Masked Owls - They're probably watching you
Lots of limbs, lots of digits, may or may not have a face. Also, not actually an owl, or even avian. Masked Owls are, well... what you see is what you get. And, in their case, what they see is what they get. More on that, later.
Despite their rather unusual appearance, they are peaceful, intelligent, rare and solitary creatures. If you're lucky enough to ever see one, it will most likely be because they're watching you from afar.
Hereditary influence: High
Environmental influence: Varies
Native to: Owel
Language: Whatever spoken language is common in the area
Ability to reason: Very high, without exception
Climate preference: Any, as long as the terrain contains ample hiding spots. Forests, mountains, hills, brush, etc. Open plains and flatlands are generally not ideal for Masked Owls.
Found in: All over Owel
Affinities: With almost no exception, non-hybrid Masked Owls are primarily Spirit or a subtype of Spirit. Secondary affinities depend on what the Masked Owl has most recently been observing, and may not be associated with Spirit.
Hybrid Masked Owls have only a tendency to be primarily Spirit or a subtype of Spirit. Their secondary affinity, if they have one, is usually dependent on genetics and environmental influences, and not observation.
Weaknesses: Masked Owls are highly susceptible to Light, as it is the element that most easily interferes with their powers of observation. Hybrid Masked Owls are also susceptible to Light, but not to the same degree.
Resistances: Masked Owls, including hybrids, are almost always resistant to their secondary affinity, if they have one.
For Masked Owls, their powers of observation are directly related to their magical nature and abilities. Whatever they can observe, they can know. It just takes some concentration and time. Sometimes a lot of time, depending on what they're observing and whether or not it's something they enjoy observing.
Let's use languages as an example. Everyone knows at least one.
Got a Masked Owl interested in writing, and written languages? It may only take them a week or two to pick up and become fluent in one that they've never seen before, provided it's not too far removed from their list of currently-known languages.
A Masked Owl interested in, say, music and sound would most likely take months to learn a new written language, if they managed to keep the effort up at all. They would excel at learning a spoken language, however, if they were able to actually observe the language being spoken.
Their ability to learn is only restricted to their genuine interests. Generally speaking, the fewer areas of interest a Masked Owl has, the easier it is for them to learn about those interests. Most Masked Owls have only a few areas of interest, and are able to learn anything that falls within those areas merely by watching, or observing it.
They need total concentration to do so, however. A Masked Owl will often watch something for hours before deciding to take a break, and if some outside influence interrupts their focus, they forget everything they were learning from that particular watching-session. This is the primary reason they're such solitary creatures! Nobody wants to have an all-night stakeout / "study session" wasted because their friend knocked on their window to check in on them.
It's also why they like to hide. Masked Owls will often watch other creatures, and most creatures find this extremely unnerving, especially considering how physically grotesque Masked Owls tend to be.
They're harmless though, really. If you feel the fur on the back of your neck begin tingle and you spot a Masked Owl staring at you from off in the distance (or through your bedroom window), don't worry about it. Making any sudden movements or loud noises may break the Masked Owl's concentration, and they'll have to watch you again from the beginning. Remain calm, and consider yourself lucky that a Masked Owl has deemed you interesting enough to learn from.
Masked Owls can have several extra limbs, and their bodies are usually a single dark and unsaturated color. Their masks (which are actually their faces), however, are usually brightly colored, with intricate designs. Hybrid Masked Owls usually have a normal (if oddly-patterned face) and amount of limbs for their non-Owl genealogy.
Masked Owls do not rely on traditional food or water for sustenance, rather, they subsist on knowledge. For a Masked Owl, to observe is to live. Hybrid Masked Owls can only partially sustain themselves through knowledge, as they also possess the dietary requirements of their non-Owl genealogy.
When a Masked Owl is satisfied with what they've learned about their specific areas of interest, they often choose new areas of interest. The old interests and new interests are sometimes incompatible with each other, so "releasing" the old interests is the best way for a Masked Owl to achieve a clear mind and a new perspective.
They are able to remove their mask and shape it into a baby Masked Owl, imbuing it with knowledge of their interests as they do so, forgetting about them in the process. The imbuing process shapes and affects the personality of the baby Masked Owl, but is not the sole factor.
When a Masked Owl chooses new interests after having removed their old face, they will grow a new face, different from all of their previous faces.
Parenting: Masked Owls do not feel particularly drawn toward raising offspring, rather, they will often seek out willing individuals of a non-judgmental nature to raise their offspring for them. If the bond between Masked Owl and foster parent is strong enough, the Masked Owl will take on aspects of the foster parent as they grow, becoming what is known as a hybrid Masked Owl. A hybrid's genetics have had an imprint left on them by the foster parent.