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T O P I C    R E V I E W
Icelander Posted - 03 Jul 2018 : 23:58:59
I've always felt that Indo-Aryan mythology and cultures was an under represented wellspring of flavour in most fantasy settings. And the A/D&D Rakshasa is a really cool monster that makes for a superb rival, antagonist or villain.

The different editions of D&D have varied considerably when it comes to the nature, culture and other lore on these beings, however. Which means that on featuring them, I have to make decisions on which portrayal to use. I want to go with what feels the most Realmsian, as well as what I think is most logical, entertaining and awesome. This means I have to fit my conception of them into the history and metaphysics of the setting.

Are Realmsian rakshasa native to Acheron, Carceri, the Nine Hells or the Prime Material Plane? Do they die for good when slain on Toril or are they banished to the Nine Hells where they reform in great pain over decades, before making their way back to Toril to hunt down their slayer and wreak a terrible vengeance?

Do the bulk of Realmsian rakshasa live on the Outer Planes or are they living on Toril?

If rakshasa live on Toril, is there somewhere a society of significant numbers of rakshasa, where a reference culture and language for rakshasa could have developed?

Are there rakshasa Rajahs and Maharajahs on Toril? If there are, where might such be found?

Are rakshasa perhaps culturally part of human societies where they settle, living most of their lives disguised as humans, speaking the languages of humans and being influenced by their culture?

Is rakshasa society still caste-based and patriarchal, as described in the Monstrous Compendium for AD&D 2e, with one to three female consorts to each high caste male, and females valued only for their consortium and the prowess of their sons?

Might there exist rakshasa magical traditions or rakshasa martial arts in the Realms, or would these creatures be more likely to be solitary predators living under assumed identities and therefore study human magic and fighting methods in the cultures where they lived?

I imagine rakshasa might most commonly hail from Ulgarth, the Utter East, Malatra, the Yehimals and neighbouring mountain chains and highlands and the Shining South. Geographic proximity, as well as canon history of trade, warfare or other contact, indicates that wandering rakshasa might easily have found their way to various places in Kara-Tur, Zakhara, the Hordelands, Semphar and perhaps Murghom.

There is a canonical mention of at least one rakshasa in Mulhorand and of two Ak'Chazar rakshasa (white tiger subspecies, necromantic masters) in Unthalass. These last two have schemes afoot in various Chessentan cities and while there is no specific mention of it in canon, might well have subordinate rakshasa of lesser power acting as their agents abroad.

Where else might rakshasa be found? Where do they seem well suited? Where might they have been influential in Torilian history?

Are there canonical mentions of rakshasa in the Realms in novels or sourcebooks anywhere?
25   L A T E S T    R E P L I E S    (Newest First)
LordofBones Posted - 02 Aug 2018 : 04:46:08
quote:
Originally posted by Icelander

Well, I broadly agree, but plan to play up the angle of Ravana's fury at 'gods', i.e. a type of beings distinct from himself, if of a similar power level. And his complete immunity to direct attacks by the gods, but vulnerability to attacks from their mortal champions (especially with arrows filled with the power of Brahma).


Ravana's actually pretty chill with Shiva, whom he adored in myth. Vishnu on the other hand...


quote:
Originally posted by IcelanderThe Legends and Lore book makes no mention of Vishnu and specifically mentions that the 'Siva' written up there is meant to represent the Siva of the Vedic sources and is not to be confused with the Hindu god 'Shiva the Destroyer', who is a later composite of several gods.


Siva also appears in On Hallowed Ground. His divine realm, the Vortex, is in the Negative Material Plane. He's the Greater Power of destruction. From his description, it's pretty obvious he's meant to be Shiva, down to the meditation and 'just doing his job' parts. (Indeed, 'Siva' is just another way of spelling the god's name.) Rudra's still an Intermediate Power, though, and lives in Mechanus.

Vishnu's realm, the Divine Lotus, is on Mercuria, Mount Celestia. He's also a greater god.


quote:
Originally posted by IcelanderAnd whether, specically, the three deities of the Trimurti, Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, are worshipped anywhere in the Realms?

Because I would have no problems claiming that in the Realms, the Brahman exists outside of the hierarchy of mundane gods and the Trimurti are not part of the squabbling polytheistic god-scape, but something that the Lords of Creation themselves worship and humans can never know the full truth about.


To be fair, not even Ravana is mentioned anywhere in the Realms.

quote:
Ravana can hate Hanuman's people, but many rakshasa have monkey or ape heads. Of course, that doesn't make them the least bit similar in nature to Hanuman's people, but just looking simian-like is probably not grounds for hatred.

I think Kara-Tur has Vanara, for Ravana and his people to hate.



The Vanara are probably killed on sight in Acheron.
Icelander Posted - 01 Aug 2018 : 19:00:33
quote:
Originally posted by LordofBones

Thasmudyan is a baatezu. Velsharoon presumably killed him to eliminate a rival for the undeath portfolio, given that he's no longer mentioned anywhere.

Thasmudyan is said to be baatezu, but he's also Chaotic Evil. Clearly, he's not the normal kind of baateezu and he might date back to antediluvan eras before the current division of the multiverse, perhaps a time when the progenitors of all (or at least most) fiends were the same kind of being, including the close cousins, the proto-baatezu and the proto-rakshasa.

Chaotic Evil baateezu certainly cause me to reach for explanations involving Obyriths, ultraloths, gehreleths or even more esoteric proto-fiends.

I also wouldn't be so quick to rule him dead. Not only because that which is dead may never die, but because Velsharoon only ascended in 1368 DR and the divine power struggles that arise when two deities encroach on each other's portfolios can easily last decades or centuries, so it's unlikely that anything would be settled in the 1357-1375 DR era that most scribes seem to favour.

Perhaps even more importantly, Velsharoon and Thasmudyan do not belong to the same pantheon. Just as there can be a multitude of gods of war in different pantheons, the Faerunian, the Mulhorandi, several Kara-Turan, Zakharan, demihuman and various monstrous, so can there be many gods of death, undeath or similar. It's not as if Waukeen and Nepthys couldn't coexist peacefully for the entirety of Waukeen's existence or Tempus goes around trying to kill Clangeddin Silverbeard, Anhur or any number of Kara-Turan, Maztican or Zakharan deities for claiming the portfolio of War.

quote:
Originally posted by LordofBones

I'd rule that Ravana is actually one of the eldest of the rakshasa. His domain of Lanka, deep in Acheron, is a haven for scholars and artists alike. Ancient libraries are filled with handwritten manuscripts and lore from worlds and ages long forgotten, and some of the greatest sages and scholars in the Planes gather in the throne room of the Golden Palace, engaging in discussion and debate with their fellows and even Ravana himself. The great temples of the city are devoted to the Roaring Emperor, where priests of Shiva walk unmolested alongside rakshasa clerics. The wealth of worlds flows into Ravana's realm, and even the huts of his slaves are marvels of architecture. Always at Ravana's side is his beloved child Indrajit, conqueror of Svargaloka. For all its evil, Lanka is peaceful and well-ordered, a bastion of civilization and the arts and sciences in the bleakness of Acheron.

Well, I broadly agree, but plan to play up the angle of Ravana's fury at 'gods', i.e. a type of beings distinct from himself, if of a similar power level. And his complete immunity to direct attacks by the gods, but vulnerability to attacks from their mortal champions (especially with arrows filled with the power of Brahma).

It was, of course, the 'Lords of Creation' at whom Ravana's original fury was directed, but I imagine that he's found reason to despise any number of other gods by now.

Oddly, I'm not certain about the canonical existence of Shiva (or Vishnu, for that matter), in the Forgotten Realms. The Kara-Tur campaign setting mentions the 'Lords of Creation', but doesn't actually describe them beyond suggesting that 'Indian deities from the Legends and Lore book are suitable' and mentioning Indra and her(?!?!) elephant Garuda, and Yama and his water buffalo.

The Legends and Lore book makes no mention of Vishnu and specifically mentions that the 'Siva' written up there is meant to represent the Siva of the Vedic sources and is not to be confused with the Hindu god 'Shiva the Destroyer', who is a later composite of several gods.

Do we know if any other Realms source mentions the existence of Hindu gods (as opposed to the meant-to-be earlier Devic gods from Legends and Lore) in Malatra, the Kuong Kingdom or anywhere else on Toril?

And whether, specically, the three deities of the Trimurti, Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, are worshipped anywhere in the Realms?

Because I would have no problems claiming that in the Realms, the Brahman exists outside of the hierarchy of mundane gods and the Trimurti are not part of the squabbling polytheistic god-scape, but something that the Lords of Creation themselves worship and humans can never know the full truth about.

quote:
Originally posted by LordofBones

Monkeys, apes and other simians are barred from Lanka. Even newborn apes are brutally slain. Ravana has not forgotten Hanuman's insult.


Ravana can hate Hanuman's people, but many rakshasa have monkey or ape heads. Of course, that doesn't make them the least bit similar in nature to Hanuman's people, but just looking simian-like is probably not grounds for hatred.

I think Kara-Tur has Vanara, for Ravana and his people to hate.
sleyvas Posted - 01 Aug 2018 : 18:54:40
quote:
Originally posted by LordofBones

Thasmudyan is a baatezu. Velsharoon presumably killed him to eliminate a rival for the undeath portfolio, given that he's no longer mentioned anywhere.




Possibly not. Remember Thasmudyan is in a different pantheon by being down in Zakhara, and nothing even says that all of Zakhara shares the same pantheon. For instance, Mulhorand and Unther are part of Faerun, but not the Faerunian pantheon.

That being said, I would not be adverse to Velsharoon ending Thasmudyan, and my present goals are to have Thasmudyan dead at the hands of Velsharoon and Ereshkigal, and his servant (the lich, Vermissa the Undying) having converted to Ereshkigal.
LordofBones Posted - 01 Aug 2018 : 17:51:08
Thasmudyan is a baatezu. Velsharoon presumably killed him to eliminate a rival for the undeath portfolio, given that he's no longer mentioned anywhere.

I'd rule that Ravana is actually one of the eldest of the rakshasa. His domain of Lanka, deep in Acheron, is a haven for scholars and artists alike. Ancient libraries are filled with handwritten manuscripts and lore from worlds and ages long forgotten, and some of the greatest sages and scholars in the Planes gather in the throne room of the Golden Palace, engaging in discussion and debate with their fellows and even Ravana himself. The great temples of the city are devoted to the Roaring Emperor, where priests of Shiva walk unmolested alongside rakshasa clerics. The wealth of worlds flows into Ravana's realm, and even the huts of his slaves are marvels of architecture. Always at Ravana's side is his beloved child Indrajit, conqueror of Svargaloka. For all its evil, Lanka is peaceful and well-ordered, a bastion of civilization and the arts and sciences in the bleakness of Acheron.

Monkeys, apes and other simians are barred from Lanka. Even newborn apes are brutally slain. Ravana has not forgotten Hanuman's insult.

Icelander Posted - 01 Aug 2018 : 15:20:36
If rakshasa may have many types of animal heads, as was the case in 1e, 2e and even in a Dragon Magazine article in 3.5, that opens up some interesting speculations about Zakhara, the Utter East and Kara-Tur.

Animal-headed fiends in humanoid form, who are deceivers, but themselves deceived by the Veil of Illusion in their pursuit of material riches, wordly power and authority. That sounds like the Yakmen as much as the Rakshasa. The two races could be cousins, with the Yakmen viewed as dishonourable (Neutral Evil vs. Lawful Evil) and both hated and feared, with rakshasa usually avoiding their empire (perhaps after an ancient war which ended inconclusively).

In fact, many of the 'Savage Gods' of the Zakhara setting could be ascended rakshasa or, perhaps more plausibly, proto-rakshasa, with the modern race of rakshasa representing specifically those rakshasa who follow Ravana.

Other Maharakshasa, Obyrith-like uber-fiends who lived on the Prime Material Plane, could have made their own bids for divinity, convincing primitive tribes to worship them. Not only Kiga and the Faceless God, but Ragarra, Shajar, Migal, the Lost One, Kar'r'rga and even Thasmudyan could be kinsmen of Ravana, proto-rakshasa with animal heads ranging from feline through bovine, elephantine, hippotami, lizard-, worm- and crab-like.

To Ravana and the modern rakshasa, these beings are rogues, at best, fallen angels and heretics at worst. To the tradition-bound, honourable and Lawful Evil rakshasa, giving into the savage impulses of beasts who are the slaves to their passions, instead of civilised masters of their appetites, is the worst form of weakness.

True rakshasa are sensual and materialistic, but they are epicures who value the artistry of a lavish feast over raw meat, the masterful domination and indoctrination of an exquisite slave concubine over the violent rape of an engorged brute or the sublime perfection of a foe defeated through an act of supreme deceit, cunning treachery achieved within the boundaries of dharma, over indiscriminate slaying.
sleyvas Posted - 01 Aug 2018 : 12:59:25
quote:
Originally posted by Icelander

quote:
Originally posted by sleyvas

Well said goodsir.

BTW, the NPC I was describing above where they go beguiler/rogue/assassin/fighter/arcane trickster... I don't see where the class abilities of rogue or assassin beyond the 1st level stuff really helps them a lot (they already have uncanny dodge/improved uncanny dodge, improved evasion, hide in plain sight, shadow jump, and spell resistance). So, what do you think of the idea of them picking up some fighter for feats and then focusing beguiler and then arcane trickster? I'm kind of picturing an effectively 22nd level Naztharune female who thus has 17 character levels split up as 1st rogue/1st assassin/1st swashbuckler/2nd fighter/6 beguiler/6 arcane trickster (with levels 21 and 22 being in arcane trickster). Puts her with spellcasting ability of a 12th level beguiler (so 6th level spells) and 5d6 sneak attack and a BAB of +19/+14/+9/+4. She could be a good spy/assassin with the spellcasting and combat combined (she'd have several feats to play with from fighter and weapon finesse from swashbuckler). Thinking improved and two weapon fighting (the offhand weapon being her claw), weapon finesse for free, power attack, cleave, and great cleave, combat expertise, improved feint, dodge, mobility, spring attack... and arcane disciple with the retribution domain both fits Kiga and has a very useful spell list (shield of faith, bear's endurance, speak with dead, fire shield, mark of justice and banishment)

Granted, I'd build out the NPC in 5e, but felt like it'd be fun to play through the math of 3.5e just to keep things fresh.


The way I understand D&D 3.5 is that Naztharune rakshasa have 11 HD as Outsiders and a LA of +5, for ECL 16th. Adding 17 character levels to one produces an ECL of 33rd, not 22nd.

I think this was a change from 3e and the thinking was, basically, that many abilities of monsters with class levels were learned over their life as monsters, i.e. when they grew into their racial HD. Or were inborn with that HD value. At any rate, it was unbalancing and odd for monsters as characters to have just the few HD of their levels as low-level characters, but still have access to the full suite of innate abilities.

This rule change is also what spurred the creation of 'monster classes', where you could start as a monster eith lower ability score and lacking many innate attacks and then advance in level as that monster, eventually gaining the entire suite of abilities of fully-grosn monsters of that type.



Yep, you are right. Thanks for the reminder. So, that being said, if she were trying to impersonate a goddess, I wouldn't have a problem with her being say a level 30-33 character. For that matter, perhaps she even WAS Kiga and was worshipped by her followers. The intent would be to make her a very powerful rakshasa, and like I was saying my intention would be to build her out with 5e rules instead, so the attempt to describe her in 3.5 rules was more to draw out what she might "look" like. In her personal history too, if I picture her as being from Katashaka and becoming a beguiler.... maybe she had some interaction with Nimbral.


Icelander Posted - 01 Aug 2018 : 08:24:23
quote:
Originally posted by sleyvas

Well said goodsir.

BTW, the NPC I was describing above where they go beguiler/rogue/assassin/fighter/arcane trickster... I don't see where the class abilities of rogue or assassin beyond the 1st level stuff really helps them a lot (they already have uncanny dodge/improved uncanny dodge, improved evasion, hide in plain sight, shadow jump, and spell resistance). So, what do you think of the idea of them picking up some fighter for feats and then focusing beguiler and then arcane trickster? I'm kind of picturing an effectively 22nd level Naztharune female who thus has 17 character levels split up as 1st rogue/1st assassin/1st swashbuckler/2nd fighter/6 beguiler/6 arcane trickster (with levels 21 and 22 being in arcane trickster). Puts her with spellcasting ability of a 12th level beguiler (so 6th level spells) and 5d6 sneak attack and a BAB of +19/+14/+9/+4. She could be a good spy/assassin with the spellcasting and combat combined (she'd have several feats to play with from fighter and weapon finesse from swashbuckler). Thinking improved and two weapon fighting (the offhand weapon being her claw), weapon finesse for free, power attack, cleave, and great cleave, combat expertise, improved feint, dodge, mobility, spring attack... and arcane disciple with the retribution domain both fits Kiga and has a very useful spell list (shield of faith, bear's endurance, speak with dead, fire shield, mark of justice and banishment)

Granted, I'd build out the NPC in 5e, but felt like it'd be fun to play through the math of 3.5e just to keep things fresh.


The way I understand D&D 3.5 is that Naztharune rakshasa have 11 HD as Outsiders and a LA of +5, for ECL 16th. Adding 17 character levels to one produces an ECL of 33rd, not 22nd.

I think this was a change from 3e and the thinking was, basically, that many abilities of monsters with class levels were learned over their life as monsters, i.e. when they grew into their racial HD. Or were inborn with that HD value. At any rate, it was unbalancing and odd for monsters as characters to have just the few HD of their levels as low-level characters, but still have access to the full suite of innate abilities.

This rule change is also what spurred the creation of 'monster classes', where you could start as a monster eith lower ability score and lacking many innate attacks and then advance in level as that monster, eventually gaining the entire suite of abilities of fully-grosn monsters of that type.
sleyvas Posted - 01 Aug 2018 : 01:26:42
quote:
Originally posted by Demzer

Actually Naztharune rakshasa are highly specialized and their lack of spellcasting is by design, a desired trait for their job.

Their natural talent at hiding and stalking prey (the pinnacle of which is hiding in plain sight, a much sought after ability for any stealthy PC) and the absence of any kind of magical aura coming from them defeats almost all means of detection any mortal spellcaster has, leaving only the senses (aka opposed skill-checks on the caster dump and cross-class skills), "active" countermeasures like glitterdust (which means you already got stabbed a few times, unless you spend your day casting glitterdust around) or "slow" and unwieldy detections like detect alignment that requires i) concentration ii) looking in the right direction iii) 3 rounds or detect thoughts that has a pitiful saving throw DC, has to bypass the naztharune spell resistance and still takes 3 rounds.

In a straight up fight an "out of the MM" Naztharune will easily beat any "out of the MM" regular rakshasa: the naztharune has way higher initiative, any spell used by the regular rakshasa is restricted to 4th or lower level and is a d20+7 against 21 SR, the naztharune (being an outsider) has pretty high saves (+11/+12/+7) while the DC for a regular rakshasa's spells is 13+level and on top of that the naztharune has improved evasion and can hide with about 60% chances of success all the time (due to the different boni on skills) and while the naztharune 6d6 SA dices will pierce through the DR 15 both have, the regular rakshasa has ... 1d4+1 claws and 1d6 bites ... . In other words, sneak attack, hide, sneak attack, hide, sneak attack, hide ... ad nauseam until the regular rakshasa drops dead (which is in like 5 rounds), and even in those rounds where the naztharune fails in hiding the regular rakshasa is pretty much powerless against him. Naztharune have even higher intelligence than common rakshasa so they perfectly know how dangerous can they be to their fellows.
You can start piling on levels on the regular one but you should do the same for the naztharune otherwise you'll not be comparing similar things.

I know you use different rules, but in my mind the first step to port something to different rulesets is understanding fully the ramifications and implications in the "native" ruleset. Naztharunes are feared assassins because the only sure way to beat them is to have listen/spot higher then their hide/move silently (+19 "out of the MM"), which is something only a few PC classes can obtain (remember class-skills and skill-points availability restrictions) and only around levels 13-15.

In the end, as noted in their entry, the naztharune could easily "make it difficult" for other rakshasas but they don't care about being the bosses, they just revel in the stalking and killing and as long as they are free to do that (or get paid or rewarded for that) they don't care for any kind of title. And that's good because the other rakshasa know perfectly well how dangerous they could be, thus they're respected specialists.
Even if you are a super powerful maharajah rakshasa you probably don't want your whole court, harem and servitors slaughtered by unseen assailants because *you* can easily boss around the naztharunes and decided to piss them off.

EDIT: I perfectly get what you are saying about castes but the problem here is that the regular rakshasas can't control the naztharune the way in human societies caste-systems were enforced: an armed uprising of peasants/slaves may be put down by the soldiery, an armed uprising of specialized otherwordly assassins is way beyond the control of any single maharajah rakshasa to handle. So I can perfectly see other rakshasas sneering at naztharunes lack of spellcasting when they are pretty sure the naztharune can't hear (which is difficult in itself) but I can't see that happening face to face or any regular rakshasa ordering the naztharunes about.



Well said goodsir.

BTW, the NPC I was describing above where they go beguiler/rogue/assassin/fighter/arcane trickster... I don't see where the class abilities of rogue or assassin beyond the 1st level stuff really helps them a lot (they already have uncanny dodge/improved uncanny dodge, improved evasion, hide in plain sight, shadow jump, and spell resistance). So, what do you think of the idea of them picking up some fighter for feats and then focusing beguiler and then arcane trickster? I'm kind of picturing an effectively 22nd level Naztharune female who thus has 17 character levels split up as 1st rogue/1st assassin/1st swashbuckler/2nd fighter/6 beguiler/6 arcane trickster (with levels 21 and 22 being in arcane trickster). Puts her with spellcasting ability of a 12th level beguiler (so 6th level spells) and 5d6 sneak attack and a BAB of +19/+14/+9/+4. She could be a good spy/assassin with the spellcasting and combat combined (she'd have several feats to play with from fighter and weapon finesse from swashbuckler). Thinking improved and two weapon fighting (the offhand weapon being her claw), weapon finesse for free, power attack, cleave, and great cleave, combat expertise, improved feint, dodge, mobility, spring attack... and arcane disciple with the retribution domain both fits Kiga and has a very useful spell list (shield of faith, bear's endurance, speak with dead, fire shield, mark of justice and banishment)

Granted, I'd build out the NPC in 5e, but felt like it'd be fun to play through the math of 3.5e just to keep things fresh.
Icelander Posted - 31 Jul 2018 : 12:54:36
quote:
Originally posted by Demzer

- I'm happy that you are starting to equate the naztharune to the militaries and not the lower castes, the military has always been higher up in caste systems than most of the nobility (those nobles not directly involved in the power structure but "only" of noble blood), which is more like the situation with naztharune VS regular rakshasas VS maharajahs/other high ups;

Soldiers, as opposed to military aristocracy, in most pre-modern societies, did not rank very high. They were more important than peasants or slaves, but one should not be deceived by this into thinking that the nobility of the Assyrian Empire, Roman Republic/Empire or Persian Empire considered the nameless people of no political position or familial connections whom they led into battle equal to any kind of aristocrat, even the lowest.

And to demonstrate that personal combat prowess is completely ancillary to social status, consider gladiators. Most of them would have been easily capable of killing most people superior in social status to them, but yet over centuries of slave-holding societies, where some slaves were gladiators, we can find only very few incidents where gladiators rebelled and killed anyone unlawfully. Spartacus might be famous, but he was also considered deeply shocking and unexpected historically, a very surprising aberration, not something people viewed as a normal consequence of keeping highly skilled killers as social inferiors.

Or to take an actual caste system, do you believe that an infantry archer in the Gupta armies or Maratha pindari originally of the Shudra caste was ever considered the equal of a Brahmin or Kshatriya noble, even a modest noble of small estate? Or later, even a tough-as-nails sowar in the EIC elite cavalry regiments or a fearless havildar of a fine sepoy regiment would never be considered the social equal of a Brahmin bureaucrat of a noble family.

It's just not how social status works, much less how strict caste systems work. The ability to murder people efficiently isn't directly relevant to social influence except in a 'society' so loosely organised that it is more of an anarchy.

Even in a much more egalitarian society than most historical ones, let alone strict caste systems, consider the US President and his entourage as an analogy for a rakshasa noble with Naztharune in his service. The agents of the President's Secret Service detail are infinitely more capable than he is in the sense of D&D stats, especially when it comes to killing people, but how much do they matter when it comes to making political decisions?

quote:
Originally posted by Demzer

- being lawful doesn't mean that the naztharunes as a whole would just take it and shut up if every other inferior rakshasa tried to order them around, they are not idiot savants, all their "mental" ability scores are above average and they are as much evil as they are lawful.

Actually, being Lawful does mean that they follow the letter of the law, respect tradition and legitimate authority. Being Evil means that their laws may not be benevolent (for example, their law may enforce inequality and an unfair inborn social division, like, say, a strict caste system) and they have no trouble with laws or orders that lead to harm for innocent persons, but it doesn't mean that they are any less Lawful.

Lawful Evil can be a torturer in the service of the Inquisition who scrupulously follows the legal requirements for torturing confessions from religious dissidents, it can be a knight who lives by a strict code of unswerving obedience to authority, while taking great pleasure in the killing of his inferiors, or it can be someone like Hannah Arendt's depiction of Adolf Eichmann. Crucially, a Lawful Evil person is not someone who'll break the rules for personal reasons, like being upset at being born into an inferior position.

What is it about a Lawful Evil society that is described as a 'strict caste system' that makes you believe that individual fighting skill has much, if any, impact on social position?

If you have no trouble believing that in the Renaissance Papal States, a cardinal of noble birth who has never killed anyone and was an indifferent swordsman at best, in his youth forty years ago, could give orders to an assassin of low birth who grew up killing people with knives, why would you balk at the idea of rakshasa of higher social position ordering Naztharune rakshasa about?

Or do you really believe that the common soldiers, torturers, executioners or assassins of the Papal States were not considered inferiors by the noble families who dominated politics and the Church?

Since personal prowess is much less important than being born into nobility when it comes to any kind of human society more complex than anarchy, even considering that most people are Neutral and some people are Chaotic, why is that hard to believe when it comes to a Lawful Evil society of supernatural beings, who are (by the rules) never not Lawful?

Mind you, in my rakshasa society, I'll have occasional individuals who do not act in a Lawful Evil way, but these will be treated as madmen, outcasts and, in a sense, as fallen. Those who are less than Lawful will be viewed as giving into their primitive natures and are believed to be exiled to Carceri at death. And they are very rare.

quote:
Originally posted by Demzer

So we are not talking about a single mad naztharune fighting society, we are talking about the fact that enforcing an inferior position on a breed of someones who are not inferiors, know about it and have no moral qualms about outright killing you is not how a society could work.

Lawful Evil beings have moral qualms. It's just that their morality is not of the sort that most people would consider good, nice or even ethical, i.e. they don't care about avoiding harm to others, kindness, compassion, fairness or justice.

But Lawful Evil beings should not let emotions or personal desires allow them to go against tradition or break the law. They won't rebel or commit unlawful killings. They might use the machinery of the law or their traditional social position to do terrible things to others who are below them in the pecking order, but they won't ignore the lawful hierarchy of their society.

quote:
Originally posted by Demzer

Actually now that I think about it, there is nothing in the naztharune entry that suggests they abide by the standards of rakshasa society so they may even be completely outside it, maybe after a big schism lost to the mists of time when the other rakshasas thought they could bully them.

It does say that most of them serve the Ak'Chazar rakshasa, which suggests to me that the clans of Naztharune rakshasa are hereditary retainers of the clans of the Ak'Chazar rakshasa.

quote:
Originally posted by Demzer

- Have you ever played a combat round in d&d 3.5? Haste and invisibility are not a trump-card, not against someone (player or DM) that knows the rules of d&d 3.5. In some particularly strict interpretations of those rules (like the infamous CRPG retooling of Temple of Elemental Evil for 3.5E, where you were considered flat-footed until your first initiative round) the regular rakshasa would last maybe a couple of rounds past the first surprise attack.

I've played D&D 3e for many years. Only a couple of years of D&D 3.5, but I don't think there was much of a change when it comes to the basics.

As far as I can tell, if a true rakshasa survives the Sneak Attack of the first round and gets to act, they can cast Haste or Invisibility and then run away. With the same Speed, the Naztharune cannot catch the other rakshasa if they have Haste active and with Invisibility in effect, the Naztharune will not be able to pinpoint their location well enough to kill them before the other rakshasa escapes.

So, by D&D combat rules, which I agree aren't always a perfect representation of plausible courses of events, but you said it was important to compare the types of rakshasa under those rules, a Naztharune can surprise, shock and hurt other rakshasa, but the supernatural toughness that they all share means that it is unlikely that they can kill them outright before the other rakshasa can break contact and inform a superior of the unlawful attack. At which point the Naztharune would be Dominated or Magic Jarred if their master was feeling kindly, condemned to eternal imprisonment of the soul through Trap the Soul if he was not.

The way I see it, Naztharune rakshasa pose much less of a threat to their fellow rakshasa than veterans of elite military units could theoretically pose to fellow citizens in the modern day, in that an 11B Ranger, let alone a SOF veteran from other units, could easily kill dozens, if not hundreds, if they went on a killing spree, but the Naztharune might not manage one. But a) Both know it would end in their death or imprisonment and b) Neither has any sensible reason for committing unlawful killings in their society, and, in fact, is extremely unlikely to do any such thing.

quote:
Originally posted by Demzer

This is way I say that naztharunes are way more dangerous to any other being (not just rakshasas) that lacks extremely good senses or incredible innate resilience (aka high AC) than your comparison of soldier VS politicians. At the end of the day a gladius could kill a soldier as easily as it did a politician and the politician could order hundreds of soldiers to kill the lone rebel because the politicians didn't go about saying that the soldiers are inferior caste.

Throughout human history, people born into higher status have believed it as an article of faith that they are superior, more important and more valuable, than any lower status being, no matter their personal attainments. The mere fact that a long-serving soldier born into a peasant family could easily kill a poet, bureaucrat or politician born into a noble family did not suffice for literal millennia in stopping nobles from thinking, writing and saying that they were superior to the common folk.

Even the concept of meritocracy has for most of human history been a strange philosophical thought-experiment, with little or no influence on the thought of nobles or common people. The aggressively egalitarian ethos modern Western culture claims to believe in is not universal and it has enjoyed almost no support for most of human history. Basically, the idea that someone from the lower classes, even if that person happened to be a genius and a world-class athlete at the same time, was not inferior to anyone of higher birth, has been considered strange and incomprehensible by most people who have lived on Earth.

quote:
Originally posted by Demzer

When they did in the history of mankind the "common soldiery" has always took over (look at the praetorians or all the military coups we had in modern history).

Do you think that the Roman Empire at the time of civil wars or the countries that experience coups and civil wars today are especially Lawful societies?

Of course not. They are human societies, which are populated mostly by Neutral people, and in certain circumstances, the smaller, but still significant, populations of people with more extreme alignments have much more influence. A much better mental model for a Lawful Evil society are the more than five centuries of Rome's earlier history when it would have been literally inconceivable for someone not born into the nobility to ever wield political power.

quote:
Originally posted by Demzer

In the end I see the naztharunes as equal to the knights, higher caste than regular rakshasas but below the rajahs/Ak'Chazar/ecc... and surely not reviled or reminded every three steps that they're inferior, especially not by regular rakshasas.


Believing that someone is of an inferior caste and thus below you in social status does not have to mean that you revile them. That would be like reviling rhubarb for not being roses.
Icelander Posted - 31 Jul 2018 : 11:24:26
The demographics of rakshasa society that I imagine are that they have many mortal slaves, servants and guards for each actual rakshasa. Maybe about half of the number of rakshasa who play any part in society is composed of lesser rakshasa, many of the rest are some gradation of 'true' rakshasa from the MM who rank as gentry, above the lesser castes, but more likely to have a court of mere humans or to be a courtier at another's court than to rule directly over other rakshasa, and slightly more than one in five are rakshasa who belong to the nobility, usually as relatives of Rajahs (these are true rakshasa from the MM, with or without advancement to the GM's taste) or as scions of respected bloodlines, like Ak'Chazar rakshasa.

I might come up with several different sub-castes or jati for the 'true' rakshasa, with some being bureaucrats and minor officials in rakshasa society, others being merchants and 'political officers' (the role true rakshasa are usually encountered in by adventurers), some scholars and philosophers and others perhaps nobles of the stature of the Ak'Chazar, but different in nature.

There would be a few clans of warrior aristocracy, who act as military officers and personal retainers of the Rajahs, but unless these were also royalty, they would be considered in much the same light as the high nobles of a human court consider the frontier nobles who do most of the fighting, i.e. as social inferiors who perform a distasteful job so that real nobles don't have to.

Only slightly more than 2% of rakshasa are royalty, the vast majority of them Rajahs, who might have some fifty rakshasa at their courts. A Maharajah rakshasa rules over about a thousand rakshasa of various castes and usually at least ten times as many mortals (and may influence many more mortals through various long-term schemes).

The lesser rakshasa are the Naityan, Naztharune and Zakya. These are rakshasa, but not nobles. Their social status is higher than that of mortals, but lower than true rakshasa, even if they might theoretically have the personal power to kill a higher caste rakshasa. Naityan, Naztharune and Zakya rakshasa generally belong to the court of a higher caste rakshasa, who might be an Ak'Chazar rakshasa, a Rajah or a Maharajah, but also might just be a true rakshasa of a noble line, with great wealth and political position.

Of the lesser castes of rakshasa, the Naztharune are the most favoured by true rakshasa, as they are at least subtle and devious, unlike the straight-forward Naityan and Zakya. And the Naztharune are useful for more things than just killing. This still makes their status analoguous to long-service enlisted military men in the modern world, or the centurionate in Roman armies, i.e. far below the actual aristocracy or otherwise higher status people in society.

Reading more about Naityan rakshasa, I imagine that they were an ancient servitor caste, but that they rebelled and as a result, most of the Naityan do not live in rakshasa society, but instead among humans and avoid other rakshasa of all kinds. The Naityan, alone among rakshasa, are Neutral Evil and thus neither as law-abiding nor honourable as other rakshasa. Their higher Charisma and Wisdom also means that they are stronger of will, more assertive and more independent than Zakya or Naztharune. Not all Naityan joined the revolt and their usefulness means that some true rakshasa still employ them as warriors, but they are widely distrusted and disliked among rakshasa.

I imagine that about 5% of male rakshasa are knights and rank above all lesser rakshasa, but below nobles. They are a special caste of religious warriors and are more physically powerful than the nobles they serve, but as they are as Lawful as other rakshasa, they obey higher castes unquestioningly. For my purposes, rakshasa knights are of the variety portrayed in early versions of (A)D&D, i.e. non-spellcasters who are fearsome in physical combat and have powers related to being holy warriors of Ravana, with the later, 2e version of them (better in both combat and spellcasting than other rakshasa) representing one of the rare clans of warrior aristocrats.

A rough draft of rakshasa demographics, which the number in brackets defining how many of these there are in a thousand rakshasa:

4% --- Naityan [40]
16% --- Zakya [160]
7% --- Naztharune [70]
48% --- Rakshasa, true [480]
2% --- Rakshasa, rathi [20]
23% --- Rakshasa, rajanya [230]

---

Rakshasa society is sexist and it is the males who are most likely to interact with adventurers. A demographic breakdown of the male population:

7% --- Naityan, exiles [28]
3% --- Naityan, in society [12]
25% --- Zakya [100]
10% --- Naztharune [40]
15% --- Rakshasa, true, politicals (MM rakshasa, typical role for adventurers to encounter) [60]
10% --- Rakshasa, true, bureaucrats (MM rakshasa, typical stay at home rakshasa) [40]
5% --- Rakshasa, rathi (knights or holy warriors, incorrectly known as Ruhk) [20]
3% --- Rakshasa, true, artists (MM rakshasa, better mental Abilities Scores, more artistic skills) [12]
2% --- Rakshasa, true, scholars (MM rakshasa, better mental Ability Scores, lots of more knowledge skills, some have better spellcasting)
20% --- Rakshasa, rajanya (rakshasa nobility, start with MM rakshasa and alter to taste, up to Ak'Chazar power levels for those not of Rajah status, but different focus) [80]
The rajanya includes:
*** 2% --- Rakshasa, rajanya rathi (aristocratic knight, combat skills as rathi, but can also cast spells, might or might not have holy abilities)
*** 3% --- Rakshasa, Ak'Chazar [12]
*** 5% --- Rakshasa, rajanya rtvij (aristocratic priests) [20]
*** 5% --- Rakshasa, Rajah (Lords or Kings, also serve as priests) [20]
*** 0.25% --- Rakshasa, Maharajah (Great Kings, also serve as high priests) [1]

Female rakshasa demographics:

0% --- Naityan (Naityan rakshasa impregnate females of other races) [0]
10% --- Zakya [60]
5% --- Naztharune [30]
60% --- Rakshasa, true [360]
25% --- Rakshasa, rajanya [150]

Female rakshasa are more common than male rakshasa, but are not expected to have a profession aside from wife or concubine and the mother of illustrious sons. There are much fewer female lesser rakshasa than there are 'true' female rakshasa, as low caste rakshasa are often unmarried and usually only have one mate. By contrast, nobles often have three or four wives, as well as concubines from lower castes. Most female rakshasa have the stats of 'true' rakshasa from the MM, with some slight modifications for the caste of their families.
Demzer Posted - 31 Jul 2018 : 09:35:34
Uhm, I don't know how useful it is to debate this further but I'll offer these last few points.

- I'm happy that you are starting to equate the naztharune to the militaries and not the lower castes, the military has always been higher up in caste systems than most of the nobility (those nobles not directly involved in the power structure but "only" of noble blood), which is more like the situation with naztharune VS regular rakshasas VS maharajahs/other high ups;
- Your rakshasa society demographics keep shifting dangerously fast so it's kind of confusing who is the noble, how many nobles are there and if there are any regular rakshasas straight out of the MM. If most or all of them are DM-modified then who are they ruling over, exactly? Or is it a strange inverse pyramid society with 1 common rakshasa and hundreds of rajahs and upper echelons? Not great for a caste system ... pretty much the foundation of any caste system is that lower castes are way more numerous than higher castes (which in itself is part of the reason why an individual of an higher caste is more valued: there are less like him/her around). I think the most straightforward interpretation is that the straight out of the MM rakshasas (the more numerous) are nobles only in the sense that they're not mortals but still are the lower rung of the social hierarchy, below the naztharunes and the other devoted martial adepts which in turn are below the rajahs/maharajahs and other special/rare rakshasas (like the Ak'Chazar). This is the context I have in mind when speaking of the naztharunes, of course your campaign may vary.
- being lawful doesn't mean that the naztharunes as a whole would just take it and shut up if every other inferior rakshasa tried to order them around, they are not idiot savants, all their "mental" ability scores are above average and they are as much evil as they are lawful. So we are not talking about a single mad naztharune fighting society, we are talking about the fact that enforcing an inferior position on a breed of someones who are not inferiors, know about it and have no moral qualms about outright killing you is not how a society could work. Actually now that I think about it, there is nothing in the naztharune entry that suggests they abide by the standards of rakshasa society so they may even be completely outside it, maybe after a big schism lost to the mists of time when the other rakshasas thought they could bully them.
- Have you ever played a combat round in d&d 3.5? Haste and invisibility are not a trump-card, not against someone (player or DM) that knows the rules of d&d 3.5. In some particularly strict interpretations of those rules (like the infamous CRPG retooling of Temple of Elemental Evil for 3.5E, where you were considered flat-footed until your first initiative round) the regular rakshasa would last maybe a couple of rounds past the first surprise attack. This is way I say that naztharunes are way more dangerous to any other being (not just rakshasas) that lacks extremely good senses or incredible innate resilience (aka high AC) than your comparison of soldier VS politicians. At the end of the day a gladius could kill a soldier as easily as it did a politician and the politician could order hundreds of soldiers to kill the lone rebel because the politicians didn't go about saying that the soldiers are inferior caste. When they did in the history of mankind the "common soldiery" has always took over (look at the praetorians or all the military coups we had in modern history).

In the end I see the naztharunes as equal to the knights, higher caste than regular rakshasas but below the rajahs/Ak'Chazar/ecc... and surely not reviled or reminded every three steps that they're inferior, especially not by regular rakshasas.
sleyvas Posted - 31 Jul 2018 : 03:23:23
Oh, and BTW, this idea of the gods "flitting" between mortal hosts who act as their lesser avatars during the time on Abeir can kind of help with this story of the "Son of Victory" named Gilgeam. For instance, if Gilgeam possessed an individual amongst the Mulans entrapped there and then birthed a child, said son may have been named after his father. Gilgeam himself could have then gone on to another host, and he may very well have died fighting a Primordial somewhere. OR another storyline could be that he "awoke" later on in his son via dream magic and guided him on the path to divinity, but was forced to "leave" him. The same/similar may have happened with the Mulhorandi gods.
sleyvas Posted - 31 Jul 2018 : 03:15:06
I think you're placing way too much emphasis on this on real world in regards to how rakshasa societies would work. There is nothing that says that Naztharune consider themselves lesser, nor that they won't seek to better their place in society. For that matter, many Rakshasa from what I've read in real world were known as skilled physical combatants. We even have an example of various types of Rakshasa rule over portions of a type of Cult in Eberron with the Lords of Dust.

But, its your game. Do as you see fit. I'm just throwing out options that may help you, and at the same time makes my own game interesting.
Icelander Posted - 31 Jul 2018 : 00:17:30
quote:
Originally posted by Demzer

Actually Naztharune rakshasa are highly specialized and their lack of spellcasting is by design, a desired trait for their job.

I would say that they are destined for their job, not designed. I imagine rakshasa as believing castes are divinely assigned, not bred for desired characteristics or designed with magical bioengineering.

And I think that it is their very specialisation that makes other rakshasa consider them an inferior caste. From what I can tell, rakshasa would endorse a slightly modified version of Lazarus Long's sentiment:

"A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects."
-Robert Heinlein, 'Time Enough for Love'.

A true rakshasa is a polymath, a Renaissance Man. They are scholars of magic, diplomats, actors, orators and deceivers, trained to arms and spells, leaders, aesthetes and philosophers.

Specialists are useful, but they are not admirable.

quote:
Originally posted by Demzer

Naztharune have even higher intelligence than common rakshasa so they perfectly know how dangerous can they be to their fellows.

I'd think that kind of estimation would be Wisdom. Intelligence is pretty much memory and ability to perform calculations, not judgment and rationality in areas where perfect objective data is never available.

In any case, Naztharune are less sensible (Wis), have less willpower (Wis), self-confidence (Wis/Cha) and force of personality (Cha) than 'ordinary' true rakshasa. Yes, they are smart enough to realise that given preparation, they could most likely kill a true rakshasa. But it doesn't follow that this translates into feeling superior or even equal to a higher caste individual.

I've met plenty of criminal defendants who are stronger, faster and more comfortable with violence than most of the attorneys and judges they interact with. But many people without much in the way of social status still struggle with feelings of inadequacy when confronted by people in a position of power, who are better spoken, better educated and better connected than they are, because they have internalized the values of our society, one of which is that wealth, education, intelligence and success are respected much more than the ability to kill someone.

And this is in our modern society, which almost fetishizes equal opportunity, respect for all human life and social mobility. In a historical caste society, I have zero problems believing that tough guy soldiers, executioners and torturers were terrified of and submissive toward their social superiors, because their society did not especially value their ability to kill, except as a useful tool, but did value the high-born, educated, wealthy, connected people they obeyed.

And this respect, fear and obedience, it's not because the lower status or caste person necessarily fears physical retribution. That's the worst kind of motivation and it's not at all sustainable. Unequal societies didn't last for centuries and millennia just because the higher status people could kill anyone of lower status, or even have them killed. They lasted because people who live in a society where they are perceived as inferior will usually accept that value, because social pressure is enormously powerful.

quote:
Originally posted by Demzer

Naztharunes are feared assassins because the only sure way to beat them is to have listen/spot higher then their hide/move silently (+19 "out of the MM"), which is something only a few PC classes can obtain (remember class-skills and skill-points availability restrictions) and only around levels 13-15.

Social issues aside, I doubt rakshasa fear murder from each other all that much.

Even a perfect Sneak Attack from a Naztharune won't kill a true rakshasa in one strike (not unless the Naztharune is working with a priest or paladin of a Lawful Good deity that provides blessed bolts), and the spellcasting rakshasa will then be able to use Haste, Invisibility or other spells to break contact and call down the wrath of Ravana on the insane one who breaks caste. Possibly, earthly agents of Ravana would have to handle the wrath, but with Ak'Chazar rakshasa and higher ranks around, that's not a problem.

quote:
Originally posted by Demzer

In the end, as noted in their entry, the naztharune could easily "make it difficult" for other rakshasas but they don't care about being the bosses, they just revel in the stalking and killing and as long as they are free to do that (or get paid or rewarded for that) they don't care for any kind of title. And that's good because the other rakshasa know perfectly well how dangerous they could be, thus they're respected specialists.

If Naztharune rakshasa were sometimes Chaotic Evil or even Neutral Evil, it might be necessary to worry about them revolting against the status quo merely because they felt insufficiently respected, but as they are Always Lawful Evil, it's not a huge concern. As Lawful beings, they buy into the values of their society and believe, strongly enough to risk their lives for it, that these values should be upheld. Granted, to us, these values might appear unfair, stifling and even monstrous in their injustice, but, hey, that's why it's a Lawful Evil society.

quote:
Originally posted by Demzer

Even if you are a super powerful maharajah rakshasa you probably don't want your whole court, harem and servitors slaughtered by unseen assailants because *you* can easily boss around the naztharunes and decided to piss them off.

You certainly don't. But even aside from the social issue, of Naztharune rakshasa being just as Lawful Evil as other rakshasa, consider that a Maharajah rules over Rajahs, who in turn rule over many different kinds of rakshasa, among whom are Ak'Chazar rakshasa.

The way I imagine rakshasa nobility works, the 'true' rakshasa statted in the MM are the lowest rung of nobility. Ak'Chazar are probably a fairly powerful noble. Rajahs are more powerful still and make CR 10 rakshasa feel very inferior (Rajahs might not have that many more HD, but going by former editions, they are both priests and sorcerers, and should probably have very high Ability Scores in editions where monsters have such things). Maharajahs, in turn, are well over 20th level in addition to their rakshasa powers (in 2e, they had the equivalent of 26 HD as a Fighter and 22 levels of spellcasting classes (13th/9th)) and deal regularly with various powers on the Outer Planes. You might get close to their stats by adding 9 levels of Cleric to the Ak'Chazar rakshasa, as well as boosting the Ability Scores and adding a few innate abilities. CR 25+ in D&D 3e/3.5 terms.

Importantly, Maharajahs could pretty trivially know if a Will save +7 creature in their court was plotting treason and could fairly easily Dominate Person or Magic Jar to nip such plots in the bud, with a bonus of cleaning house of any other disloyalty, with a perfect double agent.

Mind you, not that Maharajahs generally do this, because, as I said, I believe that Naztharune rarely, if ever, even consider that their caste-based society is anything but right and proper. Even if they did, there would be legends of what happens to those who overstep their bounds. Treason never prospers, at least not when the tyrants have more supernatural powers than everyone else and the backing of an actual deity who thinks that rakshasa society is just right, thank you.

quote:
Originally posted by Demzer

EDIT: I perfectly get what you are saying about castes but the problem here is that the regular rakshasas can't control the naztharune the way in human societies caste-systems were enforced: an armed uprising of peasants/slaves may be put down by the soldiery, an armed uprising of specialized otherwordly assassins is way beyond the control of any single maharajah rakshasa to handle.

The Ak'Chazar are far from being Maharajah rakshasa, but if pressed, can handle an insane (what Lawful Evil creatures probably think of those who ignore caste restrictions) Naztharune without much trouble. They don't even have to kill them, as that would be too kind. Magic Jar or Trap the Soul are much better, especially in light of the +7 Will save Naztharune have.

quote:
Originally posted by Demzer

So I can perfectly see other rakshasas sneering at naztharunes lack of spellcasting when they are pretty sure the naztharune can't hear (which is difficult in itself) but I can't see that happening face to face or any regular rakshasa ordering the naztharunes about.


Why not?

Humans are Usually Neutral and our societies are still law-abiding enough so that it is an extremely noteworthy exception for the ability to murder another person to matter when it comes who bosses whom around. That happens in the worst prisons or in a home invasion, not in everyday life. Social influence determines who is in charge, not facility for murder, because we don't live in a Hobbesian state of anarchy, without the Leviathan of the state.

Rakshasa are Always Lawful Evil. That means that while they may jockey for position within the bounds their society sets, they very rarely, if at all, question the underlying structure of their society. Tradition, the letter of the law and respect for authority, these things matter to Lawful beings.

While mostly Neutral humans, with a smattering of Chaotic trouble-makers and Good ideologues, might chafe under authority, dream about revolutions and occasionally rebel for reasons of their own, those reasons would probably appear irrational to a Lawful Evil creature within a caste society.
Icelander Posted - 30 Jul 2018 : 22:59:25
It's true that Naztharune rakshasa are much more dangerous in personal combat than 'true' rakshasa, in much the same way that a Thracian or Sarmatian auxiliary in the Roman army is much more dangerous in personal combat than M. Tullius Cicero or Marcus Aurelius, or indeed most members of the Senatorial class. Or, well, a Sergeant First Class of the 1st SFOD-D/CAG/Delta Force is a lot more dangerous than a US Senator or President. Yet the more dangerous individuals are, rhetoric to the contrary, practically much less important to almost everyone in their societies, aside from immediate family and friends. Certainly the more dangerous individual makes infinitely less money, has much less authority or influence and has to follow the path that the more influential, less physically powerful people shape.

And Rome and the US were and are not any kind of strict caste-based systems. There is and was genuine social mobility in those societies. Even Rome was a lot more egalitarian than a genuine caste system.

To a great degree, I imagine that Naztharune rakshasa internalise the caste system. For one thing, Naztharune rakshasa are just as Lawful as other rakshasa. Like all societies, there will be exceptions and special snowflakes, but for the most part, if a Naztharune rakshasa got ideas above their station, other Naztharune rakshasa would be horrified and do their best to keep them in line, up to and including acting as security against rebellious murder attempts.

Another thing, the metaphysical justifications behind a caste system might be literally true. Zakya, Naityan and Naztharune rakshasa who respect dharma and their place in society might indeed be reborn into a higher caste, eventually. If so, almost no provocation would induce a rational lesser rakshasa to lash out at a superior caste, not unless he'd fancy life as something horrible, like a beast of burden, carrion bird or human.

Thirdly, the ability to fairly easily kill 'true' rakshasa doesn't imply an ability to improve their lot after the murder. Magic isn't just useful in combat, it's also very important to daily life in a fantasy world, unless you want life to be the kind of dull, resource-poor grind that real pre-Modern life was. A Naztharune rakshasa might enjoy a considerably more luxurious lifestyle as the pampered spy and assassin in service to a 'true' rakshasha tha he would making his way alone. Sure, they'd always be regarded as inferior, but a wise master takes good care of a useful tool.

Also, the average 'true' rakshasa might be less impressive than Naztharune rakshasa, but the one kind of rakshasa noble we've seen statted, the Ak'Chazar, are just as fast as the Naztharune, much more skilled in armed and unarmed combat and have senses that are so much sharper that they can realistically expect to deal with an attempt to sneak up on them. And they have some cool innate abilities cast at 20th level, not to mention being 12th level Sorcerers.

Rakshasa knights, rajahs and maharajahs are not statted anywhere that I know of in D&D 3e/3.5, but I'm assuming that they are around the power range of the Ak'Chazar, with knights being technically a lower caste the other nobles (but better in combat than any lesser rakshasa), the rajahs truly impressive and the maharajahs just below demigods.

So while a Naztharune rakshasa might theoretically be able to murder the least powerful of true rakshasa (CR 11 vs. CR 10), that doesn't mean they can fight the real powers in rakshasa society (CR 11 vs. CR 15+).
Demzer Posted - 30 Jul 2018 : 21:38:52
Actually Naztharune rakshasa are highly specialized and their lack of spellcasting is by design, a desired trait for their job.

Their natural talent at hiding and stalking prey (the pinnacle of which is hiding in plain sight, a much sought after ability for any stealthy PC) and the absence of any kind of magical aura coming from them defeats almost all means of detection any mortal spellcaster has, leaving only the senses (aka opposed skill-checks on the caster dump and cross-class skills), "active" countermeasures like glitterdust (which means you already got stabbed a few times, unless you spend your day casting glitterdust around) or "slow" and unwieldy detections like detect alignment that requires i) concentration ii) looking in the right direction iii) 3 rounds or detect thoughts that has a pitiful saving throw DC, has to bypass the naztharune spell resistance and still takes 3 rounds.

In a straight up fight an "out of the MM" Naztharune will easily beat any "out of the MM" regular rakshasa: the naztharune has way higher initiative, any spell used by the regular rakshasa is restricted to 4th or lower level and is a d20+7 against 21 SR, the naztharune (being an outsider) has pretty high saves (+11/+12/+7) while the DC for a regular rakshasa's spells is 13+level and on top of that the naztharune has improved evasion and can hide with about 60% chances of success all the time (due to the different boni on skills) and while the naztharune 6d6 SA dices will pierce through the DR 15 both have, the regular rakshasa has ... 1d4+1 claws and 1d6 bites ... . In other words, sneak attack, hide, sneak attack, hide, sneak attack, hide ... ad nauseam until the regular rakshasa drops dead (which is in like 5 rounds), and even in those rounds where the naztharune fails in hiding the regular rakshasa is pretty much powerless against him. Naztharune have even higher intelligence than common rakshasa so they perfectly know how dangerous can they be to their fellows.
You can start piling on levels on the regular one but you should do the same for the naztharune otherwise you'll not be comparing similar things.

I know you use different rules, but in my mind the first step to port something to different rulesets is understanding fully the ramifications and implications in the "native" ruleset. Naztharunes are feared assassins because the only sure way to beat them is to have listen/spot higher then their hide/move silently (+19 "out of the MM"), which is something only a few PC classes can obtain (remember class-skills and skill-points availability restrictions) and only around levels 13-15.

In the end, as noted in their entry, the naztharune could easily "make it difficult" for other rakshasas but they don't care about being the bosses, they just revel in the stalking and killing and as long as they are free to do that (or get paid or rewarded for that) they don't care for any kind of title. And that's good because the other rakshasa know perfectly well how dangerous they could be, thus they're respected specialists.
Even if you are a super powerful maharajah rakshasa you probably don't want your whole court, harem and servitors slaughtered by unseen assailants because *you* can easily boss around the naztharunes and decided to piss them off.

EDIT: I perfectly get what you are saying about castes but the problem here is that the regular rakshasas can't control the naztharune the way in human societies caste-systems were enforced: an armed uprising of peasants/slaves may be put down by the soldiery, an armed uprising of specialized otherwordly assassins is way beyond the control of any single maharajah rakshasa to handle. So I can perfectly see other rakshasas sneering at naztharunes lack of spellcasting when they are pretty sure the naztharune can't hear (which is difficult in itself) but I can't see that happening face to face or any regular rakshasa ordering the naztharunes about.
Icelander Posted - 30 Jul 2018 : 21:05:23
quote:
Originally posted by sleyvas

I think you're placing way too much emphasis on this on real world in regards to how rakshasa societies would work. There is nothing that says that Naztharune consider themselves lesser, nor that they won't seek to better their place in society. For that matter, many Rakshasa from what I've read in real world were known as skilled physical combatants. We even have an example of various types of Rakshasa rule over portions of a type of Cult in Eberron with the Lords of Dust.

But, its your game. Do as you see fit. I'm just throwing out options that may help you, and at the same time makes my own game interesting.


I'm basing this on the fact that rakshasa live in a strongly caste based societies. By definition, thus, higher castes look down on lower castes, and there really isn't much of a chance for the lower castes to better their place in society. At least, their social mobility is strictly proscribed by their inborn caste. They can become richer Naztharune, with a more reasonable master, but no matter what they do, they will remain Naztharune and thus inferior socially to the least successful true rakshasha they'll ever meet.

This isn't my interpretation, based on anything that I believe about real Indian cultures. It's simply what 'strongly caste-based society' means and rakshasa have been noted from their first appearance to have a strongly caste-based society.

Granted, newer D&D editions may not have mentioned anything about their societies, due to the lower percentage of wordcount devoted to things that weren't combat stats, but there was no note that these Lawful Evil fiends stopped having a society that was deeply unfair, but internally stable.

I agree that mythological rakshasa were sometimes skilled combatants, but it's a question of values. Seemingly, rakshasa society values purely physical prowess much less than intelligence, education, philosophical expertise, guile, erudition and many other things. Being a masterful leader, that rakshasha seem to value. A manipulative chess master of the mind. A politician, statesman, philosopher and thinker.

It would be entirely consistent with what is said about their culture for them to value strategy, generalship and even martial arts. It's just being so utterly without influence or authority that you must resort to personally engaging in violence with lesser beings that's shameful.

Clearly, all rakshasha are trained to arms, as all human nobles were in most ancient and medieval cultures. It may even be that, as in many Indian cultures, mastering the philosophy of martial arts and acting as a guru to teach deserving students the deepest mysteries of the art of combat is a proper pursuit for individuals of the highest caste. But philosopher kings don't brawl themselves, even if they know how. They remain above the fray, marshaling their forces and defeating the foe with their superior generalship.

About the only time when it would not be shameful for a rakshasa to enter into combat personally would be if the foe was truly worthy, i.e. of the same or superior caste. Rakshasa may feel more inclined to draw their swords if facing angels, demigods or other beings more important than humans or demihumans. After all, kings should only duel other kings.
sleyvas Posted - 30 Jul 2018 : 19:48:19
I think you're placing way too much emphasis on this on real world in regards to how rakshasa societies would work. There is nothing that says that Naztharune consider themselves lesser, nor that they won't seek to better their place in society. For that matter, many Rakshasa from what I've read in real world were known as skilled physical combatants. We even have an example of various types of Rakshasa rule over portions of a type of Cult in Eberron with the Lords of Dust.

But, its your game. Do as you see fit. I'm just throwing out options that may help you, and at the same time makes my own game interesting.
Icelander Posted - 30 Jul 2018 : 19:33:34
quote:
Originally posted by sleyvas

So, as far as class levels go for said Rakshasa, I agree having them go wizard or sorcerer or cleric, etc... is a bad idea. However, having them go beguiler, spellthief, or arcane trickster (or in 5e, arcane trickster version of rogue), these all make perfect sense to me for this style of character. My personal favorite idea in this instance would be beguiler (the cloaked casting with the rakshasa's hide in plain sight are a great combo), but also maybe some levels in assassin or rogue. Then going arcane trickster. That being said, I'd be writing it up for 5e.

I'd limit them to tricks, not spell effects. So, rogue with some arcane tricks is fine, but I would view a Naztharune Beguiler as 'cheating', i.e. that makes them the equivalent of 'normal' rakshasa, as to anyone within the setting, beguilers and sorcerers are just different variations of spellcasters. Flavour-wise, the lesser rakshasa, those who serve the 'normal' kind (as well as the Ak'Chazar and the rakshasa lords), are all distinguished by being unable to cast spells, but have some minor innate tricks.

That is what makes their castes inferor to true rakshasa and marks them as destined to serve, not rule.

quote:
Originally posted by sleyvas

In Rakshasa society though, I wouldn't necessarily consider them cripples. Someone that can hide in plain sight and kill you by stabbing you in the back isn't a cripple.


Rakshasa disdain physical combat. The ability to do vulgar things that may occasionally be important doesn't make them respected in a caste-based society.

Think of the pecking order in an academic setting, like the faculty of a modern university. The fact that an illiterate gang member and felon from El Salvador is able and willing to kill the professors doesn't prevent them from thinking of him as lacking in most of the truly important attainments that make people worthy of respect.
sleyvas Posted - 30 Jul 2018 : 19:17:57
quote:
Originally posted by Icelander

quote:
Originally posted by sleyvas

Hmmm, and actually... working through the storyline I was developing above.... maybe a powerful Naztharune Rakshasa from Katashaka in the city of Latoombe, City of Tricksters, discovers the idea of Kiga in Zakhara because maybe the worship of Kiga had migrated FROM Katashaka originally. She comes up with the idea of impersonating the goddess. She goes to Zakhara. She gets a group of wereleopards to serve her and then the Time of Troubles happens. The rakshasa is taken over. The "goddess" leaves to return back to Katashaka to uncover some ancient relic of her former power. Something happens when she's in Katashaka. She's entrapped. Spellplague happens. She's freed, but Katashaka is now in Abeir.


Note that Naztharune rakshasa are, in rakshasa terms, crippled. They can't cast spells.

Nothing in the same rules prevents Naztharune rakshasa from taking spellcaster levels, but I'd consider that cheesy. A Naztharune rakshasa who casts spells isn't a Naztharune rakshasa, it's a noble rakshasa (i.e. the normal version) who just happens to look like their magically-crippled, commoner cousins.

The appearance of rakshasa is probably the least important part of them. What distinguishes these 'sub-races' are 1) powerful magic, innate link to death magic and negative energy (Ak'Chazar), 2) lack of spellcasting, with 2a) fighting skill (Zakya), 2b) innate magical tricks derived from blade magic linked to their shapeshifting (Naityan) and 2c) great stealth and minor link to shadow (Naztharune).



The appearance is of little concern. It DOES however very easily match up to the imagery of Kiga presented in Ruined Kingdoms (panther headed AND a goddess of hunting turned to goddess of murder).

So, as far as class levels go for said Rakshasa, I agree having them go wizard or sorcerer or cleric, etc... is a bad idea. However, having them go beguiler, spellthief, or arcane trickster (or in 5e, arcane trickster version of rogue), these all make perfect sense to me for this style of character. My personal favorite idea in this instance would be beguiler (the cloaked casting with the rakshasa's hide in plain sight are a great combo), but also maybe some levels in assassin or rogue. Then going arcane trickster. That being said, I'd be writing it up for 5e.

In Rakshasa society though, I wouldn't necessarily consider them cripples. Someone that can hide in plain sight and kill you by stabbing you in the back isn't a cripple.
sleyvas Posted - 30 Jul 2018 : 19:17:07
quote:
Originally posted by Icelander

quote:
Originally posted by sleyvas

Hmmm, and actually... working through the storyline I was developing above.... maybe a powerful Naztharune Rakshasa from Katashaka in the city of Latoombe, City of Tricksters, discovers the idea of Kiga in Zakhara because maybe the worship of Kiga had migrated FROM Katashaka originally. She comes up with the idea of impersonating the goddess. She goes to Zakhara. She gets a group of wereleopards to serve her and then the Time of Troubles happens. The rakshasa is taken over. The "goddess" leaves to return back to Katashaka to uncover some ancient relic of her former power. Something happens when she's in Katashaka. She's entrapped. Spellplague happens. She's freed, but Katashaka is now in Abeir.


Note that Naztharune rakshasa are, in rakshasa terms, crippled. They can't cast spells.

Nothing in the same rules prevents Naztharune rakshasa from taking spellcaster levels, but I'd consider that cheesy. A Naztharune rakshasa who casts spells isn't a Naztharune rakshasa, it's a noble rakshasa (i.e. the normal version) who just happens to look like their magically-crippled, commoner cousins.

The appearance of rakshasa is probably the least important part of them. What distinguishes these 'sub-races' are 1) powerful magic, innate link to death magic and negative energy (Ak'Chazar), 2) lack of spellcasting, with 2a) fighting skill (Zakya), 2b) innate magical tricks derived from blade magic linked to their shapeshifting (Naityan) and 2c) great stealth and minor link to shadow (Naztharune).



The appearance is of little concern. It DOES however very easily match up to the imagery of Kiga presented in Ruined Kingdoms (panther headed AND a goddess of hunting turned to goddess of murder).

So, as far as class levels go for said Rakshasa, I agree having them go wizard or sorcerer or cleric, etc... is a bad idea. However, having them go beguiler, spellthief, or arcane trickster (or in 5e, arcane trickster version of rogue), these all make perfect sense to me for this style of character. My personal favorite idea in this instance would be beguiler (the cloaked casting with the rakshasa's hide in plain sight are a great combo), but also maybe some levels in assassin or rogue. Then going arcane trickster. That being said, I'd be writing it up for 5e.

In Rakshasa society though, I wouldn't necessarily consider them cripples. Someone that can hide in plain sight and kill you by stabbing you in the back isn't a cripple.
Icelander Posted - 30 Jul 2018 : 18:55:40
quote:
Originally posted by sleyvas

Hmmm, and actually... working through the storyline I was developing above.... maybe a powerful Naztharune Rakshasa from Katashaka in the city of Latoombe, City of Tricksters, discovers the idea of Kiga in Zakhara because maybe the worship of Kiga had migrated FROM Katashaka originally. She comes up with the idea of impersonating the goddess. She goes to Zakhara. She gets a group of wereleopards to serve her and then the Time of Troubles happens. The rakshasa is taken over. The "goddess" leaves to return back to Katashaka to uncover some ancient relic of her former power. Something happens when she's in Katashaka. She's entrapped. Spellplague happens. She's freed, but Katashaka is now in Abeir.


Note that Naztharune rakshasa are, in rakshasa terms, crippled. They can't cast spells.

Nothing in the same rules prevents Naztharune rakshasa from taking spellcaster levels, but I'd consider that cheesy. A Naztharune rakshasa who casts spells isn't a Naztharune rakshasa, it's a noble rakshasa (i.e. the normal version) who just happens to look like their magically-crippled, commoner cousins.

The appearance of rakshasa is probably the least important part of them. What distinguishes these 'sub-races' are 1) powerful magic, innate link to death magic and negative energy (Ak'Chazar), 2) lack of spellcasting, with 2a) fighting skill (Zakya), 2b) innate magical tricks derived from blade magic linked to their shapeshifting (Naityan) and 2c) great stealth and minor link to shadow (Naztharune).
sleyvas Posted - 30 Jul 2018 : 18:26:26
Hmmm, and actually... working through the storyline I was developing above.... maybe a powerful Naztharune Rakshasa from Katashaka in the city of Latoombe, City of Tricksters, discovers the idea of Kiga in Zakhara because maybe the worship of Kiga had migrated FROM Katashaka originally. She comes up with the idea of impersonating the goddess. She goes to Zakhara. She gets a group of wereleopards to serve her and then the Time of Troubles happens. The rakshasa is taken over. The "goddess" leaves to return back to Katashaka to uncover some ancient relic of her former power. Something happens when she's in Katashaka. She's entrapped. Spellplague happens. She's freed, but Katashaka is now in Abeir.


Now, what I "do" with the gods while they're in Abeir is actually have them take over multiple living followers until they gain enough power to become more than a "manifestation" / "lesser avatar" by gathering worshippers in Abeir. In this instance, I want to introduce the worship of Kiga the Predator to the Crintri, drow, wemics, and human Shaaryan and Arkaiun ethnicities down in the Shaar area which I'm calling the Tharch of Peleveran. I'm having Sessifex Hazm'cri, one of the Crintri daughters of Queen Hasifir Hazm'cri of Dambrath, turn away from the worship of Loviatar while in Abeir and turn to Kiga the Predator. Thus, I setup the worship of Kiga the Predator in the Shaar by a powerful Crintri and her followers against the Malar worshipping males of Dambrath who took over the homeland of said Crintri. It might be that at some point during the time that they were on Abeir, Sessifex may have housed the spirit of Kiga to defend the people of Peleveran against "made up threat X".
sleyvas Posted - 30 Jul 2018 : 18:03:21
quote:
Originally posted by Icelander

quote:
Originally posted by sleyvas

Just something to throw out there for some possibilities.... I wouldn't be surprised if the cult of Kiga down in Kadarasto (its from Ruined Kingdoms for Al-Qadim where Nog and Kadar were) didn't possess a sizable number of Naztharune Rakshasa.


I'll grant that there is a connection to rakshasa in this cult, but I view the connection as working the other way. The rakshasa take advantage of the fact that the human cultists believe them to be emissaries or representatives of their deities, but are not themselves part of these human cults.

Any rakshasa who actually worshipped human (or demihuman, for that matter) gods would be an outcast from their society and probably hunted down. It's perfectly fine to set up a cult in the name of fake gods (or even real ones, as long as the doctrine and religious activities are twisted to benefit the rakshasa), but it would never do to actually believe.

The gods are evil frauds who've seized almost all power in the multiverse and when Ravana tried to respectfully gain just a little of it, he was slapped down, killed by mortal assassins in the service of hypocrite gods and his reincarnated form imprisoned with divine power. Ravana is the rightful Lord of Creation and it is the duty of all rakshasa to offer him their worship, just as it is the birthright of all rakshasa to rule over the lesser races, assuming they have the intelligence, guile, willpower and magical might to seize their birthright.

If the cult of Kiga were actually in possession of rakshasa, even such petty rakshasa as the Naztharune, it would be an intolerable provocation and insult. That sort of thing could only be allowed to pass if the true rulers of the cult of Kiga were, in fact, rakshasa themselves. Naztharune rakshasa are, indeed, born to serve, rather than rule, but they are born to serve their betters, not such infinite inferiors as humans or even cursed humans, like lycanthropes.

That being said, cults being what they are, it's entirely possible that there exist splinter cults of Kiga, one of which is manipulated by secret rakshasa lords to be used as disposable mortal servants and another of which is ruled by humans and provides a sanctuary for rogue Naztharune rakshasa who have been marked for death by orthodox rakshasa society.



Actually, I'm seeing it more like a powerful Naztharune Rakshasa with say class levels portrayed themselves AS a goddess possibly (and maybe even had some kind of divine power). This Rakshasa actually re-awakened the dead goddess. Worship of this goddess in ruined kingdoms has fallen off severely, such that she's little known outside of Nog and Kadar.


Personally, a take on this that I MAY use is that this Rakshasa and many of her followers fled to Katashaka after the humans of Nog and Kadar forced them out. She eventually attracted the attention of the actual Kiga, such that during the Time of Troubles, this Rakshasa became possessed by the avatar of Kiga the Predator. After the end of the Time of Troubles, maybe the goddess never gave the body back, and she's been entrapped in "manifestation" / "avatar" form on Toril ever since. I'm sticking a city in Katashaka that I'm calling Latoombe, City of Tricksters, and I'm having it led by Rakshasa rulers.


Since a lot of the concepts I've been doing for what happened while Katashaka was in Abeir revolves around the concept of many gods being "earthbound" to fend off the Primordials of Abeir, this could work for me. I'm also hoping to use Kiga as a goddess that comes back to Faerun and whose worship is spread, so the story would be that while in Abeir, she would have been able to finally escape the body of the Rakshasa (or the Rakshasa ascended... something along those lines).
Icelander Posted - 30 Jul 2018 : 17:44:40
quote:
Originally posted by sleyvas

Just something to throw out there for some possibilities.... I wouldn't be surprised if the cult of Kiga down in Kadarasto (its from Ruined Kingdoms for Al-Qadim where Nog and Kadar were) didn't possess a sizable number of Naztharune Rakshasa.


I'll grant that there is a connection to rakshasa in this cult, but I view the connection as working the other way. The rakshasa take advantage of the fact that the human cultists believe them to be emissaries or representatives of their deities, but are not themselves part of these human cults.

Any rakshasa who actually worshipped human (or demihuman, for that matter) gods would be an outcast from their society and probably hunted down. It's perfectly fine to set up a cult in the name of fake gods (or even real ones, as long as the doctrine and religious activities are twisted to benefit the rakshasa), but it would never do to actually believe.

The gods are evil frauds who've seized almost all power in the multiverse and when Ravana tried to respectfully gain just a little of it, he was slapped down, killed by mortal assassins in the service of hypocrite gods and his reincarnated form imprisoned with divine power. Ravana is the rightful Lord of Creation and it is the duty of all rakshasa to offer him their worship, just as it is the birthright of all rakshasa to rule over the lesser races, assuming they have the intelligence, guile, willpower and magical might to seize their birthright.

If the cult of Kiga were actually in possession of rakshasa, even such petty rakshasa as the Naztharune, it would be an intolerable provocation and insult. That sort of thing could only be allowed to pass if the true rulers of the cult of Kiga were, in fact, rakshasa themselves. Naztharune rakshasa are, indeed, born to serve, rather than rule, but they are born to serve their betters, not such infinite inferiors as humans or even cursed humans, like lycanthropes.

That being said, cults being what they are, it's entirely possible that there exist splinter cults of Kiga, one of which is manipulated by secret rakshasa lords to be used as disposable mortal servants and another of which is ruled by humans and provides a sanctuary for rogue Naztharune rakshasa who have been marked for death by orthodox rakshasa society.

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