Sequestered in high mountains atop tall trees, the aarakocra, sometimes called birdfolk, evoke a sense wonder in most. Many aarakocra aren’t actually native to the Material Plane. They hail from a world beyond - the Elemental Chaos plane, and more specifically, the Air Realm within. They are immigrants, refugees, scouts, and explorers, their outposts functioning as footholds in a world both strange and alien.
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 range from around 4 to about 5 feet tall, and they have long, narrow legs that taper to sharp talons. They have thin, lightweight bodies that usually weigh between 80 and 100 pounds.
Feathers cover their bodies. Their plumage typically denotes membership in a tribe. Their plumage colors vary from red, orange, and yellow to more subdued colors, like brown or gray. Their heads complete their avian appearance, typically appearing something like a parrot or eagle, with distinct tribal variations.
Common Personality Traits Edit
Aarakocra enjoy peace and solitude. Most of them have little interest in dealing with other peoples and even less interest in spending time on the ground.
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.
Once airborne, an aarakocra leaves the sky with great reluctance. In the Elemental Chaos 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.
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.
Aarakocra see females and males as equal in all things, and they find societies with roles divided by gender to be puzzling or worthy of mockery. To an aarakocra, the person who is best at a job should be the one tasked with doing it.
The idea of ownership also 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.
Most aarakocra live on the Elemental Chaos plane, in the Air Realm. 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.
In battle, aarakocra prove dynamic and acrobatic fliers, moving with remarkable speed and grace, diving to lash opponents with weapons or talons before turning and flying away.
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.
Backgrounds that are most appropriate for aarakocra include the outlander, the hermit, and the sage. The small colonies of aarakocra are insular and remote, and few aarakocra live away from their roosts. Typically, no more than a few dozen aarakocra live away from the nests of their families.
How Other Races React Edit
Aarakocra are less widespread than dwarves, elves, halflings, and humans, and even less than uncommon races like tieflings, half-elves, and half-orcs. Even in big cities, people at least tend to spare a second glance at them, and the small towns and villages that dot the countryside are often even more surprised to be visited by one. Aarakocra inspire a sense of wonder and fascination in most villagers, who have almost certainly never seen anything quite like them before. Rarely are people scared of them, however, more often seeing them as a particularly unique and beautiful oddity.
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.
Birth names are never linked to gender. 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.
Gameplay Traits Edit
Ability Score Increase Edit
Aarakocras' Dexterity score increases by 2, and their Wisdom score increases by 1.
Aarakocra reach maturity by age 6. They don’t usually live longer than 50 years.
Most aarakocra are good and rarely choose sides when it comes to law and chaos.
Aarakocra have a flying speed of 50 feet. If wearing medium armor, this speed slows to 25 feet, and they are unable to fly while wearing heavy armor.
Aarakocra are proficient with unarmed strikes, which deal 1d4 slashing damage on a hit.