I think that you guys, by now, have probably figured out that I’m a huge fan of mythology. I love the ancient stories of heroes, gods and monsters from across the world, and constantly inject these ideas into my campaigns.
This includes Native American myth, which so often reveres nature and animals, turning them into beasts of incredible power and significance. One of those—which just so happens to be one of my favorite mythological beasts, is the thunderbird. Whether we’re talking about Shadow chasing thunderbirds in American Gods, or the ancient tales of thunderbirds dropping lightning-snakes onto the ground below, the thunderbird is a fascinating myth.
Thunderbirds are servants of the gods, and are nearly gods themselves. They are the reason for the storm clouds above. Their cries and wingbeats are thunder, and their bodies are covered in a corona of lightning. Thunder and lightning are heralds for them, and the storm follows their every move. They travel across mountain ranges, acting as both guardians of holy sites and hunters of those who would defile them.
Though they cannot speak, thunderbirds are quite intelligent and will communicate and even aid those who serve the gods. There are many who believe that if you keep a prayer in your heart and look to the skies, a thunderbird will guide you through the dangers of the mountains and lead you safely to the other side.
There are even some cultures who revere the thunderbirds as gods in their own right, and it is not uncommon to come across carvings and sculptures of these massive beasts on mountain passes.
The following is the stat block for the thunderbird. Note that it includes a lair action. For these purposes, a thunderbird’s lair is considered to be in the mountains, during a storm. That said, they are rarely encountered outside of their lair.
As always, here is the PDF for the thunderbird: PDF