Sunday, April 29, 2012

Meandering Monsters: Hippogriff

There are a few creatures in classic mythology and fantasy gaming that are really just kind of silly, but cool. One relatively common theme across multiple mythologies is the addition of wings to almost anything. I guess, the dream of flying has always been a desirable thing for mankind. The combination bird-mammal series of creatures includes the Griffon, Manticore, Peryton, Pegasus, Owlbear, and Hippogriff.

More than likely, the Hippogriff's first appearance in fantasy gaming came in the AD&D Monster Manual (TSR, 1977). According to Thomas Bulfinch's Age of Fable (1913), Volume IV 'Legends of Charlemagne':
Like a griffin, it has the head of an eagle, claws armed with talons, and wings covered with feathers, the rest of its body being that of a horse. This strange animal is called a Hippogriff.
In the Arnold Sundgaard (1909-2006) poem 'The Hippogriff', the creature is more described as the offspring of Griffin and a horse:
When Mare and Griffin meet and mate
Their offspring share a curious fate.
One half is Horse with hooves and tail,
The rest is Eagle, claws and nail.
As a Horse it likes to graze
In summer meadows doused in haze,
Yet as an Eagle it can fly
Above the clouds where dreams drift by.
With such a Beast I am enthralled,
The Hippogriff this beast is called.

Hippogriff by Jerry Teleha

MR: 80
Combat Dice: 9d6 + 40
Special Abilities: Fly Me
Special Damage: 4/Pin and Peck
Special Hindrance: Oh Go Away! (Griffin) 
Appearing: 1-2
CON: 80, STR: 38, WIZ: 18

Some would say the Hippogriff originated from the mating of a Griffin and a horse. Others would contend that they are the result of magical experiments of powerful wizards at some point in the past. The body and hind legs of the Hippogriff resemble that of a horse and eagle-like front limbs and head very similar to a Griffin with a sharp talons and a powerful beak. Like a griffin, they also have feathered wings that allows them to fly. 

In combat, Hippogriffs use their large beaks as a primary attack as well as the razor sharp talons on their fore legs. Being the size of a large horse, it will try to use its strength and size to overbear and pin a smaller sized opponent to the ground with its front legs, leaving it vulnerable to its vicious beak.

Hippogriffs are very intelligent and can be trained to be a mount for wizards and warriors alike. For this reason, their eggs are highly prized and command a hefty price. If for some reason a delver decides that trying to tame a wild adult Hippogriff is a good idea, the challenge should be quite substantial. The first instinct of the creature will be to fly straight into the air and attempt to dump the rider back down to the ground. Magical aid, or a delver that has some abilities with taming wild animals should be the first course of action before attempting such a dangerous task.

Hippogriffs prefer to live in regions that are away from populated areas. They will be found primarily in mountains and dense woodlands. If a mated pair is encountered in their lair or nest, they will more than likely attack to defend any eggs or younglings that they are tending to.

Griffins are a natural enemy of the Hippogriffs and tend to attack them on site because of their fondness for horse flesh. Because of this, Griffins cause fear in any Hippogriff which could result in their attempting to flee an encounter, unless they are defending a nest.

Fly Me
Hippogriffs can fly at will, provided their wings are not damaged or they are otherwise fatigued.

Pin and Peck
During combat, the Hippogriff is able to pin a smaller or equal sized opponent to the ground with its front limb claws (SPITE 4). This pinning action will cause the initial 4 SPITE damage, bypassing armor, to the victim.
Peck - An additional 2d6 damage is then rolled, also bypassing armor, as the Hippogriff pecks quickly at weak or exposed areas of the pinned opponent. 
If there are others still attacking the Hippogriff, it will hop free of the pinned opponent for the next combat round. The first round after such an attack, the victim should only be able to apply half of her combat adds.
Pinned - If the Hippogriff is not being immediately attacked by any other opponents, it will use its Strength to pin its victim and continue pecking until she is defeated. An opposed roll versus the Hippogriff's Strength can be attempted to wiggle or force her way free. Strength (STR), Dexterity (DEX), or even Luck (LK) can be chosen by the victim when trying to get free of the Hippogriff's grip.
Oh Go Away! (Griffin)
A Hippogriff's first inclination when seeing a Griffin will always be to flee, unless defending its nest. A trained Hippogriff will still have an urge to flee in this situation, but a Level 3 SR (CHR) can be attempted to prevent this and urge the Hippogriff to follow its riders commands.

Copyright © 2012, Jerry Teleha


  1. Most excellent! I especially like the historical descriptions and poetry, a very nice touch!

  2. Pretty kewl. As in typical Teleha fashion, to well researched with cited sources, making my own work look sloppy and loose.

  3. I like the poem. Although I am curious when griffins came to like eating horses.

    Imagine the questions:
    What kind of eating disorder does that kind of griffin have?
    What are we teaching young griffins in school today anyway?

    That is just wrong. Horrible.

    It is kind of like having a lion getting frisky with a water buffalo ;D

  4. See it as the Griffins are the jerks of the "mammal with wings' group of creatures, although the Griffin is Lion and eagle and Lions do pretty much eat anything that moves, except for maybe other cats?