A Murder of Crows

(Tom Clare)

Old Soldiers tell of those who disturbed scenes of great carnage – looters or men left for dead – and were suddenly mobbed by great flocks of crows or rooks or ravens or gulls. The harm that such a multitude of frenzied birds can do when the smell of blood is in the air and the madness takes them is formidable. They attack seemingly without regard for their own lives, and can precisely target the vulnerable areas of a man: the eyes, the nose, the lips and fingers. When such flocks of birds begin to gather, those who linger overlong on battlefields should seek shelter.

Swarm Attack

A murder of crows is a swarm attack, avoided with EVASION instead of DEFENCE. The birds will simultaneously attack anyone within a 10 metre radius. For those of low rank the best course of action against such an enemy is probably a rapid retreat.

The victim can attempt to destroy the swarm by attacking as normal but this is unlikely to succeed, unless they are using some wide-area weapon – such as fire or water – against which the swarm’s DEFENCE is halved. Any damage a murder of crows does suffer is removed from its swarm points.

Each round a player-character is attacked by crows roll 1d6; if the result is higher than the flock’s current swarm points the crows wheel away to find easier pickings. Otherwise the attack con­tinues.

Average Statistics

SPEED 14 Beaks and Talons (d10, 1d3-1)
DEFENCE 10 Armour Factor (3: harness 2, scales 1)
MAGICAL DEFENCE 2 Movement: flying - 30m
Swarm Points: 7 Rank Equivalent: 2nd


The precision of an attack by crows can leave a victim maimed. Any time an unsuccessful SPEED roll gives an odd numbered result, the referee should roll on the unkindness table. However, a character can still avoid this by making a successful armour by-pass roll.

2d6 Unkindness

Torn Clothes
The character’s clothes have been shredded and are now useless (if he was wearing armour, of course, this will only affect his surcoat).

Bloodied Eyes
The character has blood in his eyes; -2 ATTACK, DEFENCE, and EVASION until he spends one round cleaning the blood out.

The character suffers damage as normal, but has gained an impressive scar (whereabouts is up to the player).


The character suffers damage as normal.

The character suffers damage as normal, plus a large chunk of the victim’s scalp and hair has been torn off. He takes a -4 penalty to looks whenever he is bareheaded.

The character suffers damage as normal, but a minor extremity has been torn away, and is lost for good. The victim suffers an appropriate penalty whenever he performs a task that requires the missing extremity (speaking, juggling, listening). He may also suffer penalty to looks.

1d6 Extremity Looks Penalty
1 Finger None
2-3 Ear -2
4 Nose -8
5-6 Lip -6

An Eye Plucked Out
The character suffers damage as normal, but he has now lost an eye; he suffers an appropriate penalty to all actions requiring depth perception. This can, over time, be bought off with experience points (say, 25). If the character has already lost an eye, he is now blind.

Major Disfigurement
The character suffers damage as normal. A large part of the his body has been disfigured; clothes alone cannot disguise this marring. The character loses 6 points of looks.

The character’s injury has been badly infected and will begin to rot. He must make a strong poison roll each dawn until the wound receives treatment from a professional healer, or the whole area infected is amputated.

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