Achaierais (pl: achaierais or: achaierai; pronounced: /ɑːˈtʃaɪɜːraɪ/ a-CHY-ur-y listen) were a race of foul fowl native to Acheron that were also known to inhabit the Barrens of Doom and Despair
Achaierais were 15‑foot-tall (4.6‑meter), flightless birds that resembled plump quails and weighed about 750 lb (340 kg). They were quadrupeds with stilt-like legs, 8‒9 ft (2.4‒2.7 m) long, that emerged from their underside, ending in wicked talons. Withered, rudimentary wings rested either side of the spherical, pony-sized heads that made up their main body.
Their crests were almost always bright red but could be of any color, as their soft feathers, varied from dim teal to shadowed gold to burnt russet in their muted hue. Their legs were a metallic blue-gray, and along with their claws and beak, shone like burnished metal.
Achaierai were cunning predators with a penchant for torture, and yet a strange sense of justice. They were tribalistic and incredibly organized, seeking vengeance on those they believed wronged their kin and able to devise new, inventive strategies of torment for centuries. In times of crisis however, an achaierai would abandon and even attack their brethren if need be and avoided other members of their kind when weak and vulnerable.
Achaierais could only be killed by striking at their main, vulnerable bodies, but attacking their iron legs could cripple them in battle. A damaged leg would be rendered temporarily useless until the achaierai could recover from its injuries but a powerful swing from an edged weapon could permanently sever their appendages. Injured legs regenerated over the course of one or two days while detached limbs never regrew. Achaierai were just as fast with three legs as they were with four, but their speed halved when missing two and they could only crawl with one.
Achaierais could breathe a black cloud of toxic gas three times each day that inflicted any non-achaierai with madness and confusion for three hours. They were naturally resistant to magical effects.
Although the beaks of achaierais were just as dangerous as their claws, their great height prevented them from pecking at human-sized opponents while also stopping such foes from harming their main bodies in return. If an opponent was over 10 feet tall or elevated to that height, they could then strike them with their beaks. They were skilled combatants, targeting whichever enemy appeared the most dangerous with two of their claws and attacking as a group. Because of their size, only two achaeirai could engage a human-sized opponent at the same time, but their long strides and mobility allowed them to attack and retreat before their enemy could counterattack. If one member's leg was crippled they would attempt to escape while the rest of the flock fought and they saved their black cloud until three legs were injured, using it as a smokescreen. Their last resort was to unleash the rust dragons living in their lair as diversions so that the surviving flock could escape.
Achaierai were social creatures that formed flocks of 2-8 members, but nonetheless lacked any true society. Weak flock members were cannibalized in times of scarcity and 90% of the time they possessed no leader. Achaierai flock leaders were simply more larger, more powerful members of their kind. Flock gatherings and interactions were common, especially during their random migrations.
When an achaierai flock decided to migrate to another cube in Avalas, they attached harnesses to their rust dragons and flew to their destination. Rust dragons displayed a strange affection towards achaierai mimicking that between dogs and humans and when raised by them, learned to tolerate the presence of other members of their kind. Achaierai occasionally gathered and tended to the cocoons of rust dragons and the resulting hatchling would create tunnels in Acheron's black cubes in which the achaierai made their lairs.
On the Material Plane, achaierai and underground races like the drow or svirfneblin mutually exterminated one another. The achaierai devoured the populations and livestock of underground villages, rightfully invoking fear and disgust in the natives.
Although occasionally found in Material Plane caverns, achaierai were most commonly found on Avalas or Thuldanin, only leaving their underground lairs under the cover of night. Their nesting areas were made in locations with several small chambers and disturbing such sites was to invoke their wrath. They mated for life even when their partners were infertile and threatening their mates prompted the same reaction as doing so to their nesting sites. Mated couples produced a clutch of two eggs each year but were incapable of reproducing on the Material Plane. Clutchmates had a high likelihood of attacking and killing one another, but upon reaching maturity at three years old they could speak normally speak all bird languages, as well as Planespeak. Their actual lifespans were disputed with some sources claiming they lived for about 30 years while others purported that they were extremely long-lived.
Achaierai feasted on flesh regardless of whether it was fresh, fetid, scavenged, hunted or even a member of their own kind. Their massive size required them to eat a large amount of meat each day and their diets were supplemented with enough iron to make their legs metallic.
The play Achaierophobia, was a classic work by a playwright and mindsmith named C. Emmet Runn based on the true story of a gray elf biologist named Fionara Silverbane. Her attempt to catalogue all lawful birdlife met an end when she was ambushed and tortured for centuries by achaierai after disturbing the corpse of one of their flockmates. She wrote down centuries worth of observations in her journal but after finally escaping to Sigil and giving her notes to the grandson of a deceased friend, she succumbed to madness and believed that the achaierai were still secretly plotting to break her.
Achaierai were summoned to the Material Plane for a long-forgotten reason, attacking anyone they encountered. This behavior was sometimes attributed to the mandates of their original summoners, who must have perished long ago.
- Skip Williams, Jonathan Tweet, Monte Cook (July 2003). Monster Manual v.3.5. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 9–10. ISBN 0-7869-2893-X.
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Achaierai • Barghest • Canomorph (Haraknin • Shadurakul) • Hell hound • Hordling • Howler • Larva • Maelephant • Marrashi • Night hag • Nightmare • Rakshasa • Succubus • Vargouille • Yeth hound
Fiendish creature • Half-fiend (Alu-fiend • Cambion • Draegloth • Durzagon) • Tiefling (Fey'ri • Maeluth • Tanarukk)