by Giulio Caroletti
From a letter of Jerrin the Swift to Professor Cthulhudrew at Malebolge:
...The Evocation was succesful: suddenly I heard a cry coming from the Necromancer, and at the same time from my wizard and priest companions. Then I felt a powerful mental attack, in the form of hundreds of images of crows. It was a flock of crows... I thought I had gone insane due to the Necromancer's spell. But I saw my companions and my enemies - they were all unconscious. I struggled to remain conscious, trying to understand what it all meant. The crows weren't there, they were some sort of image sent from somwhere to my mind... The Crows! - Maybe they themselves were causing it? But I couldn't understand what they wanted from me...or from the others, for that matter, because I was sure that the others had been struck by the same images...
And then, suddenly as they had come, the images disappeared. I was alive and well in the room. I bound our enemies, not having heart to kill the underlings cold-bloodedly, and hoping that the Necromancer could shed some light on the matter. While I was trying to wake up my friends, I thought about the birds that I had seen. They seemed to be crows, but in fact they were slightly different. There had been something alien about them. Somehow they didn't seem completely corporeal...although this could come from the weird method of "transmission" the images used. I didn't remember seeing any feet. Nor did they seem to have eyes. But if they were the ones who sent their own images, this is not their most interesting feature, compared to their influence on others' brains.
When Endian (the wizard, and leader of the party) awaked, he immediately attacked me. He shouted out that he was not less able than me in the purely physical fighting, and that he wanted to show me that fighters are "just obnoxious dumb scum " who were used as "cattle" by people who didn't want to have their hands dirty. Although considerably surprised, I knocked easily my friend out, and before stopping to think on what had happened, I decided to bind all my companions too... When they woke up, they all began to yell at each other, so I ended up having to gag them as well.
Psikrows are a peaceful and good race of intelligent Nightmare Dimension birds. However, they are also extremely dangerous to all other sentient races.
Psikrows have an extraordinary telepathic capacity. They can communicate with sentient beings up to 100 kilometers away, and they immediately sense the presence of such creatures in this radius- from snakes to Immortals.
Psikrows are benign beings, but overly curious. Their "goodness" is so total that they are not capable to host any bad thought (including violence for self-defence, hate, mild forms of antipathy, jealousy, etc.). However, when they contact a being whose presence they have sensed (a thing which they nearly always do, given their curiosity), their alien minds are so much stronger than the other's, that they influence them negatively. First, the psikrows let flow to the contacted beings' minds images of themselves, their race, their homes; then, they project thoughts, which carries an inherent chance of a complete breakdown of the barriers between conscious and unconscious. A contacted character must save versus spells (with penalties shown in table) or suffer this situation (for duration see table). All the most repressed thoughts, all the most unconscious compulsions of the subject resurface. The most repressed will become an overt obsession for the subject.
Example: Monas the paladin has always secretly somewhat disliked Thibault the wizard, because the latter is quite selfish and has always used his friendship to get rid of unpleasant situations in which he has several times ended. Although Monas is really a friend of Thibault, the encounter with the psikrows lead him to a failure in the save, and thus this unconscious dislike is transformed into a raging hate. The paladin immediately attacks the wizard, doing his best to kill him.
Generally, the sentiment which resurfaces is one "stimulated" recently. In the example given above, Thibault could have recently acted in a way irritating to Monas. The compulsions always revolve around passionate or even violent primal "drives," such as love, hate, lust, strong desire of revenge. This can result in furious jealousy, attempt at raping, or attempted murders. This, anyway, is the result in the case of human, diaboli, demihumans and humanoids of most species; it's up to the DM to determine how psikrows affect magical and powerful creatures like dragons, beholders, sphinxes, fairy folk, etc. The psikrows cannot sense undead and communicate with them, even if the undead creatures are intelligent.
|Paladin||-4||1d6 x 30 minutes*||1d6-1 hours**|
|Wizard||-4||1d6+1 x 30 minutes||1d4 hours|
|Psionics||-2||1d4 x 30 minutes||1d6 hours|
|Others||-6||1d6+1 x 30 minutes||1d3-1 hours|
|*A result of 0 in this category means 30 minutes|
**A result of 0 in this category means 1 hour
We have not discussed what psikrows do when another race have a reaction...how they "react to the reaction." If a person reacts negatively, they will not receive any telepathic answer, obviously. Thus, after 1d20 rounds of not receiving any information, the psikrows' curiosity will change into boredom and they will break the contact. The same happens if a person who has not suffered the ill effects of the contact doesn't try to answer to the telepathic contact. However, every 4th round of unanswered contact, a mentally sane creature must make another saving throw (this time without penalties). To answer the psikrows telepathically, a person simply has to direct their thoughts to them, and they will try to answer in the best possible way. When dealing with these "mental conversations," the DM must take in consideration the alien nature of the psikrows and their impossibility to understand "evil." Psikrows, having an exceptional telepathy, do not possess language.
An encounter with psikrows is nearly always held at great distances. If someone could approach a psikrow, he wouldn't defend itself, and one could easily kill all of them with no reaction, and they would never defend themselves from "aggression" (something they don't even conceive as possible).
The psikrows will carry on a conversation as long as they don't get bored (depending on the situation it can take from 5 minutes to several days).
The appearance of a psikrow is that of a common crow with tiny black eyes and bodies which constantly produce a light gray vapour. Although they will not move to physically defend themselves, they are naturally immune to poison, acid, and other harmful substances.
The society of psikrows is an anarchical one (if it can be called "society" at all). Psikrows can communicate telepathically simultaneously with many other. All psikrows of a group know each other deeply; they don't have homes, nor sleep, but live moving endlessly through the wonders of the Nightmare Dimension. Their lives are of endless joy of living, of communal sharing, of drinking vischor (the only nourishment they need), and the occasional contacts with other living creatures. They have long life spans of 300-400 years, after which they lay a single egg. After 3 months, a chick is born. The parent dies, and the psikrow consumes its flesh, becoming a perfect copy of it in less than a week. Psikrows thus cannot grow in number.
There are several flocks of psikrows wandering through the Nightmare Dimension. None have been seen in the Prime, but given the curiosity of the psikrows, it could be possible that a flock has traveled to the Prime, or that one soon will...
Copyright (c) 2000, Giulio N. Caroletti. Used by permission. All rights reserved.