Monster Monday #25: Cirb
Updated: Mar 4
Hello all and welcome to this weeks Monster Monday post! I wasn't able to get to it last week, but I have a really interesting choice for this week's monster as it is the final creature in my zodiac inspired selection! For the star sign Aries I have chosen Cirb, otherwise known as the Sheep King or King Of Wethers. Cared for by Brigid, the Irish deity of husbandry, poetry, and protection (among many other things), this particular sheep is said to be the ruler of sheep.
Cirb is an unusual part of Irish myth, said to live alongside many of Brigid's other livestock - Torc Triath (the King Of Boars), and the two ox, Fea and Fumen! Each of these animals has a natural landmark named after them (Cirb's is the Cirb Plains) and they are all said to cry out in pain if there is any form of plundering committed in Ireland. Cirb is even said to rule over the seven famous magical sheep owned by Manannán the sea god, and these sheep were said to be able to produce enough wool to clothe every man, woman, and child in the world!
Sheep are often overlooked when thinking about myth and folklore, but are actually present in many stories, superstitions, and religions worldwide! They often represent new birth, regeneration, fertility and growth. The Sumerian deity Duttur was the goddess of ewes, milk, and dairy, and she was also the mother to Tammuz, the shepherd god. Khnum in Egyptian myth was the ram-headed god of pastoral regeneration and rebirth, and was also one of the oldest deities, supposedly forming human bodies in clay and then placing them in their mother's wombs. In Greek myth Aristaios was the god of shepherds and beekeepers, and an entire cult of dairy farmers on Ceos worshipped him. Sheep are found at the birth of Jesus and Buddha, are dedicated an entire year in the Chinese horoscope, and are associated with sacrifice - either physical (as in the bible or the phrase 'sacrificial lamb'), or spiritual (as is the symbology behind Agni, the Hindu god of fire's special symbol). There is a LOT of fun you can have by including some sheep symbology in your campaign!
So now it's time to check out some stat blocks! Had to be a little creative for this one, but here are my choices!
Starting with Wizards Of The Coast I've ended up going with the Giant Goat (Basic Rules, page 133) as my first choice!
Many of you would probably have thought I'd look at the CR 0 Sheep (Storm King's Thunder, page 142) as my beginners stat block, but I really felt that there were a lot of similarities and the Large CR 1/2 Giant Goat had a little more interest to offer. As well as Sure Footed, the Giant Goat is hardier, faster, and has both Ram and Charge! Considering that Cirb is the king of all sheep, there isn't really anything special about using this stat block apart from it's potential to be larger than the other sheep in the field. However, I maintain that using Beast stat blocks for mythological creatures based around those beasts is always the best way to start, and then magical properties can be layered on top!
Next up is a strong contender from Wizards Of The Coast for a 'magical sheep' - the Nyx-Fleece Ram (Mythic Odysseys Of Theros, page 233).
This stat block does exactly what I'd expect one trying to improve on the Sheep to do! First off, it's a Medium CR 1 Monstrosity which is an increase on a Small CR 0 Beast from the normal Sheep. It also borrows Ram and Charge from the Giant Goat to make it a little better able to defend itself, as well as giving Magic Resistance due to its very special coat. While Cirb is not necessarily violent I would probably increase the size category once more to a Large for a more imposing sheep, change Monstrosity to Celestial, and I'd probably want to give it a few more abilities or a bit more intelligence perhaps to get that CR higher! The most special thing about this stat block however is the Magic Fleece properties. The are clearly based on the Greek legend of the golden-fleeced ram, Chrysomallos, whose magical coat was sought by the Greek hero Jason. But I think there is some scope for a divine boon gifted by the Sheep King in the form of a shorn woollen cloak!
Kobold Press had nothing really to offer sheep-wise, but I stumbled upon a really good stat block when widening my search to cattle as a whole! Check out the Ychen Bannog (Tome Of Beasts, page 413).
So I know that to look at, this creature doesn't really give 'sheep'. But everything in this Gargantuan CR 11 stat block really speaks to what I imagine to be Cirb's peaceful but powerful nature. First up, Peaceful Creature is an excellent addition to really make this creature difficult to capture as it will run from any and all combat if it can. Overrun means that even it running away could be dangerous! If it does attack, its Gore attack is boosted by Ever-Sharp Horns and this makes it pretty deadly. I also loved its Destroying Bellow as this is very reminiscent of when Cirb and his animal companions cry out as in response to plundering.
Now it is time to put Cirb into your game! What could prompt a meeting with the King Of Sheep? Let's get some plot hooks...
The party are tasked with stealing away a magical sheep said to roam the fields of a powerful deity. It is peaceful but guarded by a powerful shepherd or sheep-dog themed guardian of some kind.
The party take the time to rescue a lost lamb for an old shepherd they meet on the road. They reveal themselves to be acting on the behalf of The Sheep King, and reward them with some of his wool that can be turned into a magical cloak.
While travelling through the Feywild, the party come across a delegation of various sentient animals claiming to be the royal rulers of their various species. They are arguing about matters of agriculture, economy, religion, and community.
A member of the party receives troubling visions about villages nearby being plundered and pillaged. The mournful cries of distressed animals that accompany them are overwhelming.
A storyteller sits with the party and tells them a wild tale of endless fields, the peaceful home of many magical herds of livestock whose wool, milk, and other forms of produce all contain distinct magical properties.
This is definitely a favourite monster of mine just purely for the potential for frivolity! I never thought I'd be writing about a King Of Sheep but here we are! Have you ever included royal animals in your campaign? Let me know!