One of the most ancient and obscure races in Dungeons & Dragons, the hsiao are a fae species introduced in the Basic D&D Creature Crucible PC1: "Tall Tales of the Wee Folk", then ported to 2e in the Monstrous Compendium Mystara Appendix. They haven't reappeared since.
Hsiao are a race of sapient giant owls, usually around the size of halflings, although reputed to have grown to human-sized in some rare cases. Aside from their sheer size, their most remarkable trait are their golden eyes, which have a tendency to glow.
As a species, the hsiao are a race dominated by study, contemplation and prayer; they are a race of avian philosopher-priests, and probably the origin of the owl as a symbol of knowledge and wisdom. They aren't isolationists, but they don't get on well with most most humanoid races, whom they tend to see as being predominantly young, rash and foolish. Which poses some slight problems, since not only are they pacifists, they also prefer to study rather than hunt, which means they rely a lot on allies and hired underlings to hunt and provide protection for them.
Hsiao social groups average between two and twenty of the faerie owls, being led by a mated couple who serve as matriarch and patriach of the colony, which may also attract non-related hsiao for intellectual reasons. The colonies nest in deep, isolated forests, where they weave soil and branches together to form multiple nests linked by enclosed tunnels.
Such structures actually provide a hint about the nature of their residents. All hsiao nest-complexes are built to a mathematical formula. If that formula creates a simple pattern that is meticulously followed, the resident hsiao tend to be extremely specialized in their studies. On the other hand, broader, more complicated patterns with less focus on detail tend to house hsiao who are more interested in generalist studies - which makes them most likely to become adventurers.
Yes, Hsiao are playable. Of course, this being Basic D&D, they're treated as being somewhere in between a race and a class.
Minimum Ability Scores: Strength 3, Int 6, Wis 8, Dex 3, Con 3, Chr 3 Maximum Ability Scores: Stregth 16, Int 18, Wis 18, Dex 18, Con 18, Chr 18
- Natural Armor Class: A Young (level -3) Hsiao has AC 8, lowering by 1 point each level until it reaches adulthood (level 0), at which point its AC permanently becoems 5
- Natural Weapons: A hsiao can't use artificial weapons, but can attack three times per round with two claw attacks (1d2 at level -3, 1d3 at level -2, 1d4 a level -1, 1d6 at level 0 and higher) and one bite attack (1d2 at levels -3 and -2, 1d3 at level -1, 1d4 at level 0 and higher).
- Magical Creature: A hsiao's natural attacks count as magical and can damage creatures only affected by magical weapons.
- Priestly Magic: Hsiaos progress through spell abilities as if they were a cleric four levels higher, maxing at at 15th level spellcasting ability. They can also use any non-weapon and non-armor magic item permitted to clerics. Finally, they make Saving Throws as if they were clerics ofthe same level.
Hisao Level Advancement:
- Level -3: -8,000 XP, 1d8 Hit Dice
- Level -2: -6,000 XP, 2d8 Hit Dice, One Level 1 spell
- Level -1: -4,000 XP, 3d8 Hit Dice, Two Level 1 spells
- Level 0: 0 XP, 4d8 Hit Dice, Two Level 1 spells, One Level 2 spell
- Level 1: 8,000 XP, 5d8 Hit Dice, Two Level 1 spells, Two Level 2 spells
- Level 2: 24,000 XP, 6d8 Hit Dice, Two Level 1 spells, Two Level 2 spells, One Level 3 Spell
- Level 3: 56,000 XP, 7d8 Hit Dice, Three Level 1 spells, Two Level 2 spells, Two Level 3 Spells
- Level 4: 115,000 XP, 8d8 Hit Dice, Three Level 1 spells, Three Level 2 spells, Two Level 3 Spells, One Level 4 spell
- Level 5: 250,000 XP, 9d8 Hit Dice, Three Level 1 spells, Three Level 2 spells, Three Level 3 Spells, Two Level 4 spells
- Level 6: 500,000 XP, 10d8 Hit Dice, Four Level 1 spells, Four Level 2 spells, Three Level 3 Spells, Two Level 4 spells, One Level 5 Spell
- Level 7: 800,000 XP, 11d8 Hit Dice, Four Level 1 spells, Four Level 2 spells, Three Level 3 Spells, Three Level 4 spells, Two Level 5 Spells
- Level 8: 1,100,000 XP, 12d8 Hit Dice, Four Level 1 spells, Four Level 2 spells, Four Level 3 Spells, Three Level 4 spells, Two Level 5 Spells, One Level 6 Spell
- Level 9: 1,400,000 XP, 13d8 Hit Dice, Five Level 1 spells, Five Level 2 spells, Four Level 3 Spells, Three Level 4 spells, Two Level 5 Spells, Two Level 6 Spells
- Level 10: 1,700,000 XP, 14d8 Hit Dice, Five Level 1 spells, Five Level 2 spells, Five Level 3 Spells, Three Level 4 spells, Three Level 5 Spells, Two Level 6 Spells
- Level 11: 2,000,000 XP, 15d8 Hit Dice, Six Level 1 spells, Five Level 2 spells, Five Level 3 Spells, Three Level 4 spells, Three Level 5 Spells, Two Level 6 Spells
- Level 12: 2,300,000 XP, 14d8 Hit Dice, No New Spells are gained from 11th level onwards
- Subsequent Levels: +300,000XP per level, +1 HP per level
|Dungeons & Dragons 1st Edition Races|
|Basic Set:||Dwarf - Elf - Hobbit - Human|
|Creature Crucible 1:||Brownie - Centaur - Dryad - Faun - Hsiao |
Leprechaun - Pixie - Pooka - Redcap - Sidhe
Sprite - Treant - Wood Imp - Wooddrake
|Creature Crucible 2:||Faenare - Gnome - Gremlin - Harpy |
Nagpa - Pegataur - Sphinx - Tabi
|Creature Crucible 3:||Kna - Kopru - Merrow - Nixie |
Sea Giant - Shark-kin - Triton
|Dragon Magazine:||Cayma - Gatorman - Lupin - N'djatwa |
Phanaton - Rakasta - Shazak - Wallara
|Hollow World:||Beastman - Brute-Man - Hutaakan |
Krugel Orc - Kubitt - Malpheggi Lizard Man
|Known World:||Bugbear - Goblin - Gnoll |
Hobgoblin - Kobold - Ogre - Troll