Aarakocra

Aarakocra range the Howling Gyre, an endless storm of mighty winds and lashing rains that surrounds the tranquil realm of Aaqa in the Elemental Plane of Air. Making aerial patrols, these birdlike humanoids guard the windy borders of their home against invaders from the Elemental Plane of Earth, such as gargoyles, their sworn enemies.

Enemies of Elemental Evil. In service to the Wind Dukes of Aaqa, aarakocra scout the planes in search of temples of Elemental Evil. They spy on malign elemental creatures and then either take the fight to those creatures or report back to the Wind Dukes. On the Material Plane, aarakocra create aeries atop the highest mountains, especially peaks near portals to the Elemental Plane of Air. From such heights, aarakocra watch for signs of elemental incursions, as well as for nascent threats to their home plane. Aarakocra prefer to live their lives like the wind unburdened and ever moving- yet they watch over a region for years if that's what it takes to guard against the incursions of Elemental Evil.

Aarakocra have no concept of political borders or property ownership, and the value of gems, gold, and other precious materials means little to aarakocra. In their eyes, a creature should use what is necessary and then cast what is left on the wind for others to use.

Search for the Seven Shards. The Wind Dukes of Aaqa come from a race of elemental beings called the vaati, which once ruled many worlds. A creature known as the Queen of Chaos arose and initiated an interplanar war against vaati rule. To combat the threat, seven vaati heroes combined their powers to create the mighty Rod of Law. In a battle against the queen's greatest general, Mishka the Wolf Spider, a vaati killed Mishka by thrusting the rod into him like a spear. The rod shattered into seven shards that scattered across the multiverse. Aaracokra seek signs of the pieces' locations in order to rebuild what is now know as the Rod of Seven Parts.

Sequestered in high mountains atop tall trees, the aarakocra, sometimes called birdfolk, evoke fear and wonder. Many aarakocra aren’t even native to the Material Plane. They hail from a world beyond—from the boundless vistas of the Elemental Plane of Air. They are immigrants, refugees, scouts, and explorers, their outposts functioning as footholds in a world both strange and alien.

Aarakocra

Sequestered in high mountains atop tall trees, the
aarakocra, sometimes called birdfolk, evoke fear and
wonder. Many aarakocra aren’t even native to the
Material Plane. They hail from a world beyond—from
the boundless vistas of the Elemental Plane of Air.
They are immigrants, refugees, scouts, and explorers,
their outposts functioning as footholds in a world both
strange and alien.

Beak and Feather

From below, aarakocra look much like large birds.
Only when they descend to roost on a branch or walk
across the ground does their humanoid appearance
reveal itself. Standing upright, aarakocra might reach
5 feet tall, and they have long, narrow legs that taper to
sharp talons.

Feathers cover their bodies. Their plumage typically
denotes membership in a tribe. Males are brightly
colored, with feathers of red, orange, or yellow. Females
have more subdued colors, usually brown or gray. Their
heads complete the avian appearance, being something
like a parrot or eagle with distinct tribal variations.

Sky Wardens

Nowhere are the aarakocra more comfortable than in
the sky. They can spend hours in the air, and some go as
long as days, locking their wings in place and letting the
thermals hold them aloft. In battle, they prove dynamic
and acrobatic fliers, moving with remarkable speed and
grace, diving to lash opponents with weapons or talons
before turning and flying away.

Once airborne, an aarakocra leaves the sky with
reluctance. On their native plane, they can fly for days
or months, landing only to lay their eggs and feed
their young before launching themselves back into
the air. Those that make it to a world in the Material
Plane find it a strange place. They sometimes forget
or ignore vertical distances, and they have nothing but
pity for those earthbound people forced to live and toil
on the ground.

Avian Mannerisms

The resemblance of aarakocra to birds isn’t limited to
physical features. Aarakocra display many of the same
mannerisms as ordinary birds. They are fastidious
about their plumage, frequently tending their feathers,
cleaning and scratching away any tiny passengers they
might have picked up. When they deign to descend from
the sky, they often do so near pools where they can catch
fish and bathe themselves.

Many aarakocra punctuate their speech with chirps,
sounds they use to convey emphasis and to shade
meaning, much as a human might through facial
expressions and gestures. An aarakocra might become
frustrated with people who fail to pick up on the
nuances; an aarakocra’s threat might be taken as a jest
and vice versa.

The idea of ownership baffles most aarakocra. After
all, who owns the sky? Even when explained to them,
they initially find the notion of ownership mystifying.
As a result, aarakocra who have little interaction with
other people might be a nuisance as they drop from the
sky to snatch livestock or plunder harvests for fruits
and grains. Shiny, glittering objects catch their eyes.
They find it hard not to pluck the treasure and bring it
back to their settlement to beautify it. An aarakocra who
spends years among other races can learn to inhibit
these impulses.

Confinement terrifies the aarakocra. To be grounded,
trapped underground, or imprisoned by the cold,
unyielding earth is a torment few aarakocra can
withstand. Even when perched on a high branch or at
rest in their mountaintop homes, they appear alert, with
eyes moving and bodies ready to take flight.

Homelands

Most aarakocra live on the Elemental Plane of Air.
Aarakocra can be drawn into the Material Plane,
sometimes to pursue enemies or thwart their foes’
designs there. Accident might also send a nest of
aarakocra tumbling into a world on that plane. A few
find their way to such a world through portals on their
own plane and establish nests in high mountains or in
the canopies of old forests.

Once tribes of aarakocra settle in an area, they share
a hunting territory that extends across an area up to
100 miles on a side, with each tribe hunting in the lands
nearest to their colony, ranging farther should game
become scarce.

A typical colony consists of one large, open-roofed
nest made of woven vines. The eldest acts as leader with
the support of a shaman.

Great Purpose

Aarakocra enjoy peace and solitude. Most of them have
little interest in dealing with other peoples and less
interest in spending time on the ground. For this reason,
it takes an exceptional circumstance for an aarakocra
to leave his or her tribe and undertake the adventurer’s
life. Neither treasure nor glory is enough to lure them
from their tribes; a dire threat to their people, a mission
of vengeance, or a catastrophe typically lies at the heart
of the aarakocra adventurer’s chosen path.

Two other circumstances might call an aarakocra to
adventure. First, aarakocra have historical ties to the
Wind Dukes of Aqaa. Exceptional individuals honor that
connection and might seek out the missing pieces of the
Rod of Seven Parts, the remains of an artifact fashioned
by the Wind Dukes long ago to defeat the Queen of
Chaos’s monstrous champion, Miska the Wolf-Spider.

When plunged into Miska’s body, the chaos in his blood
sundered the rod and scattered its pieces across the
multiverse. Recovering the pieces means gaining honor
and esteem in the eyes of the vaati who forged it and
could possibly restore a powerful weapon for defense
against the agents of elemental evil.

Second, aarakocra are sworn foes of elemental earth,
in particular the gargoyles that serve Ogrémoch, the
Prince of Earth. The Aarakocra word for gargoyle
is loosely translated as “flying rock,” and battles
between aarakocra and gargoyles have raged across
the Elemental Planes of Earth and Air, occasionally
spilling into a world on the Material Plane. Aarakocra
on that plane might leave their colonies to lend aid to
other humanoids committed to fighting earth cults and
thwarting their efforts.

Aarakocra Names

As with much of their speech, aarakocra names include
clicks, trills, and whistles to the point that other peoples
have a difficult time pronouncing them. Typically, a
name has two to four syllables with the sounds acting
as connectors. When interacting with other races,
aarakocra may use nicknames gained from people they
meet or shortened forms of their full names.

An aarakocra of either gender may have one of these
short names: Aera, Aial, Aur, Deekek, Errk, Heehk,
Ikki, Kleeck, Oorr, Ouss, Quaf, Quierk, Salleek,
Urreek, or Zeed.

Aarakocras resembled humanoid birds. The average specimen stood about 5 ft (1.5 m) tall and had a wingspan of 20 ft (6.1 m). Halfway along the edge of each wing was a hand with three human-sized fingers and an opposable thumb. An elongated fourth finger extended the length of the wing and locked in place during flight. The hands could not grasp while flying, but they were nearly as useful as human hands when an aarakocra was perched and its wings folded back. Their powerful legs ended in four sharp talons that could unlock and fold back to reveal another pair of functional hands. These humanoids had hollow, fragile bones. Their faces combined the features of both parrots and eagles. They had gray-black beaks and black eyes. Plumage color varied, but males generally had red, orange, and yellow coloration, while females tended towards brown and gray.

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