Friday, March 30, 2018

The Weird And Wild World of Outsiders (Exploring Alternative Aasimar and Tiefling Heritages)

Aasimar and tieflings are often thought of as two sides of the same coin. The dalliances, blessings, and curses of the celestial and the infernal, both mixed with the blood of mortals. This heritage grants their scions power, along with signs (some subtle, and others not-so-subtle) as to the origin of that power.

For most of us, though, these two native outsider races just means we get access to some fun racial feats, some resistances, darkvision, decent stat mods, and a spell-like ability. However, there is a whole slew of weird stuff that you can use to modify these outsiders. All you have to do is look at the tiefling and aasimar pages, paying particular attention to the charts along the bottom of the page with the alternative features.

99 Options

Each chart gives you 99 different options you can take, instead of the tiefling or aasimar's standard spell-like ability (darkness and daylight respectively). In some cases, the options aren't really all that great (gain a +2 bonus on a skill check or specific saving throw), while in other cases the options are pretty goddamn awesome (like switching out daylight for spear of purity, which is going to be a nasty little surprise for enemies who don't know you've got an offensive spell up your sleeve).

Say hello to my little friend!
If you're looking for specific abilities and concepts that would be enhanced by the alternative traits, I did come across a few that stuck out.

- You have oversized limbs, and can wield Large-sized weapons without penalty (tiefling).
- You gain spell resistance equal to 10+1/2 your hit dice (tiefling and aasimar).
- You can cast spear of purity once per day as a spell-like ability (aasimar).
- You can levitate yourself, plus 10 pounds, as per the spell at-will (tiefling).
- You have a natural fly speed of 20 feet (aasimar).
- Your body produces intense heat/cold/acid, and deals damage to those grappling you (tiefling).

These are just a sample of the abilities you can gain, without even needing to burn a feat slot. There's also the option for minor damage reduction, unusual abilities such as being able to turn on a halo for aasimar, or being able to eat ashes and cinders for sustenance for tieflings. There's an option that allows a tiefling to never need sleep, and one that allows an aasimar make any weapon they hold holy for three rounds as a move action once per day.

In most circumstances, these abilities provide a small bonus, or some additional flavor. Used for the right build, though, such as a titan mauler with large weapons, a grappler who specializes in burning his foes, or even an inquisitor who hunts demons and wants an extra edge on top of their bane, these little abilities can make a big impact.

Stranger Things in Heaven and Earth

Even though this is Crunch week, I'd like to take a moment to direct folks' attention to the two charts to the right of the aasimar and tiefling mechanical abilities. Because despite the infinite variety outsiders come in, it feels like our tieflings just look like nightcrawler with horns, while all of our aasimar look like cover models under perfect lighting.

There are so many more options than that.

Like this adorable little prince by Tamaj.
Just glance through some of the choices. Aasimar whose fingerprints always look like holy symbols. Translucent tieflings with see-through skin. Aasimar who make bells ring as they walk past. Tieflings with constantly smoking breath, or eyes. Aasimar with metallic lips and jeweled eyes. Tieflings with fingers that bend backwards.

I did not make any of those up. That is just a small selection of the bizarre flavor you can add to these outsiders, and the things their presence and anatomy can do just because they exist. Because while there is nothing that says you have to be a bizarre collection of inhumanly inherited features, there is also nothing that prevents you from being a bird-headed, gold-beaked, ruby-eyed peacock warrior with abnormally long legs. So, next time you get a chance to play one of these native outsiders, feel free to go absolutely nuts with it!

That's all for this latest Crunch installment. Hopefully it got some gears turning in your heads out there, and it gives birth to some unusual outsiders. For folks who'd like more from me, check out my Vocal archive, or head over to the YouTube channel Dungeon Keeper Radio where I get together with other local gamers who make advice videos, and present the lore of Evora! To keep up on my latest releases, follow me on Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter. Lastly, if you'd like to help support Improved Initiative, then visit The Literary Mercenary's Patreon page, or go Buy Me A Coffee! Either way you'll have my eternal gratitude, as well as some sweet gaming swag.

1 comment:

  1. These, and these alone, are what have made me enjoy the Tieflings/Aasimar. There are so many fun options.