Scarsfell griffons are a breed of griffons that live in the Scarsfell Forest in northern Khador. This griffon’s scarcity and the remote nature of its home limit its interactions with mankind, but it is not unknown among the most remote mountain and forest communities. Such contact has increased as the blackclads have taken these creatures elsewhere to serve as warbeasts in their conflicts.
A griffon’s raptorial head has a wicked, hooked beak, and each of its four limbs ends in razor-sharp claws. The hands are better for grasping, but the legs have stronger and sharper talons. The wings, attached at the scapula, are powered by incredibly strong sinew and muscle. An adult griffon stands over nine feet tall, and its long, thick tail allows it to move bipedally at a remarkable speed.
Griffons were hunted nearly to extinction in ancient times, forced to retreat to areas where bands of hunters could not reach them, becoming so scarce that mankind came to believe them purely creatures of myth. In truth, the survivors had drifted to the edges of the known map. They owe their continued existence to the careful stewardship of the Circle Orboros, who carefully tended to their roosts and protected them from intrusion by the civilised world.
The Scarsfell griffon is a solitary ambush predator that roosts in the cliffs and foothills bordering the forest, particularly along the western edge of the Nyschatha Mountains. It prefers to strike suddenly, leaving little sign of its passage before it retreats back to its unreachable nest with its meal. Scarsfell griffons are generalist carnivores and will attack any creature small enough to be hoisted aloft in their talons. An adult griffon's diet typically consists of deer, ulk, wolves, and foxes.
The Scarsfell griffon circles far overhead while it searches the ground for prey. Blessed with extremely keen eyesight, it can see prey through the foliage long before it is seen. Once it spots a victim, the griffon silently dives thanks to the specialized feathers on the underside of its wings which baffle the noise of its passage. Only when its talons wrap around its prey does it make a sound, a piercing cry of victory that can be heard over great distances. If the prey doesn't die outright, the griffon will grasp the creature in its forelegs and repeatedly tear at it with short, violent kicks from its toes, either disemboweling or exsanguinating the prey. Against prey too large to be carried, the griffon will wound it and let infection or blood loss finish the job, then tears the animal apart and carries what it can back to its nest.
A single male Scarsfell griffon and many females share a wide territory, with the male mating with different females in successive years. Griffons are viviparous, and kits are entirely reliant on their mothers for sustenance for the first several weeks of their lives before they open their eyes for the first time.
The blackclads keep a careful eye on fledgelings, trying to ensure that only the strongest specimens reach maturity. Weak kits are culled while the mothers are away hunting. The remote nests of the Scarsfell griffon make such efforts truly arduous, but working to keep the breed strong is important to the Circle.
The blackclads prize griffons not only for their speed and ferocity, but also for their ability to control the sky. Aerial strikes from these mighty raptors have won numerous battles for the Circle. Unlike other griffon breeds, the Scarsfell griffon requires little conditioning for use as a warbeast. The druids simply encourage its ingrained predatory instincts, teaching it to better use the environment to conceal itself while it hunts and fights. The blackclads foster the breed’s swift attacks, allowing it to strike at valuable targets by hitting an opponent’s forces from unexpected angles. Scarsfell griffons are valued for their swiftness, stealth, and relative autonomy.