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Icelander
Master of Realmslore

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Posted - 03 Jul 2018 :  23:58:59  Show Profile  Visit Icelander's Homepage Send Icelander a Private Message  Reply with Quote  Delete Topic
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?

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Edited by - Icelander on 04 Jul 2018 01:22:25

The Masked Mage
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Posted - 04 Jul 2018 :  01:10:42  Show Profile  Send The Masked Mage an AOL message  Click to see The Masked Mage's MSN Messenger address Send The Masked Mage a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Rakshasa are in numerous realms books. Usually as 1-off villians - not as part of a collective culture.
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Bragi
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Posted - 04 Jul 2018 :  02:28:37  Show Profile  Visit Bragi's Homepage  Send Bragi an AOL message  Send Bragi an ICQ Message  Send Bragi a Yahoo! Message Send Bragi a Private Message  Reply with Quote
There are Rakshasa communities in the Beastlands, the city of Tirumala is mostly populated by Rakshasa. There is a tribe that lives in the Dustwall Mountains, and there is a great tribe of Rakshasa described as living "east of the Raurin desert." I would say the area around the Raurin desert would be your best location. They are listed as being uncommon in the Hordelands. One could speculate that there are larger Rakshaska populations in the Utter East but I don't think there is an cannon mention of them there. I agree with your assessment of the area where they are most likely to be found.


In Pursuit of Better Worlds,
Bragi of Erin
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sleyvas
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Posted - 04 Jul 2018 :  02:55:01  Show Profile Send sleyvas a Private Message  Reply with Quote
regarding this
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.

Actually there are some noted subordinate rakshasa listed for these two in the Monster Manual 3 for 3.5 edition.

NAZTHARUNE RAKSHASAS IN FAERŰN
Most naztharune rakshasas serve the ak’chazar rakshasas as spies and assassins. A pair of ak’chazar rakshasas operating in Unther has sent naztharune agents to stir up unrest in neighboring Chessenta, most notably in the cities of Cimbar, Luthcheq, and Soorenar. These naztharune rakshasas have already compromised several local guilds and eliminated key politicians and merchants in an attempt to turn the Chessentan cities’ hatred of one another into open war. Naztharune rakshasas have also been encountered in cities as far west as Waterdeep and Calimport, in some cases pursuing their own agendas.

The Rakshasa are still considered evil outsiders, and in the 3.5 races of faerun, its noted that they may have tiefling offspring with cat eyes or fur.

I agree with the areas you were mentioning for Rakshasa. That appears the "best fit".


I'm also listing for homebrew purposes that I have a city where the Rakshasa openly rule in Katashaka. Its on the northeastern portion of Katashaka, near the red wizard run "Tharch of New Eltabbar". The Rakshasa of this city rule over other cat folk of a more magical variety than beings like Tabaxi. Also, I have other cat folk civilizations nearby who become non-plussed if one confuses them with a Rakshasa ("isn't it obvious, look at my paws?"). Also, this Rakshasa ruled city (which is very Patriarchal) and surrounding territories is in conflict with a nearby community led by Lamia, and in addition another culture of Yak Folk leading minotaurs and ibixians (goat folk) (I'd also be intrigued to throw in summoned demons in their society in the form of Bulezau and Armanites... and some of the other nearby races may be a result of breeding with these demons, such as the "bariaur-like" tauric goat folk and the ibixians). Just in case any of this is of interest to you, I'll post what I have.

These red wizards however also face much more determined and dangerous foes, many of whom possess powerful magics themselves. Latoombe, City of Tricksters, is a city ruled by a council of rakshasa which also possesses many shapeshifting cat folk including many lyncanthropes (such as weretigers, werepanthers, werejaguars, and wereleopards) whose humanoid form is often that of a gnoll or tabaxi. The common folk of this city are the Paka, an anthropomorphic cat folk of all colors normally found amongst cats great and small, many of whom are warlocks or priests beholden to powers of the nine hells. The Paka are shapechangers which can take on human form, but which also have the ability to see and hear through the eyes of nearby cats and other feline creatures, as well as the ability to dominate such creatures to their will. There is also a type of catfolk that the red wizards call the Ghirrash, a black-furred, sometimes tiger striped (both white and orange), and sometimes leopard spotted breed of humanoid cat folk who some believe to be related to the displacer beasts due to their four arms and natural displacement ability. Whether these cat folk are truly related to the shadowbeasts known as the Ghirrash is debatable, as these Ghirrash lack many of the traits common to creatures of the shadowfell, and they actually call themselves the Pumaji. There is also a race of catfolk similar to the Pumaji in coloration, but rather than 4 arms, they have two arms and 4 snake-headed tentacles that grow from their shoulders, and their tails sometimes end in rattles. This race is known as the Kamadji, and many notice an obvious similarity between them and the kamatlan cat. Also, unlike the Pumaji, they lack the displacement effect. The numbers of humans being sacrificed upon the altars of this city has risen markedly since they began to leave the safety of the Katashakan Priador, and this city's owlcat mounted cavalry has even been known to raid the Katashakan Priador in the middle of the night.

Grrawlins, referred to as “the City of the Cowardly Lenastans” by the people of New Eltabbar, is where the former Lenastan nobility and their remaining servants were able to flee. They plot their revenge against these treacherous humans who have invaded their homeland, meanwhile struggling simply to survive. It is rumored that the leadership of this community has been secretly subsumed by rakshasa from Latoombe.

Shimmani, City of the Cat Queens, is a city ruled by lamia but filled with numerous tauric creatures, such as lion-like wemics, numerous other cat-like Taurics which collectively refer to themselves as the Kitaari, antelope-like Nyaalaku, zebra-like centaurs, a goat-like creature that red wizards believe to be related to bariaur, warthog like swinotaurs, and huge Rhinaurs. Most of these tauric creatures are males, as the decadence of the lamia of this city is both well known and well deserved. Despite being called the city of the Cat Queens, the lamia of this city are known to have varied different body types (boar, goat, antelope, deer, lion, leopard, panther, zebra, donkey, and even snakes of all markings). There are no reports of any living male lamia, though the reason for this is a topic of numerous conjecture. This city is a sprawling city filled with majestic buildings separated by hideous and foul slums, many of these slums being filled with dens of those who abuse the poppy flowers which fill the city. The slave trade is common throughout this city, and the capture of humans of New Eltabbar are considered a rare prize. The “Cat Queens” find human flesh delectable, but mainly seek out children of all humanoid races. They are known to breastfeed these children even as they sup on the childs own blood. After years of care, many of these children find themselves sacrificed upon the altars of Lamashtu, former consort of Pazuzu and Demon Queen of Monstrous Births and Deformity. The worship of other Demon Lords, in particular Graz'zt, is not unheard of, but worship of Pazuzu in particular is frowned upon, and the sacrifice of flying creatures is a common site throughout the city.

The centuries old enmity between the devil worshipping cat folk of Latoombe and the demon worshipping lamia is perhaps one of the main reasons that the red wizards of New Eltabbar have managed to survive, for more than one black furred pumaji warlock or priest has had its body flayed alive on an altar to Lamashtu, and its coat turned into a prized blanket or cloak. The Pumaji and Paka of Latoombe have also taken to breeding and training mounstrous owlcats to serve as mounts, giving their city an aerial cavalry that is a hated sight as they fly over Shimmani down to the Black Hills of the Cave Lizards to capture slaves, or simply to feed their owlcats which are not disturbed by the smell of troglodyte. Occasionally, this flying cavalry has dropped hundreds of wild troglodytes into unguarded sections of their enemy city just to cause chaos.

Despite the dangers of the cities of Shimmani and Latoombe, it is actually Yithakar, land of the Earth Emperor, which has proven to be the most dangerous threat, as well as being the most closed off region. This mountainous region is ruled by the elusive yak folk which inhabit it, but there are numerous minotaurs and ibixians, a type of humanoid goatmen, which are the primary population. While worship of the “Faceless One” is the primary religion of the region, it is also common for them to worship Ogremoch, the Prince of Elemental evil earth. In addition, demon worship, particularly that of Eltab, Yeenoghu, Orcus and Baphomet, is very common throughout the countryside. It is not unknown to find summoned Marrashi, bulezau, succubi, and even occasionally more powerful demons such as goristro working with the beast men of this region. Large groupings of yak folk can also typically call upon earth elementals and even genies for aid. However, it is their secrecy and ability to infiltrate other societies which makes them a danger, though proving that they've had involvement afterwards has been hard, especially since they work to lay blame for their actions on other parties. In fact, the war between the cities of Latoombe and Shimmani is believed by the red wizards to be fueled by the actions of Yak folk spies possessing the bodies of individuals in the cities.

Alavairthae, may your skill prevail

Phillip aka Sleyvas
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LordofBones
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Posted - 04 Jul 2018 :  03:14:18  Show Profile Send LordofBones a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I don't think rakshasa should worship anyone other than Ravana and/or Vedic Trinity. The rakhshasa have, at numerous times, forced the Vedic pantheon - bar the trinity - on the defensive; capitulating to fiends they might view as their inferiors is a bit difficult to swallow. They might respect ascended deities, if only for their ambition. Surprisingly enough, Corellon Larethian might have be respected by the rakshasa for his blend of swordplay and magic, and his demonstrated combat prowess.

The mythological rakshasa were skilled sorcerers and warriors, ranging from brutal fighters like Kumbhakarna to prodgies like Indrajit, who overthrow and humiliated Indra with spell and sword. I would heavily suggest that the rakshasa have their own magical and martial traditions, instead of piggybacking off mortals.

As far as human-rakshasa relations go, mythological rakshasa did marry humans and found them attractive (Ravana tried to marry Sita, Bhima had Ghatotkacha by Himdibi), so truly powerful mortals, whether of great virtue or great evil, could have rakshasi lovers or wives/husbands.

Edited by - LordofBones on 04 Jul 2018 03:15:58
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Ayrik
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Posted - 04 Jul 2018 :  08:25:06  Show Profile Send Ayrik a Private Message  Reply with Quote
2E Planescape (Planes of Law) describes Rakshasas being native to Acheron, usually semi-isolated enclaves led by Rajahs and Maharajahs. The other inhabitants (armies and soldiers, monsters, dragons, and fiends) native to Acheron generally avoid the Rakshasa. The Raks have an insatiable hunger for souls. And their attitudes towards the Realms is probably the same as the general attitude shared by all planars towards primers - specifically, they probably think of Realmsfolk being ignorant parochial bumpkins.

[/Ayrik]
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Icelander
Master of Realmslore

1577 Posts

Posted - 04 Jul 2018 :  12:52:51  Show Profile  Visit Icelander's Homepage Send Icelander a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Bragi

There are Rakshasa communities in the Beastlands, the city of Tirumala is mostly populated by Rakshasa. There is a tribe that lives in the Dustwall Mountains, and there is a great tribe of Rakshasa described as living "east of the Raurin desert." I would say the area around the Raurin desert would be your best location. They are listed as being uncommon in the Hordelands. One could speculate that there are larger Rakshaska populations in the Utter East but I don't think there is an cannon mention of them there. I agree with your assessment of the area where they are most likely to be found.


Of course, Tirumala exists in 4e, which puts it a century out of time from my campaign. It doesn't appear to have existed in the Veldorn of the 1300s, which is natural enough, as presumably the 'Beast-Chieftains' of Veldorn fight constantly for domination and cities rise and fall in consequence. Googling suggests that Tirumala was 'rebuilt' in the 1470s, which means that it may have been an ancient city that had fallen into ruins during the period in which I play.

By the lifespans of rakshasa, a century is not so very much, so it's very possible, indeed, most probable, that the ruler of Tirumala, the eponymous Tirumala, was alive and well in my time.

Is there any more information about Tirumala in the Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide than in this short Forgotten Realms Wiki blurb?

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Icelander
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Posted - 04 Jul 2018 :  14:22:43  Show Profile  Visit Icelander's Homepage Send Icelander a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by sleyvas

regarding this
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.

Actually there are some noted subordinate rakshasa listed for these two in the Monster Manual 3 for 3.5 edition.

NAZTHARUNE RAKSHASAS IN FAERŰN
Most naztharune rakshasas serve the ak’chazar rakshasas as spies and assassins. A pair of ak’chazar rakshasas operating in Unther has sent naztharune agents to stir up unrest in neighboring Chessenta, most notably in the cities of Cimbar, Luthcheq, and Soorenar. These naztharune rakshasas have already compromised several local guilds and eliminated key politicians and merchants in an attempt to turn the Chessentan cities’ hatred of one another into open war. Naztharune rakshasas have also been encountered in cities as far west as Waterdeep and Calimport, in some cases pursuing their own agendas.


Most excellent!

Thank you, I must have forgotten about that. I was going to give the two Ak'Chazar some rakshasa henchmen, to have the potential for a larger than life martial art scene between the epic PCs (particularly Rasul, the bard/martial artist) and some more-than-human rakshasa with elegance and skill learned over centuries of life.

In raksahsa society, I'm sure the Ak'Chazar rank as nobles and I'm considering making these two outcasts from one of the kingdoms of the rakshasa, where they had tried and failed to seize the throne as rajah. I guess they could come from those who live in the Dustwall or maybe the ones who in the future, 4e Realms, would rebuild Tirumala in the foothills of the Curna Mountains.

Or they might come from the great tribe east of the Raurin, which I'd place in the Scarlet Jungle. I'm inclined to place a Maharajah of the rakshasa there.

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sleyvas
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Posted - 04 Jul 2018 :  15:04:43  Show Profile Send sleyvas a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Hmmm, interesting info on Tirumala. So, based on the lore, the city was previously a city of Durpar prior to the spellplague. It was assaulted by giants. Then the Rakshasa moved in. It might be interesting if the aforementioned Ak'Chazar Rakshasa beneath Unthalass were the source of this Rakshasa "realm" being founded after the spellplague. After all, after the spellplague, they really have no reason to hang around Unthalass much anymore, since the city is in ruins and filled with lamia. Perhaps they took over a tribe of hill giants, with possibly orc servants, and then acquired kenku spies from the beastlands, and then setup shop in a now "distressed" Durpar and started gathering slaves.

Alavairthae, may your skill prevail

Phillip aka Sleyvas
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Icelander
Master of Realmslore

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Posted - 04 Jul 2018 :  15:42:33  Show Profile  Visit Icelander's Homepage Send Icelander a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by sleyvas

Hmmm, interesting info on Tirumala. So, based on the lore, the city was previously a city of Durpar prior to the spellplague. It was assaulted by giants. Then the Rakshasa moved in. It might be interesting if the aforementioned Ak'Chazar Rakshasa beneath Unthalass were the source of this Rakshasa "realm" being founded after the spellplague. After all, after the spellplague, they really have no reason to hang around Unthalass much anymore, since the city is in ruins and filled with lamia. Perhaps they took over a tribe of hill giants, with possibly orc servants, and then acquired kenku spies from the beastlands, and then setup shop in a now "distressed" Durpar and started gathering slaves.


Of course 'long ago' might mean that it was a city of Durpar long, long before the Spellplague, some centuries or millennia, even. In any case, I can't find any settlement of Durpar in the area in pre-4e materials, though, of course, there is no reason there might not have been one (it's not as if the maps are detailed and comprehensive).

In my campaign, I think I'll assume that the city that will become Tirumala is old ruins, but that rakshasa live in the area of the Seven Holy Hills in the foothills of the Curna Mountains and that the area has some historical and mythological associations with the race.

There is evidence that the Giant's Belt and the Dustwall has been home to rakshasa for a long time. I suppose that would fit well enough if the center of their power was in the Scarlet Jungle, as in ancient times, that jungle included the Ajmer Forest and therefore stretched over the northeast parts of Durpar and maybe even further.

As the ruler of Tirumala is the rakshasa rajah Tirumala and rakshasa are noted as having a strict caste-based system, I would not link him to the two Ak'Chazar rakshasa in Unthalass. For one thing, Tirumala is not noted for its use of undead soldiers or laborers, but instead for hill giants, orcs and kenku, as well as hafling and human slaves. For another, Ak'Chazar are not rakshasa Rajahs and, therefore, by the caste-based system of rakshasa, can never become Rajahs. Rulership is inborn, not acquired, in a caste-based system.

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Icelander
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Posted - 04 Jul 2018 :  21:04:30  Show Profile  Visit Icelander's Homepage Send Icelander a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Ayrik

2E Planescape (Planes of Law) describes Rakshasas being native to Acheron, usually semi-isolated enclaves led by Rajahs and Maharajahs. The other inhabitants (armies and soldiers, monsters, dragons, and fiends) native to Acheron generally avoid the Rakshasa. The Raks have an insatiable hunger for souls. And their attitudes towards the Realms is probably the same as the general attitude shared by all planars towards primers - specifically, they probably think of Realmsfolk being ignorant parochial bumpkins.


I like the idea of the rakshasa as reincarnations of mortals too bound up with earthly pleasures, riches, hubris and lusts to accept an afterlife on the Outer Planes.

At the same time, I also like them being, to a degree, mortal, in that they are born and die. I suppose that one way to reconcile the various portrayals of rakshasa in different D&D sources, as well as their mythological origin, would be for rakshasa to give birth to live young, but that these were the reincarnations of past rakshasa. This is an excellent reason for their low birth rate (once every century) and the note that this is done to replace rakshasa who have died.

I'd have rakshasa who were successful in life, upheld dharma and gained renown, reincarnated into higher castes. Rakshasa who fell in battle with lesser foes might be reincarnated into a low warrior caste, to Acheron. Those who failed to uphold dharma, who gave into their feral instincts, would be reincarnated to the Crimson Jungle of Cathrys, on Carceri.

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sleyvas
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Posted - 04 Jul 2018 :  21:45:11  Show Profile Send sleyvas a Private Message  Reply with Quote
The "current" 5e idea behind Rakshasa is that they are devils who performed a ritual that freed them from the hierarchy of Hell. When they die, they reform in Hell, unless they are killed IN Hell. As a result, I'd say they stay anywhere BUT Hell. I'm not against this idea, but I also won't say its the greatest either. What I can say is that if it were true, I would expect that Asmodeus and the other lords of Hell would be on the lookout for rakshasa that are "reforming". They may seek to entrap them somehow. Also, while most rakshasa were created long ago, I'd bet that the ritual still exists and can be found by devils that search for the secret. Thus, "rogue" devils (or devils desperate to escape the displeasure of the lords of Hell) may seek to escape Hell's hierarchy by hunting down this secret.

Along these lines, when a rakshasa dies, it may reform in hell in its OLD body (you know, like as a spined devil) and have to wait for its cat body to form. This could make for an interesting storyline, especially if the formation of the body required them to acquire materials (such as fresh demon blood or body parts, requiring them to rejoin the blood war temporarily.... or maybe requiring larvae and trading with hags, etc..). Also, during this time, they may be willing to share the secret ritual to become a rakshasa in return for aid, and thus new rakshasa become formed. This would give the lords of hell an even bigger reason to have a bounty out for the death of any reforming rakshasa.

From the 5e monster manual
Evil Spirits in Mortal Flesh. Rakshasas originated long ago in the Nine Hells, when powerful devils created a dark ritual to free their essence from their fiendish bodies in order to escape the Lower Planes. A
rakshasa enters the Material Plane to feed its appetite for humanoid flesh and evil schemes. It selects its prey with care, taking pains to keep its presence in the world a secret.

Evil Reborn. For a rakshasa, death on the Material Plane means an agonizing and torturous return to the Nine Hells, where its essence remains trapped until its body reforms- a process that cart take months or years. When the rakshasa is reborn, it has all the memories and knowledge of its former life, and it seeks retribution against the one who slew it. If the target has somehow slipped through its grasp, the rakshasa might punish its killer's family, friends, or descendants. Like devils, rakshasas killed in the Nine Hells are forever destroyed.

Alavairthae, may your skill prevail

Phillip aka Sleyvas

Edited by - sleyvas on 04 Jul 2018 21:48:40
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LordofBones
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Posted - 05 Jul 2018 :  03:19:20  Show Profile Send LordofBones a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I see 5e has given up on anything that isn't a retread of "demons or devils did x".
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Icelander
Master of Realmslore

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Posted - 11 Jul 2018 :  15:56:08  Show Profile  Visit Icelander's Homepage Send Icelander a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Does anyone have suggestions as to how one would go about fixing the nomenclature of the rakshasa castes?

Rakshasa rulers are called 'Rajah', a familiar Hindi title ultimately derived from Sanskrit and widespread in South Asian languages, as well as existing as a loanword in many languages with contact with the Indian subcontinent, including English. The accepted translation is 'King', but a case might be made that in line with the original etymology, 'Ruler' would be a more accurate translation.

Judging from AD&D 2e sources, each Raja appears to rule about fifty rakshasa. This means that the common translation of 'King' for 'Rajah' should be understood to be closer to the medieval Irish or indeed medieval Indian conception of a 'King' than our modern view, i.e. that every warlord with pretensions to nobility claimed the title or king and was accorded royal if he could afford to keep a few full-time warriors.

Rakshasa great kings are called Maharajas, which is a perfectly valid Hindi title, with Sanskrit roots and means 'Great Ruler' or 'Great King'. According to AD&D 2e materials, there is approximately one Rakshasa Maharaja for every thousand rakshasa, though it is not specified whether he rules over them all, through twenty rajas subordinate to him, or if some common rakshasa belong to independent princely states ruled by sovereign rajas.

These two ranks do not seem to me problematic in themselves, but require some extrapolation before being used in a game. We are lacking materials that would allow us to determine to what extent Rajah and Maharaja are individual inborn castes and to what extent political titles that may be inherited by any appropriate scion born to a ruling family of a hypothetical 'royal' caste.

By which I mean, what is the caste and station of the brother of a Rakshasa Maharaja? Is he also a Maharaja? Is he a Raja? Or is he neither, unless he is also a ruler of rakshasa in his own name? Does he belong to a hypothetical caste of royals, probably dubbed rajanya?

Several Forgotten Realms sources mentions rakshasa 'nobles'. It is left unclear if this refers to all castes above commoners and how many such castes there might be.

There are several 1e and 2e references to 'ruhk' [sic] as rakshasa knights, men-at-arms for higher ranking rakshasa. In 3.5, I believe Rakshasa knights were presented as blackguard-ish unholy servitors of Ravanna, a martial order of rakshasa. This seems at odds with the idea that this is merely the lowest title of nobility among rakshasa.

Of course, as the two highest titles of rakshasa are drawn from Hindi and Sanskrit, it seems odd that 'ruhk' is not in any sense a Sanskrit or Hindi term for knight. It is true that 'rukh' means 'Chariot' in Persian, which was spoken widely in the court of the Mughal Emperors (and gave us 'rook' in Chess), among other Indian principalities, and that many rakshasa in Indian legends were legendary charioteers or chariot-warriors, but not only is the AD&D 'ruhk' a misspelling of the Persian word for chariot, but perfectly servicable Hindi and Sanskrit terms for 'charioteer' or 'chariot-warrior' exist. The most well known would be 'rathi' or 'chariot-warrior' (as opposed to the driver).

Even in the context of rakshasa, some of them are given the appellation Maharathi ('Great Chariot-warrior') in Indian legends. So 'Rathi' as a title for rakshasha knights would have fit. Ruhk does not, at all, as calling a heroic warrior a 'chariot', whether in a foreign language or not, would be like referring to medieval knights as 'horses' instead of 'knight'/'ritter'/'caballero'/etc.

This is also overlooking the fact that there is an Indo-Aryan term for a caste of noble warriors, the kshatriya, which includes all rulers and aristocratic rulers.

I would feel that it fit D&D rakshasa to be composed exclusively of self-identifying aristocrats, i.e. ones that in the classic Vedic caste system would be brahmins (priests, sages and philosophers) or kshatriya (warriors, warlords, rulers). The lower classes would be composed of other species, ruled by the rakshasa.

Personally, I would like the Maharaja and Rajah rakshasa to be a super-caste, unifying brahmim and kshatriya. Their function would be as much religious as wordly.

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dazzlerdal
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Posted - 11 Jul 2018 :  17:13:34  Show Profile Send dazzlerdal a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Have realms rakshasa and non realms rakshasa. Then you can call realms rakshasa what you like and make up any title you like.

In my version realms rakshasa are descended from the honour guard of myrkul bey al kursi who were cursed for assisting him in his evils. Names like ak chazar and an shasa are the names of different clans descended from these cursed individuals.
Al hanar is the name of another of the honour guard of myrkul but they escaped the curse and fled to the shaar where they established a castle and a military order.

Core rakshasa also exist but are physically similar to realms rakshasa (although I can mess with the powers of realms rakshasa to mess with the players).

But that's only for those who follow the pan spermia, multi formal, co existant, convergent evolution theory (And since I made it up only i follow it).

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Icelander
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Posted - 14 Jul 2018 :  02:06:30  Show Profile  Visit Icelander's Homepage Send Icelander a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by dazzlerdal

Have realms rakshasa and non realms rakshasa. Then you can call realms rakshasa what you like and make up any title you like.

In my version realms rakshasa are descended from the honour guard of myrkul bey al kursi who were cursed for assisting him in his evils. Names like ak chazar and an shasa are the names of different clans descended from these cursed individuals.
Al hanar is the name of another of the honour guard of myrkul but they escaped the curse and fled to the shaar where they established a castle and a military order.

Core rakshasa also exist but are physically similar to realms rakshasa (although I can mess with the powers of realms rakshasa to mess with the players).

But that's only for those who follow the pan spermia, multi formal, co existant, convergent evolution theory (And since I made it up only i follow it).


Fair enough.

Out of interest, does anyone know where whoever wrote Monster Manual III got the names Ak'Chazar and Naztharune?

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sleyvas
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Posted - 15 Jul 2018 :  01:08:09  Show Profile Send sleyvas a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Icelander

quote:
Originally posted by dazzlerdal

Have realms rakshasa and non realms rakshasa. Then you can call realms rakshasa what you like and make up any title you like.

In my version realms rakshasa are descended from the honour guard of myrkul bey al kursi who were cursed for assisting him in his evils. Names like ak chazar and an shasa are the names of different clans descended from these cursed individuals.
Al hanar is the name of another of the honour guard of myrkul but they escaped the curse and fled to the shaar where they established a castle and a military order.

Core rakshasa also exist but are physically similar to realms rakshasa (although I can mess with the powers of realms rakshasa to mess with the players).

But that's only for those who follow the pan spermia, multi formal, co existant, convergent evolution theory (And since I made it up only i follow it).


Fair enough.

Out of interest, does anyone know where whoever wrote Monster Manual III got the names Ak'Chazar and Naztharune?



The Ak'Chazar are a cross-breed of Tchazzar and a Rakshasa :-) J/K

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Thraskir Skimper
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Posted - 15 Jul 2018 :  01:57:28  Show Profile Send Thraskir Skimper a Private Message  Reply with Quote
There could be some in Thay, might have to ask around.

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LordofBones
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Posted - 15 Jul 2018 :  02:45:47  Show Profile Send LordofBones a Private Message  Reply with Quote
They seem to be random names, given that rakshasa in the myths didn't actually have species. Even the animal-head thing is kind of 'eh', given that the most distinct rakshasa look humanoid (Kumbhakarna, Ravana, Ghatotkacha, Vibhishana, Indrajit, etc).

I'd wager they're all pretty respectful of the Vedic Trinity, since Ravana, God-King of the their people, is a Shiva devotee.
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Icelander
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Posted - 15 Jul 2018 :  02:54:19  Show Profile  Visit Icelander's Homepage Send Icelander a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by LordofBones

They seem to be random names, given that rakshasa in the myths didn't actually have species. Even the animal-head thing is kind of 'eh', given that the most distinct rakshasa look humanoid (Kumbhakarna, Ravana, Ghatotkacha, Vibhishana, Indrajit, etc).

I'd wager they're all pretty respectful of the Vedic Trinity, since Ravana, God-King of the their people, is a Shiva devotee.


Well, rakshasa should absolutely look human, because they are creatures of maya, or the 'Veil of Illusion'. But their true forms being different from their seeming forms is mythologically accurate, as they are not truly Enlightened, despite their great power, skill and intelligence.

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Shadowsoul
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Posted - 15 Jul 2018 :  11:56:26  Show Profile Send Shadowsoul a Private Message  Reply with Quote
In my games Rakshasas are always main villains. You do not randomly run into a Rakshasa. They are always part of a major plot and there are a finite number of them. In my lore they have always existed but once killed their numbers go down - new rakshasas do not appear.

There are two Lion-headed Rakshasa, one in Anauroch who is worshipped as a god by the Lamia there, and another in the Shaar who claims to be a Herald of Nobanion. The latter one is trying to manipulate the Wemics there.

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Gyor
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Posted - 22 Jul 2018 :  13:47:31  Show Profile Send Gyor a Private Message  Reply with Quote
In 4e Rakshasa's we're fallen 4e Devas (player race).
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Icelander
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Posted - 25 Jul 2018 :  16:53:45  Show Profile  Visit Icelander's Homepage Send Icelander a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Incidentally, does anyone know why 3e/3.5 rakshasa are written up without the Scent ability?

At least in their natural form, are they not meant to have the senses of a predatory animal?

Even if not all rakshasa may have the olfactory sense of a tiger or leopard, I feel like at least the Naztharune rakshasa would.

Is there a lore reason the senses of rakshasa are more like improved versions of human ones than they are like the senses of the animals whose heads they share?

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LordofBones
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Posted - 25 Jul 2018 :  18:32:35  Show Profile Send LordofBones a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Because rakshasa are evil spirits who just happen to have animal heads, not actually animal spirits. The animal heads are symbolic, otherwise mantis-headed rakshasa would have severe hearing issues.
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Icelander
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Posted - 25 Jul 2018 :  20:19:34  Show Profile  Visit Icelander's Homepage Send Icelander a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by LordofBones

Because rakshasa are evil spirits who just happen to have animal heads, not actually animal spirits. The animal heads are symbolic, otherwise mantis-headed rakshasa would have severe hearing issues.


That's a good point and is an excellent reason why generic rakshasa shouldn't have Scent.

One might consider, however, what the animal heads symbolise? What tigerish traits are tiger-headed rakshasa supposed to have? Just arrogance, vanity and ferocity? Or might their sensual nature sometimes manifest in an animal-like obsession with taste and smell, texture and feel, appearances and beauty?

Rakshasa are considered fundamentally 'evil' in the mythology because of their overly strong preoccupation with material things, the Veil of Illusion of the physical world, and their refusal to recognise the inherent lack of importance of wordly trappings. Instead of concerning themselves with spiritual advancement and enlightenment, as Hindu thought would dictate, rakshasa covet material things, wordly power and sensual experiences.

To me, it makes sense that one of the paths by which rakshasa might pursue their wicked destinies is through closer identification with their beastly symbols or totems. Rakshasa who glory in battle or the hunt are reborn ever more savage and materialistic, with some of them eventually ending up Chaotic Evil on Carceri (it's canon ever since 1e AD&D that CE rakshasa exist on the more chaotic Outer Planes). I'd think that rakshasa at risk of such a life path were very much like Kipling's Shere Khan in personality and manners, complete with sniffing for prey, with Scent.

It also seems to suit Naztharune rakshasa very well, as they are almost pure hunters and predators, with no spellcasting or more civilised arts.

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Icelander
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Posted - 27 Jul 2018 :  13:48:17  Show Profile  Visit Icelander's Homepage Send Icelander a Private Message  Reply with Quote
One consequence of the immunity of rakshasa to spells and spell-like abilities of 8th level or lower is that rakshasa will almost never be able to affect each other with their magic. In fact, anyone lower than 17th level as a pure caster can be simply ignored as a threat by rakshasa. No magic they can do will harm the rakshasa. That certainly goes a long way toward explaining their extraordinary arrogance. Basically, only archmages and people of comparable power can threaten rakshasa with their spells.

As for physical attacks, it depends on how I interpret the various editions, but it is, at any rate, fairly difficult to harm them with physical attacks. I plan on having rakshasa be all-but invulnerable to non-magical weapons and difficult to harm seriously with anything but the more powerful magics (i.e. analogous to the '+1/+2 weapons to hit, half damage from anything less than +3/+4' of earlier editions).

No special weakness is noted for the Ak'Chazar and Naztharune rakshasa, but I find it thematically appropriate for all kinds of rakshasa to share a supernatural weakness. I am considering having blessed arrows, as well as blessed crossbow bolts, work as 'silver bullets' to overcome all their protections and kill them as if they were mere normal men. That's mostly because I find it really odd to find crossbow bolts be important in mythology from an Indian-esque culture, where archery is the sport of kings and the most important martial art.

I can see a divine curse where rakshasa are doomed to die from 'arrows blessed by the servants of the Gods' or something to that effect, with bolts counting as arrows as well, but I'm having a really hard time imagining any kind of metaphysical effect affecting all rakshasa which is linked to a weapon which was mostly known as a hunting tool or trap for barbaric peoples.

At the time Indian myths about rakshasa developed, crossbows were either unknown in that cultural sphere, or, assuming we credit that crossbows were invented in Southeast Asia and might have been known in the Indian world through Assam, Burma and the Cham and Khmer peoples of Indochina, crossbows were at least not developed into a weapon considered useful in warfare by any Indian peoples.

The Indian climate is hostile to the kind of lamination needed to produce good composite crossbows and as for the heavy draw steel ones, by the time these could have been produced by Indian smiths, they already had firearms, which are much cheaper and more effective. Not to mention that the bows beloved by Indian-esque warriors really are much more efficient and effective than crossbows, assuming you've spent many years learning to shoot them with accuracy and power.

The advantages of crossbows mostly lie in the much greater ease of learning to use one and consequent logistical benefits, as well as the highest draw weight and most advanced versions of crossbows shooting heavy ammunition that only the strongest and most skilled archers could ever shoot from bows. That kind of high draw weight crossbow, though, would not have been known in historical India, except after contact with Europeans and then only as a historical curiosity.

People often make the mistake of thinking that you can compare Late Medieval steel crossbows or High Medieval composite ones to the wooden hunting crossbows known in many cultures and then wonder why crossbows weren't used more in warfare in those cultures. The truth is that a hand-spanned crossbow with limbs of unlaminated wood, i.e. the only kind likely to have been known in historical India, is mostly useful for killing birds and small prey animals.

One curiosity of the 'common' rakshasa being so very nearly immune to all magic is that the Naztharune rakshasa, in lacking any spell immunity and having 'only' SR 21, will be the only kind of rakshasa who really need to fear the spells of other rakshasa. This neatly explains why they are usually content to follow and don't demand to lead every enterprise they are involved in.

It's somewhat odder that the Ak'Chazar rakshasa, as written, actually lacks the magical immunity of the 'common' rakshasa. As they are in all other respects their physical, intellectual and magical superiors, this is puzzling. Granted, the SR 31 is functionally about the same thing as perfect immunity to magic from lower level casters, but still, a common rakshasa is actually better protected from casters of 11th to 16th level than an Ak'Chazar rakshasa. I suppose that can be rationalised by saying that Ak'Chazar rakshasa must give up some of their magic immunity to be able to cultivate their closer connection to their sorcerous gifts.

I would be inclined to interpret Trap the Soul as bypassing the Immunity to 8th level or lower spells when a creature's name is spoken, just like it bypasses Spell Resistance. That means that Ak'Chazar rakshasa actually can affect other rakshasa with one of their most powerful spell-like abilities, if they know their true names. This, in turn, explains why many other rakshasa obey them, as one assumes that Ak'Chazar rakshasa place a great importance on tracking down the true names of other rakshasa.

Of course, physically, Ak'Chazar rakshasa are probably more powerful than any 'common' rakshasa. Rakshasa rathi ('Knights', who are sometimes incorrectly referred to as 'rukh'), rajahs ('Lords' or 'Kings') and maharajahs ('Great Lords' or 'Great Kings') may be able to defeat them hand to hand, however, though even rakshasa maharajahs are not often more powerful magically than the Ak'Chazar are, and almost never magically powerful enough to pose much of a threat to their SR 31.

Considering that different versions of (A)D&D make rakshasa immune to 'any spell less powerful than the 8th level spell', 'any spell 8th level or lower' or 'any spell 6th level or lower', I think I'll allow some variation among rakshasa in my games. Some, the lowest rung of society, will 'just' be immune to anything available to 12th level and lower characters, i.e. 6th level spells and lower. Others will be immune to 7th level spells and lower and the most powerful ones, both among the 'common' rakshasa and certainly rathi, rajahs and maharajahs, will be immune to 8th level spells and lower, i.e. anything but 9th level spells are useless.

This is especially important as the highest level spells available to my PCs are the equivalent of 7th level spells, meaning they can affect the lowliest rakshasa with their most powerful magics, but not the more powerful ones. Technically, the two Ak'Chazar rakshasa will not be immune to any of their magic, but with the extreme magic resistance they have, they might as well be.

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Edited by - Icelander on 27 Jul 2018 13:55:22
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