In a dank cell below the many domed wonder of Tal’Ambor a matriarch makes a deal with a denizen of the Abyss and is transformed by unholy power. From that moment forward she and all in her line bear the taint of the lower planes but their status in the city rises in line with their magical power. In an isolated village deep in the jungles of Maoxian a shaman prays to her pantheon for solace after a great personal loss. A woman of unearthly beauty appears at her door the next morning and they lose each other for a time. Nine months later the shaman gives birth to a son who shines with holy light, a beacon of pure joy, a child destined for great things.
When creatures of the other planes mix with denizens of the physical world they leave part of themselves behind. These planetouched come in many forms but the two most commonly encountered in the Known World are Tieflings and Aasimar.
Tieflings are touched by the lower planes and all bear a physical manifestation of their otherworldly nature for all the world to see. Horns, a long tail, bright red scaled skin, or haunting yellow eyes are all example manifestations of this power. Most have carry but a single trait but some unfortunates are not so lucky. These physical alterations can be covered by magic but when Tieflings gets emotional their inner nature becomes more noticeable and magics may no longer be enough to stay hidden. Along with these physical signs come magical abilities, talents, and inflamed passions. What Tieflings do not have is the tendency towards corruption and evil that the lower planes are famous for. In the Known World even the unbridled power of darkness cannot long remain purely so and every child, even those born touched by corruption, have just as much of a capacity for good as for evil.
Aasimar are touched by the higher planes and bear some manifestation of the otherworldly. Unearthly perfection, inhuman calm, or even a constant inner light can all be examples of this. When Aasimar channel magic or call upon their innate abilities they expose their true nature and manifest wings of light, halos, or other unmistakably divine effects. The actual magic being channeled doesn’t impact the appearance of these divine manifestations so that, in some cases, it can appear that angels are bringing darkness or corruption. As with Tieflings Aasimar do not have an innate tendency towards justice, good, or selfless behavior.
Most planetouched are born with their capacities but any mortal can become infused with the otherworldly to such an extent that they are transformed. Most Tieflings in the Caliphate are either directly transformed or are the first generation children of transformed individuals.
The Other Planes
There are stories about creatures touched by the other planes. Seafarers who might as well be the ocean they sail upon, rogues who are born from the shadows they haunt, and creatures touched by the Faewilde itself. Most plane touched in The Known World are human but that isn’t always the case. There are stories of elves intermingling with Fae entities or Orcish champions who channel wrath directly from demonic blood.
Tieflings and Aasimar are both available PC options though they fall into the uncommon category of race options so some care should be taken in allowing too many of them in a single campaign. All PC planetouched should be from human stock.
Non-human planetouched require some mechanical consideration before they’re allowed. Either the differences are cosmetic only so they use the same stat blocks as their human variants OR they replace specific racial features with planetouched features while keeping other ones from their base race. Use the race creation guidelines from the DMG as a guide to make sure that non-human planetouched are balanced.
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