Maftets of the Desert Sands

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March 18, 2016 by klspeedling

Warning: I’m about to talk about Pathfinder for awhile.  🙂

I came across the maftets when reading Bestiary 3 and they immediately caught my interest.  Not sure quite what it was about them, but I decided that a) they were the coolest creatures ever, and b) I wanted to play one.  As written, maftets aren’t a player character race; they’re a little too powerful for that, so I made some adjustments to the PC version using the Race Builder as a guide so they’d be roughly equivalent to the other races.  I ended up thinking of quite a bit of lore and culture to go along with them, spinning off the information that was already available about maftets in previous sources.  (Fun fact: the name I use as an example in the article is my maftet character from that game.)

A slightly shorter version of this article originally appeared in Wayfinder #14, an issue focused on monsters.  (It’s available for free, and I’d highly suggest checking the rest of it out.)  The version I’m posting here has some bonus historical lore that didn’t make it into the initial version due to space limitations.  In addition to maftet-related fluff, it has the stats for creating a PC maftet, as well as an alternate racial trait, two maftet feasts, and a maftet-specific hunter archetype.

PC Race: Maftets of the Desert Sands

Little is known about the reclusive maftets who make their homes in ruins and abandoned cities across the deserts of northern Garund. The maftets do not seem to mind this state of affairs, often reacting with enigmatic amusement when an adventurer repeats some bit of “information” upon meeting them.

Physical: Maftets have hawk wings, human torsos, and the lower bodies of lions.  All maftets have runic tattoos adorning their upper bodies, which have great significance in their society.

Society: Maftets reside in abandoned ruins, or upon cliffs or mountainsides if no ruins are available. They form small prides, typically with no more than ten adult members. In rare cases, large ruins may boast more than one pride. The female members tend to do the majority of the hunting while the male members guard the pride’s home and train the young, though exceptions to this rule do exist.

In addition to defending their homes, maftets are accomplished hunters who stalk prey such as aurochs or giant scorpions. Maftet children are trained in combat from a young age and are skilled combatants by the time they reach adulthood, typically fighting with paired scimitars. Maftets attach a great deal of importance to their weapons. A fighter who loses one or both blades will often mourn as if a family member has perished.

The runic tattoos of a maftet, clearly visible on the arms and torso, are given to each maftet by the pride’s shaman when he or she comes of age. These tattoos tell stories of the maftet’s ancestors and childhood exploits, as well as personalized symbolism meant to guide the maftet into adulthood. The iconography of these tattoos varies from pride to pride, but not so much as to be incomprehensible to maftets from other prides. The shaman alone holds the knowledge of this tattooing process, which is the first part of a maftet’s coming-of-age ceremony at age twelve. This yearly ceremony advances all maftets with twelfth birthdays in that year to adulthood, and culminates in the group of youngsters going on a hunt to kill a lamia.

Relations: Maftets are quite isolationist, though they do sometimes interact with humans and other humanoid races. They view themselves as the guardians of their ancient homes, which can bring them into conflict with enterprising adventurers. The average maftet takes a dim view of such explorers, seeing them as little more than glorified raiders. Those who are polite, however, may be able to work out an agreement, especially for a good cause. A maftet guard will accompany such an expedition to ensure they don’t loot or damage the site. Those who achieve an alliance with a maftet pride can benefit greatly, as no one will know more about a ruin than the maftets who live there. Maftet prides have also been known to help adventurers in distress, though woe betide the person who repays their generosity by stealing.

Maftets will also occasionally send emissaries to trade with caravans. They have a particular interest in magical artifacts, and will often barter a great deal in exchange for such a treasure. Maftets maintain a casual attitude of superiority over other races but are friendly as long as they do not feel insulted.

While they seem to bear a resemblance to lamias, Maftets have a deep, longstanding hatred of these evil sisters.  The reasons for the maftets’ hatred of lamias have been hotly debated by scholars over the centuries. Some propose that the maftets, who tend towards neutrality or good, loathe the resemblance between them and the evil lamias. Others suggest that since maftets and lamias seek out the same sorts of places to live—ruins, abandoned monuments and the like—the reasons for the hatred are territorial. In fact, the feud between the two races is much more deeply rooted. An old maftet tale states that long ago, in the days when Thassilon was a new empire, the lamias were a noble race closely allied to the maftets, who considered the lamias their sisters. However, a nameless lamia matriarch, hungry for power, broke the alliance and sacrificed the shamans of nine maftet prides to a demon lord. Upon this betrayal, the remaining shamans of the prides in the region united to defeat her, cursing the lamia and her kindred for all time. According to the maftets, it was this curse that formed the lamias into the monsters they are today, and the maftets consider it their sacred duty to hunt down these betrayers wherever they may be found. It is unknown, of course, whether this is anything more than a tale.

Maftets are also believed to be related to sphinxes, and the more intelligent breeds of sphinx seem to enjoy their company, often affectionately dubbing them “little cousins.” Sphinxes have even been known to co-exist at the same site as a maftet pride. Maftets are generally happy to oblige a sphinx wishing to explore or study their homes, though these arrangements are typically short-term in nature due to sphinxes’ aloof nature.

Alignment and Religion: Maftets tend towards good alignments.  Most maftet religious rituals and worship focus on Curchanus, long-dead god of beasts and travel. Though he was killed by Lamashtu eons ago, the maftets still revere him as they would pay respects to a deceased elder. Some prides even count clerics of Curchanus among their number. Although the god himself is dead, these clerics are still granted spells from somewhere. Possibly this is Desna’s intercession, taking up his role in this area as she inherited his domain of travel. It is also possible that some spark of Curchanus escaped Lamashtu and still exists somewhere in the multiverse, aiding its worshipers in the only way left to it now. Many maftets also worship the empyreal lord Soralyon, as his dominion over guardians and monuments aligns closely with their own goals. They will often call on him for the strength to protect their homes from those who wish to loot the sites or exploit natural resources.

Reverence for their ancestors is also important to maftets. Even a very young maftet can trace their family tree back ten generations or more. Written records are not common in maftet society; knowledge of the pride’s past and traditions is passed down orally. The shaman is officially responsible for guarding the pride’s history, but all maftets love to tell stories. Ancestors’ names are often invoked for luck before a hunt, a fight, or even in everyday matters like winning over the object of one’s affections.

Adventurers: On rare occasions, a maftet will choose to leave the pride to see the wider world. The response to this depends on the maftet’s family and pride, but it is generally seen as a harmless eccentricity. Maftets who leave their prides have their tattoos altered to symbolize their passage into a new way of life. This is not a one-way journey; should they choose to return, they will usually be welcomed home with open arms. These roving maftets can end up in a wide variety of places. It is not unheard of—though not common—to see a maftet in the cities of Osirion, Thuvia, or Katapesh. Such maftets consider themselves ambassadors for their people, and delight in telling stories about their homes.

Strong and courageous, maftets often choose martial paths, particularly favoring classes that combine physical combat and magical abilities.

Names: In every pride, maftet names follow the same pattern. Newborns are granted a family name composed of their mother’s given name hyphenated with their father’s, followed by the prefix “dev” (roughly meaning ‘have borne’) and their own given name. For example, a child named Aisha with a mother named Sayakani and a father named Vastris would be called Sayakani-Vastris dev’Aisha.

Maftet Racial Traits

+2 Strength, +2 Wisdom, -2 Charisma: Maftets are strong and value the wisdom of their elders, but their insular society can make it difficult for them to understand outsiders.

Medium: Maftets are medium creatures and have no bonuses or penalties due to their size.

Maftet: Maftets are monstrous humanoids with the maftet subtype.

Normal Speed: Maftets have a base speed of 30 ft. on land. They also have a fly speed of 30 ft. (clumsy).

Low-Light Vision: Maftets can see twice as far as humans in conditions of dim light.

Darkvision: Maftets can see in the dark up to 60 ft.

Runic Tattoos: Maftets who leave their tribes have their tattoos modified. A maftet can activate each of these tattoos as a standard action once per day to cast mage armor, magic weapon, protection from evil, and cat’s grace. If an erase spell targets these tattoos, the maftet must make a Fortitude save to resist or lose access to her spell-like abilities for 24 hours.

Weapon Familiarity (Scimitar): Maftets have weapon proficiency with scimitars.

Languages: Maftets begin play speaking Common and Sphinx. Those with high Intelligence scores can choose from the following: Ancient Osiriani, Kelish, Osiriani, Polyglot, Vudrani.

Alternate Racial Traits

Exile: On rare occasions a maftet will be exiled from her tribe. Exiled maftets have their tattoos removed. Forced to adapt to the harsh circumstances of living in the desert alone, they gain Toughness as a bonus feat and a fly speed of 60 ft. (poor). This replaces the runic tattoos trait.

Favored Class Options

Fighter: Add +1 to the fighter’s CMB when making a bull rush or grapple attempt.

Hunter: Gain a +½ bonus on wild empathy checks the hunter makes to influence animals and magical beasts that live in the desert.

Investigator: Gain a +½ bonus on Perception checks when in desert environments and +¼ bonus to the investigator’s poison resistance.

Magus: Add one of the following to the magus’ list of arcane pool special abilities: allying, bane, countering, courageous, cunning, dispelling, guardian, huntsman, limning, vicious. Once selected, it cannot be changed.

Racial Archetypes

The following racial archetype is available to maftets.

Ruin Guardian (Hunter)

The ruin guardian is dedicated to protecting and exploring abandoned places. She uses her talents to make sure these ruins are not damaged by careless explorers. A ruin guardian has the following class features.

Class Skills: A ruin guardian adds Knowledge (history) and Knowledge (local) as class skills.

Honed Instincts (Ex): At 1st level, a ruin guardian gains trapfinding as a class feature. This ability replaces animal focus.

Favored Terrain (Ex): At 3rd level, a ruin guardian gains favored terrain as a class feature. The ruin guardian’s favored terrain is always ruins and abandoned places (not including unsettled wilderness areas). This ability replaces the teamwork feat at 3rd level.

Guardian Spells (Su): At 5th level, a ruin guardian gains hunter’s lore, keep watch, and natural rhythm as bonus spells known. This replaces woodland stride.

Maftet Feats

*Paired Weapons

You are highly trained in using your scimitars.

Prerequisites: Two-Weapon Fighting, Weapon Focus (scimitar), maftet

Benefit: Because of your advanced training with scimitars, your off-hand scimitar is treated as a light weapon.

*Raptor Dive

When flying, you can swoop down and strike at lightning speed.

Prerequisites: Dexterity 13, Fly 3 ranks, maftet

Benefit: You can make aerial charges when flying. You must move downward at least 10 feet and may dive at twice your normal fly speed. Doing so grants you a +2 bonus on attack rolls and allows you to make a full attack at the end of the dive.

Sources: Bestiary 3, The Armageddon Echo

*This article uses trademarks and/or copyrights owned by Paizo Inc., which are used under Paizo’s Community Use Policy. We are expressly prohibited from charging you to use or access this content. This article is not published, endorsed, or specifically approved by Paizo Inc. For more information about Paizo’s Community Use Policy, please visit For more information about Paizo Inc. and Paizo products, please visit

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