The cat-legged, winged maftets are yet another guardian race PCs are likely to encounter while investigating desert and canyon ruins. Your power-gaming players are likely to be impressed with their double scimitar skills (take that, Drizzt!) and their ability to fire off two spell-like abilities at once. But there’s more to explore. Pathfinder #15: “The Armageddon Echo” notes that they are also known as sphinxkin (an automatically interesting link right there) singhala, or aslani, so you can drop them into a number of different cultures and contexts with just a name change. The source of their runic tattoos is another mystery that could lead back to ancient sphinxes, lammasus, shedus, lamias, dragons, dwarves, giants, divs, aboleths, or even gods. And are their tattoos related to their compulsive need to guard old ruins? One final note: As the Egyptian goddess Mafdet loathed snakes, her namesakes might hate them as well…
Palimpsest is the wizened shaman leader of a pride of maftets based around a ruined set of giant-sized stairs. Her tribe will allow outsiders to pass along the steps but not copy or deface the markings thereon. Palimpsest’s moniker comes from her bare skin: When she was young a powerful spellcaster permanently erased her tattoos with magic. She would pay dearly for information about him; she remembers only his cruel laugh and his pet shriezyx (Magnimar, City of Monuments).
The androsphinx and rune expert Ptolivar lives in the High Desert with a pride of female maftet sentinels. He pretends not to understand Common, speaking to humanoids through a maftet interpreter. The pride will also not allow anyone to enter the sand-covered city they guard, responding to interlopers with drawn swords. If adventurers prove themselves to be enemies of the serpentfolk, though, all pretenses and objections are dropped. The city Ptolivar’s pride keeps watch over was once a serpentfolk metropolis, and he needs allies he can trust to explore the subterranean passages where the winged maftets won’t go.
Sanjay is a singhala who resents his pride’s female leadership. But his time alone on the road has him craving companionship. Falling back on his instincts, he has taken to “guarding” fords, bridges, and abandoned temples for a week or so at a time before moving on, challenging those he meets to a scimitar duel. Though he would not admit it to himself, he is looking for a tribe of his own to belong to. Any male with the appropriate Leadership feat and score could win him as a cohort, whether or not they defeat him in combat.
—Pathfinder 15 88 & Bestiary 3 188
Researching the maftet made me realizing I need to look at the cohort and improved familiar tables more often. Of course, given the stacks of unread RPG books by my bed, relooking at anything is low on the priority list…
Also, welcome to the letter M! (I thought this was going to be a short section of the alphabet until I opened the Bestiary 2, which might as well have just been called the Mestiary.)