Kalashtar

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Ritual of Shadows

Kalashtar are a race native to the Dungeons & Dragons setting of Eberron, and are one of its four "unique" races, alongside the Changeling, Shifter and Warforged. Whilst they have their fans, of the four, they are generally considered the least liked for several reasons. Firstly, their close tie to psionics, which are neither heavily integrated into the Eberron setting (unlike in Dark Sun) nor especially popular, especially in third edition. Secondly, their motif of "psionic offshoot of humanity" has been done before, as seen with the Elan and the Maenad and, hell, arguably even the Githzerai and the Githyanki. Finally, there's the fact that "psionic human offshoot" is just not as unique as, say, "Sapient golem" or "playable therianthrope/doppelganger".

Kalashtars have been in every Eberron Player's Handbook equivalent since the setting debuted in 3rd edition. They are further expanded upon in the 3e splatbooks Races of Eberron and Secrets of Sarlona, and the 4e Dragon Magazine article "Power of the Mind: The Kalashtar" in issue #385.

Who Are They?[edit]

The Kalashtar's origins lie on the plane of Dal Quor, the Plane of Dreams for the Orrery. Specifically, it lies with the fiendish residents of that plane, the Quori, and the civil war between them over whether or not their plans to prevent the coming of change to the Quor Tarai, the spirit of the age, were needed or not. Those who felt that they should embrace the change were fewer in number, and butchered by their more numerous kin; attempting to flee, they came partially into the mortal realm, using the dreams of slumbering mortals to take temporary shelter. Ultimately whittled down to 67, these rebel Quori found salvation when their leader, Taratai, used this dream-shifting to speak to the master of a human monastery in the land of Adar, which had traditionally been a place of refuge in Sarlona. The head monk agreed to give them sanctuary, and gathering 66 of their brethren, a ritual was performed to not only allow the Quori to voluntarily possess them, but to permanently merge each Quori with its host, creating an entirely new creature.

The Kalashtar ("Wandering Dreams") were literally born in that moment. As the human-quori hybrids had children, they discovered that their offspring were each mentally linked to the quori of their parents, effectively dividing each spirit between multiple hosts simultaneously. By the time the kalashtar had finished developing into a true race, which is arguably a breed of planetouched, the quori rebels were effectively incapable of directly communing with their humanoid hosts or manipulating their bodies; each quori is a sort of collective subconsciousness, creating a mind hive for all the kalashtars of a specific blood lineage. Only when they sleep do kalashtar commune with their quori, as they spend their slumber soaking in the memories of their founding spirit - that is not to say that the founders cannot communicate with their blood lineage, just that it is difficult for them. When roused however, they can transmit information impossibly far, because each founder exists in the subconsciousness of each of its individual children, and is aware of everything that they know. What one kalasthar knows, others will soon know as well. In Khorvaire, a new practice has risen taht revolves around honing body and mind in order to strengthen the connection a kalashtar has to its ancestral quori spirit, imbuing it with a greater amount of quori powers.

This process has had its physical side-effects on kalashtar. Kalashtar appear very similar to humans, but they have a grace and elegance that makes them seem almost too beautiful. They are slightly taller than the average human, and their faces have a slight angularity that sets them apart from the human norm, but these deviations only make them seem more attractive. Most notably, all kalashtars have an affinity for psionics, and are naturally telepathic. Most kalashtar use telepathy any time they are making a comment directed at an individual, and they speak only if what they are saying needs to be heard by multiple people at once. While kalashtar can use telepathy to convey words, they often use it to convey pure emotion; kalashtar art and poetry are telepathic constructs based around interwoven memories and emotions.

In fact, kalashtar telepathy begins when the kalashtar is still in the womb; embryonic kalashtar spend roughly half of their gestation telepathically communing with their mother and bathing in the memories of their founding quori. Kalashtar children mature at a rate that members of other races often find disturbing, due to this strong telepathic link; at birth, a kalashtar is probably as cognizant as a 6 of 7 year old human child. In a kalashtar community, children are taught meditative and telepathic exercises before they can walk, and they begin the basics of martial training as soon as they have the coordination. A kalashtar child born into another culture might be confused and frustrated by the imbalance between his or her physical and mental development.

Obviously, kalashtar are naturally intelligent, but they are not strictly logic-driven - in fact, they can't be; bathed in the womb in memories of a plane where dream-logic is reality, kalashtar are naturally inventive, and younger ones in particular are often surprisingly naive despite their advanced intellect, since they are still learning to separate memory-reality from life-reality. They are generally warm and compassionate, but their manners and ways of thinking are alien to the native races of Eberron, and they often use flowery scientific words which doesn't make them easier to understand.

The centerpiece for kalashtar society is the Lineage, or the mind-hive based around a specific quori founding spirit. Lineages are gender-locked, being in part a reflection of the original Adaran monk who first merged with the Lineage's founder. Thus, when two kalashtar mate, sons will be of the same Lineage as their father, and daughters the same Lineage as their mother. Because a Lineage shares a collective subconsciousness through its founder, Lineages are more central to traditional kalashtar mindsets than biological families. All members of the same Lineage will share distinctive physical and personality traits, although the latter category becomes vaguer as a kalashtar ages and its individual experiences enable it to assert its own persona separate to that of the founding spirit. All members of a single Lineage live together, and the kalashtar have no tradition of marriage in Adar - individuals mingle for pleasure and procreation, and children are adopted by the relevant Lineage. In Khorvaire, this tradition is changing.

Kalashtars are known to be able to interbreed with both human and half-elf partners; in this case, the Lineage-bond means that children of the same gender as the kalashtar parent will be kalashtars, but children of the opposite gender will belong to the other parent's race. It's not stated what happens when kalashtar lies with elf, orc or half-orc; it's presumably up to a DM to decide if this results in a mixture of half-elven/half-orcish and kalashtar children, or if the union is sterile.

The foundation of kalashtar culture is the ongoing war between themselves and the quori; their religion, the Path of Light, exists in opposition to the Path of Inspiration, and so they engage in an endless guerrilla struggle to bring down their more numerous foes. As a consequence, their culture is naturally austere; they don't shun pleasure, but every activity they do should serve a purpose. Even artistic expression, as in the kalashtar's famous love of artwork and dancing, is ultimately a weapon, as their philosophy centers on the idea that by inspiring joy and hope in others, they can weaken the dark nature of the Quor Tarai and hasten its transformation from il-Lashtavar into il-Yannah.

PC Stats[edit]

3E[edit]

Ability Scores: None
Size: Medium
Speed: 30 ft.
+2 racial bonus on saving throws against mind-affecting spells and abilities, including possession
+2 racial bonus on Bluff, Diplomacy, and Intimidate checks
+2 racial bonus on Disguise checks made to impersonate a human
Kalashtar sleep but they do not dream. As such, they have immunity to the dream and nightmare spells, as well as any other effect that relies on the target’s ability to dream.
Naturally Psionic: Kalashtar gain 1 extra power point per character level, regardless of whether they choose a psionic class
Psi-Like Ability: Kalashtar can use Mindlink 1/day with a caster level equal to half their HD
Automatic Languages: Common and Quor. Bonus Languages: Draconic and Riedran
Favored Class: Psion

4E[edit]

Ability Scores: +2 Wisdom, +2 Charisma
Size: Medium
Speed: 6 squares
Vision: Normal
Languages: Common, Telepathy 5 (You can communicate with another creature that shares a language within 5 ft.)
Skill Bonuses: +2 Insight, +2 to one other
Dual Soul: You can make a saving throw against a Dazed or Dominated effect, but only at the start of the turn
Bastion of Mental Clarity: Encounter Immediate Interrupt Racial. When an enemy makes an attack against your Will defense, all allies within a burst 5 gains +4 to Will for the turn.
Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition Races
Player's Handbook 1: Dragonborn - Dwarf - Eladrin - Elf
Half-Elf - Halfling - Human - Tiefling
Player's Handbook 2: Deva - Gnome - Goliath - Half-Orc - Shifter
Player's Handbook 3: Githzerai - Minotaur - Shardmind - Wilden
Monster Manual 1: Bugbear - Doppelganger - Githyanki
Goblin - Hobgoblin - Kobold - Orc
Monster Manual 2: Bullywug - Duergar - Kenku
Dragon Magazine: Gnoll - Shadar-kai
Heroes of Shadow: Revenant - Shade - Vryloka
Heroes of the Feywild Hamadryad - Pixie - Satyr
Eberron's Player's Guide: Changeling - Kalashtar - Warforged
The Manual of the Planes: Bladeling
Dark Sun Campaign Setting: Mul - Thri-kreen
Forgotten Realms Player's Guide: Drow - Genasi

5E[edit]

Ability Scores: Wis +1, Cha +1, One other Score +1
Size: Medium
Speed: 30 ft.
Languages: Common, Quori, One other language
Dual Mind: You can use your Reaction to gain advantage on a Wisdom saving throw
Mental Resistance: You have resistance to psychic damage
Mind Link: You can telepathically communicate to anyone you see within 60 ft. and can use a Bonus action to let them reply telepathically
Psychic Glamour: You have advantage on all checks with one of the following skills: Insight, Intimidation, Performance, or Persuasion
Severed from Dreams: You are immune to any magical sleep effects and spells that involve you being asleep

The Inspired[edit]

Whilst the quori rebels were breeding themselves from a group of 67 possessed humans into the kalashtar race, their enemies weren't idle either. Once they figured out how the rebels had managed to gain a foothold in the Prime Material, which had been barred to the quori for ages, they naturally started finding their own path to doing something similar. Rather than bond with human hosts like the rebels did, the servants of il-Lashtavar took a more manipulative approach. After a long process, they had achieved both the creation of a mortal cult to indoctrinate mortals into their service, the Path of Inspiration, and they had created their own equivalents to the kalashtar: the Inspired, also known as the Chosen amongst themselves and as the Empty Vessels by the quori themselves.

The Chosen are a human subspecies engineered by a combination of psionic surgeries and the introduction of elf and fiend blood to the "breeding stock". This gives the Chosen a very distinct physical appearance; whilst they look mostly like their human ancestors, they are significantly taller than average, but lightly built. Their large, almond-shaped eyes are typically black, violet or viridian in color, although they can change color with the Chosen's mood, and their hair is typically jet black, deep blue, or deep green. They are striking-looking and possess a natural charm, perhaps aided by slight empathic manipulation abilities, but share a tendency towards cruelty.

These "anti-kalashtar" lack the innate psionic abilities of their counterparts, and are not inherently bound to a specific quori. Instead, they are natural hosts for quori, who can possess them with far greater ease than they can possess even a willing human host. In this state, the empty vessel becomes little more than a puppet on a string; their memories are laid bare to their possessor, and prolonged possession will see their personalities shaped and insidiously remolded into a mirror of their possessor's, but they have no awareness or conscious control whilst possessed. They exist only as figureheads for the Path of Inspiration, and tools to battle against the kalashtar and all the other enemies of the quori.

Despite this, and despite their strong indoctrination in the Path of Inspiration, Chosen are still free-willed beings, and it's not impossible for one to go rogue, although such an individual becomes a target to all quori, especially if they remain in Sarlona. Because of this, PC stats for empty vessels, Chosen who have not been possessed, appeared in the 3e Eberron Campaign Setting splatbook - they have no appeared since, however.

No ability score modifiers
Medium
Base Land Speed 30 feet
Naturally Psionic (Ex): Empty vessels gain 1 extra psionic power point per level, regardless of if they have actually taken levels in a psionic class.
Skills: An empty vessel receives +4 skill points at 1st level and +1 skill point at each level. Knowledge (The Planes of Eberron) is always a Class Skill for empty vessels.
+2 racial bonus on Bluff, Diplomacy and Intimidation checks.
+2 racial bonus on Disguise checks made to pass as a Human.
Bonus Feat: An empty vessel gains 1 bonus feat at 1st level.
Favored Class: Psion
Level Adjustment: +1