D&D Basic Monsters: Cockatrice

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The cockatrice is described as a hideous hybrid of a lizard, a bird and a bat. It appears in the original Monster Manual, and is probably most known for its ability to turn its victims to stone.

It is a classical monster with roots from the medieval, or even earlier. It was sometimes describes as a dragon with a roosters head, and it was believed that the cockatrice was the product of a roosters egg hatching. The line between the cockatrice and the basilisk was sometimes blurred, but apparently the latter is rarely depicted with wings.

In legends the cockatrice was best known for its ability to kill people, either by its breath, its touch or sometimes by its gaze. For some reason it was thought that the weasel (and possibly also the mongoose) were the only animals immune to the cockatrice's glance. In D&D it's always been the touch from the beak that has been the source of the cockatrice's greatest threat, not killing outright, but turning the victim to stone.

Back in the early days this transformation was permanent (or at least until reversed by the appropriate spell), but in newer editions the petrification process has become harder, requiring more than one failed save, and in 5th edition the duration is limited to 24 hours.

Of course, no one seems to have given much consideration to the cockatrice's diet - unless it consists of rocks (a petravore ?), turning any potential source of food into stone by touching it with your beak must be a major disadvantage when eating....

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