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    Default Playable Sphinx [3.5 Race]

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    This is a very simple race I drew up off the top of my head for a game. The Sphinx I want to play is a caster, so I wanted a 0 RHD/LA+0 Sphinx race to use. It's not really based on D&D's Sphinx but rather the Greek mythology. It's really not very flashy but I like the Riddle mechanic.

    Sphinx
    • Magical Beast (Human)
    • Medium
    • Base Land Speed: 40 ft. Though Sphinxes have humanoid arms and hands, they typically run on all fours, and are faster for it.
    • Natural Weapons (Ex): Sphinx can make attacks with the claws on their hands. These claws are a pair of primary natural attacks that each deal 1d3 damage plus the Sphinx's Strength modifier.
    • Stability (Ex): Having four legs makes a Sphinx harder to knock over. +4 Racial bonus to Ability checks to avoid being bull rushed or tripped.
    • Riddle (Su): A Sphinx may pose a riddle to a single target once per day. The target must be willing, and the target and the Sphinx must agree to the terms of the challenge beforehand (that is, what the Sphinx must do if the riddle is answered correctly, and what the target must do if they fail). The terms of the challenge are magically binding; treat the loser of the challenge as under the effects of the Geas spell, under orders to perform the agreed upon duty.

      The actual riddle and answering it may be treated as an opposed Knowledge check of the Sphinx's choice (for those targets who do not have ranks in the chosen Knowledge skill, it becomes an Intelligence check). Sphinx also gain a +4 Racial bonus to all Knowledge checks.
    • Sphinx's Knowledge (Ex): Sphinxes study broadly and love knowledge. They are often stores of trivia and legends, and can sometimes come up with facts in fields they haven't even studied particularly thoroughly. As the Bardic Knowledge class feature, except that the Sphinx's bonus on the check is equal to her ECL - 3 (a 1st or 2nd level Sphinx can still make the check, just at a penalty). A Sphinx with levels in a class which give the Bardic Knowledge or Lore feature instead gains a +3 bonus on the check.
    • Automatic Languages: Common, Sphinx
    • Bonus Languages: Any. Sphinx have a distinct love of language and words.
    • LA: +0
    Last edited by DragoonWraith; 2010-04-12 at 04:14 PM.

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    Default Re: Playable Sphinx [3.5 Race]

    Does the sphinx have hands or paws? That will be an important factor in the LA. If they can't wield weapons/pick up objects, that's worth about -1 LA, I believe. And no claw attack?
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    Default Re: Playable Sphinx [3.5 Race]

    Yeah, my DM ended up giving me a weakish pair of primary claw attacks just cuz it's weird that they don't. No idea where that puts balance.

    As for weapons, well... I mean, my character's a spellcaster. She doesn't need them, nor does she use them. Sensibly, it makes sense that Sphinx wouldn't be able to, but that's such a huge nerf I don't even know what to do with it. It would basically mean playing any melee character other than a totemist would be impossible, I think...

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    Default Re: Playable Sphinx [3.5 Race]

    Yes any creature with at least 3 int and at least 1 in all other stats can be a player character, though it's certainly understandable for a DM to ban any creature.

    lions don't have a climb speed so why would a creature with the body of a lion have one?

    As a DM I would never allow a riddle to be answered with a knowledge check. Go buy a decent book of riddles if you want to play this.

    I would suggest you play a shifter if you want to play a chimeric creature.

    If your claw attacks are weaker than daggers your DM is screwing you over.
    Last edited by Geiger Counter; 2010-03-30 at 09:19 PM.

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    Default Re: Playable Sphinx [3.5 Race]

    Quote Originally Posted by Geiger Counter View Post
    Yes any creature with at least 3 int and at least 1 in all other stats can be a player character, though it's certainly understandable for a DM to ban any creature.
    The notable exception is for constructs and undead, both with -- Constitution scores (+0 modifier).

    As a DM I would never allow a riddle to be answered with a knowledge check. Go buy a decent book of riddles if you want to play this.
    Plus, the Knowledge is for this only, in terms of mechanical benefits. Nobody would take Knowledge (riddles).

    I would suggest you play a shifter if you want to play a chimeric creature.
    I see no reason not to homebrew a sphinx if that's what he wants. That's like saying "I suggest you play a fighter if you want a melee character" when someone makes a melee class. Sure, a lot of people might like the fighter, but others might want something different. Hence, the fighter fixes.

    If your claw attacks are weaker than daggers your DM is screwing you over.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Temotei221 View Post
    I see no reason not to homebrew a sphinx if that's what he wants. That's like saying "I suggest you play a fighter if you want a melee character" when someone makes a melee class. Sure, a lot of people might like the fighter, but others might want something different. Hence, the fighter fixes.
    Okay I really don't see how making a suggestion for optimization is anything like suggesting a player play fighter

    Anyways Shifters make having a lion's bite or it's hide or eagle wings viable at LA+0 which is why I suggested it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Temotei221 View Post
    He's a caster.
    What? Can caters not wield a dagger so he threatens that space. Which BTW does raise the problem at to how he will meet somatic and material components without hands.

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    Default Re: Playable Sphinx [3.5 Race]

    Quote Originally Posted by Geiger Counter View Post
    Okay I really don't see how making a suggestion for optimization is anything like suggesting a player play fighter

    Anyways Shifters make having a lion's bite or it's hide or eagle wings viable at LA+0 which is why I suggested it.
    Point in case: He wants a sphinx.

    What? Can caters not wield a dagger so he threatens that space. Which BTW does raise the problem at to how he will meet somatic and material components without hands.
    They could, but why would they need to threaten any space? A caster shouldn't be in melee unless they're going to use the dragonkiller spell or something similar. Exceptions include: polymorphed casters, wild shaped casters, clerics, and the like.

    I would guess the race would allow you to perform casting normally, since disallowing it would just be restrictive and not in the nature of 3.5 D&D.
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    Default Re: Playable Sphinx [3.5 Race]

    Quote Originally Posted by Geiger Counter View Post
    lions don't have a climb speed so why would a creature with the body of a lion have one?

    As a DM I would never allow a riddle to be answered with a knowledge check. Go buy a decent book of riddles if you want to play this.
    The answer to both of these is simple: I wanted to play a sphinx, and made up random stuff that sounded appropriate. That's it. I honestly did not give it all that much thought. I was simply stuck on trying to get it to work with WotC material - shifters are notably not sphinxes, and are too feral for what I was going for, and the tauric template would have saddled me with absolutely useless RHD. I was half-way tempted to ask to just have a human's stats (bonus feat and skills, no ability modifier) and call it a sphinx, but I figured I could do better than that.

    So, I thought about what sphinxes obviously have - well, they're four-legged, so stability makes sense. Catfolk have that 40 ft. move speed, why not that? And yeah, climbing seems appropriate for cats. Hmm, how can I make a decent Riddle mechanic?

    And frankly, I like the riddle mechanic. It's a mechanic. If I went and bought a book of riddles (or rather, didn't bother since I know more than a few), that would be me, not the player character. I wanted something mechanical to go with it. I originally was going to do an opposed Intelligence check, but I thought that Sphinxes would specifically go out of their way to learn new Riddles and that seemed like a Knowledge skill to me, so that's how I got where it is now.

    As for the stats on the claw attacks, I put them in the block - they're identical to the RotD Web Enhancement Kobold's claw attacks, but lack the bite attack. For a Medium creature (as opposed to the Kobold's small-), 1d3 is weaker than a 1d4 dagger, but what do I care? Wasn't even originally part of the race.
    Last edited by DragoonWraith; 2010-03-30 at 10:32 PM.

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    Default Re: Playable Sphinx [3.5 Race]

    I like the idea behind the Riddle mechanic, but my only concern is that it's a unique skill that NO ONE will have ranks in. Perhaps, what if we made it so you pick a Knowledge skill you have ranks in and you and they do it that way? That makes it so NPCs and stuff have a chance to resist it, and you get your +4, and everyone wins!

    Also, I do like the race. Needs a picture though.

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    Default Re: Playable Sphinx [3.5 Race]

    I don't mind the geas part of the riddle it's just not the sort of thing I'd alow a check to solve.

    PC: I have a 20 Int, I roll to outsmart my enemy.
    Me: How exaclty do you intend to outsmart it.
    PC: I'll just add whatever knowlege I have max ranks in and my sweet Int bonus and let my character figure that out.
    Me: Yeah when the other 7 out of the 9 hells freeze over.
    Last edited by Geiger Counter; 2010-03-30 at 10:59 PM.

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    Default Re: Playable Sphinx [3.5 Race]

    For some reason, I don't think that picture is what DragoonWraith was going for.
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    Default Re: Playable Sphinx [3.5 Race]

    Riddle (Su)

    A Vercasphinx may dredge up an ancient riddle from it's ancestral memory, and speak it aloud as a standard action. All intelligent creatures (other then the Vercasphinx) in a 30-foot radius that can hear and understand the Riddle become engrossed in attempting to solve it.

    While under the effects of Riddle, creatures become unable to use Intelligence-based skills or cast spells. For each round after the first, affected creatures may make a Will save with a cumulative +1 bonus to break the effect .

    The Vercasphinx may use this ability three times a day. The DC is Intelligence based.


    I *think* this works out as far as balance goes. It does a decent job of shutting down enemy spellcasters if you get close enough... but it can also stop your own party. It has a permanent duration, but the effect should end reasonably soon even if the affected critter has a pitiful Will save... but it'll always work for a single round if you're willing to trade your action.

    Mostly fun and flavorful, it has some potential use without breaking 0 LA or making it as RP-centric as your geas version.
    Last edited by Hecore; 2010-03-31 at 02:50 AM.

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    Default Re: Playable Sphinx [3.5 Race]

    Not sure if Magical Beasts even can be PCs...
    The only official rule on PC races is that they must be intelligent and capable of thought - Int 3+.

    I'd add to that the following:

    * Must have movement identical to that of all the other PC races in that campaign. If they have additional movement forms compared to other PC races, that is easily worth +1 LA if that movement form can be relevant to the campaign.
    * No major dependencies that could cripple the character. PC humans don't worry about finding food or going to the toilet, and neither should any other player race need to worry about basic needs.
    * Hands, or other manipulative limbs. It's not much fun if you can't wield a piece of equipment or even pick it up.
    * A spoken language that everyone around him can understand. Telepathy is cool and all, but it strains believability if the peasants don't get a little freaked out by having your words inserted directly into their brains instead of coming through the normal channels.
    * Size must be Small, Medium, or Large. The combat grid system starts breaking down beyond that point, plus normal (believable) humans have difficulty interacting with creatures outside that size range.
    Last edited by Ashtagon; 2010-03-31 at 02:58 AM.

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    Default Re: Playable Sphinx [3.5 Race]

    Quote Originally Posted by Hecore View Post
    Riddle (Su)

    A Vercasphinx may dredge up an ancient riddle from it's ancestral memory, and speak it aloud as a standard action. All intelligent creatures (other then the Vercasphinx) in a 30-foot radius that can hear and understand the Riddle become engrossed in attempting to solve it.

    While under the effects of Riddle, creatures become unable to use Intelligence-based skills or cast spells. For each round after the first, affected creatures may make a Will save with a cumulative +1 bonus to break the effect .

    The Vercasphinx may use this ability three times a day. The DC is Intelligence based.


    I *think* this works out as far as balance goes. It does a decent job of shutting down enemy spellcasters if you get close enough... but it can also stop your own party. It has a permanent duration, but the effect should end reasonably soon even if the affected critter has a pitiful Will save... but it'll always work for a single round if you're willing to trade your action.

    Mostly fun and flavorful, it has some potential use without breaking 0 LA or making it as RP-centric as your geas version.
    Okay first of all this as a racial ability is definitely worth a LA wich is not healthy for castors. Second this effect really has nothing to do with riddles, and you can just as easily say that the spell makes people into idiots for a few rounds. And thirdly simply thinking about a riddle in D&D takes up absolutely no time or effort.

    "Size must be Small, Medium, or Large. The combat grid system starts breaking down beyond that point, plus normal (believable) humans have difficulty interacting with creatures outside that size range."

    Smaller sizes are workable, if you are tiny you can ride on a fellow PC's shoulder. Warlocks or a rogue with a bow actually benefit from a form like that which is why all sized except medium and small deserve a LA.

    Edit: also being larger than large causes a lot of in game problems it is not impossible to pull off. If a world was ever ruled by titans or other extremely large beings, then their cities would have to be built to accommodate their size which makes for workable dungeons. And of corse there is always the option of a completely outdoors campaign, like being a clan of ogres fighting in a great war.
    Last edited by Geiger Counter; 2010-03-31 at 07:42 AM.

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    Default Re: Playable Sphinx [3.5 Race]

    I know sphinxes often have riddles. I also know they are often guarding something. I would leave the riddle thing out of the racial description and bring it back as a feat or condition of the object being guarded.

    Make up some sort of riddle competition mechanic or work with riddles on a case by case basis. Having a skill check for riddles is sort of like a skill check for inspiration.


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    Default Re: Playable Sphinx [3.5 Race]

    You could say that sphinxes have "handpaws" with enlarged dewclaws that function as crude thumbs (after all, it's hard to turn pages in riddle books if you don't have some kind of hands). Since they walk on all fours, they can't wield weapons, but they can still pick things up while they are sitting. They use their teeth an claws if they get forced into melee, but as casters they probably avoid that kind of situation. This gives you enough of a penalty that you can add in natural armor or a +2 Dex bonus or something.
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    Default Re: Playable Sphinx [3.5 Race]

    Quote Originally Posted by TabletopNuke View Post
    You could say that sphinxes have "handpaws" with enlarged dewclaws that function as crude thumbs (after all, it's hard to turn pages in riddle books if you don't have some kind of hands). Since they walk on all fours, they can't wield weapons, but they can still pick things up while they are sitting. They use their teeth an claws if they get forced into melee, but as casters they probably avoid that kind of situation. This gives you enough of a penalty that you can add in natural armor or a +2 Dex bonus or something.
    I was pretty much thinking something along these lines, but then that really shoehorns the class into a non-weapon role, and then when you're not supposed to be using weapons that drawback is meaningless and so you're getting free bonuses. I didn't really like that idea.


    As for all the suggestions on the Riddle mechanics, I guess I didn't really make it clear: I like the Riddle mechanics that I have now. In fact, they're the only reason I posted the class at all. The rest is incredibly generic, but I thought that was a reasonably elegant solution to the issue. If you disagree, well, don't use it or homebrew your own.

    As for it being a weird Knowledge check, originally it was supposed to be just an Intelligence check, but then I figured that Sphinxes ought to be able to learn Riddles and be better at Riddles. Originally the +4 Racial bonus was only to Knowledge (Riddles), and I figured it would probably only use that Racial bonus and not bother with ranks. Remember, the participant has to be willing to take the wager with regards to the Riddle. If they know that Sphinxes are very good at Riddles, and they know they don't have any special knowledge of Riddles - it seems likely that they wouldn't agree to the challenge to begin with.

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    Default Re: Playable Sphinx [3.5 Race]

    I feel like they should get an Intelligence and/or Charisma boost, and a Dex penalty (hard to manipulate with paws, powerful lion body not that agile, etc.). More powerful natural weapons would be appropriate, I seem to recall the Sphinx killing those who didn't get the riddle. Can't remember if she ate them, but there was killing.

    I'm also not sure what a climb speed is doing there... Why not replace it with a racial Bardic Knowledge-esque ability? Random bits of trivia ala BK would definitely help with the riddles.
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    Default Re: Playable Sphinx [3.5 Race]

    Quote Originally Posted by Xallace View Post
    I seem to recall the Sphinx killing those who didn't get the riddle. Can't remember if she ate them, but there was killing.
    They also committed suicide if their riddle was answered, but that doesn't exactly make for a fun player ability.

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    Default Re: Playable Sphinx [3.5 Race]

    Quote Originally Posted by Xallace View Post
    I feel like they should get an Intelligence and/or Charisma boost, and a Dex penalty (hard to manipulate with paws, powerful lion body not that agile, etc.).
    Err... I tend to think of cats as fast and agile. It's true about manual dexterity, but at least in terms of the Dex AC bonus and such, it doesn't seem that fitting. Plus, like, Balance - is there any skill a cat should be better at than Balance?

    Mostly, though, I was playing a class that required high Int and Dex, and fairly high Cha. I couldn't justify either Str or Wis penalties, so I just left them at a net +0 on abilities.

    Quote Originally Posted by Xallace View Post
    More powerful natural weapons would be appropriate, I seem to recall the Sphinx killing those who didn't get the riddle. Can't remember if she ate them, but there was killing.
    As mentioned, yeah, I know. But I also assume that that was a much higher level Sphinx than one at 1st. She was also much larger. Soooo... look at the Gynosphinx for that.

    Quote Originally Posted by Xallace View Post
    I'm also not sure what a climb speed is doing there... Why not replace it with a racial Bardic Knowledge-esque ability? Random bits of trivia ala BK would definitely help with the riddles.
    Oh. That's... a really good idea. I really really like that idea. I'll throw it past my DM and see what he thinks.

    My guess would be, it's more powerful than a Climb speed by a fair margin. But we'll see.

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    Default Re: Playable Sphinx [3.5 Race]

    Quote Originally Posted by Owrtho View Post
    They also committed suicide if their riddle was answered, but that doesn't exactly make for a fun player ability.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DragoonWraith
    Err... I tend to think of cats as fast and agile. It's true about manual dexterity, but at least in terms of the Dex AC bonus and such, it doesn't seem that fitting. Plus, like, Balance - is there any skill a cat should be better at than Balance?
    I don't really associate big cats with agility, more straight speed and power, but then again I don't know much on that subject. No modifiers works just fine.
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    Default Re: Playable Sphinx [3.5 Race]

    Are you familiar with MM5's "taunting haunt"? They have no real offensive capability and the only way to defeat them is in a battle of wits. Here's an excerpt from the entry sidebar: "A battle of wits with a taunting haunt involves riddles, jokes, and other competitions. In game terms, the haunt and its opponents take turns choosing Knowledge and Perform skills, then make opposed checks involving the chosen skill."

    I doubt this is exactly what you had in mind, but might be a good starting point.
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    Default Re: Playable Sphinx [3.5 Race]

    Uhm.

    This is now, like, the third time I'm posting this: I have absolutely no desire to change anything about the Riddle mechanic. I like it.

    Anyway, my DM agreed to give me Bardic Knowledge at ECL - 3 in exchange for the climb stuff.

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    Default Re: Playable Sphinx [3.5 Race]

    Quote Originally Posted by DragoonWraith View Post
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    This is a very simple race I drew up off the top of my head for a game. The Sphinx I want to play is a caster, so I wanted a 0 RHD/LA+0 Sphinx race to use. It's not really based on D&D's Sphinx but rather the Greek mythology. It's really not very flashy but I like the Riddle mechanic.

    It's a fey cuz that's what the campaign called for. In the campaign, many Hellenic creatures are Fey (Dryads and Naiads and the like), so it didn't seem too far off. In a normal game, though, Magical Beast probably makes more sense? Not sure if Magical Beasts even can be PCs...
    For the record, Magical Beasts can be PCs. Nothing about creature type will invalidate a race and the Primeval PrC from Frostburn actually makes a character a magical beast at 10th level.

    Quote Originally Posted by DragoonWraith View Post
    Vercasphinx ("wild sphinx")
    • Fey
    • Medium
    • Base Land Speed: 40 ft. As a quadrupedal creature, Sphinx are especially fast.
    • Base Climb Speed: 30 ft. Sphinx claws allow them a solid grip, and they are natural climbers. Sphinx also gain a +8 Racial bonus to Climb checks, can always take 10 on Climb checks even when rushed or threatened, and neither loses their Dexterity bonus to AC while climbing nor give their attackers any special advantage. Sphinx can also make an accelerated climb at twice their climb speed by taking -5 penalty on the check.
    • Natural Weapons (Ex): Sphinx can make attacks with the claws on their fore-paws. These claws are a pair of primary natural attacks that each deal 1d3 damage plus the Sphinx's Strength modifier.
    • Stability (Ex): Having four legs makes a Sphinx harder to knock over. +4 Racial bonus to Ability checks to avoid being bull rushed or tripped.
    • Riddle (Su): A Sphinx may pose a riddle to a single target once per day. The target must be willing, and the target and the Sphinx must agree to the terms of the challenge beforehand (that is, what the Sphinx must do if the riddle is answered correctly, and what the target must do if they fail). The terms of the challenge are magically binding; treat the loser of the challenge as under the effects of the Geas spell, under orders to perform the agreed upon duty.

      The actual riddle and answering it may be treated as an opposed Knowledge (Riddles) check (for those targets who do not have ranks in Knowledge (Riddles), it becomes an Intelligence check). Sphinx also gain a +4 Racial bonus to all Knowledge checks, and Knowledge (Riddles) is always a class skill for them.
    • Automatic Languages: Common, Sphinx
    • Bonus Languages: Any. Sphinx have a distinct love of language and words.
    • LA: +0
    I feel that the race needs ability score modifiers, but that's probably just me. From what I know about sphinxes, I'd say +2 Int with penalties to either Dex, Str, or Cha. For the Riddle mechanic, I would swap out Knowledge (Riddles) for Knowledge (any one, chosen whenever the Sphinx gives a riddle). With that slight change, it'll prevent the Sphinx from basically automatically winning the check due to most people not bothering to drop points into a knowledge skill with few (if any) other mechanical applications. Just my two copper.
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    Default Re: Playable Sphinx [3.5 Race]

    Quote Originally Posted by Thrice Dead Cat View Post
    I feel that the race needs ability score modifiers, but that's probably just me. From what I know about sphinxes, I'd say +2 Int with penalties to either Dex, Str, or Cha. For the Riddle mechanic, I would swap out Knowledge (Riddles) for Knowledge (any one, chosen whenever the Sphinx gives a riddle). With that slight change, it'll prevent the Sphinx from basically automatically winning the check due to most people not bothering to drop points into a knowledge skill with few (if any) other mechanical applications. Just my two copper.
    As much as I completely agree with everything you just posted, all that's going to happen is that DW is going to yell at you for mentioning the Riddle mechanic, as was done above. Just saying that you might want to save your time.

    Note: I do like the race DW, but really, Riddle IS crazily overpowered right now. You obviously don't mind, but you might want to at least know ahead of time.

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    Default Re: Playable Sphinx [3.5 Race]

    Heh...DW. Reminds me of Arthur.
    Last edited by Temotei; 2010-04-03 at 11:35 PM.
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    Default Re: Playable Sphinx [3.5 Race]

    Out of the nature of curiosity, why Fey? Why not Monstrous Humanoid or even Magical Beast like its parents?
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    Default Re: Playable Sphinx [3.5 Race]

    Quote Originally Posted by The Tygre View Post
    Out of the nature of curiosity, why Fey? Why not Monstrous Humanoid or even Magical Beast like its parents?
    Because for a game, he has to be fey, and he wants to play a sphinx.
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    Default Re: Playable Sphinx [3.5 Race]

    Sphinx's choice of Knowledge skill is a decent idea.

    But how is the Riddle overpowered? The target must agree to the riddle to begin with. More likely, it will never be used. If it comes up even once in a campaign I'd be pleasantly surprised.

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    Default Re: Playable Sphinx [3.5 Race]

    Quote Originally Posted by DragoonWraith View Post
    Sphinx's choice of Knowledge skill is a decent idea.

    But how is the Riddle overpowered? The target must agree to the riddle to begin with. More likely, it will never be used. If it comes up even once in a campaign I'd be pleasantly surprised.
    Hey now, I didn't say anything about power in it. I just feel it would be better to use pre-existing Knowledge skills than creating a new one is all.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Doc Roc View Post
    Seriously, can we kill this misconception now? A wizard is never late, nor is he early. He shops for precisely what he means to.


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