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Climate/Terrain: Any/Mountains
Frequency: Rare
Organization: Nest
Activity Cycle: Day
Diet: Omnivore
Intelligence: Average (10)
Treasure: B
Alignment: Chaotic evil
No. Appearing: 2-8
Armor Class: 7
Movement: 12, Fl 21 (C)
Hit Dice: 4
THAC0: 17
No. of Attacks: 1
Damage/Attack: 4-16
Special Attacks: + 2 to attack roll
Special Defenses: + 1 or better to hit
Magic Resistance: Nil
Size: M (5' tall)
Morale: Champion (16)
XP Value: 270

High above the mountains and rocky hills of most lands flies a sharp-eyed monster known as the peryton. Intelligent, patient, and malevolent, it watches and waits for prey -- to pluck their hearts out.
The peryton resembles a giant, dark green eagle, except that its head is that of a blue-black stag, its horns glitter as ebon as obsidian, its eyes glow a dull red-orange. The chest feathers of a male peryton are light blue; those of the female are drab brown. Perytons normally cast the shadow of an adult human being, rather than those of their own form.
Perytons do not adorn themselves with trinkets, nor arm themselves with weapons. Their language is a collection of roars and screeches, and often sounds as if a peryton were either injured or enraged. Some creatures, with a keen sense of smell, claim that a peryton smells like a human, while others are filled with an irrational fear upon catching first scent.

Combat: A peryton has only a secondary interest in prey as food. Its main interest in humans and humanoid creatures is the heart of its prey. It is unnaturally accurate in combat. In game terms a peryton receives a+2 bonus to its attack roll.
It attacks with its sharp horns, since its claws are too weak to use in melee. When a peryton chooses a target for combat, it locks itself into a duel that nearly always ends in either the peryton's death or that of its target. A peryton will never switch targets during combat, no matter the tactical situation. On rare occasions, the creature can be driven off, but it will continue to stalk its prey, and return at a later time.
Perytons are immune to all weapons but those of at least +1 enchantment.
Some perytons choose to swoop at a target. In this form of attack, the peryton climbs several hundred feet in the air and then plunges at the target, dropping with awesome speed. This attack is made at an additional +2 bonus to its attack roll. If the attack succeeds, the peryton delivers double damage. This is an extreme maneuver that the peryton will only attempt if combat is going poorly, or if it believes it has a chance to achieve total surprise.
Another common tactic is for the peryton to seize a human-sized target and then lift off with the prey in its talons. The peryton climbs so rapidly that most targets do not react until they are at least 100 feet in the air and facing a 10d6 plummet if they manage to escape the peryton's grasp.

Habitat/Society: Perytons roost in caves high atop cliffs or on mountain peaks. They settle in nests of 2d4 creatures, each nest independent of any other, and no two nests being within several miles of one another, except for unusual circumstances -- like a dwarven community in the mountains providing them with plentiful prey.
Perytons sometimes take humans and humanoid creatures alive and hold them captive in their nests until they are needed as food (90% likely for nonhumans, 25 % the case for humans) or for reproduction (see below). Because of this, the peryton nests may have treasure scattered about, as well as 1d4 unhatched eggs.

Ecology: The peryton is a predator, with no natural enemies (few could pierce its magically resistant skin). Humanoids, and especially humans, are its selected prey. A female peryton requires a fresh, beating heart to reproduce, and human hearts are the preferred variety. Once a peryton has eaten a heart, its shadow changes into that of its normal form and the creature becomes fertile for 3d6 hours.
Unhatched peryton eggs can be sold for 10d12 gp apiece.

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