Perytons are chimeric creatures that combine the features of deer and birds; they are usually depicted with the forequarters and head of a deer and the hindquarters and wings of a bird, but the ratio of cervine to avian can vary between portrayals — perytons may range from deer with Pegasus-like wings to giant birds with deer heads.
They are rarely pleasant company — they are often depicted as rapacious, dangerous carnivores, and are often actively malevolent or alien beings. They also tend to be associated with shadows: often, they cast human shadows instead of their own and only begin to cast a peryton-shaped shadow after they kill a human being.
Unlike many other fantasy creatures, perytons do not have any true mythological roots. Rather, they originate from Jorge Luis Borges' 1957 Book of Imaginary Beings, where the author purports to have learned about them in a (fictitious) long-lost medieval document. Over time, perytons percolated into broader popular culture to join more ancient myths in Western civilization's roster of fantastic beasts and monsters.
- Toriko: Chako Bird, a one-shot creature whose name and description are expanded in extra material, is a "bird" seemingly covered in fur with a deer-like head and a dragon-like tail. Furthermore, it can sprout healing leaves from its antlers.
- Perytons show up from time to time in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fanfiction:
- In The Sun, the Moon, and the Hunt, perytons are strange, immortal beings who cast no shadows until they take that of another creature in a coming-of-age ritual. In the ancient past, they were a powerful and arrogant people who cast their own shadows and lived in a vast forest to the south, and unlike all the other species cruelly rebuffed Luna and Celestia's offer of friendship. They possessed extremely powerful shadow magic until Luna burned their shadows away with moonlight in punishment for their humiliation of her sister, leaving them shadowless and forced to steal those of other beings.
- In To Perytonia, the perytons live in a collection of city-states across the ocean west of Equestria that Rarity, Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy are sent as ambassadors to. Rather than being malicious monsters, they are a civilized people with a very rich culture and a complex religious system that Rainbow and Rarity often struggle to understand.
- One fanmade map plotted on the outlines of real-life geography places a peryton nation on the northwestern shores of Africa. The description notes that, as flying carnivores, the perytons get along a lot better with the griffons than with their fellow ungulates.
- Book of Imaginary Beings: The Trope Maker; Jorge Luis Borges describes a medieval manuscript talking about the creatures, but both the source and the perytons are Borges' invention. According to the book, perytons originated in Atlantis and fled the island-nation's demise by flight, cast the shadow of a human being until they kill one, and were prophesized by a Sybil to someday cause the fall of Rome.
- Fablehaven: Perytons with golden fur and poisonous antlers are among the creatures living in Wyrmroost, a Fantastic Nature Preserve home to creatures too powerful, dangerous or unruly for other preserves to house.
- Forgotten Realms: In The Moonshae Trilogy, the Big Bad summons a flock of perytons — here described as enormous birds with deer skulls for heads and mouths full of fangs — to hound the protagonists.
- My Little Pony: In the fourth book of the Ponyville Mysteries series, Peryton Panic, the Cutie Mark Crusaders track down a peryton described as an indistinct, shadowy deer-like creature with the wings of a bird, which was summoned by the Princesses to guard Nightmare Moon's helmet. As it is a creature of shadows, and actively shuns the light, it is never fully seen.
- In The Unicorn Sonata, by Peter S. Beagle, perytons are cat-sized, fanged and winged deer that move in swarms and are the natural enemies of unicorns.
- Whiskey And Water: A murderous peryton named Orfeo is one of the novel's main antagonists.
- Dungeons & Dragons: Perytons resemble enormous eagles with the heads of stags and the fangs of predators. They're Chaotic Evil as a rule, and are gluttonous eaters of hearts — especially human ones. There's a great deal of in-universe debate about the nature of their shadows — some believe that a peryton casts the shadow of the last creature whose heart it ate, in a reversion of how Borges had it, while others say that they always cast human shadows and yet others that they only cast their own shadow after killing a victim but before devouring it.
- In GURPS Fantasy Bestiary, perytons are winged deer that attack humans on sight, diving on them from the air in attempts to gore them with their antlers and fighting mercilessly and to the death. Because they cast human shadows, and because of their habit of only killing one human each in any given attack and wallowing in the remains, they are thought to be the souls of particularly bloodthirsty humans, and that killing a living human is the only way they can regain their previous forms.
- Palladium Fantasy: Perytons, also known as demon deer, are winged deer of mysterious origins that cast human shadows instead of their own. They are vicious predators and particularly enjoy hunting intelligent humanoids — one of their favorite tactics is to attack a ship in numbers and destroy its masts and sails, crippling the vessel and allowing them to pick off the sailors at their leisure — although they go after unicorns, pegasi and other beautiful and benevolent creatures as well.
- Pathfinder: Perytons are evil, ferocious monsters with the wings and hind legs of birds, the front legs and antlers of stags and the heads of wolves. They are fond of eating humanoid flesh, especially hearts. They are also known for their extremely violent mating rituals, which usually result in the male peryton's demise.
- Shadowrun: Paranormal Animals of Europe has peryton as winged deer as tall as a man at the shoulder, and found throughout Mediterranean and Eastern Europe. They possess enlarged incisors and claw-like hooves and both sexes have antlers, although the males' are larger. They're omnivorous and take prey as large as sheep, goats and lone humans. They don't hunt smaller animals because their favored hunting strategy, a headlong antlers-first divebomb, doesn't work too well with prey below a certain size, but they're smart enough to experiment with alternative hunting methods. Most people in their range consider them dangerous livestock thieves and potential man-eaters and go out of their way to hunt them down.
- Warhammer Fantasy has Preytons, monstrous bat-deer hybrids possibly born from Beastmen sacrificing Great Stags to Chaos. They possess bat wings instead of forelegs, and are savage meat-eaters — it's common for them to become distracted from their actual targets in battle as they stop to savage the corpses of the dead.
- Final Fantasy: Perytons appear as enemies in Final Fantasy III and Final Fantasy XI, although here they're simply recolored wyverns and rocs, respectively, in the games. Another peryton has a minor role as a boss enemy in Final Fantasy XIV.
- La-Mulana: A peryton with the body of a bird and the head and legs of a deer serves as a miniboss in the Twin Labyrinths. It casts human-shaped shadows, and the game speculates that it might be tied to the downfall of Atlantis.
- World of Warcraft: The Hippogriffs of Warcraft resemble perytons far more than their namesakes: they are a hybrid of stags and ravens, with taloned forelimbs, wings and a raven's head, a feathered front-half of their body but antlers, a furry hindquarters, hooved hind legs and a bushy tail. They are relatively peaceful, fully self-aware creatures who work with the Night Elves to protect their forest homelands, often willingly acting as mounts for flying cavalry.
- Skin Deep: Adelle Noir, a minor character, is a peryton resembling a roe deer with the wings and forelegs of a bird. Her son and husband are both white stags — cross-species couplings are not normally viable without the help of powerful magic, but their shared nature as primarily cervine creatures makes perytons and white stags close enough for it to work.