"Just above the horizon, half obscured by damp mists, hung the pallid crescent of a sickle moon. The first stars had appeared overhead -- but beneath the stars, circling and swooping to strike at running men, was a swarm of black-winged horrors. In the gathering dark they looked like a horde of monstrous, flame-eyed bats! (...) Conan stared at the sky. He had heard of the monstrous winged reptiles in his travels. Dim legends came drifting down from the dawn of time, of an age of reptiles that had long preceded the rise of man from the beast. Elder myths and moldering tablets in age-lost cities told of such monstrosities, survivors from that forgotten age: wyverns, they were called." - L. Sprague de Camp and Lin Carter: "Red Moon of Zembabwei"
Climate/Terrain: Temperate and warm forest, hill, and mountains
Organization: Solitary, pair, or flight (3-6)
Challenge Rating: 6
Advancement: 8-10 HD (Huge); 11-21 HD (Gargantuan)
Appearance: Zembabwan Wyverns are black, scaled saurials, with leathery batlike wings and a long head whose mouth is filled with sharp teeth. It has only hind legs, using them the same way a hunting bird would. Their eyes are red or orange.
Combat: In combat, the Zembabwan Wyvern always prefers to be flying, and will seize any opportunity to take flight and continue combat. It dives upon ground targets, attempting to snatch them up in its two taloned claws and fly off.
As a hunter, the wyvern is cunning. It will avoid letting its shadow fall across its prey as a warning. The final approach of the dive is done in complete silence. It trails its prey from downwind whenever possible.
A wyvern can slash with its claws only when making a flyby attack, and it cannot make bite, sting, or wing attacks.
*Wyverns receive a +3 racial bonus to Spot checks when flying during daylight hours.
Habitat/Society: For millennia the warriors of Zembabwei fought the giant wyverns which soared over the jungle from cave-lairs in an eastern mountain range. A hero of the tribe, Lumbeba, traveled to the mountains and stole some eggs. He reared the hatchlings, and discovered that they could be tamed and used for riding. This enabled the Zembabwans to extend their rule over the neighboring tribes and form the present kingdom of Zembabwei. Lumbeba was immediately elevated to the throne.
Old Zembabwei, the true capital of Zembabwei, is closed to foreigners, both for religious reasons and to protect the secret of the wyvern-riders, who are barracked here. The city is filled with many tall, doorless, roofless towers where the wyverns are stabled. As these towers can only be entered or left by flying beings, they are secure from the depredations of possible nonflying invaders.
The Zembabwan Wyvern-riders are tall, muscular blacks in plumed head-dresses, with necklaces of claws, loincloths of monkey fur, and a leopard-skin cloak slung about their shoulders. They are elite warriors, trained in mounted aerial combat, and use spiked staves to command these stupid and stubborn creatures. They attack by throwing javelins from the backs of their mounts.
Ecology: An adult wyvern consumes the equivalent of a man-sized to large creature once per day. This could translate to a horse, pig, or a handful of sheep. While it eats them whole, the bones are not digested, and neither are metal objects. The wyvern eats carrion only if desperate.
The wyvern has no natural enemies, although it would not be a match for certain powerful creatures. It is noted for the foul taste of its flesh. No one has found a way to cure its hide and the bones are light and brittle to aid in flying. Certain body parts are used by spellcasters as spell components, for which they will pay a reasonable price.