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Sphinx, Elder Sphinx

The brooding face of this towering limestone statue of a gynosphinx reflects a harsh wisdom acquired through untold ages of experience.

Elder Sphinx CR 16

Source Pathfinder #83: The Slave Trenches of Hakotep pg. 90
XP 76,800
N Gargantuan magical beast
Init +5; Senses darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision, true seeing; Perception +27


AC 29, touch 7, flat-footed 28 (+1 Dex, +22 natural, –4 size)
hp 241 (21d10+126)
Fort +18, Ref +15, Will +19
Defensive Abilities enciphered mind, DR 15/adamantine and magic; Immune petrification; SR 27


Speed 40 ft., fly 60 ft. (poor)
Melee 2 claws +31 (2d6+14), 2 wings +26 (2d6+7)
Space 20 ft., Reach 15 ft.
Special Attacks litany of riddles, pounce, rake (2 claws +31, 2d6+14), trample (2d6+21, DC 34)
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 20th; concentration +27)
Constant—comprehend languages, detect magic, nondetection, read magic, true seeing
3/day—clairaudience/clairvoyance, greater dispel magic, hallucinatory terrain (DC 21), locate object, remove curse, siroccoAPG (DC 23)
1/day—commune, contact other plane, legend lore
1/week—any one of the following: symbol of fear (DC 22), symbol of persuasion (DC 23), symbol of sleep (DC 23), symbol of vulnerability (DC 26), symbol of weakness (DC 24); all symbols last for 1 week maximum


Str 39, Dex 12, Con 23, Int 26, Wis 30, Cha 25
Base Atk +21; CMB +39 (+41 bull rush); CMD 50 (52 vs. bull rush, 54 vs. trip)
Feats Alertness, Awesome Blow, Flyby Attack, Improved Bull Rush, Improved Initiative, Improved Iron Will, Improved Vital Strike, Iron Will, Lightning Reflexes, Power Attack, Vital Strike
Skills Diplomacy +20, Fly +8, Intimidate +15, Knowledge (arcana) +20, Knowledge (dungeoneering) +20, Knowledge (engineering) +15, Knowledge (geography) +20, Knowledge (history) +20, Knowledge (local) +20, Knowledge (nature) +20, Knowledge (nobility) +20, Knowledge (planes) +20, Knowledge (religion) +20, Linguistics +15, Perception +27, Sense Motive +24, Spellcraft +28, Use Magic Device +20
Languages Abyssal, Aquan, Ancient Osiriani, Auran, Celestial, Common, Draconic, Giant, Ignan, Infernal, Jistka, Sphinx, Sylvan, Tekritanin, Terran; telepathy 100 ft.
SQ enigma, sphinx monolith


Environment warm deserts
Organization solitary
Treasure standard

Special Abilities

Enciphered Mind (Su) The forbidden knowledge elder sphinxes have accumulated is etched on their psyches, and it causes great harm to those who attempt to make psychic contact. Any creature attempting to contact an elder sphinx’s mind or read its thoughts with a divination spell or similar ability must succeed at a DC 27 Will save or be overwhelmed by the chaos and vast scope of the knowledge within. Those who fail are affected by feeblemind. An elder sphinx can willingly suppress this ability at will as a free action. This is a mind-affecting effect, and the save DC is Charisma-based.

Enigma (Su) Elder sphinxes have removed themselves from the mundane world to contemplate the mysteries of the universe—and beyond. To facilitate this, they possess an uncanny ability to elude detection and discovery by those that could possibly interrupt their meditations. Any creature (other than another sphinx), that leaves line of sight of an elder sphinx for more than 1 hour must succeed at a DC 27 Will save or be unable to recall details of the encounter, as if the sphinx cast modify memory to eliminate all recollection of itself. The exact details of this memory loss are decided by the elder sphinx subconsciously during the encounter and it may eliminate up to an hour of memories. This is a mind-affecting compulsion effect and the save DC is Charisma-based.

Litany of Riddles (Su) As a standard action, an elder sphinx can telepathically project a befuddling series of riddles, puzzles, and logic paradoxes at all creatures in a 60-foot cone. Creatures caught in this effect must succeed at a DC 27 Will save or be stunned for 1d4 rounds. Creatures that succeed against this effect glean snippets of lore from this brush with the sphinx’s mind, granting them a +5 insight bonus on all Knowledge checks for 1 hour and the ability to attempt Knowledge checks with a DC higher than 10 untrained. Once a creature successfully saves against this ability, it can’t be affected by the same elder sphinx’s litany of riddles for 24 hours. This is a mind-affecting effect and the save DC is Charisma-based.

Sphinx Monolith (Su) An elder sphinx can enter a state of suspended animation and transform its massive body into a stone monument. This transformation takes 1 minute to complete, during which the elder sphinx is immobile. Once it transforms into its monolith form, the elder sphinx’s body hardens to stone, granting it hardness 30 and 350 hit points. If the elder sphinx’s stony body is reduced to 0 hit points, it is destroyed and the elder sphinx is slain. While transformed, an elder sphinx doesn’t need to breathe, eat, drink, or sleep. The elder sphinx is aware of its surroundings and it can use astral projection at will when in this form. Anytime an elder sphinx’s body takes damage while using astral projection, its astral form immediately becomes aware that it is in danger and can, as a free action, end the astral projection and begin reverting back to its natural form (though the process still takes 1 minute). When an elder sphinx ends its transformation, it is immediately healed of all hit point damage it may have sustained while transformed. An elder sphinx can remain in its sphinx monolith form indefinitely.


Older than most modern civilizations, elder sphinxes are the wisest and most venerable of sphinx kind. Though they have long since calcified into creatures of living limestone, these ancient creatures serve eternally as guardians, not of temples or other such terrestrial sites, but of forbidden knowledge and lore, much of which is beyond the understanding of lesser beings. Elder sphinxes are highly protective of the vast wealth of information they possess and strive to defend it from those they deem unworthy.


Sphinxes gradually become more sedentary over their long lifespans as they lose their inclination toward physical activity. The eldest and most knowledgeable sphinxes undergo a transformation that allows them to remain undisturbed as they ponder the knowledge they’ve obtained. They turn into creatures of living limestone and grow to tremendous proportions, until they resemble ancient and weathered statues. No longer content with the Material Plane, elder sphinxes cast their consciousnesses out into the Astral Plane and beyond in search of the secrets of the universe, as their mortal hunger for nourishment is replaced by a metaphysical hunger for knowledge.

Habitat & Society

Scholars claim that some elder sphinxes predate even the Age of Darkness and thus possess firsthand knowledge of the world as it once was, and have learned of the contemporary world only through their astral wandering or during the rare times they walk in their corporeal form. Whatever purpose they served in their youth has long since been forgotten or abandoned, leaving them to pursue more esoteric ambitions. These ancient creatures exist solely to seek out new information and to understand the great mysteries of the universe while their stony physical remains sit idle as time passes them by. In time, these elder sphinxes come to be seen as monuments, and sometimes humanoid cultures gather around them and worship them as idols. Infrequently, elder sphinxes can be coaxed to trade ancient knowledge for more current information or for arcane secrets they have yet to divine from the planes. Finding knowledge or information beyond an elder sphinx’s experiences, however, is as monumental a task as locating one of their kind.

Elder sphinxes have little to no contact with other sphinxes. This only occurs when a younger, less powerful sphinx seeks out one of these magnificent specimens to plead for lost knowledge. When elder sphinxes do come into contact with one another, it is always a meeting of great purpose, typically on a matter of such importance that it requires them to share their ancient wisdom and unfathomable lore.

Creatures in "Sphinx" Category

Elder Sphinx16


Source Bestiary 3 pg. 250
The enigmatic sphinxes are closely related, yet diverse in appearance, intellect, and personality. All combine a lion's body, a falcon's wings, and a head of some other species. The most intelligent and powerful of the species sport humanoid heads—either male or female. The two types of humanoid-headed sphinxes are, in fact, separate races, not merely separate genders. These humanoid-headed races are often called androsphinxes and gynosphinxes, terms many sphinxes consider demeaning. Lesser sphinxes have the heads of beasts and are invariably male; the most commonly encountered are the ram-headed criosphinxes and the savage, falcon-headed criosphinxes. Sphinxes deny any common ancestry with other leonine hybrids such as griffins and manticores, let alone celestial beings like lammasus, and find such lines of conversation distasteful.

Sphinxes prefer warm desert climes and the hills nearby, both for the comforting warmth and the pleasant solitude. The more intelligent sphinxes have contrary social natures, alternately craving conversation and isolation as the mood strikes them. Indeed, a bored or irritated sphinx often takes leave in the midst of discussion, or perhaps slays and devours its petitioners out of sheer annoyance.

While sphinxes as a race are not truly immortal, they are fantastically long-lived, save for the violent hieracosphinxes, who rarely survive their second decade. Unless slain by accident, violence, or misadventure, other sphinxes seem to pass on only when they have at last wearied of living and will themselves to die. The older a sphinx is, the less it needs consume. The oldest of sphinxes dine perhaps once per century, making them ideal guardians for monuments, temples, and tombs.

Sphinxes prefer to converse in their own tongue, but most speak the languages of humans and dragons as well. Addressing a sphinx in its own language with all due politeness and deference goes a long way to ensure peaceful conversation. All sphinxes save hieracosphinxes enjoy stimulating conversation, though for such long-lived creatures their memory for detail is sadly lacking. In some cultures, “a mind like a sphinx” serves as a sarcastic alternative to “scatter-brained.”

Though sphinxes have a reputation for loving riddles, in truth, only gynosphinxes truly enjoy them. Androsphinxes prefer lofty philosophical discussions, while criosphinxes prefer worldly topics or fawning praise. Hieracosphinxes rarely converse at all, and respond only to threats from creatures more powerful than they are.

Neighboring humanoids generally adopt a policy of avoiding local sphinxes, as the creatures grow increasingly irritable each time their solitude is invaded. Even so, once a sphinx's lair is known, it can expect a steady flow of visitors in search of the fabled wisdom of its race. Some sphinxes move to quieter abodes once the interruptions become too much to bear; others devour a few of the more irritating supplicants until the visits cease.

Sphinxes have peculiar breeding habits, contributing in no small part to their scarcity and the strange diversity of their species. Indeed, matters of mating occupy much of the thoughts of all of the sphinxes save the prudish androsphinxes. The female gynosphinxes have nothing but scorn for animal-headed sphinxes, craving only the attentions of the masculine androsphinxes. For their part, androsphinxes consider petty rutting a waste of time and energy, both of which are better spent on loftier pursuits than the fleeting pleasures of the flesh. Criosphinxes and hieracosphinxes alike lust after gynosphinxes. The former abase themselves and attempt to curry favor with lavish gifts. Hieracosphinxes scorn any such civilized gestures, and mate by force on the rare occasions they have a female at their mercy.

From these rare couplings, two to four sphinxes of any type may be born, regardless of the breed of the parents. Instead, the nature of the coupling itself influences the species of the resulting offspring. From those rare matings engendered by love or respect, androsphinxes and gynosphinxes are born. Those couplings motivated by carnal lust or selfish urges most often produce criosphinxes. Hieracosphinxes come from acts of hate and violence, and their disgusted mothers quickly abandon them to the mercy of the elements, lest the young turn against them. Of all the males, only the criosphinx willingly helps rear its own young, often as part of the bargain for mating in the first place.

People of the desert sometimes honor the sphinx's form by crafting great stone sphinxes, often bearing the faces of their own rulers and nobles. Legend holds the first such monuments were modeled on the eldest and greatest of sphinxes, paragons of knowledge and wisdom far larger in size than any common sphinx. The oldest and largest of these sphinxes settled into the desert sands when at last they tired of immortality, and as they passed into their final sleep, their bodies became as sandstone.

These elder sphinxes may be androsphinxes or gynosphinxes, or very rarely criosphinxes. They have at minimum the advanced template, many additional Hit Dice, and a size of at least Huge (and more often Gargantuan or Colossal). They can use commune, contact other plane, and legend lore as spell-like abilities once each per day (CL equals the sphinx's CR), and frequently possess other powers and special attacks. Many such sphinxes can enter a state of stony suspended animation that resembles the freeze special ability, though they cannot easily rouse themselves from such slumber. Other sphinxes, even the bestial hieracosphinxes, defer to elder sphinxes in all matters, treating them almost as gods.