Lighthouse for the Blind
“You are all slaves. You all suffer from the tyranny of the
ground. Only in the company of clouds will you find the
true meaning of freedom.”
―Kekko Cloud‐Brother, aarakocra cleric
Aarakocra are the most commonly encountered bird–people of the Tablelands. Some are from Winter Nest in the White Mountains near Kurn, while others are from smaller tribes scattered in the Ringing Mountains and elsewhere. These freedom‐loving creatures rarely leave their homes high in the mountains, but sometimes, either as young wanderers or cautious adventurers, they venture into the inhabited regions of the Tablelands.
Personality: These bird‐people can spend hours riding the wind currents of the mountains, soaring in the olivetinged Athasian sky. While traveling, aarakocra prefer to fly high above to get a good view all around of their location and detect any threats well in advance. When they stop to rest, they tend to perch on high peaks or tall buildings. Enclosed spaces threaten the aarakocra, who have a racial fear of being anywhere they cannot stretch their wings. This claustrophobia affects their behavior. Unless it is absolutely necessary, no aarakocra will enter a cave or enclosed building, or even a narrow canyon.
Physical Description: Aarakocra stand 6 1/2 to 8 feet tall, with a wingspan of about 20 feet. They have black eyes, gray beaks, and from a distance they resemble lanky disheveled vultures. Aarakocran plumage ranges from silver white to brown, even pale blue. Male aarakocra weigh around 100 pounds, while females average 85 pounds. An aarakocra’s beak comprises much of its head, and it can be used in combat. At the center of their wings, aarakocra have three‐fingered hands with an opposable thumb, and the talons of their feet are just as dexterous. While flying, aarakocra can use their feet as hands, but while walking, they use their wing‐hands to carry weapons or equipment. Aarakocra have a bony plate in their chest (the breastbone), which provides protection from blows. However, most of their bones are hollow and brittle and break more easily than most humanoids. The aarakocra’s unusual build means they have difficulty finding armor, unless it has been specifically made for aarakocra. Aarakocra usually live between 30 and 40 years.
Relations: Aarakocra zealously defend their homeland. They are distrustful of strangers that venture onto their lands. Many of the southern tribes exact tolls on all caravans passing through their lands, sometimes kidnapping scouts or lone riders until tribute is paid. Tribute can take the form of livestock or shiny objects, which aarakocra covet. Some evil tribes may attack caravans without provocation. Aarakocra have great confidence and pride in their ability to fly, but have little empathy for land–bound races.
Alignment: Aarakocra tend towards neutrality with regard to law or chaos. With respect to good and evil, Aarakocran tribes usually follow the alignment of their leader. A tribe whose leader is neutral good will contain lawful good, neutral good, chaotic good and neutral members, with most members being neutral good. Aarakocra, even good ones, rarely help out strangers.
Aarakocran Lands: Most Aarakocran communities are small nomadic tribes. Some prey on caravans, while others or build isolated aeries high in the mountains. The least xenophobic aarakocra generally come from Winter Nest, in the White Mountains, a tribe allied with the citystate of Kurn. Of all the human communities, only Kurn builds perches especially made for aarakocra to rest and do business. In contrast, king Daskinor of Eldaarich has ordered the capture and extermination of all aarakocra. Other human communities tolerate Aarakocran characters but do not welcome them. Merchants will do business with aarakocra as long as they remain on foot. Most landbound creatures are suspicious of strange creatures that fly over their herds or lands unannounced, and templars, even in Kurn, have standing orders to attack creatures that fly over the city walls without permission.
Magic: Most Aarakocran tribes shun wizardly magic, but a few evil tribes have defilers, and one prominent good‐aligned tribe, Winter’s Nest, has several preservers.
Psionics: Aarakocra are as familiar with psionics as other races of the tablelands. They particularly excel in the psychoportation discipline. In spite of their low strength and constitutions, they excel as psychic warriors, often using ranged touch powers from above to terrifying effect.
Religion: Aarakocran shamans are usually air clerics, sometimes sun clerics, and occasionally druids. Most rituals of Aarakocran society involve the summoning of an air elemental, or Hraak’thunn in Auran (although an aarakocra would call their language Silvaarak, and not Auran). Summoned air elementals are often used in an important ritual, the Hunt. The Aarakocran coming of age ceremony involves hunting the great beasts found in the Silt Sea.
Language: Athasian aarakocra speak Auran. Aarakocra have no written language of their own, though some of the more sophisticated tribes have borrowed alphabets from their land‐bound neighbors. Regardless of the language spoken, aarakocra do not possess lips, and therefore cannot even approximate the ‘m’, ‘b’ or ‘p’ sounds. They have difficulty also with their ‘f’s and ‘v’s, and tend to pronounce these as ‘th’ sounds.
Male Names: Akthag, Awnunaak, Cawthra, Driikaak,Gazziija, Kraah, Krekkekelar, Nakaaka, Thraka.
Female Names: Arraako, Kariko, Kekko, Lisako, Troho.
Tribal Names: Cloud Gliders, Sky Divers, Peak Masters, Far Eyes, Brothers of the Sun.
Adventurers: Adventuring aarakocra are usually young adults with a taste for the unknown. They are usually curious, strong‐minded individuals that wish to experience the lives of the land‐bound peoples. Good tribes see these young ones as undisciplined individuals, but can tolerate this behavior. Evil tribes may view this sort of adventurous behavior as treacherous, and may even hunt down the rogue member.
The aarakocra have a tribal society. The civilized tribes of Winter Nest form the largest known community of aarakocra in the Tyr region. Though their communities are lead by a chieftain, the aarakocra have a great love of personal freedom. So while the chieftain makes all major decisions for the community, unless she consults with the tribal elders and builds a strong consensus within the tribe first, her decisions may be ignored.
Air and sun shamans play an important role in aarakocra societies. Aarakocra worship the sun because it provides them with the thermals they need to soar. The air shamans of Winter Nest lead their community in daily worship of the air spirits.
Aarakocra of Winter Nest have a deep and abiding respect for the gifts of nature and little patience for those who abuse those gifts. They look after the natural resources of the White Mountains and have been known to punish those who despoil or abuse them.
In more primitive societies, female aarakocra rarely travel far from the safety of the nest, and focus solely on raising the young. In Winter Nest, both sexes participate in all aspects of society, with females more often elected by the elders to be chieftains.
Aarakocra believe that their ability to fly makes them superior to all other races and thus they have great confidence and pride in themselves. Though they often express sympathy for people unable to fly, this more often comes across as condescending.
Aarakocra are carnivores, but do not eat intelligent prey.
Loneliness doesn’t bother you like it bothers people of other races. You loathe the heat and stink of the cities, and long for cold, clean mountain air. The spectacle and movement of so many sentient beings fascinates you, but watching them from above satisfies your curiosity. The very thought of being caught in a crowd of creatures, pinned so tight that you can’t move your own wings, fills you with terror.
You are friendly enough with people of other races, provided they respect your physical distance, and are willing to be the ones that approach you. You form relationships with individuals, but don’t involve yourself in the politics of other racial communities – in such matters you prefer to watch from above and to keep your opinions to yourself unless asked.
You prefer to enter buildings through a window rather than through a door. Your instincts are to keep several scattered, hidden, nests throughout the areas that you travel regularly: one never knows when one might need a high place to rest. Remember your love of heights and claustrophobia, and rely on Aarakocran skills and tactics (dive‐bombing). Take advantage of your flying ability to scout out the area and keep a “bird’s eye view” of every situation.
Aarakocra Racial Traits
- –2 Strength, +4 Dexterity, –2 Constitution: Aarakocra have keen reflexes, but their lightweight bones are fragile.
- Monstrous Humanoid: Aarakocra are not subject to spells or effects that affect humanoids only, such as charm person or dominate person.
- Medium: As Medium creatures, aarakocra have no special bonuses or penalties due to size.
- Low‐light vision: Aarakocra can see twice as far as a human in moonlight and similar conditions of poor illumination, retaining the ability to distinguish color and detail.
- Aarakocra base land speed is 20 feet, and can fly with a movement rate of 90 feet (average maneuverability).
- +6 racial bonus to Spot checks in daylight. Aarakocra have excellent vision.
- Natural Armor: Aarakocra have +1 natural armor bonus due to their bone chest plate that provides some protection from blows.
- Natural Weaponry: An aarakocra can rake with its
claws for 1d3 points of damage, and use its secondary bite attack for 1d2 points of damage.
- Claustrophobic: Aarakocra receive a –2 morale penalty on all rolls when in an enclosed space. Being underground or in enclosed buildings is extremely distressing for them.
- Aerial Dive: Aarakocra can make dive attacks. A dive attack works just like a charge, but the diving creature must move a minimum of 30 feet. If attacking with a lance, the aarakocra deals double damage on a successful attack. Optionally, the aarakocra can make a full attack with its natural weapons (two claws and one bite) at the end of the charge, dealing normal damage.
- Automatic Languages: Auran and Common. Bonus Languages: Elven, Gith, and Saurian. Aarakocra often learn the languages of their allies and enemies.
- Favored Class: Cleric. A multiclass aarakocra’s cleric class does not count when determining whether he takes an experience point for multiclassing.
- Level Adjustment: +1. Aarakocra are slightly more powerful and gain levels more slowly than most of the humanoid races of the Tablelands.
“The people of the Tablelands know nothing of life. They choose no Path for themselves, and consume everything until they are dead.”
―Keltruch, pterran ranger
Pterrans are rarely seen in the Tablelands. They live their lives in the Hinterlands, rarely leaving the safety of their villages. However, the recent earthquake and subsequent storms have brought disruption into the pterran’s lives. More pterrans now venture outside their homes, and come to the Tyr region to seek trade and
Personality: Among strangers, pterrans seem like subdued, cautious beings, but once others earn a pterran’s trust, they will find an individual that is open, friendly, inquisitive, and optimistic. In other respects, a pterran’s personality is largely shaped by her chosen life path: Pterrans who choose the path of the warrior are less disturbed by the brutality of the Tablelands; they are constantly examining their surroundings and considering how the terrain where they are standing could be defended; they take greatest satisfaction from executing a combat strategy that results in victory without friendly casualties. Pterrans who choose the path of the druid are most interested in plants, animals, and the state of the land; they take greatest satisfaction when they eliminate a threat to nature. Pterrans that choose the path of the mind are most interested in befriending and understanding other individuals and societies; these telepaths take greatest satisfaction from intellectual accomplishments such as solving mysteries, exposing deception, resolving quarrels between individuals, and establishing trade routes between communities.
Physical Description: Pterrans are 5 to 6 1/2 feet tall reptiles with light brown scaly skin, sharp teeth, and a short tail. Pterrans wear little clothing, preferring belts and loincloths, or sashes. They walk upright, like humanoids, and have opposing thumbs and three–fingered, talon–clawed hands. Pterrans have two shoulder stumps, remnants of wings they possessed long ago, and a finlike growth juts out at the back of their heads. Pterrans weigh between 180 to 220 pounds. There is no visible distinction between male and female pterrans.
Relations: Pterrans are new to the Tablelands, and unaccustomed to cultures and practices of the region. They have learned to not judge too quickly. Their faith in the Earth Mother means they undertake their adventure with open minds, but they will remain subdued and guarded around people they do not trust. A pterran’s respect for the Earth Mother governs all his behavior. Creatures that openly destroy the land or show disrespect for the creatures of the wastes are regarded suspiciously. Pterrans understand the natural cycle of life and death, but have difficulty with some aspects of the city life, such as cramped living spaces, piled refuse, and the smells of unwashed humanoids.
Alignment: Pterrans tend towards lawful, well–structured lives, and most of them are good. Evil pterran adventurers are usually outcasts who have committed some horrible offense.
Pterran Lands: Most adventuring pterrans come from one of two villages in the Hinterlands, southwest of the Tyr regions: Pterran Vale and Lost Scale.
Magic: The wizard’s use of the environment as a source of power conflicts with a pterran’s religious beliefs. Pterrans will cautiously tolerate members of other races who practice preserving magic, if the difference is explained to them.
Psionics: Virtually all pterrans have a telepathic talent, and pterran psions are nearly universally telepaths. Telepathy is considered one of the honored pterran “life paths.”
Religion: Pterrans worship the Earth Mother, a representation of the whole world of Athas. Their devotion to the Earth Mother is deeply rooted in all aspects of their culture, and it defines a pterran’s behavior. All rituals and religious events are related to their worship of the Earth Mother. Religious events include festivals honoring hunts or protection from storms, with a priest presiding over the celebration. Most pterran priests are druids.
Language: Pterran speak Saurian with an accent that is difficult for other races to understand. The long appendage at the back of their head enables them to create sounds that no other race in the Tablelands can reproduce. The sounds are low, and resonate through the pterran’s crest. Humanoid vocal chords cannot reproduce such sounds. Pterrans learn the Common tongue easily, but speak it with a slight, odd accent.
Names: Pterrans earn their first name just after they hatch, based on the weather and season of their hatching. After the pterran has decided upon a Life Path and has completed their apprenticeship, she receives title that becomes the first part of her name. This marks her transition into pterran society. There are a number of traditional names associated with each Life Path, but names do not always come from these ranks.
Male Names: Airson, Darksun, Earthsong, Suntail, Goldeye, Onesight, Terrorclaw.
Female Names: Cloudrider, Greenscale, Lifehearth, Rainkeeper, Spiritally, Watertender.
Path Name: Aandu, Caril, Dsar, Everin, Illik, Myril, Odten, Qwes, Pex, Ptellac, Ristu, Ssrui, Tilla, Xandu.
Tribe or Village Names: Pterran Vale, Lost Scale
Adventurers: Pterrans adventure because they believe the recent earthquake and disturbing events are signs from the Earth Mother that they should get more involved in the planet’s affairs. They believe that these recent upheavals of nature are signs that the Earth Mother needs help, and this is a call the pterrans will gladly accept. As such, the most brave and adventurous of the pterrans have begun to establish contact with Tyr and some merchant houses, hoping to expand their contacts and information.
Pterran society is based largely on ceremony and celebrations. An area is set aside in the center of each village for ceremonies. Pterrans revere the world of Athas as the Earth Mother, and believe themselves to be her favored children. Throughout the day, they engage in a number of ceremonies that give thanks to the Earth Mother. These are led by druids who play a very important role in pterran society.
A pterran village is a collection of many smaller family dwellings. Pterrans always bear young in pairs.
At age 15 every pterran chooses a “life path.” The three main life paths are the path of the warrior, the path of the druid and the path of the psionicist, though lesser
life paths exist as well.
More pterrans follow the path of the warrior than any of the other paths, and become protectors of their villages as well as the tribe’s weapon makers. ’Pterrans that choose the path of the druid provide an important role in the daily ceremonies to the Earth Mother.
Fewer pterrans choose the path of the psionicist than the other two major paths, as psionics are viewed as outside of nature. Psionicists are viewed with suspicion by the rest of the tribe; however, they do provide valuable skills to the tribe and are often the tribe’s negotiators when they meet outsiders.
Pterrans are omnivores. Much of their diet comes from hunting animals and raising crops. Kirre, id fiend, and flailer are all considered pterran delicacies.
Remember your character class is your “life path.” You think of yourself, and present yourself first and foremost as a druid, a warrior or a psion. Remember your daily celebrations and giving of thanks to the Earth Mother. You can usually find a reason to be grateful. Disrespect for the land angers you, since the whole land has withered under the disrespect of foolish humans and others. You celebrate with song and with dance. You have a good sense of humor but it does not extend to blasphemies such as defiling. In initial role–playing situations, you are unfamiliar with the customs and practices of the societies of the Tyr Region. However, you are not primitive by any definition of the word. You look upon differences with curiosity and a willingness to learn, as long as the custom doesn’t harm the Earth Mother or her works.
Pterran Racial Traits
- –2 Dexterity, +2 Wisdom, +2 Charisma: Pterrans’ strong confidence and keen instincts for others’ motives make them keen diplomats, and when they take the path of the psion, powerful telepaths.
- Humanoid (psionic, reptilian): Pterrans are humanoid creatures with the psionic and reptilian subtypes.
- Medium: As Medium creatures, pterrans have no special bonuses or penalties due to size.
- Pterran base land speed is 30 feet.
- Poor Hearing: Pterrans have only slits for ears, and their hearing sense is diminished. Pterrans suffer a –2 penalty to Listen checks.
- Natural Weaponry: Pterrans can use their natural weapons instead of fighting with crafted weapons if they so choose. A pterran can rake with their primary claw attack for 1d3 of damage for each claw, and they bite for 1d4 points of damage as a secondary attack. For more on natural attacks, see MM section on natural weapons.
- Psi‐Like Ability: At will—missive. All pterrans are gifted from the day they hatch with the ability to communicate telepathically, but only with their fellow reptiles. Manifester level is equal to 1/2 Hit Dice (minimum 1st).
- Weapon Familiarity: The following weapon is treated as martial rather than as an exotic weapon: thanak. This weapon is more common among pterrans than among other races.
- Automatic Languages: Saurian. Bonus Languages: Common, Dwarven, Elven, Halfling, Giant, Gith, Kreen, and Yuan–ti. Pterran know the languages of the few intelligent creatures that live in the Hinterlands.
- Life Path: A pterran’s life path determines his favored class. Those following the Path of the Druid have druid as a favored class; the Path of the Mind gives psion as a favored class, while the Path of the Warrior gives ranger as a favored class. A Pterran chooses a life path upon coming of age, and the path cannot be changed once chosen at character creation time.