Thursday 14 February 2013

Drowned Kingdoms Gazetteer 1: Pickbill

Lots of odd little ideas have emerged as we've been mapping Drowned Kingdoms: thoughts about characters, customs, creatures - even sports. I'm going to try and capture some of these here on the blog as the weeks go by, starting with this cantankerous little fellow - the pickbill.

When I drew the Fathomdeep map, Stacey asked what birds were nesting on the giant trident. I didn't have an answer, so she came up with this creature. It's not a monster, and it doesn't come with an adventure hook - but I think stuff like this adds valuable flavour to my world. I'm reminded of my favourite RPG world book - Titan, the Fighting Fantasy World - which featured all sorts of wonderful cultural details, from orcish campfire songs through to starcharts of the heavens. These are the details that cement your world in the imagination of your players.

So let's hope this blog series can provide something similar!

These large seabirds have toughened pick-shaped bills and powerful clawed feet. They use the points of their bills to crack open barnacles and shellfish, allowing them to gobble up the tasty meat inside. Combs of fibrous 'teeth' span the front of the bill, allowing them to filter plankton from the water. 
Pickbills are clumsy flyers but agile swimmers. They live in large waterside colonies, but are extremely territorial over their own patches. As a species they are found all over southern Diluvia, nesting in sheer cliff-faces or abandoned seaside ruins.  
It's not advisable to eat a pickbill as their meat is extremely tough and salty, and can leave you with a nasty case of food poisoning. Some sailors view them as good-luck charms, as in bad weather their long, honking calls can be used to guide vessels towards (or away from) land. 

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