Sphinxes are divine, extraplanar entities, mostly good, but exacting and demanding, and pitiless to the unworthy. The catlike beings are highly intelligent, powerful both physically, and mystically, they are trusted by the gods to ward places of power from the corrupt who might seek to use divine power to terrible ends. Leonine paws are ill-adapted to weapons that we might recognise, and their arcane majesty relies more upon their innate divinity, rather than arcane learnings, so what kind of items might a sphinx craft, or even need?
As in all previous Dungeon Situational articles, the following ideas use Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition rules, but should be easily modified for other systems and settings. Here are some items, crafted by, and for the use of sphinxes…
Nemes of Implacability
Sphinxes often require allies, servants, some retinue of creatures that can aid in the upkeep and defence of those places and secrets that the gods deem fit for the ultimate protection. Nagas, coatls, lesser angels and the like, may all be tasked with aiding the sphinx with its duty, but none command such power or majesty as a sphinx. An enchanted and bejewelled nemes is given to those who most closely serve the sphinx, to help keep the master’s secrets.
While attuned to the Nemes of Authority, a creature is immune to any effect that would sense its emotions or read its thoughts, as well as any divination spell that it refuses. Insight checks made to ascertain the creature’s intentions or sincerity have disadvantage.
Is a single test sufficient to gauge the worthiness of any being? Enigma Totems are short pillars of wood, metal, and precious materials, made in glory of either the sphinx or the god it serves, sent to wander the place the sphinx dutifully guards. Imbued with a sliver of the wit and guile of the sphinx who created it, it poses mental challenges to any creature it finds, challenges so profound that they can paralyse the brain.
While inactive, the Enigma Totem is 4 ft. tall, and weighs 80 lbs. The Totem can be activated as an action.
While active, it hovers 1 ft. off the ground, and moves at a speed of 20 ft. and acts on initiative count of 20. It targets a creature within 60 ft. who must succeed on an intelligence saving throw of DC 17 or solve a riddle (at the DMs discretion). If it fails it is stunned for 1 minute, and can repeat the save at the end of each of its turns. The Enigma Totem can keep up to three creatures stunned in this way.
Plane Sculptor’s Sphere
Many sphinxes are able to create – or are perhaps gifted with – a fragment of creation in which they may test supplicants without fear of destroying anything of value. These demiplanes are entirely under the control of the sphinx, and though small and limited in their capacity, they are still far beyond the realms of mortals.
These glass spheres contain glimmering images of the plane under the sphinx’s sway, shaping and reshaping. By tracing a claw across the delicate engraving on the surfaces, the sphinx can exert greater and finer control over its domain.
When you cast a spell that creates a demiplane, such as Mordenkainen’s Magnificent Mansion, Banishment, Maze, or Demiplane using the Sphere as a magical focus you can exert greater control over the contents and nature of the plane. Choose any two of the following effects:
- Beatific – A creature recovers 1d6 hit points per spell level for every hour spent in the plane.
- Denizens – If you know a spell that has the ability to summon creatures such as Planar Ally or Conjure Fey, you can cast that spell simultaneously, with the creatures summoned appearing within the demiplane. The creatures know which creatures you consider hostile and which are allied. The spell you cast to summon creatures into the demiplane must be of a lower level than the spell used to create the plane, for example, you cannot cast cast Planar Ally into a demiplane created by Banishment. You expend spell slots as normal, and the duration of both spells is equal to the duration of the demiplane.
- Gravity Shift – You can alter the way in which gravity functions within the demiplane. You can half or double the strength of gravity, change its direction over part or all of the plane, or make gravity object-oriented, that is that you are considered drawn to the nearest wall, choosing in case of ties.
- Malevolent – A creature suffers 1d6 necrotic or radiant damage per spell level for every hour spent in the plane.
- Noxious – A creature entering the plane must make a constitution saving throw or become poisoned for one hour. While poisoned the creature gains one level of exhaustion for each minute it spends in the demiplane. It can repeat the saving throw to end the poisoned effect once every minute. On a success, the creature must repeat the saving throw in one hour if it is still in the demiplane.
- Time Dilation – You can have time move at up to double the speed, or down to half the speed of the plane from which you cast the spell. You can change the speed as an action.
As per usual, my next Dungeon Situational is governed by you, next week…
Not all halflings express their warmth and homely attitudes the same way, some guard their homes zealously, others can communicate with one another wordlessly. I present a few possible subraces of halfling.
Wizards that tap into the energies of the planes usually tap into a single plane at a time, this is the spell list of a mage who channels the howling winds and maddening influence of Pandemonium, where the headwaters of the Styx coalesce.
An orc encampment is not merely barracks, blacksmith and training ground. Here we describe the layout of a unique warcamp centred around a particular purpose.