IFAQ: Rakshasas and Native Fiends

As time permits, I like to answer interesting questions posed by my Patreon supporters. Today, I want to look at native fiends, with a particular focus on rakshasa.

What’s a “Native Fiend”?

A native fiend is a fiend that was spawned in a demiplane of Khyber. If it’s physically destroyed, its energy will return to its place of origin and it will reform. Powerful fiends retain their identity and memories from incarnation to incarnation, while weak fiends may not. So if you kill Hektula the Scribe, she will reform in the Tower of Shadows—the heart demiplane of Sul Khatesh—and she will remain Hektula and remember how you defeated her. On the other hand, if you kill Bob the Imp, a new imp will eventually appear to take his place, but it may be Bill the Imp, and he won’t remember you.

The key point is that native fiends are from the material plane. Hektula isn’t from Shavarath or Daanvi; she’s part of the spiritual architecture of the material plane. She belongs here.

How does this affect spells like Banishing Smite or Banishment?

While native fiends belong in the material plane, they are spawned in demiplanes. I’d say that banishing effects banish them to their demiplane of origin. The main question is whether they return at the end of the spell effect (which is normal for native creatures) or remain banished to the demiplane (following the rules for extraplanar creatures). There’s a case to be made either way—on the one hand, they are native to this plane; on the other, the balancing effects of the 5E rules don’t consider the possibility of a native fiend. Personally, I’d be inclined to base it on the power of the fiend in question: a lesser fiend would be banished to their demiplane, while a major villain would return when the spell expires; you can’t banish an overlord with a 4th level spell. And of course, rakshasas are immune to spells of 6th level or below, so you can’t banish Hektula with these spells.

Fiends from the planes reflect central ideas. Fiends from Shavarath are tied to war, while fiends from Daanvi are about tyranny and the abuse of law. What do native fiends represent?

At the most basic level, native fiends represent evil. They are all that is wrong with the world, all the things we hate and fear made manifest. Fiends from other planes generally don’t care about Eberron because they have business on other planes; the devil from Shavarath has a war to fight. The devil of Khyber is part of Eberron; their purpose is to represent evil in our world.

Beyond that, there are two basic classes of native fiend, based on their demiplanes of origin. As described in Exploring Eberron, heart demiplanes are essentially the true manifestation of an overlord. Fiends from heart demiplanes are, fundamentally, extensions of the overlord and they should be projected through the lens of that overlord. This is why Hektula is a scribe and Mordakhesh is a warrior; Hektula is an element of the Keeper of Secrets, while Mordakhesh is an element of the Rage of War. Fiends from heart demiplanes can freely leave those demiplanes, and while their personalities reflect their overlords, they have independent consciousness and personalities. It’s even possible—though quite rare, except with Eldrantulku—for fiends to scheme against the overlord they are tied to.

The second common class of native fiend are those tied to shadow demiplanes. These demiplanes are essentially alien worlds within the world; each reflects a concept—the Ironlands, the Abyssal Forest of Khaar—but they have no overlord and no obvious purpose; they simply are. Compared to heart fiends, shadow fiends have limited self-awareness and independence; they may appear to be intelligent, but they don’t actually have long-term goals or aspirations. They’re essentially set dressing, part of the story of the demiplane; most can’t voluntarily leave their demiplanes. However, there are places in the world where these demiplanes can bleed into Eberron… most notably, the Demon Wastes. As a result, there are fiends roaming the Demon Wastes that aren’t aligned with the Lords of Dust and who have no long-term agenda; they leave other fiends alone, but anything else is fair game. So when you fight a vrock in the Demon Wastes and think “Doesn’t it have something better to do”—no, it really doesn’t.

Night hags are a notable exception to these classifications. While they’re native fiends, they are independent beings with no known ties to the overlords. They not only move freely across Eberron, but are able to move throughout the planes; the night hag Jabra can often be found at the Immeasurable Market of Syrania, and Sora Kell is well established as a planar traveler. The Aereni sage Tyraela Mendyrian claimed to have visited a demiplane called the Covenant, which she believed to be the point of origin of the night hags; she theorized that the night hags were created by Khyber for a specific purpose, and were intentionally independent of the overlords.

Why are most native fiends rakshasas?

Surprise twist: Most native fiends AREN’T rakshasa. During the Age of Demons, all manner of fiends roamed Eberron. There were goristros and mariliths in the armies of Rak Tulkhesh, and scheming ultroloths in the city of Eldrantulku. It’s not that most native fiends are rakshasas, it’s that most UNBOUND native fiends are rakshasas, and that’s because rakshasas are hard to bind.

The Age of Demons came to an end when the native celestials of Eberron fused their essence together to create the Silver Flame, which was then used to bind the fiends. This not only bound the overlords, it bound the vast majority of their fiendish minions—who, again, are in many ways extensions of the overlord. But some fiends were able to escape the binding. Some were just lucky. Others were so weak that they escaped notice; think of the tiny fish that slips through the gaps in the net made to catch larger creatures. And then you have the rakshasas. One of the defining features of the rakshasa is its complete immunity to spells of 6th level or below. Rakshasas can’t be spotted with detect good and evil. They can pass through magic circles. Forbiddance? Not a problem. Now, this effect isn’t absolute; you CAN trap a rakshasa with, say, imprisonment. But the grand binding wasn’t targeting the rakshasas, it was targeting the overlords, and catching their lesser minions in the same net. And it turns out that rakshasas are especially slippery fish, and were able to slip through in far greater numbers than other lesser fiends.

As it turns out, rakshasas are also exceptionally well suited to the long, subtle work required to free the overlords. They’re immune to the divination and abjuration magics common in the Five Nations. They can read thoughts. They can either shapeshift or disguise themselves with illusions (depending what edition you’re using). Which comes to the second point. There ARE a handful of other free fiends loose in the world. There is at least one goristro tied to Rak Tulkhesh roaming in the Demon Wastes, revered by his Carrion Tribes. But as a general rule, the Lords of Dust don’t have a need for a twenty-foot engine of destruction stomping around; Mordakhesh can actually get a lot more mileage by controlling, say, a newspaper editor.

So the short form is that rakshasas are the most common native fiends that are loose in the world, because they are difficult to detect and bind and because they are the fiends most capable of accomplishing the things that need to be done. However, there ARE other fiends in the world, and if you want to use one in a story, go ahead. The main things to consider are which overlord it’s tied to (if any) and if it’s working with the Lords of Dust.

Why do rakshasas look like tigers? Are people superstitious about tigers because of them?

What we’ve long said is that the appearance of immortals is something that can vary based on their origin. You can find a pit fiend in Shavarath, a pit fiend in Fernia, and a pit fiend in Khyber, but they don’t look the same. The pit fiend of Shavarath is a spirit of war and will wear heavy armor engraved with burning runes. The pit fiend of Fernia is a spirit of fire, a figure of shadow wreathed in flame. The form of the pit fiend of Khyber will vary based on the overlord it’s associated with. The general idea remains the same — a terrifying winged humanoid — but the cosmetic details should be adjusted to fit the defining concept of the fiend.

Take this basic idea and add to it the idea that rakshasa are innately shapeshifters. In 5E they don’t actually shift shape, but rather use disguise self. Nonetheless, the key point is that rakshasa look like what they want to look like. With this in mind, in my opinion, THE TIGER FORM ISN’T THE TRUE FACE OF A RAKSHASA. I feel that in their natural, purest form, the appearance of a rakshasa will reflect the nature of its overlord. Rakshasa servants of the Lurker in Shadow might have a sharklike appearance. Rakshasa tied to the Cold Sun could be serpentine. Hektula the Scribe may be a cloaked figure whose actual appearance can’t be seen within the shadows of her cowl, because mystery is part of her defining concept. So they’re all humanoid, but their appearance varies. Having said that, I feel that for the rakshasa shape is like clothes are for a human. Most of us don’t walk around naked; we wear clothes, and we generally take into account the common styles of our culture. Currently, the fashion in favor with the Lords of Dust is “tigers” and as we’ve described, the Lords of Dust add their personal touches to this; Mordakhesh has stripes of flame, while Hektula is a jaguar with arcane sigils in place of spots. But this is the fashion they choose to wear, and specifically you can think of it as the working uniform of the Lords of Dust. Hektula wears her jaguar-shape while she’s tending the library of Ashtakala, but when she returns to Tower of Shadows she may wear a shape closer to her true form.

So this has two aspects. First, not all rakshasa appear as tigers. I think animal-human hybrids are common, but as I suggested with Hektula I don’t think it’s absolutely required. Second, however, tigers have been in fashion with the Lords of Dust for at least the last few thousand years. So I think it is likely that there are superstitions associated with tigers, but I think that this is much like we have stories about the Big Bad Wolf. It’s not like any reasonable person thinks all tigers are inherently evil or that this stops Boranel from loving his ghost tigers; it’s just that there are surely folk tales about fiendish tigers.

What use do you see the Lords of Dust having for Shadow Demiplanes?

Part of the idea of the demiplanes is that each is an idea in the mind of Khyber. Because of this, fiends aren’t especially COMFORTABLE entering other demiplanes. This is why the Lords of Dust meet in Ashtakala rather than in the Tower of Shadows—because Mordakhesh doesn’t BELONG in the Tower of Shadows. Most likely he could enter it, but it would be uncomfortable and potentially impose exhaustion or have other negative effects. Essentially, each demiplane is a particular pure idea—the material plane is where all those ideas can come together.

From a practical, design standpoint this ties to the fact that as a DM, I don’t particularly want the Lords of Dust to make extensive use of demiplanes. I like the idea that demiplanes can fill the role of undiscovered country—rather than saying that the Lords of Dust have been harvesting the Abyssal Forest for tens of thousands of years. It also leaves room for lesser domain lords, which could include any of the existing archdevils or demon princes; it’s been a while, but IIRC in my conversion of the Savage Tide adventure path I suggested that Demogorgon was just such a lesser archfiend, below the status of an overlord but ruling over an aquatic demiplane. With that said, I’m fine with the idea that MORTALS have been messing with demiplanes—the Kech Shaarat have an outpost in the Ironlands, the Ghaash’kala gather supplies in the Abyssal Forest, Marcher cultists strive to find the Vale of the Inner Sun. But all of those things have a small impact on the region because they ARE mortal, and because they don’t truly understand what they’re dealing with.

So the funny thing is that in some ways, if you’re in the Demon Wastes and being pursued by fiendish forces, it may be that the safest haven you can find IS a shadow demiplane — because if your pursuers aren’t from that demiplane, they won’t follow you into it.

Wouldn’t adventurers face instant death if they walked into a heart demiplane? Is there an avatar of the overlord in its heart demiplane?

Exploring Eberron says this about heart demiplanes:

To defeat the overlords, the champions of the Age of Demons used the Silver Flame to bind their immortal essence, preventing them from returning to their heart demiplane to reform. This essentially severed the brain from the heart—but the heart demiplanes still exist.

Think of a heart demiplane like the body of a human in a coma. It is a reflection of the overlord, but their consciousness isn’t there; everything is running on autopilot. Think of it as Barad-Dûr (the Tower of Sauron) in The Lord of the Rings; it was still a very dangerous place when Sauron was regenerating, but Sauron wasn’t there. So if you go to the Tower of Shadows you will have to deal with the lesser fiends that you find there, and you might have to deal with Hektula if she’s taking a break from the Library of Ashtakala, but you won’t find an avatar of the overlord and there’s no omnipotent, omniscient presence that will instantly find you and destroy you. A heart demiplane is still, by definition, one of the most dangerous places you could possibly go, but it’s not instant death.

Now, if an overlord is partially released, things would be different. In my opinion, the most common form of “partial release” would be that the overlord’s spirit has returned to its heart demiplane but that it is unable to fully emerge from the demiplane. So to look back to Lord of the Rings, Sauron is now back in Barad-Dûr, but he can’t leave it. At that point, yes, if your paladin of the Silver Flame enters the Tower of Shadows, Sul Khatesh would likely feel it and you definitely could encounter her avatar there. However, that’s the point. Again, this is literally THE MOST DANGEROUS THING YOU COULD EVER DO. The only way it would be feasible would be if you have some form of preparation that makes the impossible possible—“Sul Khatesh would normally detect us the instant we entered her domain, but the Cloak of the Traveler will shield us from her gaze… Just make sure it doesn’t get damaged!” This also specifically gives epic adventurers an opportunity to face an overlord in battle without having the overlord unleashed into the material world.

Since there’s native fiends, are there native celestials?

Certainly. However, you rarely see them in the present day. First of all, from a mythological standpoint celestials are children of Siberys while fiends are children of Khyber… and Khyber killed Siberys. So if you accept the creation myth as literal truth, there’s a concrete reason why the material plane has more fiends than celestials; this is also an intentional part of the design of the world, because it’s why Eberron needs heroes. Second, the vast majority of the native celestials of Eberron fused their essence together to create the Silver Flame, becoming the force that now binds the overlords. But native celestials can be encountered—either temporarily drawn out of the Silver Flame, or spirits that were never part of the binding. The couatl are the most common and preferred form of native celestial, but you could definitely have an angel of the Silver Flame. As with fiends, the point is to adjust its appearance to reflect its source. So if I had a deva of the Flame, I’d give it rainbow-feathered wings, a nimbus of silver flame, and slightly serpentine features. So native celestials are extremely rare and typically couatl (or at least couatl-ish) but Siberys could produce any sort of celestial.

That’s all for now! Thanks to my Patreon supporters for making these articles possible.

77 thoughts on “IFAQ: Rakshasas and Native Fiends

  1. Hi Keith, thanks for the article during what sounds like a busy time! I had one question come to mind from the article.

    What use do you see the Lords of Dust having with Shadow Demiplanes? Especially if there’s a potential night hag demiplane I wonder what else they could make of the planar denizens/resources there.

    • What use do you see the Lords of Dust having with Shadow Demiplanes?

      Part of the idea of the demiplanes is that each is, if you will, an idea in the mind of Khyber. Because of this, fiends aren’t especially COMFORTABLE entering other demiplanes. This is why the Lords of Dust meet in Ashtakala rather than in the Tower of Shadows—because Mordakhesh doesn’t BELONG in the Tower of Shadows. Most likely he could enter it, but it would be uncomfortable and potentially impose exhaustion or have other negative effects. Essentially, each demiplane is a particular pure idea—the material plane is where all those ideas can come together.

      From a practical, design standpoint this ties to the fact that as a DM, *I* don’t particularly want the Lords of Dust to make extensive use of demiplanes. I like the idea that demiplanes can fill the role of undiscovered country—rather than saying that the Lords of Dust have been harvesting the Abyssal Forest for tens of thousands of years. It also leaves room for lesser domain lords, which could include any of the existing archdevils or demon princes; it’s been a while, but IIRC in my conversion of the Savage Tide adventure path I suggested that Demogorgon was just such a lesser archfiend, below the status of an overlord but ruling over an aquatic demiplane. With that said, I’m fine with the idea that MORTALS have been messing with demiplanes—the Kech Shaarat have an outpost in the Ironlands, the Ghaash’kala gather supplies in the Abyssal Forest, Marcher cultists strive to find the Vale of the Inner Sun. But all of those things have a small impact on the region because they ARE mortal, and because they don’t truly understand what they’re dealing with.

      So the funny thing is that in some ways, if you’re in the Demon Wastes and being pursued by fiendish forces, it may be that the safest haven you can find IS a shadow demiplane — because if your pursuers aren’t from that demiplane, they won’t follow you into it.

  2. Do the rakshasa concern themselves with releasing lesser fiends from the silver flame or is their work focused on the overlords?

    • Their work is largely focused on the overlords, in part because the two are linked; the lesser fiends are bound BECAUSE the overlord is bound. The key example of this is the Year of Blood and Fire in Thrane. When Bel Shalor was partially released, it resulted in a wave of fiends ravaging Thrane. These fiends WEREN’T rakshasas; they were minions of Bel Shalor that had been released when its bonds were loosened. And when Tira rebound Bel Shalor, that rebound the lesser fiends as well.

  3. Since we’re talking about native outsiders, I’m curious about radiant idols. Obviously, they can trace their origins to Syrania, but they were considered native outsiders in 3.5. I’ve always been curious what happens to them when they’re killed, since they’ve been severed from Syrania. Are they simply destroyed? Do they regenerate like a rakshasa, and, if so, where? Does a new angel appear in Syrania to fill the hole they left?

    • Part of the idea of Radiant Idols is that they are being punished—that they aren’t ALLOWED to die. This canon article on Dreadhold mentions Kotharel the Harvester: a radiant idol, a mighty angel banished from the plane of Syrania and condemned to walk the earth for eternity. The reason Kotharel is IN Dreadhold is because he could not be destroyed. So I would say that the process that severs their ties to Syrania binds them to Eberron and forces them to regenerate on Eberron. Where? Likely in the location where they first appeared on Eberron. It could take some time, much like Sauron regaining power over centuries… Though looking to Kotharel in particular, the general idea is that they couldn’t actually figure out a way TO kill him.

      And no, a new angel doesn’t appear to take their place. The point of immortals is that they are energy, and the total amount of immortal energy is static; you can move it around or change its shape, but you can’t just make a new angel from nothing.

  4. Thanks for the article and good luck in the difficult period. As I read your description I think it would be possible to summon a native fiend with the Planar Ally spell. Do you think this is possible and how would you implement this in your campaign?

    • Well, let’s walk through the spell description.

      You beseech an otherworldly entity for aid. The being must be known to you: a god, a primordial, a demon prince, or some other being of cosmic power. That entity sends a celestial, an elemental, or a fiend loyal to it to aid you, making the creature appear in an unoccupied space within range. If you know a specific creature’s name, you can speak that name when you cast this spell to request that creature, though you might get a different creature anyway.
      The bolded text is fairly crucial here. You are beseeching a specific power, and that power sends you the ally. So if you want to get a native fiend as a planar ally, you’re either beseeching an overlord or the archfiend of a shadow demiplane. I don’t think it’s possible to HAVE this kind of friendly relationship with many of the overlords, but I could certainly see it being an option with Sul Khatesh. So sure, if you’re a Knowledge cleric who presents your powers as coming from Sul Khatesh, you could ask her to send Hektula as a planar ally, and it might happen — or, because “you might get a different creature” she could send Bill the Imp instead.

      Looking to other forms of planar ally, Exploring Eberron has sidebars discussing how the spell works for clerics of the Sovereign Host, Silver Flame, and Blood of Vol.

      • This can get all levels of fun for a knowledge cleric of the draconic prophecy. Could get something from the prophecy like a sphinx. Or beseech a if/then and someone helpful makes a appearance due to the prophecy. Might be the King of bears, a very big sentient bear, or Boranel out for a walk.

  5. Would depictions of rakshasa by the giants in the age of giants be of the bigger size category, as that’d be the fashion at the time?

    • Would depictions of rakshasa by the giants in the age of giants be of the bigger size category, as that’d be the fashion at the time?
      It’s possible. Rakshasa are medium creatures and don’t have the ability to change their size, but they are also innate spellcasters; I could imagine a dedicated infiltrator being able to swap out one or more spells on their innate list for a long-term, personal form of Enlarge/Reduce that would allow them to infiltrate giants or halflings. Or they could have a magic item that allows such expanded shapeshifting. So I wouldn’t just say “Oh, all raskhasas can become large creatures but just don’t bother” — but I would be willing to say that there are specific rakshasas who can hide among giants. So I don’t think it would have been the wide fashion, because it’s not EASY — but I think there would be a corps of specialized infiltrators who could do it.

      Per semi-canon, I’ll note that there’s a rakshasa in the novels who impersonates a (large) oni, so it’s clearly possible.

  6. Why do you think are the rakshasa so resistant to spells, anyway? In my Eberron, I like to say it’s because they have some special connection to the moment of SIberys’s death, so part of their very being embodies killing anything reminiscent of his power, including magic. But I’m interested if you have other takes.

  7. Siberys has native celestials, Kyber has native fiends, does Eberron have native immortals like fey and elementals?

    • Non-night hags are native fey. For native elementals… I don’t know, I guess gargoyles sort of fit that?

      • I was thinking of things like marid or xorn. Elementals who don’t quite fit in any of the other planes. Perhaps native genies with demiplane palaces are a thing and that is why they get trapped in bottles and lamps so much because you can’t kill them off for good.

        • There’s fiery anthropomorphic elementals like dao, efreeti and salamanders in Fernia, marid and djinn in Syrania and true elementals in Lammania

      • Eberron’s aspect is nature and life. Immortals are unnatural and life has no meaning for them. Thus Eberron herself would only create mortals. A central theme is that while mortals perish, they are also capable of innovation and can actually grow stronger.

        • I’m inclined to agree with this. Khyber creates fiends, Siberys creates celestials, Eberron creates mortal life. Immortal things defy the natural cycle of life, which is why the Children of Winter get cranky about them. Looking to marids in particular, I’d personally put them in Thelanis, as I discussed in this article: Marids are harder, but I’d personally place them in Thelanis, in a layer that embodies wondrous tales of the seas. This ties to the 5E lore that marids are master storytellers, and consider it a crime for a lesser being to interrupt one of their tales. I could imagine a grand marid who’s both elemental and archfey, who styles themselves as “The Ocean King” and claims dominion over all shipwrecks and things lost in the water (not that they actually ENFORCE this claim, it’s just part of their story…).

  8. Very intrigued about the Covenant…

    If there are Heart demiplanes for Overlords, are there any specific demiplanes considered closer to the Heart of Khyber itself?

  9. What makes heart demiplanes a viable adventure site for PCs? How is stepping into a heart demiplane and acting against the relevant overlord *not* an instant death sentence for any would-be heroes, particularly if one is aligned with the Silver Flame or a similar force?

    • As well, do the overlords have any true “avatars” of themselves in their heart demiplanes, or are the fiends they spawn the most they can get?

      • Wouldn’t it BE an instant death sentence? That would be expected, unless the characters are high level characters and are warded against the Overlord, the precise people who’d be going into the Heart Plane. The kind of people who are there to reseal an Overlord, they’re the ones who’d survive long enough to not instantly be overwhelmed. Think the end of Savage Tide, your job is to strike quick and powerfully into the heart of the enemy’s fastness.

        And the avatar manifests when then Overlord is semi-released we can reasonably assume it’s one of the ways an Overlord can manifest within the heart plane, which I guess is also them in a fashion. Overlords within Overlords, Overlords all the way down.

    • How is stepping into a heart demiplane and acting against the relevant overlord *not* an instant death sentence for any would-be heroes? Do the overlords have any true “avatars” of themselves in their heart demiplanes?
      Consider what Exploring Eberron says about heart demiplanes.
      To defeat the overlords, the champions of the Age of Demons used the Silver Flame to bind their immortal essence, preventing them from returning to their heart demiplane to reform. This essentially severed the brain from the heart—but the heart demiplanes still exist.
      Think of a heart demiplane like the body of a human in a coma. It is a reflection of the overlord, but their consciousness isn’t there; everything is running on autopilot. So looking to the second question, no, they have no avatars in their heart planes because that avatar is the piece that’s been severed and bound by the Silver Flame. If the overlord was fully conscious, it WOULD be instant death. But since the consciousness is absent, there’s no omniscient or omnipotent force. It’s a matter of avoiding the lesser fiends that live there — the same threats you’d deal with in a shadow demiplane. If you go to the Tower of Shadow, you may have to deal with Hektula (if she’s taking a break from Ashtakala) but you aren’t fighting Sul Khatesh.

        • What about if the overlord is partially unbound? What would their heart demiplane be like then?

          I’ve added my answer to the main article, because it’s a good question to clarify. If the overlord is partially unbound than yes, you could encounter its avatar in its heart demiplane, and yes, entering the demiplane under those circumstances would normally be instant death for a paladin of the Silver Flame, which is why Tira didn’t go into Bel Shalor’s heart and why Sam and Frodo don’t march directly into Barad-dûr in the Lord of the Rings. The fact that it would be instant death means that if adventurers need to do it, they will have to find some way to avoid that instant death: an artifact, the blessing of a being of equal power, or some similar MacGuffin that makes it possible for them to do the impossible without instantly dying. In a sense, it’s like asking “Would it be instant death to walk into the core of an active nuclear reactor?” Yes, it would be instant death, and everyone KNOWS it would be instant death… But if for some reason the story demands that you do it, then you’ll have to find the Ring of Absolute Radiation Shielding before you do.

          • Exploring Eberron appears to associate the Vale of the Inner Sun with Katashka, despite your original article on the Vale of the Inner Sun having little to do with Katashka or undead.

            Is the Vale of the Inner Sun supposed to be the heart demiplane of Katashka?

          • Exploring Eberron appears to associate the Vale of the Inner Sun with Katashka…
            Actually, it doesn’t. The Vale of the Inner Sun is classified as a shadow demiplane on page 148 of Exploring Eberron, not associated with any overlord. You may be confused by the fact that page 66 lists Katashka as the power associated with the Inner Sun cult. This ties to the point that Dragon Below cults are often mistaken or confused in their beliefs. The description of the Inner Sun cult states “Cultists believe that there is a paradise within Khyber: the Vale of the Inner Sun. To earn passage to the Vale, a champion must defeat a host of worthy foes, dedicating their souls to the Gatekeeper.”

            The simple fact is that the Vale of the Inner Sun is a place in Khyber, and you don’t have to kill anyone to get there. The Vale of the Inner Sun doesn’t CARE if you get there or not, it doesn’t keep track of souls you kill, and it doesn’t empower warlocks. So what you have with the Inner Sun cult is a mash-up of two completely different concepts: the idea that the Vale exists, and the idea that we have to kill people to get there and can gain supernatural power by doing so. KATASHKA is the power who likes people killing on its behalf and that will empower warlocks for doing so.

            This ties to the idea that Dragon Below cults often deal with a VERY NARROW ASPECT of their associated power. The Whisperers know Kyrzin as “The Regent of Whispers.” They only have an affinity for gibbering creatures and don’t care for other oozes. ExE notes that a different Kyrzin cult might simply venerate an old well; they wouldn’t have any love for gibbering creatures. So the Inner Sun cult venerates THE GATEKEEPER, whose gate can only be opened with blood and souls. They don’t know that this is “Katashka,” that it’s a fiendish overlord, or that it has anything to do with undead; they know it only as the Gatekeeper.

            I can see how this is confusing, since the Inner Sun cult isn’t mentioned in the entry on Katashka. The main point is that it’s really a Katashka-adjacent cult; it’s focused on death-as-currency, and Katashka LIKES that, but their goal is to reach the Vale; they just mistakenly think the Gatekeeper holds the key. Remember that one of defining features of Dragon Below cults is that they have a flawed vision of reality!

          • How could a fiend be only partially unbound?
            The Silver Flame prisons only falter if a certain piece of Draconic Prophecy is fulfilled.

            Are you saying that if only a few verses of the prophecy take place, then only half the job gets done?

          • How could a fiend be only partially unbound? The Silver Flame prisons only falter if a certain piece of Draconic Prophecy is fulfilled.

            There’s a few options. The first is that breaking bindings simply isn’t instantaneous. Consider that the overlords have been bound for a HUNDRED THOUSAND YEARS. Saying that even once the binding is broken it takes them a year to regain their full strength is hardly unreasonable. Think of it as someone who’s been in a coma for thirty years, whose muscles have atrophied; they may be AWAKE, but it’s going to take some extensive physical therapy before they can get back on their feet. So in the case of Bel Shalor and the Year of Blood and Fire, we generally SAY he was “partially released,” but in practice it may be that he was entirely released but was slowly regaining his full strength.

            Alternately, it could be just as it sounds. Keep in mind that most prophetic bonds aren’t just one single thing; they require the completion of many clauses. If the final release is that the Son of Seven Thunders kills the Unrepentant Queen with the Blade of Sorrows on the Day of Final Light, there’s a lot of things leading up to that. The Blade of Sorrows needs to exist. It needs to get into the hands of the Son of Seven Thunders, who also needs to exist. They need to be manuevered into position to kill the Unrepentant Queen on the proper day. Combine this with the idea of events that strengthen an overlord — IE, Rak Tulkhesh and War — and you could say that it’s not just flipping a switch between bound/unbound, but that the closer they get to completing the phrase, the weaker the bonds become. That the moment the Son of Seven Thunders GETS the Blade of Sorrows Rak Tulkhesh begins to stir and to be able to unleash more of his fiends into the world, and that the closer we get to the Day of Final Light the stronger he gets… Until either the Son kills the Queen and completely shattered the bonds, or until the Son of Seven Thunders BREAKS the Blade of Sorrows and the queen repents, at which point the bonds are restored.

            Ultimately, the prophetic bonds are a PLOT DEVICE. They should work in the way you need them to work to tell your story.

          • Other articles on fiends and the Draconic Prophecy will elaborate further and I’ll add the quote later but the prophecy leads to something like Bel Shalor in Thrane (and possibly Syrkarn in Khunan, the Wild Heart during the Lycanthropic Inquisition) where their avatar emerges and their fiendish followers begin being unleashed. Then there is a final set of circumstances which must be achieved for complete release (the overlord themselves being released and having power over the immediate area)

    • Off the top of my head:
      PCs can leave, and can therefore be moulded as agents of the prophecy. PCs might also be bribed with items that are crafted to fulfill the prophecy in some way. PCs might also believe they’re not releasing an overlord in the prophecy if they have to fight to win such an item. Thus, the demiplane of encounters just hard enough to feel challenging!
      Or, you know, the overlord while embodying an evil idea, doesn’t embody an evil idea that has no room for others to exist. Like,
      Or, the same reasons players in another campaign can adventure in hell despite presumably being against demons. It’s a really big plane and they have others to take out their nature on, until the PCs get closer.
      Or because the PCs are about to kill them according to the Prophecy, allowing them to reform outside their bonds. Now you have 1d4 days before hell breaks loose.
      I hope one of those fit the story you want to tell, or inspires you to tell a story.

  10. What does being a prakhutu, particularly a rakshasa prakhutu, actually entail? What are the special benefits beyond mere social and political status?

    • As well, how powerful are the prakhutus *really* supposed to be? I remember you saying in a previous article, for example, that the dragons of Argonnessen are supposed to be much more powerful than the dragons presented in the Monster Manual. Does the same apply to the prakhutus?

      You also mentioned in a previous article’s comments that you had no hand in the conversion of Mordakhesh to 5e. Do you disagree with Mordakhesh being placed at challenge 15, the same as a purple worm, a mummy lord, a vampire warrior, or a vampire spellcaster?

      I understand that there is some variation to prakhutus and prakhutu-like figures, hence why Lorishto in 3.5 City of Stormreach is much weaker than the prakhutus detailed in Dragon Magazine #337.

      • From what I understand they stand to be first among their Overlord’s followers. They direct the cults and efforts in “feeding” their master, and in turn their master flows power through to them and through them into their followers. So being a prakhutu comes with a significant (and likely staggering) amount of raw power, even if it’s the boring “ill-defined” type where you can shape planar energies or survive death with your memories intact.

    • What does being a prakhutu, particularly a rakshasa prakhutu, actually entail? What are the special benefits beyond mere social and political status?

      This is described in Dragon 337: “Each Overlord has one particular rakshasa with a close bond to the rajah; such individuals are known as prakhutu (or speakers) and can use commune as a spell-like ability once per day.” That’s the only mechanical benefit. Aside from that, all of the prakhutu are members of the Council of Ashtakala. The short form is that they have a direct connection to the overlord, so they are seen as the ultimate authority by other spirits devoted to the overlord. But it doesn’t come with other mechanical benefits.

      You also mentioned in a previous article’s comments that you had no hand in the conversion of Mordakhesh to 5e. Do you disagree with Mordakhesh being placed at challenge 15, the same as a purple worm, a mummy lord, a vampire warrior, or a vampire spellcaster?

      It’s actually an interesting point. I do think that the stat block is too weak for Mordakhesh. But I also think it made more sense to present a CR 15 rakshasa threat than to present a stat block for a CR 22 Mordakhesh (which is more the power level I’d aim at), because the CR 15 creature can be USED in a wider range of adventures. My thing is that I would make it a lesser champion of Rak Tulkhesh. Mordakhesh is the ultimate commander of Rak Tulkhesh’s forces. In many ways he fills the role of a demon prince or archdevil; he’s the most powerful force of evil you can actually encounter, the LEADER of armies of evil. He’s an end villain, especially if the adventurers are able to stop him from releasing Rak Tulkhesh. But Rising is a base setting book that needed to present a range of villains. It already presented serious end villains with Dyrrn, Belashyrra, Rak Tulkhesh, and Sul Khatesh; it didn’t NEED more CR 20+ villains.

      So I think it was the correct decision to present an interesting CR 15 rakshasa champion of the Lords of Dust; I just wouldn’t make that MORDAKHESH. I may post an alternate name and backstory for that champion as an article — saying “Here’s what I’d do with this stat block in my campaign.”

      • Maybe that’s Mordakhesh ‘pulling his punches’, so to speak. Not putting all of his power behind killing these particular mortals, because he shouldn’t need to. This might be a good example of where the mythic enemy mechanic can fit into Eberron: You fight Mordakhesh at his “CR 15” level because he’s only paying enough attention to the fight to not get punched unnecessarily. Then you ‘kill’ him once and he starts taking you seriously.

        • I think that’s an excellent explanation. If Mordain WANTS to interact with the player characters for some reason, there’s no reason he has to use his full power — and as I’ve said before, with the Lords of Dust sometimes even apparent defeat is actually part of their grand plan. The point is that Rising had more use for a CR 15 villain than another CR 23 villain; the idea that Mordakhesh could choose to fill either role is a fun one.

  11. I take it you wouldn’t allow upcasting a spell (like, Magic Circle with a 7th level slot) to affect a rakshasa?

    • Actually, I probably would. While magic circle has no innate upcasting bonus, I believe there’s precedent for upcasting such a spell in order to overcome counterspell; if it works for counterspell, it should work on rakshasa. The main point is that there’s almost no one in the Five Nations who can CAST 7th level spells. I have no problem with the idea that Jaela Daran can place a magic circle around her inner sanctum in Flamekeep that will keep rakshasa out, or that Mordain the Fleshweaver or Lady Illmarrow could pierce the disguise of a rakshasa with their true seeing if they choose to. The general rule of the Five Nations is that spells of up to 3rd level care part of everyday magic, spells of up to 5th level are rare, and beyond that things are legendary — again, something you hear about Mordain or Jaela doing. PCs can reach such heights, but at that point they are peers of Tira Miron — some of the most remarkable heroes of the age.

    • I don’t think the majority of the members of the Court of Shadows really associate themselves with rakshasa. I think this is sort of like Scientology—You don’t learn about Xenu and the Thetans until you’re pretty high up in the ranks. Most members of the Court believe they serve “The Queen of Shadows,” but it’s not until you get pretty deep into the cult that you learn “Oh, the Queen of Shadows is Sul Khatesh, one of the DEMON OVERLORDS that once ruled the world.” I think they have a much more generalized and romanticized concept of the Queen of Shadows, and most members probably think she’s an archfey.

      With that said, it’s very likely that members of the Court could have cool cloaks with hoods enchanted to hide their faces in shadows, but they aren’t intentionally doing it to look like Hektula.

      • Why does Sul Khatesh even have a royal court theme to begin with, if her purview is magic and secrets?

        • Because it’s a secret court comprised entirely of users of magic. It’s also important to remember that its members don’t know that they are dealing with Sul Khatesh, just as the Whisperers don’t know they are dealing with Kyrzin and the Inner Sun cultists don’t know they’re dealing with Katashka. The Court of Shadows is the court of the Queen of Shadows. WE know that’s Sul Khatesh and that she doesn’t actually care about all the ranks and titles, but the whole point of those ranks and titles is that they are SECRET, that they draw members — who are, remember, magic users — into a secret, unreal world. So the members aren’t TRYING to strengthen Sul Khatesh and don’t realize they’re doing it, but a secret society of magic users conducting intrigue is exactly the sort of thing Sul Khatesh loves.

        • The Court of the Queen of Shadows is a cult in Aundair, which uses the cover story of an archfey. You’re looking at it backwards, the cover isn’t the truth. She’s playing on the need for secret organizations, cabals and fraternities in arcane circles, then using existing Aundairan tropes (the fey, baroque embellishment)

          • …the cover isn’t the truth. She’s playing on the need for secret organizations, cabals and fraternities in arcane circles, then using existing Aundairan tropes (the fey, baroque embellishment)
            Exactly right.

  12. Actually, rakshasas were supposed to have non-tiger heads in AD&D times; it just that it wasn’t really depicted. For more recent example, Pathfinder has a handful of standard rakshasas with heads of apes or crocodiles. Not to mention, it also has its own bunch of rakshasa fiends, and given that they do not have to be tiger-like, this works pretty well for them!
    Thank you for continuing to provide thoughts on your setting!

    • Ultimately the depiction of Rakshasa from 3e onward has been very limited compared to the originating myths. Their main thing is them being flesh-eating shapeshifting illusionists with shapeshifting powers quite beyond what is given in D&D (since they can change size as well as shape). The most famous of them was pretty much a massive ten-headed, ten-armed humanoid.

      • Their main thing is them being flesh-eating shapeshifting illusionists with shapeshifting powers quite beyond what is given in D&D (since they can change size as well as shape).

        As a side note, this was an intentional addition to the overlords. The Dragon 337 (3.5) stats for overlords notes “A rajah can assume any form from Fine to Colossal size, or simply increase or decrease its own size“… So Rak Tulkhesh could turn into a tiny fly or a colossal dragon ​if he wanted to. My take on this has always been that the overlords — and to a lesser degree rakshasa — are in essence IDEAS; they aren’t bound to a single form as mortals are. Rak Tulkhesh is the eternal rage of war. It could appear as a grim, bloodstained dwarf; as an armored giant; as a crazy demon-dragon centaur; or anything else that fits its core concept. None of these are its true form, because its true self is BEYOND form.

        • I do remember than naityan rakshasas from Tome of Battle were described as taking upon many forms: besides the “default” form of a black tiger with red stripes, it could appear as an eel-like humanoid, stony serpentine creature with arms or more. I guess one could extend such variety to other rakshasas, perhaps even giving them wholy unique forms.
          Likewise, I like the cinematic value of a boss revealing their true form, and that could be done with rakshasas, especially if the players are approaching a heart demiplane or something like that.

          • Exactly! I like the idea that Mordakhesh’s true form might appear to be made from the shards of shattered sword blades. Remember that immortals are ideas given form, not biological creatures; their appearance doesn’t have to be limited to biological concepts.

  13. Are rakshasas supposed to have more than two variations, in your current vision of Eberron?

    3.5 Eberron had multiple varieties of rakshasas beyond just vanilla and zakya. There were also the martial disciple naityans, the sneaky naztharunes, and the necromantic ak’chazars. Indeed, the 3.5 Monster Manual III specifically said that “Many of the Lords of Dust are actually ak’chazar rakshasas,” and Lorishto and Durastoran were both ak’chazars.

    Pathfinder 1e and 2e, in their own setting, present a wide variety of rakshasas.

    D&D 5e, however, has only vanilla rakshasas and zakyas. Have the other types of rakshasas effectively been soft-retconned away in Eberron?

    • Are rakshasas supposed to have more than two variations, in your current vision of Eberron?

      Absolutely. As you note, in 3,5 Durastoran the Wyrmbreaker is an ak’chazar rakshasa, but the 3.5 ECS only added statistics for zakya; ak’chazar didn’t come around until Monster Manual III. It is a sad reality of life that books can only hold so much content, and Rising From The Last War was already far longer than was originally anticipated; it simply wasn’t possible to include further additional types of rakshasa. But Durastoran is still ak’chazar — or for now, it’s simple enough to say that he should be significantly more powerful than a standard rakshasa.

      • How different are the origins of an ak’chazar rakshasa and a regular rakshasa? While ak’chazar rakshasas have a more powerful baseline, it seems that regular rakshasas can match or even exceed ak’chazar rakshasas. For example, Hektula matches, if not exceeds Durastoran.

        What makes one rakshasa an ak’chazar and the other a regular rakshasa?

        • The idea of introducing different types of rakshasas, both in the ECS and MM3, was to establish that “rakshasa” is like “devil”, “yugoloth”, or “quori” — a general class of spirit with many different varieties. What makes one rakshasa an ak’chazar and another a “default” rakshasa is the same thing that makes one quori a tsucora and another a du’ulora: they were create that way, made to embody different concepts and to serve different concepts.

          With that in mind, the prakhutu are equivalently archdevils or demon princes. It’s not that Hektula started out as a base rakshasa and went to magic school to get better; she was ALWAYS the prakhutu of Sul Khatesh, and part of what it means to be the prakhutu of Sul Khatesh is being an exceptional wizard. This ties to the previous question of what it means to be a prakhutu. It’s not a job that they had to interview for; it’s part on who they are, and all their powers are reflection of that role. The commune effect is the ability they all have in common, but their other powers are a reflection of the overlord they serve. Hektula speaks for Sul Khatesh, and thus she’s an archmage. Mordakhesh speaks for Rak Tulkhesh, and thus he’s a deadly warrior. The fact that they are built of the foundation of those other rakshasa types is a simple mechanical construct, because it’s easier to say “Zakya Blackguard 10 / Legendary Leader 5” than to create an entire unique statblock.

          And before it becomes a question, I do not have time in this article to do a breakdown of all the different types of rakshasa (zakya, ak’chazar, etc) and what differentiates them. That could be a possible subject for a full Dragonmark article.

    • Likewise, in my Eberron, the daelkyr still use runehounds (also from MM3) as living artillery, even though there are currently no 5E stats for runehounds and many people may not know that these were originally designed with Eberron in mind.

      • This may be a little offtopic so feel free to ignore, but what stateblock do you use for Runehouds in 5e? I’m not familiar with them but they sound deliciously horrible to throw at PCs.

        • MM3 pretty much felt like the Eberron Monstrous Compendium. I don’t play 5E but I am sure a lot of people would appreciate some more conversions. Of course I am not sure if that’s the best use of Keith’s time.

        • A runehound is a base CR 3 in 3.5. It’s essentially a headless, skinless dog with a mouth on a long neck rising from the center of its back. It has a reach of 10 feet with its bite attack, but its signature attack is its breath weapons; it can either spit acid (5d6 damage for the base creature) or a stick substance similar to a web spell. It has blindsight with a range of 500 feet and a psychic tracking ability that makes it excel at tracking any sentient creature, and a speed of 50 feet.

          I’ve never used one in 5E, but I’d base it on those stats.

  14. You seem to indicate that fiends of Eldrantulku’s heart domain frequently scheme against their overlord—or at least more frequently than other fiends might. If this is the case, how is any headway made on plans to free Eldrantulku? Is he more likely to remain eternally bound than other overlords due to this contagious betrayal? Would even Kashtarhak or Thelestes be likely to scheme against him?

    • You seem to indicate that fiends of Eldrantulku’s heart domain frequently scheme against their overlord—or at least more frequently than other fiends might. If this is the case, how is any headway made on plans to free Eldrantulku?

      The bolded part is key. Other fiends almost NEVER scheme against their overlord; it’s just not in their nature. Servants of Eldrantulku just might, because it IS in their nature. But that doesn’t mean many actually DO. Dragon 337 doesn’t describe either Thelestes or Kashtarhak as doing so. It’s more likely that they will indulge their nature by betraying mortals or causing mortals to betray one another, or that they will betray other fiends in personal ways that won’t affect the outcome of their mission—breaking their hearts, but not spoiling the plan. Beyond that, it’s highly likely that Eldrantulku’s release REQUIRES some grave act of betrayal. I could imagine the final moment needing Thelestes to stab Kashtarhak with a Keeper’s Fang and him crying out “Curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal!”

      The point isn’t that it happens all the time, but if you’re building a campaign in which you want to have a rakshasa betraying its overlord, Eldrantulku is the logical one to work with.

  15. What makes some overlords have no apparent rakshasa servants? There are few indicators that Masvirik, Ran Iishiv, and Dral Khatuur have rakshasa servants, for example.

    • Is your question why they don’t have agents among the Lords of Dust, or why they don’t have RAKSHASA agents?

      Masvirik is addressed in Dungeon 185, which states “Masvirik has no servants among the Lords of Dust. His fiendish agents are bound in dusk shards, and Rhashaak is his voice” later specifically stating “A vessel with a larger shard is actually transformed into an avatar of the imprisoned spirit, and while it maintains the general appearance of the original host creature, you can use the statistics of the fiend or rakshasa associated with the shard.” Masvirik HAD rakshasa servants, but they were bound in dusk shards and thus aren’t part of the Lords of Dust. Note that in this very article I suggested that rakshasa servants of Masvirik might have serpentine features.

      Regarding Ran Iishiv, Secrets of Sarlona says “The rakshasa rajah imprisoned in Khyber shards under Adar sleeps restlessly. It is wrath incarnate. The rakshasas name it Ran Iishiv, the Unmaker, and one could suppose that the Teeth of the Three are in place to keep it quiescent.” Rakshasas are mentioned twice in the this description, so it’s not like Ran Iishiv has nothing to do with rakshasas; we just haven’t mentioned them having active agents. That could be because we simply haven’t mentioned them; we’ve always said that there are more overlords than have been mentioned in canon, and those UNMENTIONED overlords are supposed to have servants in the Lords of Dust; canon sources aren’t SUPPOSED to be exhaustive in this regard. Or it could be that like Masvirik and the dusk shards, that Ran Iishiv’s fiendish minions are bound by the Teeth of the Three. On the other hand, it’s entirely possible Ran Iishiv had NO SERVANTS WHATSOEVER. It’s called “The Unmaker” — it could be a pure and absolute force of destruction that has no place within its domain for any creatures, even servants. Or it could be that it has agents, but they remain in isolation in Sarlona and have nothing to do with Ashtakala.

      This last option is specifically the case with Dral Khatuur. The original article said “One of the reasons the overlords were defeated was that they failed to work together. There were bitter divisions among many of the overlords, and Dral Khatuur was especially cold towards her peers… As such, she does not have a prakhutu on the Council of Ashtakala.”

      But also, there’s nothing saying that any overlord has to have rakshasa among its followers. Sul Khatesh and Eldrantulku likely had more rakshasa than Rak Tulkhesh, for example (and Rak Tulkhesh would primarily have zakya rakshasa). I don’t think Dral Khatuur had too many rakshasa, because they weren’t really part of her concept—though I imagine she had a few to serve as spies and envoys. And as she has a certain affinity for undead, it’s quite possible her rakshasas would be Ak’chazar.

  16. The idea of a shark Rakshasa is intriguing! I think you’ve mentioned previously that the Lurker in Shadow had aboleth servants. What was their rank in relation to one another?
    Also if underwater fiends were different, what about celestials? Would the underwater Silver Flame prison that binds The Lurker have a different theme to it as well? Would there be an aquatic themed Couatl that swims rather than flies?

    • Would there be an aquatic themed Couatl that swims rather than flies?
      I see no reason you couldn’t use standard couatl statistics and just exchange flight for swim speed to create an eel-like couatl. Personally, I could even imagine just saying that any couatl can switch between those two forms should the need arise.

      I think you’ve mentioned previously that the Lurker in Shadow had aboleth servants. What was their rank in relation to one another?
      Exploring Eberron says “The chief servants of the Lurker in Shadow are the aboleths.” It might have a handful of rakshasa servants (who would be ideal for infiltrating the Eternal Dominion and observing or subtly influencing it) or other fiends, but I would focus on the aboleths, and I would have a powerful aboleth be the speaker of the Lurker.

  17. On the topic of the Lurker in Shadow, is the Half-fiend Kraken Zlortharkis a servant of that Overlord? And do you have anywhere in particular you imagine the Silver Flame prison to be located? Tempest Isle in the Lhazaar Principalities seems to hold something.

    • Krakens are discussed on page 121 of Exploring Eberron, which specifically notes “Krakens are children of Khyber, born in the Age of Demons. Unlike the aboleths, they weren’t created by a fiendish overlord and they don’t serve any overlord; each kraken is a power in its own right.” So no, Zlortharkis isn’t a servant of the Lurker.

      As for the Lurker, page 141 of ExE notes that it is “bound in Khyber, deep below the center of the Thunder Sea. But there are passages to its prison spread across the region, in vast rifts and lightless tunnels.” The key point there is the THUNDER SEA. Overlords have a limited sphere of influence, so the Lurker in Shadow doesn’t affect the Lhazaar Sea. However, in all likelihood there’s a DIFFERENT overlord that has influence over that region and it could be bound beneath Tempest Isle.

      • Thanks for clarifying the point about Zlortharkis. I knew that Krakens in general are not servants of the Overlords. However, because Zlortharkis is described as “half–fiend” I thought he might have been an exception to the rule.

        When it says the Lurker is bound in Khyber, I thought that was just referring to the Lurker’s Heart Demiplane. Are you saying that the Lurker’s Silver Flame prison is in Khyber too, so precariously close to the Heart Demiplane?
        That seems like a disaster waiting to happen!

        • It’s important to remember that Khyber is entirely metaphysical. The relative proximity of the prison and the heart is largely meaningless, because both exist on sublayers of reality. So they aren’t really “CLOSE” to each other in any meaningful way.

          It’s also the case that the overlord generally exerts some influence over regions close to their prison or touchstones to their heart; by putting them close together, you actually LIMIT their influence, because the effect isn’t cumulative and they aren’t getting to affect two entirely different regions. So, for example, I believe that the touchstones to Masvirik’s heart demiplane are in Q’barra, and Masvirik is also bound in Q’barra. It doesn’t HAVE to be that way, but it’s not unusual.

          Also note that I say “Touchstones” rather than “Entrances”, because a lot of heart demiplanes may not HAVE traditional entrances. It’s not necessarily the case that there is a hole you can go down that takes you to the Heart of the Lurker. It may be that passage only opens at a certain time or through the use of a certain ritual. Those beings who have the ability to move in and out of the heart (because most of the spirits in the heart can’t actually leave) may well do so through magic rather than walking out the door. Hektula definitely doesn’t WALK to the Tower of Shadows; I’d say that she uses plane shift to get there, which would actually be the main reason 5E rakshasa HAVE plane shift; they technically could go to other places, but they mainly use it when they want to return to their heart. So the Lurker’s heart demiplane may have TOUCHSTONES deep in the Thunder Sea, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you can swim directly into the heart.

    • Rakshasa don’t use toilets. But remember that the rakshasa didn’t BUILD Ashtakala. Ashtakala embodies the concept of “Citadel of Evil,” and with that in mind, I’m SURE it has extensive sewers, because what citadel of evil won’t have a vast labyrinth of sewers? It could be that because of this, it also has toilets to justify having sewers. Or it could be that it has no toilets, because the sewers don’t have to WORK to be justified.

  18. “Part of the idea of the demiplanes is that each is an idea in the mind of Khyber. Because of this, fiends aren’t especially COMFORTABLE entering other demiplanes. This is why the Lords of Dust meet in Ashtakala rather than in the Tower of Shadows—because Mordakhesh doesn’t BELONG in the Tower of Shadows. Most likely he could enter it, but it would be uncomfortable and potentially impose exhaustion or have other negative effects. Essentially, each demiplane is a particular pure idea—the material plane is where all those ideas can come together.”

    What makes Ashtakala not count as a demiplane for this purpose?

    • Even if it does Ashtakala likely is less imposing on them as a group, meaning each is not disadvantaged compared to their rivals.

    • Reread that quote: “Essentially, each demiplane is a particular pure idea—the material plane is where all those ideas can come together.”” As I mention a few times in the Ashtakala article, Ashtakala is in some ways a heart demiplane, but it PROJECTS INTO THE MATERIAL PLANE. And as long as it’s in the material plane, it’s a place where “all ideas can come together.” There could be lower layers of Ashtakala that are pure demiplane, that non-local fiends can’t enter. This could be an interesting conjuction to the question about the sewers of Ashtakala; it could be that Hektula can’t go into the sewers!

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