Wednesday, April 7, 2010

RPG Creature: Bat-Dragon

The gnome bard danced about, playing a jingly, staccato rhythm on the tambourine he held in one hand while dealing quick blows with the rapier he held in the other. The hobgoblins milled about in confusion, trying to catch the nimble gnome as they were further infuriated by his mocking song.

The Fighter swung his battle axe as he strode into the melee, sending great gouts of red fluid into the air. He turned to the Wizard, whose robes and beard flowed out behind him as he commanded the powers of the cosmos to burn his foes. The Fighter asked, "How can we live with ourselves, fighting beside a gnome with a tambourine?"

"Man, I don't care," said the Wizard. "I have a bat-dragon!" At this, his pet bat-dragon flew from the sky like a black-winged comet, biting the heads off a dozen hobgoblins before landing on the Wizard's shoulder to the sound of a thousand demons wailing on guitars.

Bat-dragons are large flying creatures native to craggy environments. They covered in smooth, soft scales, with bristly hair growing over their head, arms, chest, and back. They have bat-like faces, wings like bats or dragons, and long, flexible tails. Baby bat-dragons are about the size of a hamster, with little nubs of wings, but a fully grown bat-dragon's wingspan could be greater than four feet, with males growing slightly larger than females. Their diet consists of small rodents and lizards. They live in small groups that tend to share a cave or crevasse.

Bat-dragons usually make small chirping noises. Though they do not have a breath attack like dragons do, they can emit a surprising roar once a day that is as loud as the roar of a small dragon. This roar stuns, deafens, and disorients would-be attackers. They can also beat their wings to create gusts of wind that buffet and knock down creatures, even ones that are larger than the bat-dragon.

By disposition, they are usually described as rat-like. In the wild, they are shy, furtive creatures. They are highly intelligent and can be both curious and cautious. They can be tamed, and do best when raised from hatchlings. As pets, they are loyal, sweet, and docile. As they grow, they become protective of their owners and fight beside them in combat.

A bat-dragon is a voracious eater, and owners should take care to keep their pets well fed. In environments where game is plentiful, it is usually best to allow bat-dragons to hunt for themselves. When traveling through areas where the bat-dragons cannot hunt for themselves, bat-dragon owners should bring provisions, especially salted fish or cured meat.

Natives of crags and crevasses, bat-dragons can be agoraphobic when in wide-open spaces like deserts and plains. In such cases, they will often huddle on their owners until they become more comfortable.

Bat-dragons are right at home in dungeons. Though they have a bat-like appearance, they do not have true echolocation. They do, however, have excellent low-light vision, and they can maneuver quite well in confined spaces.

Their eggs are rare and hard to purchase. The best way to acquire a pet bat-dragon is to receive an egg as a gift from a bat-dragon breeder. Bat-dragons usually live about a dozen years in the wild, but a tame bat-dragon with an exciting, active lifestyle can live to twice that.

EDIT: Kudos to my lovely wife for the idea. If we ever find a baby bat-dragon, she gets to keep it.


bluefish said...

Any care and handling tips? My cousin had a pet bat-dragon, and they seem like a lot of work.

Lord Admiral said...

The answer is counter intuitive. A lot of people try too hard when they're raising a bat-dragon, and that makes the bat-dragon feel overwhelmed. This can result in the nervous, skittish behavior that some people associate with bat-dragons. In reality, bat-dragons need very little in the way of care and handling. They groom themselves, and they prefer to interact with people in quiet companionship. There is no need to train or socialize a bat-dragon, and attempting to do so is counter-productive.