Physical and Mental Traits
Griffons are very distinctive in appearance, with the fore-body of a bird and the back end of a feline. The species of bird tends strongly towards the predatory. Hawks, eagles, owls and falcons are particularly common. Unlike normal birds, they often have the ears of their feline ancestry. Griffons of scavenger descent, such as vultures or ravens, are seen in equal parts shrewd and scheming. Such griffons have a reputation for being fast thinkers, but frail. Those few griffons of herbivorous and prey species are shunned by some, but those most loyal to the Sun King know them to be seers and mystics. Only a griffon with the humility forged of being born to prey status can prostrate themselves fully before their god and hear their words clearly. These aspects do not carry true from parent to chick every time. With interbreeding between various combinations of griffons, one can never be entirely sure what will result. Their hands, which appear much like talons when on all fours, are agile enough for fie tool use. While in flight or when standing on their feline legs, griffons enjoy the use of any tool a humanoid would in much the same fashion.
The fur and feathers of griffons are kept immaculate when at all possible. Griffons feel they are the shining example of the Sun King’s brilliance, and carry themselves tall, proud, and clean. Griffons do not typically have hair, but those of maned feline species are fond of braiding their hair and interweaving bits of gold and platinum. The more displayed, the more success or wealth the griffon claims. Their tails are usually left naked, but merchants often adorn their tails with bangles and rings as symbols of their wealth.
Priests are also fond of the practice, though they use holy symbols. Clothing for the rest of their form varies by region and station, running the full gamut from nothing at all to full courtier attire. The difference between males and females is slight. Males tend to be a little larger than females, but their overall strength is close enough to put neither in a clear advantage in personal conflict. Both are possessed with a powerful sense of self-agency and importance, and are not prone to allowing others to dictate their actions. Mated pairs, as a result, form from griffons that see eye to eye on most issues. Couples that disagree often go their separate ways, unless they enjoy arguing.
Though other races know them as fierce predators, griffons are slow to draw blood from kin. When conflict arises between them, it is usually settled in display of skill, strength, and bravery. The challenged may choose the nature of the contest, and both will elect a champion to participate. If the loser cannot be satisfied with the result, they may demand trial by combat, though doing so without a good reason is seen as a sign of weakness. Not because fighting is a poor challenge—it is not— but the fist challenge was lost, and all the losing tribe proves is poor sportsmanship and desperation.
Strength and Perception
Griffons have powerful builds and lean mass. Consummate predators, they delight in hunting up close, with melee weapons or bared talons and beak. Until the arrival of the elven fleets, griffons were slow to adopt weaponry outside what the Sun King granted them. It is still considered a simple delight to complete a hunt with nothing but the will to fight and survive, but as human— and eventually dwarven—tools were imported griffons began to use their strength to hammer steel as well as take down prey.
Weapon-using or not, all griffons respect strength. In areas with sparse griffon population, the stronger claim larger
territories and defend it against intruders through sheer power. Wrestling, boxing, and other ritual combat are all popular sport, with the regular winners earning fame and respect of their peers. No division is made in males and females in such competitions. Strength is a shared duty. Mated pairs will defend their home, tribe, and kingdom together. Should a couple expect a child while in military service, they will retire together to return later. If the situation is dire, then they will fight on together, maternity be damned. Likewise, the rearing of chicks is shared, with both parents hunting, teaching, and disciplining their progeny. Other species find it odd to find entire griffon families present in times of war, but to griffons it is the natural order, with neither parent wishing to hide at home.
In tune with their martial lives, griffons possess a keen perception to the world about themselves. They have – occasionally literal–eyes of a hawk and the keen hearing of a feline. Their sense of smell is on par with a human–just as well, with their need to spot things at a distance being far more important to their lives than noticing things up close. This enhanced sense extends beyond the physical. Griffons can feel the subtle pulls of the otherworldly upon them, and tend to be a pious people.
Their pride can get in the way of true piety when things are going less than ideally. Believing themselves more important than others, the idea of suffering for some unseen plan does not sit well with many of them. This is not to say that a griffon can not be bold to the point of martyrdom, but the call to do so usually requires a tangible object to protect. The idea of fighting to the last to defend a city is easily grasped, but the idea of fighting for an ideology, or because the universe may, some day, be a better place for it is foreign. Even with a physical object, it may yet be better to withdraw and exact revenge another day. Dead griffons are poor combatants, and there is no shame in delayed revenge. This self-centeredness hampers their charisma. Their demands are harsh and impatient. They have difficulty achieving proper empathy with others. This can cause griffons to come off as loud-mouthed braggarts even when they are trying to be polite.
The sight of a griffon puts fear into creatures, and griffons consider this wise. Though they were content holding in their mountain prides for many years, contact with other races has drawn them out of their steadfast, and into conflict with others. Griffons, despite their unrelenting sense of superiority, never made a bid for global dominance, though they have banded into both a great empire or marauding force. They enjoy mercenary work, and make capable craftspeople. As neighbors go, they are passable if one can forgive their unyielding ego.
Griffons are prideful beasts, and tend to favor their own hide above any other, meaning that good aligned griffons are the minority. Most will abide by promises made, unless they determine that the one they are dealing with has become significantly weaker since the promise was made. To their credit, they will typically exploit such weakness with a sudden renegotiation of the terms, as opposed to an overnight betrayal of the oath given. If a griffon truly wishes to outright break an oath, they will challenge the holder of it, and demand their freedom with the victory.
When griffons are young, they will often fall at odds with their pride leaders. While most have sense beaten into their thick skulls, some refuse to come into line, and are cast out. Such outcast griffons often migrate to other lands, pursuing their place. These griffons take up whatever cause suits their fancy, even just fame and fortune.
GRIFFON RACIAL TRAITS:
Type: Fey (Griffon)
Ability Scores: +2 Strength, +2 Wisdom, -2 Charisma
Flight: Griffons have a fly speed of 30 feet with poor maneuverability. Fly becomes a class skill.
Bite: Griffons have a bite attack that does 1d6 damage. This is a secondary natural weapon.
Medium: Griffons are medium size and gain no bonuses or penalties due to their size.
Normal Speed: griffons have a base speed of 30 feet, and a bipedal speed of 20 feet.
Low-Light Vision: Griffons see twice as far as humans in conditions of dim light.
Quadruped: Due to being four-legged, griffons receive +4 racial bonus to their Combat Maneuver Defense against trip
attacks and +50% carrying capacity, when standing on four legs.
Languages: Griffons start play speaking Common, and intelligent griffons may select from Sylvan, Elven, or Auran as bonus languages.
Alternate Racial Trails
Griffons come in three primary aspects. The aspect refers to the predator, prey, or scavenging nature of the avian half of the griffon. Some draw lines between the feline ancestries, but the difference between a cougar griffon and a lynx griffon is far smaller than the striking contrasts of a hawk and a dove. A griffon can only have one aspect, even if they share
the lineages of more than one.
Your feline half is known for speed, and is quite likely the spotted cheetah. You have grown to be faster than your peers when on the ground, and this has hampered your fling. Your long legs and lithe body are ideal on the grassy lowlands, where you stalk close to the ground instead of the all-too-exposed air.
• Land speed increases by 10 feet.
• Feline speed: Base movement speed increases by 10 feet when charging, withdrawing, or running.
• Fly speed decreases by 10 feet and one maneuverability class.
Your lineage bares the mark of prey. Doves, parrots, cockatiels, or some other prey species comes in stark contrast to the predatory kin that surround you. Your feline side, as often as not, also takes on the form of less imposing species, such as house cats. As a chick, they treated you as if you would break at the slightest injury while they wrestled for dominance. Excluded, you are still revered for your potential closeness to the otherworlds.
When allowed to live freely, prey aspected griffons tend to value culture, wine, and dance. They are a vivacious lot, full of warmth and community spirit. Some ponies think all of griffon kind could learn something from their friendlier lineages, but that does little to encourage the idea amongst ‘proper’ griffons.
• Decrease Strength by 2.
• Increase Charisma by 2.
• Lose bite attack.
• Increase caster level by 1 when casting divine spells, but no higher than your total hit dice.
• Increase effective level by 1 for effects of domains, mysteries, or blessings. This does not give early access to abilities.
Your back half is that of the lion, known for gathering in prides where all other felines hunt either alone or with a mate. This makes you more social than most of your kin. A born diplomat, your people are eager to send you forth to negotiate with other tribes and races, saving them the hassle. Unlike your kin, your keen senses are focused on the interplay of one person to the next instead of the movement of prey or the whispers of the otherworld.
• Decrease Wisdom by 4.
• Increase Charisma by 4.
Clever and indirect, you have the head of a bird species known for being opportunistic. A vulture, crow or raven are the most common of the sort. Your fellow griffons fid you a little shady, but you will have the last laugh when they charge directly into failure and you take the long route to success.
• Decrease Wisdom by 2.
• Increase Intelligence by 2.
• Decrease Strength by 2.
• Increase Dexterity by 2.
Your ancestors lived in the snowiest peaks of the tallest, most northern mountains. Your coloration is white and black, ften
like that of a snow leopard. You have become more bulky to hold in heat and favor ambush tactics over long chases; your sudden emergence from the snow is often the last thing your prey ever sees. Though your people have spread out from the tops of mountains to snowy forests and other arctic locations, they remain uniquely built to survive in the most frigid of environments.
• Gain +4 racial bonus to stealth in snow. Stealth is always a class skill.
• Gain Endurance as a bonus feat.
• +2 to saves vs cold
• -2 to saves vs heat or fire
Favored Class Bonus:
Barbarian: Add +1/3 dodge bonus to the barbarian’s armor class against the flankers when flanked.
Cavalier: Add +1/4 to the cavalier’s banner bonus.
Fighter: Add +1/3 to the Fighter’s CMB when using a specific combat maneuver (disarm, trip,etc. Pick one).
Paladin: Add +1/3 to the paladin’s aura of courage bonus to allies.
Ranger: Add +1 hit point to the ranger’s animal companion. If the ranger ever replaces his companion, the new companion gains these bonus hit points.
Summoner: Add +1/4 to eidolon’s natural armor bonus.