Monster ENCyclopedia: Peryton

Whether they are magical hybrids, alien invaders or creatures warped by a curse, perytons are single minded in their pursuit of their victims. If, as that shape in the sky draws closer, you notice that it casts a humanoid shadow on the ground below, beware! Once a peryton decides it wants to eat your heart, the only way to stop it is to kill it. The peryton has appeared in every edition since AD&D -- join the Monster ENCyclopedia as we take a look at this half-giant eagle, half-stag monstrousity.

Monster ENCyclopedia: Peryton
This is a series of posts about specific monsters from D&D's history. Each entry takes a look at the origin of one D&D creature, and tracks its appearances and evolution across different editions. After a detour to the Tomb of Annihilation last time, we are returning to our alphabetical tour at the letter P, and we are examining the peryton.

Origins and development
The peryton was created by the Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges for The Book of Imaginary Beings (1967). This book collects descriptions of mythical beasts from folklore and literature, and its influence on the selection of monsters appearing in early Dungeons & Dragons is clear. So closely do some of the descriptions match that it seems almost certain that Gygax had a well-thumbed copy to hand when preparing the Monster Manual.

So what does The Book of Imaginary Beings have to say about perytons? Originating from Atlantis, perytons have the head and legs of a deer, but the body and wings of a large bird. They have dark green or light blue feathers and fly in flocks, swooping down to kill. Perytons like to mangle their victims and wallow in the resulting gore, but strangely, they have also been observed eating dirt.

Normal weapons have no effect on a peryton. Uncannily, a peryton casts the shadow of a man. Some suggest that this means they are the spirits of travellers who have died far from home. Others that they are the mortal foes of humans, and only once they kill a man does their shadow become that of their own form.

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Monster Manual (1977)

Compare this to the Monster Manual’s peryton, which is depicted as a cross between a deer and a giant avian. Its upper body and head is blue-black, with jet black horns. The peryton has dark green feathers on its wings and back, and either blue (males) or drab (females) chest feathers. The D&D version has avian feet (“claws too weak to use”) and not the legs of a deer. The text doesn’t mention the peryton’s shadow at all, but if you look carefully at the picture, it does indeed have a humanoid shadow.

Perytons live in mountainous regions, in caves or on cliffs. They attack using their sharp horns, and focus on a single opponent at a time. Once that target is dead, the peryton rips out its heart with its teeth. The heart, it is said, is needed for the creature to reproduce, and perytons will sometimes take captives to fulfil their future food and reproduction needs.

It is suggested that perytons are created by magical experimentation, much like an owlbear. They have their own language. Perytons are chaotic evil, and of average intelligence. They are encountered in groups of 2-8.

They are 4 HD creatures with a single, powerful horn attack (4-16 damage). As in The Book of Imaginary Beings, they are immune to damage from ordinary weapons; a +1 or better magical weapon is needed to fight them. The Dungeon Masters Guide notes that they have class C manoeuvrability, which means they can turn up to 90° in a round, and that they take a round to reach full speed.

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Monster Cards, Set 3 (1982)

The picture of the peryton in 1982’s Monster Cards gives them more colourful plumage, adding bands of yellow to their wings and tail. Perhaps because the illustration doesn’t include a shadow, the card expands the Monster Manual description, to specify that perytons cast human shadows. No explanation is offered for this phenomenon.

The Ecology of the Peryton by Nigel Findley was published in Dragon #82. It adds only a little to what we know of the peryton’s appearance (its body and wings are vulture-like, they are more intelligent than they look) and abilities (clumsy on the ground, a wonder to be feared while airborne) but it provides a far more detailed back story.

Perytons are revealed not to be the result of magical experimentation, but rather natives of another plane. In the history of their home world, the perytons overcame their naturally chaotic and independent nature to subjugate or destroy all other denizens. Then they began to expand to other worlds. In a clear reference to The Book of Imaginary Beings, Atlantis is mentioned as one of the other worlds threatened by peryton conquest.

The perytons originally travelled between planes using natural psionic abilities. It is unclear if those dwelling in this world lost this ability gradually over generations or if some event triggered an instantaneous, species-wide loss. The article speculates that some unconscious manifestation of these long lost abilities is what causes the peryton to project a human shadow until it kills its prey.

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Dragon #82 (1984)

The otherworldly origins of the peryton give it an unusual physiology, demanding a diet that includes meat, plants and even some minerals. Consumed minerals are used to strengthen the peryton’s horns, making them as lethal as sharpened steel. Although these mineral deposits could be a explanation for the peryton’s magic resistance, a more likely reason for this is its other-planar origin.

The eggs of perytons have a metallic shell, the composition of which includes iron, potassium, sodium and nitrogen. It is because of this that female perytons eats human hearts, as they are a rich source of these minerals in exactly the right combination.

Did you notice that the illustration accompanying the Ecology article shows a peryton with hooves instead of claws? At least one Dragon reader did, causing Kim Mohan to explain this discrepancy in the letters column of issue #84. He references the original description in The Book of Imaginary Beings — “legs of a deer” — to justify the art choice.

Other Dragon articles reveal that a peryton has a similar pain threshold to a warhorse (Dragon #118) and that peryton horns are worth approximately 15 gp, while an egg or peryton young can fetch 110-200 gp (Dragon #137).

Perytons appeared in several 1st Edition adventures. They are part of Lolth’s forces invading the dwarven kingdom of Maldev, one of the gate worlds in Q1: Queen of the Demonweb Pits. Perytons are also one of the types of chaotic evil monsters someone might be reincarnated into while in Lolth’s Web. In RPGA4: The Elixir of Life (and again when the adventure was reprinted in C4: To Find a King), a group of four perytons attacks from their lair near the summit of Dadga’s Thumb. Another peryton quartet lives in the Dragonteeth Mountain in N2: The Forest Oracle.

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UK2: The Sentinel (1984)

Nesting in a lake-side villa in UK2: The Sentinel is a family of five perytons, two adults and three juveniles (pictured above). After defeating the adults, the adventurers stumble into a room with four mutilated corpses. In the rafters above, the hungry young perytons prepare to swoop down and attack.

After remaining relatively quiet for the last hundred years, a group of perytons living in Darkmantle Mountain has been struck by the urge to reproduce. They have been preying on travellers in the region, and are intelligent enough to hide the heartless bodies to prevent alerting the local population to their presence. An encounter with these perytons is detailed in REF4: The Book of Lairs II.

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I12: Adventure Pack I (1987)

I12: Adventure Pack I includes an adventure titled Terror in Skytumble Tor. The rakshasa villain of the story is accompanied by a flock of perytons, and groups of them interfere with the adventurers’ progress several times as they investigate the Tor.

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I12: Adventure Pack I (1987)

2nd Edition
In 2nd Edition, the peryton was more closely linked to the Forgotten Realms, appearing for the first time in MC11: Monstrous Compendium Forgotten Realms Appendix. TSR was releasing four new Monstrous Compendium appendices each year at this point, so even though this was the eleventh in the series, it was released a mere two and a half years after Volume One. Not only does the peryton get a full page to itself, it is also one of the monsters featured on the cover. That picture places the peryton’s foot in an odd position relative to its head, so it isn’t surprising that the foot was cropped out when the art was recycled for card #738 of the 1992 Trading Cards.

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MC11: Monstrous Compendium Forgotten Realms Appendix (1991)

The peryton’s stat block is lifted directly from 1st Edition, but the expanded text in the Monstrous Compendium entry embellishes the existing lore for the peryton slightly. They are said to now have glowing red-orange eyes, and they give off a subtle odour that makes them either smell like a human, or instills irrational fear in someone catching the scent. Perytons do not use weapons, nor wear clothes or jewellery. Their language is described as a collection of enraged roars and screeches.

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MC11: Monstrous Compendium Forgotten Realms Appendix (1991)

In combat, perytons obsess over a particular target, and will not change prey even if that would make more tactical sense. If forced to retreat, a peryton will continue to stalk its prey until it can repeat the attack. As well as a dangerous high-speed swooping attack, which the peryton only uses in desperation or as a surprise attack, the creature will also grab human-sized targets and drop them from heights of 100 feet or more, causing considerable damage, if not instant death.

Socially, each nest of 2-8 perytons is usually several miles away from any other peryton nest, and completely independent. Their habit of occasionally taking captives for food or breeding purposes means that some residual treasure may be found scattered between unhatched eggs in the nest. The text implies that eating a heart is a requirement for both male and female perytons to become fertile, and that they remain so for less than a day.

The Monstrous Compendium entry was reprinted in the Monstrous Manual with a new colour picture of a peryton.

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Monstrous Manual (1993)

According to The Complete Barbarian’s Handbook, prices for peryton antlers and eggs have changed since 1st Edition, with antlers now worth 25 gp, but eggs now only valued at between 10 and 120 gp.

A late 2nd Edition adventure in Dungeon #74, First People, has perytons created by Verenestra, goddess of nymphs. When a forest nymph declares herself more lovely than Verenestra, the goddess transforms her into a dark nymph, and her faithful eagle serpents are transformed into perytons who continue at her side.

There isn’t a peryton in The Rod of Seven Parts, but it does have a lumpy mattress stuffed with peryton and giant eagle feathers.

Dragon #266 explores an alternative origin of perytons as the undead spirits of human travellers murdered far from home. They first hunt down their killers, and then prey on other travellers. This sort of peryton can only be appeased if its original body is return to rest in its homeland.

3rd Edition
Perytons remained primarily in the Forgotten Realms for 3rd Edition, appearing in Monsters of Faerûn, the first monster book after the Monster Manual. The illustration is as recognisable as its forebears, but in terms of lore and mechanics, this could easily be a fresh interpretation based on the description in The Book of Imaginary Beings.

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Monsters of Faerûn (2001)

Physically, the peryton now has the head of a “demonic purple stag” and the body of a giant eagle. They no longer have feeble talons, and attack with two claws, two slams (horns?) and a bite. Resistance to weapons is still present, in the form of damage reduction, and the peryton has scent, flyby attack and multiattack. It is now a 5 HD creature, but can advance to as much as 15 HD, becoming large in size at 11 HD. These perytons are unable to speak, but understand Common and possibly other languages.

No longer invaders from another plane, perytons are the creation of an unnamed, twisted deity. They are miserable creatures who hate life, and believe they can ascend to something better by consuming the perfect heart. Some of them believe that the heart has to be harvested under specific conditions, leading them to keep humanoid slaves in order to achieve those conditions. The peryton’s unusual shadow is tied to this need -- the shadow is always that of the last creature whose heart the peryton consumed.

Their obsession with eating the perfect heart spills over into combat. Although they do hunt in groups, perytons struggle to cooperate in battle, as each creature fears that another will find the perfect heart first. Perytons have little interested in any creatures other than humanoids with hearts. For some reason, they will not eat the heart of an elf, although they will still kill the elf out of spite. Their special heart-rip ability means that the peryton consumes a heart if it makes a special coup de grace attack. Someone killed in this way cannot be raised, but can still be resurrected.

The 3.5 rules update resulted in a few minor changes to the peryton, including the addition of darkvision (60 ft) and low-light vision as special qualities it possesses. Dungeon #106 includes a stat block for a large 11 HD advanced peryton.

4th Edition
The peryton made its 4th Edition debut in early 2011 in an adventure written for the D&D Experience convention. In Kalarel’s Revenge the frost witch known as the Rime Mistress is accompanied by two of the beasts, but as a neutral party, she (and the perytons) are equally likely to end up as temporary allies as locked in combat with the heroes. The adventure borrows the details of the peryton from Monster Vault: Threats to the Nentir Vale which was published later that same year.

Sadly, in Threats to the Nentir Vale the peryton does not get a fresh illustration; instead the picture from Monsters of Faerûn is recycled. This version appears to revert to most of the 1st/2nd Edition lore, but mirrors the mechanics of 3rd Edition, with the peryton having similar attacks, including a claw snatch using its talons, which are strong enough to carry off another medium-sized creature.

In combat they have the tenacity of a 2nd Edition peryton, choosing a single target to attack and returning to stalk that particular prey even if driven away. In colour, the 4th Edition peryton also matches its 2nd Edition forebears, with glowing red-orange eyes, a blue-black head, black antlers, and either light blue (male) or drab brown (female) chest feathers.

A completely different backstory is suggested here, with perytons said to be elves transformed by a hideous curse. One of the reasons for their desire to consume hearts is to remind themselves of what they once were. However, the write-up also confirms that female perytons must consume humanoid hearts in order to become fertile and be able to reproduce. This only works for fresh hearts, explaining their habit of taking captives for later consumption. Having overcome their 3rd Edition aversion to the taste of elf, perytons now prefer the hearts of elves, half-elves, and humans. The peryton’s shadow is once more linked to the eating of hearts, with the shadow of a fertile female reflecting her true form, rather than the generic humanoid shadow the creatures usually cast.

A larger, more powerful variation known as an elder peryton is included in the Threats to the Nentir Vale. These are craftier than their smaller relatives, and prefer to stalk their prey and attack with a stealth dive. They also have a cursed bite which causes the victim to take additional damage if he or she targets any opponent other than the attacking peryton. Unlike all previous versions, this peryton has no special immunities to nonmagical weapons.

Earlier descriptions do mention that incidental treasures -- possession of earlier victims -- may be found scattered in and around peryton nests, but this is given more emphasis here as a source of “treasure galore”. This is potentially a good story hook to encourage adventurers to risk confronting the creatures.

Peryton eggs have appreciated over the past two editions, surpassing even their 1st Edition value (110-200 gp), and can now be sold for “several hundred gold pieces” to the right buyer.

5th Edition
The peryton made it into the 5th Edition Monster Manual, but was also previewed in the D&D Next adventure Dead in Thay, where there is a brief encounter with four adults and four young perytons. (This was later reprinted in Tales from the Yawning Portal.)

Comparing these two versions gives us some insight into the development of the most recent peryton. In D&D Next, it has 4 HD, a low AC of 11 and attacks for 2d6+3 damage with either a claw or gore attack. In the Monster Manual the peryton has been made more resilient, with 6 HD and an AC of 13, but it only does 1d8+3 gore damage or 2d4+3 damage with its talons.

The peryton’s special dive attack changed from giving it a free gore attack following a successful dive and claw attack to simply doing an addition 2d8 damage on any attack following a dive. While it has complete immunity to damage from nonmagical weapons in Dead in Thay, in the final version the peryton only has resistance to such weapons.

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Monster Manual (2014)

Dead in Thay doesn’t include any background information on the peryton, just the stat block. The Monster Manual goes into more detail. The broad strokes here match previous versions: perytons hunt humanoids (preferring elves, half-elves and humans) in a singleminded manner because females need to eat their hearts to reproduce. When she consumes the heart, a peryton’s shadow briefly reverts from humanoid to peryton in shape.

Comparing the peryton description to all previous versions, it matches 4th Edition most closely. However, despite these similarities, we are presented with yet another origin story for the creature. A scorned wife cut out the heart of her husband’s mistress and consumed it as part of a ritual. Although she was hanged for her crime, the carrion birds that consumed her corpse were warped by the residual ritual magic and became the first perytons.

So, depending which edition and who you ask, perytons are either magically created hybrids, invaders from another plane, spirits of travellers murdered far from home, creations of a twisted deity, eagles changed by the goddess of nymphs, elves transformed by a hideous curse, or birds warped after eating the corpse of a wicked heart-eating woman. If there is a D&D creature with a less consistent origin story across editions, we have not yet covered it in the Monster ENCyclopedia series!

Perytons also make a limited appearance in Princes of the Apocalypse where they appear on the random encounter table. Presumably the gatewarden survived such an encounter, as there is a peryton head mounted in his quarters.

Perytons and gods
According to the Monster Manual II, the demonlord Pazuzu is able to summon perytons.

In the Moonshae novel trilogy, Tristan and his companions fight a flock of perytons summoned by the god Bhaal.

The Beastlord Malar of the Forgotten Realms is detailed in Faiths & Avatars and known to have an association with perytons. He is served by rare spellcasters capable of breeding such unnatural creatures.

Perytons and other monsters
The hundar (“horse-bat”) from Dragon #90 (later renamed “hendar” in MC11: Monstrous Compendium Forgotten Realms Appendix) is said to tolerate perytons in the same area.

Although perytons are invulnerable to most nonmagical attacks, griffons have been known to prey on them, according to Dragon #161. Both perytons and griffons are known to eat whipstings, tentacled creatures detailed in Dragon #197.

The magical hybrids knowns as wolveraven (City of Splendors) show promise as a way to keep peryton numbers in check. Similarly, according to the New Draconic Monsters web enhancement, dragonnes serve a valuable role in keeping down populations of perytons.

Monster Vault: Threats to the Nentir Vale notes that mooncalves often find themselves at odds with perytons.

The 5th Edition Monster Manual suggests that chimeras and manticores are the perytons’ greatest rivals for territory. It also notes that cloud giants keep perytons, griffon and wyverns as hunting beasts, similarly to humans keeping hunting hawks.

Perytons and magic
Perytons have powerful wings, which makes them immune to the scatterspray spell (Dragon #97).

The lifeblend spell from FOR8: Pages from the Mages is a powerful necromancy spell. It can be used to merge two different creatures to form a hybrid, and perytons are one of the types of creatures the spell can create.

The adamantite mace spell from Player’s Options: Spells & Magic does damage to “magical avians” including perytons.

The find minion spell in Dragon #228 is a more powerful version of find familiar, and the peryton is one of the creature that may be called by the spell. A wizard with a peryton minion gains immunity to nonmagical weapons for a limited period each day. Similarly Dragon #302 suggests that a peryton can be summoned using the 3rd Edition summon nature’s ally V spell.

Halaster’s quaff, a powerful potion detailed in Volo’s Guide to All Things Magical, requires six drops of blood from a peryton’s heart as an ingredient. The potion -- if it works, which is unlikely -- grants permanent immunities to a variety of magical effects. In Dungeon #195 it is hinted that peryton blood could also enhance the powers of spellstop, a concoction which inhibits the imbiber’s ability to use magic.

Birthright
The Birthright Campaign Setting boxed set notes that perytons can be found in Cerilia. This is confirmed by reports of perytons in the Erebannien hills in the south of Roesone (Player’s Secret’s of Roesone).

Dark Sun
According to Dragon #185, perytons can be found on Athas.

Dragonlance
The only evidence of perytons in the Dragonlance setting seems to be in the Key of Destiny adventure, which mentions a wrecked merchant ship named Peryton in Port Balifor.

Eberron
Perhaps because the 3rd Edition peryton appeared exclusively in Monsters of Faerûn, it seems to be quite a rare creature in the Eberron setting. Dungeon #175 mentions that the city of Fairhaven used to have an inn known as Peryton’s Pride, so the creatures are likely known to the residents of the area.

More conclusively, the final adventure in the Xen’drik Expeditions series (EXP-9: Endgame) contains a sequence in which the adventurers are riding griffons, dire bats, pegasi, and/or hippogriffs and engaged in a bombing run on the ruins of Tir-Forel. A group of perytons is teleported into play by an enemy wizard to stop the heroes. These are not ordinary perytons though; there are four advanced (14 HD) perytons accompanied by a peryton priest (an 8th level cleric) and a peryton ravager (a multiclass barbarian/fighter).

Forgotten Realms
Even before being moved to the Forgotten Realms monster books in 2nd and 3rd Edition, perytons already had a strong presence in Faerûn. They are first mentioned in the DM’s Sourcebook in the original boxed set, linked to rumours of new Beast Lord in the North. FR5: The Savage Frontier follows up on this rumour, revealing the Beast Lord to be a scheming illithid, and placing it (and accompanying perytons) in mines located in the ruins of Dekanter at the edge of the Lonely Moor.

Perytons they can also be found in escarpments and highlands of the Moonshaes (FR2: Moonshae), in the Thunder Peaks between Cormyr and the Dalelands (FRS1: The Dalelands), in Aglarond and Rashemen (Spellbound), in the Serpent Hills (Elminster’s Ecologies Appendix II), living in the Cloud Peaks on the border of Amn (Dragon #232), in the border kingdom of Hawkgarth (Polyhedron #124), and in the Starspire Mountains of Tethyr (Lands of Intrigue)

Invisible perytons can be found in the Citadel of the Witch-King Zhengyi in Vaasa (H4: The Throne of Bloodstone) and terrorising the streets of Arabel (FRE1: Shadowdale). Peryton bones, on the other hand, might be spotted in the kingdom of Delmyr on the eastern flanks of The Glittering Spires. The halfling residents of Delmyr place monster skeletons as warning markers around the edge of their woods (Dragon #269).

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Dragon #269 (2000)

In Cormyr, the Horn and Spur tavern gets its name from the giant peryton antlers mounted over the bar (Volo’s Guide to Cormyr). These may have come from an expedition to nearby Skull Crag, where perytons numbers are growing. The Sea of Fallen Stars mentions a superstition that carrying a peryton feather protects against death by shipwreck.

In the past, the Flying Plague (a horde of perytons, harpies, and manticores) reduced the Moonsea city of Lis to ruins (The Moonsea). Forgotten Realms Adventures, updating the world for the Time of Troubles, includes an oblique suggestion that perytons may be survivors of a previous magical godswar.Volo’s Guide to the Dalelands mentions that perytons were previously a problem in the Dun Hills of Glaun, but are no longer so.

Monsters of Faerûn notes that the orc King Obould has an arrangement with the perytons in the Spine of the World. They deal with intruders from the east, in return for slaves and prisoners, leaving the Many Arrows orcs to focus on the Silver Marches to the south.

According to the 3rd Edition Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting, perytons can be found in the Giant’s Run Mountains, the Starspire Mountains, the Walls of Halruaa, and the Lonely Moor. They also live in the Forest of Lethyr (Unapproachable East), the Channath Vale, Dustwall and Giant’s Belt Mountains, the Great Rift, the Shaar, the Rathgaunt Hills and in the mountains known as The Walls which surround Halruaa (Shining South). Off the coast to the north of Waterdeep lie the Red Rocks islands, home to a few perytons (Environs of Waterdeep). They are also rumoured to dwell in the Desertsmouth Mountains (Dragon #286).

Located in the town of Quaervarr, the Whistling Stag inn and hunting lodge has peryton antlers on display, and the inn’s house guide, Huntmaster Quickleaf is willing to act as a guide to would-be peryton hunters for a fee of 10 gp per day. Silver Marches also details a peryton-infested stronghold in High Torog. The sorcerer Telkoun has allied with these perytons, and they serve him loyally, acting as his scouts and repelling intruders from Telkoun’s Tower.

According to Lords of Darkness, perytons are sometimes used by Zhentarim skymages as mounts.

Greyhawk
A pair of perytons can be encountered in the Crypt of Lyzandred the Mad.

Mystara
According to the encounter tables in Mystara Monstrous Compendium Appendix, perytons inhabit the world of Mystara. Glantri: Kingdom of Magic confirms that they can be found in great numbers in Glantri.

Nentir Vale
Perytons are relatively common in Nentir Vale, roosting in the Dawnforge Mountains, the Cairngorn Peaks and the Stonemarch. Settlements located near these mountain ranges often fall prey to attacks, and hire adventurers to eliminate peryton nests. According to Monster Vault: Threats to the Nentir Vale, the dwarf champion Lun Stoneblade was snatched by a peryton and carried off to the Cairngorn Peaks. His magical axe was never recovered and might well still lie at the bottom of a nest.

Planescape
Planes of Chaos includes perytons in the resident list for Pazrael’s realm of Torremor in the Abyss. This is a layer consisting entirely of beams and perches for avians, and it has no apparent bottom.

The adventure Dead Gods features a strange travelling circus known as the Cynosure, on tour in Pandemonium(!). They keep perytons enchanted to perform tricks during their shows.

The city of Blurophil is located on a huge metal disk floating in the elemental plane of Air. High above the city hovers a chunk of earth known as Sorrow’s Roost, which is home to a rilmani (creatures who watch over balance in the elemental planes) named Vassilon and a peryton named Ert. The lone survivor of a peryton attack on Vassilon, Ert swore to serve Vassilon in return for sparing his life. Ert appears, incidentally, to be the only peryton in D&D history with a name.

Ravenloft
In the trophy room of Heather House in I10: Ravenloft II: The House of Gryphon Hill there are heads of a gorgon, hell hound, lion, owlbear, peryton and black dragon.

Miniatures
Two official D&D peryton miniatures were released nearly two decades apart. Ral Parth released a metal miniature towards the end of its AD&D Monsters line in 1996, and WizKids released a prepainted plastic peryton in 2015. Irritatingly, the colour scheme on the painted mini doesn’t match the 5th Edition description at all.

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Ral Partha 11:530: Peryton (1996), image from the Lost Minis Wiki

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D&D Icons of the Realms: Elemental Evil #23: Peryton (2015), image from Wizards of the Coast

Comparative statistics
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References
The Book of Imaginary Beings, p115-116 (1974)
Monster Manual, p78 (December 1977)
Dungeon Masters Guide, p52 (August 1979)
Q1: Queen of the Demonweb Pits, p5, 17 (June 1980)
Monster Cards, Set 3 (May 1982)
RPGA4: The Elixir of Life, p11 (July 1983)
Monster Manual II, p41 (August 1983)
Dragon #82, “The Ecology of the Peryton”, p10-12 (February 1984)
N2: The Forest Oracle, p25 (February 1984)
UK2: The Sentinel, p18-20 (February 1984)
Dragon #84, “Out on a Limb”, p3 (April 1984)
Dragon #90, “Bats That Do More Than Bite”, p23 (October 1984)
C4: To Find a King, p27 (February 1985)
Dragon #97, “Pages from the Mages IV” p34 (May 1985)
I10: Ravenloft II: The House of Gryphon Hill, p36 (September 1986)
Dragon #118, “Arrrgh!!!”, p42 (February 1987)
REF4: The Book of Lairs II, “Terror in Skytumble Tor”, p59 (April 1987)
I12: Adventure Pack I, p66-70 (May 1987)
Forgotten Realms Campaign Set, DM’s Sourcebook of the Realms, p41, 76 (July 1987)
FR2: Moonshae, p11, 16, 18 (November 1987)
H4: The Throne of Bloodstone, p17 (May 1988)
FR5: The Savage Frontier, p44 (August 1988)
Dragon #137, “Treasure of the Wilds”, p18, 21 (September 1988)
FRE1: Shadowdale, p10 (May 1989)
Forgotten Realms Adventures, p11 (March 1990)
Dragon #161, “The Ecology of the Griffon”, p93 (September 1990)
MC11: Monstrous Compendium Forgotten Realms Appendix (December 1991)
1992 Trading Cards, #738/750 (September 1992)
Dragon #185, “Mastered, Yet Untamed”, p18 (September 1992)
Monstrous Manual, p286 (June 1993)
Dragon #197, “The Dragon’s Bestiary”, p38 (September 1993)
FRS1: The Dalelands, p58 (October 1993)
City of Splendors, Duhlarkin Monstrous Compendium sheet, (July 1994)
Mystara Monstrous Compendium Appendix, p124-125 (July 1994)
Planes of Chaos, The Book of Chaos, p32 (July 1994)
The Complete Barbarian’s Handbook, p123 (January 1995)
The Moonsea, Player’s Guide, p32 (January 1995)
Glantri: Kingdom of Magic, The Grimoire, p21 (March 1995)
Birthright Campaign Setting, Rulebook, p89 (June 1995)
Player’s Secrets of Roesone, p7 (June 1995)
Spellbound, encounter chart cards (June 1995)
Volo’s Guide to Cormyr, p156-157 (July 1995)
FOR8: Pages from the Mages, p68-69 (August 1995)
Elminster’s Ecologies Appendix II, The Serpent Hills, p10 (September 1995)
Faiths & Avatars, p106-107 (March 1996)
Dragon #228, “Greater Familiars of Faerûn”, p81-82 (April 1996)
Player’s Options: Spells & Magic, p170-171 (May 1996)
Volo’s Guide to the Dalelands, p207 (June 1996)
Heroes’ Lorebook, p105, 126 (July 1996)
Dragon #232, “Wyrms of the North: Balagos”, p84 (August 1996)
The Rod of Seven Parts, Book One: Initiation to Power, p83 (August 1996)
Volo’s Guide to All Things Magical, p85-86 (September 1996)
Polyhedron #124, “The Border Kingdoms: Hawkgarth”, p6 (October 1996)
Lands of Intrigue, Book One: Tethyr, p56, 69 (August 1997)
Dead Gods, p108 (November 1997)
Tales from the Infinite Staircase, p81-82 (May 1998)
Crypt of Lyzandred the Mad, p24 (October 1998)
Dungeon #74, “First People”, p33-40 (May 1999)
Sea of Fallen Stars, p16 (August 1999)
Dragon #266, “50 Monster Maximizers”, p54 (December 1999)
Dragon #269, “The New Adventures of Volo: Hin Nobody Knows”, p85 (March 2000)
Monsters of Faerûn, p69 (February 2001)
Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting, p142, 158, 194, 224 (June 2001)
Dragon #286, “Elminster’s Guide to the Realms: Shattershree’s Rest” p73 (August 2001)
Lords of Darkness, p103 (October 2001)
Silver Marches, p14-15, 81, 133-137 (July 2002)
Dragon #302, “The Summoner’s Circle”, p28 (December 2002)
Unapproachable East, p90 (May 2003)
Dungeon #106, “Tammeraunt’s Fate”, p37-38 (January 2004)
Monster Update, a web enhancement for the Player's Guide to Faerûn, p5 (March 2004)
Key of Destiny, p104 (May 2004)
Shining South, p81, 83, 85, 91, 128, 158, 161, 174 (October 2004)
Environs of Waterdeep, City of Splendors web enhancement, p11 (May 2006)
Xen’drik Expeditions, EXP-9: Endgame, p39-43 (2006)
New Draconic Monsters, a web enhancement for Dragons of Faerûn, p6 (March 2007)
Dungeon #175, “Explore Fairhaven: Villains and Vagabonds”, p74 (February 2010)
Kalarel’s Revenge, p12-14 (January 2011)
Monster Vault: Threats to the Nentir Vale, p80, 84-85 (June 2011)
Dungeon #195, “Ed Greenwood’s Eye on the Realms: Spellslayer Wine" (October 2011)
Dead in Thay, p48, 95 (April 2014)
Monster Manual, p39, 150, 213, 251 (September 2014)
Princes of the Apocalypse, p30, 97 (April 2015)
Tales from the Yawning Portal, p140 (May 2017)

Other ENCyclopedia entries
Visit the Monster ENCyclopedia index for links to other entries in this series.
 
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Comments

Xaelvaen

Explorer
I especially like all the research you did to pinpoint printed adventures in which they were particularly used. A nice read, and hope to see more in a series like this.
 

Xaelvaen

Explorer
Why thank you as always Morrus - now I have something to read this morning to continue procrastinating from what I should be doing! Just as a note, though, I also meant my comment as a desire to see the series continue ;)

EDIT: Apparently the link was in the article above as well, but the image attachments at the bottom made me missed it - but thanks nonetheless =D
 
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Echohawk

Shirokinukatsukami fan
EDIT: Apparently the link was in the article above as well, but the image attachments at the bottom made me missed it - but thanks nonetheless =D
I've looked but I can't figure out how to suppress the images from appearing again at the end of the article. Sorry about that!
 

Xaelvaen

Explorer
I've looked but I can't figure out how to suppress the images from appearing again at the end of the article. Sorry about that!
No worries at all, it was more me apologizing for Morrus having to link it to me as well when I should have seen it in the original article haha. Seriously, well-written. I'm up to Drider now in the backlog and hope you do a lot more in the future =)
 

Richards

Adventurer
Every time one of these articles appears on the front page of EN World it brightens up my whole day. I love all of the detail you bring to these write-ups. Thanks once again, Echohawk! (And I have an adventure in my home campaign coming up that will feature a nest of four perytons as an initial encounter. I'm looking forward to springing them on my players' PCs - they've never encountered perytons before.)

Johnathan
 

fuindordm

Villager
Nice article!

The various pelgrane scenes from Dying Earth are always my inspiration for role-playing perytons.

Ben
 

MNblockhead

A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
Once you reach the end the alphabet, you should find a way to publish this. I would love to have a nicely bound version of this on my bookshelf.
 

Jhaelen

Villager
Perytons are odd. There's always been a somewhat mysterious aura about them. The various attempts to re-write their origin story indicates I'm not the only one who feels that way. Unfortunately, mechanically, they aren't particularly inspiring. Imho, they work best as part of the backdrop, a threat to commoners, maybe as part of a murder mystery, but not as a combat challenge.

Great article, as usual!
 

Celebrim

Legend
Perytons are odd. There's always been a somewhat mysterious aura about them. The various attempts to re-write their origin story indicates I'm not the only one who feels that way. Unfortunately, mechanically, they aren't particularly inspiring. Imho, they work best as part of the backdrop, a threat to commoners, maybe as part of a murder mystery, but not as a combat challenge.

Great article, as usual!
They are odd, but they are not comical, and so I put up with their oddness.

I ran an adventure that involved a town besieged by perytons who were actually bandits that fell under the curse of an ancient treasure and were doomed to eternally guard the horde against all would be thieves. I thought the monstrous but sylvan nature of the beasts, combined with the fact that they cast the shadows of men worked perfectly for that, and it's fairly easy from the source material to make them mechanically more interesting - the heart devouring death blows, their disturbing shadows, and their raptor like nature suggests a great many things you could do.
 

trancejeremy

Villager
We actually have a local mythological monster here in St. Louis called the Piasa that resembles a Peryton somewhat. At least it's a winged thing with antlers.
 

Cleon

Adventurer
Excellent work as always, Echohawk.

I did notice an inconsistent date for the original source:

Origins and development
The peryton was created by the Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges for The Book of Imaginary Beings (1967). This book collects descriptions of mythical beasts from folklore and literature, and its influence on the selection of monsters appearing in early Dungeons & Dragons is clear. So closely do some of the descriptions match that it seems almost certain that Gygax had a well-thumbed copy to hand when preparing the Monster Manual.


References
The Book of Imaginary Beings, p115-116 (1974)
According to Wikipedia, those are both wrong - the Book of Imaginary Beings was originally published in Spanish in 1957, while its English edition was published in 1969.
 

Echohawk

Shirokinukatsukami fan
Excellent work as always, Echohawk.

I did notice an inconsistent date for the original source:



According to Wikipedia, those are both wrong - the Book of Imaginary Beings was originally published in Spanish in 1957, while its English edition was published in 1969.
I'm impressed you noticed, but I think the dates in the article are technically correct. Manual de zoología fantástica was published in 1957, but the peryton was only added when the book was revised in 1967, which is also when it was first titled El libro de los seres imaginarios, hence the first date in the article.

Then, although the first English language edition was published in 1969, I used the 1974 Penguin English language version as my reference, hence the date in the list of references. I used the 1974 version because I don't have a copy of the original 1969 edition, and because my more recent illustrated 2005 Pengiun Classic version uses "Perytion" as the English language translation, so it didn't seem quite as helpful as a source to reference.

So as confusing as those dates might appear, as far as I can tell they are correct :).
 

Cleon

Adventurer
I'm impressed you noticed, but I think the dates in the article are technically correct. Manual de zoología fantástica was published in 1957, but the peryton was only added when the book was revised in 1967, which is also when it was first titled El libro de los seres imaginarios, hence the first date in the article.

Then, although the first English language edition was published in 1969, I used the 1974 Penguin English language version as my reference, hence the date in the list of references. I used the 1974 version because I don't have a copy of the original 1969 edition, and because my more recent illustrated 2005 Pengiun Classic version uses "Perytion" as the English language translation, so it didn't seem quite as helpful as a source to reference.

So as confusing as those dates might appear, as far as I can tell they are correct :).
Ah so it was technically correct. The best sort of correct, at least that's what Futurama told me.

That explains it.

I suppose it could be a bit more technically correct with the text tweaked along the lines of:

The peryton was created by the Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges for the 1967 revision of The Book of Imaginary Beings.

References
The Book of Imaginary Beings, p115-116 (Penguin Books, 1974)
 

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