|Images of phoenixes
Source: Bestiary, pg(s). 261
A phoenix1 is a near-mythical bird of extraordinary size and intelligence that seems to be composed of pure fire. It is best known for its ability to seemingly resurrect itself from its own dead body. Phoenixes are generally benevolent creatures of great wisdom and learning, and are sometimes sought-out by those seeking advice or knowledge.2
Phoenixes resemble gigantic birds wreathed in flames, often with forty-foot wingspans. Although all phoenixes resemble gigantic birds seemingly made of fire, their appearance beyond that can vary a great deal. Many look like raptorial birds such as hawks and eagles, but the phoenixes of Garund's jungles and savannas resemble local tropical birds, while a rare few look like giant owls. Their coloring is also prone to some variety; while most have red to yellow plumage and flames, blue, green, and white phoenixes have also been recorded.3
Phoenixes, despite their benevolent natures, are also active predators. They typically hunt herding mammals such as antelopes, gazelles, deer, and aurochs, which they prefer to consume raw. Although they can subsist on plant matter when they need to, they prefer the taste of meat. While they do not purposefully target intelligent beings, they are known to consume the bodies of slain foes in battle.3
Phoenixes are best known for the miraculous ability to return to life after being slain, although they can only resurrect themselves in this manner once a year. If a phoenix is killed before a full year has passed since its last resurrection, its death will be permanent.3
Phoenixes mate for life, although mated phoenixes spend most of their lives apart from one another, and breed once a century. A female phoenix will lay an egg roughly the size of a wine cask after mating, which the parents will incubate for six months. After this period, an infant phoenix already the size of an eagle emerges from the egg, and reaches the intelligence of an adult human within a few days of its birth.3
Phoenixes are largely solitary creatures in regards to their own kind. Mated pairs typically only come together once a century to mate and care for their new offspring, leaving each other and their child after a few years. Phoenixes do not maintain contact with their parents again after leaving their nests, and will not usually interact with other phoenixes again except for their own future mates and chicks. When multiple adult phoenixes gather together, it is usually because a powerful evil force has arisen that cannot be confronted by a single phoenix.3
Although largely solitary and reclusive creatures, phoenixes enjoy the occasional company of humanoids, particularly if these are morally upstanding or share the phoenixes' love for scholarship and knowledge. They are also known to form long-lasting friendships and alliances with metallic and imperial dragons, with whom they share their long lifespans, love of knowledge, and desire to do good.3
Phoenixes have a strained relationship with tidehawks, another species of magical avians with a similar relationship with water as phoenixes have with fire. Although phoenixes and tidehawks are kin, their contrasting elemental alignments and moral outlooks make it difficult for them to get along. Phoenixes see tidehawks as flighty, selfish, and unreliable; in turn, tidehawks view phoenixes as self-righteous meddlers overly involved in mortal affairs. The two species only cooperate to respond to significant threats to natural environments caused by particularly evil beings.4
Phoenixes are known to exist in Golarion's warmer climes. They are rarely spotted in the hills of the Mwangi Expanse,5 the deserts of Osirion,6 Katapesh,7 and Qadira, and are especially prevalent in the eastern parts of the latter nation8 around the Meraz Desert.9
Phoenixes play an important role in Sarenite theology. The faithful of Sarenrae believe that seeing a phoenix is a sign of great favor from the goddess, and therefore treat the creature with great reverence.10 Further, a passage from The Birth of Light and Truth, Sarenrae's holy text, indicates that the first phoenixes were created when the goddess raised a flock of rocs to sapience and blessed them with her fires when they pledged to serve her.8
The Worldwound was home to a corrupted, evil phoenix known as Pyralisia, the Rain of Embers. Pyralisia was killed while defending a wardstone from a rift to the Outer Rifts, and while the rift was successfully closed, the Abyssal energies it emanated corrupted Pyralisia's rebirth and resurrected her as a creature consumed by chaos and evil.11
For additional as-yet unincorporated sources about this subject, see the Meta page.
- Using Greek, the plural of phoenix in English transliteration would be phoenices; however, in Ancient Greek mythology there was only one Phoenix so a plural of the title was never needed. Paizo consistently adopts phoenixes as the plural in their publications and that is what we have adopted on the PathfinderWiki.
- “Monsters A to Z” in Bestiary, 227. Paizo Inc., 2009 .
- “Sea Serpent” in Mystery Monsters Revisited, 46–51. Paizo Inc., 2012 .
- “Monsters A-Z” in Bestiary 3, 266. Paizo Inc., 2021 .
- “Encounter Tables” in Heart of the Jungle, 62. Paizo Inc., 2010 .
- “Tumen” in Lost Cities of Golarion, 50. Paizo Inc., 2011 .
- “In the Shadow of Pale Mountain” in House of the Beast, 57. Paizo Inc., 2009 .
- “Sea Serpent” in Mystery Monsters Revisited, 50. Paizo Inc., 2012 .
- “Adventuring in Qadira” in Qadira, Jewel of the East, 38. Paizo Inc., 2017 .
- “Faith: Religion in Qadira” in Qadira, Gateway to the East, 22. Paizo Inc., 2009 .
- “Sea Serpent” in Mystery Monsters Revisited, 51. Paizo Inc., 2012 .