An amalgam of fur and feathers, this bizarre half-bear, half-owl monstrosity raises its huge, ursine claws in anger.
Owlbear (CR 4)
Speed 30 ft.
Melee 2 claws +8 (1d6+4 plus grab), bite +8 (1d6+4)
Space 10 ft.; Reach 5 ft.
Environment temperate forests
Organization solitary, pair, or pack (3–8)
The origin of the owlbear is a subject of great debate among scholars of the monstrous creatures of the world. However, most concur that at some point in the distant past, a deranged wizard created the original specimens by crossing an owl with a bear—perhaps as proof of some insane concept about the nature of life, but possibly out of sheer lunacy. Whatever the original purpose of such a freakish creation as the owlbear, the creature bred true and has become quite well-established in woodlands across the world, where it plays a key role in a region’s ecosystem as an apex predator.
Owlbears are notoriously bloodthirsty killers, well known for their short tempers, aggression, and savage nature. They tend to attack without provocation, slaughtering any living creatures that cross their paths. Many scholars that have encountered these creatures in the wild have noted that they all have red-rimmed eyes that roll about wildly when they close in for an attack. This is sometimes presented as a sign of madness, suggesting that all owlbears are born with a pathological need to fight and kill, but more level-headed researchers believe that it’s simply part of the way the massive bird-beast’s keen eyes are constructed.
Owlbears generally inhabit desolate areas of the wilderness, making their messy lairs within wild forests or inside dark, shallow caverns. They are equally adept at hunting during the day and at night, depending upon the prey available near their lairs.
Adult owlbears live in mated pairs, and hunt in small groups, leaving their young behind in their lairs while they search for prey. A typical owlbear lair contains 1d6 juveniles, which can fetch a price of up to 3,000 gp apiece in many city markets.
While it is considered impossible to truly domesticate owlbears due to their feral natures, they can still be used as guardians if contained within an area but allowed to roam and hunt freely there. Professional animal trainers charge up to 2,000 gp to rear or train an owlbear into a serviceable guardian that can obey simple commands (DC 23 for a juvenile creature; DC 30 for a fully grown adult).
A full-grown male can stand as tall as 8 feet and weighs up to 1,500 pounds.
Further magical experimentation and a few accidental mutations have resulted in several new types of owlbear.
Arctic Owlbear: These creatures have white fur and feathers (+12 racial bonus on Stealth checks in snowy areas), and are at home on ice, snow, and even near-freezing water (swim 30 feet).
Pale Owlbear: While most of them look like those on the surface, nearly a third have blue or pink eyes and white or pale yellow fur and feathers, much like other darkness-adapted creatures that lose their coloration. Some of these pale ones have darkvision to a range of 120 feet, while others are eyeless and navigate with scent and tremorsense. Whether normal or albino, pale owlbears are commonly often used by the drow as guards or beasts of burden (pacified by charm magic).
Fruss Owlbear: These hollow-boned, magically bred owlbears can fly, though it is difficult and inefficient for them. Easily distinguished from common owlbears by their thicker shoulder muscles and longer forelimb feathers, fruss can fly at a speed of 30 feet (poor). Flying or gliding for a minute or more causes the owlbear to become fatigued. Though strong overall, the owlbears’ flying muscles are weak, and they cannot carry more than 50 pounds when flying. A fruss can use improved grab while flying, but must immediately land if its opponent weighs more than 50 pounds.
Great Hook-Clawed Owlbear: These owlbears have developed huge claws to enable them to climb endlessly deep dungeon shafts (climb speed 20 feet, base claw damage 1d8).
Screaming Owlbear: Native to the Maelstrom, these creatures are warped by exposure to chaos energy. Stripped of their base natures as animal-like predators, they are now more like chaos beasts—horrors whose forms are governed by their anger. Screaming owlbears are immune to critical hits and transformation magic.
Siege Owlbear: Bred primarily by orcs from the heftiest owlbear stock, siege owlbears represent the largest and most brutal of their kin. Such grotesque beasts tend to be used as stud creatures by orcs and are much prized by chieftains. The siege owlbear is bred for battle, fed a special diet of magically and alchemically augmented meats from a very young age, and trained to tolerate riders or gear such as small ballistas or catapults. Such owlbears have to be controlled by a rider and tend to be unpredictable—often setting off in a direction that suits the mount more than the handler. Even when dealing with the best-trained siege owlbear, a Ride check (DC 20) is required for every new instruction the rider wishes his mount to carry out, failure resulting in the owlbear doing what it wants (which may include rolling onto its back to dislodge the rider so the beast can attack him); once the owlbear is out of control this way, it takes a DC 30 Ride check to get it to obey again.
Sleeyk Owlbear: Magically bred for speed and agility at the expense of strength, a sleeyk owlbear looks thinner and ganglier than a typical owlbear, though still muscular. A sleeyk has a speed of 40 feet, and Strength 19, Dexterity 18, Run as a bonus feat, and evasion.
Slime Owlbear: This monster’s feathers are coated with a green slime that didn’t harm the creature.
Sloth Owlbear: Though these monsters don’t grow quite as large as normal owlbears, they are still as ferocious as their land kin. Their claws are long and curved, allowing them to hang underneath strong branches and drop on prey. Sloth owlbears are slower than common ones (speed 20 feet) but are strong climbers (climb speed 10 feet).
Spectral Owlbear: A pack of ghostly owlbears called occasionally emerge from deep forests on snowy nights. If slain, their bodies vanish at dawn, and many believe these owlbears are actually undead, though they may be a magical variant with the power to enter the Ethereal Plane.