Basilisks are large eight-legged reptiles with the terrifying ability to poison or petrify their prey. They can be found all over Faerûn. Though not malicious, basilisks are indisputably dangerous.
Basilisks can be found nearly everywhere, including subterranean biomes. Typically, basilisks shelter within burrows, caves, or other similar areas. These dens are sometimes distinguished by what appear to be statues, although these are, in fact, creatures that have been petrified by the gaze of the creature.
Although basilisks are known for their ability to petrify their prey only a particular breed is actually capable of this, the stone-eye basilisk. However, both they and the venom-eye basilisk have magically empowered eyes that can be used as a weapon by the creature. This power is fueled by the soul of the basilisk in question and is non-physical in nature
Very little is known about the appearance of this foul creature, for few have survived an encounter with such a terrible beast. It is believed, however, that the basilisk is an eight-legged reptile, measuring up to 13 feet long and weighing 300 pounds. It has a very long tail and small crests of bony growths like crowns, which explain the origin of its name ("King of Serpents"). Folklore states that basilisks are hatched from eggs laid by snakes and incubated by a lizard.
Basilisks can live in nearly any terrestrial environment, from forests to deserts, and the color of their hide and scales tend to match that of his surroundings. Desert dwelling basilisks might be tan or brown, while forest ones will probably have bright green colors. Since they are not homothermic creatures, basilisks usually live in caves, burrows or other sheltered areas, with easy access to water and small animals to prey upon. Such dens are littered with petrified forms of animals (even humans) in lifelike poses - the petrified remains of the basilisk's meals.
It is believed that a basilisk can turn a living creature to stone with its gaze. It is also said that they are poisonous. Some legends refer to an "air of corruption" around the creature. Plinius the Elder wrote that the basilisk "leaves a wide trail of deadly venom in its wake, and its gaze is likewise lethal". The same author gives a detailed (but probably highly exaggerated) description of the creature: "When it hisses, all the other serpents fly from it: and it does not advance its body, like the others, by a succession of folds, but moves along upright and erect upon the middle. It destroys all shrubs, not only by its contact, but those even that it has breathed upon; it burns up all the grass too, and breaks the stones, so tremendous is its noxious influence. It was formerly a general belief that if a man on horseback killed one of these animals with a spear, the poison would run up the weapon and kill, not only the rider, but the horse as well".
A basilisk's diet consists of small mammals, birds and reptiles, but they can eat shrubs and other plants or even stone if needed. It has the ability to consume the creatures it petrifies, as their crunching stomach acid can dissolve and extract nutrients from stone, but the process is very slow and inefficient, making them lazy and sluggish. When hunting, basilisks strike from hiding spots, returning to a safe place after each attack. It usually counts on its poison or petrifying gaze to kill its victims, and rarely stalks victims who resist its gaze attack, save to protect its nest.
The basilisk is also a common subject in the studies of alchemy. Some tomes include it in the family of the salamanders, which symbolize the destructive fire that preceded the transmutation of metals. Others associate the basilisk with the acquisition of wealth. Theophilus of Prestburg, for example, mentions a recipe for turning the basilisks ashes into copper.
The most feared enemy of the basilisk is the weasel. Apparently, weasels and ferrets are immune to its gaze, and they are known to sneak into basilisks lairs to eat their eggs or newly born. The rooster and its crow are also considered deadly do the basilisk. According to Plinius the Elder's tome "Naturalis historia", "to this dreadful monster the crow of a rooster is fatal, a thing that has been tried with success, for kings have often desired to see its body when killed; so true is it that it has pleased Nature that there should be nothing without its antidote. The animal is thrown into the hole of the basilisk, which is easily known from the soil around it being infected. The weasel destroys the basilisk by its odor, but dies itself in this struggle of nature against its own self
Types of basilisksEdit
Although basilisks are usually thought of as one variety of monster there is more than one variety.
- Stone-eye basilisk
- The archetypical basilisk, capable of petrifying its victim with its glare.
- Venom-eye basilisk
- A less famous variety which causes its victims to become poisoned rather than petrified.
DC 10 - Father Maltus' "Servants of the Adversary" states that: "a basilisk is a hideous creature that resembles a rooster, with bat-like wings and a lashing tail" (False: this is the description of the cockatrice).
DC 15 - Doran the White's bestiary describes the basilisk as an "an eight-legged reptilian creature that can turn creatures to stone with its gaze".
DC 20 - Many sources agree that the basilisk's bite is poisonous. Curiously, its poison, while still fresh, can turn recently petrified victims back to normal.
DC 25 - Obscure alchemy tomes suggest that the poison of the basilisk can be conserved and stored by alchemical means and, although not as powerful in this state, it can be used in stone to flesh rituals.
DC 10 - Basilisks are eight-legged lizards that live in underground tunnels.
DC 15 - Basilisks can turn its prey to stone with a glance. Explorers report that a basilisk lair is often filled with small petrified animals.
DC 20 - Basilisks are not very fast, but they can either walk above ground or burrow underground. Their lairs contain small caves and holes. (Partially false: basilisks have no burrow speed, though they do dig caves and holes in their lair).
DC 25 - Alfonso Domingo's traveling diaries mention that basilisks employ hit and run tactics. They remain hidden in their holes and come out quickly to strike and then return to a safe hole. They count on their poisonous bite and petrifying gaze to kill their victims.
DC 10 - A basilisk is an eight-legged reptilian creature that can turn creatures to stone with its gaze.
DC 15 - Basilisks are poisonous. According to Denarian folklore, its poison is so nasty that even indirect contact is enough to kill a person, such as holding a sword that hurts a basilisk. (Partially false: only its bite is poisonous, indirect contact with its poison produces no effect).
DC 20 - Plinius the Elder states in his "Naturalis historia" that "weasels are excellent basilisk hunters and the creature fears their odor". They are immune to the basilisk's petrifying gaze and often sneak into basilisks lairs to eat their eggs. (Partially false: weasels are not immune to the petrifying gaze, but they use their scent ability to hunt with their eyes closed. Having a weasel nearby grants a +2 bonus on perception and survival checks to spot or track basilisks).
DC 25 - A basilisk usual prey includes small mammals, birds, reptiles and similar creatures which it waits to ambush, turn to stone, and then eats at its leisure. They are omnivorous and able to consume their petrified victims, a sign that often indicates a nearby lair.
DC 10 - It is said that the first basilisk hatched from eggs laid by snakes and incubated by a lizard. A basilisk can turn people to stone with its gaze.
DC 15 - Ronald Arkwood, King of the Helveti tribe, killed a basilisk with the crow of a rooster (false).
DC 20 - The saga of Edmund Giantsbane tells that Edmund's father, Sigfried, blinded a basilisk with a spear before killing it.
DC 25 - In the halls of the far north, bards sing the ballad of Lucien and Hermes, in which Lucien of Arcadia was kidnapped and put in a cell guarded by a basilisk. Her lover Hermes killed the beast with its own gaze, reflected in a silver mirror.
DC 15 - Bearing the fangs of a poisonous snake on a necklace or armband makes a person immune to the basilisk's poison (false).
DC 20 - Eating the raw heart of a rooster can protect a person from the petrifying gaze of a basilisk (+2 bonus on fortitude saves for one hour).