A unique race of felines with the heads of a humanoid and often the wings of a bird. The greater sphinx, often simply called 'sphinx', is a magically-gifted species with strong ties to Ristell. They are known to guard places of great importance, and are quite fond of riddles.
Average Lifespan:: Immortal
Average Height:: Unknown.
Average Weight:: Unknown.
Location Found:: Primarily Ristell, but found abroad.
*all statistics based on averages; extremes in any direction, or found in odd locations, are always allowed.
Hybrids Hybrids between the sphinx variants are uncommon, but possible; such hybrids do not often occur, though sphinx variants may interbreed if lone sphinx meet, or territories overlap. Most hybrids are the result of traveling, solitary sphinx, though hybrids may be born in cities as well.
Ranks - Decor Depending on their rank in Ristellan culture, both males and females may have large, decorative headdresses and ceremonial armor; these get more decorative as the sphinx rises in rank, and the metals and gems used rise in quality with rank. Decorative false beards are also common in high-ranking males, and they follow the same general rules. It's said that the pharaoh wears a false beard and headdress of platinum and gold, fused with obsidian and diamond.
Ranks - Paint Many sphinx of multiple ranks in Ristell adorn themselves with facial paint; with each rank, the painting gets more complex, though all are variants of the common Eye of Azcen: a swirling black pattern around one's eyes, said to be similar to the Sun God himself.
Species info credited to Blazeh/Verridith, Darkeh, and Fyfergrund. Original suggestion by Kila.
Appearance Greater sphinx come in several different variants, depending on the climate they hail from. Most sphinx have fully feline bodies with humanoid heads, and can be either winged or wingless. These wings are primarily feathered, but those with hybrid wings or bat wings have very rarely been seen. Male sphinx generally are larger and heavier than females, and skin color can be of any shade. Markings are possible on both fur and skin, and fur color can be either natural or unnatural. All sphinx have long, sharp canines, and tearing teeth farther back in their jaws, though their inscisors are disctintly human.
Arctic Sphinx: Smaller sphinx that has body types similar to lynx and bobcats; long fur is common, and though colors can be anything, most tend to have lighter-colored coats when hard winter hits. Arctic sphinx tend to have large, feline ears that bear exotic tufts, and longer eyelashes than most. These sphinx commonly have elliptical wings, and markings can be as extravagant or modest as possible. Tail length is very, very short, and some sphinx that live in the tundra may have no tails at all.
Desert Sphinx: The most common type of greater sphinx. Most sphinx of this variant have leonine bodies with a tuft of fur on the end of a long tail that matches their hair color. They are large and muscular, and some male sphinx may sport manes. Often, these sphinx that have wings bear slotted, high-lift wings in any color. Rarely, desert sphinx may appear to have the build of a cheetah, with non-retractible claws. Desert sphinx enjoy wearing metal adornments, especially gold, in Ristellan style.
Jungle Sphinx: A middle- to large-sized sphinx with long retractible claws and muscular legs, often found in bright colors with spots and stripes common. Their hair is often worn long, and can be dark in color, though females are fond of braiding it both on themselves and for their mates. Jungle sphinx enjoy wearing feathers and other trinkets, including jewels and bits of shiny metal. Most jungle sphinx with wings have elliptical wings, often with bright colors. Some may have long, trailing feathers.
Mountain Sphinx: Large sphinx with dull colors, adapted to climbing rocks and navigating cold mountain climes. They come in many colors, and often have longer hair and fur, with limited markings. Most mountain sphinx have long tails, and long soaring wings, and wear their hair in a variety of styles. Mountain sphinx enjoy rock and stone jewelry, or armor made from the land around them.
Ocean Sphinx: A very small variant of sphinx adapted to living in ocean cliffs, hunting a variety of oceanic animals. They trend towards duller colors and have broad soaring wings, with short tails. Many have shorter legs and longer bodies, and often have small ears, as well as the ability to seal their ears, noses, and the backs of their mouths for aquatic hunting. Oceanic sphinx often have webbed paws, and their fur and feathers shed water well. Groups of sphinx that live in the ocean cliffs are fond of making jewelry out of shells, pearls, and smooth stones.
Wetland Sphinx: A smaller sphinx related to the ocean sphinx, with short, narrow wings and more feline faces. Their eyes are larger, and they have long bodies and legs, with small, quick paws that have webbing between each toe. Most have heavy patterning, and do not wear jewelry, but adorn themselves with grasses and weeds, as well as various paints, for better camoflague.
Underground Sphinx: A very large wingless variant of sphinx completely covered in short fur, head to toe; they have no humanoid hair and feline ears, and the males do not bear beards of any type. Most underground, cavern sphinx have elongated, more feline faces with less-human features, though females are less promounced. Males may have large, curving sabers, and though it's much rarer for females to have them, some females have been found. Markings and colors can be anything, though most trend towards darker colors in both fur and markings.
Culture Sphinx of all variants are known to be wise creatures that enjoy gathering various types of knowledge; many sphinx types like to travel to visit their fellows, and offer knowledge to one another at the end of a short game of harmless riddles. Solitary sphinx travel far, to various Realms, to learn what secrets they can, and often hold such knowledge jealously away from non-sphinx races. Many sphinx are appointed to guard important buildings, asking riddles of anyone who wish to enter and either turning away or attacking those who answer wrong too many times. Sphinx have differing cultures based on their variants, listed below.
Arctic Sphinx: Arctic variants live in small prides and are largely found in hidden cities in Ristell's northern climes. They enjoy visiting lunari and nzani settlements, and often trade when the snows are too deep for other species to travel. Largely relaxed and peaceful, arctic sphinx are not quick to violence, though they are very protective of their pride.
Desert Sphinx: Most desert sphinx live in prides located in unique cities that hold their allegience to the Arcadian pharaoh. They are the most well-known of the variants, and are often those guarding important places in Ristell's desert. They are more ceremonial and traditional than their other variants, and are fond of not only excessive wealth, but keeping their feathers, hair, and fur in pristine condition. It's known that desert sphinx may sometimes use scented, melted wax for purfume, and consider themselves incredibly civillized. Some may even travel in carts pulled by large, nonsentient animals and shun those who travel in more 'barbaric' ways.
Jungle Sphinx: Jungle sphinx variants are commonly solitary, found in the Wilds of Ristell and other Realms. They are, however, quite ritualistic - for each prey animal killed, they pray to Azcen with thanks, and things like mateship, deaths, and coming of age is very ritualistic and guided by strict ceremony. They come together for all three of these things only, and have no cities - thus, jungle sphinx and looked down upon by some other variants.
Mountain Sphinx: Commonly found in cities that border the desert, found within the mountains, or deep in mountain ranges in small prides or as solitary individuals. Mountain sphinx are a relaxed variant, and enjoy the company of each other, though do not often allow non-native races to partake in any of their celebrations. Despite this, they are open to trade and may often guide travelers through mountain passes, and guard hidden treasure in a variety of troves found scattered in the rocks.
Ocean Sphinx: A rarer variant of sphinx that can be found in seaside cliffs, along beaches, and in oceanside settlements, who hunt and live in small family groups or alone. They are cunning and have an uncanny sense of weather, often warning others when storms are approaching and rescuing those lost at sea.
Wetland Sphinx: Extremely solitary and relatively reclusive, wetland sphinx are highly territorial and only come together to breed, parting as soon as the female has concieved. Courtship is brief and receptive females who want offspring often wander from territory to territory, and rarely take solid mates. As soon as the young are able to hunt on their own, they are driven out to establish territories of their own. Luckily, territories are often small, and have spread to several different Realms.
Underground Sphinx: A unique sphinx type that lives specifically in underground caverns, in large, nomadic prides headed by a single male. These sphinx enjoy traveling and often block roads to test travelers with multiple riddles, opening the way and sometimes leaving them gifts to help on their travels if no wrong answers are given. Most underground sphinx prides are happy to help a traveler in need, however, by fighting off bandits and attacking creatures on the road. Many cavern sphinx choose to guard mines of various types, and some may leave their prides to protect those moving through underground tunnels.
Abilities All greater sphinx are very magically adept, though their physical strength depends on the individual and their specific type. Most can manipulate their reiatsu to varying degrees, as well as the element of light, due to their connection to Azcen. Beside the specialties listed by each variant below, any sphinx may have any ability, both elemental and not.
Arctic Sphinx: Arctic sphinx are immune to cold and ice elements; most may manipulate it to some degree, and are able to traverse the coldest and stormiest days of any deep winter. All sphinx of this variant may walk on ice without slipping, and stop snow of any depth.
Desert Sphinx: Immune to heat and fire, desert sphinx can exist in the hottest desert days without suffering any consequences; they rarely need to drink, and often have a strong connection to the element of fire themselves.
Jungle Sphinx: Jungle sphinx are strong in the element of earth, attuned most to plants and nature. Many are completely immune to poison and venoms, from both flora and fauna.
Mountain Sphinx: Mountain sphinx are also attuned to the element of earth; however, they are usually best at abilities focusing around rock and stone, much less than those that focus on plantlife and nature. This variant has an incredible climbing ability, and can navigate harsh terrain easily. Those with wings are able to navigate strong mountain storms with ease.
Ocean Sphinx: Sphinx that live near the ocean tend to have some mastery over the water element, as well as those of wind and lightning; they may hold their breath for a very long time, and can swim quite well.
Wetland Sphinx: Wetland sphinx have a connection to the water element much like oceanic sphinx, and can also swim quite well. They are able to see very well in murky water, and have limited purification abilities.
Underground Sphinx: Most underground sphinx have extensive abilities with darkness, and are immune to both extreme heat and severe cold. They can see in any light, and many can see heat signatures as well. As cavern sphinx do not have wings, they can move very quickly at a run, for brief periods of time.
The tale of how the great sphinx came to be is long and storied, and is one of the most well documented of all; the sphinx guard such knowledge jealously, and few outside of their species know of their origin at all.
When Ristell was yet young, chaos reigned; the suns baked the land above, and the newly-made Underground, where most of the Realm's early inhabitants hid in, was icy cold. Forests caught fire and seas boiled and froze in turns. Night and day had no true pattern, and sometimes the daylight could last for weeks of merciless, unfathomable heat. The gods awoke Draiyd once more from his constant slumber, and withdrew into the heavens far above to debate what to do about their chaotic, new world.
We must make things right, Azcen, leader of the Ristellan pantheon, said. The great, fiery lion stamped his paw in the clouds they stood in, ears flat and eyes blazing. Only Jinun, the god of insanity, looked completely unperturbed.This world will burn in the fires of its suns, and chaos will reign unless we take action. The Balance cannot be upheld in such a way. Not if we are to-
Why is this a problem? Jinun said, muzzle parting in a wide grin. Nirni, the rabbit goddess of the moon, hopped away from him and flattened her ears. We can always make new worlds. New Realms. New lives, new deaths, change and chaos, always… change is the giver of life, and the taker of life. None can stand against it.
We will stand against it, Azcen said sharply, because we are not simply the creators of a world, but also its protectors. The other gods nodded, while the jackal huffed a sigh and meandered away. It was Draiyd who spoke next; the great stone ram's voice rumbled like an earthquake, and shook them to their bones. We must align the celestial bodies, and bring balance to the world, he said. The Underground is a safe haven, but not for long. The surface world will become desolate, a region of only death, before it degrades through to the caverns beneath.
I suggest calming the seas, first and foremost, Meryll said, disgruntled. But Azcen had affected a thoughtful look, as his fires burned low. There is nothing that can be done with the seas boiling.
No, the fire-lion god said. But it is a problem we should address. First, the magic that so fills our Realm's sphere must be calmed. Perhaps… I do know of a way that it could be done very quickly. He smiled, fiery visage twisting and churning as flames danced around glowing fangs. You have seen the suns, my children, the bright fireballs of the sky. But they have the potential to be refined, and become more powerful… and also to act as conduits for exactly what our Realm may need.
How so? Nirni and Zephyro asked in unison. Both looked at Azcen curiously, though their expressions were confused. How do the suns fix our problems?
Watch, the god of suns said arrogantly, and see.
And Azcen leapt from the clouds and into the sky with a mighty roar; he tore across the heavens and gathered the suns to him, each one following him in a line of blazing fire. The suns were small, then - none were bigger than what his paws could hold. But as he surged upwards into the space above the Realm, through Ristell's atmosphere and away, they began… to grow.
The suns were absorbing the latent magic, the chaotic energy in the sphere, as the fire-lion led them through the distant skies. New stars were birthed off of the fragments that fell from the suns' streaming tails; and it is said that the suns grew fifty times their size over the course of the long run. When Azcen finally descended back to the Realm, the suns were so great and so hot that it burned everything in Ristell's center to bare rock, to be carved into the great Arcadian Desert far below by the lion's curved claws.
Azcen took the power of the suns and threw shafts of bright sunlight down to the new-swept sands of the desert; over and over he did, striking the sand with power, until the other five gods descended and formed shapes for the shafts to fill. As the suns began to decrease in size, seven different forms began to stir, brought into sharper and sharper focus with every new gift from the sun-lion above; creatures with feline bodies and human faces, some with wings and some without, opened their eyes and turned their gazes skyward. These creatures would be called 'sphinx'.
More and more, each one similar to the original Seven, pulled themselves free from the sand as Azcen worked tirelessly through the day. There were sphinx of every shape and size, from the lionlike desert sphinx, to the tiger-shaped jungle sphinx, each one made by the gods to have form and function across the entire Realm. When the fire-lion finally ceased, the suns had resumed their normal sizes; though some seemed somewhat larger, and other smaller, than when they had first been brought into being.
For the first time since its creation, the Realm was still. The suns were in the sky at once, but did not scorch the land. Nirni pushed all but one of the moons to the other side, and Zephyro set to working new weather into the skies above. Meryll cooled the boiling seas and warmed the frozen side, and Draiyd restored the forests wherever he walked. However, Azcen stood among the sphinx, and all bowed to him. You are sphinx; strong in magic and created from sunlight. You will be the leaders and knowledge-keepers, protectors and guardians of all that is precious in this great Realm. Take your gifts seriously, and do not overuse them, for the very balance of the world was made unto you, and should unravel if you fail.
And then the mighty lion leapt back into the skies with a earth-shaking roar, and the suns burned brightly, shining in the eyes of all sphinx far and wide.
This species did not have an Ancient First.
Classification: canine-based variation of the sphinx. Location: primarily Ristell.
A derivative of the leonine Ristellian sphinx, the Anu appear as hybrids of human and canine. Like their cousins, they retain humanoid faces, but often possess the lean bodies of jackals, wolves, or dog variations, in addition to exotic coloring and an affinity for offensive magic. Anu are rarely alone; they prefer their company at the expense of most others, gathering in packs around regions of the dead.
It is the solemn duty of most Anu to watch over the remains of those that have passed into the Spirit Realm. Considered guardians of the passage between life and death, they can be found around tombs or areas of a great slaughter. To invade these places is to invite an attack, for the Anu are fiercely protective of their charges, and despise grave robbers above all else. It is said that the Anu can see and enter the Spirit Realm at will; but this, like many other secrets that cling to their kind, goes unconfirmed by the Anu themselves.
The divine sphinx is an ethereal, powerful sphinx subtype granted a unique appearance and boost in power. They may be granted their unique appearance/transformation and enhanced abilities by a god, Ether, or other such powerful entity. Many have multiple wings and limbs, some bearing seraph-like qualities, as in multiple wings and legs. Most are built much more like a dragon than a lion, though they are very heavily furred and have extravagant manes. They retain their human face, though the rest of them becomes much more animalistic, and many wear intricate masks or jewelry to cover their only remaining humanoid part. Some may gain a crownlike halo of intertwined antlers, horns, feathers or spines, based upon the transformation itself.
As the guardians of royalblooded figures, gods, and sacred places, the divine sphinx holds great defensive abilities, such as the creation of energy-shields and barriers. They are immune to sickness, and they heal from physical injuries very quickly. In addition to this, whatever abilities they had before the transformation are enhanced.
These sphinx cannot be bred to create more divine offspring. Should two mate, their children will bear the resemblance of a normal sphinx - though they will, oftentimes, be more powerful than their regular brethren.
Divine sphinx are a limited store species; please do not make one unless bought. Thank you!
Classification: tiny sphinx. Location: Ristell mainly, but can be found in many Realms.
Thought to be spawned from a mutation, dwarf sphinx are a breed of sphinx that is dimunitive in size, growing to be no larger than a common housecat. They are common in sphinx cities, and are sometimes born of regular sphinx litters, though very few survive long in the wild, or on their own. They have varying degrees of magic, though many specialize in tricks of the mind - perhaps as an instinctual gift and an ability to evade larger predators who they cannot fight.
Dwarf sphinx have gotten the reputation for being somewhat quick to anger where their size is concerned; many grow to be no bigger than cubs, and due to their often childlike proportions, this, over time, wears on their patience. Thus, it is often whispered to visitors to Ristell: do not mistake the dwarf sphinx for children, for you may lose your face in a bought of miniscule rage...
Classification: weaker, less powerful sphinx. Location: primarily Ristell, but can be found in many Realms.
Lesser sphinx are a subspecies of the greaters that split from them many centuries ago; they view the greater sphinx with contempt and open hostility. Their colors are often not as bright as their greater kin, though they may have similar appearances to any of the sphinx variants. Wings are rarer in lesser sphinx, though may still be found; rank beards and paint are completely absent from their faces.
Some lesser sphinx are much faster and more physically adept than the greater sphinx, and have the unique quality of being able to absorb or deflect magical attacks with relative ease. These sphinx cannot summon great magic, and their abilities often focus around small things, such as the crafting and enchanting of items, sparking a fire, or other similar small things.
Most lesser sphinx do not live in sphinx cities, and live in nomadic tribes that move consantly. They are viewed to be uncivillized by greater sphinx, and actively may raid and rob solitary greaters, though they will never bother a divine and may interbreed with the Anu.