|First appearance||1E Fiend Folio|
In the Dungeons & Dragons fantasy tabletop role-playing game, the aarakocra (// ar-ə-KOH-krə) are a race of bird-like monstrous humanoids dwelling in high mountains. First appearing in the Fiend Folio in 1981, they have since appeared in and been adapted to numerous campaign settings including Greyhawk, Dragonlance, Dark Sun, and the Forgotten Realms.
Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st edition (1977–1988)
The aarakocra (bird-man) first appeared in the Fiend Folio (1981) and were credited to Lawrence Schick. The aarakocra gets a full page dedicated to its appearance, combat tactics, reproductive cycle, and culture.
"Plateau of the Aarakocra" is included as an encounter location in the adventure The Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun (1982); in return for driving away a group of rival griffons, the aarakocra may show the player characters to the adventure's eponymous temple.
The March 1983 issue of Games Workshop's White Dwarf magazine (#39) presented the aarakocra god K'ooriall (or Skylord).
In the Dragonlance adventure Dragons of Light (1985), the Heroes of the Lance encounter representatives of an aarakocra king, who rules over a group of 120 aarakocra living in Foghaven Vale in Southern Ergoth.
In the adventure Dark Clouds Gather (1985), the aarakocra are one of the main factions in the adventure, which the PCs must forge an alliance to lead an assault on the evil wizard who has turned the human inhabitants of the village against a group of nearby bird-man tribes by planting false evidence of attacks on caravans.
The article "The Wings of Eagles" by J.E. Keeping from Dragon #124 (August 1987) presents the aarakocra as both a player character and non-player character race. A sidebar by Christopher Jones introduced the lesser god Krocaa as the god of aarakocra.
Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd edition (1989–1999)
The aarakocra goddess Syranita was introduced in Monster Mythology (1992).
The aarakocra is presented as a playable character race in The Complete Book of Humanoids (1993), and is later presented as a playable character race again in Player's Option: Skills & Powers (1995).
The Athasian aarakocra appeared in Dark Sun Monstrous Compendium Appendix II (1995). Aarakocra were introduced as a playable race for the Dark Sun setting in the Dark Sun Campaign Setting, Expanded and Revised.
The Malatran aarakocra first appeared in Polyhedron #121 (1996) as supporting material for the Living Jungle campaign, and was then later republished on the RPGA web site.
Dungeons & Dragons 3rd edition (2000–2007)
The aarakocra appeared in the Forgotten Realms for third edition in Monsters of Faerûn (2001). A series of articles on the Wizards of the Coast website expands on the bird-men settlements listed in Monsters of Faerûn. The aarakocra then appeared as a player character race in Races of Faerûn (2003).
The aarakocra appeared as a playable race in the "Dark Sun Player's Handbook" article in Dragon #319 (2004).
Dungeons & Dragons 4th edition (2008–2013)
Aarakocra entry appeared in 4th edition Dark Sun Creature Catalog, featuring the Aarakocra Diver, the Aarakocra Warrior, and the Aarakocra Windcaller. The Aarakocra Darter appears in "Dark Sun Threats" in Dungeon #187, and there is an aarakocra encounter in the adventure "Cruel as a Desert Wind" in Dungeon #202. A 4th Edition playable race version of the aarakocra appears in the "Ashes of Athas" adventure AOA2-1: Plotting the Course, which becomes available to players whose characters die in the adventure.
Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition (2014–)
The aarakocra initially appeared in the 5th Edition Monster Manual (2014), and were later introduced as a playable character race in the Elemental Evil Player's Companion (2015). The aarakocra's stat block was later reprinted in the free online supplement for the Princes of the Apocalypse adventure module (2015).
Aarakocra resemble humanoid birds. The average specimen stands about five feet tall and has a wingspan of twenty feet. Halfway along the edge of each wing is a hand with three human-sized fingers and an opposable thumb. An elongated fourth finger extends the length of the wing and locks in place during flight. The hands cannot grasp while flying, but are nearly as useful as human hands when an aarakocra is perched and its wings folded back. Their powerful legs end in four sharp talons that can unlock and fold back to reveal another pair of functional hands. These humanoids have hollow, fragile bones. Their faces combine the features of both parrots and eagles. They have gray-black beaks and black eyes. Plumage color varies, but males generally have red, orange, and yellow coloration, while females tend towards brown and gray.
Aarakocra inhabit high mountains.
The standard alignment of aarakocra is neutral good.
Aarakocra live in small tribes of about 11–30 members. Each tribe has a hunting territory of about 10,000 square miles (26,000 km2) with colorful banners and pennants marking the boundaries.
Each tribe lives in a communal nest made of woven vines with a soft lining of dried grass. The eldest male serves as the tribe's leader. In tribes of more than 20 members, the second oldest male serves as the shaman, leading simple religious ceremonies involving the whistling of melodic hymns at sunset on the first day of a new month. Males spend most of their waking hours hunting for food and occasionally for treasure, such as gems and other shiny objects. Females spend eight months of the year incubating their eggs, passing the time by fabricating javelins and other tools from wood and stone. While resting on their backs, aarakocra females can use all four hands at the same time to weave boundary pennants, javelins sheaths, and other useful objects from vines and feathers.
Aarakocra have little to do with other species, including neighboring aarakocra tribes, and leave their home territory only in extreme circumstances. They rarely encounter humans except for an occasional foray into a rural community to snatch a stray farm animal; this is not an intentionally malicious act, as aarakocra are unable to distinguish between domestic and wild animals. A human venturing into aarakocra territory may be able to convince one to serve as a guide or a scout in exchange for a shiny jewel or coin.
Aarakocra are extremely claustrophobic and will not willingly enter a cave, building, or other enclosed area.
Aarakocra worship the goddess Syranita.
Five aarakocra, including a shaman, can summon an air elemental by chanting and performing an intricate aerial dance. The summoned air elemental will comply with the aarakocras' request for a favor, though it will not endanger its life on their behalf.
Use in campaign settings
Aarakocra appear in several campaign settings.
In the Dark Sun setting, aarakocra are one of several player character races. Aarakocra inhabit the Jagged Cliffs region. Most aarakocra live in mountain tribes.
In Dragonlance, living amongst the mountains of Krynn, aarakocra are rivals of the kyrie and often fight over living space, especially those tribes on the island of Karthay where aarakocra have been known to work with barbaric minotaur tribes to hunt kyrie. Aarakocra that live in the Abanasinia region often trade with the phaethons that live among the Sentinel peaks.
Aaracokra feature statistically only in the Forgotten Realms campaign setting in 3rd Edition Dungeons & Dragons. In this setting, they are thought to be an immigrant race to Faerûn from Maztica. Aarakocras almost all worship Aerdrie Faenya, who appears to them as a giant white bird. In Faerûn this rare people have just four established colonies: in the Star Mounts in the High Forest, in the Storm Horns in Cormyr, in the Cloven Mountains on the Vilhon Reach, and in the Mistcliffs in Chult. However the Star Mounts colony has been almost wholly destroyed by a green dragon called Elaacrimalicros.
In the World of Greyhawk setting, aarakocra have been encountered in the Rakers, Corrusk, Griff, Lortmil, and Yatil Mountains. Aarakocra also dwell on the planet Edill.
The Planescape boxed set Planes of Conflict details the aarakocra settlement of Precipice on the second layer of Elysium.
In the Spelljammer setting, Greyspace notes that there are aarakocra living on Edill, the massive air body located in the crystal sphere associated with the Greyhawk setting. Coliar is the second planet from the sun in Realmspace, and it is inhabited by tribes of lizard men and aarakocra who are constantly fighting over territory.
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