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Basic Information

Like Pegasus, the Hippalectryon is winged horse. But it goes a step beyond that, being a half-horse, half-rooster composite monster. The head and front legs are horse, and the wings, hind legs and tail are that of the bird. Sort of the inverse arrangement of a hippogriff. Many depictions have someone riding it, so presumably it's closer in size to a horse than a rooster. We don't know if it's a single named creature (like Pegasus) or an entire species.

These Hippalectryons are featured in the art of Ancient Greece. It may well have been part of Greek Mythology, but no surviving myths mention them. It shows up in paintings and sculptures going back as far as the 9th Century BC. They are mentioned in passing in the works of Aeschylus and Aristophanes, but more as a symbol than as an actual creature. It may have been the ancient world's equivalent of a sly pop-culture reference rather than a beast people actually thought existed. (Perhaps ancient hipsters rode hippalectryons ironically.)


2. Image by Tsaag Valren, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Game and Story Use

  • Would probably work great in a light-hearted comical game. Some hero's valiant mount has behavior more like a chicken than a horse. Crows at dawn. Lands on rooftops or other perches. Struts its stuff around the henhouse.
    • Or, in a game with wordplay and Hitchhiker's Guide-style sensibilities, the hippalectryon might be composed of particularly cool subatomic particles, with powers based on its pseudoscientific abnormality and a bad pun.
  • More seriously, it could be used to make your typical fantasy pegasus a little more alien and weird. There's something a touch unsettling in this hybridization, especially up close.
  • I would expect that it's probably slower than a horse, at least on land. Chickens can be pretty spry though, so that's not guaranteed, especially once you scale it up to horse-size. I guess the real question is does it run on 2 legs or 4? Most likely the gait as it moves is unique, if not just plain wrong.
    • Which raises the point that people who encounter one, if they don't find it alien and terrifying, may think its ridiculous and goofy instead. So there's a decent chance they'll underestimate it.
  • Roosters can be pretty territorial, so it might be a good guard animal.
  • You might consider an eagle back half instead of a rooster to make it less funny, and to justify them swooping down in battle to snatch people in their talons. If you can get past the ridiculousness of the concept, it could be downright scary. At that point though, it really is just a reverse-hippogriff.
  • They probably lay eggs instead of having live birth. So you might have the PCs stumble across an abandoned nest with a clutch of unidentified eggs that turn out a bit surprising if the PCs bring them home and incubate them.
  • See Pegasus, griffin, hippogriff, horse, chicken, Composite Monster, and Random Animal Hybrid for more ideas.
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