Rakshasa (Dungeons & Dragons)
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In the Dungeons & Dragons fantasy role-playing game, a rakshasa is 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.
- 1 Publication history
- 2 Physical description
- 3 Types
- 4 Society
- 5 Rakshasa in Eberron
- 6 References
The rakshasa was one of the earliest creatures introduced in the D&D game.
Dungeons & Dragons (1974-1976)
The rakshasa first appeared in the official newsletter of TSR Games, The Strategic Review #5, December 1975.
The rakshasa (demons of India) appeared in Supplement IV: Gods, Demi-Gods & Heroes (1976).
Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st edition (1977-1988)
The rakshasa appears in the first edition Monster Manual (1977). “Known first in India, these evil spirits encased in flesh are spreading."
Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd edition (1989-1999)
The rakshasa appears first in the Monstrous Compendium Volume One (1989), along with the greater rakshasa, the rakshasa maharaja, the rakshasa rajah, and the rakshasa ruhk. The rakshasa and these other variants are reprinted in the Monstrous Manual (1993).
Dungeons & Dragons 3.0 edition (2000-2002)
The rakshasa appears in the Monster Manual for this edition (2000).
Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 edition (2003-2007)
The rakshasa appears in the revised Monster Manual for this edition (2003).
The Ak'chazar rakshasa and the Naztharune rakshasa appeared in Monster Manual III (2004).
The rakshasa overlords for the Eberron setting appeared in Dragon #337 (November 2005).
The Naityan rakshasa appeared in the Tome of Battle: The Book of Nine Swords (2006).
Dungeons & Dragons 4th edition (2008-)
The rakshasa appears in the Monster Manual for this edition (2008).
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. Their hands also look disturbing to most humans, as their palms are where the back of the hands would be in humans. The Rakshasa are capable of hiding their disturbing appearance at any time, as they can choose any humanoid form at will. All rakshasas wear human clothing of the highest quality.
In addition to the most common, there are several different castes of Rakshasa in the game.
The Ak'chazar have the heads of white tigers and are thinner than common Rakshasa. They are unusually powerful spellcasters, even for Rakshasa, and specialize in necromantic magic. To use their necromantic powers to their full potential the Ak'chazar often use graveyards or old battlefields as their headquarters. When working on one of their dark schemes the Ak'chazar often let their undead do the physical work while they stay behind the scenes themselves.
The Naztharune have the heads of black tigers and are covered in black fur. They have few magical powers but compensate by being strong fighters, specializing in assassination. They lack most Rakshasa's need to be the leader of any organisation that they are part of, often working for other Rakshasa.
The Naityan Rakshasa are shapeshifters with the ability to utilize different supernatural combat styles based on their current forms.
The Zakyas resemble standard rakshasas, but rather than focusing on sorcery, they are skilled melee combatants and weapon masters. They use their weak magical powers to supplement their martial prowess.
Rakshasa Knights focus on hunting paladins on behalf of Ravanna, while Rakshasa Lords serve as his high priests.
Rakshasa are solitary beings, although they do occasionally cooperate with each other. Since Rakshasa are ambitious beings, as well as being solitary, sorcerous shapeshifters, they typically hold leading positions in whatever undertaking they are involved in. They are therefore typical boss monsters.
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.
Rakshasa in Eberron
In the Eberron campaign setting, rakshasa 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.
- Gygax, Gary. Monster Manual (TSR, 1977)
- Bennie, Scott. "Never the Same Thing Twice." Dragon #84 (TSR, 1984)
- Cook, David, et al. Monstrous Compendium Volume One (TSR, 1989)
- Stewart, Doug, ed. Monstrous Manual (TSR, 1993)
- Cook, Monte, Jonathan Tweet, and Skip Williams. Monster Manual (Wizards of the Coast, 2000)
- Burlew, Rich, Eric Cagle, Jesse Decker, Andrew J. Finch, Gwendolyn F.M. Kestrel, Rich Redman, Matthew Sernett, Chris Thomasson, and P. Nathan Toomey. Monster Manual III (Wizards of the Coast, 2004)
- Cagle, Eric. "The Ecology of the Rakshasa." Dragon #326 (Paizo Publishing, 2004)
- Baker, Richard, Matt Sernett, and Frank Brunner. Tome of Battle: The Book of Nine Swords (Wizards of the Coast, 2006
- Mearls, Mike, Stephen Schubert, and James Wyatt. Monster Manual (Wizards of the Coast, 2008)