It is Desert Week here at Necromancers of the Northwest, as we celebrate one of the harshest climates and most exotic and awe-inspiring landscapes in the known world. Deserts have long captured human imaginations; after all, it is so hard to survive in these harsh and hardening lands that even the mere act of living there makes for a compelling story. Deserts also breed mystery, largely for the same reason; given a choice, most people wouldn’t go or stay long in such a place, and so what might be hiding there? This question essentially inspired this week’s Exotic Encounters, which features a creature that is highlighted by a real desert animal, the burrowing owl, and one of the most fantastic and compelling images of a monster, the sphinx.
Emerging from the sand is a creature with the body of a lion, but the face of a wise, aged woman with large round eyes. Her strong legs end in the talons of a bird of prey, and a pair of wings extend from her back blowing the sand around in a majestic torrent.
OWL SPHINX CR 9
LN Medium magical best
Init +7; Senses darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision, see invisibility, x-ray vision; Perception +20 (+22 to listen)
AC 23, touch 14, flat-footed 19 (+3 Dex, +1 dodge, +9 natural)
hp 126 (12d10+60)
Fort +12, Ref +13, Will +11
Speed 30 ft., burrow 40 ft., fly 40 ft. (average)
Melee 2 claws +16 (1d8+4 plus grab) and bite +16 (2d6+4)
Special Attacks eye of enchantment, eye of fear, sandstorm
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 12th, concentration +17)
3/day—divination, discern location
Str 18, Dex 16, Con 18, Int 14, Wis 20, Cha 14
Base Atk +12; CMB +16; CMD 29
Feats Dodge, Flyby Attack, Improved Initiative, Iron Will, Power Attack, Toughness
Skills Diplomacy +14, Fly +18, Perception +20 (+22 to listen), Sense Motive +17; Racial Modifier +2 Perception to listen
Languages Celestial, Common, Draconic
Eye of Enchantment (Su): As a standard action, the owl sphinx can glare at a single living creature within 30 feet. If she does, the target must succeed on a Will save (DC 21) or fall under the owl sphinx’s influence, which can take one of three forms.
Charm: The owl sphinx may choose to charm the target as with the spell charm monster for 1 minute.
Suggestion: The owl sphinx may force the target to perform one specific action, as with the spell suggestion.
Fascinate: The owl sphinx may cause the target to become fascinated, compelling him to move closer to the owl sphinx on his turn.
The chosen effect persists for as long as the owl sphinx continues to concentrate on it. This is a mind-affecting compulsion effect, and the saving throw is Wisdom-based.
Eye of Fear (Su): As a standard action, the owl sphinx can glare at a single living creature within 30 feet. If she does, the target must succeed on a Will save (DC 21) or be overwhelmed by fear, becoming panicked for 1d4 rounds. If the target succeeds on his saving throw, he is shaken for 1d4 rounds, instead. A creature can only be affected by this ability once in a 24-hour period. This is a mind-affecting fear effect and the saving throw DC is Wisdom-based.
Sandstorm (Su): While burrowing, an owl sphinx can cause the sand within a 30-foot-radius spread to twist and swirl, forming a deadly sandstorm. In the affected area, vision is reduced to 5 feet, and creatures that begin their turn within the area must succeed on a Reflex save (DC 21) or suffer 2d6 points of damage. The owl sphinx cannot use this ability in areas without any sand.
An owl sphinx is a curious creature that dwells under the sands of hot deserts, guarding ancient secrets, the knowledge of the gods, or some treasure. They often appear to challenge desert travelers, offering knowledge, aid, or even treasure to those that can beat the owl sphinx either in combat, or in a contest of philosophy (0f which the owl sphinx is quite fond). Exceedingly wise creatures, owl sphinxes have little patience for their kin’s tricks and riddles, preferring to take a more straightforward, if somewhat more long-winded, approach to things.
Bound by ancient deals with long forgotten gods, each owl sphinx takes her duty very seriously and never drifts too far from her charge. They are known to spend their spare time hunting for food, advising kings, and above all reading. The quest for new books often drives owl sphinxes to make deals with more mobile mortals, and those that offer a book as tribute are sure to find themselves in the owl sphinx’s good graces.