Wyverns, wyverns, wyverns, wyverns, wyverns, wyverns, wyverns, wyverns, wyverns, wyverns, wyverns, wyverns, wyverns, wyverns, wyverns, wyverns, wyverns, wyverns, wyverns, wyverns, wyverns, wyverns, wyverns, wyverns, wyverns, wyverns, wyverns, wyverns, wyverns, wyverns, wyverns, wyverns, wyverns, wyverns, wyverns, wyverns, wyverns, wyverns, wyverns, wyverns, wyverns, wyverns, wyverns, wyverns, wyverns!
I like wyverns. Remember what I was saying about one-off dragon species? Yeah, wyverns are that kind of no-nonsense cool. Breath weapon? Spellcasting? Arms? Bah, who need them?—the wyvern has a poison sting and no time for your nonsense.
(Speaking of which, I like that the Bestiary’s version doesn’t feature a dragon with a scorpion tail—I always found that interpretation of a poison sting to be a bit literal-minded—but to each his own; if that’s your thing, cool.)
Wyverns are mostly going to be random encounters or auxiliary monsters. They’re what happens to your party when you try to sneak up the cliff face rather than going in the front door. Violence is the wyvern’s default mode. The rare encounters that go in a different direction will be because the party wants something out of the ordinary (like a steed) or the wyvern is forced to acknowledge that there is something it wants that it can’t claim or achieve on its own. The result will be bitter role-playing likely conducted entirely in resentful, swear-laden Draconic. Loyalty won from a wyvern will be hard-won indeed.
Adventurers recover a stolen clutch of wyvern eggs, only to discover that no right-thinking person will buy them. Worse yet, their attempt to sell them attracts the authorities, who inform them that such a sale is illegal…and given that wyverns have attacked the town three times in the last fortnight, those eggs had better go back where they came from. Now the party has the unenviable task of sneaking up a mountainside to return the eggs without harming them or (ideally) the enraged parents.
Smugglers off the Chalk Coast call the local wyverns “poison gulls” for their seagull-colored markings. Adventurers trying to sneak across the Dawn Channel will almost certainly be attacked by these creatures. However, select Chalk Coast baronies have found the dragons are susceptible to bribery with pearls. Once made loyal, they work well with sea reaver barbarians and beast rider and emissary cavaliers (see Ultimate Combat).
Wyverns have dragons’ facility with interspecies breeding…and none of their restraint. Half-dragon wyverns are usually bred by dragons as trove guardians and vassals, though occasionally young dragons will practice mating with a wyvern when no suitable mate of their own species is available. Fiendish or half-fiend wyverns are common—those of an infernal bent are often steeds or sentinels; those of a demonic bent are whirlwinds of flying fury and poison. Fey wyverns are likely the cause of most sightings of scorpion-tailed wyverns; they usually have a fey father who had some shapeshifting talent (like a particularly advanced or unique pooka). Celestial and half-celestial wyverns are rare in the extreme; they tend to serve holy powers associated with stigmata, painful visions, and spears or archery.
—Pathfinder Bestiary 282
For Golarion campaigns, Isles of the Shackles also offers the more powerful Aashaq’s or forked-tail wyvern, Pathfinder #4: Fortress of the Stone Giants offers the night wyvern, and Pathfinder #36: Sound of a Thousand Screams offers the barbtongued wyvern. Personally I always liked the pteranodon-esque spire wyvern from Sword & Sorcery’s Creature Collection. And in art my favorite wyvern (with rider!—and despite scorpion tail) will probably always be the one on the cover of Dragon Magazine #195.
The word wyvern is related to the French vouivre, which has also found a life of its own in Pathfinder. I’d be fascinated to see the family tree that linked those two monsters!
Going back to yesterday’s discussion of sky god alignments, Mikelibrarian used his genius powers of 1e AD&D and world mythology knowledge to remind me that pretty much every sky god ever is lawful. (Not gonna lie—I feel pretty dumb about this one. I had in my head the chaotic Zeus, Thor, and Aerdri Faenya and I forgot basically every other mythology out there.) He writes:
Three pantheons in the 1st edition Deities and Demigods book, the Babylonian, Central American, and Chinese, were headed by Lawful Neutral gods of the sky: Anu, Quetzalcoatl and Shang Ti respectively.
The Finnish Pantheon was headed by a Lawful good Sky God, Ukko.
Other Lawful sky deities were the Lawful Good Native American god Heng who lived in the elemental plane of Air and was in charge of rain and thunder, Tlaloc the Lawful Evil Central American god of rain that demanded infant sacrifice in return for rain, and the Lawful Evil Chinese god Lei Kung, the Duke of Thunder who brings foul weather at the behest of other gods.
Neutral sky deities include the Babylonian Ramman, the god of storms and thunder, and the Chinese Chih Sung-Tzu, The Lord of Rain.
Thanks so much, Mike!
Not to mention a certain Hebrew storm deity known to be pretty big on laws Himself (though growing up I was always taught that parenthood chilled Him out a little)…