My first encounter with a cockatrice was in my first Dungeons & Dragons game. I was playing a Dwarven warrior and opened a treasure chest to find this dangerous creature lurking inside. It turned me to stone before I could get a look at the tiny figurine. What I saw was that my character was turned to stone by an angry chicken. So Cockatrice and Chicken shall forever be entwined in my mind. Now, this is a real mythological creature with a complicated birth and a relation to the Basilisk. I think I remember it being born in a certain material on a certain day with a certain star in the sky. Really exact.
The picture at the top is kind of right for the Windemere version only it’s more feathery and no leather wings. Some have colorful tails if they grow big enough. Their ‘stone stare’ is not as potent as one would think since it is a slow enchanted instead of an immediate change. In the wild, the Cockatrice will pin its prey or injure its legs to give itself enough time for the change. Then they shatter the statue to eat the internal organs that have been turned into clay. Being a favorite dungeon and treasure horde trap creature, most of these are found in abandoned ruins. Small flocks of 4-5 can be found in the wild, but only those areas that have barely been touched by even the most basic civilization.
I’ve yet to decide how big a threat the cockatrice will be throughout the Windemere stories since they are a tough one to include. It’s really a high fatality monster even with the reduction in stoning ability. Unlike the ‘version’ found in the series so far, the ‘true’ Cockatrice’s power can’t be reversed simply by looking away. It means I’ll have to decide if I should cripple a character, add fodder solely to show the power, or never give them a chance to use it. A warning to all fantasy authors: Think before unleashing a deadly beast on the group. No kills can reduce their future potency.
Check out these two books for more Cockatrice fun. Click the Covers!