Fantastic Beasts and How to Slay Them: Thunderbird

When I first started creating these stat blocks, I did become concerned that I was seeing a lot of very mundane creatures in a list of supposedly ‘fantastic’ beasts. I just had to remind myself that further down the line, there were some very dangerous monsters, including a bird that could summon storms.

And here we are.


Now, nowhere does it say in the description of the Thunderbird that they can use the storm offensively, but I would argue that if you can summon storms, you can bring the lightning.

A flying creature with ranged attacks creates a very challenging situation, particularly for lower level characters. A creature that has a range of ‘anywhere under the storm’ could be especially devastating. So whilst the attack only does 22 points of damage on average, this creature more than earns the Challenge Rating of 8. It might even need to be higher.

The other feature of the Thunderbird required more thought. They are exceptionally alert to danger, to the point where their feathers can cause wands to jump the gun, so to speak.

It would have been easy to slap something akin to the ‘alert’ feat onto the Thunderbird, but that doesn’t seem very magical. The Preempt Danger ability means that, even when asleep, sneaking up a Thunderbird is very challenging.

The only thing I wasn’t sure about is the creature type. The Thunderbird is so entwined with lightning and thunder that it feels more ‘elemental’ than ‘monstrosity’. Choosing the former does mean that one of your characters can use an 8th-level spell to cast Conjure Elemental and pull a Thunderbird in as aerial support. This is either awesome or dangerously overpowered, depending on your perspective.

Personally, I’d allow it. After all, if they lose concentration, the storm wielding, giant bird turns hostile to them. And of course, summoning them only really helps out if the encounter is outside. Otherwise the you’ve summoned a hyper-alert, angry bird into the cramped cave tunnel with you…

Thank You For Reading

All the other Fantastic Beasts have been turned into Dungeons & Dragons monsters. You can see them here.


Author: Rufus Scott

I am a long term Gamer, a full-time History Teacher and a part-time geek. I enjoy writing about the positive aspects of gaming, especially when it comes to education. My posts are sometimes nostalgic, occasionally irrelevant, largely meant to provoke further discussion. I'll sometimes punctuate these whimsical ramblings with a random comment on gaming and/or teaching.

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