A griffon is a large magical beasts with a lion's body, an eagle's head and claws, and feathered wings. They are intelligent creatures, and while unable to speak can understand most languages spoken by the humanoids living close to them. The name of this magical beast has a couple of variant spellings, namely griffin and gryphon.
Most griffons found in Avistan are large creatures with the hindquarters of lions and the wing forequarters of brown-and-white eagles, but certain populations are known to resemble different types of birds and felines. Desert-dwelling griffons often resemble tawny or black hawks and mountain lions, while those found in jungles combine the bodies of tigers and panthers with those of colorful parrots.
In addition, a wingless type of griffon called the alce also exists. These are born when griffon eggs are brooded by their father rather than their mother. While flightless, alces are swifter runners than winged griffons.
Male griffons attempt to impress females by bringing them gifts of meat and fruit, and thereafter through a complex aerial dance where the prospective mates engage in difficult aerial acrobatics. Griffons mate for life, and both mates rear the young; females typically brood the eggs while the males hunt to bring back prey to their mate and offspring, but on occasion, males can be the ones to brood the clutch. In these occasions, the chicks hatch as wingless alces instead of winged griffons.
The first griffons were created by Curchanus, a god who ruled over the beasts of the world. Curchanus shaped the griffons in response to prayers from his worshippers by combining the features of two symbolically important and recognizable predators, the lion and the eagle, one representing the land and the other representing the air. These original griffons are believed to have been highly intelligent and to have protected their god's faithful, but they regressed into their current bestial state after Curchanus' murder by the demon lord Lamashtu.
Griffons favor highland areas as their homes, and are known to nest in the Storval Plateau of Varisia, the Shattered Range in the Mwangi Expanse, and the Aspodell Mountains of Andoran and Cheliax, among other mountainous regions. They hunt on the Nesmian Plains of southern Nirmathas.
A half-fiend griffon named Karadoon lives in the Five Kings Mountains. A servant of the demon Treerazer who somehow escaped his imprisonment in Tanglebriar, the fiendish griffon's brutal depredations on both dwarves and his fellow griffons have earned him a fearsome reputation in his new home.
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