The Aetherborn are a race of short-lived, artificial beings native to the land of Kaladesh in Magic: The Gathering. As their name implies, they spontaneously arise sometimes during the process of refining aether, apparently born of some interaction betwen the volatile elements removed during the process and psychic impressions created by the people working there. Each aetherborn is no mere psychic copy, though; they are unique individuals with their own feelings, needs, wants and drives.
The downside is that the process that makes them is inherently unstable. A lucky aetherborn will hold together for a couple of years - an unlucky one will dissolve back into aether within a few months. It goes without saying that the racial philosophy is one of hedonism: when you know that any day could be your last one alive, it tends to foster a "carpe diem" attitude, with every aetherborn united in the desire to squeeze the most out of the brief time they have been given. Incidentally, this is partly why they're so little understood; no aetherborn is going to waste their precious time letting vedalken scholars examine them to literal destruction.
That said... there is an alternative. Some desperate aetherborn have discovered that there exists a process to alchemically transform themselves into vampire-like creatures: these aetherborn can feed on life energy, and whilst it becomes an addiction they must sate or die, consuming life allows them to sustain their own existence, giving them more time to operate in.
Dungeons & Dragons
Aetherborn were given rules as a PC race option in Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition via the free online article "Plane Shift: Kaladesh".
- Ability Score Increase: +2 Charisma, +1 to two other ability skills of your choice
- Size: Medium
- Speed: 30 feet
- Vision: Darkvision 60 feet
- Born of Aether: Resistance to Necrotic damage
- Menacing: Proficiency in Intimidation
"The Dark Gift" is a transformation that an aetherborn can undergo, using the rules for Inventing & Manufacting Devices to discover and apply the various rare ungents and reagents needed for the transformation. Once successful, the Aetherborn gains the Drain Life racial feature:
- Drain Life: You can make a natural attack that inflicts 1d6 Necrotic damage on a hit, restoring lost hitpoints equal to the damage inflicted. If you go 7 or more days without using Drain Life, your hit point maximum is reduced by 1d6 points per week without feeding. This reduction can only be removed by using Drain Life and completing a long rest.