No i’m not talking about the tv series – though that’s a fun thing too.
In a lot of ways the thunderbird is not exactly a monster, it seen as many thing to a lot of people, to some a god, to others a nature spirit – and to most it’s the bird from the new Harry Potter film – but what is its story?
A thunderbird is a giant bird, that shoots lighting and eat whales (especially orcas) it’s also a sky spirit of some Native Americans tribes from long before Europeans ever set foot in their land. Story of the great thunderbird could be hard from the tribes Northwest Coast through to the people of the plains, and each tribe has a different one to tell.
The Algonquian mythology tells a story of a thunderbird that controls the upper world and a great horned serpent that rules the underworld. The thunderbird throws around thunder and lightning at the underwater creatures.
Menominee a northern wisconsin tribe tells of the thunderbirds that dwell in a floating mountain, they control weather like thunder, lightning, the hail and rain all the brutality of a storm. In their stories the thunderbird is also the messenger bird of the sun and they like to do great deeds like fighting the minions of the horned snakes known as the Misikinubik.
In Ojibwe story they serve to hunt down evil people and the dark spirits of water, and live on the four winds.
The Winnebago actually have a truly monstrous story of the thunderbird – one steals away a orphan boy and feast on the contents of his stomach and planned to do the same to the boy afterwards, but he was saved by his loyal pet pigeon hawk. These darker thunderbirds still fight with the water spirits, but they don’t distinguish between good and evil ones – in fact in Winnebago myth the thunderbirds started the feud.
Because of this mixture of stories and origins it is seen a variety of ways, and while it need not be a monster it can easily become one.
From beak to claws
- They have the head of a bird but some pictures depict them with ears where others have them having horns.
- They have bird like eyes but they shoot lightning from them.
- They can have a beak or teeth.
- The body is that of a bird but covered in many different bright colours.
- Wings that when they clapped together they make thunder.
- Claws big enough to pluck a killer whale from the sea and carry it away to feast on.
- They live in the mountains and other high up hard to reach places.
- Their feathers are often brightly coloured – especially when they’re actively creating storms.
A dark thunderbird could be at the top of a mountain and your player have to fight it to save children it has abducted.
A cool character might be a warlock, or even a cleric with the thunderbird as their patron – strong electrical powers but an utter hatred for the sea.
Or maybe the evil water god has stolen all of the thunderbirds so he can take over the earth and you the heros must free them to bring back order.
If like to know more about this here some link you might find useful.