The eyes of this large gull glow eerily blue. Gray feathers cover much of its robust body, and its long, black-tipped wings are marked with enigmatic symbols. The bird’s yellow bill is heavy and hooked, and its webbed feet bear sharp talons.
Cyphergull CR 2
Speed 10 ft., fly 50 ft. (good), swim 10 ft.
Melee bite +3 (1d4–1), 2 talons +3 (1d3–1)
Space 2-1/2 ft.; Reach 0 ft.
Special Attacks arcane attacks, natural thief
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 3rd; concentration +2)
Str 6, Dex 17, Con 13, Int 6, Wis 13, Cha 8
Base Atk +3; CMB +4; CMD 12
Feats Flyby Attack, Iron Will
Skills Acrobatics +15, Fly +15, Perception +5, Swim +11; Racial Modifiers +8 Acrobatics
Languages Common (can’t speak)
SQ cypher synergy, devour scroll
Arcane Attacks (Su)
Cypher Synergy (Ex)
If the master of a cyphergull familiar is a cyphermage, the cyphergull gains the following cypher lore discoveries if its master has them: analyze scroll, bypass symbol, defensive scrollcaster, and glyph finder. Defensive scrollcaster affects spells the cyphergull casts using its devour scroll ability.
Devour Scroll (Su)
When a cyphergull eats a scroll (a full-round action), the spells in the scroll are stored in the gull’s body. Thereafter, it can cast the spells as though it were a wizard of a level equal to half the cyphergull’s Hit Dice casting spells from a scroll. The cyphergull intuitively understands how the spells function and counts as having the requisite ability score for casting the spell. A cyphergull can store a maximum number of spell levels equal to its Hit Dice.
Natural Thief (Ex)
If a cyphergull succeeds at an Acrobatics check to move through a threatened square without provoking an attack of opportunity from an enemy, the cyphergull also doesn’t provoke an attack of opportunity when performing a steal combat maneuver against that enemy on the same turn.
Environment temperate coasts
Organization solitary, pair, flock (3–11), or colony (12–36)
The noisy, enigmatic cyphergulls are a common sight in coastal cities. Their appearance and behavior greatly resembles those of their mundane cousins—seagulls—but they are far more intelligent.
A cyphergull is a little over 2 feet long, has a wingspan of up to 5 feet, and weighs 3 pounds.
Two cyphergull parents always produce cyphergull offspring, but interbreeding with ordinary gulls also occurs when suitable cyphergull mates are not available.
The chicks of such mixed pairs are usually ordinary gulls, but mating occasionally results in a clutch of cyphergulls.
Cyphergull eggs exude a soft blue glow and bear dark splotches that sometimes form patterns reminiscent of runes. After 3 or 4 weeks of incubation, loud, blue-eyed chicks hatch from the eggs. Over the first 4 years of a cyphergull’s life, different runic patterns appear on its plumage until the creature reaches adulthood and the runes settle to a permanent pattern. Cyphergulls live up to 50 years in the wild and can live even longer in captivity.
Cyphergulls are excellent fliers, but are also able swimmers and remarkably daring. With their mobility and intelligence, cyphergulls exhibit an exceptional variety of hunting strategies. Using their unhinging jaws, they can quickly gulp down many different kinds of prey, including crabs, fish, frogs, rodents, and even smaller birds. Cyphergulls are particularly inventive creatures, especially when it comes to finding food. For example, they sometimes use earthworms as bait to catch fish or set simple deadfall traps. When cyphergulls steal from humanoids, they often work in pairs; one of the birds creates a diversion while the other snatches the prize.
Habitat and Society
Versatile feeders, cyphergulls prefer coastal areas and islands, where they can hunt on land, on water, and in the air.
In late spring, cyphergulls assemble into noisy, densely packed colonies, usually returning to the same spot as the previous year. The breeding season begins a few weeks later when warm summer breezes start coming in. The birds build their nests on the ground, using leaves, twigs, and other plant matter as building materials. Cyphergulls are almost irrationally fond of paper and parchment, and they sometimes go to great lengths to obtain scrolls and books to use as nest-building materials.
Cyphergull colonies have rigid hierarchies, where mated pairs of lower standing build their nests to form a ring around the nests of higher-ranking cyphergulls, protecting them against attacks. Cyphergulls mate for life and are very protective of their nests and the colony; if a predator isn’t deterred by the gulls’ warning calls, the birds cooperatively attack and harass the intruder, using their numbers against bigger creatures. The birds employ surprisingly elaborate defensive tactics, such as feint attacks and false retreats to lead enemies into ambushes.
While food finding and nest building are the birds’ first priorities during the breeding season, cyphergulls exhibit a range of personalities comparable to that of humans whenever survival is not at stake. For example, some are tricksters or collectors who like to annoy others or steal items just to stave off boredom, and most have favorite foods that they seek out. A surprisingly large number of cyphergulls, and nearly always the highest-ranked gulls in a colony, are philosophers who study the world around them, perform simple experiments, and understand the rudiments of logic and the scientific method. Some cyphergulls practice something akin to religious rituals, placing food and other objects on the ground to form runes and remaining motionless above them for hours at a time. Scholars speculate that the birds have a unique ability to interpret the secrets of the Cyphergate, and that studying the birds’ runic writing could reveal ancient knowledge. Cyphermages in particular study cyphergulls in the wild, but clinging to guano-spattered rocks and rooftops to look at birds doesn’t improve their reputation as obsessive eccentrics.
Cyphergulls are curious about humanoids, often observing how they speak, what they eat, and how they live. A common superstition states that killing a cyphergull brings bad luck, so the birds get away with thefts or irritations that would doom other birds. Cyphergulls are intelligent enough to learn languages that humanoid creatures speak, but they lack any speech-producing organs. Their communication sounds like the harsh wailing calls of ordinary gulls, but their system of shrieks is far more complex, and they are capable of communicating even abstract ideas like “ambush,” “deal,” “future,” or “payment” with their calls. This allows them to devise elaborate defensive and offensive tactics, or to negotiate trade deals.
Pathfinder Adventure Path #133: Secrets of Roderic’s Cove © 2018, Paizo Inc.; Authors: Adam Daigle, with James Jacobs, Mikko Kallio, Luis Loza, Jacob W. Michaels, and Conor J. Owens.