Hegaska

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A race of intelligent, birdlike nomads living in the deepest deserts of Eidyn, the Hegaska spends their time soaring on thermals in search of food.

Appearance

The hegaska is 7 to 8 feet tall with a wingspan of 20 feet or more. Because of its large wingspan, a hegaska can carry as much as 75% of its own body weight and still fly easily. A hegaska can fly a short distance carrying a burden equaling 125% of its own body weight. The average body weight of a full grown male is 100 pounds and a female is 85 pounds.

Each wing has a hand at its midpoint, consisting of three fingers and an opposable thumb. The fourth finger forms the rigid leading edge of the wing. In flight the hands cannot be used, but on the ground the Hegaska can use its hands almost as a human would. The hegaska’s body is protected by a thin bony plate on the chest, much like a solid rib cage. Talons on its legs can be used as claws and can be retracted to reveal a second set of hands, also with three fingers and an opposable thumb. Except for the chest plate, the entire skeleton is hollow and extremely fragile.

From a distance, the hegaska resembles a huge vulture. Its black eyes, set in the front of the head, provide excellent vision over a long range. The plumage is generally black with a white collar for adult males and black or brown with a smaller white collar for females. Adolescents are a mixture of brown and black. The beak is large and covers most of the head. Plumage begins at the crown of the head and is darker near the head, except for the collar. Hegaska speak their own language and the languages of vultures and other large birds. Some speak Common tongue.

Culture

Hegaska live in tribes with 6-20 members, depending on the prestige of the leader. The largest tribe ever recorded had 50 members. The tribal hunting territory depends on the size of the tribe, usually about 500 square miles for a tribe of 10 members. There are no rigid boundaries between tribes and border disputes are not uncommon.

Hegaska aren’t friendly toward intruders in their territory, especially caravans. They try to extract a toll from the caravan for passage through the desert. Good-aligned tribes allow unhindered passage of caravans that pay a tribute. If someone refuses to pay the tribute, the hegaska try to capture scouts or outriders from the party and hold them until an even larger tribute is paid. The payment may be either livestock or shiny objects. Hegaska are smart enough not to be taken in by glass baubles instead of gems, although they cannot tell the difference between the more common gems and the rare ones.