Pigeon, Sigilian
Pigeon, Sigilian

Pigeon, Sigilian

Sigilian Pigeon

ALIGNMENT:Neutral (Chaotic)
NO. APPEARING:6d12 or more
MOVEMENT:1, Fly 36 (B)
SIZE:T (8″ long)
MORALE:Unreliable (3)
AD&D 2e statistics

Although there are several forms of bird life living in Sigil, there are only two avians considered truly native to the Cage; the scarling being considered a recent Baatorian immigrant and the astral streaker an imported species from the Astral. The first native is a grey bodied raven with black wings and head referred to as the Executioner’s Raven. The second, more common, bird that nests only in the City of Doors is a seemingly harmless species of grey-green pigeons known as the Sigilian Pigeon (or the less precise but more romantic “Cager’s Dove”). However, in the City of Doors, nothing is ever as romantic as it might first appear.

COMBAT: The pigeons are generally timid and easily startled by loud noises (as reflected in their low morale), sudden visual effects or the sudden approach of any larger creature. Because the flock in great numbers, it is almost impossible to sneak up on an individual pigeon without startling one of its companions (surprised only 1 in 1d12). Once a pigeon is startled, it takes to the air in a flurry, setting onto motion a mass panic amongst any pigeons in the same area. In the space of a few seconds, a whole square can become a swirling mass of frightened, flapping pigeons fleeing directly away from the source of disturbance, creating a forceful commotion in the air. Anything caught in the downstream flight path of a flock of 20 or more fleeing pigeons as it scrambles into the air is affected by the equivalent of a gust of wind spell as the birds recklessly flap past anyone and anything in their mad dash to safety.

Individuals standing within 10 feet of the fleeing edge of the flock are battered as the frightened pigeons plough into the unfortunate basher. This panicked avian pummelling inflicts damage equivalent to the individuals base AC (calculated for armour and shield only, with no bonuses for dexterity or magical bonuses) plus 1d4 hit points. In addition the poor sod is knocked about so much that any spellcasting is ruined and they may perform no other actions that round unless they save successfully against death, as the birds crash into them at full speed and unbalance them. Bashers that keep their feet can flail against the birds ineffectively but risk being blinded as the birds streak past (a single roll with a THAC0 of 20 against the target’s head AC, dexterity included). Most sensible Cagers caught in a pigeon flight duck and cover their eyes with their arms, preventing this injury — the risk of Barmy Bird Blindness is quickly learnt by most Cagers in their youth although newcomers and Clueless are often ignorant of this risk.

Although the pigeons are generally peaceful, the birds seem to be somewhat mischievous in nature. Many a Cager has heard the ruffled flutter of a flock take to the air, only to be dumped with a load of droppings from a score or more pigeons. That the pigeons seem to single out high-ups, officials or those with an overblown sense of importance seems to suggest a degree of humour or intelligence otherwise unknown in such animals. If aware of the pigeons’ intentions and on the look out, a successful Dexterity check means the falling droppings are avoided — failure indicates that the sod has been splattered with pigeon guano. Surprised creatures may not attempt to dodge the falling excreta — high-ups stepping from sedan-chairs are almost guaranteed to be hit if a flock of pigeons chooses to unload. The misfortune of becoming a pigeon’s latrine is often greeted with laughter and great amusement by onlookers, but the pigeon’s mischief seems to somehow exert a subtle magical effect on witnesses. Any creature within visual range of the luckless target is likely to find this event quite amusing and must save versus magic or be affected as in a Tasha’s uncontrollable hideous laughter spell. Also, most targets of the pigeon’s ire become particularly disgruntled by the laughter, more than would normally be expected — even dour githzerai and the most apathetic Dustmen have been known to take serious offence at being the object of ridicule. Targets hit by pigeon droppings are affected as per the taunt spell, with the closest laughing creature becoming the target of their anger, which is often an innocent wretch affected by the humour inducing quality of the pigeon’s act.

Such events have begun several large street brawls and contributed to countless scuffles but have not been known to incite any major riots. Most melees are quickly settled or dispersed by arriving Harmonium patrols, leaving the dabus to clean up any remaining mess. Interestingly, the dabus are never targeted by the pigeons and have not been seen to raise more than a wry smile at another Cager’s misfortune, seeming immune to the effect’s of the pigeons droppings. The cynical (and several more serious Cagers who seem to have been targeted more than once) point out that since the dabus are never affected they must be behind the pigeon’s aerial bombardments. This is countered by the more even tempered opinion that the birds know not to mess with the Lady’s minions and that even if the dabus are behind the whole thing, they carry out the Lady’s will anyway, so it’s not worth going to the Mazes over the sake of some sodding pigeon.

HABITAT/SOCIETY: Sigilian pigeons can be found throughout the Cage, nesting in the eaves of faction buildings, prominent private dwellings or on the scattered statues that comprise some of Sigil’s more recognisable landmarks. They build woven nests of any material they can find, but will not nest amongst razorvine, unlike the smaller scarling. So common are the birds that there is not an open square or park area in the whole Cage where the birds do not have a presence; their absence from an area is enough to give even the hardiest Cager a sense of unease.

More recently, flocks of pigeons have been associated with several minor mages of the Cage, seeming to accompany them and follow commands as if they were more conventional familiars. Several incidents between members of Sigil’s Factions of Law have been blamed upon the pigeons and rumours place mages of the Revolutionary League behind the disturbances. The Harmonium, Fated and Fraternity of Order are in the process of drafting a bill to allow the legal dispersal of the birds from public squares or private residences, but several other factions have indicated they will oppose any proposal to harm the birds.

ECOLOGY: Sigilian pigeons, like most of Sigil’s “native” wildlife subsist on what they can scavenge from the city’s streets. Thus, unlike normal pigeons, these birds will supplement their diets with flesh from abandoned carcasses or scraps left over from the exotic food vendors of the Great Bazaar. The birds compete with the slightly smaller scarlings for the same food source, but the two species can often be found feeding and nesting in the same areas peacefully.

Prominent naturalists of the Cage disagree about the almost whimsical behaviour of the pigeons. Some state that their mischief implies a degree of intelligence unseen in similar bird life and others, such as the noted bariaur biologist, Gorad Drummerhaven, describe this theory as “unlikely” and consider the orchestrated bombardments as just the antics of some barmy birds. A less well known figure, the self styled “Arcanonaturalist of Sigil”, Hastertius Nestoram, theorises that the birds may be a physical manifestation of the living essence of Sigil, like the dabus are sometimes believed to be. The concept of Sigil, or by inference, the Lady of Pain, having a sense of humour is considered ludicrous by most. Still, Nestoram has never suffered the embarrassment of having pigeon excreta unloaded on him while propounding a theory, unlike some of his detractors. Whether there is any truth to his theory or whether Nestoram is just agile enough to avoid the pigeons’ commentary remains a source of heated debate amongst Sigil’s bickering intellectual community.

Source: Jarkman

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *