It’s a bird? It’s a plane? No, it’s a bird. Well, sort of. The Roc is actually a gargantuan aberration that just looks like a giant bird. It’s not an actual bird and won’t behave like a bird if you use Speak with Animals.
Here’s what you need to know about these giant birds of prey.
Roc in DnD 5e
Gargantuan monstrosity, unaligned
- Armor Class: 15 (natural armor)
- Hit Points: 248 (16d20 + 80)
- Speed: 20 ft., fly 120 ft.
- STR 28 (+9), DEX 10 (+0), CON 20 (+5), INT 3 (-4),WIS 10 (+0), CHA 9 (-1)
- Saving Throws: Dex +4, Con +9, Wis +4, Cha +3
Skills: Perception +4
Senses: Passive Perception 14
Challenge: 11 (7200 XP)
- Keen Sight: The roc has advantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on sight.
Multiattack: The roc makes two attacks: one with its beak and one with its talons.
Beak: Melee Weapon Attack: +13 to hit, reach 10 ft., one target. Hit: 27 (4d8 + 9) piercing damage.
Talons: Melee Weapon Attack: +13 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 23 (4d6 + 9) slashing damage, and the target is grappled (escape DC 19). Until this grapple ends, the target is restrained, and the roc can’t use its talons on another target.
History of the Roc: What Is It?
The roc is one of the Sky Titans. In the ancient days of the Forgotten Realms, the Giants battled Dragons for control of the world.
Annam, the father of the Giant Gods, created the Rocs, titanic birds of prey capable of carrying a Giant rider. Annam’s worshippers struggled to fight against the airborne prowess of the Dragons, but that divide would be no more.
By taming Rocs, Giants could take to the skies and wage war against the Dragons in their territory. However, this left the Rocs in the domain of the Giants as enslaved people.
Soon after the war between the Dragons and Giants ended, Rocs would take their freedom from the Giants’ environment and expand their territories throughout the Forgotten Realms.
To this day, Cloud and Storm Giants may still be observed taming and training Rocs. You may even see them riding Rocs and using them in their armies as mounts like in the olden days.
However, despite what might be considered a symbiotic relationship between the Giants and the Rocs, the Rocs have yet to forget the cruelty they experienced from the Giants in the past.
Rocs view anything and everything as potential food, including Giants and players. Rocs are solitary creatures that will never be seen in groups or flocks.
An animal that is as large as the Roc needs substantial food. Rocs tend to prefer food sources as large as they are but significantly slower, such as elephants and whales.
Because of their large size, Rocs tend to avoid areas with lots of covers, like forests, towns, and rocky cliffs. They prefer wide-open spaces with empty skies that they can maneuver through easily.
When it quickly locates an appropriately large, slow, and unprotected target, it will dive down out of the sky and snatch it up in its gargantuan talons.
Rocs nest in massive mountain clefts, far out of the reach of other, lesser creatures. A Roc’s nest will be made of trees—not branches but whole trees—the remains of shipwrecks and caravans, and even tents they’ve trashed and turned to rubble.
These massive tangles are hard to navigate and dangerous as the ancient beasts that built them.
A Roc’s nest may contain treasures from ships or caravans they’ve raided. They have no material attachment to their possessions.
These material possessions are meaningless to them, but they still will not take kindly to their nests being invaded. They will absolutely not take kindly to a group of interlopers traipsing around their home.
Rocs don’t frequently mate because these ancient dinosaurs live for centuries at a time. However, in rare circumstances, a party may happen upon a nest with eggs—yes, Rocs lay eggs; they’re giant bird dinosaurs.
The Roc may be solitary, but given that the species has persisted to the modern day, we can assume that Rocs feel some level of care toward their infant young.
However, based on what we know of the Rocs, they do not flock, and the young will leave the nest to establish their territory in time.
How To Introduce Rocs to Your Party
The silhouette of a Roc looks no different from a standard bird of prey until it draws near and you get a sense of exactly how huge this thing is.
The key to introducing the Roc is to figure out who in the world even knows about such a creature.
It’s important to remember that these are ancient, solitary creatures that avoid human settlements for all reasons.
Since they can’t communicate with mortals—and think themselves above them anyway—these creatures have absolutely no interest in mortal anything.
They don’t even want to eat you, actually. You’re too small to be worth the effort.
Rocs are not about to attack the party—not because they’re not dangerous, violent, or angry (they’re definitely not more afraid of you than you are of them) but simply because they could not care less about the party.
You are small potatoes, not even worth the energy to hunt and eat. A Roc would almost certainly expend more calories swooping down to carry you away than they would get back from eating you.
So yeah, the most challenging part of encountering a Roc for your party is encountering the Roc.
Much like encountering the Rock, encountering a Roc is like meeting a celebrity, except it’s an ancient dinosaur bird and not a professional wrestler.
Look, what I’m trying to say is that if your party wants to encounter a Roc, you have to ask yourself why. Who hurt them? Why do they want to disturb these majestic, whale-eating hermits?
Rocs literally do not want to hang out with you and will leave you alone. You should do the same!
But assuming your party has insisted on the truly psychopathic move of hunting a Roc, you’ll need an in with the Giants, particularly those of the Cloud or Storm variety. These are the Giants who will have the most knowledge of the Roc.
While other Giants have historical knowledge of the Rocs’ existence, the Storm and Cloud Giants still tame these creatures in the modern day.
If someone in the world knows where to find a Roc, it will be Storm and Cloud Giants. They may not take kindly to you hunting their rare mounts, though.
Are Rocs Dangerous?
Rocs do an absolutely incredible amount of damage, especially to low- or under-leveled parties. While a Roc may not have the aggressive damage output that some higher-level monsters have, its damage output is formidable.
A good swing from a Roc will one-shot many squishier characters and gravely endanger tanky ones.
Rocs also cannot be reasoned with. Don’t try to ‘cause the Roc can’t talk and only knows violence. They don’t travel in groups, ever.
So, their threat falls off late-game since you can’t make them more powerful by adding a second, third, or fourth Roc to the encounter.
Rocs are basically dangerous and add to the game from levels 9 until about level 13. After that, including Rocs as an encounter will start to provide diminishing returns.
One way to incorporate Rocs into the game in a higher-level group encounter is to use Rocs as a mount for Giants. In doing so, you cover several weaknesses in the Roc lore for higher-leveled encounters.
Trained Rocs can have buffed stats, making them function like they were of a higher challenge rating.
Additionally, trained Rocs will tolerate the presence of other creatures, notably other Rocs, and be willing—although perhaps begrudgingly—to travel in a flock of sorts.
Furthermore, adding their Giant masters into the fight ups the challenge rating. A small platoon of Roc-riding Storm Giants is a fantastic and unique experience that your party will surely enjoy.
How To Hunt a Roc
Climb a big effin’ mountain? Don’t know what else to tell ya. These things make homes out of mountain peaks and will avoid being anywhere that isn’t wide open.
Rocs may be seen over the sea hunting whales, raising young in the clefts, or as the mounts of Giants. But to find one, you’ll have to go to one of these places.
I don’t know how to impress upon you that Rocs do not want anything to do with you. At all. Nothing.
Unless a Roc is starving, they will not attack you. (Hey, there’s a plot point you can use to get them in your game!)
Realistically, unless you’re going to pick a fight with Giants—particularly those of the Cloud and Storm subraces—you will probably never see a Roc. Find a tall mountain and start climbing if you want to see one!
Can I Tame a Roc?
You can try. If you want to tame a Roc, you’ll probably have to steal an egg. This means a few things.
Firstly, you must find the egg to begin with. Rocs rarely mate, so there’s no surplus of Roc eggs just chilling in the open.
Then you must figure out how to carry it. You’ll probably need to recruit a Giant since Roc eggs are taller than the average humanoid.
Once you have your Roc egg, you have to incubate it—no small task at its size.
Finding a Roc is like finding a needle in a haystack if the needle was a giant bird and the haystack was a series of huge mountains. They really just want to be left alone.
Respect them, and they’ll respect you.
The most essential part of any tabletop game is that you and your friends are having fun. Don’t be afraid to switch it up and bend the rules to improve everyone’s experiences at your table.
If something is working out, there is no need to break it. Just do what feels suitable for you and your table!