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D&D General Monster ENCyclopedia: Aarakocra

This is a series of articles about specific monsters from D&D's history. Each entry takes a look at the origin of one D&D creature, and tracks its appearances and evolution across different editions. This entry covers the first creature to appear in any alphabetical listing of the denizens of the worlds of D&D: the aarakocra.

Avian humanoids are a staple feature in the folklore of many human cultures, from the alkonost of Russian mythology to the peris of Persian legends. Some Egyptian gods were depicted with the heads of birds (Horus and Thoth) or with wings attached to their arms (Isis and Nephthys). Bird people have featured in fantasy fiction at least as far back as 1750. In The Life and Adventures of Peter Wilkins, a Cornish Man by Robert Paltock, the titular character travels to the island of Normnbdsgrsutt which is inhabited by people who can fly with the aid of a membrane.​

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Fiend Folio (1981)​

It isn’t surprising then, that Dungeon & Dragons has its own race of humanoid avians. The aarakocra (or “bird-man” as the entry title suggests as an alternative) made its debut in the Fiend Folio, credited to Lawrence Schick. Compared to many of the other creatures in the book, the aarakocra gets a generous amount of space, with a full page dedicated to its appearance, combat tactics, reproductive cycle, and culture. All the key characteristics of aarakocra are established in this first entry.

1st Edition
According to the Fiend Folio, aarakocra are a race of intelligent, neutral good avian humanoids. Physically, aarakocra have four limbs, two legs and two wings. They stand about five feet high. The chest of an aarakocra sticks out substantially, because of the shape of the bony keel required to anchor the creature’s wings. Plumage colouration varies from tribe to tribe, but the crested males are always brighter than the females, particularly during the annual mating season.​

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Fiend Folio (1981)​

Both of an aarakocra’s eyes face forward, giving it excellent binocular vision. Its beak extends five inches and can be used to do 1-3 points of damage, if the aarakocra is desperate. In general, because it has relatively fragile hollow bones, and is lightweight (50-80 pounds), an aarakocra tries to avoid extended melee combat.

An aarakocra has two sets of complex limbs. It has a wingspan of 20’, but its arm only extends halfway along the front edge of the wing, at which point it terminates in a functional hand. An aarakocra cannot use this hand while airborne, because an overly long and specially strengthened finger forms the remaining edge of the wing, and this locks in place during flight. As well as this special finger, an aarakocra has three fingers and an opposable thumb.

The back legs of an aarakocra are powerful, with knees that bend backwards and taloned feet. The talons can be used as a weapon, or can be folded back to reveal that the “feet” are fully functional hands, with three fingers and a thumb, capable of gripping a javelin. An aarakocra is capable of carrying 150 pounds in flight.

Aarakocra make heavy use of javelins in combat. Half a dozen javelins are strapped to each warrior’s chest. They either use these as thrown weapons, incurring no penalties for aerial missile fire, and doing 2-8 points of damage, or as part of a diving attack, with a javelin held in each rear hand. Much like eagles, aarakocra can make steep dives and pull out at the last moment, but they need at least 200 feet to accomplish this manoeuvre. If they do, they get a +4 bonus to hit, and the attack does double damage. It also usually terrifies the target as the aarakocra gives a blood-curdling shriek as it plummets.

They dwell on high mountain peaks, in small tribes of 11-30 and use winds and thermals to cover a hunting territory of 10,000 square miles around their nests. They are a reclusive species and have limited interaction with other humanoids. They are not above poaching animals from farms on occasion, as they have a poor understanding of the ownership of domesticated creatures. An aarakocra might be persuaded to act as a guide or scout for territory it knows, in exchange for coins or gems (something shiny), but only 10% of them speak the common tongue. They all speak their own language, and the language of giant eagles.

During the eight months it takes an aarakocra egg to incubate, the nest-bound females remain industrious, forging javelins and other tools, and maintaining the nests. They weave brightly colours banners with unique designs, which are flown high above their nests to mark their territory. They have a unique weaving technique making use of all four hands simultaneously.

Aarakocra suffer from extreme claustrophobia, entering buildings only under protest, and avoiding underground locations. The Fiend Folio mentions that some tribes have shaman, but does not provide any additional detail.

Not all of the creatures from the Fiend Folio gained traction, but Gygax must have liked the aarakocra enough to include a “Plateau of the Aarakocra” as an encounter location in the following year's WG4: The Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun. In return for driving away a group of rival griffons, the aarakocra may show the PCs to the adventure's eponymous temple, and may even reward them with a dozen gems.​


UK7: Dark Clouds Gather (1985)​

Jim Bambra and Phil Gallagher made heavy use of aarakocra in UK7: Dark Clouds Gather, where they are one of the main factions in the adventure. A wizard has turned the human inhabitants of the village of Lurneslye against a group of nearby bird-man tribes by planting false evidence of attacks on caravans. Early in the adventure, the heroes must rescue the aaracocra envoy Tcho’eh (pronounced “cho-AY”) from the villagers, who mistakenly think he is a demon, and who are busy plucking him as a prelude to a public burning.​

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UK7: Dark Clouds Gather (1985)​

Somewhat at odds with later aarakocra colouration, Tcho’eh’s feathers are described as bright blue. We also learn here that it takes three months for an aarakocra’s wing feathers to grow back. Having rescued poor Tcho’eh, the PCs will travel with him to Tikka-ti-jarra (“Place of the High Wind”), the aarakocra nest in the Cloudscape Mountains. They must unravel the real situation, forge alliances with other aerial creatures, and eventually lead an assault on the cloud castle of the evil Yesorkh Pahyeh and her snow demon minions.

Dragon magazine provided support for playable bird-men. The Wings of Eagles in issue #124 fleshes out a PC version, who can become a cleric, fighter, or thief. Although classed aarakocra loses the ability to summon an air elemental, an aarakocra cleric of sufficient level regains this power as a solo ability. Aarakocra have excellent day-time vision, able to see objects at ten times the distance a human can. At night, however, this drops to only marginally better than human sight.

PC aarakocra gain a +1 bonus to strength, as they need to be strong to fly, but a -1 penalty to dexterity, because of their somewhat limited hands. The article notes that bird people mature quickly (with 14 years considered adulthood) but outlive humans in the long run, with venerable aarakocra reaching 150 years of age. Although they are usually neutral good (as per the Fiend Folio), individual aarakocra can be of any alignment. Adventuring aarakocra can use shields, but cannot fly with anything larger than a small buckler. They also have only limited flying capability while wearing any sort of armor, which limits their defences.

Some of the cultural restrictions detailed in the original Fiend Folio article (reclusive nature, fixed alignment, and crippling claustrophobia) are relaxed for adventuring aarakocra, but the article does notes that bird-men who differ from their cultural norms are often considered to be insane by the rest of their species. Indeed, while bird people who take up adventuring lifestyles are usually able to overcome their aversion to enclosed spaces, there is still a chance that an individual aarakocra will crack during stressful situations (like combat), and either become extremely violent, flee in panic, or cower in place.

The Wings of Eagles also introduces Krocaa as the god of the aarakocra, although as we'll see below, Syranita would later come along to beat up Krocaa and take his stuff. Accompanying the article is the same picture from the Fiend Folio, but with some limited, yet bright coloration added.​

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Dragon #124 (1987)​

Dragon #124 was the first issue with a substantial aarakocra article, but it wasn't the first time the bird-men were mentioned in the magazine. In issue #90, Gary includes them in a list of charmable humanoids in his From the Sorceror's Scroll column, and Ay pronunseeAYshun gyd in issue #93 informs us that the correct way to say aarakocra is @-ra-KO-kra (where the @ represents the schwa sound, usually written as “ǝ”).

In Dragon #106, an article expanding the options for ranger followers adds aarakocra as a possibility, but points out the limitations of a follower unwilling to go indoors. Another article in the same issue includes an entire tribe of aarakocra as possible followers for the neutral good paladin variant known as the myrikhan.

2nd Edition
By the time AD&D 2nd Edition was published, the aarakocra had lost a bit of weight. The individual pictured in Monstrous Compendium Volume Two seems thin compared to his or her 1st Edition cousin. The species' coloration has also settled down slightly, with males described as generally “red, orange, and yellow” and females “brown and gray”.​


Monstrous Compendium Volume Two (1989)​

Their organisation, combat tactics and culture remain unchanged, but there is a little more detail provided about aarakocra religious ceremonies and social activities. Tribes live in a communal nest made of woven vines and lined with dried grass. If there are more than a score of members in a tribe, there will usually be a leader (the eldest male) and a shaman (the second oldest male). Religious ceremonies include whistling melodic hymns as sunset on the first day of the new month. Aarakocra have little contact with others, even neighboring tribes of their own kind.

The aarakocra on card #1 in the 1992 Trading Card set clearly comes from the same tribe as the one in the Monstrous Compendium, but this is a color illustration, so we can now see that a brown specimen is pictured. The means we're probably looking at a female, which may also explain the less beefy build.​

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AD&D Trading Cards (1992)​

The artwork in the following year's Monstrous Manual is much closer to the original, although the color tends more towards reddish-purple than the orange or yellow described for typical males.​


Monstrous Manual (1993)​

AD&D 2nd Edition also supported aarakocra as playable races. PHBR10: The Complete Book of Humanoids reflected similar classes to those in Dragon #124, with support for shaman, fighter, and thief aarakocra. Notably, however, the ability score adjustments are reversed, with aarakocra now gaining a point of dexterity and suffering -1 to both strength and constitution. That is at least consistent with the more feeble 2nd Edition depiction. The Complete Book of Humanoids introduces a new weapon, unique to aarakocra and other winged humanoids. This flight lance is identical to a light horse lance, except that it does fractionally more damage.

The aarakocra lifespan has shrunk since 1st Edition though; in the Dragon article, venerable aarakocra might hope to live to between 101-150 year, but by 2nd Edition, this has halved to just 52-74 years. Adventuring aarakocra can speak common, but punctuate broken sentences with bird-like caws, screeches and whistles.

The support for playable aarakocra continued in the Player's Option series, with aarakocra covered as an optional race in Skills & Powers. The Complete Ranger’s Handbook lists aarakocra as potential followers for a ranger from a mountainous environment.​

There do not appear to be many 2nd Edition adventures featuring aarakocra. The Night Below: An Underdark Campaign includes a minor encounter with an aarakocra splinter group trying to establish a new home of Featherfall on the edge of the Patchwork Hills in Haranshire.

3rd Edition
The aarakocra made their 3rd Edition debut in Monsters of Faerûn, although they had not previously had a strong association with any one campaign setting, appearing on Oerth, Krynn and Faerûn.​


Monsters of Faerûn (2001)​

The physical description, combat tactics, culture and even the ability to summon air elementals are consistent with earlier editions, and some of the descriptive text has clearly been adapted directly from the Monstrous Manual. This entry adds little new material to aarakocra lore, although “sky hunters” and the seemingly pejorative “feather heads” are offered as alternative names.

4th Edition
The only representation of the aarakocra in D&D 4th Edition was in the Dark Sun setting. The Dark Sun Creature Catalog provides stat blocks for three variations: aarakocra diver, aarakocra warrior and aarakocra windcaller. Both the aarakocra’s appearance and the lore here is based on the athasian variation of the aarakocra from the 2nd Edition Dark Sun products, so doesn’t compare directly with the aarakocra of earlier editions.

Mechanically, the three variations are effectively the ordinary troops (the warriors), skilled fighters (the divers) and spellcasting leaders (the windcallers). Warriors are minions, which in 4th Edition means they have a single hit point. They also have only a single simple spear attack. The divers are a little more threatening, with 66 hit points, and both a longspear attack and a bite. Using a diving charge, these aarakocra can do up to 30 points of damage with one strike.

Windcallers have four different magical attacks. Wafting claw damages and slows an opponent, foul gust damages and slides a foe, dust veil damages and potentially blinds its target and instant whirlwind can blast a number of foes, damaging them, sliding them away from the windcaller and knocking them prone. As leaders, windcallers are the most powerful of the three with 82 hit points and an aura which boosts allies' damage against bloodied enemies.​

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Dark Sun Creature Catalog (2010)​

Despite being based on the athasian aarakocra, which was black in colour, the illustration in the Dark Sun Creature Catalog reflects the brighter colors of ordinary aarakocra.

5th Edition
During the lengthy development and playtesting period of 5th Edition, James Wyatt authored a series of Wandering Monster articles on the Wizards of the Coast website. In For the Birds, he reviewed several of D&D’s bird people, including the aarakocra. It is here that a connection to the Wind Dukes of Aaqa and the Rod of Seven Parts is first suggested, and this becomes a significant part of their lore in the 5th Edition Monster Manual.

According to the Monster Manual, aarakocra are native to the Elemental Plane of Air, where they roam the Howling Gyre, an endless storm of winds and rains that surrounds the realm of Aaqa. In service to the Wind Dukes, the aarakocra protect the realm from invaders from the Elemental Plane of Earth, including gargoyles, their sworn enemies. (As we will see later, the aarakocra antipathy towards gargoyles was first explored in the Planescape setting.) In addition to standing against the forces of elemental evil, aarakocra search for the seven shards of the Rod of Seven Parts, a powerful magic item which was shattered during the interplanar war between the Wind Dukes and the Queen of Chaos.

Aarakocra are still found on the Material Plane, where they create aeries on high mountain tops. In a departure from earlier lore, they have no appreciation for borders and material goods, such as gems and golds mean little to them. As well as their own language, aarakocra can also speak auran.​


Monster Manual (2014)​

Surprisingly, given how faithful the latest edition is to the accumulated history of most monsters, the physiology of the aarakocra has changed significantly in the Monster Manual. They are still approximately five feet tall, with an eagle-like head, but instead of front limbs which function as both wings and arms, the bird-men now have completely separate wings and arms, giving them six limbs in total.

Perhaps as a consequence of this change, there is no longer any mention of a bite attack. Aarakocra can still attack with their talons, they favour javelins in battle, and have a special dive attack which inflicts extra damage. With 3d8 hit points, 5th Edition aarakocra are more resilient than their 1st through 3rd Edition ancestors, but not as powerful as some of their 4th Edition Athasian counterparts. As is appropriate given their stronger connection to the Plane of Air, these aarakocra can still summon an air elemental, by means of an aerial dance. A group of five aarakocra is needed to perform this ritual. Notably, when the summoned elemental returns to the Elemental Plane of Air, any nearby aarakocra may return with it.

There are a few aarakocra in the adventure Princes of the Apocalypse, a camp of five in the Sighing Valley and a tortured prisoner in the Howling Caves, but it is in the accompanying Elemental Evil Player’s Companion that the race gets the most substantial 5th Edition development, as they are presented as a playable race.

In appearance, the text notes that their heads may resemble an eagle or a parrot, but that there are distinct tribal variations. Their extraplanar origin in a realm which has no “ground” means that they are inclined to spend much of their time aloft, and they find the Material Plane a strange place. Aarakocra are fastidious groomers, spending time tending their feathers and scratching away any parasites they may have picked up. When they land, it is often near pools of water where they can bathe as well as fish. When they do settle in the Material Plane, a tribe will establish a hunting territory roughly 100 miles in diameter.

The aarakocra linguistic habit of punctuating speech with bird-like sounds is mentioned, and it is noted that these sounds add emphasis and meaning in the same way human facial expressions and gestures might do. Someone not picking up on this might well end up misunderstanding the aarakocra. Although they are attracted to shiny objects, aarakocra struggle with the concept of ownership. This may lead to trouble if an aarakocra helps itself to the orchards or livestock of ground dwellers. As in previous editions, enclosed spaces terrify bird folk.

Aarakocra are rarely found outside of their remote outposts or home in the Plane of Air. It takes a dire threat to the tribe, an important mission for the Wind Dukes of Aaqa, or an unique opportunity to fight the forces Elemental Evil, to motivate an aarakocra to take up an adventuring lifestyle. Most aarakocra are good; tribal leaders may be lawful and adventurers chaotic. They can speak, read and write Common, Aarakocra and Auran. Aarakocra are medium size (5’ tall) and weigh between 80 and 100 pounds (quite a bit bulkier than the Fiend Folio’s 50-80 pounds).

Player character aarakocra gain a dexterity bonus of 2 points, and an extra point of wisdom. They have a walking speed of 25 feet and a flying speed of 50 feet. In order to fly, an aarakocra cannot wear medium or heavy armor. An aarakocra’s unarmed attacks are its talons, which do 1d4 slashing damage on a hit.

The lifespan of a 5th Edition aarakocra is only 30 years, and they reach maturity by the age of 3. This seems to be something they have inherited from the athasian variants of 2nd Edition (also 30 years) rather than the long-lived 1st Edition (150 years), 2nd Edition (74 years) or 3rd Edition (100 years) versions. Since there are some species of parrots that can live up to a century, this shortened lifespan seems like a rather tragic burden for aarakocra to bear.

The Elemental Evil Player’s Companion notes that aarakocra names have two to four syllables with bird sounds such as clicks, trills and whistles acting as connectors. As these names are difficult for non-aarakocra to pronounce, they typically use shortened names or nicknames when interacting with other races.​

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Storm King’s Thunder (2018)​

Although there is one brief encounter with normal aarakocra in Storm King’s Thunder, the majority of the aarakocra in this adventure are simulacra created by the cloud giant wizard Sansuri. The simulacra are identical to ordinary aarakocra, but have only 6 hit points and revert to their constituent ice and snow when destroyed. Curiously, the aarakocra from whom the simulacra were made had bright blue plumage. Perhaps he was a distant descendant of Tcho’eh from UK7: Dark Clouds Gather?

The Lost Laboratory of Kwalish, an adventure produced in 2018 to support the Extra Life charity, features an intriguing rumour that there is a massive aarakocra/genasi city deep within the Barrier Peaks which protects a gateway into the Elemental Plane of Air. The 5th Edition adventure Tomb of Annihilation also features the aarakocra of Chult, but we’ll cover this adventure in the Forgotten Realms section below.

Aarakocra gods
As noted above, Dragon #124 introduced Krocaa as the god of the aarakocra, but he did not gain traction and was replaced by Syranita in Monster Mythology, an AD&D 2nd Edition book detailing the gods of the monstrous races. However, another little known aarakocra god predated even Krocaa. Several of the original Fiend Folio creatures first appeared in the pages of White Dwarf magazine, so in White Dwarf #39, gods are presented for a number of the humanoid races from the Fiend Folio, including aarakocra. Their god was called K'ooriall (or Skylord), and much like Krocaa, was basically just an over-sized male aarakocra.​


K’ooriall, White Dwarf #39 (1983)​

In Monster Mythology, the male gods have been swept aside and replaced with Syranita, who appears as a female aarakocra with silver skin and pink-gold feathers. She is said to enjoy close friendships with a number of other gods, including Aerdrie Faenya of the elves, and Stronmaus, the giant god of sun, skies, and weather. These three deities often ride the air currents of the planes together. The god of the eagles (Remnis) is also on excellent terms with the aarakocra deity, and Syranita has friends among the djinn, janni and human sky gods.

Syranita is also a member of a group of primarily aquatic deities known as the asathalfinare, along with Deep Sashelas (of the aquatic elves), Surminare (the selkie god), Trishina (the dolphin goddess) and some other fringe members. Because of her relationship with more than one grouping of gods, Syranita often plays a role in bringing other groups of gods together.​

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UK7: Dark Clouds Gather (1985)​

UK7: Dark Clouds Gather mentions yet another aarakocra god, named Chikurra, but other than noting that he (or she?) provides visions to aarakocra shaman, the adventure contains no further details of this deity.

Aarakocra and other monsters
From the beginning, aarakocra have had a “respectful” relationship with giant eagles, and connections to air elementals. According to the Fiend Folio, five aarakocra can summon an air elemental by performing an intricate aerial dance lasting three rounds. The summoned elemental will assist the aarakocra as a favour, but will not fight to the death on their behalf.

The Wings of Eagles in Dragon #124 mentions that aarakocra are usually on good terms with elves (except drow), dislike dwarves and half-orcs, and are neutral towards other humanoids.​

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UK7: Dark Clouds Gather (1985)​

The Ecology of the Bird Maiden in Dragon #218, suggests that aarakocra teach bird maidens important rituals and duties in a place called the Crown of All Feathers, but sadly doesn't explain why the bird-men might be the custodians of bird-maiden lore.

According to Monster Mythology, the urd race was created when the god Kuraulyek stole magical wings from Syranita to escape from Kurtulmak, god of kobolds. After his escape, he created the urds (a type of winged kobold) to rival Kurtulmak's kobold followers. A similar ancestral link is suggested to the underground race of dire corbies, in Drizzt Do'Urden's Guide to the Underdark, with both aarakocra and dire corbies said to have descended from the same avian creator race.

Athasian aarakocra prize the teeth of silt drakes (detailed in Dark Sun Monstrous Compendium Appendix II: Terrors Beyond Tyr) as badges of courage. Hunting silt drakes is an important ritual in Athasian aarakocra society. The azraloka, on the other hand, is a fearsome predator capable of propelling itself out of the Sea of Silt and bringing down a passing aarakocra. It is detailed in Eye on Dark Sun: Terrors of the Silt Sea in Dungeon #195.

Aarakocra parts
The feathers of an aarakocra may have value to the right buyer. An adventure in Dungeon #47 states that they may fetch up to 50 gp each if sold to a quill maker. Tomb of Annihilation mentions a corked vial made from an aarakocra’s engraved wingbone, worth 5 gp.

Treasures of the Wilds, in Dragon #137, takes a cavalier attitude to the idea of treating intelligent species as treasure, and puts a value of 120 gp on an aarakocra egg, and 200-500 gp on aarakocra young. Comparing this to the 500-800 gp value the Monster Manual ascribes to giant eagle eggs, and comparing the similar carrying capacity of the two in the Wilderness Survival Guide, we can conclude that the aarakocra egg is a bargain, assuming that you can get past enslaving the young of an intelligent neutral good species, of course.

Aarakocra and magic items
There are a few magic items associated with the aarakocra. In UK7: Dark Clouds Gather, the head shaman Kirraka ingests magical charrak seeds to induce a trance in which he visits the spirit world and has a vision of the adventurers who are key to his people’s survival. Regular use of these seeds turns an aarakocra’s plumage bright red. The charrak plant grows wild in the Cloudscape Mountains, but does not seem to have any effect on races other than aarakocra. A charrak seed trance usually lasts about two hours.

Greyhawk Adventures describes a white cloak known as Wings of the Rakers, which was created by a wizard who was fond of the bird people, and wanted to enhance his time with them. As well as acting as wings of flying, the cloak also gifts its wearer knowledge of the aarakocra language and combat maneuvers. These wings were illustrated when reprinted in Encyclopedia Magica, Volume I.​

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Wings of the Rakers, Encyclopedia Magica, Volume I (1994)​

The Incubalum, created in the wake of the Graystone’s presence during the Age of Light, is an artifact from the Dragonlance setting which stands a small chance of hatching an aarakocra. This item was first detailed in Not Cheaper by the Dozen! in Dragon #183.

The Mask of the Aarakocra is a psionic item found almost exclusively in the Dark Sun setting, and detailed in Bazaar of the Bizarre in Dragon #244. It grants the wearer some of the attributes of giant eagles, but other than the name, appears to have little direct connection to aarakocra.​

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Mask of the Aarakocra, Dragon #244 (1998)​

It is apparently possible to use body parts of aarakocra to create potions of extra-healing, or at least was in the Forgotten Realms historical subsetting of Netheril: Empire of Magic.

City of Delights mentions aarakocra as one of the extremely rare inhabitants of the city of Huzuz.

Dark Sun
The aarakocra have been part of Athas since the initial Dark Sun Boxed Set, but like most things in this setting, the Athasian aarakocra are twisted. In appearance, they are coal black, with featherless heads, and red eyes. They are also evil, and a lot meaner than ordinary aarakocra. If the PCs assist the aarakocra in the boxed set's adventure A Little Knowledge, they get no reward; if they speak to them, the aarakocra “intentionally give the replies they think most likely to get the party killed”. Such is life under the dark sun!​

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Dark Sun Boxed Set (1991)​

DSR4: Valley of Dust and Fire details a large tribe of 80 aarakocra inhabiting the Isle of Bones in the Sea of Silt. The bird-men generally attack prey using javelins, but like to capture an occasional humanoid using weighted nets, so they can transport their victim back to their lair to torture at their leisure. The island gets its name from the numerous skeletons of the aarakocra’s previous meals which line the crags. There are also a few smaller clans of aarakocra dwelling in the Mountains of the Sun in the central Sea of Silt. Other tribes reside in the Windbreak and Mekillot Mountains, according to The Ivory Triangle.​

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Dark Sun Monstrous Compendium II: Terrors Beyond Tyr (1995)​

The Athasian version of the aarakocra received a significantly expanded write up in Dark Sun Monstrous Compendium Appendix II: Terrors Beyond Tyr. It clarifies that all Athasian aarakocra share the same dark-plumed vulture-like appearance. Taller than their relatives from other worlds, these aarakocra spend much of their time soaring thermals searching for food. They have a thin bony plate on their chests and are capable of battle in the air or on the ground. Weighted nets and darts are used against creatures on the ground. Javelins are preferred for aerial combat, and also used as part of a diving attack against land bound targets. Aware of their physical limitations, aarakocra prefer aerial combat and will withdraw from ground combat if outnumbered or outmatched. A bird-man can bite a foe, but this is an awkward attack that does little damage, so is only used in desperation. Tribe leaders also possess some minor psionic abilities, but these are relatively weak, so only used in battle against obviously inferior opponents.

Not all Athasian aarakocra tribes are evil, but follow the alignment of their tribe leader. No matter a tribe’s alignment, they are never friendly towards those intruding in their territory. Good and evil tribes will both demand tribute for passage through territory it controls, but an evil tribe will attack after receiving that tribute. Athasian aarakocra find the flesh of humans and demihumans particularly tasty.​

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Dark Sun Campaign Setting Expanded and Revised (1995)​

A tribe typically has a male hunting party leader, and a female leader responsible for the tribal aerie. Larger tribes also have a shaman. Athasian aarakocra worship the sun because it provides the thermals they need to seek food. The shaman’s role is to lead the daily sun workshop, as well as to lead the ritual summoning of an air elemental, something only done at dawn on the morning of a sacred hunt. This hunt for a silt drake marks the passage into adulthood for an adolescent aarakocra and is one of the rare occasions when female aarakocra leave the nest. The whole tribe follows the summoned air elemental to the target drake, and all of the adults participate in the battle against the drake, leaving the initiate to deliver the killing blow.​

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Dark Sun Campaign Setting Expanded and Revised (1995)​

Athasian aarakocra mate for life, but have a natural life span of only 21-30 years. A female lays one egg per year. Wealthy landowners will pay as much as 10 cp for an egg in the markets of Tyr, as captive aarakocra make good scouts and sentries. However, aarakocra have long memories and may seek revenge on any would-be egg thief.​

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Winter Nest, Dark Sun Campaign Setting Expanded and Revised (1995)​

The expanded and revised Dark Sun Campaign Setting includes aarakocra as a player character race. Adventuring aarakocra all come from the village of Winter Nest, located in the White Mountains north of Tyr, where they have established an advanced society. They call themselves the silvaarak (“people of the silver wing”) from their plumage, which varies from pure white to silver to light blue. Like all Athasian aarakocra, they are taller (7½ feet) and have gray breaks and black eyes. Males weigh 100 pounds, females 85. The leader of Winter Nest is a female cleric named Traaka.

Heroes of Athas in Dragon Annual #1 gives the aarakocra the Skills & Powers treatment as playable races.​

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Dragon #231 (1996)​

Almost a decade after Dark Sun Campaign Setting Expanded and Revised made aarakocra a playable race for 2nd Edition, Paizo published a Dark Sun Player’s Handbook in Dragon #319 which did the same thing for 3.5 Edition. These aarakocra also originate primarily from Winter Nest, and speak Aarakocra and Common. They are said to find it easier to learn the clicking sounds of the Thri-kreen language than most humanoids do, so may choose from auran, halfling and thri-kreen as bonus languages. As in 2nd Edition, PC aarakocra gain a bonus to dexterity (+4) and a penalty to strength (-2). These aarakocra gain minor psionic powers, even if they do not choose a psionic class. Interestingly, the age categories for 3rd Edition athasian aarakocra peg venerable age as 65 years, which is substantially more than previously.​

23. Aarakocra 2004 - Dragon 319.png

Dragon #319 (2004)​

The accompanying Dark Sun Guide in Dungeon #110/Polyhedron #58 includes a brief description of Winter Nest, and also details Shaorach, a powerful aarakocra cleric who serves Nibenay’s Shadow King. As a scholar-slave she has been thoroughly psionically dominated, but still has moments of lucidity where she would do anything for a chance to fly free.

The Athasian version of the aarakocra was the only representation of the race in D&D 4th Edition. As noted earlier, the Dark Sun Creature Catalog describes the aarakocra diver, warrior and windcaller. A fourth type, the aarakocra darter, appears in Dark Sun Threats in Dungeon #187. Darters specialise in darts poisoned with the sap of briar and barbed nets made from scrub vines and roots. The adventures Revenge of the Marauders in Dungeon #183 and Cruel as a Desert Wind in Dungeon #202 both contain minor encounters with aarakocra.

There is also a 4th Edition playable race version of the aarakocra in the Ashes of Athas adventure AOA2-1: Plotting the Course, which becomes available to players whose characters die in the adventure.

Aarakocra make their first appearance in the Dragonlance setting in DL7: Dragons of Light, when the Heroes of the Lance encounter representatives of an aarakocra king, who seems to rule over a group of 120 aarakocra living in Foghaven Vale in Southern Ergoth. At least in the D&D versions of the Dragonlance setting, aarakocra don't get much more coverage than this.

There is a mention of a possible link between the kyrie (Krynn's other bird people) and aarakocra in the novel The Odyssey of Gilthanas, and in the 3.5 version of Dragons of Winter, the clan of aarakocra in Southern Ergoth is replaced by a group of kyrie who call themselves the “Aara-Kocra” clan. Author Cam Banks notes that this was because the writing team didn't have access to aarakocra stats at the time, and had already devoted a lot of space to the kyrie in the Bestiary of Krynn.​

24. Aarakocra 1998 - The Bestiary.png

The Bestiary (1998)​

Curiously, the most coverage the bird men get in the Dragonlance setting is in The Bestiary, an accessory produced for the SAGA Game Rules version of Dragonlance. They get a page of fairly vanilla background, but also some interesting hints that Krynnish aarakocra may have recently started to cultivate fields of corn and wheat. There's also a sly mention in Caramon Majere's in-character aarakocra description of the vale-dwelling tribe from Dragons of Light.

Forgotten Realms
The 3rd Edition debut of the aarakocra in Monsters of Faerûn bound them more closely to the Forgotten Realms than had previously been the case. Monsters of Faerûn suggests that aarakocra originated in Maztica, and that they only ever had four established colonies in Faerûn. These are listed as the Star Mounts within the High Forest (which has recently been destroyed by a rampaging dragon), the Storm Horns in Cormyr, the Cloven Mountains on the Vilhon Reach, and the Mistcliffs in Chult.

There were plenty of mentions of aarakocra in the Realms prior to Monsters of Faerûn. The Maztican origin of the aarakocra is consistent with the presence of nests atop some of the highest mesas in the Pasocada Basin, as noted in FMQ1: City of Gold. FR5: The Savage Frontier mentions the (doomed) colony in the Star Mounts, as well as hinting at a common ancestor race for lizardmen, bullywugs and aarakocra.

The North boxed set also references aarakocra as one of the descendants of this common ancestor race, as well as going into more detail about the decline of the five aeries in the Star Mounts caused mainly by the attacks of the green dragon Elaacrimalicros. At this point in the history of the Realms, there are only 47 bird-men left in Khle’cayre (“Last Aerie”) in the High Forest, but they are not yet extinct. This is not the case in Chessenta, where, according to FR10: Old Empires, ruins of an ancient aarakocra civilization in the mountains on the south eastern border are all that remains of a people wiped out by mercenaries more than a century earlier.

The Netheril: Empire of Magic boxed set notes that there was a clutch of aarakocra living in the Sanguine Mountain. Unfortunately, they were wiped out after an archwizard discovered that potions of extra-healing could be created from a mixture of aarakocra body parts.​

25. Aarakocra 1996 - Polyhedron 121 A.png

Polyhedron #121 (1996)​

In 2nd Edition, the Forgotten Realms spawned a Malatran version of the aarakocra, first published in Polyhedron #121 as supporting material for the Living Jungle campaign, and then later republished on the RPGA website (still visible thanks to the WayBack Machine). There doesn't seem to be much difference between a Malatran and ordinary aarakocra, so it isn't clear why an entirely new Monstrous Compendium entry was needed.​


Polyhedron #121 (1996)​

Aarakocra were clearly more welcome in the Living Jungle than in the Living City. The City of Ravens Bluff classifies aarakocra as monsters, and notes that: “Monsters, from aarakocra to zombies, may not be brought into the city without a license obtained from city authorities. Permits are only available to those who demonstrate a legitimate need to have such a creature within the city limits.”

After the position of the aarakocra as a Forgotten Realms creature in 3rd Edition was cemented in Monster of Faerûn, the amount of support they received grew. Unapproachable East documents a small group of bird-men living in Mauberg's Oak in the Forest of Lethyr. A series of articles on the Wizards of the Coast (incorrectly titled Aarakocran Portals; the adjectival form of aarakocra doesn't have an “n”!), expands on the bird-men settlements listed in Monsters of Faerûn, noting that two of them (the Star Mounts and Cloven Mountains settlements) are now connected by a permanent portal. We also learn that some of the survivors of the Star Mounts tribe have formed an organisation known as the Nest of Retribution, dedicated to seeking revenge against Elaacrimalicros, the dragon who destroyed their home. The Portals article series also details a new colony of secluded, barbaric aarakocra living on the high mesas in Anauroch and an enslaved tribe who lived peacefully in the steppes of the Hordelands before their capture.​


Races of Faerûn (2003)​

In Races of Faerûn the aarakocra get a full write up as a playable race. Their Maztican origins are made concrete, and a date for the arrival of the first aarakocra colonists is established (418 DR, the Year of the Eagle's Flight). We also learn that Faerûnian aarakocra do not worship Syranita, but instead revere her close friend, Aerdrie Faenya. The Avariel entry in Races of Faerûn suggests that there is a good relationship between the avariel and the aarakocra, which makes sense, but which doesn't appear to have been explored previously. Aarakocra are said to have a similar life expectancy to humans, living as long as 100 years, but are considered adults from about five years old.

By the time we reach the post-spellplague Forgotten Realms of 4th Edition, the relationship between the avariel and the aarakocra no longer seems so cordial, with the Backdrop: Chessenta article in Dungeon #178 describing the floating isles of Adder Hills as “home to warring tribes of aarakocra and avariel, neither of which welcome outsiders into their lands”.

The 5th Edition Elemental Evil Player’s Companion notes that there are only four major colonies of aarakocra in the Realms. These are the same four covered by 2nd Edition sources: the Star Mounts, the Storm Horns, the Cloven Mountains and the Mistcliffs. The decline of the Star Mounts aeries is mentioned, as is the Last Aerie. Ominously, aarakocra elders are said to have detected changes in the prevailing winds that they regard as a bad omen.​

28. Aarakocra 2017 - Tomb of Annihilation A.png

Tomb of Annihilation (2017)​

Aarakocra had been mentioned as residents of Chult as far back as FRM1: The Jungles of Chult, but it was only in the 5th Edition adventure Tomb of Annihilation that their presence in the southern jungles was properly explored. The single colony in the Mistcliff Mountains has grown to a number of aarakocra tribes throughout the mountains and plateaus of the subcontinent.

The Chultan aarakocra have a reputation for assisting explorers who need aid, provided they are not exploiting the natural resources or inhabitants of the jungle. In addition to their traditional gargoyle enemies, these aarakocra are also enemies of the pterafolk. At one point in the adventure, there is an opportunity to rescue a captive aarakocra from a pterafolk nest. The adventure mentions the dancing skills of the aarakocra, who use these skills both in spellcasting and to inspire followers.​

29. Aarakocra 2017 - Tomb of Annihilation B.png

Tomb of Annihilation (2017)​

The most notable aarakocra settlement in Chult is the monastery of Kir Sabal. Despite its remote and inaccessible location, it is visible through gaps in the jungle, and thus well known to the citizens of Port Nyanzaru. Fifty-six aarakocra dwell in Kir Sabal, with a third of that number consisting of juveniles. They are led by Asharra, an elderly female spellcaster described as intelligent, ambitious, and somewhat manipulative. Asharra has adjusted statistics, including a range of druid spells and a special ritual called the Dance of the Seven Winds. This ritual requires a black orchid as a component, and takes ten minutes to complete. It grants up to ten creatures a magical flying speed of 30 feet for three days, but at a cost to Asharra, who loses her wings for this period. As we’ll see later, Asharra would go on to feature in both miniature and digital form.

Much like in the Dragonlance setting, Greyhawk was fairly quickly to adopt the bird-men as inhabitants of Oerth; they make an appearance in WG4: The Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun as noted above. But as on Krynn, the aarakocra are never more than bit-players in the Greyhawk setting.

From the description of the Wings of the Rakers in Greyhawk Adventures we know that aarakocra can be found in the Griff Mountains. From the Ashes notes that there are small tribes of aarakocra living in the Lortmils and Yatils mountains. This is also supported in the Player's Guide to Greyhawk which contains a short entry for aarakocra, describing them as inhabitants of mountainous regions, particularly in and around the Thillonrian Peninsula and the Lortmils.

Historical reference
Various Dragon magazine articles in the 2nd Edition era explored the idea of campaigns based on real world cultures. The Dark Continent in Dragon #189 suggests that aarakocra could dwell in the mountains of an African flavoured setting, and An African Genesis in Dragon #189 associates aarakocra with priests of Olurun, the Sky God of the Yorubas. Similarly, The People in Dragon #205, has aarakocra as appropriate mountain dwellers for a Native American themed campaign.

The Planescape setting provides more information on the aarakocra god Syranita, who shares an aerial realm on the border of Ysgard and Arborea with Aerdrie Faenya. The realm, detailed in Planes of Chaos, consists of clouds, floating two-crowned trees, and flying islands. In general, aarakocra can be found dwelling in Arvandor, one of the two realms making up the first later of Arborea.

Planes of Conflict details the aarakocra settlement of Precipice on the second layer of Elysium. The aarakocra share this home with giant eagles and avariel (who call themselves “al karak elam” in the Planescape setting). These co-habitants also assist them in defending Precipice from occasional raids by bands of gargoyles and margoyles. This hostility to gargoyles was eventually reflected in the 5th Edition aarakocra.

According to The Inner Planes, aarakocra also dwell in the elemental Plane of Air. According to the 1st Edition Manual of the Planes, a variation known as the flame aarakocra also inhabits the Plane of Fire.

There aren't that many avian humanoids in D&D (at least compared to the very large number of ground-dwelling humanoids), so it's not surprising that the Spelljammer setting has aarakocra dwelling on some of the planets it details.

Coliar is the second planet from the sun in SJR2: Realmspace, and it is inhabited by tribes of lizard men and aarakocra who are constantly fighting over territory. This conflict has led these aarakocra to be more warlike than most; they are said to trade the naturally occurring gems of Coliar for smoke powder and weapons that they can use against the lizard men “terrorists”.

The aarakocra of Coliar are, in many ways, an advanced species. They have had a democratic government for more than a millennium, electing a new leader every seven years. Only female aarakocra are elected into office, as they are believed by the population as a whole to have a better temperament for leadership than males, who have a tendency to fly into fits of rage from time to time.

Plata, a disk world detailed in SJR4: Practical Planetology, has a native species said to be virtually indistinguishable from aarakocra. They call themselves the Chilterik (“the People”) but have no centralised government. They roam the world in hunting bands of up to 30, and share an oral history passed on through stories and epic poems.

SJR6: Greyspace notes that there are aarakocra living on Edill, the massive air body located in the crystal sphere associated with the Greyhawk setting.​

30. Corbina 1992 - War Captain's Companion.png

Corbina, The War Captain’s Companion (1992)​

The War Captain’s Companion notes that spelljamming craft created by aarakocra move with a lurching, fluttery motion using feathered hides and cloth to catch the magical currents of the spelljamming helm. This means the craft is slightly faster than most ships, but makes for an uncomfortable journey for any passenger unaccustomed to it. The set’s Ship Recognition Manual details one example of an aarakocra ship, the Corbina.

According to the Explorer’s Guide to Wildemount, more than three thousand aarakocra dwell in the cliffside settlement of Vol’antim in the Cyrios Mountains. They have dwelt here for generations, in seclusion from the surrounding lands, as their home is only accessible via flight. The aarakocra are ruled over by a council of twelve elders known as the Horizon. The community follows the tenets of Melora and dual temples to Melora and Erathis can be found on the cliff face and interior caverns of Vol’antim. Some aarakocra tribes play a sport called h’aara-shie or “cloud chasing”, which celebrates legends that Melora created them as storm herders. The aarakocra of Vol’antim share the skies above the Cyrios Mountains with their ancient enemies, the gorefeather harpies.​

31. Aarakocra 2020 - Explorer's Guide to Wildemount.png

Explorer’s Guide to Wildemount (2020)​

As in other settings, the aarakocra of Wildemount rarely leave their mountain aeries. When they do, some rural folk consider them to be angels of Erathis, much to the aarakocra’s embarrassment. Adventuring aarakocra are often swept up in the beauty of the open seas, and join the crews of ocean-going ships.

Aarakocra have not been particularly well represented as miniatures. Back in 1984, during a brief period when TSR produced its own lead miniatures, a blister pack containing a phoenix and an aarakocra was released.​

32. Aarakocra 1984 - TSR miniature.png

TSR 5608: Phoenix and Aarakocra (1984); image from DnD Lead.​

It's interesting to compare this with the next aarakocra miniature, produced thirty years later. The first set of miniatures for 5th Edition was Icons of the Realms: Tyranny of Dragons produced under licence by WizKids. This prepainted set included an aarakocra (figure 37/51) which reflects the new six-limbed body structure of the bird-men.​

33. Aarakocra 2014 - Tyranny of Dragon miniatures.png

Icons of the Realms: Tyranny of Dragons (2014); image from Miniscollector.​

The Icons of the Realms: Tomb of Annihilation set, released in 2017, included a miniature of Asharra (figure 23/44), the aarakocra who plays an important role in the Tomb of Annihilation adventure. There was a very rare invisible version of Asharra in the same set.​

34. Asharra 2017 - Tomb of Annihilation miniatures A.png
35. Asharra 2017 - Tomb of Annihilation miniatures B.png

Asharra, Icons of the Realms: Tomb of Annihilation (2017); images from Miniscollector.​

Computer games
Aarakocra have featured in several D&D computer games over the past three decades. In 1991’s Gateway to the Savage Frontier, one of the encounters requires the player to rescue an aarakocra from a giant serpent.​

36. Aarakocra 1991 - Gateway to the Savage Frontier A.png
37. Aarakocra 1991 - Gateway to the Savage Frontier B.png

Gateway to the Savage Frontier (1991); images from aulddragon.​

In Spelljammer: Pirates of Realmspace, released the following year, players can trade with the aarakocra-run Donakkis Storage Company, located on the island of Athanar on the planet Coliar can be visited and traded with.​


Spelljammer: Pirates of Realmspace (October 1992); image from The Forgotten Realms wiki.​

More recently, two of the characters in Idle Champions of the Forgotten Realms are aarakocra. The wizard Asharra, first detailed in Tomb of Annihilation, is the elder of Kir Sabal, an aarakocra monastery. Qillek, on the other hand, is a young cleric/bard who suffered a terrible accident and is now missing one wing. Despite his youth and disability he is the de facto leader of the Heroes of Aerois.​
39. Asharra 2017 - Idle Champions of the Forgotten Realms.png
40. Qillek 2017 - Idle Champions of the Forgotten Realms.png

Asharra and Qulliek, Idle Champions of the Forgotten Realms (2017); images from Idle Champions of the Forgotten Realms wiki.​

Idle Champions also has an aarakocra traitor as one of the monster opponents.


Aarakocra traitor, image from Idle Champions wiki

Asharra is also featured in Tales from Candlekeep: Tomb of Annihilation:​

41. Asharra 2017 - Tales from Candlekeep.png

Asharra, Tales from Candlekeep: Tomb of Annihilation (2017); image from Tales from Candlekeep wiki.​

And again in Neverwinter: Lost City of Omu:​

42. Asharra 2018 - Neverwinter.png

Asharra, Neverwinter: Lost City of Omu (2018); image from arc games.​

Aarakocra names
Aera, Aial, Akthag, Alekra Donakkis, Arisai Heliwing, Arraako, Asharra, Aur, Awnunaak, Bra'rrk, Breeka, Cawthra, Cesare, Chir'kawta, Deekek, Driikaak, Errk, Gazziija, Heehk, Ikarrika, Ikki, Jaahksik Fireeyes, Jakka, Jirriock, Kariko, Kazra, Kekko Cloud-Brother, Kilkirillan, Kirraka, Kleeck, Kraah, Krekara, Kre'keke'lar, Krekkekelar, Ks'treevak, Lisako, Loniimas Sky's Son, Nakaaka, Nephyr, Oorr, Ouss, Qillek, Qita, Quaf, Quierk, Roarrawka, Saakrak, Salleek, Shaorach, Skamsaar Click-claws, Tcho'eh, Thraka Cloud Glider, Traaka, Troho, Urreek, Wuorlah, Yingmatona, Zeed.​

43. Tcho'eh 1985 - UK7 Dark Clouds Gather D.png

Tcho’eh, UK7: Dark Clouds Gather (1985)​

Comparative statistics

Fiend Folio, p8 (July 1981)
WG4: The Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun, p6-7 (July 1982)
White Dwarf #39, p10, Inhuman Gods (March 1983)
Dragon #90, p16, Hold that person! (October 1984)
TSR 5608: Phoenix and Aarakocra (1984)
Dragon #93, p24, Ay pronunseeAYshun gyd (January 1985)
DL7: Dragons of Light, p24 (May 1985)
UK7: Dark Clouds Gather (July 1985)
Dragon #106, More Range for Rangers, p34-35 (February 1986)
Dragon #106, A Plethora of Paladins, p47 (February 1986)
Wilderness Survival Guide, p47 (October 1986)
Manual of the Planes, p39 (June 1987)
Dragon #124, p34, The Wings of Eagles (July 1987)
FR5: The Savage Frontier, p3, 50 (August 1988)
Greyhawk Adventures, p86 (August 1988)
Dragon #137, p19, Treasures of the Wilds (September 1988)
Monstrous Compendium, Volume Two (August 1989)
FR10: Old Empires, p52 (February 1990)
SJR2: Realmspace, p12 (January 1991)
SJR4: Practical Planetology, p46 (June 1991)
Dark Sun Boxed Set, Player Card #8 (September 1991)
Gateway to the Savage Frontier (1991)
FMQ: City of Gold, p11 (March 1992)
The War Captain’s Companion, Book 1: War Captain’s Guide, p64 (March 1992)
The War Captain’s Companion, Book 2: Ship Recognition Manual, p16 (March 1992)
Monster Mythology, p94 (April 1992)
Dragon #183, p11, Not Cheaper by the Dozen! (June 1992)
1992 Trading Cards Factory Set, card 1/750 (September 1992)
From the Ashes, Atlas of the Flanaess, p56, 79 (October 1992)
Spelljammer: Pirates of Realmspace (October 1992)
DSR4: Valley of Dust and Fire, p21 (November 1992)
SJR6: Greyspace, p36 (November 1992)
Dragon #189, p13, The Dark Continent (January 1993)
Dragon #191, p33, An African Genesis, p33 (March 1993)
PHBR10: The Complete Book of Humanoids, p16 (April 1993)
The Ivory Triangle (May 1993)
FRM1: The Jungles of Chult, p9 (May 1993)
City of Delights, Golden Huzuz, p19 (June 1993)
Monstrous Manual, p5 (June 1993)
The Complete Ranger’s Handbook, p33 (December 1993)
Dragon #205, p15, The People (May 1994)
Dungeon #47, p26, Quelkin’s Quandary (May 1994)
Planes of Chaos, The Book of Chaos, p39, 41 (July 1994)
Encyclopedia Magica, Volume I (A-D), p312 (November 1994)
Dark Sun Monstrous Compendium Appendix II: Terrors Beyond Tyr, p8 (March 1995)
Dragon #218, p94, The Ecology of the Bird Maiden (June 1995)
Player's Option: Skills & Powers, p41 (September 1995)
Dark Sun Campaign Setting Expanded and Revised, The Age of Heroes, p9-10 (October 1995)
Dark Sun Campaign Setting Expanded and Revised, The Wanderer’s Chronicle, p22, 107 (October 1995)
The Night Below: An Underdark Campaign, Book I: The Evils of Haranshire, p33 (November 1995)
Planes of Conflict, Liber Benevolentiae, p32, 60 (November 1995)
The North: Guide to the Savage Frontier, The Wilderness, p7, 51 (April 1996)
Dragon #231, p47, Defilers and Preservers (July 1996)
Polyhedron #121, p11, New Character Races (July 1996)
Netheril: Empire of Magic, The Winds of Netheril, p86 (October 1996)
Dragon Annual #1, p94-95, Heroes of Athas (November 1996)
Dragon #244, p80, Bazaar of the Bizarre (February 1998)
Player's Guide to Greyhawk, p40 (June 1998)
The Bestiary, p199 (September 1998)
The City of Ravens Bluff, p75 (October 1998)
The Inner Planes, p25 (November 1998)
The Odyssey of Gilthanas, p168 (August 1999)
Drizzt Do'Urden's Guide to the Underdark, p29 (November 1999)
Monsters of Faerûn, p11 (February 2001)
Wizards of the Coast website, Aarakocran Portals (January 2002)
Races of Faerûn, p131 (March 2003)
Unapproachable East, p117 (May 2003)
Dragon #319, p19-20, 30, Dark Sun Player's Handbook (May 2004)
Dungeon #110/Polyhedron #58, p72, 81 (May 2004)
Dragons of Winter, p74-75 (November 2007)
Dungeon #178, p72, Backdrop Chessenta (May 2010)
Dark Sun Creature Catalog, p10-11 (August 2010)
Dungeon #183, p9, Revenge of the Marauders (October 2010)
Dungeon #187, Dark Sun Threats (February 2011)
AOA2-1: Plotting the Course, p28 (June 2011)
Dungeon #195, Eye on Dark Sun: Terrors of the Silt Sea (October 2011)
Dungeon #202, Cruel as a Desert Wind (May 2012)
Wizards of the Coast website, Wandering Monsters: For the Birds (May 2013)
Icons of the Realms: Tyranny of Dragons, figure #37/51 (August 2014)
Monster Manual, p12-13 (September 2014)
Elemental Evil Player’s Companion, p3-5 (March 2015)
Princes of the Apocalypse, p30, 50-51, 125 (April 2015)
Storm King’s Thunder, p135, 188-190, 193, 197-200 (September 2016)
Icons of the Realms: Tomb of Annihilation, figure #23/44 (July 2017)
Idle Champions of the Forgotten Realms (September 2017)
Tomb of Annihilation, p12, 68-72, 197 (September 2017)
Tales from Candlekeep: Tomb of Annihilation (October 2017)
Neverwinter: Lost City of Omu (February 2018)
Lost Laboratory of Kwalish, p61 (November 2018)
Explorer’s Guide to Wildemount, p92-93, 165-166 (March 2020)

Other ENCyclopedia entries
Visit the Monster ENCyclopedia index for links to other entries in this series.
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I'm A Banana

Man, I tried to do something like this, but I do not have access to the depth of D&D material that Echohawk does. Very cool write-up.


Well, that was fun
Staff member
How fantastic! I'll feature these on the news page. Thank you, [MENTION=9849]Echohawk[/MENTION]!


Super KY
I always look forward to reading a post by [MENTION=9849]Echohawk[/MENTION] , because I know for sure that it's going to be constructive and insightful.


Extradimensional Explorer
Also this. :D

Ahem, in an attempt to say something more useful...

Are you planning to go in alphabetical order or as whimsy strikes? And just how many of D&D's many, many, many critters are you planning to tackle with this project? Covering them all could take quite a bit of time.

Covering them all would be nigh-on impossible. The Creature Catalog has been working on converting all the pre-existing monsters to 3.X since 2000 or so (some of the original conversions made it into the original Tome of Horrors), and we're still going. Well under 1000 left, though.

Charles Wright

First Post
It's not that some of the original conversions "made it' into the Tome of Horrors, its that some of the material created for The Tome of Horrors was used in creating the Creature Catalog because the same people did the conversions (Scott, Erica, and BOZ). :D


Golden Procrastinator
Fantastic thread. Aarakocra are pretty much confirmed, since they were mentioned by Mike Mearls in an interview yesterday as an example of the amount of information and story hooks that we will get in the MM.

Arakocra will be tied to elemental Air, guardians agains Elemental Evil and enemies of the gargoyles that will be tied to elemental Earth.


Shirokinukatsukami fan
Thanks for all the kind feedback on my post! It was more entertaining than I expected to research the bird-men :D.

This really needs to also be published on a blog -- even something as simple as Blogger -- for posterity's sake.
I might give these a more permanent home on the ENWorld wiki eventually. But I'd like to cover a few more monsters before I do that. Also, posting them on the boards is a great way to get feedback on bits of monster lore I might have missed, like the 5e snippets Nikosandros pointed out. That gives me an opportunity to update them before moving them to the wiki.

Are you planning to go in alphabetical order or as whimsy strikes? And just how many of D&D's many, many, many critters are you planning to tackle with this project? Covering them all could take quite a bit of time.
No, definitely not strict alphabetical order. As [MENTION=40227]freyar[/MENTION] points out, there are a lot of D&D creatures. By my rough count, about 9000 distinct... um... "species" across all editions of D&D. Of course, one entry can cover several species (Aarakocra; Aarakocra, Athasian; Aarakocra, Malatran...), but I reckon that there are still at least three or four thousand potential Monster ENCyclopedia entries. With a strict alphabetical approach, it would be decades before I reached zzonga-bush.

Fantastic thread. Aarakocra are pretty much confirmed, since they were mentioned by Mike Mearls in an interview yesterday as an example of the amount of information and story hooks that we will get in the MM. Arakocra will be tied to elemental Air, guardians agains Elemental Evil and enemies of the gargoyles that will be tied to elemental Earth.
Thanks for pointing that out. I've had that Tome Show interview sitting on my desktop for a few days, but hadn't yet listened to it. I'm going to update the OP to include what we now know about 5e aarakocra from Mike Mearls.


Creature Cataloguer
Very well done! I think I see everything from their Wikipedia article, but a lot more details. :)


Creature Cataloguer
It's not that some of the original conversions "made it' into the Tome of Horrors, its that some of the material created for The Tome of Horrors was used in creating the Creature Catalog because the same people did the conversions (Scott, Erica, and BOZ). :D

Other way around. ;)


This is seriously one of the best things I've read in a very long time. Thank you very much for posting this, you do some very awesome work!

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