CLIMATE/TERRAIN:Any city or rural
FREQUENCY:Uncommon or rare
ORGANISATION:Pair or flock
MOVEMENT:1, Fly 24 (B)
HIT DICE:1-4 hp
SPECIAL DEFENCES:Nests in razorvine
SIZE:T (4″ long)
MORALE:Variable (see below)
AD&D 2e statistics

The scarling appears to be a close relative of the common starling, and is only slightly more dingy and sooty-grey than its cousin. It has dull, greasy feathers, a yellow-brown beak, and thin, grey legs. It is a bird native to Baator, but has spread throughout the lower planes, The Outlands, several prime worlds, and most recently to the city of Sigil. It prefers to live amongst people and other humanoid races in large cities, where it is often seen picking at garbage heaps and trash pits.

COMBAT: While feeding, roosting, flocking in trees or on buildings, the scarling is very likely to flee (morale: 2-10) from anything larger than itself. However, the scarling aggressively defends its nest and young, and if anything comes within three feet of its nest it will attack with as much ferocity as it can give (morale: 18). It attacks the face and eyes of its enemies with its beak and tiny talons. It is unable to claw or peck through anything tougher than cloth, and the sum of its attack is only 1 hp of damage. However, even the most superficial scratches on exposed flesh will become infected (no save) within 4 to 6 hours, requiring a combination of cure disease and a cure light wounds spell.

If scarling wounds are not treated with magical healing after this time, horrible scarring will occur, reducing the scarling victim’s Charisma by 1. If curative magics are not applied within 20 hours, infection and blood poisoning will kill the scarling victim. Scarlings acquire germs from the garbage and offal of dozens of planar races, and only those creatures completely immune to disease and poison are unaffected by the bird’s infectious diseases.

Scarlings prefer to build woven nests within bushes, cavities, under eaves and awnings, or almost anywhere. They have been observed building nests and living amongst razorvine, seemingly without harm from the vine’s sharp stems.

HABITAT/SOCIETY: Scarlings flock once per year to pair up for the remainder of the year. A pair constructs a nest away from excessive human activity, and proceeds to lay 2 – 8 eggs and raise a brood to maturity. Adults will feed and protect their young for one month, when the young fledge the nest and are on their own. A mated pair of scarlings may produce 1-3 broods per year. Juvenile scarlings are able to mate 3 months after fledging the nest.

ECOLOGY: Scarlings are true scavengers, and serve to clean up what others leave behind. Scarlings thrive where there is food that is easy for them to scavenge. They will nest near granaries, garbage dumps, and city bazaars, or wherever humanity may leave the scarling a bite to eat. Where the scarling works to clean up in the day, rats take over the task by night.

Scarlings have been known to nest in boxes provided by those who want to deter thieves. The rich, royal, and others who wish to keep their wealth, privacy or secrets to themselves have set up scarling nest boxes on perimeter walls and castle entryways. A thief trying to enter such areas and disturbs a scarling nest is literally marked for life, if he survives the scarling infections.

Source: Jim Barrett

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