What Is A Griffin?
It is hard to mistake a griffin for, say, a dragon (those have always been rare, anyway), but before this guide gets into the specific behaviors and breeds of griffin, I feel it is necessary to go over the basic description of a griffin.
A griffin is a magical animal with the body parts of a lion and eagle. Some griffin types have color variations that cause them to resemble other cats, such as leopards or tigers, but their skeletal structure is still closer to a lion's. Griffins always have the wings, head, front legs, and foreclaws of a bird. Similarly, their hindquarters, hind paws, and tail are leonine. Griffins are only slightly larger than lions and can be comfortably ridden by most people when they are mature.
The opinicus, an extinct cousin of the griffin, resembled a lion more with the head and wings of an eagle. Unfortunately, these smaller, more catlike creatures have not been seen for nearly a century.
Like birds, a griffin's larger bones are partially hollow in order to make them lighter. Despite being built like a mammal, the lion part of the griffin also has these bones. Griffins have more air sacs than birds that are distributed around their bodies and allow them to use more oxygen in flight.
The muscles in a griffin's wings are also very powerful. They are the strongest ones in their entire body. The weight of a rider often forces griffins to work harder, so they often fly slower or shorter distances when carrying a person.
To take off, griffins use their strong hind legs to leap off of the ground, a lot like a cat pouncing. Flight is crucial to a griffin's happiness and survival. A grounded griffin should be tended to immediately to make sure the damage is not permanent.
Since griffins themselves are impossible hybrids, mixtures of two separate animal classes, there must have been some magic involved in their creation. Ever since history in Amaren has been recorded, the griffins were there. The greatest mages and griffin researchers have never been able to figure out where they came from. Griffins have very temporary and vague ways of recording their pasts, so even the beasts themselves don't know how they came about.
Griffins also have stated they have an odd "flock sense" with which they can sometimes locate members of a flock they have bonded to. Some stories tell of griffins who have used this to find their human riders, but there have been no confirmed instances of human bonding creating this same sense, as griffins often regard their bonded people are friends instead of family.
Despite the many physical characteristic that aid them in flight, griffins are still, technically, too heavy and too weak to fly. Recent studies of dead griffins have pointed out many empty chambers inside of them. It was once believed that these could be filled with gases at will and allowed griffins to make themselves lighter in addition to the air sacs. A different theory is that these thick-walled chambers are the holding places for inherent griffin magic that is generated inside of the griffin. If this is so, then the magic fades from a griffin's body soon or immediately after they die, preventing us from harnessing it without a live griffin companion.