R is for “Rakshasa”

RA Rakshasa is a mythological being in Hindu mythology. Also called “Maneaters”, rakshasas were later incorporated into Buddhism. Is is also knows as “Asura” and that term is used along Rakshasa interchangeably. In Dungeons & Dragons, rakshasas are a type of evil outsider that is now native to the Material Plane. They are presented as powerful magic users that, although they disdain physical fighting as ignoble, can be dangerous in close combat against player characters. The appeared for the first time in 1E Monster Manual in 1977.

Physical description

Rakshasas stand 6 to 7 feet tall and weigh between 250 and 300 pounds. Their natural shapes are relatively humanoid although they are clearly not human, as they appear more as humanoid beasts, usually tigers. They are covered in fur, and have claws on their hands and feet. Upon closer inspection, their hands are actually reversed; the palms of its hands are where the backs of a hand would be on a human. Because of this, they grab items in the opposite direction of a human.

Most rakshasa have the coloration of traditional tigers, except the ak’chazar (unusually powerful spellcasters, even for Rakshasa, who specialize in necromantic magic), which are white, and the naztharune (strong fighters, specializing in assassination), which are black. Most rakskasa, with the exception of the zakya (skilled melee combatants and weapon masters) and the naztharune, prefer to wear elegant clothes while in their natural forms.

Society

Rakshasas are solitary beings, although they do occasionally cooperate with each other. Since Rakshasa are ambitious beings, they typically hold leading positions in whatever undertaking they are involved in. They are therefore typical boss monsters and masterminds.

Rakshasa revere Ravanna, King of Rakshasas, a ten-headed lesser god who can only be harmed by non-deific creatures from the Material Plane. As spirits, rakshasas are virtually immortal. They produce a new generation every century to replace the rakshasas that have been slain in battle. No creatures prey on rakshasas except those who would avenge their victims.

In Eberron

During the Age of Demons, rakshasas were once a major world power, but were defeated and forced into withdrawal from active participation in world events by the couatls. Rakshasa rajahs are beings of near deific power, although they are not deities. Also known as Overlords, they are second only to the progenitor dragons and the release of one is a world-threatening event.

While the names of the majority of rakshasa traveling the world of Eberron are unknown, some have surfaced in rumored whispers, as detailed in “Eternal Evil: The Lords of Dust”, an article by Keith Baker published in Dragon Magazine #337 in November 2005:

  • The most famous of the rakshasa is Durastoran the Wyrmbreaker, a powerful ak’chasar loremaster. Durastoran is leading a more active campaign against the dragons, especially against the Chamber. He is said to have a large force of lesser fiends and humans at his disposal. He enjoys destabilizing the relationship between the dragons and the elves. Durastoran worships one of the Overlords directly, Bel Shalor, the Shadow in the Flame, and seeks a way to free this shadowy demon from his prison. Durastoran sits on the Bleak Council.
  • The greatest of the prakhutu is Hektula, the Bloody Scribe. Hektula is the prakhutu of Overlord Sul Khatesh, and serves the Council of Ashtakala as their librarian. She is one of the most knowledgeable arcanist on Eberron, and sits on the Bleak Council.
  • Kashtarhak, known as the Voice of Chaos, serves the trapped rajah Eldrantulku. it is said that Kashtarhak helped manipulate the fall of the giants of Xen’drik, the destruction of the Dhakaani Empire, and the fall of the Kingdom of Galifar. He sits on the Bleak Council.
  • The most powerful of all the zakyas is Mordakhesh, the Shadowsword. Mordakhesh has fought dragons in melee combat, and was one of the fiercest fighters for the Overlords. Mordakhesh prefers manipulating armies, and has spies amongst most armies of Khorvaire. He is a servant of Overlord Rak Tulkhesh, and has a legion of lesser fiends and barbarians at his disposal. He sits on the Bleak Council.

In your campaign

Remember rakshasas are the embodiment of pure evil. They have been manipulating the events in history hundreds of thousands of years, and cannot be trusted. Use them as master villains running behind the scenes, and when your players finally discover them you’ll have your perfect “eureka” moment.

Leave a Reply