Beasts Of Silverstein: The Lesser Meowl: Familiars, Companions and Pests

Posted by: Jason Silverain / Category: , , , , , ,

First of let me say as a Dungeon Master the internet is a wonderful source of inspiration and general sillyness. One particular piece of amusement I encounter was the concept of the Meowl which was a series of pictures of owls with cat heads and vice versa, with the Owl Bear been one of my favourite fantasy creatures I was instantly attracted to the idea and my mind whirred with possibilities of how these creatures could inhabit the setting I'm working on The Free lands of Silverstein.

After a bit of trial and error I've finished the draft of the smallest of Meowls; the Lesser Meowl these small Meowls were the first to be created and generally used as familiars or pets amongst the wizard community.  

Lesser Meowl
CR 1/2
XP 200
CN Tiny Magic Beast
Init +3; Senses: Superior Low-Light Vision, Dark Vision 30ft, Scent; Perception +9
AC 15, touch 15 , flat-footed 12 (+3 Dex, +2 size)
Hp 6 (1d10)
Fort +3, Ref +6, Will +1
Speed 10 ft., fly 60 ft. (average)
Melee 2 talons +6 (1d4–2), Bite +6 (1d3–2)
Space 2-1/2 ft.; Reach 0 ft.
Str 6, Dex 17, Con 11, Int 15, Wis 12, Cha 8Base Atk +1; CMB +1; CMD 10
Feats Weapon FinesseSkills Acrobatics +4, Fly +11, Perception +9, Stealth +15; Racial Modifiers +4 Perception, +4 Stealth


Superior Low-Light Vision (Ex)

A meowl can see three times as far as a human in starlight, moonlight, torchlight, and similar conditions of shadowy illumination. It retains the ability to distinguish colour and detail under these conditions.
The master of a Meowl familiar gains a +3 bonus on Perception checks.
Environment temperate and hot plains or urban
Organization solitary, pair, or pack (3–12)
Treasure Carried: none, Lair: 50gp to 100gp value in small gems or items scattered across several nests. 
Lesser Meowls typically weigh 5–15 pounds when fully grown and make their nests in high sheltered areas where they can remain hidden or have good vantage over the local area. Their patterns and body shapes often resemble the smallest breeds of owl such as the Elf Owl, Pygmy Owl and Little Owl.

Meowls in Silverstein

Initially bred as an minor project by an ambitious group of young wizards who wished to investigate why many man made magical species suffer from extreme aggression or insanity. The group was wise enough to start small having learned from the various recorded instances of creations turning on their creators and after several initial tests it seemed the combination of cat and owl would not only give them the comparison they desired but also additional chances of success due to a similarity in behaviours and prey preference.

Combining the speed and agility of the owl with the curiosity and intelligence of house-cats, the Meowl is a efficient hunter preferring to prowl nocturnally though if required can adapt to be active during the day also.

While they have avoid the insanity of similar creatures such as Owl Bears they have a tendency to be capricious as a species with personality varying between breed and individuals alike. Their somewhat moody temperaments has often had comparisons made to that of Griffins and some scholars are now beginning to believe that the process that created Meowls could of occurred on a larger natural scale in the development of Griffins.

They also have a intense predator instinct with a need to hunt which if they are not given a distraction or alternative outlet they will fall back upon which can be devastating on local rodent and bird populations (or anything tiny size and below really, Meowls will try anything at least once).
Meowls often crave a varied diet and occasionally horde food in times of plenty which results in them killing more than they can eat and false accusations of hunting for sport, they also will gift kills to another they see as close to them or they wish to mate with.

After startling success Meowls became popular as familiars and pets for those magically inclined much like falcons and hawks amongst the nobility While excellent (if somewhat narcissistic or sarcastic) familiars complications of keeping these animals as pets includes the combination of fur-and-small-animal-skeletons frequently regurgitated in place of hairballs, general difficulty in training and obedience and the fact that a larger Meowl breed if pushed can significantly injure a human.
It was no wonder that some Meowls either escaped or were abandoned retreating into the surrounding cities and countrysides where they adapted and flourished, after it was discovered they could breed true with other Meowls and both regular owls and cats (Resulting in a child of the mothers species).

The effect they have had on the landscape is telling and feral Meowls are considered a major problem in some areas, occasionally they will form packs known as Intrigues which will raid farmsteads for food often killing poultry and water fowl. One particular infamous group almost caused the collapse of a treaty with a fey court after slaying 30 of its smaller members and the truce was only held after a group of adventurers hunted down and slew the band including a Meowl that had achieved a mutation similar to a dire animal.

The Meowl mates frequently and enthusiastically though thankfully in small litters of no more than 4, pairing seasonally. Competition for natural resources and groups ranging from various tiny fey and druids to pelt hunters organising hunts against them has caused their numbers to fluctuate in recent decades but overall they are here to stay.


  1. Jason Silverain Says:

    I've been asked a few times why Meowls are so intelligent.

    This is actually been a long topic of discussion with my friends and there are a variety of views on it.

    Initially in the design we used the owl familiars stats as the baseline, we discussed high Charisma with low Intelligence and Wisdom however that resulted in the perception checks been somewhat lower than a cat or an owl and that was one of the key skills of the Meowl.

    So we experimented a bit and eventually decided that we could keep a balance by moving the 15 Wisdom of a Owl familiar into Intelligence and applied a slightly above average Wisdom.

    Statistically this worked well in our short play test of the critter but as you've pointed out its smarter than most adventurers when it comes to roleplay. I was going to delve a bit bit deeper into fluff this in my next post on the Common and Greater Meowls but here is the general overview.

    As a man made magical creation the intelligence of the Meowls has been enhanced intentionally, partly to reduce the possible side effects of aggression and insanity in their creation as found in similar creature such as owl bears but also as a way of making them easier to train and hopefully more useful.

    Lets just say the Wizard involved was somewhat overzealous in that task.

    While they are intelligent Meowls lack knowledge; they can see patterns, recognise people, even understand basic language to point (much like dog recognises commands) and used basic tools (like a lever or pull chain) if given enough time to learn. Imagine them like the Velociraptors in Jurassic Park, smart able to plan, ambush and create traps, but you wouldn't expect them to suddenly start trying to use the computers.

    With this said when made into familiars or just given the ability to speak via magic they tend to come across as smug little know it alls who believe they understand everything (or if they don't know about it then its not worth knowing) even if how they think they understand it is completely wrong.

    Kind of inspired by from Travelling Matt from the old kids show Fraggle Rock.

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