A to Z: F is for Flightless Birds

The image at left is of an ‘axe beak’ from the Monster Manual (1e) rather than an image of ‘flightless birds.’ Flightless birds don’t have a picture and I always liked the axe beak picture. The axe beak can’t fly (neither can the penguin), so I suppose it qualifies as a ‘flightless bird.’ He also looks kind of pissed off.

‘Flightless Birds’ is one of those Monster Manual entries that always makes me want to say, “Hah…hah…what the fuck?” when I read it. According to Saint Gygax, they are ‘typified by the ostrich, emu and rhea.‘ It also says that they have between 1 and 3 hit dice and can inflict 1-4 or 2-8 damage! Gygax clarifies that the ostrich types have 3 hit dice and do 2-8 damage. So, in D&D, an ostrich is more likely to kill you than an average homicidal man with a hatchet who will have only 1-6 hitpoints, attack as a 0 level creature and inflict only 1-6 damage each time he whacks you with his hatchet. What the fuck? I met someone once who worked at the zoo and she said the ostriches were kind of mean and cranky, but I never heard of them killing people. On the other hand, having a 1st level party getting TPK’d by a flock of “the other-other white meat” while taking a shortcut across a pasture is kind of funny.

Inspired by pictures like this(below), I’ve always wanted to create ostrich cavalry for Aldeboran:

One Comment on “A to Z: F is for Flightless Birds”

  1. Chris says:

    On the strength of that picture I always imagined the Axebeak as moving in a series of contrived poses, like a male catalogue model.

    “Point into the middle distance. Now shade your eyes. More towards the camera love.”

    Terrible thing to do to the terror birds. 🙁

    Also, rhea cav: mandatory.

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