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They have the heads, wings and talons of Eagles, but the bodies and legs of Lions. Understandably, this makes them incredibly proud and fierce creatures, well-deserved of the lordship that is theirs over the heavens, second only to the Dragon races.
There are several ways to spell their name, with the most common variants of Griffon and Griffin being used in many lands almost interchangeably. In Allansia, particularly the Moonstone Hills, some Barbarians and wild men are known to tame Gryphons and use them as mounts, but this is a very rare occurrence since it is extremely dangerous.
The wizard Xortan Throg used a Gryphon as his personal mount, so presumably he managed to acquire a Gryphon egg from one of these Barbarian tribes at a heavy price and train the hatchling himself. The price, however, would have definitely been worth it, since a Gryphon trained from hatching is ferociously and unswervingly loyal to its trainer and master.
Zharradan Marr is known to have acquired sufficient numbers of Gryphons to be able to selectively breed them over the course of several generations, producing his own aerial cavalry - the Tooki War-Gryphons. Exactly where he got the first eggs - or the facilities to train them effectively - is unknown, but given the fact that his territory extends over much of the Moonstone Hills, it can be safely assumed that several Gryphon eyries were located by his scouts at some stage.
Whilst a Tooki is obviously physically similar to a common Gryphon, the exact changes bred into them by Marr probably included increased size, strength and speed ... and decreased willpower, enabling his Blood Orcs to ride them as they might a warhorse, without needing each of them to train each Tooki individually.
The Gorak GryphonEdit
There is also a race of Lion-bodied, Dragon-winged beings that breathe fire used by the Xokusai Orcs of Khul during The Chase. Their name is clearly somewhat incongruous with the rest of them, giving rise not only to the question of their origins, but why they apparently dwell in the underground realms.
It is thought that they are off-shoots of the primary Gryphon race, possibly produced as the result of breeding with Dracons, thereby giving them their wings and penchant for fire breathing - presumably a latent characteristic of Dracons that remains dormant until breeding with true Dragons.