Aiar (3.5e Template)
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The aiar are flawed heroes among the celestial races who accept a lot more as "forgivable" than many champions of good. They live in a multiverse where dealing with adult topics, and hard choices is considered just a normal part of life. They often do the "dirty work" of the celestials. While the darker aspects of the aiar can be omitted, they are a fundamental part of the race concept. Aiar are probably best left as only a mysterious external source of hope for groups who are uncomfortable with adult themes.
If anyone wants to help me add more types of aiar or refine their culture, it is VERY appreciated. A point for anyone who figures out my inspiration for the different types of aiar.
Aiar are a race of celestials who operate the Isles of the Dead. Not as powerful as angels or archons, it has also been said that the aiar are the "least good" of the celestials as they do not have as strict entry requirements. They nonetheless serve in vital functions in the upper planes. There are three major subtypes of aiar: least, lesser, and greater.
Creating an Aiar
Any creature with a soul that is slain or destroyed can become aiar.
Size, Abilities, Qualities, Features, etc
As per the celestial template, except as mentioned below. Aiar may be outsiders, but they start off without skills, generally have different resistances, do not always use 8 - sided hit dice, and may have other differences. In general, aiar are less powerful than angels or archons, but some make up for it with excellent senses and ability to obtain character classes. Aiar have an innate ability to sense alignment and summon other aiar. Some aiar breathe, drink, eat, sleep, etc. and others do not. Those that do can usually survive longer than a mortal would without food and sleep, however.
When an aiar is slain, the body may disappear or collapse and degrade rapidly into the environment, releasing the soul onto whatever plane, world, etc. it happens to be on. Unless the aiar was slain in its homeland or that of celestials allied with with the aiar, or there are aiar nearby that have access to the right magic, the aiar's soul suffers the same fate as a mortal's would, but there is no body left for resurrection. A new body must be provided for the soul to be returned to life. If the aiar dies in friendly hands, however, it can become a whisp or glow; the exact processes are explained under the types listed below.
Aiar Alignment Sense (Su): Aiar can sense good, evil, and base emotions including aggression from creatures and objects very close to them; strongly good or evil beings and effects, such as a group of pit fiends or a holy place, can be detected much further away than lesser evils. In general, however, they do not sense good or evil directly, only a sense that something dangerous is in a certain general direction. Thus they cannot detect whether a specific creature is good or evil unless it is right next to them and there is no other source of significant good or evil nearby. However, higher - CR aiar can combine this ability with other abilities, skills, and magic spells to gain enhanced alignment detection capabilities.
Types of Aiar
Least aiar have, in addition to the aiar traits above, the 'least aiar' subtype, and the following characteristics:
Least aiar are incorporeal and do not use armor, shields, weapons, or other equipment. They move as if using a strange form of the fly spell enabling them to walk up imaginary stairs, drift as if blown by a nonexistent wind, fly through solid rock, etc. Least aiar do not follow the usual outsider rules for skills or hit dice / hit points. They are fragile creatures with fewer hit points, often just 1 or 2, than other outsiders. When slain, the incorporeal bodies of least aiar disintegrate, vanishing completely before the end of the next round. They are almost hopeless in a fight but are also almost impossible to hit and their often bizarre motion tends to disorient foes, so when acting in concert with another force, they are a potent distraction. Those that do can usually survive longer than a mortal would without food and sleep, however.
Least aiar tend to be gregarious and form large groups. They do not breathe, drink, eat, or sleep, and cannot reproduce by any means except recruitment and promotion. Least Aiar have an innate ability to sense alignment and summon other aiar.
- Glow: an unclaimed soul captured by the aiar, packaged for shipment in an ultracompact body. These creatures become ghostlies when they reach the Isles of the Dead.
- Ghostlie: a soul on the Isles of the Dead, forced to choose its fate. Lesser and greater aiar consider these creatures to be their kin, though many have been, or will go on to become, lemures or other races instead.
- Whisp: a ghostlie that has chosen the aiar path. They grow in strength on a diet of 'good vibes' until they are ready to advance to skyfish or fey'iar status.
- Skyfish: the first step past petitioner in the aiar way of life, skyfish are the workhorses of the race, physically herding petitioners to safety amongst the Isles of the Dead.
- Fey'iar: fairy-like creatures who serve as caretakers of the Isles' gardens. Some are retired skyfish who have survived herding thousands of souls, while others are souls of those who lacked the will and discipline needed to become skyfish.
Lesser aiar have, in addition to the aiar traits above, the 'lesser aiar' subtype, and the following characteristics:
Lesser aiar have bodies that resemble mortal beings such as and. In fact, they are often mistaken for mortals even at close range and use that fact to their advantage. They can even reproduce just like mortals. When slain, however, the bodies of lesser aiar disintegrate rapidly, blowing away as dust and completely disappearing into the surroundings within the next hour or so.
- Sukeb: The aiar equivalent of erinyes and succubi, they fill roles ranging from domestic staff to diplomatic envoys. They often serve as seductive healers, comforting dying foes in hopes those creatures will choose to convert to the aiar's cause.
Greater aiar have, in addition to the aiar traits above, the 'greater aiar' subtype, and the following characteristics:
Like lesser aiar, greater aiar have bodies that resemble mortal beings such as humanoids and animals. However, greater aiar are obviously not "normal" creatures, being of monstrous size or having features which make them stand out. They can reproduce like lesser aiar, but are not as fertile and do so rarely. When slain, the bodies of greater aiar disintegrate rapidly, blowing away as dust and completely disappearing into the surroundings within the next hour.
- Anik: Monstrous animal guardians of the aiar homelands, they also often lead aiar combat teams.
- Megam: The aiar equivalent of balors, pit fiends, and solars, they are creatures of ethereal beauty and patient cunning.
"Don't sweat the small stuff" seems to be a common aiar attitude. They are more concerned with giving souls the freedom to choose between good and evil on their terms rather than the devils'. For the aiar, the enemies of good seek to waste the wonder of the multiverse on pointless cruelty, and must be handed a well - deserved defeat. While the aiar are staunch supporters of redemption for all, they also believe in karma. Tarnished souls must be restored to 'health', and the process is painful, so the aiar believe in strengthening those souls to prepare them for the task ahead. The aiar are a patient people, seeing the multiverse in terms of sweeping change.
Relations with other creatures
Aiar culture tends to see the conflicts between the outsiders in black and white terms. As far as they are concerned, the fiendish forces are enemies and entirely responsible for the conflicts on the planes, the angels and archons are heroes and brothers in arms, and the formians and other neutral races are only guilty of failing to comprehend the moral superiority of the cause. On an individual basis, however, the aiar consider most of their enemies as being more tragically misguided than malevolent, or simply have not been given a fair chance to choose good over evil. In particular, they pity the lower - ranking fiends - especially lemures, since the devils are not picky about what souls they transform into these living tsunamis of flesh.
The other races do not all return the attitude. To the devils, angels and archons are at least honorable. The demons and aiar are unworthy scum. To the demons, aiar are just another annoying source of celestials who interfere in the affairs of others. To the archons and angels, many of the aiar are worthy of being called heroes, but the race as a whole is a necessary evil and should be retired as a separate celestial race the moment their usefulness is at an end. For most of the neutral races, the aiar are an oddity, a sign that good and evil unbalance the multiverse.
Most non - outsiders have never even heard of the aiar, a fact which does not concern them. The aiar have a fondness for the humanoid races in general, particularly those who have struggled on the edge of good and evil.
Life and Death
More so than perhaps any other race, the aiar regard life and death as passing things. Of course, every death separates close friends and brings the possibility of a new life as a slave in the Courts of the Dead, as a lemure, a dretch, or worse, the loss of a soul's individuality, and that is the real tragedy. Moreover, every death of a creature of good brings the possibility of the loss of that creature's power, skill, and individuality to the forces of good, which harms the aiar cause. While the aiar regard healing as among the most important and noble of all skills, they also believe that euthanizing those who cannot be easily restored is a viable option.
Aiar delight in combating evil both on a diplomatic level and slaying its servants on the battlefield, not because of their hatred for evil or evil creatures, but out of a sense of patriotic duty to their race and the cause. In particular, they try to lead as many lemures and other as possible to deaths in which their souls will end up on the Isles of the Dead.
"You will all die painfully in moments. I can only offer one mercy: a choice between a quick death or life in slavery as a prisoner of the aiar. On both paths there is hope for freedom. Choose wisely, but choose quickly. I have other enemies...." - aiar commander to wounded fiendish prisoners.
Slavery and Vices
For the aiar, slavery and many of the other things other creatures of good despise are just part of life on the outer planes. What is important is not these things but how you actually treat other people. They deeply respect the views of both those who would ban slavery and and every idle pleasure and those who would not. In the meantime, the aiar use them to serve their own purposes. If a kindly master shows a fiendish slave it can still partake in a few guilty pleasures without either serving evil or even its freedom, it might be more willing to consider serving good in its next life.