The sea cat bore the head and forepaws of a lion but a body and tail similar to those of a fish or of a porpoise or small whale. It had a mane of silky hair running from the top of its head and down its back to its tail flukes. They were depicted as having either tan fur and fish-like scales or green skin and reptilian scales.
Being mammalian, a sea cat apparently risked drowning if it stayed too long underwater. It could hold its breath underwater for about 10 minutes. On the other hand, sea lions were also reported to have gills, allowing them to extract oxygen from water.[note 2] The sea lion's thick scales had a water-proofing ability, allowing it to survive out of water for up to 24 hours, after which time its gills dried out and no longer functioned. If the sea lion was constantly supplied with water in its mouth, it could survive for a full week. After this time, its scales dried and cracked, permitting disease to take hold, while the sea lion typically starved.
When they saw food or a threat, sea cats attacked on sight, with pairs or prides working together to overcome an opponent. They were possessed of awesome courage and would fight to the death, even against much larger and much deadlier foes. They could attack with either claws or fangs, but would only fight one foe at a time. If they got both paws on a creature, they latched on tight, rending and mauling their victim. It had a tough scaly hide for defense, and the thick mane provided additional protection to the head region.
Among sea cats, both males and females cared for their young and hunted for food. Males were superior hunters, however, unlike conventional lions. If not traveling alone or in pairs, sea cats gathered into packs called "prides". Numbering up to twelve individuals, they were structured like prides of lions on land, with the strongest (that is, the most resilient) sea cat as the leader. Occasionally, sea cat prides who wandered close together formed temporary alliances with which to handle especially dangerous creatures that trespassed in their territories. These alliances lasted only until the opponent was slain, and their territorial nature reared again. The resident leader would refuse to allow the visiting pride to share in the meal, and the two pride leaders might fight for dominance. If the resident leader won, then the visitors left without any meat. If the visiting leader won, the visitors would take first picks of the meat then leave the rest to the resident pride. However, the defeated resident leader would be weakened and likely deposed, even slain, by one of their own pride.
These were fearsome carnivorous creatures. Sea lions would hunt and eat almost anything they could catch. They typically fed upon fish, aquatic mammals like dolphin or whales, sea birds, and even dinosaurs. Some were even known to prey upon herd animals drinking along the shore. Whatever their prey may be, a sea lion would often attempt to drag it back to their lair.
On rare occasions a sea lion would use their paws to drag themselves across a beach in search of prey. In such cases a sea lion was unafraid to go up to 140 feet (43 meters) inland.
They were known to be found in the seas of Kara-Tur, such as in the waters around Koryo. Sea lion prides menaced sailors in the Straits of Koryo between the island of Saishu and the mainland Koryo Peninsula, but the fishermen of In'ani and Ansong, on either side of the straits, had eliminated these prides before 1357 DR. This was one of the reasons they were claimed to be the best fishermen in the world. However, one pride continued to harass shipping around In'ani itself, so governor Dan Zor sought adventurers to destroy them.
Sea lion attacks caused fear among coastal dwellers, more so than a shark attack due to their potential to strike inland. Still, they were considered a minor danger, comparable to sharks but not even close to, say, krakens.
Some creatures were known to domesticate sea lions, such as storm giants and tritons, but for most it was extremely difficult endeavor to keep one in captivity. Restrictions on its domain were psychologically damaging to the animal, causing such stress that they would eventually die. However, assuming one could preserve it and train it, and survive, sea lions were considered to be among the most loyal and powerful of aquatic mounts. They were especially effective as guardians and hunters — the long range of their roar gave sufficient time for their masters to prepare for an assault or send reinforcements.
Sea cats had a special enmity for sharks, often going out of their way to hunt them down and attack them. They had little trouble killing most sharks. However, they never ate the carcass, and seemed to find the taste of shark flesh disgusting. Why this was so is unclear. Although some sages supposed this was a conflict fought between lesser nature deities, the more mundane reason was that it was a result of natural competition between two predators occupying the same ecological niche.
The sea cat, formerly known as a sea lion, is likely based on the sea-lion figure of heraldry, commonly associated with the Philippines. Similar to the heraldic sea-lion is the Merlion icon of Singapore. It is of course no relation to the sea lion, a seal.
- ↑ Formerly called a "sea lion" in 1st- and 2nd-edition rules, the creature was renamed "sea cat" in 3rd edition, along with other changes in depiction and abilities.
- ↑ In 2nd edition, the sea lion has gills and so can apparently remain underwater indefinitely (like a fish or shark). In 3rd edition, however, the sea cat must hold its breath underwater, and so apparently does not have gills (like a dolphin or whale).
- Ed Greenwood (March 1986). “The Ecology of the Sea Lion”. In Kim Mohan ed. Dragon #107 (TSR, Inc.), pp. 34–36.
- Organized Play & Licensed Adventures
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 Kim Mohan, Mike Mearls (April 2017). Tales from the Yawning Portal. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 242. ISBN 978-0786966097.
- ↑ 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 2.12 2.13 2.14 2.15 2.16 2.17 2.18 2.19 2.20 2.21 2.22 2.23 2.24 Skip Williams, Jonathan Tweet, Monte Cook (July 2003). Monster Manual v.3.5. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 220–221. ISBN 0-7869-2893-X.
- ↑ 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 3.11 3.12 3.13 3.14 3.15 3.16 3.17 3.18 3.19 3.20 3.21 3.22 3.23 3.24 3.25 3.26 David "Zeb" Cook, et al. (1989). Monstrous Compendium Volume Two. (TSR, Inc). ISBN 0-8803-8753-X.
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 Gary Gygax (December 1977). Monster Manual, 1st edition. (TSR, Inc), p. 86. ISBN 0-9356-9600-8.
- ↑ Mike Pondsmith, Jay Batista, Rick Swan, John Nephew, Deborah Christian (1988). Kara-Tur: The Eastern Realms (Volume II). (TSR, Inc), p. 117. ISBN 0-88038-608-8.
- ↑ Mike Pondsmith, Jay Batista, Rick Swan, John Nephew, Deborah Christian (1988). Kara-Tur: The Eastern Realms (Volume II). (TSR, Inc), p. 122. ISBN 0-88038-608-8.
- ↑ Gary Gygax (December 1977). Monster Manual, 1st edition. (TSR, Inc), pp. 45, 96. ISBN 0-9356-9600-8.
- ↑ Steven E. Schend (1997). Lands of Intrigue: Book One: Tethyr. (TSR, Inc.), pp. 31–32. ISBN 0-7869-0697-9.>