Tuesday, February 18, 2020

OSE Encounter Activities - Cockatrice (d100)

Another flying foe, Cockatrices overlap a bit with the baleful Basilisk, but are a little less fearsome. Fortunately for clever Players, it takes physical contact (not just a glance or gout of foul miasmic breath) for their petrification power to trigger a saving throw. The OSE illustration is absolutely marvelous for this Monster.

If you’ve ever had the privilege of dealing with Roosters, you might have an idea at just how territorial and cantankerous they can be. Their dinosaur ancestry is terribly apparent and if you were to amplify that with some serious threat-eliminating power like petrification, I imagine you would get a pretty cocky critter.

I’m partial to a “slowly turning to stone” type of petrification for Cockatrices. I relish the idea of spidery calcification radiating slowly from the point of injury in crumbling, chalky seams. Gradually stiffening cemented joints, and eventually belaboring breathing by encasing the lungs. Timers really ratchet up tension.

Perhaps the poor pecked PC has a number of rounds of leaden action equal to the margin at which they missed their throw, or maybe even equal to an Ability Score (you could use Strength or Constitution for this, but I prefer to use Charisma for this as an ersatz “force of personality in the face of reality” as a high score here is often under-rewarded).

This slight delay might give them a little more time to come up with a cure, help slay the beast, or at least strike a suitably heroic (or more easily portaged) pose. I’d be happy to watch them waste additional resources to slow or stave it off further (maybe a Cleric’s Cure spell can grant 1d6+1 additional rounds).

Another option I quite like is adapted from Emmy Allen’s utterly superb product The Gardens of Ynn (reviewed here). From the entry for her take on the Basilisk: On each failed save, the Character loses 1d12 points of Dexterity. This loss represents petrification; the more lost, the more of the victim’s body is turned to stone, until they become a statue at 0 DEX. This has the added feature of modelling the sluggishness by making them easier to hit as they shed any AC bonuses and gradually gain maluses.

You could make any loss above 0 temporary, perhaps crumbling off like dusty, dried mud over a weeks’ time. Or the DEX loss could be stone-cold permanent, giving veteran Cockatrice hunters tell-tale limps and stiffened gaits. It all depends on your table and tastes. I do enjoy the notion that eating the gizzard of a Cockatrice might restore some of the Dexterity lost in this way by a random amount.

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