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Friday 10 March 2017

A Sample Medieval-Authentic OSR Take on a Familiar Monster

So, continuing from yesterday's post about giving OSR monsters a more medieval treatment, here's one example for you.  It's a fairly common creature, you probably had a character fight one (and possibly ride one) at least some point if you've been playing D&D for any length of time.

Yes, I'm talking about the Gryphon.

So, what's the medieval authentic take on this?

For starters, it's called a Griffin. Or Griffon. "Gryphon" didn't become popular in English until centuries later.

Here's a few points about Griffins:
-their eggs were considered a great delicacy fetching a huge price, enjoyed mainly by lords and kings (there's a slight chance these just might not have been real griffin eggs, but actually ostrich eggs instead).

-Griffins do like to eat horses. But they also like to have sex with them. Not quite sure which would be worse for a Player Character to see happening in the middle of the night as they're camped out in the wilderlands...

-When Griffins mate with mares, their offspring will be Hippogriffs!

-The claws of a griffin are powerful magic.  They can be used to Detect Poison.

-Griffin feathers are also magical. If a griffin feather is dipped in sacred oil and brushed over the eyes of a blind person it will restore their sight.

So anyways, here's what the statblock for "Griffin" will look like:

Init:+1 AC:17 MV:30/75(fly) HD:7d8 SV:12 AL:N Ml:8 Att:2 claws (+8, 1d4 ea) + 1 bite (+8, 2d8)
Special: Griffins are creatures with the body of a lion, and the foreclaws, wings and head of an eagle. They are found only in isolated hills and mountains (central Wales, the Pennines, and Scots' Land). They will rarely go out beyond those regions to hunt or mate. Although they kill and eat horses, Griffins sometimes mate with mares, the offspring of this union are hippogriffs. Griffin eggs are known as a great delicacy worthy of kings. A griffin's claw is a magical object (see the Magic Items section, above), and a griffin feather, when dipped in holy oil, can restore sight to the blind.

Maybe, over time, I'll show some other examples (Giants and the Undead are my particular favorites among the monster selection).   Meanwhile if you want another example, check out the appendix on Elves in the Cults of Chaos book.  Elves will get their section in the bestiary in Lion & Dragon as well, where I'll be including Elf Maidens.


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  1. The bones of the dimetrodon were displayed by the ancient Greeks in their temples and served as the inspiration for this classical and persistent mythological monster.

    What do we have here?

    body and tail of a lion,
    head and claws of an eagle,
    and long support bones,
    . . . it must be a GRIFFIN !

  2. protoceratops remains near central asia attributed to griffons

    classical version as guarding gold from cyclopses interesting - i always thought the wonder of hippogriffs was that griffons were anathema to horses and you needed a wizard or something to make them (or the one in italian legend) - ive found more on them as symbols of marital fidelity and faithfulness than horse rapists - looking fwd to this

    1. They were considered a symbol of fidelity because they supposedly mated for life. It's just some of them mated with a horse.

    2. In any case, that story developed a little bit later, and came to be taken as a sign of the griffon representing loyalty.

  3. Looks like griffins look to horses to satisfy many appetites....

  4. If the whole book is like that, put me down for a copy. Preferably a nice hardcover akin to Dark Albion. The D&D stats do nothing for me, but getting the actual contemporary thought regarding the various creatures would be awesome.

  5. Why is the griffin's armor class so low? I really only need to roll a 3 to hit? Typo?