Monday, August 25, 2014

5E Monster Conversion: Thork

I’m a big fan of obscure monsters since they keep the players guessing and surprised. I decided to update the much maligned Thork from the AD&D Fiend Folio for 5E. This is a monster that inevitably has been passed over by DM and player alike for decades. It also has made several lists as one of the worst monsters every created and yet I think it has a certain charm. Resurrection challenge accepted!

In trying to create a good background for the Thork I kept thinking about the 6th labor of Hercules. The task was to drive away a flock of man eating birds which gathered at the lake town of Stymphalos.

These fly against those who come to hunt them, wounding and killing them with their beaks. All armor of bronze or iron that men wear is pierced by the birds; but if they weave a garment of thick cork, the beaks of the Stymphalian birds are caught in the cork garment... These birds are of the size of a crane, and are like the ibis, but their beaks are more powerful, and not crooked like that of the ibis.

Pausanias, Description of Greece

So now we have a great foundation for the thork. The Stymphalian bird was carnivorous with a metal beak, feathers and poisonous dung. Legend holds that the birds belonged to Ares, the Greek god of War. For our conversion I decided to combine some elements of the Stymphalian bird with the Thork.

Hercules and the Stymphalian birds 560-530 B.C.
Photograph courtesy of the British Museum, London
Large beast, neutral evil

Armor Class 14 (natural armor)
Hit Points 28 (3d10 + 6)
Speed 10 ft., fly 60 ft.

STR  16 (+3)
DEX 10 (+0)
CON 15 (+2)
INT   15 (+2)
WIS  12 (+1)
CHR 07 (-2)

Damage Immunities poison
Damage Resistances fire, bludgeoning, piercing, slashing
Damage Vulnerabilities cold

Skills Perception +3
Senses Passive Perception 13
Languages nil
Challenge 3 (700 XP) 


Keen Sight. The thork has advantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on sight.

Flock Tactics. The thork has advantage on an attack roll against a creature if at least one of the thork’s allies is within 5 feet of the creature and the ally isn’t incapacitated. 

Toxic Waste. Anyone within 30’ of a thork dung pile must make a DC 11 Constitution saving throw, taking 7 (2d6) poison damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one. If the poison damage reduces the target to 0 hit points, the target is stable but poisoned for 1 hour, even after regaining hit points, and is paralyzed while poisoned in this way.


Beak. Melee Weapon Attack: +3 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 7 (1d8 + 3) piercing damage.

Boiling Jet (Recharge 5–6). The thork exhales boiling water in a 15-foot cone. Each creature in that area must make a DC 12 Dexterity saving throw, taking 21 (6d6) fire damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one.


These stork like birds live exclusively in or near water. Although they are similar to the stork in appearance and shape, closer inspection will reveal they appear metallic with a coppery sheen. An observer will also notice that wisps of steam  rise from the bird's beak, though no discernible heat is radiated by the body.

The thork are renowned for being extremely vicious and unpleasant in temperament. Worse yet the bird is an insatiable carnivore which enjoys the flavor of human flesh. If it has not fed recently it will attack a human on sight if not terribly outnumbered.

Thork flocks are a plague to most human settlements and they prey on smaller villages on the edge of civilization. Their greenish dung is highly toxic and has been known to ruin very valuable water supplies. The odor of the dung has a unique albeit revolting acidity that most rangers will recognize immediately.    

To attack, the thork squirts a jet of boiling water at its opponent. The bird is capable of sucking in the necessary quantity of water and heating it very quickly. If it cannot heat water it will defend itself by striking with its beak and attempt to draw opponents near its toxic excrement.

When a thork dies its corpse quickly becomes a dried out husk of high quality copper. These have been known to command prices as high as 200gp on the open market. Additionally they are very fond of platinum coins  or other small objects made of that metal; it normally conceals them under a boulder or under a rock face near the water's edge.


Conversion tools:

Creative DM Imagination

Stan Shinn’s 1E to 5E converter

Stymphalian bird history

Original AD&D Thork from Fiend Folio