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Planetouched is a general category of races that shows up in Dungeons & Dragons and Pathfinder. It is a general term for races who have mortal ancestors, but who are marked by the outer planes, often as a mutation expressing traits of an extra-planar ancestor.
In other words, someone whose ancestor heroically refused to allow dimensional barriers to stand in the way of humanity's endless quest to put their penises inside of non-humans. Or, conversely, a woman brave enough to face the dangers of angel/demon/elemental cock. Generally, the first-generation products of these sorts of things are a bit too powerful to fall into PC hands, so most of the races below are the result of watering around that extra-planar potency a bit through a few generations of interbreeding with mere mortals.
Sure, theoretically it can also manifest as a result of arcane pacts, exposure to planar energies in-utero, wizardly meddling, blessings/curses (particularly by planar beings) and all other sorts of non-sexual stuff. But, as with sorcerer bloodlines, everyone's imagination immediately jumps straight to the porn.
Planetouched have always been popular choices for PCs since their introduction. There's the Mary Sue factor, sure, but there's honestly plenty of potential there for interesting concepts. And, as the editions go on and more and more people recognize Level Adjustment as the swollen inoperable cancer it was, playing one has only gotten easier and more-attractive.
The Planetouched have the rare distinction of being one of the few "legitimate monstergirls" of Dungeons & Dragons. Created as playable races by default, their lore also gives them a "unusual, but not hideously so" humanoid form. So, portraying a planetouched female as an exotic, alien beauty is perfectly compliant with their actual game lore.
Despite crossbreeding with humans just as much (if not more) nobody has yet made an equivalent for Half-Dragon descendants. The closest so far have been the Draconic creature template (which fits the spirit on a technical level, but is too much mechanically focused on being a watered-down half-dragon to count) and the Spellscale, which is just badly designed as a whole.
The opposite-aligned counterpart to tieflings, aasimar trace their lineage to the Upper Planes and its resident celestials.
There are far fewer aasimar/demihuman crosses, with possibly the only named example being the Celadrin (elf/eladrin) of Dragon Magazine #350; note however that the the word aasimar was never actually mentioned in that write-up, and an eladrin outsider who was more Chaotic than Good would qualify as the outsider ancestor of a Chaos-touched cansin character. Pathfinder though did give aasimar a lot of varieties from different kinds of celestial ancestor.
For more details, see their page: Aasimar.
The Golarion equivalent of D&D's Axani and Zenythri, Aphorites are the Order Planetouched, created artificially by the Axiomites of Axis to serve as diplomats, envoys and, frankly, translators to the mortal cultures of the universe.
Hailing from Dragon Magazine #297, the axani follow in the Zenythri's footsteps as an attempt at "Axiomatic Planetouched", to contrast the Upper, Lower and Elemental Planetouched we already got. The word axani comes from an essay by Tolkien and in this context means "lawful ones". They're associated with all the Lawful Neutral planars, and to a lesser extent the ultra-lawful Upper and Lower Planes. They look very well-formed, always having symmetrical features, and may occasionally have a metallic tint to their skin and/or hair. They're extremely organized, disciplined and regimented, as you'd expect of someone with pure Law in their bloodline. They've also never been nearly as popular as the first three, possibly because the axiomatic outsiders are purely a construct of the RPG writers with little basis in real-world mythology to prick the imagination, possibly because outside of the robots Law outsiders have always been pretty damn boring.
They're Medium sized normal-speeded Native Outsiders with +2 to both Int and Wis (though their ability fluff states that they are "logical and calculating, but tend to be cold and emotionless", implying they were supposed to get a Wis or Cha penalty), Cold & Sonic Resistance 5, a spell-like ability (Calm Emotions 1/day as a Cleric of their character level), +2 racial bonus to Diplomacy and Spot, and Darkvision 60 feet. Their favored class is Monk (what did you expect?) and they get a Level Adjustment of +1, like most of the other Planetouched from 3.5.
The axani's counterparts, the cansin are the spawn of pure chaos, competing with the Chaonds for the role of "Anarchic Planetouched". The purely chaotic outsiders, again, have never been the most interesting, and in fact have tended more towards "lol! Random!" Chaotic Stupid behavior and antics.
Cansin look like humans but always have some strange trait that emphasizes their anarchic nature. Some examples include eyes that randomly change color (and not in synch with each other), irregular features, and an "aura of randomness". They always seem disheveled and disorganized, no matter how hard they try. Statwise, they're Medium sized normal speed Native Outsiders with +2 Int and +2 Cha (though, again, they have fluff implying that should be a charisma penalty), Acid & Fire Resist 5, Entropic Shield (caster level = character level) 1/day as a spell-like ability, +2 to Bluff and Search checks, Darkvision 60 feet, favored class of Sorcerer and Level Adjustment +1. Pathfinder's analogue to the cansin are the ganzi.
Celadrin are planetouched elves descended from Chaotic (Good) eladrin. Debuting in Dragon Magazine #350, celadrins' racial name and knowledge of the Celestial language implies that they would be a subtype of aasimar though the word aasimar does not actually appear anywhere in that celadrin write-up, and D&D 3.x lacked a Chaotic planar language akin to Celestial otherwise eladrin and celadrin probably would have had it among their automatic languages; note that an eladrin who was more Chaotic than Good would qualify as the Chaotic outsider ancestor for a Chaotic planetouched cansin character. Further note that 4th edition D&D elves all descend from extraplanar eladrin outsiders; despite the fact that that fits the very definition of planetouched, Wiztards of the Coast somehow entirely neglected to use the word planetouched when describing their elves-descended-from-extraplanar-outsiders.
Coming from the Monster Manual II in 3.0, chaonds are demonstrably tied to slaadi rather than any generically Chaotic outsider, despite the fact that the word chaond would have been the perfect catch-all term for all sufficiently Chaotic planetouched races [the way that tiefling is the catch-all term for all fiendish planetouched races]. Not usually the result of mating with a slaad, simply because slaadi breed by either (A) laying their eggs inside of other creatures with all the romance of a bot fly so their larvae can eat their way out, or (B) infecting the victim itself with a disease called Chaos Phage that eventually transforms them into a new slaad. An individual who defeats the slaadic infection before being fully transformed into a slaad may still retain enough slaadic DNA that they are a new Chaos-touched "humanoid" race: chaond. Chaonds often have stocky builds, long limbs and blocky facial features, as well as colors that constantly shift at random.
Like their Zenythri counterparts, they only have NPC stat blocks rather than proper PC stat blocks, so their stats need to be reverse-engineered to make them playable. Chaonds are Medium sized Outsiders who have Resistance 5 against Acid, Cold and Sonic, receive a +2 bonus to Escape Artist and Tumble checks, and can cast Shatter 1/day with a caster level equal to their character level. With a Level Adjustment of +1, they treat their very first class as their Favored Class - so a Chaond who starts her career as a Fighter has Favored Class (Fighter), whilst her sister who took the path of the Warlock has Favored Class (Warlock).
Duskwalkers are a unique Planetouched race hailing from the Boneyard, the Golarion equivalent of the Shadowfell. They are former mortal souls reincarnated by the psychopomps, usually as a result of having died before their time, giving them an innate affinity for death. Duskwalkers are conceptually associated with Neutral Death; for a planetouched race conceptually associated with Evil Death see the section on grimspawn tieflings.
The Fey'ri, appearing in Races of Faerun, are unique to Faerun, and are very very specifically the result of the Sun Elves of House Dlardrageth realizing how awesome it would be if they had harems of succubi to spend all day having sex with. Not even Sun Elves in general, just this one house. The other Sun Elves, upon finding out that there was a whole bunch of monstergirl fucking going on, and pissed off that they weren't invited, declared the whole scandal to be heresy and imprisoned everyone who was involved. Some of the half-succubus, half-sun-elf babies escaped and formed their own society where they hate Sun Elves for being a bunch of prudes. They are usually chaotic evil and have a level adjustment of +2 or +3 depending on what spell-like abilities are chosen during character-creation.
Seeing the pattern here yet? These are your basic Elemental Planetouched, with powers relating to earth, air, water or fire. This might be the result of actually boning a creature made of primordial fire (no mean feat!), or of boning the properly-aligned elemental genie.
For subraces, we got two demihuman-specific crosses (the Dwarf/Azer hybrids called "Azerbloods", and the Halfling/Genie hybrids called "D'hin'ni", both from Dragon Magazine #350), and an assortment of alternate elemental affinities. Dragon Magazine #297 gives us Paraelemental Genasi (Dust, Ice, Magma, Ooze, Smoke and Steam), 4th edition made lightning & thunder-themed "Storm" Genasi part of the defaults and had Athasian Genasi of Sand, Ember, Sun and Magma and corrupted "Abyssal" Genasi of Caustic, Plague, Cinder and Void, whilst a Ravenloft fan-splat called Quoth the Raven #7 has Dread Genasi (Grave, Mist, Blood and Pyre).
Yet again, check their page out here: Genasi.
Pathfinder reworked the concept a lot, with four distinct races - Ifreet of Fire, Oread of Earth, Sylph of Air and Undine of Water - filling out the roles of "elemental Planetouched," plus the Suli, who originate from jann genies and have a bit of all four elements inside them.
Hailing from Dragon Magazine #321, the glimmerfolk were a tie-in to that issue's newly introduced "optional" Plane of Radiance. They're described as being the descendants of humans who live in forests touched by the energies of the Plane of Radiance, giving them deeply tan skin, fair hair, jet-black eyes lit by flickering sparks of color in lieu of pupils, and their trademark nimlis; three 2 inch diameter orbs of colored light that constantly float around them. Their picture gives them elf-like ears and multicolored hair, but the text says nothing on this, and claims they only live as long as humans.
Unlike most of the planetouched here, glimmerfolk don't have the Native Outsider type, possibly because they were written under 3.0 rules. They get +2 Dex for -2 Strength, low-light vision, immunity to "pattern effects", +2 to Perform, +4 to saves vs. spells from the Shadow subschool or with the Darkness descriptor, -2 penalty to Hide checks due to their built-in torches, and the Nimlis spell-like ability. Essentially, as a standard action, a glimmerfolk can "use up" one or more nimlis to cast a certain spell, and once a nimli is used, it takes an 8 hour rest to recover them all. Spending 1 nimli lets a glimmerfolk cast dancing lights, daze or flare, 2 can be spent for color spray or magic missile, and burning up all three at once lets you cast mirror image.
Originating in the Fiend Folio, the Maeluth is both Lawful and Evil, like a cross between a Zenythri and a Tiefling. However, their ancestry is mostly Dwarf, so they look like Dwarves who just got back from an Ozzy Osborne concert, and most of their racial abilities like Stoonecunning are just copied and pasted from the dwarf section of the Player's Handbook. They were only given an NPC stat block. Their favored class is cleric and they have a +1 level adjustment.
No, not some sort of dominatrix warforged monstergirl (Damn it!). These are planetouched who
prove that bards can seduce anything and must thus be destroyed before they fuck the world to death display heritage connecting them to the mechanical outsiders of Mechanus -- the Modrons and the Inevitables. This is usually non-sexual, for obvious reasons (but not always, also for obvious reasons). Visually, mechantrices look like their humanoid ancestors, but always have at least one clearly mechanical or inorganic physical feature - razor-blade hair, clockwork eyes, pipes sticking out of veins, etc. Their skin is usually smooth and has a metallic sheen. They originated in the Fiend Folio, making them somewhat more official than the Axani.
Unlike the other alignment-representing outsiders (the aasimars, tieflings, chaonds, and zenythri) the Mechanatrices were never part of a matching pair, and they have no chaotic counterpart.
Like the Chaonds and zenythri, they were never supported as a fully playable race, so their stats must be reverse engineered for use as player characters. What's clear is that they're Medium sized Outsiders who can Shocking Grasp as if they were a Sorcerer of the same character level 1/day, they have the Electricity Healing trait (immune to Electric damage and instead heal 1 point of damage per 3 points of Electric damage taken), they get a +2 to Spot checks and a +4 to Knowledge (Architecture & Engineering) checks, their favored class is Fighter, and they have a Level Adjustment of +1.
The ghost-like shyft, documented in the Fiend Folio, owe their lineage to the Ethereal Plane. There's not a lot else to say about them, since the Ethereal Plane has always been the most BORING of the planes, and they haven't really been updated since. Seriously, who can even name any of the outsiders native to the Ethereal, hmm?
They were never given a PC stat block. Their NPC stat block gives them a +3 Level Adjustment, the highest of any Planetouched, for which you get to be a Medium Outsider with low-light vision, Cold/Fire/Sonic Resistance 5, +4 to Hide & Move Silently, and Ethereal Jaunt 1/day (9th level or character level, whichever is higher). Not a great deal. You might think "oh, they must have really great ability score adjustments", but they don't. It's -2 to str and cha, +2 to dex and wis.
First mentioned in Races of Faerun. Descendants of orcs and a specific kind of fiend called a vrock. They have 5d8 racial hit die AND a +3 level adjustment, giving them by far the highest overall ECL of any Third Edition planetouched. They hit like a truck and breed like rabbits, making them a major threat to everything else on their home continent.
See their main page: Tanarukk
The original and, in the eyes of many, the best Planetouched, tieflings started it all when they appeared way back in the Planescape Campaign setting. They are the descendants of mortals and fiends - the denizens of the Lower Planes, such as demons, devils and daemons.
The general tiefling is expected to be of human ancestry; demihuman tieflings consist of the Fey'ri (Elf) and Tanarukk (Orc) from Monsters of Faerun, the Maeluth (dwarf/devil) and whispling (halfling/demon) in the Fiend Folio, and the Worghest (goblin/barghest) from Dragon Magazine #350. Pathfinder actually stated out a number of different strains, originating from mortals with one predominant kind of fiendish ancestor.
For more details, see their page: Tiefling.
In an interview, Mike Mearls has stated that the plan for Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition is to use "tiefling" specifically to refer to Baatorian planetouched (homaging the "tiefling is derived from (bad) German for devilspawn" thing), whilst "planetouched" takes the tiefling name's former role as "catch-all term for any mortal with heritage tainted by the Lower Planes"... what? Don't believe us? Here's what the man said himself:
- A tiefling describes a planetouched person who traces their ancestry to the Nine Hells. But planetouched describes in broader terms what in second edition would have been called a tiefling. So this idea that you could have someone whose ancestry is traced to a Yugoloth or a hag, that’s still part of the D&D universe, and tiefling has gone from being the name of that category to the name of a specific portion of that category, and planetouched describes the general thing of a humanoid who has fiendish ancestry of some sort.
As it turns out, the actual result was that Nine Hells and Abyssal deriving Tieflings were turned into separate Tiefling subraces in the PHB with slightly differing stats.
The last of the four Planetouched to be included in the Fiend Folio, Wisplings are just Tiefling Halflings. That's it. Their racial abilities are copied and pasted from the Halfling writeup in the PHB, and they are tainted by the evil-aligned planes. And they have a +1 level adjustment.
Short version? Some other lawful outsider knocked up your grandma. These originated in the Monster Manual II, not in a magazine, and so in the eyes of some DMs, these and the Mechanatrices are the "official" Axiomatic Planetouched. They look like impossibly perfect-featured humans; a zenythri's skin is flawlessly smooth, and its muscles are well defined and taut. Even its hair falls effortlessly into place around its handsomely chiseled face. The only real give-away (besides the looks; no human is that good-looking) is the fact their skin and hair always has a slight blue or purple tint.
Like the Chaond and Mechanatrix, they were never supported as a fully playable race and their stats must be reverse-engineered. They are Medium sized Outsiders, with Resistance 5 to Electricity/Fire/Sonic attacks, a True Strike 1/day spell-like ability (caster level equals character level), and a +2 racial bonus to Balance and Intuit Directions. Their favored class is Monk and they have a +1 Level Adjustment.