Pyrolisks (Cockatrice Variants) | Monster for Dungeons & Dragons Fifth Edition

Cockatrices are one of those monsters that make awesome a-hole monsters at early levels but aren’t much to fear later on. However, back in second edition, the cockatrice had a firey cousin called the pyrolisk. Which, frankly, was way worse than a cockatrice. Or most other monsters for that matter.

What is a pyrolisk?

Frequently mistaken for its less malignant relative, the pyrolisk is virtually identical to the cockatrice except for the single red feather in its tail and the reddish cast of its wings. Whereas the cockatrice is motivated by instinct alone, the pyrolisk revels in spreading mayhem.

Anyone who locks eyes with a cockatrice catches on fire. And those that are really unlucky burn to a pile of ashes.

The pyrolisk’s mortal enemy is the phoenix, although any creature which the monster encounters is likely to be attacked.


Small monstrosity, neutral evil

Armor Class 11

Hit Points 44 (8d6 + 16)

Speed 20 ft., fly 40 ft.

Abilities Str 6 (-2), Dex 12 (+1), Con 14 (+2), Int 5 (-3), Wis 13 (+1), Cha 6 (-3)

Damage Immunities fire

Senses darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 11


Challenge 1 (200 XP)

Immolating Gaze. If a creature starts its turn within 30 feet of the pyrolisk and the two of them can see each other, the pyrolisk can force the creature to make a DC 12 Charisma saving throw if the pyrolisk isn’t incapacitated. On a failed save, the creature magically bursts into flame, taking 5 (1d10) fire damage; until someone takes an action to douse the fire, the creature takes 5 (1d10) fire damage at the start of each of its turns. In addition, if the creature is still on fire at the end of its next turn it must repeat the saving throw. On a failure, the creature’s hit points are reduced to 0 and it burns down to a pile of ashes. On a success, the creature continues to burn as normal but does not need to make any additional saving throws.

A creature that isn’t surprised can avert its eyes to avoid the saving throw at the start of its turn. If it does so, it can’t see the pyrolisk until the start of its next turn, when it can avert its eyes again. If it looks a the pyrolisk in the meantime, it must immediately make the save.


Peck. Melee Weapon Attack: +3 to hit, reach 5 ft., one creature. Hit: +3 (1d4 + 1) piercing damage.


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The toughest part about a monster like this is how to give an appropriate challenge rating. Its base attack of bite doesn’t do too much damage. And it has defensive CR of 2. But two failed Charisma saves means a dead PC. Yet, the DC is only 12. Of course, there are two different ways to avoid getting that far.

I say try it out! If you end TPKing your whole party, then whoops. We chalk that up to a learning curve. 😉

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