MOON CALF

Mooncalves are otherworldly monstrosities from the Far
Realm that haunt the spaces between the worlds. FollowinB
some little-understood cycle, they enter the world for a period
of weeks, lairinB atop desolate mountains and lonely hills,
often near settlements where food is abundant.
Ringed by mountains and dotted with hills, the Nentir
Vale remains a favorite location for the predatory
mooncalves. Sages ofNerath used to predict with great
accuracy the arrival of these horrific beasts, but much
of that knowledge has been lost since Nerath’s fall.
A mooncalf combines the body of an immense ceph·
alopod with the wings of a bat. It has six short tentacles
that it uses to grab prey and two long, flailing tentacles
that it uses to attack at a distance. The creature’s beak
like mouth is located where the tentacles meet the base
of its body.
Visitors from Beyond: Roughly every eight years,
a small group of2-5 mooncalves, called a grasp, preys
upon a localized area (a few square miles) for a single
lunar cycle before returning to the place they came
from. Mooncalves typically hunt at night, resting during
the daylight hours. Although not choosy about prey, mooncalves particularly enjoy the flesh of humanoids
and cattle, making them a true menace to villages and
towns. A grasp of feasting moon calves can devour an
entire settlement and its livestock in a matter of weeks.
Hammerfast once fell prey to a solitary mooncalf
of formidable size, and it took the combined efforts
of the town militia and a group of adventurers to slay
the beast. A small dwarven fort in the foothills of the
Dawnforge Mountains between Hammerfast and Harkenwold
didn’t fare as well; a grasp of mooncalves made
nightly visits until the survivors abandoned the outpost.
Of all the places in the Nentir Vale that attract
such creatures, Thunderspire Mountain might be the
mooncalves’ favorite haunt. The creatures are drawn
to the perpetual storm that engulfs the mountain’s
peak, and from stormwracked promontories they
descend upon passing trade caravans without warning
and without mercy.
The most popular account of a mooncalf attack in
the Nentir Vale is still recounted in the taverns of Fall·
crest and Winterhaven, even though the event occurred
almost a generation ago. Two human hunters sleeping
on the shore of Lake Wintermist in early summer were
set upon by a hungry manticore. One of the hunters
was quickly slain, pierced through the heart by one of the manticore’s tail spikes. As the other hunter fought
for his life, a tentacle reached down from the night sky,
wrapped itself around the manticore, and pulled the
creature up into darkness. The manticore’s roars were
silenced quickly. Hiding in the bushes, the surviving
hunter saw a monstrous shape silhouetted against the
full moon-a bat-winged horror flying off with the dead
manticore in its clutches.
Mooncalves tend to lair in high places and often find
themselves at odds with chimeras, griffons, manticores,
perytons, and other mountain-dwelling predators.
Mooncalves understand Deep Speech but do not
speak it. They can communicate telepathically with
each other and with any other creature within 100 feet.
However, only creatures that understand Deep Speech
can fathom a mooncalf’s thoughts, which tend to be
primal and focused on killing and eating.
Relentless Hunters: Mooncalves impose their will
upon prey, using lures to draw enemies within reach
of their long tentacles. In melee, they like to crush enemies
with their tentacles or drag foes to their slavering
beaks. Mooncalves also have the ability to conjure small
but intense thunderstorms, which they use to incite
panic among their enemies.
When a mooncalfbecomes separated from its kin,
it either begins hunting alone, eventually becoming
a mooncalf rogue, or it allies itself with another creature
it deems worthy. Evil wizards who draw magic
or inspiration from the Far Realm occasionally forge
bonds with solitary mooncalves and even ride them as
mounts.
One in a hundred mooncalves develops teleportation
abilities instead of weather-control powers, making
these creatures particularly dangerous and elusive
hunters. Referred to by sages as mooncalfharvesters
because of their ability to snatch prey and then teleport
away, such rare versions are more emaciated than the
others, since they rely less on their musculature to get
around.
A mooncalf sire is a parent specimen of particularly
great size. It is usually encountered with up to three
normal-sized mooncalves (its progeny). A mooncalf rogue, an outcast among its kin because
it will attack other mooncalves that infringe on its territory,
prefers to hunt alone. The rogue’s large brain
has the power to project a psychic veil that renders it
invisible to creatures beyond its reach, increasing its
deadliness because any creature that wants to attack it
must move within striking distance to see it.

MOON CALF

Saving Darkvale NickPassaro