The Butchers of the North
"The Shrike's prey lie scattered around its den, skewered onto sharpened rocks and branches. It serves as both a convenient storage, and a convenient warning."
nless you're some seasoned adventurer with a downright irresponsible amount of experience with these things, I suggest you do everything in your power to make sure you never stumble upon a Shrike. That being said, if this book is your first time seeing one then I'd say you're doing a pretty good job so far. Keep it up.
I've heard a lot of people call them "Butcher Birds" and to be honest that's about as accurate as it gets. That is, if a butcher kept their meat impaled on numerous spears scattered around their shop instead of, and I'm just spitballin' here, an ice box.
Shrikes are the very definition of "Fuck around and find out" and they're completely aware of it. Even going as far as hunting prey twice their size simply because they can. When a shrike sets up shop in a forest or cave every living thing in a 10 mile radius knows to stay the hell away. And trust me, you'll know when it's set up shop nearby.
Fortunately, most people down here will never see a shrike in person. They mostly reside in the North and rarely travel further than Dragnspine Mountains, that being said we definitely see our fair share in Stonewood Forest. Actually, now that I think about it I guess they really do store meat in an ice box.
Shrikes are also solitary creatures. Newbie adventurers will hear that and think the hunt must be easy. So that's the part where I firmly grasp their shoulders, shake them vigourously, and explain that they need a party and the shrike doesn't.
As you can imagine, shrikes can't exactly fly. They're just too heavy for that. However, they can quickly take off and gain a significant amount of height before gliding for as long as they need to. This plays in to how they go about hunting and what you need to watch out for should you try to find one.
Death from Above
Shrikes are calculated as much as they are savage. As ambush predators, they'll stalk potential prey from a distance before quickly gliding towards them. Their glide is almost silent, meaning those who don't know what to listen for will easily mistake it for a gust of wind. Once the prey is grappled they'll use their spear-like beak to impale its body for a quick and effective kill. Unlike most predators, shrikes will rarely abandon prey that become more trouble than their worth.
The Butcher's Den
Arguably the most intriguing behavior of a shrike is what they do afterwords. Partially devoured kills will be dragged back to its den and impaled on sharpened branches, rocks, and other things of the sort. I can only assume it serves multiple purposes, a storage for uneaten food, a way to mark its territory, a warning for animals and a lure for adventurers, it could be anything really.
A shrike's body is primarily covered in fur and large batches of feathers. If you want to fight this thing you need a weapon that can pierce through the thick hide, making non-magic arrows, slashing/bludgeoning weapons, and weaker magic more or less ineffective.
The best way to hunt a shrike is by making it harder for the shrike to hunt you. Any form of status effects are crucial here, so I'd recommend at least one magic user or alchemist in your party. Any form of magic works, really. My personal choice of status would be something in the ballpark of paralysis or some form of slowing. In a pinch, you could always try aiming for the eyes.
You can actually harvest their beak and claws to make high quality weapons, which ironically are also effective against them. The pelt is also a valuable resource, although the process of turning it into clothes or armor weakens it significantly. The dangers of shrike hunting also means high demand for these materials.
The den is actually a solid source of loot. A shrike will drag fallen adventures back to it knowing that more will come in search of the treasure. Of course, this means that the shrike is luring you to potential demise, but honestly if you have the testicular fortitude to seek out a den in the first place then you're either more than capable or will add to the loot hoard for the next party that comes along.
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Having played D&D and TTRPGs for some time this is absolutely fantastic! Adventurers beware.
Thanks so much!