Sphinx and Athas - Adapting to Dark Sun, ideas?

I was mildly surprised to find that there are no sphinx in Dark Sun. Seems likely they were never there. If I was to suppose why, the original authors may have worried that might be too stereotypical Egyptian. There was a lot of deliberately moving away from traditional monsters and iconography.

These days, the Dark Sun aesthetic and theme is strong enough I feel good about adding them back in.

Heck, you can argue Aviaarg are basically sphinx already.

The easy way to adapt them would be say the sphinx you encounter is an unique creation of the Pristine tower, slap on psionics. Look at the Athasian chimera thread for ideas on how to modify their appearance to be Athas ready.

Still, how to do this thematically. How to change sphinx to more closely align with Dark Sun.

So, there are traditionally four of them. They are listed below. Notice that they are all male but the ginosphinx. She can bear the children of the other three.

Androsphinx- The wise, if arrogant, male
Criosphinx- The dumber, ram headed one
Ginosphinx- Riddle loving female
Hierocosphinx- The evil one with a hawk head

With four, it’s tempting to assign them an element. Heirocosphinx is obviously Air. Etc. This does make them them oddly related in certain ways. Whatever element the ginosphinx represents (water most likely) the other three elements are desperate to tap that. Odd.

Now the supplement SandStorm, does offer four more sphinx. There’s less interesting lore behind them, but if one wanted to tie them to paraelements forces, that is an option. Though I can’t help but think there are not many females. If they are elemental beings, maybe that isn’t necessary.

Canisphinx- evil wolf headed ones
Crocopshinx- destructive crocodile headed
Saurosphinx- cold blooded, lizard headed, but friendly and curious
Threskisphinx- Head of an ibex, specializing in making magic items for heroes.

Some other ideas might be…

Each of the sphinx is an ancient master of one school of psionic skills

They are deeply concerned with the vanishing Athasian lion, their closest relative.


Slap the construct type on them and make them creations of clerics on Athas.

Ohhhhh, very good idea. Not clerics, but sorcerer monarchs and their templars. I can imagine each one having their own sphinx.


Southlands Bestiary from Kobold Press has:


With black wings and a body pale as alabaster, the vulture-beaked gypsosphinx is easy to identify. Its riddles and obsessions all hinge on death and carrion, and they are powerful servants of the gods of death and the desert. Their eyes can spot prey miles away, and the distance they climb into the sky hides their enormous size.

If you haven’t checked out Southlands campaign setting from Kobold it is worth a look for desert themed creatures and whatnot.

I was also reviewing my copy of Green Ronin’s Advanced Bestiary which has all kinds of templates for creatures for PF 1e.

One example it provides is a Quadrupedal Succubus. With the entry

Great bat-like wings sprout from the back of this female sphinx-like creature, and her blood-red hair nearly spills onto the ground. Despite her unusual appearance, she is oddly alluring.

She looks a lot like a gynosphinx but is really just a succabus with lion back half and paws for hands. I thought this was an interesting approach.

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If looking for more Sphinx ideas…

Wayfinder the free ezine for Pathfinder has issue 12 that details Osirion which is Pathfinder’s desert themed campaign setting. There it includes the Riddleborn Sphinx

This skeletal sphinx is surrounded by a storm of glowing words and maddening whispers.

And the Saurosphinx

The head of a large crocodile rests incongruously on the body of a winged lion. Its mouth opens in the mockery of a smile, revealing dozens of sharp teeth.

Download it here:



I’d link them to being transformed beast-headed giants that serve as sort of a tribal shaman or seer.


What if Athasian sphinxes are former templar cursed by the sorcerer kings to serve as guardians and hunters? Think of driders in default D&D settings. The different kinds of sphinxes could reflect the city state.

Edit: Here’s a possible list I cobbled together that could fit for each city state, the gynosphinxes being nibenese felt perfect, if anyone knows of a city with male exclusive templar they’d be perfect for androsphinxes. For now I went with Balic since I lean heavily on greece for inspiration with them and depict the city as very male centric. My runner up was of course Urik.

  • Crocodile: Draj
  • Falcon: Uruk
  • Ram: Tyr
  • Jackal: Raam
  • Lizard: Gulg
  • Male: Balic
  • Female: Nibenay
  • Ibis: Yaramuke
  • Dragon: Giustenal
  • Vulture: Eldaarich