Gryphons

Ah, the gryphon.

Such majestic, proud creatures. With the head and wings of an eagle, large talons on their front feet, and the body and tail of a lion… they cut an impressive figure.

Contrary to popular belief, gryphons are not the result of a lion and eagle mating. Yes, the resemblance is unmistakable, but I shake my head at the absurdity of such a notion.

No, gryphons are an entirely different species. They are far larger than the lions their lower body resembles and possess incredible strength.

They’re fully capable of carrying a knight in full armor through the skies at great speeds. And, as they are one of the few creatures in this compendium that can be truly tamed… they are prized for war.

Whether it’s for aerial battles, carrying messages across large distances without the use of magic, or as scouts gryphons are invaluable.

As a note of warning, however, while gryphons can be tamed, they are always dangerous. Somehow, many people fail to understand that taming only goes so far.

They have to be handled carefully, by someone who knows what they’re doing. Even tamed, it takes special training to ride and care for gryphons.

Irritate a horse enough, and it might bite or even kick you. Irritate a gryphon, and it’s liable to bite your head off. In the literal sense.

I fear I’m beginning to sound like one of my old professors who would drone on and on about the same thing endlessly when I say. Treat them with respect.

As for gryphons in the wild, they are proud creatures and only scavenge when desperation drives them to it.

Amazingly, they form strong familial bonds and even friendships. They are extremely loyal creatures. Should you win the loyalty of a gryphon you’ll find no better companion. Of course, they are still to be treated well, but once that bond is formed it isn’t easy to break.

They’ll go through fire and death for one who earns their loyalty.

They mate for life, and the death of their mate often causes them to spiral into depression and even their own demise. Those gryphons with strong ties to others are sometimes able to return to some semblance of their normal selves, but I’ve never heard of a single case where they’ve found another mate, and they’re often far less energetic and happy.

They also feel deep pain over the loss of a friend or any loved one really. Usually not as bad as with the loss of a mate, but it is still profound. There have been cases where a gryphon who has lost its rider is overcome with grief.

Gryphons have also been noted to possess altruistic behavior. There have been cases of gryphons caring for the offspring of other animals, even humanoid children. Humans, dwarves, elves and the like.

They rarely attack wounded animals, even those that would be their normal prey. Many hunters would go after the weakest of a herd, but gryphons do not. I imagine it stems from a sense of pride. And, as they are fearsome hunters, they are more than capable of getting their prey.

They are mostly carnivorous, but they are able to subsist on certain grains and fruits when absolutely necessary. They can’t do so indefinitely though and eventually must consume meat or suffer a decline in health.

Gryphons are intelligent creatures which makes it all the more difficult for those who wish to capture them. Those without strong ties are the most easily tamed as others will never stop trying to return to their loved ones. But, even the most tameable gryphon is a challenge.

It’s unwise to try to ‘break’ a gryphon, and the most successful taming techniques revolve around a sense of forming a relationship. Even if that relationship simply involves grooming, feeding, and caring for the gryphon in exchange for its help.

I did say they were intelligent.

The loyalty of a gryphon is exceedingly hard to earn but worth more than gold.

Perhaps my immense admiration for these creatures comes through in this text, but honestly, can you blame me?

In many ways, I’d say gryphons are nobler than we are.

Gryphons do not lay eggs, but rather give live birth. Often to a small litter of two to four. They care for their young over the course of many years. They feed them and teach them much as we do with our own.

Gryphons aren’t known to ever force their offspring from the nest or cut off their assistance.

Rather, young gryphons stay as long as they wish and leave when they want. Some stay longer than others, but most do eventually leave the nest. The familial bond remains strong, however. Even after years pass.

Another trait that makes gryphons so prized for war is the fact they’re fearless. Or rather, I should say they’re brave as they are not devoid of fear.

A gryphon will challenge far larger, more dangerous creatures without a second thought. And, though they will flee when necessary, they have been known to fight till the death. And, a gryphon doesn’t submit. Ever.

Flee, die, or come to an arrangement. This seems to be the way a gryphon’s mind works. It is also why attempts at breaking a gryphon are an exercise in futility.

They will die before submitting and are even known to employ cunning by faking submission while waiting for an opening to attack. Gryphons rarely stoop to such tactics, but should the situation force them to it, they are excellent at it.

Though they do not speak our tongue, one look into a gryhpon’s eyes will make you realize that it just might be smarter than you.

Should you encounter one in the wild, it is wise not to challenge it in any way. Do not insult it, either through body language or verbally as they pick up on both. Do not threaten it, and definitely, do not threaten anything it cares about.

Humanoids are far from their favorite prey, so unless you have the misfortune of encountering a starving, desperate gryphon you have little to fear. As long as you don’t anger it somehow that is.

Much like the elementals I covered though, gryphons are generally fairly easy to deal with as long as you don’t do something profoundly stupid. Working closer with them can be more difficult than with elementals, but really why in the world would you go anywhere near such a powerful creature if you don’t know exactly what you’re doing?

One last note of warning, should you step into a gryphons nest it would be wise to leave. Immediately.

They can be territorial, but really what do you expect to happen if you barge into their home uninvited? I wouldn’t even include such an obvious bit of common sense were it not for the death of one of my students last semester.

A rather irritated-looking gryphon dropped his shredded corpse on the university grounds, and only after this did his roommate tell me that the twit had gone off intent on kidnapping a gryphon cub.

Sometimes I wonder how our race continues to flourish despite such stupidity.


- Nicholas Wolfram, Professor of Monsterology at Lestria University

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