Some are carved with loving care, enduring monuments to the scultpor’s art, others are roughly hewn from blocks of stone. Built of materials from the finest marble to crude sandstone, sphinxes find many uses throughout the land.
A sphinx is a magical construct in the shape of a lion with a human head. It is made out of stone and they are used as intelligent guardians. The most common size for a sphinx is about the size of a normal lion, but there is theoretically no limit on the upper size of a sphinx (though larger ones are more difficult and expensive to create).
If a person comes in to the vicinity of a sphinx (within 10ft), the sphinx will turn in to flesh and blood and will say something to the person. What the sphinx says could be always the same (e.g. â€œwhat is the password?â€, or could be drawn from a bank of possible questions (e.g. a random riddle out of 100 riddles, meaning that it rarely asked the same one twice. If the person gives the correct response, the sphinx will make a reply (which could be simply â€œCorrect, you may passâ€ or could be a set of detailed instructions), will turn back to stone and allow the person to pass (one person may answer for a whole group if they are all moving in together). If the person gives the wrong response or fails to answer, the sphinx will attack them. If the sphinx is â€œkilledâ€ it will turn back to stone and there will be a very short interval in which the person may pass it (though the sphinx will challenge them again if they return).
If anyone touches the sphinx in its stone form it will come to life and attack them; as before, if â€œkilledâ€ it will turn back to stone. It is thus very difficult to destroy a sphinx, as the only way to do so is to fully shatter the stone statue, and after each blow it will come to life, forcing you to â€œkillâ€ it again. A sphinx has high magic resistance in both its flesh and its stone form.
Sphinxes are intelligent and will fight accordingly. They will attempt to remain near the spot they are guarding if possible (as otherwise, if they are killed they would return to stone and then be out of position to awake again if someone else came by). This doesn’t mean that they won’t move if necessary, for example to attack bowmen or magic users. A sphinx is very fast, very agile, quite strong and quite tough. The larger the sphinx the more powerful it will be.
The creator of a sphinx (by this I mean the person responsible for the magic, not the carver) will determine the sphinx’ question and response. The sphinx will be henceforth keyed to this person and he can change the questions and response later if he wishes. He can also deactivate it, either permanently or temporarily. (The only way to move a sphinx is to temporarily deactivate it and then carry it where you want to go. Some of the larger sphinxes are thus effectively immovable). If he wishes, he may pass on this control of the sphinx to another, though this is quite a lengthy process (i.e. you can’t suddenly do it on your deathbed). As a result, getting rid of unwanted sphinxes can be a problem.
a) As guards. As well as their inevitable use in guarding hoards of treasure, any building which only allows access to certain people would be likely to have sphinxes guarding the doors. For example, you would find them at the royal palace, guild headquarters, military buildings, even, potentially, at the home of a wealthy merchant or noble. They can also be used to guard a specific room within a building. The relevant people can simply be given a password and they will be able to get in upon announcing it. Naturally, you would be foolish to trust only to sphinxes to guard you. This is their primary use.
b) As transmitters of information. Providing a code word has been agreed beforehand, it is an extremely secure way of giving someone, who will be arriving after you have gone, the information. They simply say the word to the sphinx and the sphinx will reel off everything you’ve told it. It’s quite hard to destroy as well.
c) Practically everyone wealthy enough to afford it has their will recorded in a sphinx. It’s totally reliable and trustworthy and, unlike other forms of wills, fairly hard to destroy or conveniently misplace.
d) Eccentric and wealthy wizards have been known to use a sphinx to leave their daily orders with their housekeeper.
e) Keeping a record of top secret state documents.
f) One or two kingdoms have created large sphinxes to guard strategic points; for example a bridge or mountain pass, however, mos countries don’t consider it worth the expense, considering how easy they are to bypass.