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Griffon Rider (3.5e Prestige Class)

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Date Created: 4/18/2010
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Balance: Rogue

{{#set:Summary=Throughout history, people have fought on top of their loyal steeds, however, there is that rare warrior who goes beyond the standard land- or sea- based steeds. Thus, we find the Griffon Riders! |Length=10 |Minimum Level=10 |Base Attack Bonus Progression=Good |Fortitude Save Progression=Good |Reflex Save Progression=Good |Will Save Progression=Poor |Class Ability=Martial Maneuvers |Class Ability=Sneak Attack |Class Ability Progression=Other }} {{#set:Allowed Alignments=Lawful Good}} {{#set:Allowed Alignments=Lawful Neutral}} {{#set:Allowed Alignments=Lawful Evil}} {{#set:Allowed Alignments=Neutral Good}} {{#set:Allowed Alignments=Neutral}} {{#set:Allowed Alignments=Neutral Evil}} {{#set:Allowed Alignments=Chaotic Good}} {{#set:Allowed Alignments=Chaotic Neutral}} {{#set:Allowed Alignments=Chaotic Evil}}

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Griffon RiderEdit

In my day, I have seen many a battle and killed many men, but there is nothing as satisfying as watching your enemies splatter on the ground after dropping them from 100 feet in the air!
—Catharsus, Human Blackguard and Griffon Rider, Excerpt from a lecture on the most satisfying ways to kill someone


Becoming a Griffon RiderEdit

Many characters seek to become a Griffon Rider for a wide variety of reasons, some seeking to use their aerial ability to escape from the law while others seeking to use the help of their Griffon to gain an advantage in battle or to adventure where no other man(or Griffon) has trod before. The main attributes for a Griffon Rider are Dexterity and Strength.

Entry Requirements
Alignment: any.
Base Attack Bonus: +5.
Skills: Ride 7, Handle Animal 7, diplomacy 7, Concentration 7.
Feats: Mounted Archery, Mounted Combat.
Special: Must have acquired the Griffon and successfully won a battle while riding him.

Table: The Griffon Rider

Hit Die: d10

Level Base
Attack Bonus
Saving Throws Special
Fort Ref Will
1st +1 +2 +2 +0 Aerial Archer, Aerial Sneak Attack (1d6)
2nd +2 +3 +3 +0 Improved Pounce, Aerial Improved Evasion, Supreme Rider +1
3rd +3 +3 +3 +1 Griffon Speech, Aerial Combat, Power Shot
4th +4 +4 +4 +1 Aerial Sneak Attack (2d6), Supreme Rider +2
5th +5 +4 +4 +1 Momentous Cleave
6th +6/+1 +5 +5 +2 Gravity Cannon, Supreme Rider +3
7th +7/+2 +5 +5 +2 Aerial Sneak Attack (3d6)
8th +8/+3 +6 +6 +2 Supreme Rider +4
9th +9/+4 +6 +6 +3 Deflect Arrows
10th +10/+5 +7 +7 +3 Aerial Sneak Attack (4d6), Hive Mind, Supreme Rider +5

Class Skills (Skill Points::4 + Int modifier per level.)
Concentration (Con), Diplomacy (Cha), Handle Animal (Cha), Heal (Wis), Intimidate (Cha), Jump (Str), Knowledge Nature (Int), Listen (Wis) Move Silently (Dex), Ride (Dex), Search (Int), Sense Motive (Wis), Spot (Wis), Tumble (Dex)

Class FeaturesEdit

  • If any of these feats have already been acquired, they can be replaced by any feats of the players choice. However, epic level feats can only be chosen if the player has reached epic level.
  • The Deflect Arrows ability is the same as the Deflect Arrows feat with the slight exception that the Griffon Rider can use his weapon instead of a free hand to deflect the arrow.

Aerial Archer (Ex): Similar to mounted archery, except it allows the griffon rider to take no negatives on all mounted attacks while flying at standard flight, and only a -2 on ranged attacks while at full flight. The Griffon rider can also put the momentum of his griffon into a ranged attack, adding extra range to the shot equal to the griffon's fly speed.

Power Shot (Ex): The manipulation of a Griffon to gain advantage has become second nature to the Griffon Rider, and on a successful DC 16 ride check the Griffon Rider can add his Griffon's Dexterity or strength modifier to all attacks that use that ability.

Supreme Rider (Ex): This ability is similar to mounted combat, however it increases the amount of times a ride check can negate an attack by 1 at 2nd level and every 2 levels thereafter, up to 10th. This can also negate critical hits. All checks must be made while flying.

Aerial Improved Evasion (Ex): The Griffon Rider is capable of the improved evasion feat as long as he is riding his Griffon. Also, any reflex saves made by his griffon will also apply to him, even if he failed his save.

Improved Pounce (Ex): The Griffon rider has come to work in excellent conjunction with his Griffon, and when the Griffon does a pounce or full attack, the Griffon rider can also attack that same target with an extra +4 melee attack in addition to his standard attack action.

Momentous Cleave (Ex): When doing a full attack or a charge against another aerial target or a reachable land-based target(like someone on a tower or another position a Griffon can swoop to attack with the rider being able to reach his sword there) the rider and Griffon can attack in such a way as to put all of their force and momentum in to a single cleaving attack on an enemy. This attack adds both the Griffon rider's and the Griffon's BAB to the attack and it deals 6d6+5+ the combined strength mod of the rider and the griffon, or if you have weapon finesse you can use dexterity instead. Every 20ft the griffon gains on the charge, up to 200ft, adds 1d6 damage to the attack. All of this damage is added on top of the weapon damage, and all weapon effects or character bonuses(and minuses) gained from powers or spells still apply. This attack deals critical damage based on the weapons critical range. This attack requires so much focus on the single target that it leaves the Griffon rider and his Griffon open to an attack of opportunity. The Griffon Rider also must make a DC 20 ride check to continue riding on the Griffon after the attack or else he will fall from the Griffon. If this attack kills an enemy in a single hit, the feat cleave can apply ONLY IF the enemy is in a direct line within swords reach of your flight path, and within the remaining distance to be traveled on you griffon. All damage bonuses from beginning the charge at a farther distance are negated.(so if you did momentous cleave at 60 feet away, you can cleave to an enemy at a maximum of 40 feet away directly in your path. The bonus 3d6 from doing the charge at 60 feet are negated for your second attack, and you only get bonus damage for the 40 feet left that you can do the charge on)

Gravity Cannon (Ex): The Griffon Rider is capable of using gravity to improve the range and power of his ranged attacks. All attacks made at a target below him gain an addition 1d6 damage for every 10 ft. he is above that enemy, starting at 30 feet up and maxing out at an additional 20d6. He also gains a +2 to hit on those attacks. Shots made at a target angled downward also gain those bonuses but cap out at 30d6(thanks to projectile motion), but his range is limited to the square root of (bow's range + distance below him). Basically, do the Pythagorean theorem to calculate the range.

Aerial Sneak Attack (Ex):This ability, gained at 1st level, is like the rogue ability Sneak Attack. The extra damage increases by +1d6 every third level beyond 1st (4th, 7th and 10th). If a Griffon rider or his Griffon gets a sneak attack bonus from another source the bonuses on damage stack. However, this bonus is only gained when the sneak attack is done from the air and the enemy is caught flat-footed(either by surprise or any method which removes his dexterity modifier from his AC). Standard flanking does not grant this bonus.

Aerial Combat (Ex): This ability improves mounted combat and mounted archery as a Griffon rider is extremely experienced at fighting while riding a Griffon, and all his attacks while flying incur no penalty. All attacks made while the Griffon is flying at a full run incur no penalty instead of the -2 from aerial archery. The Griffon is not frightened by combat, meaning no ride checks need to be made to fight, and all ride checks for aerial fighting have their respective DC's decreased by one quarter(rounded up). For example, it would be a DC 30 ride check to ride your Griffon if it does an aerial flip and you try to attack at the same time. With aerial combat, it decreases the DC to a DC 24 ride check.

Griffon Speech (Su): The Griffon rider has become so well in tune with Griffons that he can now converse with them.

Hive Mind (Su): The Griffon Rider and his Griffon share the same thoughts and can share their senses up to a distance of 2 miles apart. They can share an empathic link up to 20 miles apart.

The Griffon Rider's GriffonEdit

The Griffon rider’s servant gains HD and special abilities based on the Griffon rider's level (see the table below).

A Griffon rider may have only one special Griffon at a time, however any other Griffons raised by him do not get the bonuses as his special mount. Also, the bonus' from being a griffon rider's mount also stack with the bonus' of the paladins mount and the blackguard's fiendish servant.

Should the Griffon rider’s servant die, he may replace it with another one after 3 months of preparing his backup Griffon. The new Griffon has all the accumulated abilities due a Griffon of the Griffon rider’s current level.

Griffon Rider LevelBonus HDNatural
Armor Adj.
Dex Adj.Int Special
1st +1+1+16 Empathic Link, improved evasion, share saving throws
2nd +2+1+16 Griffon Flyspeed 100ft(good), Flyby Attack
3rd +2+1+27 Improved Flyby Attack
4th +3+2+27 Aerial Sneak Attack (1d8+2), Silent Flight
6th +4+2+38 Aerial Sneak Attack (2d8+4)
8th +5+3+49 Blood Bond
9th +5+4+59 Griffon Flyspeed 120ft(good), Improved Grapple
10th +6+5+510 Aerial Sneak Attack (3d8+6), Hive Mind, Improved Aerial Sneak Attack

Griffon Rider Level: The level of the Griffon rider.

Bonus HD: Extra eight-sided (d8) Hit Dice, each of which gains a Constitution modifier, as normal. Extra Hit Dice improve the servant’s base attack and base save bonuses, as normal.

Natural Armor Adj.: This is an improvement to the servant’s existing natural armor bonus.

Dex Adj.: Add this figure to the servant’s Dexterity score.

Int: The servant’s Intelligence score. (A Griffon rider's Griffon is smarter than normal animals of its kind.)

The abilities mentioned in the “Special” column of the accompanying table are described below.

Empathic Link (Su): The Griffon rider has an empathic link with his servant out to a distance of up to 5 miles. The Griffon rider cannot see through the servant’s eyes, but they can communicate empathically. Because of the limited nature of the link, only general emotional content can be communicated.

Because of the empathic link between the servant and the Griffon rider, the Griffon rider has the same connection to a place or an item that the servant does.

Silent Flight (Ex): The Griffon Rider's Griffon is well tuned with the need to be quiet and can be stealthy while flying in the air, allowing the Griffon to be able to move silently upon an enemy without them hearing (DC 25 listen check + ranks in move silently) The Griffon gains +1 DC to this ability for every character level its master gains after it learns this ability.

Griffon's Aerial Sneak Attack (Ex):This ability, gained at 4th level, is like the rogue ability Sneak Attack. The extra damage increases by +1d8 +2 at 4th, 7th and 10th level. If a Griffon rider or his Griffon gets a sneak attack bonus from another source the bonuses on damage stack. However, this bonus is only gained when the sneak attack is done from the air and the enemy is caught flat-footed(either by surprise or any method which removes his dexterity modifier from his AC). Standard flanking does not grant this bonus.

Improved Aerial Sneak Attack (Ex): The Griffon can now make a sneak attack on an enemy if he successfully flanks them. The damage dealt increases by 1d8+2 every three levels starting at 13th level and every three levels thereafter.

Griffon Fly Speed 100/120ft(good) (Ex): The Griffons Fly speed increases by 20ft a turn at 2nd level and his maneuverability become of a good quality. At 9th level his speed increases again by another 20 feet. Every 5 levels the griffon gains thereafter increases the flyspeed by another 20 ft.

Improved Evasion (Ex): If the servant is subjected to an attack that normally allows a Reflex saving throw for half damage, it takes no damage on a successful saving throw and only half damage on a failed saving throw. Improved evasion is an extraordinary ability.

Share Saving Throws: For each of its saving throws, the Griffon uses either its own base save bonus or the Griffon Rider’s, whichever is higher. The servant applies its own ability modifiers to saves, and it doesn’t share any other bonuses on saves that the Griffon rider might have.


HiveMind (Su): The Griffon Rider and his Griffon share the same thoughts and can share their senses up to a distance of 2 miles apart. They can share an empathic link up to 20 miles apart.

Blood Bond (Ex): If the Griffon rider’s character level is 14th or higher, the servant gains a +2 bonus on all attack rolls, checks, and saves if it witnesses the Griffon rider being threatened or harmed. If the Griffon witnesses its rider's death by an enemy, it goes into a blind rage and becomes completely obsessed with killing the one who killed its master. If it succeeds, it must pass a constitution check(DC 25) or else it will attempt to kill all other creatures in the vicinity as well. After that, it will be able to calm down within several hours.

This bonus lasts as long as the threat is immediate and apparent.

  • The Griffon Rider's Griffon can gain feats to be spent as well, gaining a new feat every 5 levels from the general feats list, and at epic levels the epic feats list.
  • Griffon Rider's Griffons can also have armour specially designed for them, but at a very expensive price. Griffon armour can be purchased for about 1500 platinum pieces for masterwork breastplate and provides a +5 to AC with a maximum to dexterity of +4. A glass visor to protect the Griffons eyes from arrows would cost an extra 500 platinum pieces.



Table: The Epic Griffon Rider
Level Special
11th Aerial Bombardment
12th Bonus Feat
13th Aerial Sneak Attack(5d6)
14th Supreme Rider of the Skies
15th Bonus Feat, Infinite Deflect Arrows*
16th Aerial Sneak Attack(6d6)
17th Slaughter House 5
18th Bonus Feat
19th Aerial Sneak Attack (7d6)
20th Cleaving Dive

Epic Class FeaturesEdit

All of the following are Epic class features of the Griffon rider.

  • Same as the Deflect arrows, but for any number of deflections.

Aerial SneakAttack (Ex):This ability, gained at 1st level, is like the rogue ability Sneak Attack. The extra damage increases by +1d6 every third level beyond 1st (4th, 7th, 10th, 13th, 16th, 19th and beyond). If a Griffon rider or his Griffon gets a sneak attack bonus from another source the bonuses on damage stack. However, this bonus is only gained when the sneak attack is done from the air and the enemy is caught flat-footed(either by surprise or any method which removes his dexterity modifier from his AC). At epic levels, flanking does grant this bonus.

Supreme Rider of the Skies (Ex): The Griffon Rider can negate up to 10 attacks on his Griffon with a successful ride check that is equal to or greater than the attack roll made against his griffon. The Griffon Rider also gains a +5 bonus to ride checks while on his Griffon, and a ride check that passes the opponents roll by at least 10 allows for an immediate, full counterattack on that opponent by your griffon. This can also negate critical hits. All checks must be made while flying.

Aerial Bombardment (Ex): The Griffon Rider, on a successful ride check, can have his griffon pick up a large stone or object in each foot to hurl upon enemies below them. It is a DC 15 ride check for the first stone, and it increases by 8 for every stone picked up thereafter. While carrying a full load of stones, flyspeed is halved and fly quality is decreased by one level. This attack is a +12 ranged attack(downward only) dealing 2d12 +5 damage per stone. The Griffon Rider can add half his ride skill to the attack to improve aim on an enemy. Each stone hits and affects all creatures within a 5 ft. radius of where it lands. It gains 2d12+10 damage for every 50 feet it is dropped above an enemy, but the attack suffers a -1 penalty for every 10 feet above the enemy it is dropped. Criticals are x3.

Slaughter House 5 (Ex): The Griffon Rider has become so experienced in combat that he can attack every enemy hit or passed by(within 30 feet if using a ranged weapon, otherwise within reach of the melee weapon) by his griffons flyby attack with an attack at full BAB. This only applies to enemies in the direct line of flight of the griffon, and enemies outside of the width range cannot be targeted by this attack.

Cleaving Dive (Ex): The Griffon Rider has gained exceptional ability in diving upon an enemy, where he can now make a momentous cleave attack from a dive or pounce. This attack is as the latter, except where noted. Every 20ft the Griffon Rider is up from the target deals a bonus 2d6 damage on a successful strike, and can theoretically do so infinitely. However, the Griffon Rider must pass a DC 30 ride check to stay on the Griffon for the attack, and for every 50 ft above 200, the Ride check DC goes up by 5. Also, all critical hits made from a dive over 300ft have their critical damage doubled and the enemy must make a fortitude save equal to half the Griffon Rider's Level + half the Griffon's level + the Griffon's Strength Mod + the griffon riders strength mod + the damage dealt divided by 100 to prevent themselves from being instantly cleaved in half.


Bonus Feat: The epic Griffon rider gains a bonus feat (selected from the list of epic feats) every 3 levels after 9.

Campaign InformationEdit

Playing a Griffon RiderEdit

Combat: Griffon Rider's tend to provide air support for their allies, keeping flying foes off their backs and dive bombing the enemies on the ground. They also make for excellent scouts and can also help their allies break into fortresses or escape from danger.

Advancement: Griffon Rider's advancement options are many. A Griffon rider can advance as a wizard and magic-based prestige classes, ranger and their associated prestige classes, or fighter-types and their prestige classes. Any of these focus' groups can create an excellent multi-class Griffon rider, making it a highly mobile class, being able to deal massive melee damage and varying as much as ranged attacks and guerrilla tactics of rogues.

Resources: Griffon Rider's are often associated with a powerful government and can often expect people to ask their aid in battle or to gather intel on a region or place. However, they tend to be disliked by underground societies and races such as dwarves and drow.

Griffon Riders' in the WorldEdit

Why, look down there! I think I can see that woman sunbathing on the roof!

Griffon Riders are often key allies or enemies, usually associated with a powerful association for either good or evil. Both Paladins and Blackguards have often been found to make for excellent Griffon riders, and their place is to be with a religious or governmental group, although it is also common for them to become mercenaries or just to adventure into the the world seeking thrills and glory.

NPC Reactions: NPC's tend to look up to Griffon rider's with a sense of awe, respect or fear depending on the reputation of the Griffon rider. As very few can become a Griffon rider, words of their deeds spreads quickly across a region.

Griffon Rider LoreEdit

Characters with ranks in Knowledge: History or Local can research Griffon Rider's to learn more about them. When a character makes a skill check, read or paraphrase the following, including information from lower DCs.

Knowledge: History or Local
DC Result
11 Griffon Riders seem to have a mystical and hard to discern connection with their Griffons.
16 Griffon Riders have the ability to communicate everything they can sense to each other and can even talk to any Griffon and tell them what to do.
21 Griffon Riders are the deadliest of aerial aces, with abilities that astound the minds of any who see it, able to maneuver beyond the abilities of most flying creatures and being able to fly faster than even the hardiest of other Griffons. They are also tougher and far more intelligent than the average joe schmoe.
26 A result of 26 or higher can bring out information about specific Griffon riders, lore about them, their location, and recent activities.

Griffon Riders in the GameEdit

Griffon Riders can often play the part of a royal knight, serving a powerful lord and hunting down those opposing the law. They can also be found playing the part of a leader of bandits, raiding helpless townspeople and leaving before anyone can stop them. Griffon Riders can also be another adventurer, like yourself, and just trying to make a living off of whatever work he finds to do or treasures he can discover.

Adaptation: Griffon Riders can fit in almost any place, as long as there is open air or high vaulted domes, playing as either an ally who aids you, an enemy who is against you, or someone just floating along as a bystander whom you can enlist to help you get somewhere. NPC Griffon Riders are also known to usually have some rare or exotic items not easily found which they picked up on their travels, or information on such items, which they can sell to you for a price.

Sample Encounter: Catharsus, once a noble paladin, fell into the ways of evil and turned into a blackguard. He was expelled from his home city. He had one day found a Griffon egg at the base of cliff, mystically unharmed. He raised the Griffon, which soon became his personal mount. He quickly learned the ways of the Griffon rider, and now seeks to return and destroy the city which expelled him with his undead servants and a squad of evil Griffon riders. After dealing with his home city, Catharsus and his bandits seek to conquer and enslave the whole region.

Catharsus (3.5e NPC)

EL 37: encountered in city, in a camp, or surprise attack while you are walking along a path


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