Last Updated on January 22, 2023
Hailing from the folklore and mythology of Greece, Egypt, and the Near East, Griffons are a staple of fantasy literature and gaming. The Griffon is a mix of a lion and an eagle. It has the head, wings, legs, and talons of an eagle set on the powerful quadrupedal body of a lion. Like lions and eagles, the Griffon is a predator and scavenger that feeds off of herd animals. They have a particular fondness for horses.
As a CR 2, you can expect to find them in Tier I and II games as monsters and mounts. They are also available in the find greater steed spell as a 4th-level paladin spell.
What Is a Griffon in DnD 5e?
A Griffon is a Large CR2 flying monster that serves as an aerial martial threat. It can also be a mount or a companion.
Stat Block: Griffon
Large Monstrosity, Unaligned
- Armor Class: 12
- Hit Points: 59 (7d10 + 21)
- Speed: 30 ft., fly 80 ft.
- STR 18 (+4), DEX 15 (+2), CON 16 (+3), INT 2 (-4), WIS 13 (+1), CHA 8 (-1)
- Skills: Perception +5
- Senses: Darkvision 60 ft., Passive Perception 15
- Languages —
- Challenge: 2 (450 XP)
- Proficiency Bonus: +2
- Keen Sight. The griffon has advantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on sight.
- Multiattack. The griffon makes two attacks: one with its beak and one with its claws.
- Beak. Melee Weapon Attack: +6 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 8 (1d8 + 4) piercing damage.
- Claws. Melee Weapon Attack: +6 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 11 (2d6 + 4) slashing damage.
A Close Look at the Stats
The Armor Class and Hit Points of the Griffon are its inevitable weakness. It is easily hit: one of the downsides of being a Large creature. 59 HP is simply not much, considering that your average 3rd-level PC should be able to consistently deal 15-20 damage.
Their beak and claws both get a +6 to damage. The beak does 1d8+4, and the claws do 2d6+4. The Griffon can attack with both each round. It also has Keen Sight, darkvision, and a fly speed of 80 feet. It is no slouch on the ground, though, as its walking speed is equal to most PCs: 30 feet.
A Player’s Guide to Griffons
Griffons notoriously hunt in packs like lions do. This means they like to set up positions and force their prey to run in a predetermined direction toward the other members of the pack. Once the prey is in position, the fresh hunters will come in and take down the prey that is the slowest.
Against PCs, this means you should always watch your flanks, and, instead of running where they want you to run, either stand still or run in the opposite direction so that you can face one or two of the Griffons before the rest of the pack figures out that you have singled out their initial hunters and turned the tables.
In addition, your ranged combatants will do the majority of the damage in this fight until the Griffons come in to attack. Stand your ground and don’t be moved. If you do this, you will completely mess with their strategy.
Sometimes, however, Griffons are not hunting, and they are protecting an area or are a summoned monster. In these situations, you’ll want to use the size of the Griffon to your advantage and continually circle around to keep the Griffon between you and its allies. The less of the enemy that can face off against you, the better.
Griffons as Mounts
Griffons can make an amazing mount for your character. They do require much special treatment, however, and do not stable well with horses. That’s worth repeating. Do not stable your Griffon with horses in a village, town, or city. They will eat the horses, and then you will be held responsible.
There is a rumor that you can train your Griffon not to eat horses, but that involves keeping them so well fed they aren’t tempted.
Consider: Do you or anyone you know have a cat? Cats are like little lions. You will not be able to stop a cat from chasing a mouse, but you may be able to stop a cat from eating one by keeping it well fed.
So how do you stop the cat from chasing mice? You can either make the cat too lazy through overfeeding and poor health care, or you can hobble the cat and tie it to a post. Which of those methods would work best for a Griffon you plan on riding into combat? Secure the Griffon, and keep it fed, or stay out of the city.
Where Griffons Are Found in Mythology
Griffons are found in Greek mythology, but sightings of their lore have also been found in ancient Egyptian and Near Eastern history.
Like Dungeons and Dragons, Griffons in mythology are a mix of lion and eagle, and they also will perch on high mountains or seek out caves to raise their young and protect treasures.
Unlike Dungeons and Dragons, Griffons are extremely intelligent in mythology, using superior tactics to overcome their opponents’ strengths and create weaknesses.
A DM’s Guide to Griffons
There is nothing wrong with picking the Griffon as a random monster and throwing a handful at the party, but if you would like to do a little more with this wonderful, richly folkloric creature, read on.
In What Environment Could I Use Griffons?
The best place for wild Griffons would be in an elevated position overlooking a grassland or hill country. They would keep their nests and dens in such a position in order to hunt the herds of horses, bison, sheep, gazelle, etc.
This could be a pile of boulders, an abandoned castle, or even a cliff face overlooking the ocean if there is enough fishing to keep them happy. That would be some huge fish, to be honest.
Make sure the Griffons have established good running trails for their prey. This means in the valleys between hills, in canyons, or along abandoned bridges and mountainsides. Areas like this will allow them to rise up out of sight and then dive over the hill or into the canyon and maintain the element of surprise.
A natural or abandoned bridge of some sort would be a great place to trap and ambush prey, especially if it was over a deep canyon or a swift river. The Griffons would be more than capable of snatching a creature out of the air or water.
Organizations Featuring Griffons
It is not uncommon to see Humans, Elves, Aasimar, or Aarakocra with domesticated Griffons. In a military or border enforcement organization, Griffons would serve as a type of light, aerial cavalry.
While there are stat blocks out there for Griffon Cavalry in the Waterdeep: Dragon Heist book, you could easily put a Guard on a Griffon and give them a lance instead of a spear (1d10 piercing, 3d10 on a charge).
Among mercenaries and adventuring parties, you could easily see a Griffon rider serving as a scout, armed with a longbow, or even as a spellcaster. Now, that’s frightening. Imagine a Storm Sorcerer riding a Griffon while homebrew version of eldritch blast that deals lightning damage. Yeesh.
Modifying the Griffon
Griffons are fairly amazing as they are in the Monster Manual, but if you wanted to modify them to create a more complex and detailed setting/adventure, you could make a few simple modifications to create different types of Griffons that fulfill different purposes.
These new types of Griffons could be natural variations among wild packs, or they could have been developed over generations of breeding.
- The Scout – This Griffon has a 5 Intelligence, a 16 Strength (subtract 1 from attack and damage bonuses of standard Griffon), a 16 Dexterity (+1 to AC), and a 90-foot fly speed.
- The Thunderbird – This Griffon has developed magical ability related to its Constitution score. It can shoot a lightning bolt as an action with a range of 60 feet and an attack bonus of +4. The bolt deals 1d10 lightning damage. Any creature within 10 feet of the Griffon when it shoots its bolt must make a Strength save vs. a DC of 12 or fall prone from the thunderous concussion. In exchange, this Griffon only gets one attack per round with its claws or beak.
- The Spirit Griffon – This celestial Griffon has the ability to run its feathers over a wound and heal it. This Griffon can use an action heal up to 3d6 Hit Points. It need not use every d6 at once but may spread them out over multiple healings. In addition, The Griffon can use an action to stabilize any dying creature per long rest with a touch. This replaces the Griffons multiattack ability.
Story Seeds for a Griffon-Themed Adventure
If you would like to do a LOT more with Griffons, you could make one or more of them the focus of an entire campaign.
Here are a couple of Story Seeds to get you started.
Are You My Mother?
A player gets a shiny new Bag of Holding. Since Griffons could conceivably be hatched and an unhatched egg doesn’t need oxygen, they find a Griffon egg in their bag of holding. When they take it out, it starts hatching the very next round. If the players watch it hatch, then either roll randomly or choose the most unlikely character for the Griffon to bond to as its “mother.”
Cute, right? Except, now the player has to feed this thing chewed-up meat every two hours, and they keep chasing the familiars and the pets and the children, and they’re molting, and…. You get the idea. Not only all of that, but the previous owner of the Bag of Holding wants it back. They knew the egg was in there, and they had plans to sell it for a hefty sum. They will approach the player demanding compensation, and they have the resources to make good on any threats they give.
Of course, now that the Griffon is already bonded to its “mother,” it’s impossible for anyone else to train it, so giving the Griffon away means it will definitely be killed. What to do? I have no easy answer for you here. This is where the players get to show you their critical thinking and emotional intelligence. That should be fun!
The Big One
Rumor has it that at a certain location, there is a Griffon the size of a dragon, and under this Griffon’s protection, the entire population of Griffons has exploded.
Since Griffons are large predators, they have started eating livestock and farm animals, and if the situation doesn’t get handled, the Griffons could soon start eating the local farmers and village folk. The authorities have called for a universal bounty on Griffons, offering gold for each beak brought to the collection site. If anyone can track and find this legendary Griffon, they will receive an even heftier sum.
The Huge-sized Griffon? It’s a half-dragon. Add the half-dragon template to the Griffon stat block, make it a Huge creature, double its Hit Points, and add an extra damage die to its natural attacks. Make it a CR 5.
Griffons are simply amazing, and if you want to bring child-like wonder back into your fantasy game experience, the cuddly Griffon is just the way to do it.
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I played the game a lot as a kid, back in first edition. Over the past few years since 5e was released, I’ve really started getting back into it. Currently, I run a campaign online for some friends and my brothers, and we also play a side-sesh just to mix things up.