Avian Subraces Of Note


The birdfolk are one of the most varied among sentient creatures, though despite their differences of appearance, they are each able to produce fertile offspring with other birdfolk of any type, and each tend to fall into one of the following three general breeds: ravenblood, hawkblood, and heronblood. The ravenblood are the subtype to which the kenku belong (the aaracockra being a feral subrace), tending to take after songbirds and lesser scavengers, with some appearing like ducks and even parrots, being skilled as bards, rogues and other sorts who linger on the edges of the law and society, whether from a carefree attitude or for more sinister purposes. Hawkblood birdfolk take after the raptors - hawks, falcons and eagles, though a few look like swans - and are fierce fighters, staunch supporters of freedom (or at least their own), and often follow paths of a martial bent. They are the most likely of the three major birdfolk breeds to have functional wings. Heronblood birdfolk most resemble herons (as the name suggests), cranes, ibises, and peacocks, as well as other graceful, relatively peaceful avians, and prefer lives of quiet contemplation and serene beauty and grace, taking most easily after the paths of the wizard, the priest, or the artist. Of the three major birdfolk subraces, they are the least likely to have functional wings.

No matter their breed, the birdfolk tend to look down on those without the ability to fly under their own power, including those of their own kind who lack working wings. Hawkblood and heronblood birdfolk can be quite aloof and even a bit haughty at times, preferring solitude or the company of others of their own kind, or else to bask in the adoration of lesser, flightless beings. The hawkblood tend to be violent and prone to fits of temper against those that thwart or defy them. Heronblood birdfolk, meanwhile, are usually quite serene, calm, and carry themselves with an air of supreme grace. The ravenblood birdfolk tend to be gregarious and work very well in groups, their flock mentality still quite strong, and lack the pretentiousness that sometimes plagues the other two breeds. All birdfolk have a tendency towards philosophy, even the most humble of the wingless ravenblood, and they often have great verbal talent.

Physical Description:
The birdfolk as a rule are covered in feathers appropriate to their breed of bird from their beaks to about halfway down their legs, where the feathers give way to scaly, horny skin. Their legs end in feet that match their breed of avian, though flatter and broader than normal to allow for ease of walking, and their have strong beaks with a fleshy base nearest the nares, allowing for some basic facial expressions. Most speech actually takes place inside the throat and is shaped by the tongue on its way out, rather than by the lips and teeth as in most other speaking creatures. Ravenblood average about 5 feet and 75 pounds, while hawkblood and heronblood average around 6 feet and 110 pounds, the light weights of the birdfolk the natural result of their hollow bones.

About Birdfolk:
Birdfolk, in general, get along very well with humans, another species with great variation and a love of art and music, and those who live in urban, human-dominated areas find passable niches as quickly as possible. However, it is very common for birdfolk, especially hawkblood birdfolk, to come in conflict with humans and numerous other races that attempt to despoil the places they call home, especially the mountains and old forests. As a side note on this subject, birdfolk of all breeds are unable to produce offspring with humans, though they are able to interbreed with most lizardlike and dinosaurian reptilian races. Elves and dwarves often share homes with birdfolk, using the lower parts of forests and mountains while the birdfolk take the highest reaches, with neither side molesting the other. In fact, birdfolk generally make excellent neighbors to dwarves and elves, because they are quite happy to warn their neighbors and allies of coming threats.

Ravenblood birdfolk seem to thrive best in urban environments, loving the noise and bustle of cities that best suits their noisy natures. They tend not to have lands or cities of their own, but instead live in the cities of other races and make a living using the societal structures already set up, sometimes honestly, and sometimes not, preferring the path of the entertainer to earn their living. Hawkblood birdfolk are hot-blooded, and too fierce and free-spirited to be confined in closed-in cities for too long, and so they find places that are above all the groundborne races, in the old forests and high mountain peaks, and make their aeries there, sometimes building cities of truly vast sizes, all open and free to the sky, where all birdfolk may come and dwell if they like. Heronblood birdfolk find a happy medium, preferring rural regions, near to settlements but not truly a part of them, and eke out a quiet mendicant subsistence through their own efforts, trading their knowledge and wisdom (which can be considerable) with others for the necessities. They do not generally form communities, but may gather into small groups for mutual protection, or small family units.

Adventuring comes easily and often to birdfolk of all subraces. Ravenblood birdfolk do it to acquire stories to tell and the chance at quick wealth. Hawkblood birdfolk feel that a period of wandering and danger is essential to prove the mettle of a growing warrior. Heronblood believe that the only way to acquire true understanding of the world is to live in it and experience all that they can.

Additional Subraces:
These primitive throwbacks are a hardy breed, leftovers from a time long ago past, almost as much related to lizards as to avians, and most closely related to the ancient archaeopteryx and other proto-birds. These are birds with wings that are only partially developed, their feathers intermixed with scales, their beaks lined with sharp teeth. They are a savage race, Chaotic Evil and feared by those who know them. The archae are thankfully rare, found only in the most remote areas of dark jungles and forgotten valleys.

Kiwis, quail, and other small, flightless birds are known as bushrunners, a shy but kindly subrace known for its soft-spoken behavior and Neutral Good outlook on life.

A special variant of the hawkblood are the buzzard subrace. These are scavengers, carrion birds of great physical power and lofty ability and status, but a lowly calling. They are mighty warriors when they must fight, but they are cursed with a cowardly streak. They worship gods of death, and often find themselves in the role of healers as well as morticians. Among the birdfolk, their role is clear: to keep the communities in which they live and which they serve healthy, they eat the dead, to prevent any spread of infection. This task is one that takes on monumental spiritual significance for them, but is also one which makes them unsavory characters in any community of birdfolk, as feared as they are revered as agents of the gods.

Hummers are tiny terrors of the skies, the most adept fliers around, and incredibly agile on the ground as well, easily dancing around their opponents and dominating the battlefield with their superb mobility. They appear as humanoid humminbirds, and tend to be Chaotic Good in alignment, cocky and self-assured dogfighters with a devil-may-care attitude. Generally, the slightly more drably-colored females of the species are quite polite and gentle, but the brightly-colored males are almost intolerably self-assured, while both sexes are prone to acts of impulsiveness that can give them as edge in any aerial combat, but which also can get them into all sorts of trouble.

Penguinblood birdfolk are the cold-adapted versions the birdfolk, a deeply spiritual people living beyond the realms of all other races, in forgotten lands of icy mystery. They are true survivors, and their lack of flight makes each type of penguinblod birdfolk attain a special sort of equality not found among other birdfolk, so that even the mighty Emperor penguinbloods do not look down on even the lowliest fairy penguin, except due to height.

Ratites are large, flightless birds designed for land travel, such as ostriches and emus. Birdfolk who take after these traits are few in number, but powerful fighters and accomplished runners, proud rulers of their domains, and vicious in defending their territory, with a more Chaotic Neutral outlook on life stemming from their vicious and occasionally erratic behavior.

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