Basilisks of Veerith

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The basilisk is truly the King of Serpents, but it does not kill with its gaze, as the legends suggest; neither do they hatch from a chicken’s egg or any such legend; that would be a cockatrice. Basilisks in Unchained Heroes have the strength and appearance of Dragons from folklore, but have little more intelligence than Man’s Best Friend (a canine). That makes them quite intelligent creatures, but they are not so smart that they will rule a kingdom or amass a following. We talk about basilisks here to introduce to you a powerful and worthy opponent (or ally) for your Heroes. They collect shinies, hoard wealth, live in caves, and violently protect what is theirs, but unlike Dragons, they may be domesticated. The greatest kingdoms were known to ride basilisks into battle, but no kingdom can be compared to the Devonshire Kingdom on Eld in their mastery of these creatures. The Queen of the World, High Queen Roslin Devonshire, and her Calrysn armies while mounted on basilisks routed the Elder Champion and smashed his armies. The only force to rival the Calrysn to date has been the Archangel Combat Vessels (ACVs) of the Zetians.

Their Appearance

Basilisks come in many shapes and sizes, from ones the size of a golden retriever to as big as a two barns put together. All of them have at least three different colors, with a primary, secondary, and tertiary color that are all a similar hue, but a varying degree of saturation and brightness. It would not be unusual to see a basilisk with a Sky Blue primary color, a deep blue secondary color, and a dark gray-blue tertiary color. Basilisks have color ranges for their sub-species rather than a specific color, so you might find a Desert Basilisk that is so pale it is almost white with another that is as bronze as can be. Basilisks are defined by their environment or the texture of their skin rather than their color. Some are the color of desert sand and live in desert environments, giving them the name Desert Basilisks; some are deep greens and browns that live in forests and are called Forest Basilisks; and some are the color of stone with a hide with the same texture and color as granite known as the Stonehide Basilisks. There are also Mountain Basilisks, Sea Basilisks, Emerald Basilisks, Sapphire Basilisks, Iron Basilisks, and much more.

Each basilisk has a reptilian snout, large teeth and talons, a spiny back linked by webbing, and thick scales. They have two front legs, two rear legs, a tail, and two leathery wings. They are designed to be a top predator and have a chemical based breath weapon that ranges from caustic acid to vicious poison to fiery napalm. If you can get them to use their breath weapon once or twice, they will have no more reserves to use against you.

Their Place

In Nature’s grand scheme of things, a basilisk is at the very highest tier of the food chain, feasting on the largest and most dangerous monsters the planet has to offer. Veerith is rich with animal and plant life (think of the our Earth and double it) so there are many predators to keep them in a balanced state. Basilisks prefer more dangerous food; they have been known to occasionally feast on herd animals, but this is rare. Fortunately for all of this, this keeps their numbers much lower than they could be.

The two favorite foods of a basilisk are fish and humans. As long as there’s fish to be eaten, a basilisk will take that over anything; but once a basilisk has the taste of a human, they usually have to be eliminated or they can never be trusted in the presence of a human again. Basilisks that cannot find hellhounds, giants, bears, manticores, lions, wyverns, tigers, or some other top tier predator, will eat easier prey like sheep or cows, but it is not common. The biggest killers of sheep and cows would be wyverns and basilisks eat wyverns. It is not uncommon for a shepherds or rancher to own a domesticated basilisk if they can afford it; they prevent anything that would prey on their herd from getting close lest they be eaten.

Basilisks are most often found near coastlines, near rivers, and around lakes. They love water. Even those that are considered Desert or Forest types commonly make their den around watery locations (which makes sense since they love eating fish and aquatic creatures). Islands and salt water coastal regions have the highest density of basilisks for these reasons.

Their Role in War and Peace

The basilisks are easily domesticated creatures if you can raise them from a hatchling. With the proper feeding and direction, they can become as loyal as a dog–with similar temperament. This along with their deadly weaponry, breath weapon, and killer instinct makes them great weapons of war. They are occasionally used only as pets, but those instances are rare. Most domesticated basilisks are war-trained according to the Caldoni Accords. The Caldoni Accords is a war treaty that defines the acceptable forms of military weaponry which includes the training of basilisks; although not all nations have joined this accord. War-trained Basilisks (Caldoni trained) are taught not to eat anything they kill or use their teeth and jaws to strike their targets. This is based on the off chance a basilisk gets the taste of a Human foe and then goes berserk, eating until they are sated. They fight with their wings, front claws, and tail to deadly effect and can use their breath weapon upon command.

Basilisks can also be trained to use as transportation, but that is not considered a good use of their talents. They can travel a distance of 300 miles without rest, at speeds well over 100 miles per hour, but usually can only carry a few passengers. Only the very largest basilisks have been known to bear air carriages or cabins. They are far more commonly deployed as guardians of land, herds, and used as mounts in place of horses for the very well off.

Their Life Cycle

Basilisks are reptiles. They lay eggs and do not raise their own young. Once hatched, a basilisk is on their own, and face threats from the world–alone(even from their own kind) until they can fly. They are cold-blooded, mature to adults in 3 years, and live for up to 40 years based on size and diet. The largest basilisks do not live nearly as long as the smaller ones, with an age of 25 being the most common. They suffer from diseases and other natural causes much like a regular creature might. The most common source of a basilisk’s death is a tussle with a beast that was too strong for them.

They have mating seasons that occur once every 7 months, based on lunar patterns. Basilisks will attempt to impress each other, pair up, create a lair, and sit on the eggs until they hatch 7 months later. Once the eggs of a basilisk are fertilized, the mother and father protect them until more than half of them hatch, after which they leave their progeny to whatever fate might befall them. They have little protective instincts toward their own kind, but for some reason are quite receptive to mammalian species, which is why they are so easy to train. A typical clutch of eggs numbers from 2 to 3 dozen eggs.

A basilisk can lay eggs once every 2 years, so you won’t continually see the same basilisks at the Mating Roosts. The site of the basilisks approaching a Mating Roost is a wondrous and terrifying sight. They come from all corners of the land to these locations, usually located on a coastline or on a large rocky island. When in flight for their mating roost, they are not easily distracted from their path. Even food does not deter their instinct for procreation and arriving at the Roost. Domesticated basilisks do not have this urge to attend the wild Mating Roosts, instead a trainer must look for the signs and attempt a pairing when the time is right. Trainers log everything they can so they don’t miss this important time.

Their Habits

Basilisks are territorial and claim large swathes of land as their own, but will share their land with other basilisks if the game is plentiful and they do not threaten each other. In a 100 square mile range, you might only find a handful of basilisks. A mountainside lake, waterfall cave, or coastline cove is bound to have at least one basilisk lair, it gives them access to fish and water.

Like most reptiles, basilisks feast on a large meal and can then go for weeks without eating anything else. They do not eat more than they need and show very little signs of hunger. If they are sustaining themselves with a fish diet, they may eat on a semi-daily basis to keep well-fed.

All basilisks are amazing swimmers, excellent flyers, and quite capable on land. Their spine spikes are webbed as well as their talons and toes. They move like a crocodile in the water, propelling themselves with their tail and fine tuning their direction with their webbed feet. In the air, they must maintain a forward momentum at all times, but they are well adapted to making sharp turns and changing direction quickly. Land is their weakest terrain, but even on land, they are dangerous. You can probably outrun them, but in close quarters, they are far more agile that should be possible for a creature of their size.

All Feral (think wild) Basilisks have a lair. Lairs can be a hard to reach and defensible roost, a cavern, or a hole in the ground. Domesticated basilisks prefer Roosts that consist of a high perch for them to survey their land. Most basilisk owners build large towers for them to build their lair. Basilisks (even domesticated ones) have a strong desire to hoard shiny objects, many a shining knight has been killed to add to their collection, but a domesticated basilisk is usually placated with kitchen ware, polished iron, and glazed glass beads. It’s actually a small price to pay for such a wondrous creature as a loyal friend and ally. A basilisk will guard their hoard with deadly force, those not a Trainer should steer clear of their hoards unless they want to lose their lives.

War Basilisks  

Few things are more terrifying than a squadron of basilisks descending on a foe. Even if you can defend against their first pass and inevitable breath weapons, you still have to face their claws and barbed tails. All War Basilisks are domesticated basilisks, raised from a hatchling to obey their master’s commands. Where a War Basilisk differs from a domesticated basilisk is that it is trained to fight and kill on command; with most trained according to the Caldoni Accords. With a trigger word, a trainer arms and disarms his basilisk. In one moment, they may be rolling on their back, squirming to get their belly scratched by their master, safe for anyone to approach, and in the next, with the trigger word, they will fight anything that approaches that has been deemed an enemy by their training. Most have been trained to see certain colors, smells, or textures as friendly when in this mindset. Cunning foes have been known to try to figure out what those friendly colors might be, so the triggers are a carefully guarded secret. For those times that a trigger has been exploited, they also have an aggressive mode that has them kill anything except their Master.

A Basilisks training can be quite extensive and the things they can do remarkable. Their territorial nature makes them excellent guardians and the level of their intelligence makes them capable of a understanding complex commands. Among humans, the proper training is quite important; War Basilisks are trained to not use their bite attack to strike as a precautionary measure. Once they get the taste of a human, they will turn on anyone not their trainer and master. For a human, it is no longer safe to be around them. This is a standard practice for War Basilisks trained under the Caldoni Accords, which are also the only types available for sale on the open market.

Basilisks in your World

Basilisks make regular appearances in some parts of the world, so their presence is not treated with as much fear as they might have elsewhere, but they are large, they are dangerous, and they are intimidating creatures. The impact of using basilisks should not be understated. If you bring them into a campaign, they will add a new level of danger for your Heroes and their enemies. Use them like you would a magical item, carefully.

In the Seven Floating Realms, basilisks are not commonly used for transportation, they have airships for that. They are also not very efficient for naval battles because of their range and need for rest. This has relegated them to an elite protector status that guards the largest cities and capitals of kingdoms. They can also be deployed as a quick hitting strike force, since they are faster than any standard airship in existence at this time.

Feral Basilisks make for great story seeds. You can hunt a basilisk with a taste for human flesh, try to capture some eggs, or raid their lair. Much of what you might find yourself doing for a standard fantasy dragon trope, plays well with basilisks, so do not be afraid to use them in that fashion.

Enjoy!