Imagine a creature with the head of a dragon, the mane of a lion, the body of a stag and the tail of an ox. Add a solitary horn upon its forehead and the form of the ki-lin is complete. Sightings of this magical and dangerous beast are very rare and thus trophy hunters are said to pay a high price for the horn of the legendary beast.
Ki-lin can have their horns glow deep red, which casts Earthen Fury (917). You might want to resist the temptation of playing with one for too long. While low leveled creatures, the ki-lin is able to reproduce the casting strength of their target when casting Mana Disruption (702), making them dangerous even to capped hunters. These spells might be distinguished by whether their horn glows "brightly" or "deep red" in the spell prep.
Ki-lin are rare and can only be summoned under certain conditions. One known condition is monastic liches summoning them "under duress." They can also be summoned by Sheruvian monks using the same methods. They are much more likely to be summoned against a group. Although the horns are not exceptionally valuable at furriers, they are highly sought after by players. Ki-lin are considered extraplanar beings.
The describe verb does not provide the description above from the website, which probably came from the Rolemaster bestiaries for ki-rin. It only says:
"You have never seen anything quite like a ki-lin, so you are not really sure what to make of it or how dangerous it might be."
However, Spirit Beast ki-lins exist, and have the following description that might provide a clue to the appearance of their living brethren:
"The ki-lin appears to be a Spirit Beast. The near-mythical beast is a creature with downy white fur and an improbably long horn that would be as white as the freshly driven snow, if it were not stained darkly with blood. Frayed remains of a saddle cling haphazardly to its back, a thunderous warning to anyone that the creature is not, in fact, a pretty, pretty unicorn."
- GemStone III Log
A Sheruvian monk gestures arcanely. Suddenly, a rift appears in the air in front of you! Snorting and stamping, a ki-lin thunders through the rift into the room! A ki-lin directs its pent-up magical energies at [name]! CS: +84 - TD: +99 + CvA: +12 + d100: +97 - -5 == +99 Warded off! The ki-lin looks a little dubious about its situation. The ki-lin gallops down. A ki-lin gallops in. A ki-lin tries to bite [name]! AS: +205 vs DS: +313 with AvD: +34 + d100 roll: +51 = -23 A clean miss. A ki-lin snorts and paws the ground impatiently.
- GemStone IV Log (2019)
Strength Matching [Name] gestures at a Sheruvian monk. [Name] stares at a Sheruvian monk. CS: +548 - TD: +164 + CvA: +25 + d100: +13 == +422 Warding failed! The Sheruvian monk drops its black steel jeddart-axe. The Sheruvian monk lets out a blood curdling scream! The Sheruvian monk falls to the ground and lies still. The ki-lin's horn glows brightly for a moment. (Mana Disrupt) A ki-lin directs its pent-up magical energies at [Name]! CS: +548 - TD: +461 + CvA: +4 + d100: +85 - -5 == +181 Warding failed! Target reels from brutal strike for 55 points of damage! ... 9 points of damage! Large lesions sprout on [Name]'s shield arm. He is stunned! General Properties A monastic lich waves a skeletal hand! A jagged tear in the fabric of reality appears in the air before you! Snorting and stamping, a ki-lin thunders through the rift! A ki-lin charges at [Name]! AS: +229 vs DS: +494 with AvD: +26 + d100 roll: +53 = -186 A clean miss. The ki-lin's horn glows deep red for a moment. (Earthen Fury) A ki-lin directs its pent-up magical energies at [Name]! The ground beneath [Name] begins to boil violently! Fiery debris explodes from the ground beneath [Name]! [SMR result: 100 (Open d100: 1)] She dodges out of the way! A ki-lin stands back up with a snort. >assess ki-lin The ki-lin is large in size and about four feet high in its current state. The ki-lin is too easy for the likes of you! Reanimated (Note: The ki-lin do not perform ambients when reanimated. They can be healed using a hollow soulstone wand.) An animated ki-lin gestures mystically! Nothing happens. An animated ki-lin stomps at [Name] with its foot! AS: +226 vs DS: +530 with AvD: +44 + d100 roll: +50 = -210 A clean miss. An animated ki-lin tries to bite [Name]! AS: +222 vs DS: +465 with AvD: +34 + d100 roll: +58 = -151 A clean miss.
Behind the Scenes
- Historical Context
Ki-lin were malevolent creatures of sea and ice in Rolemaster, who would pretend to be unicorns to defile virgins. They supposedly had the power to teleport themselves, and were symbolically important because they were creatures of darkness who would never "ally with Demons or evil lords." In principle, it would have been "impossible" to summon them for aid in this way, which was apparently intentional. Our ki-lin seem to have more to do with the root Qi-lin concept itself, originating in Chinese folklore, which would appear with birth and death of immortal sages and rulers.
They were given the Rolemaster description of Ki-rin, benevolent aerial creatures, who resided high in the air and rarely came down to earth. This may have also been intentional, being even more impossible. Ki-lin proper resembled greyhounds with a stag's head, and were creatures of absolute freedom. It is not clear that either of them would have originally been considered extra-planar beings, unless the ki-lin teleportation powers were planar like some of Uthex's minions. Interestingly, harbingers were supposed to ride black unicorns, but those of Sheru used nightmare steeds.
One possible motivation for the ki-lin could have been the dread and forbidden city Yian-Ho on the Plateau of Leng, mentioned in the Yog-Sothoth based "Through the Gates of the Silver Key", which is based on the city of Yian from "The Maker of Moons". The maker of moons is a Chinese themed sorcerer in what is probably an unknown dimension who has warped the bodies of a lake dwelling race which control dragon-like reptiles as appendages. This may be another possible motive behind the myklian, which were seemingly not based on a Rolemaster extra-planar entity. It will also provide an explanation for all of the lizards in the huge cavern, which seem to be the only small fauna that still survive in The Broken Lands. Robert Chambers was also the author who invented the King in Yellow, suspected of being the hooded figure in the Nameless Monastery of Lovecraft's Dreamlands, and whose Yellow Sign is thematically consistent. Qi-lin of mythology are also associated with the Yellow Emperor of China. This would all be assuming the later concept of the Broken Lands, released in 1993 and 1994, was planned when the monastery was released in 1992. This might not be correct.