D&D (2024) Mix multispecies traits

Yaarel

He Mage
Compass of Ethical Alignments.png

The Compass of the Ethical Alignments


To help me keep track the alignment dominions, I relabeled this compass.

For example, "GCG" is the abbreviation for "Good by Chaotic Good", namely the specific alignment dominion called Beastlands.

Note, the dominions along horizontal L−E Axis are N (Neutral: a mix of Good and Evil, where Good tends to be preferable but often difficult to achieve), while the dominions along the vertical G−E Axis are T (True: a balance that actively optimizes between the conflicting benefits of Lawful and Chaotic). The center dominion is TN "True Neutral".
 
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Yaarel

He Mage
Heh, it is hard to tell if an idea is successful or not because the Enworld forums generally "tend to frown on innovation". But lets suppose, the Ardling isnt quite making the survey approval ratings that the designers would like to see before making something official. Even the disapprovers seem to acknowledge the Ardling has merit, it just isnt what they personally prefer to see.

Lets see if we can rethink what an Ardling is.

Heh, I just watched a video by TreantMonk critiquing the Ardling. In his mild reasonable way, he moreorless brutally savages the Ardling as horribly underpowered. For example, he views the Racer benefit as worthless because using an Action to Dash is rare. He wants an increase to the base speed. In my games, mobility is highly beneficial. The Dash is to escape or catch upto, thus is when the burst of speed is most useful. But in the scheme of things I have to admit this is "situational". Similarly, TreantMonk finds a Climb speed worthless in his games, while in my games, it is potent as an autosuccess Climb for kiting purposes. So again "too situational". Also, when I compare the Racer Dash to my Wings cantrip, something feels off about the comparison. TreantMonk correctly asks for the traits of the Ardling to get a rewrite.

So feel free to rethink the Ardling mechanics when rethinking the Ardling concept.



LOL. I suspect this is the real reason for inventing the new name "Ardling".
assimar [x2]



Suppose Ardling really is an other name for Ass imar Aasimar. It is supposed to be the Celestial species of any Upper Plane. What should the Ardling be?
 



Yaarel

He Mage
Before continuing on to the Ardling, a brief note.


The official 5e Good Planes are

LLG: Arcadia
LG: Mount Celestia
GLG: Bitopia
Good: Elysium
GCG: Beastlands
CG: Arborea
CCG: Ysgard

As a Scandinavian, I somewhat object to the location "Ysgard" as if "Chaotic by Chaotic Good". D&D traditions are problematic about characterizing "primitive" ethnic groups. The way it describes Norse cultures to be as if "fur-clad" "chaotic" "barbarians" is both factually incorrect and part of this wider problem. A more accurate representation of these reallife cultures is to make æsir and jotnar be creatures of the Material Plane. The thunderstorm itself is a kind of "æsir", each mountain is a kind of "jǫtnar", and so on. The closest thing in D&D to this concept is that certain places are psionic. In any case, trying to make Norse traditions fit in an alignment chart is absurd. Some individuals might arguably Lawful or Chaotic, but they all hang out together in the same place. To mischaracterize all of them as if "chaotic" barbarians is problematic. Inhospitable places like icy Niflheimr, fiery Muspelheimr, and empty Ginnungagap are actual places like the polar ice cap, the Saharan Desert, and outer space. Even if reworked as abstractions, they would be more like the Elemental Chaos. I would be more comfortable make the Norse nature beings be Elementals, maybe Primordials, and maybe Giants (meaning æsir, alfar, and dvergar are all "Giants" and the definition of a Giant is an apparition of some feature of nature).

Relatedly, I would make Greek gods Archfey, rather than trying to display them within ethical alignments. According to the ancient Greeks, the Greek gods are otherworldly, rivaling, and capricious. There is a medieval tradition to describe Greek gods as "fairies", including Pluto with his own fairy court, and dryads explained as a kind of fairy. Making the reallife traditions about Greek gods serve as alignment figures is confusing at best.

Names like "Arcadia" who are an ancient indigenous people in Greece, and less helpful terms like "Limbo" that dont really describe D&D Chaos, are probably worth doublechecking too.

Hades is more like 5e Shadowfell, and better to call the NE plane by its other name Gray Waste.

Maybe make its theism more archetypal like the Thera setting, and nontheistic Divine options along the lines of Paladin more prominent. This can also help reallife players feel more comfortable and "safe" when playing D&D, since the way that religions get portrayed can interfere with the enjoyment of the game.

A 5e version of Planescape needs to vet everything in the earlier D&D traditions.

D&D 5e seems to be leaning away from referring to reallife ethnicities, and that is probably for the best, even if sometimes disappointing. Updating the D&D Ysgard would be part of the cultural sensitivity going forward.

That said.
 
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Yaarel

He Mage
This version of the Ardling can have ancestry from any Upper Plane.



Ardling means something like "ardent-ling" or "ardor-ling", hence a creature of deep abundant love, joy, and dedication. This name can describe any creature of the Upper Planes. It is the opposite of a Tiefling ("below-ling") that can describe any creature of the Lower Planes.

There can be different kinds of Ardling.

Celestial (= Mount Celestia): Aasimar with Aasimon-Solar-Planetar-Deva ancestry
Elysian (= Elysium): Beast Lord ancestry with an alternate form as a chosen animal
Arboreal (= Arborea): plantlike dryad

Celestial Ardling is the Aasimar. But the 5e Aasimar is kinda bland and the necrotic sometimes feels off. Lean into the angelic awesomeness that can also appear modestly and incognito.

Elysian Ardling is the humanimal that the playtest is going for. But instead ... Make all of them have Beast Lord ancestry. Thus, they have an alternate form that is a chosen natural animal. A recognizable unique individual animal. Basically it is wildshape into only one kind of animal that the player chooses when creating an Elysian Ardling. Importantly, let the player choose what the humanoid form looks like. It can be an idealized beautiful human like an angel or else a humanimal that correlates the alternate form, or somewhere in between, like a human with wolf ears. Certain concepts like a werewolf might fluidly shift from human to werewolf and then become the natural animal form. The appearance of the humanoid form is flavor only and there is no change to stats (except maybe Unarmed Strike can deal slash or pierce instead of bludgeon, if the player chooses). Many players choose strictly humanimal characters that can shapeshift into a true animal. The Ardlings of Elysium typically appear like ideally human angels, while the Ardlings of Beastland typically appear like humanimals with animal heads. But the appearances of individuals can and do diverge.

Arboreal Ardling. (Note, Eladrin are elves. In 5e the Elf species is "Any" alignment, rather than intrinsically "Chaotic Good". Let the angelic species of Arborea be something else.) Make Arboreal angel be the dryad, and especially the plantlike hamadryad. Maybe dont call it a "dryad", since this isnt an alignment persona. But clearly borrow the concept of a tree or a kind of plant that is a person. The player can choose whether the Arboreal Ardling looks like an idealized human angel with plant powers, or a full-on animate plant, or a humanoid with leaflike hair or barklike skin. Players choice of appearance. Notably, the name of the CG Plane, Arborea, means "tree" (arbor). It is perfect when the the Arboreal Ardling is plantlike.

Because the Astral Planes are realms of thought, give the Ardling the Telepathic language, like other angels have.


Regarding the "plane touched" of the alignment planes:

Upper Planes: Ardling
Neutral Planes: Genasi
Lower Planes: Tiefling
 
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I would prefer it if 1 D&D kept the Aasimar and the Ardling as separate species. The Aasimar, the Tiefling and the Genasi are all planetouched species, beings who are the result of planar beings having one night stands with some lucky (or unlucky) mortal from the Material Plane. ;) Or in some cases, they are result of being exposed to planar energies while still in the womb. "Mom and Dad had a little 'fun' while trekking across the hellish countryside of Avernus." 😋

As for the Ardling, I like the second idea that WoTC came up when the Celestial angle for this species failed to fly. They originated on the Beastlands, but migrated a long time ago to the Material Plane. And they stayed on the Material Plane long enough to see it as their home plane. All of the anthropomorphic animal species currently in 5e could be different kinds of Ardlings so as to avoid any confusion between, for example, a leopard Tabaxi and a leopard Ardling. But I can't see them being planetouched in quite the same way as the Aasimar, Tiefling and Genasi are.
If the Ardling were planetouched, I would like it if they were like the Beastfallen from the Grimoire of Zero anime. ;) They would be the result of a magic spell that imbued the ancestors of the Ardling with the energies of the Beastlands.
 

Yaarel

He Mage
I would prefer it if 1 D&D kept the Aasimar and the Ardling as separate species.
What part of the Aasimar species to like and care about the most?


The Aasimar, the Tiefling and the Genasi are all planetouched species, beings who are the result of planar beings having one night stands with some lucky (or unlucky) mortal from the Material Plane. ;) Or in some cases, they are result of being exposed to planar energies while still in the womb. "Mom and Dad had a little 'fun' while trekking across the hellish countryside of Avernus."
Yeah, the term "ancestry" can mean different things. It can mean a sexual reproductive parent. But in planar contexts, it more often means a magical transformation of a Material Humanoid. I notice, in the recent descriptions of Aasimar and Ardling, the "descendants" are typically extraplanar creature beings who materialized into the Material Plane as immigrants, magically becoming Material creatures. These Astral creatures that are made out of thought are becoming clothed in the flesh and blood of the Material Plane. It is an incarnation. Perhaps this entanglement with materiality hides the part of them that is aware of the Astral Plane.

A similar thing happens with Elves. In their case, they originate as Astral thought. But they physicalize as forces becoming spirits of the Feywild. But some of these spirits incarnated into the Material Plane − materializing as creatures of flesh and blood.


As for the Ardling, I like the second idea that WoTC came up when the Celestial angle for this species failed to fly. They originated on the Beastlands, but migrated a long time ago to the Material Plane.
Most Ardlings appear to remain in the Astral Plane, in the dominion of Beastlands. The ancestors had already evolved there into the bipedal humanimals. Some of these immigrated into the Material Plane, becoming the ancestors of incarnated Ardlings.


And they stayed on the Material Plane long enough to see it as their home plane.
It is interesting. Something like a choice. They can use magic to manifest into the Material as conjurations that are made out magical force. These physical forms are temporary. But some choose to take on Material flesh and blood becoming natural creatures within the Material World.


All of the anthropomorphic animal species currently in 5e could be different kinds of Ardlings so as to avoid any confusion between, for example, a leopard Tabaxi and a leopard Ardling.
Since both Ardling and Tabaxi come from Beastlands, it is clear that the Tabaxi is one of the kinds Ardling.


If the Ardling were planetouched, I would like it if they were like the Beastfallen from the Grimoire of Zero anime. ;) They would be the result of a magic spell that imbued the ancestors of the Ardling with the energies of the Beastlands.
That could happen too. A natural Material animal is, for whatever reason, transformed by the Divine magic of Beastlands, thus becoming a Material Ardling.

It would be a guided evolution into a bipedal form, reminding me of the recent Guardians of the Galaxy movie.


But I can't see them being planetouched in quite the same way as the Aasimar, Tiefling and Genasi are.
Genasis are obviously Elemental, but I am ok with them being "Primordial" in a sense that is of Astral origin.


Aasimar and Tiefling are counterparts who parallel, because they each can come from several alignment dominions.

The playtest Tiefling mentions three Evil dominions: Hells, Hades Gray Waste, and Abyss. But the Fiends of other Evil dominions can reproduce Tieflings too: Acheron, Gehenna, Carceri, and Pandemonium. The appearances and traits differ by plane.

Same situation for the Aasimar. There are many Good dominions whose inhabitants can reproduce Aasimar: Arcadia, Celestia, Bitopia, Elysium, Beastlands, Arborea, and what is currently Ysgard.

The Ardling that the playtest describes is what an Aasimar looks like who comes from Beastlands.
 

What part of the Aasimar species to like and care about the most?
With regards to the 5e Aasimar, I wish they were more like their Pathfinder 1st Edition counterparts. The Aasimar in 5e are tied to the angels even though there are different kinds of Celestials. In Pathfinder 1st Edition, you could be a generic Aasimar (one who is unaware of what kind of Celestial sired their bloodline) or you could be an Aasimar from one of 6 specific heritages- Angel, Archon, Azata (PF1's take on 3e's Eladrin), Agathion (PF1's Guardinal), Garuda and Peri (PF1's take on 3e's Asura).

It is interesting. Something like a choice. They can use magic to manifest into the Material as conjurations that are made out magical force. These physical forms are temporary. But some choose to take on Material flesh and blood becoming natural creatures within the Material World.
It's not really a choice really. While the first of their kind migrated to the Material Plane from the Beastlands via planar portals, latter generations of Ardlings would have been born on the Material Plane and would have seen it as the native plane. No magic required. ;)
 

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