Dragonmarks: Aasimar

Recently I polled my Patreon backers for questions related to the Planes of Eberron. There’s still a lot of questions I’d like to address, so I’m going to keep talking about the planes for the rest of the month; I’ll hold a poll on Patreon soon to determine next month’s topic.

Have you done any thinking on the role of aasimar in the setting? I’d love an example or two of uniquely Eberron takes on them.

First of all, you might want to check my previous posts on using exotic races and tieflings, since many of the concepts overlap. I haven’t personally used aasimar in Eberron in the past. The Kalashtar already fill the role of “race touched by noble celestial force” and they have a well-established place in the setting; beyond that, we also already have the shulassakar as a race of divine champions touched by the Silver Flame.

Of course, aasimars don’t have to be an entire race. They can easily be individuals shaped by exposure to divine forces… or literally planetouched, altered by the energies of one of the planes. Here’s a few quick takes.

SHULASSAKAR

Do you want to be a member of a hidden race touched by divine power and devoted to fighting the forces of darkness? Then the shulassakar might be right for you. As described in this Dragonshard, the ancestors of the shulassakar were human; but after generations of serving the Silver Flame and the couatl, they have evolved into something new. They are described as being similar to yuan-ti, but as specifically having couatl traits instead of general serpent traits. Like the yuan-ti, the degree of this mutation varies. Transcendent shulassakar are equivalent to yuan-ti abominations. Flametouched shulassakar are similar to the malisons of 5E. And Flamesworn shulassakar are much like yuan-ti purebloods… nearly human, with just a few twists that reveal their true heritage and connection to the Silver Flame.

In playing an aasimar in 5E Eberron, one of the simplest options is to be a Flamesworn shulassakar. Your celestial guide is the spirit of a couatl, and your radiant racial powers reflect your connection both to the couatl and the Silver Flame. If you choose the Protector subrace, the wings you manifest are the rainbow-feathered wings of a couatl. As a Scourge you unleash the radiant power of the Silver Flame. The other racial features are all sound enough; as a Flamesworn shulassakar you don’t have sufficient serpentine traits to require mechanical representation. Physically you should appear to be generally human, but you could have a few unusual cosmetic details to make life interesting. You could have a mane of rainbow feathers instead of hair. Less dramatically, you could have serpentine eyes… and your irises might swirl in a rainbow of colors. You could have patches of iridescent scales. But mechanically you can use the features of the aasimar.

In playing a shulassakar aasimar, one question is your connection to others of your race. The shulassakar are a true-breeding race, devoted to fighting darkness and demons. They are few in number and generally work from the shadows. Have you been given a particular mission by a leader of your people? Or perhaps your cell was wiped out by the Lords of Dust, leaving you the only survivor? You could have a concrete mission you’re trying to accomplish, or you could be relying on your couatl mentor to guide you towards your destiny.

THE MIRON GAMBIT

When Bel Shalor threatened Thrane, a couatl contacted Tira Miron and guided her on the path to bind the demon. This was more than the typical tie between a cleric or paladin and their divine power source; Tira received direct guidance and power from a spiritual emissary of the Silver Flame. What does that look like if it happens today? Take a human; add the ability to communicate with an emissary of a divine force; say that this connection gives them an infusion of radiant energy and the ability to manifest this power; and you have an aasimar. The point is that this isn’t genetic; this is about destiny and faith. You weren’t born an aasimar; you were chosen to become one. Most likely you appear entirely human except when you use your radiant racial abilities; at these times you might be surrounded by a halo or similar dramatic effects. Why were you chosen? What is your mission? What is your spiritual guide?

The concept here is that an aasimar is someone that has a direct connection to a celestial and a mission from one of the primary faiths of Eberron. The Silver Flame is easy; you manifest radiant fire. If you’re tied to the Sovereign Host, the manifestation of your abilities might be reflected by the Sovereign you’re tied to. If you’re connected to Arawai, your radiant power might be a verdant green, and plants might flower when you touch them. If you’re tied to Olladra, you might have minor manifestations of good fortune — if you walk through a casino, the slot machines hit jackpots. The radiant manifestations of an aasimar tied to the Blood of Vol might be blood-red flames.

The critical question is what your celestial guide is like. If you want to have a mentor relationship with your guide — if it’s someone that you can TALK to — then it shouldn’t be a Sovereign or the Flame; instead it should be a celestial devoted to that force. So if you’re tied to Arawai, you don’t talk to HER; instead you have an angel from Irian who guides you in Olladra’s name. As an aasimar tied to the Silver Flame, you’re guided by a couatl (just like Tira Miron was). The strangest idea is that of the aasimar of the Blood of Vol, whose spiritual guide could be their own divine spark — the piece of divinity that exists within them and knows what they could become. Alternately you could have the aasimar receive visions or pronouncements that might come directly from a Sovereign. But following the general principle of Eberron that the divine is mysterious, you shouldn’t be able to just chat with a Sovereign; they would communicate in visions and intuition.

PLANETOUCHED AASIMARS

Aasimar are often described as “planetouched.” In Eberron, that’s an easy thing to be. If you want aasimar to be a thing that exists within the world in significant numbers, an easy option is to say that an aasimar is the result of a child being conceived in a powerful manifest zone or during a coterminous period tied to a generally positively aligned plane. A few obvious options are Irian, Syrania, Shavarath or Fernia.

 

  • Irian is the plane of light and life, and the easiest option for the classic Aasimar. You might have luminous eyes and a vibrant, healthy glow. Your celestial mentor would encourage you to fight the forces of darkness and to give hope to the hopeless.
  • If you’re tied to Shavarath, you have a connection to the Archons that embody just conflict. You should naturally be aggressive, quick to fight for any just cause and quick to assume that conflict can be the best response to a problem… though equally bound by principles of honor and chivalry. Your hair or even skin might be the color of steel, and you are most comfortable with a weapon in your hand.
  • Syrania is the plane of peace and contemplation. As a Syranian aasimar you would be driven to be a mediator, to settle disputes and bring people together. Given Syrania’s aerial aspect, the Protector aasimar is the logical path for a Syranian aasimar. Alternately, your celestial guide could be the divine spark of an Angel banished from Syrania after becoming a Radiant Idol; the angel has fallen, but the spark of its original nobility is with you… and perhaps it’s your destiny to find a way to reunite that spark with the Idol and redeem the fallen angel.
  • Fernia is a slightly odd choice, but noble spirits of Fernia embody the positive aspects of fire: the light that keeps shadows at bay and holds off the killing cold. The Scourge aasimar is the logical choice for Fernia; I might further replace any “necrotic” racial abilities with “Fire”, and the Scourge ability might inflict fire damage instead of radiant. Note that this is different from a Genasi because you’re not about elemental fire; you are about the idea of fire as a positive force in the world. As a Fernian aasimar, you might have a mane of cold fire instead of hair, or burning eyes.

 

The critical question with planetouched aasimar is how many of them exist? If your Fernian aasimar with the burning hair walks into a bar, does anyone know what you are? And of those who do, are you considered to be blessed, or are you a freak? Sharn is in a Syranian manifest zone and since it’s not full of aasimar, presumably it takes more than proximity alone to produce one… unless you decide that your Sharn IS full of aasimar, in which case people are probably fairly familiar with them!

OFF THE WALL

As long as we’re considering crazy ideas…

  • You’re an experiment by House Vadalis. You HAVE a connection to the Silver Flame, but it’s artificially engineered, not driven by faith. You escaped from the house and they’re hunting you — if they can isolate your connection, they can harness the power of the Flame for the Twelve.
  • Same idea, but it’s the Lords of Dust who are behind it. The divine power that’s tied to you is the prison of a specific Overlord; the stronger you grow, the weaker his bonds become.
  • You’re one of nine aasimar born at the same time. Each one of you hears the voice of a Sovereign guiding you. As you gain power, you could BECOME an avatar of that Sovereign. Is this a natural process, something that happens every so often? Or has this been engineered by a Daelkyr or by the Blood of Vol — incarnating the Sovereigns so something can be done to them?

If I was a player and interested in something like this, I’d probably just tell the DM to surprise me. Anyhow, hopefully this has given you some ideas to play with. Share your questions and thoughts below! And thanks again to my Patreon supporters.

27 thoughts on “Dragonmarks: Aasimar

  1. I’m really glad you brought up Fernia and Shavarath Aasimar. One of my favourite aspects of Eberron’s cosmology is that good and evil can cohabit, so it makes perfect sense that Aasimar could be born from a connection to a plane that is not entirely good.

  2. Great piece as always! Thank you for taking the time to put these together for those of us who can’t get enough Eberron.

    Does the fact that Fernia is mildly evil aligned have any implications for Aasimar linked to it? Are they a reflection of positive elements that are already there or a sign of something like the Turning of the Age in Dal Quor?

    Would it be possible for an Aasimar linked to the Silver Flame to have been chosen or guided by the Shadow in the Flame or does “the blood show” as far as the actual source is concerned? It could be a situation like you discussed with granting out power to weaken the binding come to think of it.

    If your PC does discover that they were chosen or engineered as a way to weaken or make vulnerable the divine, are their options besides stopping their advancement? While you can certainly do good with those powers, do you have to start calculating if your actions will strengthen the flame more than it will drain it?

    • Does the fact that Fernia is mildly evil aligned have any implications for Aasimar linked to it? Are they a reflection of positive elements that are already there or a sign of something like the Turning of the Age in Dal Quor?

      Fire is a force that can be destructive or beneficial, and I’ve always said that you’ll find spirits there that embody these different concepts. i think it’s logical to suggest that the overall balance of the plane shifts over time… that the fact that it’s mildly evil aligned suggests that the destructive and frightening elements of flame are the dominant force, while if that balance shifts it could be mildly good-aligned. Whether that’s a slowly and natural progression or something that would violently and suddenly shift like Dal Quor does is up for debate.

      Would it be possible for an Aasimar linked to the Silver Flame to have been chosen or guided by the Shadow in the Flame…

      Certainly. If Tira Miron was an Aasimar, it logically follows that Melysse Miron is as well, but she’s guided by the Shadow. the question is whether you could have an aasimar guided by the Shadow who doesn’t know it and believes they’re guided by the Voice, and in my opinion you could; they’d need to judge the advice it gives and come to that conclusion; then the question is whether they can drive it off and hear the true Voice.

      If your PC does discover that they were chosen or engineered as a way to weaken or make vulnerable the divine, are their options besides stopping their advancement?

      What do you want the adventure to be? In the Vadalis example the existence of the aasimar isn’t the threat; it’s only a problem if Vadalis captures them and can study them. In the LoD example, could you find a way to shift the focus of your powers? Could you find a new celestial well of power? Or should the story be about finding a way to STOP being an aasimar? And if that latter one is the answer, I’d make sure that there’s a fun reward for seeing that story through – it’s not that they just have to lose their racial abilities with no benefit.

  3. Cool! I am not a fan of aasimar, but some ideas are great. I like the tragic idea of being a good forcr tied to an overlord.
    Btw May I ask you why talking to a sovereign uncovers the divine in Eberron but speaking to the “divine inside” of the blood of vol doesn’t? Is it assumed that the divine sparks exist?
    On the other hand, on the idea of playing a Shulassakar, May we have some hints on cuatl culture/architecture?

    • May I ask you why talking to a sovereign uncovers the divine in Eberron but speaking to the “divine inside” of the blood of vol doesn’t? Is it assumed that the divine sparks exist?

      It’s not about uncovering the divine… it’s about trivializing it. The inherent premise of the Sovereign Host is that they guide EVERYONE. Any time a smith lifts a hammer, Onatar is with them. Any time a soldier draws a sword, the Dols are there. But they speak to you through your instincts and through your skill. They don’t just say “Hi Bob, I’d keep your guard a little higher if I were you.” If you make them a voice that you can actually have a literal conversation with, you diminish them… making them something small and human, as opposed to something that is present in all places at once. And once you can talk to one of them directly, you can start asking questions like “Why’d you allow the Last War to happen? Which side do you support? Why’d Arawai allow the famines in Karrnath? Why can’t you help me with this thing?” If you WANT that, go for it. I prefer to keep the ultimate divine powers as something that CAN’T be questioned in that way. If a priest of Aureon starts an inquisition, you CAN’T just say “Hey Aureon, is this guy on the level or what?”

      By contrast, personifying your divine spark doesn’t break any mysteries. It’s YOUR divine spark; it has no ability to influence reality and you can’t ask it for secrets of the universe. We know that “divine sparks” are a legitimate source of divine power, because many BoV divine casters draw on them; neither that or the existence of an aasimar guided by her own spark proves that that person could become a god, as the BoV hopes. It’s simply that there’s a force within you that has power… which is in many ways the principle of the Undying Court and the Silver Flame.

      I’m all for an aasimar guided by a sovereign, but I would want communication with the Sovereign to be a transcendent experience… not just a casual conversation that you could have with a friend or even an angel.

      May we have some hints on cuatl culture/architecture?

      That’s a topic I’d want to put significant thought and words into. Perhaps I’ll make it an option on the next Patreon poll.

      • I think the sovereigns are still something to explore. It’s quite easy to understand a cleric of good and war, from a typical d&d perspective, but maybe it’s strange to imagine someone with that transcendent, dedicated faith to onatar. Somebody that feels guided by onatar in the way you described in your post on making divine characters interesting. If if think to a cleric of onatar I think to an artificers, not to a cleric.

        • There is the forge cleric in 5e. I have a yearning to play a Forge Cleric devoted to the Traveler, but I’m always the Dm never the player.

        • I think the sovereigns are still something to explore.

          Certainly. And many of the ideas I suggest above are tied to the Sovereigns. My point is solely that I’d want the experience to be transcendent as opposed to “Talking to Onatar is just like talking to another human being.”

          If a player in my campaign wanted to play an aasimar artificer tied to Aureon, I’d be all for it. I’d suggest that the character has an intuitive sense of how things are constructed. And I might present them with visions of things they could create… even if THEY don’t entirely understand what these things are. I’d tell the player “You have a vision of a holding the heart of a dragonne over a sword… if you can find the heart, you know you can make something amazing.” And if they CAN find the heart of the dragonne, they can embrace that vision and let it guide them, and perhaps create a magical sword.

          Various points here: This isn’t the normal process of item creation, and I wouldn’t charge the character to do it; this is guidance by divine vision using unusual components. Essentially, it’s an extra way for the group to acquire a treasure; instead of the dragonne just sitting on a sword, its body gives you the component you need to make the sword yourself.

          Second, the point again is that Onatar doesn’t just speak to the character like a person: “Hey Bob, it’s me, Onatar. If you get a dragonne heart we can make a sweet sword together, man.” Instead, it’s about vision and instinct, and ultimately allowing the divine to guide him through the process of creating the sword. And still leaving us with questions: why did Onatar guide him to create this sword? It’s a cool sword, but is there going to be a time coming up when this specific sword is needed? My point all along is that I like my gods to move in mysterious ways. I’m all for an aasimar with a connection to a Sovereign; I’d just want that interaction to be mysterious and awesome… while if you have an angelic mentor, I’m OK with it being a little more “human.”

        • I believe there are, or were, religious monastic traditions in Europe that considered any form of labour to be an action of devotion. I expect worship of Onatar would have that flavour.

          • Certainly. In the past we’ve called out the fact that in small villages that don’t have a priest, people will often look to a skilled individual for spiritual guidance, believing that this person’s talent indicates a closeness to the Sovereign – so a smith for Onatar, a hunter for Balinor, a farmer for Arawai, etc.

  4. This might have been posted elsewhere, but how do celestials relate to the Sovereigns? Do the celestials associated to the Sovereigns believe in them like the mortal races do? Are they formed from the faith of the mortals? Are there any celestials that don’t believe in any deities other than the Progenitors?

    • I’ll address this in the next general Q&A post – it’s a good question and I don’t want the answer buried under aasimar.

  5. My version of Eberron actually have a decent number of planetouched. Not only does it place more options on the table for both PCs and NPCs, but I also like the idea of manifest zones being able to influence the biology of creatures as well as the local environment. In general, planetouched aren’t common enough to form their own communities, but they’re also not so rare as to be considered freaks by most people. Some planetouched are hard to tell apart from their parent race anyway, like an elven aasimar from Aerenal whose only distinguishing physical feature is faintly glowing eyes. To humans, he’s just a weird foreigner. To his people, he’s blessed by the Undying Court and expected to manifest a great destiny. But otherwise nobody — besides planar scholars who divines his genealogy — would think of him as anything but an elf. In effect, I use planetouched (aasimar, tieflings, genasi, etc) as variant subraces of the core races, rather than their own unique species. As such, in extremely rare cases, a planetouched member of a dragonmarked house could also exhibit a dragonmark, although these marks are always aberrant.

    What do you think of this approach?

  6. How do some of the various regions view aasimars on their midst; do Valenar see an elven aasimar as a pure reincarnation of an ancestor, would Talentans praise the God of the Hunt for blessing a clan with a divine hunter, are sahuagin fearful of any creature touched by Shargon without needing to consume their enemies for his blessing?

    Do any cultures frown upon the birth of an aasimar?

    Can the Quori possess an aasimar vessel, or is there already a presence hindering them?

    • As with tieflings, the question is largely up to you based on the story you want to tell in your game.

      I personally DON’T use aasimar in my game, so in my Eberron no one has any particular opinion about them. If I DID use them, I’d either use them as shulassakar — in which case they are a hidden race unknown to most of the world — or as isolated blessed individuals (IE Tira Miron) that are generally indistinguishable from other humans, so again, no particular cultural bias.

      So if you want to use them in YOUR Eberron, the question is how common they are, how they manifest, and how you WANT people to react. If you WANT the aasimar to be celebrated or feared, run with that story. Talentans considering an aasimar to be blessed seems logical. I don’t see it making sense for the Valenar unless an ancestor WAS an aasimar; otherwise, I’d see it as impeding their ability to emulate an ancestor, because Vadallia didn’t have glowing eyes or sprout wings.

  7. Might I suggest another plane for aasimar to be influenced by: Daanvi? Our game has a character whose parents are a human and a Daan Arcadian avenger, and we use aasimar stats to represent that (the guiding spirit simply being their Daan parent), but I think their general schtick could work for planetouched aasimar.

    If you’re tied to Daanvi, you have a connection to the Arcadian avengers, the utopian celestials’ answer to the inevitables. Avengers seek to punish transgressions, and while you do not necessarily seek out injustice, you strive to be a fair and reliable arbiter. Your divine guide could be an avenger, or could be a fundamental ideal of fairness within you. You probably look uncommonly symmetrical.

      • Btw by canon Daanvi is home of angels that welcome travellers and assault who try to intrude in Daanvi (and that open the question of who is trying to intrude in Danni and why, but we talked about a couple of options on Facebook)

        • Btw by canon Daanvi is home of angels that welcome travellers…

          Just to be clear: that’s 4E canon. This is a case where canon presents contradictory options, and you need to decide which you want to use. 4E made a number of significant changes to the 3E cosmology. It presents the planes as CITIES floating in the astral — much smaller in scope than what I’ve described elsewhere. So Mabar is described as a single city inhabited by angels devoted to the Dark Six; and Shavarath is depicted as a battleground between angels from the other cities. ALL the planes are inhabited by angels… LAMANNIA is described as having angelic rulers (in part because 4E dramatically changed the role of angels). This is a much smaller view of things that the original 3E version of the planes, where each plane is essentially a reality of its own. Shavarath isn’t a battleground between other planes; it is the embodiment of the idea of war. It also added Baator in as a full plane.

          So 4E presents the majority of the planes as individual cities run by angels floating in the Astral. 3E presents the planes as realms that express a particular concept. Personally, I’ve always stuck with the 3E version and largely ignored the 4E approach, and that’s reflected by what I’ve posted here this month. In Dragon 408 (technically, ALSO canon) I presented a way to use Baator in Eberron while sticking with the 3E approach.

          • I am sorry to contradict you, and I may be wrong, but I refer to 3.5. I don’t have any 4e manual

          • I am sorry to contradict you, and I may be wrong, but I refer to 3.5. I don’t have any 4e manual

            Here’s the 3.5 ECS description of Daanvi: Orderly fields where formians tend ideal crops, regimented garrisons of disciplined soldiers, and peaceful communities where law reigns supreme manifest throughout the plane of Daanvi, the Perfect Order.

            Meanwhile, 4E says: Daanvi is ruled by angelic representatives of Aureon and Boldrei. A well-ordered town surrounded by square fields nurturing neat rows of crops, Daanvi welcomes travelers and planar merchants as long as they respect its strict laws.

            The 3.5 entry doesn’t list angels as inhabitants of Daanvi, nor does it mention planar travelers. So I apologize for misconstruing your comment, but given that the 4E description literally is “Daanvi is home to angels that welcome travelers” and the 3.5E description doesn’t specifically mention angels OR travelers, I think you can see why I’d make that mistake.

            As we’ve discussed the entire month, part of the issue is that 3.5 provides very little to work with. My issue with the 4E approach is that it essentially says that Daanvi is ONE TOWN — that many of the planes are individual angelic cities. Whereas the 3.5 approach makes them considerably larger and more diverse. What I wrote earlier this month goes beyond that original 3.5 depiction, and suggests that you can find celestials and fiends embodying positive and negative aspects of order.

            But the original point remains valid. When it comes to the planes, canon is contradictory. So even if you want to adhere to canon, it’s still a matter of picking an approach you like.

          • Zeno, I’m looking at my 3E and see nothing even remotely along those lines. Are you sure you aren’t confusing Daanvi with another plane?

    • And that’s the thing. If you check the references, that webpage is using BOTH the 3.5 ECS and the 4E ECG as references. It’s combined the two descriptions and created a THIRD option: because it describes it as a “plane” with scattered formian colonies (3.5) as opposed to a single city, but it also includes the “angels dedicated to Boldrei and Aureon” and “open to travelers” which are based on the 4E presentation.

      The WEBSITE isn’t canon. It’s reconciled two contradictory canon sources in a reasonable way; I’m just saying that there’s other ways you could decide to go with them. The widespread inclusion of angels in most planes was a 4E choice tied to the more abstract presentation of angels in 4E and the idea that a number of the planes were “angelic cities.” When there’s a 5E version of Eberron, we’ll have to decide how we want to reconcile 3.5 and 4E – whether it’s combining them as this Wiki does, or expanding it in a different direction, as I did in my earlier post.

    • Ultimately we’re just arguing a semantic point about the meaning of “canon”. You said that it was canon that Daanvi has angels that welcome planar travelers; my point is that this only became canon in 4E… and that 4E material presents a number of new ideas about the planes (angelic cities, Baator, different take on Shavarath) people may or may not want to use. The wiki has merged the two conflicting descriptions together and filed down some of the contradictory elements; but someone can hold to either 3E or 4E and still be relying on “canon” material.

      • Basically i consider eberron 3.5 as i don’t know anything of 4e. When I play I feel free to change what is canon, as you always suggest (as you maybe remember, in my current campaign the Deneith enclave of sharn is basically a Dragon below cult instead of a dreaming dark one, for example). But discussing with you is a game by itself and I consider a limit of what is “canon” as an opportunity to explore. In this example I thought “uh, cool. Angel patrol the skies. So maybe there are invasions sometimes… from where? They welcome travellers. So there are travellers going to Daanvi, why? Formians cultivate food, do they need to eat? Or has this food any reflex in the mortal world?
        So there is no arguing at all. Canon means “finding a place for this thing could suggest a new story I would have never imagined by myself” 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *