Scream Beak

If you thought regular screeching was annoying...
  Once a species of parrot birds in the End of All Things, the Scream Beaks were transformed when the apocalypse came. Once known for their ability to imitate speech with startling accuracy, the birds that would become the Scream Beaks were present when gods died and horrors from beyond worlds were slain. Those who weren't obliterated by its impact now carry an echo of those terrible screams with them... Along with a creeping madness that has made them unpredictable and frequently violent.  


Scream Beaks are large birds with a multicolored shroud of feathers, starting at emerald green to bloody red near the tips of their wings. Their origin has twisted their forms and their minds, and their beaks have grown disproportionally large to the rest of their bodies. After a narrow start, it widens into a large twisted snout, filled with teeth from various humanoid species. Young Scream Beaks are sometimes unable to move without assistance, as the quickly growing beak outpaces the rest of their bodies. The Scream Beak's eyes are deep black, except when they scream - then they flashes with a bright light. Eyes plucked from the bird mid-scream retain this spark of magic as a powerful reagent.   The birds get their name from the scream they unleash when threatened, hunting, or angry - the final wail of a god or the furious screech of an immortal horror meeting its end. It is a shout that carries a magic impact, crushing those in its direct path and driving madness into those near it. The effect weakens with distance, but a flock of Scream Beaks are terrors at even hundreds of yards.  
The screams are magic and are resisted as such, on roughly the equivalent of a moderately powerful spell. Earplugs and deafness do not help.
  Whether through some twist of fate in their creation or simple convenience with such a powerful weapon, the Scream Beaks have developed a taste for flesh. They use their screams to incapacitate or outright slay prey, then chew bits of meat off the bodies. Even prey who don't immediately die are often victims of its sanity-blasting effect, hurting themselves or others - either way, creating a meal for the waiting Scream Beaks. Armor offers little protection from the emerald-coated Scream Beak, as a point-blank scream can blast mundane metal into shrapnel. Magic armor works as normal, and is almost a requirement for anyone hunting the Scream Beaks.   The same scream has made something snap with the Scream Beaks, and they are prone to bouts of strange, unpredictable behavior. Everything from falling out of their nests in seizures to attacking everyone around them, these fits last anywhere from seconds to hours. For that reason alone, don't even think about keeping them as pets or familiars.  

In the World

Scream Beaks live in tropical to temperate environments, congregating in small flocks of up to five or six. Competing flocks of the same kind will fight with claw and beak for dominance or territory rather than screams, except when in the throes of madness. They make their nests high in the trees, laying eggs at irregular intervals. Like other parts of the Scream Beaks, these eggs are the potential to be used as a magical reagent - particularly in Arcane Cooking. Once settled, Scream Beaks will only move if they have driven every other animal out of the region, leaving them with nothing to eat.   More than happy to add humanoids to their diet, Scream Birds pose a significant threat to travelers and adventurers going through their territory. Scream Birds will even hunt and kill creatures they have no hope of consuming, such as ogres and giants.  
On occasion, Scream Beak can seem peaceful - even friendly. Such fits rarely last, and when the madness leaves them, they return to their usual, grouchy selves... Usually to the fatal dismay of those who think they made a new bird friend.

The Three Screams

There are there distinct kinds of Scream Beaks, each one supping from a different death for its infamous scream. The emerald-coated Scream Beak is the most common, its weapon the most straight forward.  

Death-Shroud Scream Beak

With a pale white plumage and red eyes, the Death-Shroud's funeral dirge of a scream is rich with Necrotic magic - enough to raise those slain by it as undead. While the bird exerts no control over the risen dead, they'll often follow them and feed off any unfortunates killed by the roaming undead.  

Furyfire Scream Beak

Ruby and blood red, the Furyfire brings a battle madness with its battle-horn like scream. They are believed to carry to final trumpet that sounded the End of All Things, having lost most of its power now that the apocalypse already happened. Even so, the scream of a Furyfire drive people into a terrible frenzy, and sets them on fire.  
Different kinds of Scream Beaks display uncontrollable hostility towards each other and will attack whenever they meet.   Such duels become screaming matches of incredible destruction, as meeting screams collide and explode with sheer magic energy. The sparks that result can be caught and turned into magic components.


The feathers of the Scream Beak are faintly magical if collected at the right time in the bird's life - usually at the same point when they are at their most aggressive and unpredictable. Most mages don't bother, given the risks involved, but sometimes the opportunity presents itself.

Cover image: by Sebastian Wagner


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12 Dec, 2020 11:07

I feel like I might have met some of them in disguise. Was this perhaps inspired by stories of foxes and cats insistently disrupting precious worldbuilders' sleep during Worldember?

12 Dec, 2020 11:26

We might be onto something there... :O

Creator of Araea, Megacorpolis, and many others.
12 Dec, 2020 20:46

I think I have one of these living outside my house masquerading as a "Bluejay with a Bad Attitude" :D

12 Dec, 2020 21:57

There's entire flocks of screaming birds on the trees outside my apartment complex too >.<

Creator of Araea, Megacorpolis, and many others.
12 Dec, 2020 22:13

Aha! So THAT's the source of your inspiration for this one! :D

13 Dec, 2020 14:08

Sounds like a terrifying beast! Brrr, the image of that oversized beak full of teeth makes my skin crawl... Great job!

Creator of the Kaleidoscope System, an alien star system shaped by a colorful radiation source.   My pledge for WorldEmber 2022 turned Worlduary 2023
14 Dec, 2020 09:59

Chompy gnawy birbs :D   Thank you <3

Creator of Araea, Megacorpolis, and many others.
13 Dec, 2020 16:07

These do not sound like pleasant creatures. The description of their beaks gives me the shivers, though the idea that the young sometimes can't move because their beak is so large is kind of amusing.   I like the description of some of the different types. :D

Emy x   Etrea | Vazdimet
14 Dec, 2020 09:55

The toothy beak wasn't planned at first, but it's something that just kinda happened as I was working my way through it :D   Thank you <3

Creator of Araea, Megacorpolis, and many others.
13 Dec, 2020 16:50

The echo of the End of All Things. Living shadows of the apocalypse. These are so wonderfully and terribly made.

My world and three articles have been nominated for World Anvil's Worldbuilding Awards 2022. Please look over the candidates and I'd love your vote if you like my work!

14 Dec, 2020 09:54

Thank you :D

Creator of Araea, Megacorpolis, and many others.
27 May, 2021 21:11

So... Birdwatching is for adrenaline junkies, then?

Lead Author of Vazdimet.
Necromancy is a Wholesome Science.
5 Jun, 2021 10:46

Hah! Very likely ;D

Creator of Araea, Megacorpolis, and many others.
Eternal Sage AmélieIS
Amélie I. S. Debruyne
27 May, 2021 22:17

But - but... I want one as a pet! Cute little murderous bird ❤❤   "On occasion, Scream Beak can seem peaceful - even friendly. Such fits rarely last, and when the madness leaves them, they return to their usual, grouchy selves..." Love the kindness as a form of madness XD

To see what I am up to:WE list of articles and goals.
5 Jun, 2021 10:46

I'm sure I can make a murderous wizardess NPC with a bunch of them as more-or-less pets at some point ;D

Creator of Araea, Megacorpolis, and many others.