Medium beast, unaligned
Armor Class 13
Hit Points 45 (7d8 + 14)
Speed 55 ft.
Skills Perception +4, Survival +4
Senses passive Perception 14
Challenge 5 (1,800 XP)
Endurance Hunter. The cockatrice has advantage on saving throws against exhaustion.
Pack Tactics. The cockatrice has advantage on an attack roll against a creature if at least one of the cockatrice's allies is within 5 feet of the cockatrice and the ally isn't incapacitated.
Sure Footed. The cockatrice has advantage on Strength and Dexterity saving throws against being knocked prone.
Multiattack. The cockatrice makes three attacks: one with its bite and two with its claws. If it has a creature grappled in its jaws, it may trade the bite attack for two additional claw attacks.
Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +6 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 6 (1d6 + 2) piercing damage. If the target is a Medium or smaller creature, the cockatrice can choose to grappled (escape DC 15) the target and may end the grapple without expending an action or bonus action.
Claws. Melee Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 10 (2d6 + 3) slashing damage.
Unbridled Fury. In response to being hit by a melee attack, the cockatrice can make one melee weapon attack with advantage against the attacker.
Eudromaeosaurs have a long and storied history in Kaimere, being the dominant mesopredators since the Tyrant Dynasty. However, while many Kaimerans are familiar with dromaeosaurs, the ancestral ambush predators are no longer that common in the Known World, having been replaced by new, pursuit hunting dromaeosaurs known as cockatrices. The most successful and recognized of these dromaeosaurs belong to the genus Infernogallus, which is the dominant mesopredator in the Known World by a significant margin.
Shifting Strategies. During the Tyrant Dynasty, eudromaeosaurs of the Known World were much like those seen in the panels of prehistory, being ambush predators that were fast but not terribly adapted to run down prey. These animals hunted using a method known as "raptor prey restraint," which involves pinning their prey to the ground and gripping them in their powerful claws and, using the wings to keep stable above them, biting into them as they begin to consume the prey, still kicking and wailing.
Although Kaimerans consider all eudromaeosaurs "cockatrices" much like how all canids are considered "dogs," true cockatrices evolved on the eastern continent of Kairul around 30 million years ago and have very different hunting strategy to more basal eudromaeosaurs: unlike their ancestors which have flexible feet with separated metatarsals, cockatrices have fused ankle bones which gives the foot more strength and allows for better pursuit hunting. Although the pursuit itself may take awhile, the kill is usually quite swift, with the cockatrice first establishing a bite then stabbing it with either one or both sickle claws (depending on the size of the prey) causing them to die of shock and blood loss. Although cockatrices generally prefer small game, this reflex to pierce allows them to brawl with larger animals and they are notoriously tenacious. In addition to this, although they cannot chew through bone, their serrated teeth applied in a vigorous sawing motion allows them to process bones during the dry season which lets cockatrices make the most of what little is available on a carcass.
The endurance and pursuit hunting of cockatrices set them up for success in the wake of the Dynastic Extinction, as once titanosaurs reclaimed the world open forests abounded and grass prairies spread by ungulates of both the Oligocene and more recent harvests. Cockatrices first came to the Known World around 12 million years ago, with their feathers offering protection against the oppressive heat of the equator as much as insulation, crossing the bridge between Kairul and Ni'Kar. These first cockatrices were small and did not dramatically shake up the ecology of the Known World and were solitary. The second wave of cockatrices arrived around 8 million years ago and were much more social, initially dominating but survived today in the hound cockatrices. The final wave of cockatrices were much larger than the previous ones and includes the genus Infernogallus, which has quickly dominated the mesopredator niche and forced other such predators into specialization.
Kings Among Paupers. As previously stated, cockatrices are the dominant mesopredators of Kaimere, more specifically the Infernogallus species known as the common cockatrice. While impressive armaments and endurance are important factors for this, the true key to their success is a fission-fusion lifestyle, were in they live in large groups but hunt alone. While hunting they are almost always within eyesight of another member of the flock, gulping down anything small they can catch but keeping eyes out for weakness in local megafauna or carcasses to scavenge. If a large animal shows signs of weakness or a suitably large dead animal is around, the cockatrices assemble into a swarm and mob the prey or rival predators, with one becoming five and five becoming twenty. Despite megaraptorans being the dominant apex predators, it is actually common cockatrices that forces mammalian predators to specialize in burrowing or caching their kills in trees, made only more extreme by the fact that they need little food and feed mostly on small game meaning they come to a kill in much more fit shape than the predators that expended their energy taking down large game. Females average slightly larger and males tend to have more ornate headgear but as females are just as combative, with a large rooster-like comb atop their head and a pair of fleshy struts that flair out whenever the jaw is opened, making an intimidating display. While the standard cockatrice is an ochre red, black feathered morphs are common especially in forested habitats.
Although the common cockatrice is the most widespread dromaeosaur in the Known World, they are not the only member of their genus to enjoy success. On the Houze Prairie of Ni'Kar, the most common cockatrice is the fosnu, or running vulture. Some of their prey is colorblind and thus cannot see their striking blue crests, but the fosnu is actually known to use this against those who can, using the color to scare prey into running and letting the dromaeosaur casually jog behind until the prey collapses. Most interesting about the fosnu is their penitent to bond with the common, or Kaimeran stripped, hyena, both of which are specialized for endurance but the former can run longer while the latter is faster. Working together, with the hyena grappling the target and the fosnu going for the throat, leads to more successful hunts in both species. This partnership developed on the eastern continent and was brought with them to the Known World about a million years ago. Together with the black, cockatrices have defined the landscape of Kaimere and are the reason they have forced mammalian predators to specialize or die.
The black cockatrice is the largest of the genus, preferring cursorial ungulates like deer in the titan gardens and being solitary. A Black Cockatrice does not have the Pack Tactics trait. It is a Large creature, has 52 (7d10+14) hit points, has a Strength score of 16 (+3) (with damage modifiers to match), and the following trait and actions:
Boreal Camouflage. The cockatrice has advantage on Dexterity (Stealth) checks made in forest environments.
Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +X to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: X (1d6 + 3) piercing damage. If the target is a Large or smaller creature, the cockatrice can choose to grappled (escape DC 15) the target and may end the grapple without expending an action or bonus action.