Thursday, March 28, 2013

Ar: In Search of the Sphinx

Continued from “Ar: Where Pegasus Roams”

This district of Ar occupies a very small corner of the kingdom, yet it has a unique and macabre function among nobility, warranting its existence as a separate entity. Well before Alphatians reached this region of Mystara, a war took place there, leaving behind countless burial mounds and, to this day, the errant souls of twisted beings. A clan of sphinxes came to the site in search of kin who’d died in the conflict, seeking to allow them proper funeral. Powerful in the arts of magic and clerical might, these creatures confronted throngs of lost souls, some in distress, many consumed with bitterness and anger at those still enjoying the fruits of life. To reach their fallen kin, sphinxes developed skills needed to put undead masses to peaceful rest. Since then, all but the swamps of the Fris River’s delta have been cleared of hauntings, at least most of them. Many of the sphinxes remained thereafter to keep watch on their burial grounds, thereby claiming this land as theirs. In their own language, they euphemistically named it: Erset La Tari,” or Land of No Return.

Mystara Alphatia Ar Sphinx Hex Map
Lower Sphinx District -- Map Scale: 8 Miles per Hex
It was at about that time that Alphatians arrived in the region. With human population expanding, frictions between native sphinxes and settlers grew, in particular when burial grounds were at risk. Unlike many examples elsewhere in the world, a clash did not follow. Concerned with the notorious power of Alphatians, sphinx leaders accepted an offer to prevent conflict. The agreement enabled sphinxes to retain their hallowed lands and protect the dead as they had been doing for so long, all under the protection of the Kingdom of Ar and with formal recognition of their special status from the empire. Ar would also graciously provide food and supplies needed to support the sphinx community. In exchange, Alphatian ambassadors convinced sphinxes to extend their protection and guidance to deceased Aran highborn for agreeable fees, providing the leonine caretakers with a steady and significant income.

Three stretches of hallowed lands were thus sent aloft, which became Ar’s necropolis. Lowlands were revitalized and farmers moved in safely. Part of the local agriculture now serves to feed the sphinxes, most of whom reside above. Others continue to live freely in the deepest forests. The swamps remain off limits, still dangerous to the living. The village of Airy Diggs was founded as the district’s main skyport from which supplies are transported. Sailway Tower stands above a small seaport where occasional foreign traders may pick up or offload merchandise. The tower was erected with the additional duty to keep watch on the swamps and steer nearby vessels away from them. It isn’t rare when undead reefers ignite phantom fires to trick ships navigating at night, running them aground in the muddy quagmire. Tales of horror abound in the "Erset Lalartu ma Lalassu," otherwise known as the Land of Phantom and Spectre.

Today, slightly more than 16,000 people populate the lowland. They are called Sphinxfolk, although the vast majority are humans with a few halflings and elves among them. Nearly 96% of the entire population consists of farmers. Merchant ships sail up and down the river, edging past the swamp only during daylight hours and under guard. Although they often speak in riddles, sphinxes may be hired as guides to avoid sand banks. Local military includes another 2.6% of the population, or a little over 400 well-paid warriors. Half of this force operates five small skyships. The H.H.M.S. Immortal Enigma and Moon Riddle are based at Airy Diggs. They watch the Fris River and serve as mobile law enforcement, should trouble arise in the district. The Star Puzzle, hailing from Sailway Tower, patrols the coast and watches the swamp from a safe altitude. The last two vessels, the Cloud Conundrum and Solar Mystery, are assigned to a navigational lighthouse on Sphinx Prime, an Aran military and clerical outpost. Their mission is to maintain strict control over who visits the floating islands. Only those bringing their dead or visiting the tomb of a loved one are permitted through.

Upper Sphinx includes three small islands, six to eight miles across. Covered with high grass and few evergreens, the surface is mostly flat with gentle hillocks under which sphinxes built homes somewhat in the spirit of comfort-minded halflings. All local signs are written in cuneiform characters attesting to the ancient origins of the race. A navigational lighthouse stands on Sphinx Prime, which houses the viceroy’s quarters, part of the district’s military, several clerical shrines, and a small skyport. Facilities are available to grieving families, and it is tradition among Aran nobles to linger there until they are certain that the souls of lost ones have indeed found solace. The beacon is magical in that its beam can be seen in outer planes, helping Sphinxes with their guidance of the dead. It also conveniently shines through fog and clouds, helping navigators stay away from the dreaded lowland swamps.

Mystara Alphatia Ar Sphinx Hex Map
Upper Sphinx District & Vicinity -- Map Scale: 8 Miles per Hex
In their long years of caring for the deceased, sphinxes built several necropoles. Some only contain graves of their leonine kin and remain off limits to other races (“ikkibu,” or forbidden in their language). Others were consecrated to Aran nobility. A unique feature of these islands is the erection of monuments in the form of sphinxes containing multiple tombs. They call them “kimah.” The smaller ones are still spacious enough to house a family crypt. The faces on these dynastic mausoleums are that of families’ ancestors, or at least the first ones to have been buried there. The heads are animated to imitate the manners of their former owners. Sometimes, they can recite their own eulogies when asked. Huge monuments also exist, for those who long ago lost touch with their kin. This includes a large number of wizards far too busy during their arcane-minded lives to build families. Most of them had purchased funeral contracts from one of various sphinx-owned businesses to ensure their remains would be preserved in the event of their deaths. Depending on the terms, burials include cozy spots in quaint catacombs or more imposing crypts within one of the huge monuments dominating the islands. Naturally, sphinxes guard all these graves along with riches and magical legacies buried therein.

Burial grounds, catacombs, and passageways inside large mausoleums remain devilishly riddled with puzzling mazes. Enigmatic conundrums to get past portals and mysteriously shifting walls and stairs demand the guidance of sphinxes who built them to find any single tomb. Monuments often feel as if they had minds of their own, reacting sometimes in bewildering ways to people’s intrusions. With this many wizards resting so close to one another, hauntings are bound to take place. As in life, such residents despise being disturbed. Each of these restless souls seem to feed upon the other’s magic. As it were, even in death, magic lingers in wizardly remains which those who never left (or indeed did return as a result of unfinished business) still crave. This explains why Aran highborn prefer burying their dead well away from residences of the living—hence the historical offer that was made long ago to sphinxes. Aran necropoles are for this reason dangerous places.

One might question the usefulness of the sphinxes in this context. If they really are so good at guiding spirits to the world beyond, then why should necropoles be haunted? In truth, wizards in life and death alike remain tough customers. They can be calmed and sent away, but they often return, especially those who’d been so intensely involved with their craft. These are “Gidim Xul,” or evil ghosts. Once acquired, magical power is a hard thing to leave behind. Disturbing graves usually triggers the reawakening of souls.  Sphinxes know this and take as many precautions as possible when bringing in new residents or when families come to pay their respects to forebears. Especially during hallowed times, such as the Day of the Dead or when past heroes are honored, ceremonies need to be held on site. All mature sphinxes are at work on those days.

Mystara Alphatia Ar Heraldry
It is also a marvel that sphinxes were able to build such mausoleums. After all, although they are magically gifted, they only have leonine paws. Without the use of an opposable thumb, how do they manage the actual construction and elaborate carvings that cover all stonework? Their secret is that they simply don’t. Male sphinxes of Mystara are as good as 12th level wizards, while their female counterparts are equivalent to 12th level clerics. The former are master architects, skilled at casting stoneform spells to erect their famous kimah. The latter concern themselves with honoring ancestry, matters of the soul, and spiritual guidance. They’ve learned long ago to practice their craft in non-denominational ways, since it often isn’t clear whether an Aran deceased had a spiritual preference or none at all. They are closely associated with clerical shrines at the lighthouse.

What exceedingly few Arans know is that sphinxes, when acting in concert, can call upon the souls of those in their care and use their powers to fully animate the monuments. This ability can affect small kimahs up to a mile away (within sight) or half a mile for the largest ones. Because of the growth of Aran necropoles, it may be necessary to reposition some of the mausoleums. Although this never happened so far, monuments could also be used to fight an invader. If so, they would be truly terrifying foes, gigantic in proportion and surrounded with screaming souls infuriated by the disturbance. In other cases, sphinx guardians may instead cause kimah to vanish entirely, to better protect their residents until a threat recedes. Some visitors once observed curious depressions in the ground, like giant footprints, leading to the resting place of their loved one. Oddly, they could have sworn the grave was elsewhere the last time they visited, but sphinx guardians never reveal what actually happened. All traces were later removed to avoid attention. Sphinxes love answering questions with riddles. Because of this and the endless odd happenings on Upper Sphinx, visitors simply don’t bother asking. One just goes along or stays away.

Small Kimah (stone): AC4, HD 10** (L), HP 80, MV 120’(40’), AT 2 paws + special, Dmg 1d12/1d12, Save F15, ML12, In4, AL N. Monster Type: Construct, Enchanted + Undead. Special Abilities: these enchanted mausoleums are built of stone blocks magically bound together. As such, they have structural Hull Points rather than the usual monster hit points (see RC pg. 115-116 on Siege Combat). Individual weapons inflict only 1 for every 5 points of maximum possible damage (including all bonuses, rounded up), save for metallic blunt weapons which inflict 2 instead of 1 point of base damage. Siege weapons or kimah fighting each other inflict full structural damage. Small kimah suffer a –2 penalty to Initiative Rolls but, as constructs, are immune to all mind-affecting spells and poison. During each combat round, one of the kimah’s residents also attacks (roll 2d8: 2-7 a shadow, 8-11 a wraith, 12-14 a spectre, 15-16 an apparition or a shade). A small kimah can have up to 2d4 specific residents. They appear at random within their mausoleum’s immediate vicinity, and change at the beginning of every round until their controlling kimah is destroyed. If so, remaining residents flee to the Land of Lalartu and Lalassu. Appearing undead can be individually destroyed or Turned (keep track of their identities and accumulated damage). Only one Turning attempt can be directed at the same creature. Each resident has its own treasure; however, guardian sphinxes may not permit plunder after a troubled kimah’s destruction.

Large Kimah (stone): AC4, HD 25** (L), HP 200, MV 90’(60’), AT 2 paws + special, Dmg 2d12+3/2d12+3, Save F36, ML12, In4, AL N. Monster Type: Construct, Enchanted + Undead. Special Abilities: large mausoleums differ from small ones in that they always go last on any given combat round. Undead residents are no longer specific individuals due to the large number of graves inside. As a result, destroying or Turning any of them has no bearing on what may appear next. A cleric can spend every single round attempting to Turn them. Each round, up to 24 HD of undead appear, not counting HD bonuses (roll 1d4: 1. shadows, 2. wraiths, 3. spectres, 4. any of the three phantom types or a specific undead as needed by the DM). Any remaining treasure is likely damaged or destroyed under tons of rubble if/when the kimah collapses.

Famous Sphinxfolk Adage: “Eli Baltuti Ima' 'Idu Mituti”
(the dead will be more numerous than the living)

Mesharra, Viceroy of Sphinx
Mystara Alphatia Ar Heraldry

The viceroy in this district is traditionally chosen by Aran monarchy from native sphinx matriarchs elected as candidates by exclusively male assemblies. Tenure is for life or until a viceroy resigns. As a result, this dominion qualifies as a constitutional matriarchy, of which Mesharra became the latest ruler. She accepts Ar’s supremacy as long as sphinxfolk rights in both the upper and lower district are respected. Ever since Alphatians became involved with sphinxes, the latter have benefited from human servants to take care of simple tasks for them, especially those requiring hands. Any sphinx worth a riddle will admit that there is nothing like a pair of hands to scratch one’s back (Yes, right there, between the wings! O Rapture!) Mesharra once said: “Human civilization has its good sides, especially where paws cannot reach.” As a result, servants are very well treated.

This matriarch earned her notoriety as an investigator. In her many missions to pacify troubled kimah, she gathered clues that some of the revenants were forming a secret coven to oppose sphinxfolk control. It has become amply clear to her that if they succeeded, it would eventually tear apart the fabric of sphinx society. The idea of thousands of disembodied angry wizards loose among the living and in control of their animated kimah is frightening even to sphinxes. So does Mesharra keep digging for more clues to put an end to the growing danger. The trouble with the situation lies in the treaty signed with the Kingdom of Ar, and binding contracts with relatives of the deceased, not to harm Aran restless spirits. The traditional mission is to appease and lead them to the afterworld, but never to destroy them. Mesharra is not about to jeopardize this relationship or offend native culture demanding ancients be honored, be they of sphinxfolk or Aran pedigrees.

She presently has two objectives. The first is to identify who is behind the coven. Among the undead, only a very powerful entity could rouse spirits and bind them to its will, such as a necromancer or a monstrous undead liege. It hasn’t been clear so far whether a resident is involved, or some external force. Removing this influence should solve the problem. While her quiet investigation goes on, Mesharra works on a more powerful spell than those already available to sway recalcitrant souls. One of the primary tools given to matriarchs is the spell of appeasement, approved under both Aran and sphinx laws.

Appeasement* (Level 4 Clerical)
Range: 180’
Duration: permanent until disturbed
Effect: sends one undead creature to its grave

The spell compels a hostile undead to return to its grave and rest in peace. The undead may save vs. spell, with a modifier equal to its own HD minus 12 (a sphinx’s spellcasting level.) If the saving throw fails, the undead must return to its grave at full speed and remain there until disturbed once more. It is one way to determine which tomb an undead came from, provided its flight can be followed. If the saving throw fails, the undead singles out the caster, intent on destroying the source of the offense. The reversed version of the spell, rouse, is “ikkibu” and punishable under sphinxfolk law. Rouse summons a spirit from its tomb, to guard it against anyone approaching. Aroused spirits are always angry but remain within 150’ of their grave until someone comes within the area of effect.

Mesharra is working on a greater appeasement which could affect multiple targets and with higher odds of success. The spell would be a sixth level prayer, but she hasn’t yet solved the great riddle of correct supplications to her immortal patron. She may in fact have to first vanquish the force behind the coven to earn the key to the riddle. Only then would she be granted such a powerful new spell.

Appearance: Mesharra is a prime specimen of her kind. She has short tawny fur covering most of her body. A long sinuous tail with a chocolate brown tuft sometimes reveals her emotions in short sharp flicks when she isn’t controlling it. When she’s at rest, her tail lies over her hips and back. Her expressive features are those of a lovely woman with a wide brow and large amber eyes. Mesharra wears a thin coronet of braided red gold over the many tiny braids in her chocolate-brown hair, set at one side with three golden plumes and a large golden carnelian cabochon. She is as comfortable seeking clues during night as she is by day. Her personality is normally one of quiet watchfulness.

Mesharra*: AC –4, HD 12***** (L), MV 180’(60’)/360’(120’), AT 2 claws/1 bite + roar, Dmg 3d6+2/3d6+2/2d8, Save F24+2, ML10, In13, AL N. Special Abilities: casts spells as a 12th level cleric; detects hidden and secret doors as a cleric of Noumena; can roar twice a day (within 120’: save vs spells at –4 or flee in fear for 1d6 Turns; within 60’: in addition to the above, save vs. paralysis or be stunned for 1d6 rounds). Special Defenses: immune to spells 1st through 3rd levels and non-magical weapons. Magical Items: potion of undead control, leonine barding +1, war claws +1/+3 vs. undead, and bracers of protection vs. level draining attacks (4 charges left).

Arvesian, Master Summoner—1888-1991 AY.
May he find in death what he sought in life.

This powerful wizard never was one to rest in peace. Tireless and obsessed with unveiling the ultimate magic to summon the most powerful creatures of Mystara, he went too far one day and met an untimely end. Or so the story tells. Arvesian sought to become an immortal, using his specialty magic—the craft of summoning beings of terrifying power, and binding them to his will—to achieve the ultimate goal. In fact, his quest for immortality hasn’t ended at all. He became a lich in order to pursue his research. His cadaver was recovered one cold winter morning in the outskirts of Graynest, in the District of Wraith. The cause of his death could not be ascertained, and clerical magic failed to bring him from the dead or to contact him. It was therefore assumed that his latest experiment snuffed the very life from his withered old bones—details committed to official records. He was embalmed without further delay, his skin varnished against the injury of time, his eyes replaced with glowing agates, his innards preserved in sealed jars, and thus buried on Sphinx Prime along with crucial volumes of his encrypted research and several other valuables. Curiously, he had purchased a few months earlier a fairly modest tomb for a wizard of his rank, near the center of the largest available kimah. After raised eyebrows of his peers dropped back to a thoroughly more bored and uncaring position, he was soon forgotten by those who benefited from his apparent demise.

Years later, the negative life force that he had summoned prior to his death slowly began to infuse his corpse’s hollow, desiccated husk. He had designed his spell’s effects to manifest themselves only after such a long delay so as not to attract attention. He’d fooled everyone, save for one matriarch assigned to his death ritual. She was unable to call upon his soul to send it forever to the world beyond, a troubling thought she recorded in a crystal ball, now relegated to an archival crypt under the lighthouse. She who was then known as Shuhaza among her kin met her own end when she visited the summoner’s tomb years later and sensed his brooding, lingering soul. Her body was never found. No one else knew her whereabouts that day, and all attempts to contact her among the dead later on met with stubborn silence. There was no evidence of her leaving, and so the mystery remains unsolved.

Since his encounter with Shuhaza, Arvesian carefully built a network of wizardly souls within his kimah, summoning them from the world beyond and binding them to his service. He filched some of the better magical items from their graves, preparing to unleash his power and take over the islands and all their monuments. He has become aware of Mesharra’s suspicions and patiently awaits the day she may come unescorted. Arvesian is capable of wresting control of his kimah from sphinx guardians, or of animating it himself. He can mentally change the position of shifting walls and stairs, track the position of any living being within the mausoleum, and cause the entire structure to temporarily vanish into a void-like plane, trapping everyone inside.

Appearance: Arvesian appears odd because his skin is the color of caramelized flesh, and varnished. It has cracked in several places where wear is greatest, such as his knees, elbows, fingertips, and the joints of his hands: this reveals viscous dark blood oozing from around a dull gray skeleton. Every time he moves, his skin crackles. Because of the varnish, Arvesian cannot stand straight, and his speech is slurred and raspy. He wears a lopsided, permanent rictus. Deep gray bullseye agates serve as his eyes, with several circles of white orbiting the central round. Neither match. No one alive likes looking into those eyes. His brow features a deep vertical gap running from his nose almost to his hairline, with wrinkles to either side. Blood sometimes drips from this rift, traveling slowly down his shriveled lips. His robe seems made of shadows and the insubstantial grays of dusk, showing furtive wings, talons, tails, or heads of eagles. His ring is a large irregular chunk of black onyx with a hole carved through it. The talisman at his neck is a disk of blackest obsidian surrounded by a twisted silver bezel.

Arvesian* (lich): AC 0, MU32*****, hp 9d4+23, MV 90’(30’), AT 1 touch or spell, Dmg 1d10 + paralysis or by spell, Save MU32, ML10, In18, AL C. Special Abilities: casts spells as a 32nd level wizard; has the permanent ability to fly and detect magic (as the spells). Special Defenses: immune to sleep, charm, fear, feeblemind, polymorph, cold, lightning, and death spells and non-magical weapons. Special Attacks: causes fear in all characters level 4 or less (no save); paralysis lasts 1d100 days or until dispelled; can summon other undead to his side multiple times each day as long as different creatures are selected (see RC pg. 188 and pg. 217 for Undead Lieges). Magical Items: cloak of mirror images, ring of deathly fortitude, summoner’s robe, talisman of entropy, wand of cold, and (in lair) crystal ball with ESP, censer of controlling air elementals, and whatever else at the DM’s discretion.

Ring of Deathly Fortitude: this black ring enables an undead owner to repair damage to its physical form when inflicting open hand or claw damage upon a living creature. Any such damage converts into negative energy essentially healing the owner. A living creature wearing this ring will permanently lose one experience level when succeeding an open hand attack against a foe. If such is detected, the ring radiates both magic and evil. It is a prized possession for liches and vampires who will seek to obtain it if they hear of its existence.

Summoner’s Robe: It is Arvesian’s original garb. The robe enables its owner to boost the effects of certain spells such as conjure elementals, invisible stalker, or any of the create monster spells. The enhanced spells summon two creatures instead of one, or twice the number of HD as appropriate. When used in this manner, the garb leaches some of the owner’s magical energy to boost its magic, inflicting 2d6+6 points of damage.

Talisman of Entropy: when activated, this device engulfs a Lawful character of the owner’s choice (within 60') in a set of shadowy jaws rising from the ground. If the character succeeds a saving throw vs. spells at –4, damage from the jaws amounts to half the victim’s current hit points, after which the jaws vanish. If the saving throw fails, the character is instantly paralyzed and transported to a featureless plane to begin a slow descent toward undeath. The process can be stopped and reversed if the talisman is destroyed within a Turn, which brings the victim back to the Prime Plane. Paralysis still lasts for 1d100 days. Otherwise the victim returns instead as a vampire or a nosferatu under the lich’s control (and does not count against the undead liege’s normal control ability). The talisman enables its owner to detect Lawful characters, in particular those with strong spiritual dispositions, such as clerics and paladins. Arvesian will select a sphinx matriarch before anyone else. The talisman radiates both evil and magic if such is detected, and can only be used once. If the transformation was successful, the victim’s face is engraved on the talisman. If the talisman is destroyed after its use, the undead permanently breaks free of the lich’s control and will seek its demise. If the lich has been destroyed, the undead either seizes control of the lich’s remaining pawns, or flees to pursue new goals. At the DM’s discretion, the vampire/nosferatu may grant those who destroyed the talisman or the lich a safe retreat from the lair—this one time only.

The three most common faiths for sphinx clerics involve Noumena, Terra, and Nyx. The first one was attracted to sphinxes because of their love of, and talent with, riddles and puzzles. Terra actually created their race, and therefore acts as their protector and the one who bestowed upon them skills to erect great stone monuments. Nyx came along to offer these clever beings an alternative to the other two immortals. She patrons sphinxfolk honoring of ancestors and their quest to protect the undead from their own cravings or from those among the living who would seek to destroy them. Although Mystaran sphinxes can be of any alignment regardless of their genders, clerics of Nyx aren’t necessarily Chaotic (read evil in this context). Both Noumena and Nyx are members of the Council of Intrusions.


Patron of Riddles and Mysteries, also known by sphinxes of Ar as Dingir Buzur, the Spirit who Solves Secrets.

Nature: 34th level Hierarch of Thought, Neutral—AC–22, hp 1250, HD48, MV150’(50’), AT4 fist or sword, Dmg 5d6+7 fist or 4d6+11 khopesh, AM 90%, Save IM34; St30, In98, Wi66, Dex20, Co38, Ch20. Powers: detection suite, height decrease, improved saving throws vs. mental attacks, increased damage. Magical Item: Nithian khopesh sickle-sword or stone mace +4 (or rapier +4 as per Wrath of the Immortals).
Symbol: a gameboard
Interests: puzzles, riddles, mysteries, secrets, obscure knowledge, trivia, ancient citations, history, games, strategy, military tactics.
Locations: Savage Coast, Known World, Isle of Dawn (especially Thothia), Norwold, Alphatia, and in the Hollow World (especially Nithia).

Appearance: Noumena often takes the shape of a withered old man, balding and with a long gray beard. Intense black eyes that miss little contrast with his elderly appearance. He commonly wears black robes covering all but his head and hands. Legends say that he carries a pouch filled with wondrous magical dice.

History: Prior to becoming an immortal, he ruled ancient Nithia as a mighty pharaoh with a passion for solving puzzles. Although a successful military tactician, he lost interest in his kingly duties which no longer presented a challenge. He abdicated and left in search of yet greater puzzles to solve. His most memorable success was to unravel the secret behind the decay affecting his former realm. He sacrificed his own life in a bid to defeat the entropic scheme. This heroic deed attracted Odin’s attention, who sponsored his quest for immortality in the Sphere of Thought. As a legendary sleuth and mystery-solver, he rose to prominence among the Council of Intrusion, a watchdog for outer-planar threats to Mystara in particular.

Personality: As can be guessed, Noumena is a compulsive puzzle-solver. The outcome of a riddle isn’t his concern, and consequently he tends to ignore the fates of those involved. Though occasionally thoughtful, he more often appears as a detached and analytical introvert, seldom interacting with his peers. His discretion and somewhat geekly self-absorption with inner thoughts cause others to overlook or underestimate him. Laconic if not stubbornly silent, when he does speak, everyone listens.

Liege: Odin was his liege for a very long time, but as Noumena grew to become a hierarch, the two are more like peers.
Allies: Mostly Odin as a result of their past history. Noumena also appreciates Ssu-Ma’s qualities and attention to detail.
Enemies: none specifically. Noumena is likely to oppose those who challenge the Council of Intrusions.
Followers' Alignment: Any; clerics must be Lawful or Neutral.
Favored Weapons: a khopesh sword or a stone mace. Cleric, paladin, and knight followers of Noumena receive a +1 to hit with one of these weapons.
Clerics' Abilities: In addition to the above, clerics can also detect hidden and secret passages as elves do. With an Intelligence of 16+, clerics may obtain one or more extra clues through meditation to help unravel unsolved puzzles.

Special thanks to Janet Deaver-Pack for character descriptions and editorial contributions.


  1. I really enjoyed this one. It's wonderful having some Nithian connections in Alphatia, and I love your treatment of the sphinxes.

    1. Making the sphinxes Sumerian-like rather than Nithian seemed like a novel approach to the Greco-Egyptian versions. I had fun digging around for Sumerian-English dictionaries. Besides, the idea of the clerics having to solve divine riddles as part of their "spell research" seemed like a good way to set them apart from typical wizardly spell research.


    2. Great topic, Bruce.

      Two thumbs up!

    3. And a tip o'the hat back to you!

  2. wauw. This is good.Since PC2 Top Ballista the Sphinxes as PC were added, I saw several holes in their logic and existence , but you almost filled them all up.
    At least one question remains; How do you fit this with the higher level sphinxes of PC2

    1. Thanks, Robin.

      I've not been able to locate my PC copies. Until I do, I won't be able to answer your question.

  3. I've already dug in Sphinxes for the Monster Manual, especially the articles about riddles in Dragon Magazine were truly needed.
    Take a look at it, maybe ya find an unknown edge, i like so much about y'r articles.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.