Planar RacesThis page will be a brief introduction to the more common planar races. Similar to a treatise on prime races which would focus on humans, elves, dwarves, gnomes and halflings, this will focus on the "common" planar races. That is to say, the races that are numerous and well represented across the multiverse, and will not, for example, look at creatures such as the various so-called "exemplar races" Such creatures will be dealt with in the respective section of their native plane, as will any monstrous creatures that bear discussion, such as Khaasta, Modrons or Rakshasa.
- Planar Half-elves
- Planar Humans
Elves, dwarves, halflings, gnomes, and the like are scattered around the planes like the other races, but a canny berk'll notice a common there - most of the time, they're found only in the realms of their deities. The planes have been around since the beginning of creation, just like the Prime Material Plane. Millennia ago prime demihumans adventured to the realms of their deities, decided they liked it there, and stayed to establish homes and raise families. Communities of planar demihumans are born, live and die in the specific areas that their gods have established as realms. Few ever leave; if a body lived in the perfect home of her god, her people's idea of heaven, would she bother to go adventuring around the planes? Probably not. Only a trivial number of planar demihumans live outside the realms of their gods.
Now, a few demihuman prime conclaves exist in rare places; take for example the village of Barnstable, a halfling burg that got sucked into Limbo by rogue magic. Those halflings now live on the planes, but are not planar; after a generation or two though, their kids will be planars.
Aasimar are the other side of the tiefling coin. Like tieflings, aasimar are plane-touched. But while tieflings have the blood of some sort of lower-planar creature in their veins, aasimar are the scions, or descendants of scions, of celestial beings from the Upper Planes.
These folk generally appear as gloriously beautiful humans with golden hair, fair skin, and piercing eyes. They might be mistaken for half-elves, or even true aasimon, for their innate purity and inhuman glory. Most aasimar are true to their sires and the blood that courses through their veins, being true of heart, courageous and honest to a fault. Their nobility and goodness are legendary. Nevertheless, a few turn stag and become as untrustworthy a bunch of spivs as ever plied the cross-trade.
Unlike other plane-touched, aasimar are rarely orphaned or abandoned by their nonhuman parent. Thought usually raised buy the human parent in human communities, the celestial - if possible - tries to maintain at least some contact or provide some influence in the child's life, guiding him along on the right path.
Aasimar often attempt to pass as normal humans in order to right wrongs and defend goodness in a mortal community. They strive to fit into society, although the usually rise to the top as cream rises above milk, becoming revered leaders and honourable leaders.
At least a few aasimar have features different from those described above. An aasimar with planetar blood, for example, may have green skin. Some may even have nonhuman attributes such as regal-looking tails, birdlike or leonine lower bodies, or even vestigial wings. A few rare specimens have spell-like abilities such as detect lie, detect evil, or light.
Aasimar are scattered throughout the Outlands and Upper and Neutral Planes, but naturally avoid prolonged stays on any of the Lower Planes. (They're too likely to be mistaken for an Aasimon of some kind, and a Tanar'ri or Baatezu can't stand the sight of an aasimon.) They usually dress to fit in with the population around them, so an aasimar living among the elven folk of Arborea dresses like an elf and assumes many of his hosts' mannerisms. When an aasimar's moved to great emotion, his heritage shines through his face like sunlight through clouds. There aren't many evil bashers who can look an angry aasimar in the eye.
As noted above, aasimar prefer to blend in with their neighbors and form no independent societies. They tend to be great travelers and wanderers, since they are welcomed anywhere on the Upper Planes and can pass without notice in most other places. Some aasimar set themselves up as traders and merchants; these cutters do a good business, since everyone knows they're trustworthy. In fact, when an aasimar bobs some sod, he's likely to get away with it since most people'll take his word over his victim's.
The bariaur - herbivorous denizens of the upper planes - often remind primes of centaurs, their goat bodies topped by human torsos and arms. Their faces display somewhat more animal-like features than centaurs, and male bariaur sport a fine pair of curling ram's horns.
Bariaur can be exceedingly fussy about their appearances and they usually wear shirts, jackets,blouses, vests, and leather girdles, but this is a matter of personal taste rather than decorum. They also spend a good deal of time dyeing and shaving their pelts in intricate patterns. The look is often finished with jewelry hung from horns or woven into their woolly hair. They're well known for their wanderlust, building no towns but roaming over several of the Upper Planes in a seemingly random path. Bariaur are a carefree lot. To some they appear irresponsible, but it's only a powerful wanderlust that makes them seem unsettled. There are no known bariaur towns, and few bariaur make anything like a permanent home. They do congregate in herds of their own kind, but the more dauntless range far and wide on their own or with adventuring parties. Sedentary bariaur favor a pastoral life of tending sheep herds, watching over meadows, and acting as guardians of the wilderness. This isn't to say they won't be found in cities, but those sods are usually visiting out of curiosity or on business.Most claim Ysgard as their birthplace, thought some herds are native to Elysium, the Beastlands, or Arborea.
An under-reported aspect of bariaur life is their robust playfulness. They believe that that the two great goods are the advancing of their strong sense of honor and the need to have a good time. The bariaur often meet in shows of friendly rivalry on the great grassy plains of Ysgard. At these festivals they stage singing contests, tell tale tales, and play an intricate game not unlike polo. Human observers often mistake the rivalry for pride or pettiness, and are often completely flabbergasted when, at the end of a festival, the bariaur depart on the friendliest terms.
Even bariaur adventurers on a hard quest may arrange simple contests to remind them of the joy of life. It is a magical moment when a grimly determined bariaur happens on one of his fellows and puts aside his honor-driven quest for a few minutes (or hours) of race and sport. Such events often do them as much good as a night's sleep. Then they return to their quests. Nothing saddens a bariaur like learning that a companion
is sad. These brave ones fear neither death nor the most monstrous manifestation of the powers of darkness; yet they have been known to journey across the most dangerous planar barriers to visit the sickbed of a valued friend.
In personality, bariaur are usually carefree, social, out-going and friendly. Thought considered frivolous by some, the sturdy bariaur nevertheless are fierce fighters when their families or friends are threatened. Ysgardian bariaur, in particular, hold a special hatred for giants, no doubt due to the predations of the enormous humanoids upon bariaur herds.
Tall, slender, and looking like the riddles they speak, the dabus are feared by some to be the true masters of Sigil, the hidden genius of her being. For others they are nothing but slaves that maintain Sigil's mighty engines. Their thoughts literally fill the air when they pass, for the dabus's speech is illusion shaped into pictures that mortals can then reshape into sounds - the dabus communicate not by word, but by the complicated structures of the rebus. These are the ultimate in thought-pictures, where symbols are chosen for the sounds made in a language, and the sounds are strung together to form words. They have mouths and seem perfectly capable of speaking, but they never do. The images are the picture equivalents of sounds that match whatever language the onlooker speaks. When a dabus is excited, the rebuses can flicker by with dazzling speed.
The dabus are the servants of our Dread Lady, Her Serenity the Lady of Pain. Her will is their will. They are also Sigil's first settlers, more native than the planars who just happen to be born here. There are no records, no tales, not even rumors of a time in Sigil when the dabus were not present, silently watching over the City of Doors. They're unique to the Cage, never found anywhere else in the planes. In other words, the dabus never leave Sigil.
Some of the wise say that the dabus built Sigil, and that's why they serve it as no other Cagers do. Dabus seem to consider Sigil their master as much as the Lady, for they are forever patching and fixing it, laying cobbles, digging for pipes, trimming back razorvine, roofing city buildings, whitewashing, and sweeping the streets. Likewise, they often tear down sections and build over streets that they find unworthy (for reasons known only to themselves). Oddly, when the dabus are questioned they claim that the city itself created them. However, some berks discover another side of their duties, because the dabus also work as agents of the Lady of Pain. Sometimes they appear to punish those knights who have gotten too forward in their plans, and sometimes they arrive in force to put down riots, but they're not concerned with normal crime. It's the factions that are left to deal with the thieves and murderers in Sigil. The dabus only show up when there's a threat to their Lady, and that's usually a sign that another one of the Mazes is about to appear.
No one's quite clear on what they mean by this, and they rarely elaborate. The few vague explanations they do offer are completely obscure. The homes of the dabus are deep underground; some Cagers say that the entire torus is a warren of dabus, and the part of Sigil on its surface is only the face the city shows to the Ring, to travelers. The actual city is a maze of deep tunnels, storehouses, dungeons, and corridors that have remained entirely proof against invasion for eons upon eons. Others (perhaps less prone to exaggeration, perhaps less willing to see the truth) claim that the dabus' supposed warrens are no deeper than fox dens or slaad nests: shallow diggings that are simply refuges for the dabus. The darkest rumors claim that the dabus wish to restore the pristine state the city exhibited before other races traveled the planes, when the Cage was entirely under the dabus' control.
The dabus claim to be organized into cells (if their rebuses are read correctly). Each cell has a duty in the city, though it is not tied to one place or skill. One day a member of a cell gathers the trash that blows out of the Great Bazaar. The next, it might be resetting cobbles near the Hive. Whatever guides them in their tasks, the dabus seem to always know what is expected of them.
All dabus are of the same sex, for the race appears to have no sex at all. There are no dabus young, yet they do seem to be able to replace those lost to accident or misadventure. No one is sure how they do so, but the best guess is that a new member is constructed from the merged illusions of the others, that the word-pictures take on real form, that what is written/spoken has reality for these creatures that translates into reality for others.
The whisper of a breeze, the crackle of flame, the crest of a wave, the immovability of stone - these things are as much a part of the genasi as flesh and blood. The genasi are plane-touched beings, the descendants of a union of a human and an elemental creature (usually a djinni, hence the name genasi).
These extremely rare beings inspire more distrust and prejudice than other plane-touched, for public opinion regards them as more alien. In general, they also maintain a contempt for other races and an air of superiority that doesn't endear them to anyone.
It's often assumed that genasi if differing elements have a natural hatred for one another, simply by fact of their warring elemental natures. This isn't true; a single genasi usually resents and dislikes all others of his kind, not just those of different elements. Not surprisingly, two genasi (or more) are virtually never encountered together.
Their elemental nature is often extremely evident. Individuals nearly always display a physical characteristic or two that reveals they are more than simply human - skin or hair colour, a special aura, or some other such manifestation almost always marks them. Further, each type of genasi usually displays personality traits relative to his elemental nature. While each genasi is a complex individual, some remain virtual caricatures of their heritage. Fire genasi are often hot tempered and quick, while earth genasi are slow and methodical.
Like all plane-touched, the exact heritage of an individual genasi is often unknown, and usually very difficult to determine. Most elements have a number of different intelligent races from which a genasi could have sprung, and normally elemental creatures are loath to accept the half-breed and his descendants, or even admit to their parentage.
Spirits of the wind, djinn, sylphs, and other such creatures very rarely take special, exceptional human men and women to be their mates. The offspring of these unions are air genasi, or (as they call themselves) wind dukes. Air genasi see themselves as the rightful inheritors of their lineage - the sky, the wind, and the very air that other creatures breathe.
These beings are usually raised on the plane of Air in the floating human cities and castles, although occasionally one will be raised amoung the djinn. Air genasi are accepted and even respected amoung the humans and other nonnative beings who have chosen the the plane of Air as their homes. Elsewhere on the planes however, they are as disliked as the genasi of other elements. In appearance, air genasi vary considerably, but usually display one or more of these traits: light blue skin or hair, a constant light wisp of a breeze about them at all times - even while indoors, a distinctive breathy voice with strange inflections and accent, flesh that is very cool to the touch.
Although wind dukes can have any number of different outlooks and personality traits, most are arrogant and pretentious, looking upon other races as inferiors (at least to some degree), and upon other genasi as rivals. Air genasi, surprisingly, have no need to breathe, and consider such base actions a horrible waste of pure, pristine air. Their contempt for breathing creatures begins here, and only gets worse. Of course this doesn't mean that an air genasi cannot interact and even be friends with members of other races - it just makes it even more difficult.
Aside from their arrogance, in general air genasi are wild, carefree individuals. They usually care little about their appearance, since having their hair tousled and their clothes ill-mended just shows the natural way of things in their eyes. Emotionally, they vary from calm reservedness to great intensity with little warning between the two.
Air genasi are often priests of air gods, fighters and, more rarely, wizards specialising in elemental air magics. They can also be specialty priests serving some sort of god of the sky, but cannot be druids.
Strong, immovable, and ponderous - stone princes exhibit these qualities of the earth. These are descendants of human and earth-being pairings, the elemental parent most often a dao. Creatures of elemental earth care nothing for creatures of flesh, and so such offspring are virtually always raised amoung their human kin. Most earth genasi embrace the elemental natures, reveling in their superiority, strength and earth-born power.
Though no less arrogant than the other genasi, the stone princes are not as obvious about it. Their conceit is the quiet certainty that they are greater than those around them. Their closeness to the earth gives them a connection to the fundamental aspects of the universe that lesser beings cannot even begin to fathom.
In appearance, many stone princes seem dirty, rough and rugged, like a handful of earth and rock; others look as impeccably clean as polished stones. They prefer no particular clothing, although many choose to adorn themselves and their possessions with precious gems and metals.
Earth genasi have one or more of the following physical traits: brown, leathery (almost stone-like) skin, a metallic sheen to their skin or hair, blocky features with thick torsos and limbs, brown, black or even grey hair, rough and gritty flesh, deep and slow speech like the rumbling of earth and black eyes like deep pits.
Slow to act and ponderous in thought, stone princes are far from stupid. The prefer to consider their actions and the implications and effects that those actions might have. Of all other races, dwarves are most likely to take to the earth genasi (and vice versa).
Earth genasi are usually fighters, wizards (some of them specialists of elemental earth), or priests of gods of stone or earth, or similar area of power.
A few earth genasi completely reject their elemental heritage and their progenitors who apparently abandoned them with such quick dismissal (earth genasi despise hasty thinking in any form). These self-declared orphans - called stone champions - use their inherited powers for the good of humanity and become selfless defenders of their mortal kin. Very rarely these disinherited genasi may be paladins, but are extremely rare.
Fiery and hot blooded, the heat of white flame burns in the hearts of the flame lords. They claim to be forged rather than born (though this is untrue, and merely a metaphor).
The offspring of humans and elemental creatures such as efreets or fire spirits are usually slain outright by their non-human parents, but some escape to human settlements with their mortal parents. These individuals and their descendants are flame lords, secure in the knowledge that they surpass in all ways the mundane, nonmagical creatures who surround them in mortal society.
Fire burns, destroys and consumes. Lesser creatures are afraid of fire, and so fire genasi believe themselves naturally superior - they are avatars of this fearful, destructive energy. It's easy to see why those of other races dislike the arrogant and hot-tempered flame lords even more than other genasi. Most (sometimes wrongly) assume that fire genasi are innately evil.
In personality, these elemental creatures stay true to their heritage - full of energy, high-strung (even tense), and quick to action. When they speak, they talk quickly, preferring to act rather than to discuss.
Fire genasi prefer blacks and reds in their clothing and jewelry. Appearance is important to them, although they prefer simple and elegant accoutrements to gaudy or lavish ones.
The physical appearance of these individuals includes one or more of the following traits: deep red or coal black skin, deep red hair moving on its own like waving flames, a voice crackling like the sound of a burning fire, perpetually warm flesh (even hot to the touch), fiery red eyes glowing with the intensity of flames.
Fire genasi can be fighter or wizards (rarely specialists of elemental fire), but can never be priests.
The endless lapping of wave after wave, the salty sea foam spraying into the air, the bottomless ocean depths with pitiless darkness and breath-stealing pressure - these are the pieces of a sea kings heart. Water genasi are the descendants of the rare offspring of a mortal and a water spirit such as a nereid (themost common parent), marid, or other watery elemental.
These elemental children are as unlike their brethren as they are their parents. An independence of a singular sort is bred into sea kings, giving rise to their unique outlook.
Water genasi often become the orphans of the sea, raised by neither parent but cared for by some kindly sea creature. Often dolphins, whales, mermen or tritons guard these outcasts, although sometimes darker races such as sharks, sahuagin, or even ixitxachitl parent the elemental beings rather than killing them for food. Such unfortunate souls are trained in evil practices, becoming powerful servants of those who raised them.
Those raised by more neutral or kindly folk usually stay with their adoptive parents for a short time before they take to the open sea alone. There, the water genasi explore and learn on their own. During their isolation, they develop strong personalities, each different from any other genasi, but always matching each other in extremes. Some exhibit traits of heroism to the point of martyrdom, while others are paranoid and peery to such as degree that a body can only assume they rave. This strong personality and extreme traits give them the arrogance common to all genasi. They believe themselves to be singular beings, unique to all the multiverse - and to some extent they are correct.
Water genasi always display one or more of the following physical traits: blue-green skin or hair, blue-black eyes, a light, thin layer of scales covering their bodies, hair waving and swaying as though under water, a muffled voice resembling under water sounds, cold and clammy flesh.
All water genasi are amphibious, though they have no visible gills. Rather, they simply breathe water as easily as air.
Generally water genasi can become fighters, rogues, bards, wizards (including specialist elemental water mages) and priests of water or sea gods, but can never be druids.
The history of the Githzerai is one ancient war and ancient slavery. Once of one race with the Githyanki under the enslavement of the Illithids, the Githzerai broke away from their mind flayer masters and then from their gith brethren, sparking a racial war that has continued into the present. The gith factions separated and found new homes; the Githyanki in the emptiness of the Astral Plane, and the Githzerai in the swirling chaos of Limbo. The Githzerai were freed from slavery under the mind flayers by a great woman warrior named Gith. These men and women did not, however, choose to follow Gith's ways after they revolted against their slavers. Instead, they fell sway to the teachings of a powerful wizard who proclaimed himself king - and later god - of the people. The Githzerai then separated from the Githyanki, beginning a racial war that has endured millennia without diminishing.
The Githzerai, who worship a powerful and ancient wizard, are destroyed before they gain enough power to threaten their ruler. A major religious sect, called "zerths" (who tend to be fighter/mages) worship the memory of Zerthimon, a legendary Githzerai hero, instead
Githzerai are humanoids, thinner and taller than humans with sharp features, long faces, and eyes of gray or yellow. Severe and serious, the Githzerai tend toward somberness in their clothing and personalities. They're usually close-mouthed, keeping their own council and trusting few outside their own kin.
Only a few things stir a Githzerai to passion. Their ancient hatreds of the Illithids and Githyanki erupt violently in any encounter with those races. Similarly, that are sworn to protect their race on their adopted home of Limbo, since that refuge was only won after millennia of hardship and war; any threat against their haven is met with whatever force is necessary to eliminate the threat.
To the Githzerai there are only three truths; that the Githyanki and Illithids will never be anything but mortal enemies; that they will allow nothing to hinder the survival of their race; and that no one will ever enslave them again.
On the plane of Limbo, the Githzerai live in cities of 100,000 or more, where they enjoy total power on an otherwise chaotic and unpredictable plane. One notable example is the capital city Shraktlor (pop. 2,000,000). which serves as headquarters for all Githzerai military matters. The greatest generals and nobles of the race meet here to plan strategy against the Githyanki and mind flayers. No force in Limbo can readily threaten Shraktlor's power.
Githzerai of Limbo who do not inhabit the cities dwell in strong fortresses. Typically, one of these fortresses contains approximately 3,000 githzerai led by a single supreme leader. This leader has absolute life-or-death authority.
Githzerai are obsessed with their war of extermination against the Githyanki. They employ mercenaries everywhere to aid them in the war. The evil, destructive nature of the Githyanki makes hiring mercenaries simple.
Usually the offspring of a planar human and a prime elf, half-elfs on the planes are both more and less unique than those on the Prime. More rare, because there are far fewer planar half-elves than prime ones; less unusual, because when compared to such plane-touched creatures as genasi and tieflings, a half-elf barely raises an eyebrow. To most planars, half-elves are simply pointy eared humans, without any special distinctiveness to set them apart.
As ubiquitous as their kin on the Prime, humans can simply be found everywhere, in any environment. Humans have carved out civilizations everywhere from the howling caves of Pandemonium to the depths of the Plane of Fire. Lacking special racial gifts and abilities, they compensate with determination and the will to achieve and succeed, regardless of circumstances or obstacles.
Of all the plane-touched, none precipitate as much fascination - or as much fear - as tieflings. Whereas aasimar are obviously touched by a celestial spark, and genasi have the potency of the elements running through their veins, tieflings are enshrouded with the mysteries of an unnamed heritage.
Obviously human and "something-else" crossbreeds, the "something else" in the tieflings' case is usually assumed to be lower-planar. Superficially human, their appearance always betrays them: some sport small horns, other have pointed ears, scales, a cloven hoof, or just a wicked gleam in their eye that never leaves. What they all have in common is a quick temper and a chip on their shoulder. They're often confused with alu-fiends, erinyes, incubi, and succubi (which they'll forgive), but never call a tiefling a bastard or a halfbreed. He'll take it personal-like. Plane-touched is the word, or "sir" or "lady". That stigma follows all tieflings through their lives. Loners by nature, they make their own paths out of necessity. Tieflings have no true society of their own; they are the outcasts of the planes, cast out of the Lower Planes, not trusted in the upper planes. Though many of them gather in Sigil, just as many others try to carve out a home in their own planes. They don't trust others (what orphan does?), but their self-confidence is nothing short of astounding. As distinctive from humans as they are from each other, tieflings tend to be wary and distrustful due to the reactions they come to expect from others. Tieflings take care of themselves, for they learn early that no one will take care of them.
But rather than withdraw into individual hermitages, tieflings challenge the multiverse with everything in their independent spirits. Determined to create their own fates, they dare things others might not even dream of and defy anything that stands in their way. Tieflings have a reputation as great but deceitful lovers. Their fickleness in affairs of the heart is legendary, and seems closely bound to their reputation as tricksters, liars, and frauds. Tiefling gamblers rarely find planars to fleece; they depend on the clueless and the young to line their pockets.
Tieflings are often persecuted by humans and others; "If there's blame, find a tiefling," "Don't ever make a bet with a tiefling," and "If a tiefling didn't do it, he was just pressed for time" are common sayings in Sigil. Naturally, this makes tieflings a little defensive around others, but it doesn't make them band together, as it might for other oppressed races. Good tieflings are doubly committed to their cause, as if trying to make up for the race's bad reputation.
Tieflings prefer to eat only meat, blood, bone, and marrow, preferably raw. They enjoy balaena blubber, gristle, and even roasted insects, which most races find disturbing. They drink strange concoctions of broth, oil, sulphur, and firewater, though they'll hoist an ale with any bubber in Sigil if nothing else is available. When meat is unavailable, they can live for short periods on ashes, coal and other mineral matter.