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What better creature to start our Monster Manual excerpts than the sphinx—guardian of secrets and treasures within the game. In today’s excerpt, we examine the artwork, the creature in general, as well as the androsphinx in particular.
From the Monster Manual:
In sacred isolation, a sphinx guards the secrets and treasures of the gods. As it calmly regards each new party that comes before it, the bones of supplicants and quest seekers that failed to pass its tests lie scattered around its lair. Its great wings sweep along its flanks, its tawny leonine body rippling with muscle and possessed of forepaws powerful enough to tear a humanoid in half.
An androsphinx tests the courage and valor of supplicants, not only by forcing them to complete quests but also with its terrible roar, which echoes for miles as it terrifies and deafens nearby creatures.
Brynn Metheny created the art for both the Monster Manual’s andro- and gynosphinx. More of her work can be found on her website (including a look at another of her creations, the owlbear).
A Brief Look Back:
The Original Edition’s Book II: Monsters & Treasures included a number of creatures from mythology (including the cockatrice, basilisk, medusa, hydra and manticore), and Supplement I: Greyhawk even listed the lammasu (human-headed, winged lions). However, the sphinx wouldn’t appear until Supplement IV: Gods, Demi-Gods and Heroes, where it was described as having a short temper and a taste for human blood… but also curious and that it would spare a person with a good story.
In the 1st Edition Monster Manual, the sphinx appeared in both andro- and gynosphinx form. For the androsphinx, he arrived with his powerful roar: “The creature must be aroused and angry to utter the first, very angry to roar again, and infuriated to cut loose with the third.”
As far as the sphinx’s connection to riddles, it was the gynosphinx called out for accepting payment for help in the form of riddles, poetry, prose, knowledge, or the location of an androsphinx. And in fact, it was a gynosphinx guarding the intersection within White Plume Mountain, posing the riddle which appears in today’s excerpt.
Need help with the answer?
The Monster Manual
The Monster Manual (releasing September 30) presents a horde of classic Dungeons & Dragons creatures, including dragons, giants, mind flayers, and beholders—a monstrous feast for Dungeon Masters ready to challenge their players and populate their adventures.