A 'rakasta looks like a furry human with the head of a cat. Its short fur is usually soft and ranges in color from light tan to brown. Many rakastas have a darker hue on the ears and muzzle. Some specimens have white highlights at the ears and muzzle instead or even white or dark patches at the extremities (feet, hands, and tail). Older rakastas show a whitening around the face and ears. Rakastas have a build similar to that of humans; nomad rakastas tend to be slender, while those who live more sedentary lives tend to weigh more, ranging from slightly chubby to downright obese. The creatures have cat eyes, with vertical pupils. The irises are usually green, but some are yellow or even blue or hazel; a few rare individuals have two colors, most commonly one blue and one green eye.
Rakastan hands and feet are like those of humans, except for the fur and retractable claws. Rakastas also have nonprehensile tails. Nomads usually have tails between two and four feet long, though a very few have none at all. The tails of town dwellers range from four to six feet in length; most are covered with short fur, though the hair on some rare ones is long and silky. Rakastas are very proud of their tails and spend a great deal of time each day grooming them. The modern rakastan language is Rak.
Though rakastas usually consider themselves superior to members of most other races, elves are considered almost equal. Humans, dwarves, and lupins receive a somewhat grudging respect; rakastas have occasional territorial disputes with the lupins. Settled rakastas view shazak lizard men as dangerous savages and believe other lizard kin to be even worse. Nomadic rakastas respect the warrior lifestyle of the shazaks, many of whom also adhere to the Warrior's Honor. However, caymen are considered irritating, and gator-men are viewed as nothing but dangerous opponents. Rakastas are very accepting of the peaceful tortles, who are well regarded warriors, clerics, and peasants. The rakastas hate goblinoids passionately. Rakastas form opinions on most other races on an individual basis.
Rakastas tend to be proud and emotional; the nomads, in particular, are quick to anger. All are convinced of rakastan superiority over other races. Still, most are extremely interested in the world at large. For the nomads, this translates into a wanderlust that demands they explore and experience all things for themselves, while for the town dwellers, it becomes an intense curiosity about visitors and a penchant for puzzles of any types.
Rakasta speak their own language, Rak. They have no written form of their language beyond a handful of signs. Rakasta are quick to adopt another languages written form for use.
There are two basic lifestyles for Rakasta, wild and domestic. Wild Raskada are typically barbarian nomads living on the open wildness. Domestic Rakasta are the ones that have for the last few generations moved into cities and become more civilized. This move has also brought them into more contact with other races, and their ideas. The biggest change is the idea of equality between males and females. Many young females have embraced this idea, but it meets strong resistance from elders and young males.
Wild Rakasta--A male Raskada carves out a territory for itself by challenge. This land is then maintained by the males sisters, wife's and other female relatives. Each male will keep a harem of females large enough to fit his status and his ability to protect. A typical female is kept pregnant to maximize the number of heirs. A typical male is mostly involved in games and hunts, siring children and defeating challengers. Female Raskada are treated as property or favourite pets by males. Favored females are protected because of the strong sons they bear. Females are considered non-intelligent, and can not manage their lives without male supervision. Females do often run lands and business, saving the male free from such burdens. No female is without a male lord. Wild Rakasta care nothing for things such as money.
Domestic Rakasta-Were born in a multiracial city or town. The grew up in an environment that was not pure Rakasta society. Typicaly Rakasta are great mimics and will seamlessly slip into a social fabric. They act much like whatever race or people they had the most contact with growing up. Not many domestic Rakasta bother to keep the 'old ways' alive.
Life and DeathEdit
The body of a dead Raskada MUST be moved from the place where it died, no matter how great the burden of moving the body. If this is not done the newly dead Raskada's spirit may find it's body and possess it, becoming undead. Rakasta have no gods or any other type of divine praton. If a rakasta wishes to become a member of a class with the use of divine energy, they must pick a deity of another race.
Art and leisureEdit
Family and manifestationsEdit
Magic and ReligionEdit
Relations with other racesEdit
Rakasta have special abilities. Some may vary with their age.
- Roar: Most ancestors and greater rakasta have a roar powerful enough to affect their foes. The roar must be used in the first round of any combat encounter to be effective and counts as an action.
- Fear of Water: Each rakasta has a rating. Entering open water requires a successful Wisdom check, else halve the rakasta’s Strength and Dexterity ratings (rounded down) until out of the water. Halve Charisma as well until dry. Rakasta listed with None are immune to this limitation. Moderate fear requires a normal Wisdom check. High fear adds a +4 penalty to the check.
- Feline Physiology: All rakasta except the basic rakasta can gather their strength and release it in a sudden burst of activity. When doing so, a rakasta may temporarily increase its Strength as follows: subtract half the rakasta’s normal Strength score from 10; add the result rounded up to the rakasta’s Strength. This burst of energy lasts a number of rounds equal to half the rakasta’s Constitution score (rounded down), or until the rakasta decides to calm down, whichever comes first. Each time this ability is used, the rakasta must rest for as many turns as the number of rounds the burst of energy lasted. Rakasta must sleep 12 hours each day in addition to these cat naps, although not necessarily at one time or during night hours. If a rakasta fails to complete either, its Strength, Dexterity, and Intelligence scores are all halved (rounded down) until properly rested. Felines normally rest 16 hours a day, but rakasta can limit their rest to 12 hours when adventuring. All rakasta are light sleepers. They can wake up at any suspicious sound, provided they make a successful detect noise roll. Add a 20% bonus for each subsequent sound. For example, a snoring companion does not affect a sleeping rakasta. A companion waking up and rummaging inside a backpack does. An approaching thief will too, unless the thief makes a successful Move Silently roll. Use common sense in adjudicating these situations.
- Natural Concealment: Wild rakasta can conthemselves when hiding or moving slowly within their natural environment (see individual descriptions). Greater rakasta have the same ability, but all chances are halved. Table 2 lists the chances of success.
- Catnip: Called nepeta rakastaria by some Known World sages, this plant of ancient Ochalean origins has a powerful effect on all Mystaran felines. Unless making a successful Wisdom check, the rakasta feels an uncontrollable and immediate urge to rub and roll on the plant, displaying a state of utter ecstasy (licking, biting, chewing, rubbing its cheeks and chin, shaking its head, purring, growling, leaping in the air). The victim never actually eats catnip but only enjoys its contact and smell. This display persists for as many rounds as the rakasta failed its Wisdom check, during which time it can make no action (attacks, spell casting, etc). If attacked at this time, the rakasta retains all magical, armor, and Dexterity bto AC, while the attacker sustains a -2 penalty to its attack rolls against this rakasta due to its unpredictable twists and rolls. There must be a fresh patch of at least a foot-square in order to affect a rakasta.
- Whiskers: Part of all rakasta Dexterity comes from their vibrissae, which act as air-current detectors. Should these be damaged or cut off, the rakasta loses 2 points of Dexterity, and both the blind-fighting and detect invisible proficiencies. These whiskers regrow in 1d4 weeks.
The basic life span of a rakasta is 90 years. Middle age for a rakasta comes at about half its base life span, 45 years. Old age comes at two-thirds its base life span or 60 years, minimum 40 years, and venerable age at its base life span years, minimum 60 years.
- Caracasta: These wild rakasta, originally natives of Davania’s Meghala Kimata plains, now live mostly in Hule. Many centuries ago they joined the expanding Milenian empire to defend themselves against other rival rakasta such as the simbasta, pardasta, and fast runners (q.v.). From the Milenians they adopted the use of bows and arrows. Their alliance to a human race and the use of a cowardly missile weapon made them pariahs, but all was fine until the Milenian empire collapsed. The caracasta lived on as a marginal people, hated and stalked by their greater cousins. Huleans showed up on Davania, much later, in a new attempt to colonize the area. After this attempt failed as had the one before, many of the caracasta who had allied with the invaders left with them and resettled in Hule. Caracasta aren’t uncommon in the ranks of the Hulean armies. As a reward for their services, the hagiarchy gave the caracasta conquered lands, mostly dry woodlands and scrub that human farmers had disdained. These rakasta are known in Hule as the Karakulak. Their short, dense fur is a uniform pale reddish-brown. Most have conspicuous, elongated tufts of black hair protrude at the tips of their large, pointy ears, which they twitch quickly when they are agitated. The caracasta use their ears to quietly exchange simple messages among each other, comparable to empathy. Under Hulean guidance, the Karakulak have learned to manufacture and use specially made arrows and composite short bows that exploit their natural energy bursts, maximizing short range fire. When non-spellcasting Karakulak fire their bows during an energy burst, they gain a +1 bonus to initiative and their arrows inflict an additional +1 damage, while the firing range becomes 70/120/180. Normal bow range otherwise remains 50/100/150. These weapons require a separate bow proficiency to use and are strictly limited to native Karakulak. Spellcasting caracasta cannot use the special bows regardless of class. They can, however, use the quick movement of their ears to cast spells of up to third level. This spellcasting technique requires two skill slots and can be used independently from the energy burst. AL: any non-lawful.
- Cave Rakasta: These creatures of Mystara’s primeval past are direct descendants of Ba-steh, although their bloodlines are closer to Ba-steh’s shaman husband than to herself. They remain essentially primitive, oversized versions of the contemporary simbasta (q.v.). Their kind has long since been relinquished to the Hollow World. Despite their tremendous strength and ferocity, their primal ways have sealed their fate on the surface world. Unlike modern simbasta, the cave rakasta have a more powerful roar than the one described for greater rakasta when using its natural energy burst. This enhanced roar causes fear to all opponents within 100’ who fail a saving throw vs. paralysis. The fear lasts d6+1 rounds, during which victims drop any weapons at hand and attempt to escape in the opposite direction at maximum speed. AL: any non-chaotic.
- Cloud Pardasta: Contrary to what their name seems to imply, these are not a greater rakasta. This wild felid type remains one of the best examples of arboreal rakasta, and somewhat of a legend as well. Cloud Pardasta live in the forests of Bellissaria and Skothar, along the Minaean Coast, Tangor Bay, and the Tangor Peninsula. On Skothar, they call themselves Rimau-Dahan - literally, fork-of-branch tigers. Cloud Pardasta gained their name from the large spots on their backs, which look like cloudy blotches. Theirbase coats varies from brown to pale or rich yellow, with white or light tawny on the inner limbs, throat, and chest. The odd name also comes from their unusual ability When using their energy burst, the cloud pardasta can harness natural magical forces pervading the forest and blend away into its mist, fog, or clouds. In effect, the cloud pardasta can cast dimension door to a distance of 10’ per experience level, at which point the energy burst ends. The cloud pardasta may invoke this power at any time while the energy burst still lasts. The cloud pardasta must be in contact with forest mist when they perform the dimension door. Cloud pardasta clans are tucked away in small villages built on the branches of very tall trees, virtually invisible from the ground. Cloud pardasta suffer no movement penalty when inside a tree. They have been observed by some hunters to sneak or run down tree trunks head first, without any difficulwhatsoever. They can hang from branches using only their legs, or run underneath one with ease. Jumping from one branch to another is a native game, which they do without requiring Dexterity checks or the use of an acrobatics check , unless the distance exceeds 15 feet horizontally or downward). Cloud pardasta have the acrobatics skill for free. To Accomplish these feats, the cloud pardasta’s long tail must be free to help balance movements. On the other hand, they lose two points of Dexterity when caught on the ground. AL: Lawful or Neutral.
- Fast Runners: The fast runners dwell on the dry grasslands of the Meghala Kimata where they compete with Simbasta prides for food and freedom. Fast runners also survive in the southern Steps of Jen on Skothar and on the Isle of Dawn’s southern plateaus. The coat of a long runner is coarse, varying from yellowish-grey to golden or reddish-fawn with small dark spots. These tall, lanky rakasta often stun observers by their running speed and their agility when pursuing a prey. This alone makes them the most successful hunters among rakasta. This notoriety and the ensuing attention has been a curse to them for centuries. The life of the fast runners remains indeed a difficult one. On Davania, where they call themselves Msongo, they must beware of the Simbasta (q.v.) who view them as annoying pests. Elsewhere, Thothian monarchs and Jennite warlords who wish to bolster the ranks of their armies often seek their services, often with less than amicable terms. The rich and the powerful covet them as household hunters and status symbols. Unfortunately, the fast runners are too few truly to challenge these difficult neighbors. When using its natural energy burst, the Msongo can run at a much faster pace than other bipeds. The Msongo can triple its movement rate without any Strength check; quadruple it when succeeding a Strength check; quintuple it with a -4 penalty. Finally, with a -8 penalty, it can accelerate to six times its normal movement rate, but for one round only, after which the energy burst ends. No Constitution checks are otherwise required while the Msongo’s energy burst is lasting. AL: Lawful or Neutral
- Jakar: This almost mythical creature hails from tropical rainforests and swamps on the Arm of the Immortal. Other indigenous races rarely venture deep into known jakar territory, so great is their fear of the powerful felidae, remaining instead within clear terrain and coastal areas. and Savage Coast explorers sailing from Vilaverde were the first easterners to encounter the jakar and call them the onna grande, or tall jaguar. The heavily muscled jakar sport beautiful spotted coats, usually tawny with large rosettes circling smaller spots, or entirely black, which helps them remain concealed within rainforests. Some unscrupulous Vilaverdans have begun a nefarious trade, capturing jakar either for their pelts or as monsters to be shown in circuses. This trade, naturally, is fraught with dangers, judging from the growing number of Vilaverdan hunting expeditions failing to return. The jakar normally live in small hunting clans, but on occasion high priests have risen from their ranks and founded more durable and advanced civilizations sweeping many of the small clans and uniting them. They often focused around powerful religious poles, with great pyramids, temples, palaces, and fortresses built to protect them. If any remain, these remain hidden at the heart of the rainforest. Many times in the history of the warlike jakar, these kingdoms abruptly vanished as a result of bloody conflicts, the omnipresent rainforest quickly reclaiming their lost cities. Rumors of untold treasures and secret ruins abound, which keeps the greedy coming. The jakar tolerate and respect the werejaguar, depending on prevailing alignments of the hunting clans, since they perceive it as a magical kin. Werejaguars, on the other hand, never show goodwill toward the jakar and might very well cause them harm if given an opportunity. Jakar have maintained a natural and mutual affinity with the common jaguar. Jakar have an empathic connection with the animal. During the feline’s natural energy burst, a 1st-level jakar’s claw and bite attacks are equivalent to +1 magical weapons. They don‘t actually give attack or damage bonuses, only the ability to strike certain magical beings. For every five additional experience levels, the jakar improves this ability (+2 equivalent at level 6, +3 at level 11, etc). AL: any.
- Jakarundi: This is the oddest-looking rakasta, appearing as a cross between a weasel and a rakasta because of its long neck, pointy head, and slender body. Its clans are well established in the rainforests of the Arm of the Immortal, getting along fairly well with the jakar people (q.v.). The first Vilaverdan explorers encountered melanistic jakarundi, leading them to call these rakasta tigrete preto, literally “little black tiger” (or trigrillo negro for their neighboring customers). Their colors vary from black to brown, gray, red, or tawny yellow. The jakarundi are perhaps the most talented wokani among wild rakasta. Although this hasn’t been proven, some sages in Texeiras think that there may be some elven blood in them. Because of their magical talents, they are usually welcome among the jakar clans for the help they may offer. When using their natural burst of energy, jakarundi can cast one spell normally available to a wokan of half their experience level (rounded up). A jakarundi must succeed a Wisdom check at this time to choose a spell, else it is chosen at random among first-level spells. If not cast before the end of the energy burst, this spell vanishes on its own. Non-spellcasters make their Wisdom check with a -2 penalty, while spellcasting jakarundi benefit from a +2 bonus. AL: any non-lawful.
- Lynxman: This strange rakasta claimed the coldest regions of Mystara. On Davania, these nomads travel as far as the southern tip of the Brasol Range. On Skothar and Brun, they do not venture past the Nentsun Plateaus, the Hyborean Reaches, or the Wyrmsteeth Range. Recognizable by their tail, shortened as a protection against extreme colds, tufted ears, stocky bodies, and big broad paws, lynxmen are notorious for their thick neck ruffle when angered. Its pelage varies from reddish-tawny or cream with faint spots and facial lines in Davania forests, to grey in Skothar and Brun woodlands. In frozen regions, lynxmen turn pure white to blend in with the icy background. These hardy felids travel the dark frozen expanses of the polar rims leading to Mystara’s Hollow World. Their natural instinct guides them through these treacherous lands. Lynxmen travel between the two worlds according to the cycles linked to the clans’ own totems, signs in the skies, or divinations from their priests. Davanian clans know the way to Hollow World’s Nithia, while their northern kin travel instead to the land of the Antalians. On this route, the latter compete with Norwold Malamutes. Lynxmen can move across snow at a normal speed. When using their natural energy burst, lynxmen can shake off the effects of any cold-based attack, or survive a situation where natural cold would be fatal. For example, a lynxman accidentally fainto the sea in polar conditions might crawl out and still survive with one hit point left instead of freezing to death. It could also shake off all damage from a magical cone of cold. The energy burst ends immediately after any one such situation occurs. AL: any.
- Mountain Rakasta: The mountain rakasta have claimed the entire continent of Brun as their native land. They favor above all unpopulated areas where they can freely hunt. If unchecked, these adaptable athletes claim any vacant land, including forests, swamps, grasslands, and semi-desert regions such as Terra Vermelha and Grande Carrascal in the Savage Coast. Humanoids usually get in their way, both as prey and hunter. As a result, the widely scattered tribes of mountain rakasta have adopted mountain ranges such as the Endworld Line, the Kurish Massif, and even the Wyrmsteeth Range as their true natural habitat. The mountain rakasta’s pelage varies from plain brown, being the most common in the northern climes, to sometimes reddish or almost black. Accustomed to broken terrain, these adroit stalkers developed acrobatic skills unparalleled among rakasta. Many humanoids, both with awe and fear, have reported the ability of the Yutin people, as they call them, to perform stunning leaps. The mountain rakasta use this skill to leap over humanoid camp walls and moats, up into trees, or down from a rocky ledges, to stalk a prey or evade a sudden threat. When using their energy burst, mountain rakasta choose to boost either their Strength or their Dexterity. They also have a free acrobatics skill with the following differences - broad jumping: no running start is ever needed for any leap, and the distance is 3d6 + Dexterity; upward leap: 2d4 + half Dexterity (rounded up); downward leap: 3d12 + Dexterity. AL: any.
- Ocelotl: Although they are ground-dwellers, these wild rakasta favor forested regions on northwestern Davania and the southern half of the Arm of the Immortals. There aren’t ocelotl tribes or nations, just scattered families traveling the land, selling their wares, entertaining villages, and telling their legends. A few easterners also know them as the Trigillos Errantes. The ocelotl has one of the most beautiful coats among rakasta. This of course, makes them the target of some unscrupulous easterners. Spots cover their cream to tawny coats. A darker ring surrounds the spots’ pale interior, which frequently join with each other, forming long, horizontal chains that almost become stripes. A white spot on the back of their ears gives the impression from a distance of two eyes staring backward. The ocelotl people once had the opportunity to honor the evil Immortal Atzanteotl in exchange for power and protection. They recognized him for what he really was and moved on, choosing their own path ilife. Angered with their attitude, Atzanteotl cast a curse upon them, condemning the Ocelotl never to rise as a powerful people. Over the centuries following the curse, the Ocelotl spread out to the land in search of a secret to break the curse. Although they never found anything concrete, they did accumulate knowledge of Atzanteotl’s evil and a few ways to counter it. Their unwavering resistance to the Immortal eventually caused Atzanteotl to lose interest in them, allowing the ocelotl to slowly work on their quest to weaken the curse and someday, perhaps, to break it. The curse consists of deadly epidemics striking ocelotl communities of more than 30. In their quest the ocelotl developed the talent to heal their own wounds, once, when using their natural energy burst. If most of their wounds were caused by chaotic or evil magic, the ocelotl can cure up to three hit points per experience level. The latter includes spells cast by chaotic or evil spellcasters, or damage from chaotic or evil magical weapons. In all other situations, the cure affects up to one hit point per experience level. The ocelotl remain unable to alter Atzanteotl’s epidemics, however. AL: any non-chaotic.
- Pardasta: These clever rakasta can be found almost anywhere on Mystara, away from heavily populated centers - that is, regions with few human or demi-human settlements. Small tribes have been discovered fairly close to human settlements, but these rakasta are elusive and sneaky enough that people often fail to notice their presence at all. Their natural habitat includes any sort of woodland, savannahs, semi-deserts, and rugged mountains. Pardasta tribes exist especially on Skothar, Bellissaria, Ochalea, Cestia, and Davania, in regions stretching roughly between the 30th parallel. Their pelage can be fairly short and sleek in warmer climes to deeply furred in the north. Base color varies from pale straw, tan, or gray-buff to bright reddish- yellow, or jet black for natives of heavily forested regions. Small spots cover their head and necks, turning to larger rosettes on their back and flanks. The base color of their throats, inner limbs, and belly remains white. Pardasta are smart and strong enough to live near other rakasta or human settlements without too much difficulty. They often outwit the powerful simbasta (q.v.), they know how to avoid angering the mighty sherkasta (q.v.), and if threatened by humans they always find a way to exact a terrible revenge against their aggressors. Pardasta are supreme stalkers and always seem to find their quarry. They excel as thieves, spies, and scouts. They generally dislike tabaxi, unless they share the same alignment. When using their energy burst, pardasta are immune to all mind-altering attacks (fear, sleep, hypnotism, charm, etc). This does not affect their natural fear of water or spells that already had been cast upon them before they used their energy burst. They also have a permanent +2 bonus to their initiative rolls. AL: any non-lawful.
- Rakastodon Fatalis: As with the cave rakasta (q.v.), the onslaught of more adaptable races on the surface world all but doomed the rakastodon to survive in the Hollow World as yet another witness of Mystara’s forgotten past. It is the direct descendant of the tiger-like Ba-steh. Rakastodons now live in high grass or forested areas in the Hollow World’s equatorial regions. Rakastodons are a stump-tailed brutes, with massive forelimbs and saber-like fangs. Pelage varies, but a reddish-orange color seems common among their kin, sometimes with stripes. Their most impressive feature, the dirk-like fangs, are used to deliver the final blow to an immobilized victim. The Rakastodons have been traditional rivals of the cave rakasta. As primitive as they may be, these chaotic loners remain at odds with the cave rakasta pride-oriented society. The sheer size, power, and organization of cave rakasta have prevented their kind from falling prey to these lethal hunters. A Rakastodon may topple an opponent when using its natural energy burst. If the opponent is smaller or lighter than the rakastodon, it is automatically brought down with any successful claw attack. Else, the opponent needs to succeed a Strength check for each of the rakastodon’s successful claw attacks. If the opponent’s Strength is less than the rakastodon’s, apply a -2 penalty for each point of difference. Once knocked down, a victim must succeed a saving throw vs. Paralyzation or die instantly from the rakastodon’s next successful bite attack. AL: any non-lawful.
- Servasta: These wild felids remain one of the lesser known eastern Davanian rakasta. Their realm lies on the savannahs and scrubs, where they compete with the pardasta and simbasta (q.v.). There, they call themselves kisongo. Lean and lanky, the debonnaire servasta can be recognized by their small heads perched over slender necks and surmounted by huge bat-like ears. Small black spots cover their tawny coats, with dark rings and a black tip marking their short tails. The servasta use their huge ears to detect underground creatures, a talent that goes back thousand of years when their ancestors hunted simple rodents. They have an additional +10% bonus to hear underground noises, but with a -1% penalty for each foot in depth. Nowadays, servasta have developed a taste for other creatures also dwelling beneath the surface, incldemi-humans and humanoids, halflings being a most delectable treat. The servasta rely on an elaborate combat style that consists of stalking underground prey from the surface until the latter comes out. Then, they jump upward and pounce down on the unsuspecting victim. Servasta can use this form of attack at will against prey less than a foot tall. On larger prey, the servasta’s natural energy burst is necessary for this form of attack to succeed at all. If it does, servasta may either inflict maximum damage with any melee weapon at hand (including possibly a thief’s backstab) or take a firm grip over the prey’s back and arms, allowing an automatic neck or shoulder bite every round until shaken off. The latter requires a successful Strength check with a -2 penalty. Servasta have a free acrobatics skill. AL: any non-lawful.
- Sherkasta: Mightiest among the greater rakasta, sherkasta prowl the forests and swamps of sSkothar. Some have also claimed the mountain forests of northern Skothar. The southerners, who call themselves the Harimau-Belang, remains the most common. Their base color runs from reddish-orange to reddish-yellow, with dark stripes and white or cream fur inside their limbs. Their northern cousins, the Tagh, show a thicker, light grey or white pelage, with brown or black stripes. The more reclusive sherkasta form small clans and shun contact with races. Other individuals sometimes meet with neighboring populations of humans or demihumans. Sherkasta, because of their size and ferocious appearance are normally considered evil monsters, or at least dangerous predators by other races. However, with time, a few become more accepted by the local population. The sherkasta loathe the rakshasa, evispirits resemble them. For centuries, individual rakshasas have subjected clans to a despotic rule or slavery. These spirits resort, to magic, fear, or blackmail to maintain their hold over the clans and influence their minds. Sherkasta can only unmask rakshasas for what they really are when attacking and realizing fangs and claws aren’t hurting them. Rakshasas delight in pitting their feline slaves against humankind to further their own schemes. This has done great harm to the sherkasta clans and their relations with human populations. The power of the rakshasas over sherkasta clans can last decades, but usually a sherkasta escapes to return later, when it has reached a sufficient experience level to challenge the spirit and free its clan. Sherkasta and weretigers, on the other hand, get along fairly well and sometimes ally against a common foe. Sherkasta can also maintain an empathic link with common tigers. When using their natural energy burst, sherkasta can virtually shake off the effects of magic previously cast upon them. A successful check dispels a first-level spell, provided it originated from a lower-level spellcaster. Sherkasta cannot alter the effects of area spells or spells that are not cast directly upon them (fireballs, stinking clouds, phantasmal force, etc). For example, a 10th-level sherkasta can dispel a charm cast by a 7-HD rakshasa, but not one cast by a 13th-level spellcaster. Furthermore, at every fifth additional level, the sherkasta may increase its spell immunity one level (second-level spells at 6th level, third-level spells at 11th level, etc). AL: any (non-evil).
- Simbasta: These regal creatures once roamed most of Mystara. Over the centuries, they too have retreated in the face of human and demi-human hegemony and now live essentially on the continent of Davania, in the savannahs stretching around the Aryptian Basin, from the Adakkian Sound to the Pass of Cestia and the Gulf of Mar. They call themselves the Ikimizi. Unlike most other rakasta, male and female simbasta look different from each other. The normal pelage color for both is a tawny yellow that blends with their natural environment of dry grasses. Color may vary from ginger to black, with the male sporting a huge mane, making it appear even taller than the powerful sherkasta. This mane sets apart the simbasta male from the female. Again, unlike other felids, simbasta are sociable creatures, naturally living in large clans called prides. Females, often siblings with their cubs, originally formed the core of the pride, with peaceful males ensuring safety and progeny. This arrangement demanded that young males born to pride simbasta leave to avoid unhealthy lineages. The stronger male simbasta usually headed the pride, until driven off by a younger or more powerful male. The first duty of the new master was then to eliminate all existing cubs, which among Ikimizi still is an ancient religious ritual. A brutal and shocking practice by human standards, it nevertheless ensured the strength of the prides. From there, a pervasive Code of Honor was slowly established, governing the behavior and society of modern simbasta. As a result of their solemn and dignified ways, the proud simbasta are the only rakasta capable of becoming paladins. Simbasta generally consider normal lions as simple animals, yet they enjoy taming mature males - something they can do very well (+2 bonus to the skill). The relation between them and this animal is one of strength, where the simbasta means to demonstrate its own power before eventually releasing the lion. They view themselves as the rightful and deserving heirs of Kum-rah’s legacy. They honor him under that name and tolerate none other amongst their prides, including Ba-steh so far. Simbasta often are at odds with wemics, which they consider inferior half-breeds. It is in the simbasta’s temperament to want to control and dominate. As a result, simbasta’s energy burst allows them to attack and save as if three experience levels higher, and with an additional +2 bonus on all damage, if striking to subdue an opponent. A subdued opponent views the simbasta with awe and immediately ceases combat. When subdued, unwilling PCs may salute the simbasta and leave with the intention never to cross this simbasta’s path again. NPCs and “willing” PCs may instead embrace the simbasta’s authority and offer their blades in servitude. AL: any.
- Snow Pardasta: Snow pardasta tribes are scattered above forest lines on the northern mountains of Skothar (Nentsun Plateaus) and Brun (Hyborean Reaches, Norwold). On Davania, some can be found as far north as the Ice Peaks and the Diamond Ring. Their thick, long fur protects them from the intense cold of their natural habitat. Small spots cover their heads and neck, becoming large irregular circles on their back and flanks. Their pale grey fur makes them difficult to detect against the bleak background of high mountain rocks. Hardly anyone competes with the snow pardasta, considering how remote their homelands are. There, they hunt the ibex, the markhor, and as opportunities present themselves, marmots and other small mammals. Occasionally they wage sporadic wars against encroaching sasquatches. Their villages, often built around temples, include a few free-standing buildings made of stones and slates, and walls covering the entrance to natural caves. Snow pardasta can tread ice and snow without movement penalties. Although they cannot boost their Dexterity ratings as mountain rakasta do (q.v.), snow pardasta benefit from the same leaping abilities. Furthermore, a snow pardasta can blend into a rock big enough to contain the whole creature or into a large chunk of ice for the duration of its energy burst, after which it reappears outside. While doing so, it can see and hear what happens outside, but it cannot communicate or cast spells. The snow pardasta is at a disadvantage outside its natural terrain. When exposed to warm weather or less mountainous terrain, the snow pardasta suffers a -2 penalty on all saving throws, ability checks, and attack rolls. AL: Neutral.
- Domestic Rakasta: These rakasta can be found in just about any region of Mystara, much as their lupin rivals. The term “domestic” is by no means derogatory but merely a common way of referring to more “civilized” rakasta, especially in the eyes of neighboring humans with whom they interact more easily than greater or wild rakasta ever could. Afrom their physical appearances, domestic rakasta have the same natural ability - a legendary power that makes them very successful indeed, even when compared to their more powerful cousins. While a domestic rakasta uses its energy burst, it can literally avoid death. In game terms, if the rakasta would have been killed, it survives instead but with only one hit point left. It can perform this feat no more than nine times in its life - thus the proverbial nine lives. However, each time a “life” is forfeited, the rakasta permanently loses a point of Charisma. Physical appearances are linked to the domestic breeds; however, many variables are possible. Either pick a breed with its corresponding characteristics, or roll at random on Tables 4a-4c.
Unusual Breeds: Rakasta may bear some blood ties with foreign breeds. These creatures are very rare and usually have a special goal in life. Among a few documented caseare rakasta with elven or even draconic bloodlines, especially with the mighty dragonne. Table 5a shows what lineage a rakasta might have (if any at all) and its strength. The lineage of a rakasta has no bearing on its breed or physical appearance. It is possible to have mixed heritage (rolling 2 or 3 tens and 2 ones, for example). Rolling anything other than tens and ones or different numbers would indicate a total lack of a clear bloodline, other than the rakasta’s own breed. Lineage generally is hereditary but can be weakened or strengthened through successive family generations. If either of the parents has no clear lineage, then roll 5d10 on Table 5a for each cub. If both parents have at least a trace of a bloodline, roll 1d20 for each cub. An odd result relates to the father’s lineage, an number to the mother's. With a score of 19-20, lineage is strengthened by one category On a roll of 7-18, lineage is passed on as is. On a roll of 1-6, lineage is weakened by one category. If either parent had equal traces of two different bloodlines, then choose one at random (50%) as the one passed on to the cub. Feel free as a DM to assign different dice numbers to additional bloodlines for use with Table 5a, as appropriate to your campaign. For example, lammasu, feystags, cath shee, and ebon tigers could be related to some rakasta as well. Table 5b shows examples of stronger bloodlines.
Unfortunately for rakasta, some human or humanoid cultures covet rakasta for certain valuable items, usually spell components, medicinal ingredients, valuable pelts, and so forth. Items involved are the whiskers, fangs, claws, bones, or blood of greater rakasta. They also involve the coats of many wild and greater rakasta as well. Black rakasta (domestic) also receive unwanted attention from some wizards. The wild and greater rare often thought of as monsters or dangerous predators by human cultures. Many believe them to be lycanthropes and hunt them down. Choosing a greater rakasta or even wild rakasta as a PC to adventure into human lands requires precautions to avoid constant difficulties. Disguises can help. Support from local nobility (the PC is hired by a local leader) may do the trick. Fame also does much to reassure villagers that not all rakasta are dangerous monsters. It’s up to PCs to establish such a rapport with local populations.
Rakasta societies adopted legal practices that may astound human neighbors. For example, the Kingdom of Bellayne on the Savage Coast, which considers itself very civilized, does not usually resort to the death penalty or long term prison - they prefer instead declawing, neutering, or banishing their criminals. Simbasta warriors, on the other hand, cast out known cowards, but only after cutting off their tails, which among simbasta is much worse than death. Elsewhere, hanging by one‘s whiskers or tail may be considered for lesser crimes.
Rakasta are thought to have a short attention span. In situations that aren’t life-threatening, rakasta are easily distracted. They tend to switch their interest without warning or reason. Although this is left entirely to the player’s desire to roleplay, the DM may request an occasional Wisdom check. Rakasta also are a playful folk, especially when large balls of wool, rodents, fish, or birds are involved. Their presence may require a Wisdom check on the part of the rakasta to keep focusing on the task at hand.
Another game, the cat’s cradle, remains a child’s diversion at least among humans. For some rakasta cultures, however, it has a greater meaning. For example, among rakasta tribes of Davania, a 10th-level druid using a cat’s cradle can attempt to diminish the bite of the equatorial sun. In effect, it causes clouds to mask the sun and bring rain (control weather). It can attempt this once per moon cycle with a successful Wisdom check. The idea is to “catch the sun” in the cradle’s strands, as clouds of rain seem to do. Likewise, tribes living near the arctic circle and beyond can try the same to calm a winter storm and bring out the sun (trapping it up in the sky).
Created by ancient Mulhurindi people as servants and slaves several thousand years ago. At first they were simply cats polymorhed into human shape. While given human like minds, they still possessed cat spirits. They were soon abandoned. The god Ka the Preserver then fixed things by making them a true race and transformed them into rakasta. Some scattered, but most stayed in the south.
Rakasta tribes roamed the lands around the Sea of Fallen Starsfor centuries afterwords, including the area that would one day be Thay. Once Thay was founded, the Red Wizards, hunted and destroyed most tribes in the area and beyond. Though a great many were also taken as slaves. Over the next century the slaughter lost its zeal and faded away and it was accepted that rakasta made poor slaves.
The freed rakasta mixed with the couple of remaining tribes and started new lives. The Red Wizards left them mostly alone, more then happy to have fierce roaming tribes of cat folks in the wild areas of the country that kept to themselves, but would definitely defend their land from invaders. Though most suspect the Red Wizards have used subtle methods to control them.
Rakasta act and think much like humanoid cats, and that is naturally what they are anyway.
Rakasta are masters of the world, with unbelievably large egos and plenty of arrogance. They see their own race as the only one true race. The rest are just something else, something far lesser then them. They have little use for most other races, seeing them as weak young cubs at best and as simply food at worst. Rakasta have no problem eating other intelligent beings.
Raskada are mostly bad tempered and take offense at almost any slight. There society and code of honor compels them to react violently if an apology is not immediately forthcoming. A Raskada does not have to apologize if he fells he did nothing wrong. Typicaly an offended Rakasta will tag the offender. This is a physical attack, generally a powerful and painful one, though not deadly. The idea is to let the other know you are offended. The offender may back down, give and apology, leave, or ask for honor combat. A true fight may come of this, but the tag is not considered the 'first blow' of a fight. In fact tags are never to be considered to have really happened. You may not speak of them or about them at all. Honor is very personal and important. a rakastas individual honor is far more important the it's families, clans or other such oblations. You must do nothing to cause others to question your honor and good name. If this happen, you must restore you honor at all costs..and as quickly as possible. Your honor is more important then everything, even your life. Rakasta, in general, have a fear of water..though officially this does not exist. One dishonored might as well not live, and simply take their own lives. A Rakasta is only considered a Rakasta as long as they can hunt(eyes and ears alert, mind sharp, legs quick, claws sharp, teeth ready.. ready to at the drop of a claw take down a elk in the woods). Rakasta would kill themselves before they lose the power to hunt. Typically Rakasta felling the lost of their ability to hunt go on one 'Last Hunt'. Though a 'last hunt' is hardly a hunt at all. A Rakasta on their last hunt simply finds some type of powerful creature to throw themselves at full force. While the Rakasta will and must fight to the death, it's typically to their death, not the creatures.
A Rakasta can never be killed, except by combat. And this must be fair combat(honor combat), tooth to tooth, claw to claw in the open with no tricks. This works both ways. A Rakasta will not sneak attack another Rakasta just as he would not leap into certain doom..unless it was by combat. They have a great fear of a honor less death outside of combat. Rakastas have two mind sets. One the big cats(lion,Tiger,Panther types) and the small cats(lynx,bobcat,house cat). The big ones are all about power and strength. They smash and break their way through life like a violent storm. The smalls are all about stealth and dexterity. They sneak their way through life like a shadow. There are far more big cats then smalls, and as such Rakasta society favors the big cats. No Rakasta, except other smalls, care about the stealthy deeds or abilities..officially they don't exist. most big Rakasta get by fine just charging in, and when they have had to use stealth...it has never officially occurred. Every small cat knows their place around the big cats. Many small cats take to picking on the lesser races, that they can get away with. Raskada respect those of great strength, or to a lesser degree intelligence, and bestow great honors upon them, treating them with awe. Mages and scholars are generally looked down upon in society, however those of greatness are respected. A raskada will quickly find their place in the rank order of a group, usually close to the top, if not the top. Raskada eat their food alive, always. They are not picky. anything that walks, swims, crawls or flies is fine. The only exception is a Rakasta will never eat any type of cat. They also love milk and milk products, but don't really care about what animal it comes from. Not many fruits or vegetables are eaten. Rakasta have a racial agreement about was is official, in other words what has, can or might happen. If some thing is not offical, it does not exist(even if it does). Nothing can bring a Raskada quicker dishonor then speaking of such things. Rakasta have short attention spans. In non-life threatening situations they are easily distracted. They tend to switch intrests without warning or reason. Rakasta are very playful as well, and love games of skill...but loathe those of chance.