Over the weekend, I perused the Third Edition Monster Manual, looking for inspiration for the Heroic Tier of the campaign I’ll be running on Wednesday nights. Third Edition books are the kind I really enjoy reading and referencing because they have lots of information, and I’d have to call the exercise an overwhelming success.

Jotting down notes about the kinds of creatures I wanted to include in the campaign (which is set in Mythical Boeotia), I noticed a curious pattern in Centaurs, Gryphons, Hippogriffs, and Sphinxes (adding hippogriffs would have made the title too long). Each had a couple “root animals” in common: lions, horses, or eagles.

At first, I fiddled with them to try and figure out how I could get all of them to either “beget” one another, include them in the region’s history and such, somehow tying them back to Pegasus (the original, undiluted Pegasus of Greek mythology), and I finally realized the cute little four-square overlap I could have between them.

Gryphons and Hippogriffs have eagles in common, Gryphons and Sphinxes have lions, Sphinxes and Centaurs both have human parts, and Centaurs and Hippogriffs have horses in common. Four basic creatures, four hybrid creatures, four Suits to divide between them. That’s right! Swords, Wands, Cups, and Coins!

At that point I figured a couple things out. I could reuse these same creatures in other regions by changing up their Suit focus: conflict (Swords), crafts (Wands), commerce (Coins), or community (Cups). I’m calling them “the four Cs” now because it makes them easier to remember. Don’t follow my example, they’re terrible representations.

The point of reusing the beasts in different places though, is for a certain amount of familiarity between locations. If you fight peaceful community-oriented centaurs in one region, then move to another where they’re crazy, bloodthirsty marauders, you probably know some tricks to negotiating with them (run away really fast).

Anyway, now I think I have suitable candidates for the “five races” of my version the Mythical Boeotian region, to create some strong thematic stories. Mostly centered around lions, horses, and eagles (oh my). Both the actual animals, their various hybrid incarnations, and as symbols for characters, classes, organizations, and city-states.

Good times, all around!