Monster Manual A-Z is a series of quick looks at each and every monster presented in the Monster Manual for Dungeons & Dragons 5e. New monsters go up every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday in alphabetical order, touching on lore, mechanics, and ways to use them in your campaign. To search for all Monster Manual A-Z articles, search MMAZ in the search bar as we’ve excluded them from our Roleplaying Games tag to keep things tidy.
Ah yes, the noble petrification chicken, better known as the Cockatrice. These small monsters resemble leathery, hideous, mutated chicken with elements of bat and lizard mixed in for good measure. Their wings and eyes also appear to be fairly effective as they can fly better than a chicken as well as see in the dark. Being small and unarmored, dispatching of a Cockatrice isn’t a hard task- at least, not at a range. A bite or cut from the beak of this creature can transform someone into stone, though only for 24 hours.
As stated, a Cockatrice isn’t the best at withstanding damage or attacks coming their way and their wings will only get them so far before being shot down by a few well placed arrows or firebolts. But making the mistake of getting too close is where the Cockatrice has a fighting chance. While their beak doesn’t do a ton of harm, the potential to turn to stone is scary. Best case scenario is you take a 24 hour granite nap, worst case is you get smashed into a million bits and die upon turning back to flesh. So while the Cockatrice itself may not kill you, they make it very easily for someone else to do the job.
I think there are a few ways to use a Cockatrice in your game, but with any interesting low-level monster I love seeing the different ways that people manage to fit them in. For me personally though, I can think of three main ways. The first would to have it be an inconsequential, yet potentially scary, roadblock. Even if the characters can easily dispatch the thing, one of them being hit and starting to turn to stone could be an unwelcome setback. Secondly, I would make it the culprit in a low-level adventure. Farmer’s cows turning to stone and refusing to leave the barn? Looks like we have a mystery on our hands! (Especially if your players are a bit unfamiliar with the Cockatrice). Third and perhaps most diabolical, make it (or more than one) the pet of the villain of the group, adding an extra element of danger in their encounters, potentially taking out party members at inopportune times. Nothing fancy, but effective, much like the Cockatrice.
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