D&D Monster Monday: Giant Turkey

The year is 1784.

After another night of red wine and debauchery, Benjamin Franklin rolled out of bed, popped a few TUMS, and penned a letter to his daughter, Sarah. In it, he rightfully criticized the eagle design on the USA’s great seal. My man said, and I quote:

Bald Eagle…is a Bird of bad moral Character. He does not get his Living honestly…[he] is too lazy to fish for himself.

…[the turkey is] a much more respectable Bird, and withal a true original Native of America…He is besides, though a little vain & silly, a Bird of Courage.
Source

Did he formally request that the turkey be the national bird of the USA? No, that part’s apparently a myth despite what I swear every history teacher in elementary school taught us the week before Thanksgiving.

What he did say is that turkeys are hella badass and way cooler than bald eagles. Yet due to these dumb eagles getting all the recognition, turkeys have been disrespected for over 200 years.

Here’s a premiere example of this disrespect. WotC had the audacity to stat up a giant eagle and make it the initial big bird flying form for Druids. This is a huge oversight, but it makes sense that most druids are relegated to mediocre animal forms such as a giant eagle.

Circle of the Moon Druids, however, should get a spicier flying Wild Shape option than a giant eagle at level 8. WotC you messed up.

Don’t worry though, we’ll rectify this grave error and give our Moon Druid pals a spicy, festive, delicious, bloodthirsty, flying option. That’s right, today we’re making a giant turkey. Let’s go!

a turkey chasing a mississauga postal worker down the street
Legends say that the giant turkey was created to guard their forest homes against condo development. Credit: blogTO.

Giant Turkey Lore

There are a few turkey facts we need to keep in mind before moving forward. These centuries of disrespect and factory farming have made these badass birds into a complete joke.

  1. Wild turkeys can fly, in fact, they can fly at a top speed of up to 55 MPH. Domestic turkeys lose this ability to fly at top speeds due to the amount of meat we pack onto them.
  2. Wild turkeys do not skip leg day. They can run at speeds of up to 18 MPH.
  3. Turkeys are aggressive, especially during mating season, and will chase and harass people (particularly kids). They’re not known to do much damage, but that’s why we’re making a giant version that does.

Here’s the source for all that info courtesy of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Giant Turkey Stats and Abilities

The statblock for a giant turkey, a CR 2 large beast

Here’s a statblock for the giant turkey. I made this using GM Binder which is a phenomenal tool for creating 5e layouts without requiring any sort of artistic/layout knowledge or skills.

Stats

On paper, their 30 ft. of speed and flying speed isn’t very impressive considering how I doted on their impressive IRL flying speed. However, the turkey isn’t known for flying great distances. Instead, they use short bursts of speed that shatter the sound barrier.

We’ll showcase that portion in the statblock later. Regardless, any amount of flying speed is an impressive boon for a low CR creature.

Giant turkeys are strong, hardy birds. Their +4 Strength modifier drills this point home in the form of deep puncture wounds from their beaks. Their +3 CON modifier and large size grant them 60 HP which is glorious for a CR 2 creature.

Although, their AC is quite pitiful, making the 60 HP a defensive necessity rather than a strength.

All three of their common saving throw abilities are in good standing. Wisdom is the weakest link with only a +1 modifier, but for a CR 2 creature, they’re in a solid position with regards to saving throws.

I was originally going to give them lower INT to match most other beasts, but turkeys are quite intelligent animals. They have a keen memory for geographical features and navigation alongside an inquisitive demeanor and knack for puzzle solving. I felt it was fair for their INT to reflect this.

Resistances, Immunities, Saves, and Skills

There’s not a whole lot to talk about in this section. Their passive Perception is o.k. and their one language is mostly a meme… mostly.

CR 2 is a perfect rating for these creatures. Whoever designed them is clearly a genius.

Jokes aside, this is a beefy CR 2 creature. It has all the tools to one-shot a low-level backline caster with ease, so instead of that, I wouldn’t send in a giant turkey against a low-level party.

Traits and Abilities

Originally I was going to make the turkey’s flying speed 60 ft. per turn to showcase their quick burst of speed. Then I remembered about the orc’s Aggressive trait which lets them essentially take a Dash action as a bonus action provided that they move toward an enemy.

I felt as though this is a better way to illustrate a charging, rampaging giant turkey than simply giving them extra flying speed. Plus it gives more action economy which is always neat.

Blood Frenzy is a fun trait for hitting that aggressive pecking power fantasy I had when thinking up the giant turkey. I wanted the creature to charge at an enemy and go berserk.

I feel like it’s also a more interesting option than the Reckless trait, as this one implies that the turkey gets stronger once they’ve acquired a taste for blood. It also creates synergy with other creatures which is useful as a druid form candidate. You’re incentivized for following-up on your allies’ attacks.

Actions

The giant turkey has only a single attack action, Peck. It deals an average of 11 piercing damage per turn which is pretty decent in its own right.

The extra accuracy that Blood Frenzy provides is a considerable boon to this attack. This combo is also the reason why I opted to include only a single attack instead of two weaker actions to form a Multiattack.

Due to the size of the giant turkey I also gave Peck a 10 ft. reach which in turn gives their enemies a wider radius for proccing attacks of opportunity.

two big turkeys strutting in front of a tree
They’re out for revenge. You’d best not get in their way!

Giant Turkey Strengths

Rapid In-Combat Movement

The giant turkey moves at a respectable pace for such a large bird. They can keep up with a typical medium-sized adventurer without any issues.

However, in combat, they become a speed demon. By using their Bonus action to use Aggressive, the giant turkey can hit up to 60 ft. of movement without taking a Dash action!

This gives them ample opportunity to scout out an ideal target and rush toward them with lightning-fast speed. Most PCs aren’t able to outpace a giant turkey, so good luck to them if they wish to turn the encounter into a chase!

The Winged Executioner

Peck’s 11 piercing damage per action is a respectable attack in its own right. However, it becomes a deadly-accurate piercing attack when used on a target that’s not at full health thanks to Blood Frenzy.

The extra crit chance is a fun perk too from the accessible advantage that Blood Frenzy brings to the table.

This makes the giant turkey into an executioner. A creature that will rush up to wounded enemies and finish them off quickly.

Giant Turkey Weaknesses

Big Turkey, Big Dinner

A common weakness that most beasts have in 5e is that they have bad to mediocre AC. It sucks, but it makes sense since wild animals aren’t known for wearing armor.

Dexterous beasts have a slight advantage in this regard, but alas, the giant turkey is not one of them.

Its 60 HP is enough of a stop-gap to prop up their mediocre defenses for an encounter. However, their 12 AC will almost certainly be the death of them.

Heavily Reliant on Movement

Movement is an enormous part of what makes the giant turkey an effective combatant. Take their movement away from them and you have dismantled the giant turkey’s high-powered offenses.

Any crowd control or movement impairing effects are a death sentence for the giant turkey.

Their solid ability score array will aid them greatly in shrugging off such effects, but as soon as their defenses waver they’re done for. Ranged attackers can safely pepper a restrained giant turkey until it keels over and becomes the party’s dinner.

How to Play a Giant Turkey

Please refer to the following scene from Finding Nemo for precisely how to play a giant turkey:

A giant turkey should go hog-wild on whatever enemy they sense is weakened/bleeding so that they can make the most of Blood Frenzy. They’ll use Aggressive and their quick bursts of movement to get into position and stick on the wounded target until they peck it to death.

5 Giant Turkey Plot Hooks

  1. Attack on Turkey – A well-meaning wizard fed the poor village’s turkeys a growth potion. Unfortunately, these giant turkeys are now rampaging through town and destroying everything. Help!
  2. Lord of the Forest – A giant turkey has guarded and protected its flock in the nearby forest for many years. However, its life is in danger due to a greedy aristocrat offering up a 100g bounty on its beak. The local rangers are looking for some muscle to help them protect this beloved beast.
  3. The Egg Thief – Despite multiple warnings, a teen attempted to steal a giant turkey’s egg. Their parents are offering some coin for their safe return from the giant turkey’s lair where they’re held captive.
  4. More Than You Can Chew – The city zoo needs to make some renovations on the giant turkey’s exhibit. They’re paying for some hardy adventures to keep the beast entertained and safe for a few hours. Easy money, right?
  5.  Revenge of the Birds – The local druid circle is having trouble restoring balance to the forest after the giant turkeys attacked the family of giant eagles. Bring peace to the forest once again and the druids will be in your debt.

Conclusions

The giant turkey is a terrifying, bloodthirsty beast that will surely convince the party to switch to ham next Thanksgiving.

Their quick bursts of speed and relentless pursuit make for a difficult creature to get rid of once you’re its target. With their potent attacks, they’re truly a terror for the party’s backline.

They’re also a respectable option for the Circle of the Moon Druid’s Wild Shape once they can shift into flying forms. They may not bring as much utility to the table as other beasts, but their unique playstyle will certainly make them a viable choice for combat!

Happy Thanksgiving to those who celebrate it, and stay safe!

Previous Monster Monday – Peryton

Next Monster Monday –  Water Elemental

If you enjoyed what you read be sure to check out my ongoing review for all of the official D&D 5e books!

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