khopesh! You wouldn’t dare! Squawk!”)
Critical Failure: The parrot mummy says something that is dangerously incorrect or misleading, but sounds true. (“Squawk! It’s too expensive to make a golem to guard the vault!”)
The above assumes the interrogator is trying words or phrases generally associated with the time/region when the parrot was interacting with the world, without knowing what it might have heard or been trained to repeat. To seek a specific piece of information increases the DC by 1 to 3, at the GMs discretion. The GM may also determine it’s impossible for the bird to have overheard/learned the desired knowledge. In such a case:
Critical Success: You know this is a fruitless task, but you get a hint as to something else it might know.
Success: You know this is pointless.
Failure: Random babbling.
Critical Failure: You are absolutely sure this is precisely the knowledge you seek and trust it implicitly.
Rare, obscure, and long lost rituals may tell how to bind a parrot mummy as a familiar. It is unlikely you will have access to this feat without some effort, as determined by the GM.
RARE | ALCHEMIST | SORCERER | WIZARD
Prerequisite: Enhanced Familiar
Requirement: You must have an animate parrot mummy which is incapable of escaping or interfering with the binding ritual.
You transfer the life force and magical bonding of your familiar into the parrot mummy. This is both an evil and chaotic act, and the GM will consider any consequences which may ensue. The mummy parrot has the darkvision, flyer, and speech companion traits, as well as the listed immunities and vulnerabilities.
Each time you perform your daily preparations, you may designate one spell at least three levels lower than the highest level spell you can cast, or two spells at least four levels lower, which the parrot mummy can cast when you command it do so. This spell must take two actions or less to cast; if it takes more, you must expend additional actions to command it.
It also grants a +1 circumstance bonus to the counteract modifier when you attempt a counterspell.
Due to the potency of these abilities, and the benefits of the many additional immunities, the mummy parrot can gain only one additional master or companion power. It cannot gain lifelink, unless you are also undead.
You also gain the following:
Embarrassing Outburst: When you or an ally attempt a Lie, Gather Information, Make an Impression, Request, or Coerce check, and your mummy parrot is within 30′, make a DC 3 flat check. On a failure, it will blurt out something embarrassing, compromising, or scandalous, imposing a -2 circumstance penalty to the check.
If the mummy parrot familiar is killed, gaining another one requires repeating the entire process from scratch, including binding a new familiar to yourself.
It is otherwise treated as a normal familiar in terms of hit points, AC, damage, and so on, losing its other attacks and abilities.
UNCOMMON | NE | SMALL | UNDEAD | MUMMY
Perception +14; darkvision
Languages: Necril, one other ancient language
Skills Acrobatics +13, Arcana +13, Athletics +10, Stealth +8, Ancient Lore +12
Str +5, Dex +2, Con +5, Int +2, Wis +2, Cha +2
AC 21; Fort +11; Ref +15; Will +14
HP 61; negative healing; Immunities death effects, disease, electricity, paralyze, poison, unconscious; Vulnerabilities: fire 5
Speed 10 feet; fly 40 feet
Melee ◆ Bite +14 Damage 2d6+5 slashing plus lesser mummy rot
Squawk ◆◆ (auditory, sonic) The mummy parrot squawks loudly. All living creatures in a 30′ burst must make a basic fortitude save (DC 19) against 3d6 sonic damage + deafness for 1d4 rounds. On a critical failure, the deafness lasts a full minute. It can do this once every 1d4 rounds.
Arcane Innate Spells (DC 21, attack +13); 2nd any 1 (2 x day), 1st any 2 (4 x day)
Polly Wanna Counterspell ↻ Requirement: The parrot mummy has not cast all of its innate spells.
The parrot mummy reacts to the words of magic by loudly repeating them, mixed with random words and other noise, baffling and confusing the caster. This can counter the spell, with a counteract modifier of +13 (+15 if it’s a spell the mummy parrot has an innate spell, even if it’s been cast). This consumes an uncast innate spell.
Lesser Mummy Rot (curse, disease, divine, necromancy, negative) This disease and any damage from it can’t be healed until this curse is removed. A creature killed by lesser mummy rot can be raised normally. Saving Throw DC 20 Fortitude; Stage 1 carrier with no ill effect (1 minute); Stage 2 3d6 negative damage and stupefied 1 (1 day)
Wait… not a single allusion about pining for the fjords? These truly ARE dark times! And yeah, a lot of these web tools put on a pretense of 1988 functionality… right up until the point you hit the ‘submit’ button and send the deathless prose you toiled upon for 40 minutes to utter oblivion. (Always an external text editor; always cut-and-paste…)
Sorry to read about your recent axing, BTW; authoritarians and bean-counters alike really are milking these Interesting Times for all they’re worth.
Yeah, wow, I really AM off my game, aren’t I? I guess I was stuck in trying to write up something semi-serious (one of my standards, such as they are, is that if I publish something w/game mechanics, it will at least attempt to be balanced and usable, no matter how ridiculous the inspiration… in my hammerhead shark post, I spent time reviewing AD&D siege mechanics to make a good guess for the damage it would do to boats, even though no one ever used those rules when the game was current, never mind now), and also, being too frustrated w/formatting and layout issues. Sigh. A missed opportunity.
PS: Props for getting “allusion” correct. I scream inwardly, and outwardly, when I see allegedly professional writers use “illusion” to refer to an oblique hint/reference. (Hmm. In a project I’m working on, I was writing up some rules to let people use Perform to communicate a message to an intended audience while leaving it obscure for anyone else, for example, telling a tale about furry forest creatures that, if you know what to listen for, describes the plan for a raid on the local baron’s palace. It just occurred to me that the roll to see through this deception ought to be “Detect Allusion”.)
 We won’t even discuss when one of my otherwise-favorite media recappers referred to a transition between scenes as a “segway”.
“This is reflected in the Charisma damage done.”
What Charisma damage?
A good example of a point I often make when reviewing third-party supplements from the era: Being so deep inside your own sources you may not realize it’s not common knowledge. In this case, I was actively referencing the 1e AD&D Monster Manual for “Mummy” while writing, including the rules for Mummy Rot, which does Charisma damage. Naturally, the average reader, even if they’re into 1e, is unlikely to recall, offhand, that’s what mummy rot does. I added a reference to the appropriate rules. 🙂
(This is also why writers can’t proofread their own work and programmers can’t debug their own code. Being both, I’m all too familiar with this problem.)
Thanks for pointing it out, and I am glad to know someone cares enough to read closely and find errors. That’s not sarcasm or passive-aggressive bitterness; I mean it as genuinely as I can mean anything.
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