D&D 5E Epic Monsters: Great Sphinx

We’ve got a riddle for this final Epic Monsters post: what creature already has two different entries in the core rules but is getting a third one here today?

The Sphinx DnD 5e banner.jpg

There are sphinxes (or sphinx-like creatures) throughout the mythological world, but in large part they’re thought to have originated in Egypt or Ethiopia—or rather, at least the Greeks recognized they were from elsewhere. In Egypt the sphinx is depicted as a male and also a guardian of knowledge, but decidedly nicer. In any event there’s just the one in Greek mythology, thought to be the daughter of Orthrus and Chimera, Orthrus and Echidna, or Echidna and Typhon. She guarded Thebes and only allowed travelers who could answer her riddle passage inside or out, eating anyone who couldn’t. Oedipus figures it out though, and in a fit of hysteria the Sphinx throws herself into the sea to die (making him into a hero of the thebans). What this riddle originally was is lost to time, but there are two still attributed to her:

"Which creature has one voice and yet becomes four-footed and two-footed and three-footed?"​

Man—who crawls on all fours as a baby, then walks on two feet as an adult, and then uses a cane in old age.

"There are two sisters: one gives birth to the other and she, in turn, gives birth to the first. Who are the two sisters?"​

Day and night; in Ancient Greek ἡμέρα (day) and νύξ (night) are feminine.



Design Notes: This has sat on the queue for a long time because there’s already two stock sphinxes in the 5ESRD: the gynosphinx (lady sphinx) and androsphinx (dude sphinx). Since we’re on the last Epic Monsters post we’re going to take the request as literally as possible and tackle the sphinx, aka the Great Sphinx of Giza. Because the core rules do not have a 240 foot long, 60 foot tall sphinx statue made from nummulitic limestone. That’s a good place to start—we’ll take the little CR 11 sphinx and boost it up to big big Gargantuan size, ramp up its AC and hit points, and oomph its core ability scores (Strength, Constitution, and a smidge more Intelligence). Otherwise we’re going to pull stuff out of the oh-so-beloved World Turtle’s playbook to give this enormous stone creature that epic feel. Let’s do the numbers! The DMG clocks in at 24.3, Blog of Holding at 27.3, averages out to a heavy CR 25.

Great Sphinx

Gargantuan construct, lawful neutral
Armor Class 19 (natural armor)
Hit Points 350 (20d20+140)
Speed 50 ft., fly 50 ft.
STR
DEX
CON
INT
WIS
CHA
25 (+7)​
15 (+2)​
25 (+7)​
20 (+5)​
18 (+4)​
18 (+4)​
Saving Throws Wis +12; Proficiency +8
Skills Athletics +15, Arcana +21, History +21, Perception +12, Religion +13
Damage Resistances cold, fire, lightning, thunder; bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing
Damage Immunities poison, psychic
Condition Immunities blinded, charmed, deafened, exhaustion, frightened, paralyzed, petrified, poisoned, prone, stunned
Senses darkvision 200 ft., passive Perception 22
Languages Common, Sphinx
Challenge 25 (75,000 XP)

Broken Nose. The sphinx has disadvantage on scent-based Wisdom (Perception) checks.

Damage Threshold. When the sphinx takes damage from an attack, spell, or other effect, it ignores the first 10 points of damage (calculated after resistances; minimum 0).

Epic Concentration. The sphinx is able to concentrate on up to 2 spells at the same time. If it fails a concentration check while concentrating on more than one spell, it loses both spells. In addition, while it is using one or more concentration spells the sphinx gains one extra bonus action each turn that can only be used to manipulate those spells.

Inscrutable. The sphinx is immune to any effect that would sense its emotions or read its thoughts, as well as any divination spell that it refuses. Wisdom (Insight) checks made to ascertain the sphinx's intentions or sincerity have disadvantage.

Legendary Resistance (3/Day). If the sphinx fails a saving throw, it can choose to succeed instead.

Magic Resistance. The sphinx has advantage on saving throws made against spells and other magical effects.

Magic Weapons. The sphinx’s weapon attacks are magical.

Natural Wonder. The sphinx always knows how long until the next sunset or sunrise and the northerly direction, and it can perfectly remember anything it has experienced within the last century.

Regeneration. The sphinx regains 20 hit points at the start of its turn if it has at least 1 hit point.

Spellcasting. The sphinx is a 14th-level spellcaster. Its spellcasting ability is Intelligence (spell save DC 21, +13 to hit with spell attacks). It requires no material components to cast its spells. The sphinx has the following wizard spells prepared:
Cantrips (at will): mage hand, minor illusion, prestidigitation
1st level (4 slots): detect magic, identify, shield
2nd level (3 slots): darkness, locate object, misty step, suggestion
3rd level (3 slots): counterspell, dispel magic, remove curse, tongues
4th level (3 slots): banishment, black tentacles, confusion
5th level (2 slot): cone of cold, legend lore, telekinesis
6th level (1 slot): sunbeam, true seeing
7th level (1 slot): arcane sword


ACTIONS
Multiattack. The sphinx attacks twice with its colossal claws, or it casts a spell and attacks once with its colossal claws.

Colossal Claws. Melee Weapon Attack: +15 to hit, reach 60 ft., multiple targets (60-foot line that is 10-feet wide centered on one target; roll separately for each creature and object in the area). Hit: 33 (4d12+7) bludgeoning damage and the target makes a DC 23 Strength saving throw or is knocked prone.


LEGENDARY ACTIONS
The sphinx can take 3 legendary actions, choosing from the options below. Only one legendary action option can be used at a time and only at the end of another creature's turn. The sphinx regains spent legendary actions at the start of its turn.
Colossal Claw Attack. The sphinx makes one colossal claw attack.
Teleport (Costs 2 Actions). The sphinx magically teleports, along with any equipment it is wearing or carrying, up to 120 feet to an unoccupied space it can see.
Cast a Spell (Costs 3 Actions). The sphinx casts a spell from its list of prepared spells, using a spell slot as normal.
 
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Mike Myler

Mike Myler

dave2008

Legend
Thank you as always for sharing Mike! I haven't read the whole thing yet because something jumped out to me right away: Damage Threshold. Damage Threshold is a thing in 5e and it doesn't work how you have worded it. I would suggest calling it something else (it sounds more like Damage Reduction) or revising how you have described the trait. Maybe like this:

Damage Threshold. The sphinx is immune to all damage, except psychic, unless an attack or effect inflicts 10 or more hit points of damage, in which case it takes damage as normal.
 

dave2008

Legend
Ok, I've read through it now. Nice work as usual. I do have a slight issue with Colossal Claws. A line attack should a width too. So it is a line 60 feet long by 15 feet wide?
 

dave2008

Legend
Ok, item #3: I think it needs some type of ranged or area attack. Ever seen The Never Ending Story? The sphinx statues had laser eyes! I could also see a roar or song attack too.
 

Mike Myler

Have you been to LevelUp5E.com yet?
Thank you as always for sharing Mike! I haven't read the whole thing yet because something jumped out to me right away: Damage Threshold. Damage Threshold is a thing in 5e and it doesn't work how you have worded it. I would suggest calling it something else (it sounds more like Damage Reduction) or revising how you have described the trait. Maybe like this:

Damage Threshold. The sphinx is immune to all damage, except psychic, unless an attack or effect inflicts 10 or more hit points of damage, in which case it takes damage as normal.
Wasn't a problem with the world turtle, the big Norse sea serpent, or the big Norse underground serpent, so not terribly worried about folks confusing this trait with the general rule (which is specific to objects and structures).

Ok, I've read through it now. Nice work as usual. I do have a slight issue with Colossal Claws. A line attack should a width too. So it is a line 60 feet long by 15 feet wide?
10 feet! Added.

Ok, item #3: I think it needs some type of ranged or area attack. Ever seen The Never Ending Story? The sphinx statues had laser eyes! I could also see a roar or song attack too.
Check out them spells! It's got like half a dozen attack or attack-adjacent things in there.
 


dave2008

Legend
Wasn't a problem with the world turtle, the big Norse sea serpent, or the big Norse underground serpent, so not terribly worried about folks confusing this trait with the general rule (which is specific to objects and structures)
IMO it was. Personally I read it as a damage threshold like the RAW term and completely missed that what your wrote is actually a Damage Reduction. Damage reduction has a much bigger affect on CR than a Damage Threshold. How are you calculating it? Do you assume a party of 4 x 50% hit rate for 40 effective HP per round or something like that?
Check out them spells! It's got like half a dozen attack or attack-adjacent things in there.
I thought that would be your response. Personally I am looking forward to some of the upcoming monster changes as I want things written out in the stat black. Though I think LevelUp does it even better with adding some choice spell descriptions to the stat block. This is what I am striving for in my monsters moving forward and I would think with your LevelUp connections you would too. It is much more useful than just a list. I rarely use a monsters spells if it is just a list - to much time/work
 
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Mike Myler

Have you been to LevelUp5E.com yet?
IMO it was. Personally I read it as a damage threshold like the RAW term and completely missed that what your wrote is actually a Damage Reduction. Damage reduction has a much bigger affect on CR than a Damage Threshold. How are you calculating it?

Another 25% of hit points for a creature of this high CR (which is probably more weight than its due but my playtesting with this trait held up pretty good).


Love it! How about giving it Foresight too?
I reckon it has enough going on. I do love the Mothman's trait for that though. Maybe if I'd had the foresight to do that when I started building it up...
 

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