Cropstones, Leg Rings and Imping

Most of the magic items used by humans are ill-suited for avians. The following forms for magic items are useful for mundane or supernatural birds or with modification, characters that can magically assume avian shapes. Many of these effects can be readily enchanted by non-Hermetic crafters with either the Touched by (Realm) or Mythic (Professional) Virtues that are capable of instilling Animal effects in their products using the rules for creating Wondrous Items (City & Guild, page 70 to 73 and Grogs, page 76).

Leg Rings

Bands of metal, whether base or precious, have long been used to mark individual birds and indicate ownership. In Islamic lands they often inscribed with a short Arabic prayer or Qu’ranic quotation. A small capped tube, sufficient to carry a tiny piece of paper inscribed with a short message or a magically shrunken scroll, is sometimes incorporated into the device. Upon transformation into human shape, a leg ring fits firmly onto one of the smaller toes of the wearer.

The following effects to protect against mundane opponents can be incorporated into a small copper or silver ring encircling the pigeon’s left leg. Leg rings may occasionally hold other protective or shapeshifting effects. Magi of House Bjornaer dislike this style of enchanted item as it marks their animal form as unnatural.

Deter the Raptor’s Claws
ReAn 10, R: Touch, D: Moon, T: Ind Pen 0, 1/day
Only those animals without Magic Resistance are affected by this effect, which protects the homing pigeon against physical contact by other animals. If the bird is attacked, its opponent’s blows always miss – their claws or teeth are pushed aside. The ward is not effective against thrown or missile weapons however.
(Base 2, +1 Touch, +3 Moon; +0 1/day)

Escape the Hunter’s Arrow
InHe 10, R: Touch, D: Sun, T: Ind Pen 0, 1/day
As the Hermetic spell Shriek of the Impending Shafts, see ArM5 page 136. This spell allows the messenger pigeon to avoid most mundane missile attacks provided they fly at sufficient altitude (at least 10 paces away).
(Base 2, +2 Sun, +3 Hearing: +0 1/day)

Shift the Bird’s Image in Flight
ReIm 9, R: Per, D: Diam, T: Ind
Similar to The Wizard’s Sidestep (ArM5, page 137), this spell causes the bird’s image to shift up to 1 pace from where they actually are, making attacks aimed at the image likely to miss.
(Base 2, +1 Diam, +1 changing image, +1 moved image matches changes; Pen 0, +4 12/day)

Crop Stones

Some pigeons have been trained to swallow small little pieces of stone with designs engraved on them that have been enchanted as limited use charged items. More powerful effects can be instilled by using stones inlaid with precious metals or flecked with gemstone. These tiny objects lodge in the bird’s crop or a human’s stomach, providing an excellent if somewhat unpleasant means of concealment that can be regurgitated on command when required. Quails and many other birds have crops; raptors such as falcons, hawks, and eagles all have crops. Vultures can use these stones, but as owls lack a crop they cannot benefit.

Due to their relative small size in human form the stone can cause problems if it passes beyond the stomach, possibly requiring chirurgical solutions, so most Redcaps swallow cropstones just before transforming and have some means of inducing vomiting to recover the stone when they shift back into their larger form.

Cropstones are typically enchanted with limited use offensive magics designed to deter or maim pursuing hawks or falcons. The following effect is the most common but more overtly magical spells are sometimes encountered an used by magi of House Bjornaer.

Ruin the Raptor’s Wing
PeAn 30 R: Voice, D: Mom, T: Part
Similar to Cripple the Howling Wolf, ArM5 page xxx, but this spell breaks the wing of an avian opponent, inflicting a Medium Wound and forcing it out of the air, crashing unless it makes a successful Athletics roll against an Ease Factor of 12. This spell targets wings specifically rather than a raptor’s feet but only works on birds and not other winged animals such as griffons, pegasi or other winged creatures.
(Base 15, +2 Voice, +1 Part, Pen 0, 1/day)

Imped Feathers

Although usually practiced on hawks and flacons, imping is an ancient falconer’s technique used to replace damaged pin feathers to help restore a maimed bird’s ability to fly. Feathers from the same species of bird can be enchanted and then imped into place. Successful imping requires minor surgery using the Profession: Falconer Ability or an equivalent against an Ease Factor of 9 and inflicts a Light Wound.

Dexterity + Profession: Falconer + Recovery Modifiers + stress die

On a failed roll, the bird receives no benefit from the surgery and receives a Medium Wound. On a botch, the bird receives a Severe Wound and if it survives suffers the effects of either the Arthritis, Hunchback or Lame Flaw due to permanent damage to that wing. A bird that survives a second botched attempt is Crippled as per the Flaw.

Because the imped feather is specifically matched and becomes an integral part of the recipient, similar to a tattoo, it utilizes the Range of Personal and Individual Target. Imped pin feathers gain standard Shape and Material bonuses (+5 to flight effects) but their Tiny size and base material score of 3 limits the number of spell levels they can contain to only 30. A bird may have as many magical imped feathers as its Size +6, rounded up to the nearest even number. A bird with magical imped feathers gains 1 Warping Point per year for each of the feathers it possesses that contain constant mystical effects.

Imped feathers are suited for effects that allow rapid travel or improve a bird’s flying capabilities. Many effects that instantaneously transport a bird through magic are disorientating, particularly if used while flying and require an Intelligence + Finesse stress roll of 9+ to prevent the bird’s arrival from going slightly awry. A botch means the bird appears in the wrong place, perhaps even in a wall – as most birds have only basic intelligence and lack a Finesse score, unless specifically trained by their master to develop this Ability, these spells are usually considered emergency backup strategies when basic protective magics have proven inadequate.

Bjornaer magi and mundane humanoid characters with feathers, either because they possess wings or have a disfigurement resulting in feathers from Warping or Faerie blood (for example feathers for hair or vestigial feathers sprouting from the humanoid’s trunk or limbs, a common side effect of avian themed transformative magic), may similarly benefit from imping magical feathers into their existing plumage. Botched attempts only cause Flaws if the feathers are grafted onto a wing capable of sustaining flight. Magical feathers can similarly be imped onto other supernatural creatures with feathered wings such as griffons and pegasi, although there is a +3 penalty to the Ease Factor.

Lesser non-Hermetic craft magic allows imped feathers to be enchanted with effects that provide a +3 bonus to Athletics (flight) rolls or allow the wearer to fly with an Athletics score equivalent to the magician’s Craft or Profession: Falconer score.

The following are common example effects:

Faster than Flight
ReAn 18 R: Per, D: Mom, T: Ind
This affect allows the imped bird to instantly transports itself up to 50 paces in any direction, provided it can see its destination, similar to The Wizard’s Sidestep. This effect is most suitable to escape attacks or bypass obstacles such as looming buildings or tall trees while being pursued at high speed by a raptor, who may be unable to avoid the obstacle in time, rapidly ending its pursuit.
(Base 15; Pen 0, +3 6/day)

Seven League Flight
ReAn 30 R: Per, D: Mom, T: Ind
Transports the bird to any place within seven leagues that it can see, similar to Seven League Stride.
(Base 30; Pen 0, 0 1/day)

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