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Old 01-18-2013, 04:32 AM   #1
tantric
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Default Looking for refs to a well done avian race

I'm looking for inspiration on avian races. Doesn't matter if its SF or fantasy. Even DnD splatbooks. Just so long as its well done. Thanks!
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Old 01-18-2013, 04:37 AM   #2
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Default Re: Looking for refs to a well done avian race

There's the Irari from GURPS Aliens (3e). Eric Smith did 4e stats for all of the races in that book (and a few others), available here.
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Old 01-18-2013, 04:47 AM   #3
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Default Re: Looking for refs to a well done avian race

Cultural references? Artistic references? Something else?
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Old 01-18-2013, 05:17 AM   #4
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Default Re: Looking for refs to a well done avian race

Detailed cultures, preferably. To be specific, I'm working on a kind of pariah race of sapient birds for my fantasy world. In Erywhone, most birds are part of the court of the Gray Elves. The lower caste of Gray Elves can turn into flocks of birds, the nobles into giant raptors, They talk with birds, they *are* birds

I need an outcast race, so I decided on pro-evolved Hesperornis - the extinct clade of toothed birds.
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Old 01-18-2013, 02:47 PM   #5
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Default Re: Looking for refs to a well done avian race

Before anybody gets quibbly on the paleontology, I've realized my mistake and am now basing the race on Patagopteryx. My bird people have a thumb, one long 2 joint finger and a short 1 joint finger. And they worship/appease Cthulhu.
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Old 01-18-2013, 03:58 PM   #6
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Default Re: Looking for refs to a well done avian race

I don't quite see how you can use them for your purpose, but Poul Anderson's Ythri are very well conceived and described in consderable detail, both physiology and culture.


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Old 01-18-2013, 04:10 PM   #7
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Default Re: Looking for refs to a well done avian race

Here's how it goes so far:

Yalungr

The Yalungr are an ancient race of sapient birds that have been mercilessly persecuted by the Elathe for millenia. They were driven from the Centrality and today exist only in a sheltered island in the Haukainga Archipelago. When asked their name for their own race, they project an image of a lidless eye atop a closed gate, leading to the epithet "the Gatekeepers". The word "Yalungr" is an Elathen term meaning "depraved".

Yalungr are distantly related to Patagopteryx, a flightless toothed bird that became extinct in the RW 80 million years ago. On Erywhone, they survived and evolved into the Yalungr, attaining their current form 30 million years ago.

The Elathe regard the Yalungr as an atavistic monstrosity. They have *teeth*. They don't fly and don't want to. They are truly sapient birds and have no Elathen faerie analog. They have a strange religion that causes them to reject the Emperor of Air as their lord. They practice human sacrifice. In addition, the Yalungr have the audacity to be *psychic*, a feat beyond anyone of faerie heritage. To the Elathe, there is no place in the world for the Yalungr, but even the ultra-arrogant Gray Elves stop short of genocide. There is thus an unwritten agreement between the Elathe and the Yalungr - the Yalungr do not come into the Centrality or leave their island refuge, and they are left alone.

The Yalungr have always had friendly relations with the Nautili. When they were being driven from the Centrality, it was the Nautili who showed them the sanctuary that has become their new homeland. A lot of this derives from psychic contact, and also because although the Nautili are not an Ancient Rance themselves, they know the truth of things and respect the sacrifices of the Gatekeepers. Though Yalungr are justifiably xenophobic, they have been surprised by the welcome of the colonists in Sabha. For the Sabhanese, telepathic birdpeople are not at all unusual. The two groups also have a similar history. Though the distance between the two refugee colonies is great, both have made an effort to maintain contact. This has led the Yalungr to encounter the Celenes, another race with no love for the Elathe. At this time, there are 5 Celenes from the Geomancer Brotherhood residing in Yalungr Motu, studying the volcano and what can be done to keep it inactive.

Yalungr use vocalizations only to express emotions. Their language is purely telepathic. They do not have the vocal range or the mindset to learn spoken languages at a level beyond Broken, a fact that plays a large part in their tragic history. Their written language consists of a few pictographs and numbers, which they use in cave paintings.

Yalungr stand 1.5m tall, shoulder height is .8m, the rest is long neck and head. Their plumage is black on the dorsal surface and head, their necks, bellies and legs are tan with black blotches. Their faces are red with dark yellow beaks and the beaks have teeth. Their plumage is much like that of a penguin. There is no discernible difference between males and females. They have short arms (25cm)and very unusual hands with three fingers. The middle finger has two joints and claw (like a human finger). To the inside of this is a thumb with one joint opposed to a finger with one joint.

Yalungr Motu is an ring shaped island about 85km across. There is a 40m opening in the ring, leading to a lagoon 35km across. The opening closes during low tide. During high tide the lagoon is 80m deep in the center. The entire island is a single volcano and the lagoon is its caldera. The volcano is mostly extinct (at least, the Yalungr hope so), but the water in the lagoon is noticeably warmer than that of the surrounding seas.

The local cultures of the Haukainga Island shun Yalungr Motu. All around the outside of the island there are giant carved stone heads, facing outwards, the faces clearly showing grief. These are the product of some ancient and lost civilization, but the locals still believe the island is cursed. Whether the curse persists is not known - some speculate memories of a race so ancient as the Yalungr were able to negotiate with the spirits. The locals are correct - Yalungr Motu is the island of the Dragon Who Died and the faces are meant to mark his grave. What secret bargains or necromancy that enabled the Yalungr to take refuge there is not known (to the outside world).

The lagoon is completely domesticated. Taking advice from their Nautilus allies, they grow a reef that feeds the fish and crustaceans that make up the main part of their diet. The opening to the lagoon is fenced with a net. They open the net and use their telecoercion to led large fish into the lagoon then close it.

The walls of the lagoon are riddled with caves, and these are homes of the Yalungr. Yalungr are stone age, neolithic, but they are very advanced stone age.

The Religion of the Gatekeepers

The religion of the Yalungr, such as it is, concerns appeasing a pantheon of maltheistic Elder Things. The sacrifice of sapient beings is an essential practice in this. Before coming to their refuge, if a clan were selected to provide a sacrifice, it was acceptable for that clan to substitute a prisoner of war or other captive, regardless of its species. This is partially responsible for the deep hatred the Elathe have for the Gatekeepers.

Yalungr are cursed with race memory, and they are a truly ancient race. Only a few have this gift, and they are universally mad. They saw the ancient times, when their race hid in caves and hoped to be overlooked, when the Elder Things walked the land. They remember when Eagle Moon came and put the Elders to sleep, entrusting the secret of keeping them dormant with the few Ancient Races. Though they may spend their days gibbering and crying, though they may have to be fed by their relatives like nestlings, they never forget the cycles and the need for sacrifice.

The Gatekeepers acknowledge seven chthonic deities, which must be appeased according to a regular cycle. The deities do not have names, as the Yalungr do not have spoken language, but they have psychic epithets. The gods and their cycles are: the Blind Singer, 263 days; the Star-Spawn 397 days; the Yellow King, 241 days; the Wind Walker, 1117 days; the Black Mother of a Thousand Young, 571 days; the Father of Worms, 823 days; the All-in-One, 977 days
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Old 01-18-2013, 05:36 PM   #8
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Default Re: Looking for refs to a well done avian race

ICE had a race called the Hirazi in their Shadow World setting that I pinched for a few different games.
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Old 01-18-2013, 11:53 PM   #9
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Default Re: Looking for refs to a well done avian race

Brin's Uplift series has the Gubru which have a one page writeup in GURPS Uplift.
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