The following are examples of the many uses of "true" aarakocra in a 4e game. This is derived from the current Monster Study, found on the start page.
Hooks & Rumors
You can use these in areas where knowledge of the aarakocra is rich. They are generally reclusive, self-interested people, however, so areas where this knowledge is prevalent should be rare.
- Streetwise (Cha): You ask about on the streets of the village for information about the "bird-folk."
- Nature (Wis): You recall any knowledge you may have had about the "bird-folk."
- DC 8: Up in the mountains live the "bird-folk." They keep to themselves mostly, but some shepherds aren't fans of them: they've been known to make off with the occasional sheep. It'd be pretty easy to find someone willing to pay you to exterminate some of them.
- DC 12: The bird-folk call themselves "aarakocra." They're not actively hostile, but they don't seem to respect the laws or rules of outsiders. If you've got a keen eye, you can tell where they live, as they decorate their nesting region with brightly-colored feathered banners and pennants, with each tribe having a unique design. Any shepherds loosing sheep to them were probably trespassing to begin with, and well aware of that fact. They're actually a pretty positive force on the mountains: they keep goblins, orcs, and other hostile forces to a minimum, and they cultivate alliances with the great eagles. They aren't great fighters, but they're skilled hunters, with keen eyes and a special javelin-throwing technique that launches the weapon from a steep dive. They know their region well: you could do worse than to hire an aarakocra guide, if you're passing through their lands.
- DC 19: The aarakocra shamans know a ritual that can summon and bind an air elemental to their service, but they can't perform it alone. Air elementals are usually assigned to guard the nesting region, which is where they breed their young, the females sitting on eggs for eight months a year, weaving pennants and making javelins for hunting. They seem to be biologically claustrophobic: they refuse to enter enclosed spaces, and get nervous when they can't see the sky. They are also reluctant to get into any sort of melee combat, presumably because their hollow bones are quite fragile.
Skill Checks & Challenges
- Calming a Hostile Aarakocra (Diplomacy DC 12): Aarakocra can become very agitated when dealing with outsiders, but they are capable of listening to reason (at least, in a language they can understand). Failure on this check may panic the aarkocra, sending it into a frenzy to reach the open air and escape the area.
- Fleeing Angry Aarakocra (Acrobatics DC 19): Aarakocra who have been irritated generally don't engage in direct combat with their enemies: instead, they hurl javelins from a safe distance. Those who fail this check are struck with javelins during the hail for a total of 2d6+4 damage.
- Navigating Through Aarakocra Territory (Nature DC 16): The mountainous lairs of aarakocra aren't often well-traveled by those on foot. Paths can disappear, overgrowth can be rampant, and markers are rare. If one can't go around, it is often best to hire a local guide, who need not make checks to navigate their own home territory. Failure on this check gets the party lost until their next extended rest.
One-Shot Adventure: Peace Treaty
This short adventure is designed to work like a "delve": a short, one-session adventure that the party can resolve in a single night. You can use it on its own, or combine it with a bigger context to make a more robust adventure.
Aarakocra can serve as patrons, rewarding any party that helps them in unique ways.
- Aarakocra Javelins: Magic javelins are frequent gifts to those that help aarakocra. Weapons like a +1 Hungry Javelin (Level 2, Adventurer's Vault 2, pg. 98) or a +1 Skewering Javelin (Level 3, Adventurer's Vault, pg. 77) are useful for any spear-wielders, while a +1 Alfsair Javelin (Level 3, Adventurer's Vault 2, pg. 15) is useful for any totem-using classes, a +1 Chieftain's Javelin (Level 3, Dragon Magazine #391) is useful for many leader-type characters, and, combining the two, a +1 Totemic Javelin (Level 2, Adventurer's Vault 2, pg. 24) benefits members of the Shaman class. Of course, aarakocra can also supply normal javelins.
- Aarakocra Herbs: Aarakocra know the plant-life around them fairly intimately, and can manufacture many herbal consumables, specializing in herbs that replicate the effects of Potions of Cure Light Wounds, and various Soulfangs. They are capable of duplicating almost any item of level 4 or under, for special requests.
- Aarakocra Crafts: Great weavers, and skilled hunters, aarakocra have many trinkets and tools that could be useful in the right hands. They craft Battle Standards of Honor and Battle Standards of Healing (both Level 2, both Adventurer's Vault, pgs. 179-180), and weave Shrouds of Protection (Level 2, Adventurer's Vault, pg. 177).
- Aarakocra Rituals: Aarakocra shamans know many rituals that revolve around the Nature skill, and often employ elementals in the execution of their rituals. For instance, an aarakocra Summon Winds ritual (Level 3, Eberron Player's Guide pg. 119) actually employs an air elemental to alter the winds, and they use it mostly to conjure enough of a breeze around the nesting site to actually become airborne. Air elementals are not normally bound to fight on behalf of the aarakocra, but are simply employed in ritual use.
- Aarakocra Allies: Aarakocra can call air elementals or giant eagles to help the party for a time. The creature serves as a companion character for the agreed-upon duration.
Ritual: The Sky Pact
The following ritual can be employed by aarakocra, and can be taught to others by them. Aarakocra usually use this ritual in a group, with a shaman leading, and up to 4 assistants helping. 4 is traditional: one representing each of the four winds, and the shaman representing the axis mundi.
|Tapping ancient alliances with the aarakocra, you call upon the aid of an air elemental to help you, and them.|
Time: Short Rest
|Component Cost: 1 Healing Surge
Market Price: n/a
Key Skill: Nature (DC 16)
|Success: You call upon a spirit of wind and air to serve you. The spirit is a lesser air elemental (Monster Vault pg. 108), and it will serve you in any way you request (the creature understands Primordial), short of risking its life. It will not enter combat or dangerous situations on your behalf, but it will perform most any other favor you care to ask of it. The magic binding the air elemental to this plane can be dispelled by the caster at any time (free action), and any damage to the air elemental instantly ends the effect. When the magic ends, the air elemental returns fully to its home plane. Subsequent uses of this ritual do not call the same air elemental — it is a different spirit each time.
Failure: You spend the cost, and nothing happens. You can try again after an extended rest.
Companion Character: Aarakocra Guide
|Aarakocra Guide||Level 1 Striker Companion|
|Medium Natural Humanoid (avian)|
|HP 19; Surges 4
AC 15; Fort 9, Ref 16, Will 13
Speed 6, fly 6
|(mB) Javelin Stab (weapon) * At-Will|
|Attack: Melee 1 (one creature); +6 vs. AC
Hit: 1d6+6 damage
|(rB) Javelin Throw (weapon) * At-Will|
|Attack: Ranged 12 (one creature); +6 vs. AC
Hit: 1d6+6 damage
|(r) Screeching Dive (weapon) * Encounter|
|Requirements: The guide must be flying, and must be wielding a thrown weapon.
Effect: The guide charges, and makes the following attack instead of a melee basic attack, at the end of the charge.
Attack: Ranged 12 (one creature); +8 vs. AC
Hit: 1d6+11 damage
|Skills: Athletics +5, Nature +6|
|Str 10 (0)||Dex 12 (+1)||Wis 13 (+1)|
|Con 7 (-2)||Int 10 (0)||Cha 11 (0)|
|Alignment Good||Languages Primordial|
|Equipment: Javelin (5)|
This stat block can be used if the party wishes to hire an aarakocra guide. The guide serves as a companion character, and costs as much as a standard level 1 hireling (10 gp per day). The guide leaves the party when the party leaves the aarakocra's region.
Aarakocra PC Race
|Tribal, bird-like humanoids, expert hunters and scouts|
|Screeching Dive||Aarakocra Racial Attack|
|You plummet steeply, and suddenly stop, releasing your attack|
|Encounter * Martial, Weapon
Free Action; Personal
Requirements: You must be flying. You must be wielding a thrown weapon.
Trigger: You charge.
|Effect: Instead of a melee basic attack, you may make a ranged basic attack with a thrown weapon, with a +2 bonus to the attack roll. If the attack hits, it deals an additional 5 damage.
Level 11: The attack bonus is +4, and it deals an additional 10 damage.
Level 21: The attack bonus is +6, and it deals an additional 15 damage.
The aarakocra is an avian humanoid. It stands about 5 feet tall. It is covered in feathers, with a head like something between a parrot and an eagle. It stands on dexterous talons instead of feet. Its arms resemble human arms (albeit covered in feathers and with talons instead of hands), but from the hand, they extend farther out in curving wings, out to about 20 feet from wingtip to wingtip when fully unfurled. When unfurled, the hands are at about the midpoint of the wings. While the hands are not very functional during flight, the talon-feet of the aarakocra are just as dexterous as their hands, and are used to weild weapons expertly in aerial combat. They possess keen avian eyes, and a hard beak. Their plumage color varies with the tribe, but males are generally gaudy, in colors of red, orange, yellow and gold. Females are more subdued, in shades of brown and gray.
Playing an Aarakocra
Aarakocra are tribal people who live in isolation, soaring on mountain thermals and hunting animals from the air, diving and impaling them with javelins. Skilled weavers, talented hunters, and lovely singers, the aarakocra pay homage to the spirits of the wind, and forge alliances with great eagles. Most aarakocra have little to do with the outside world, assuming that any people from outside the nest fits into two categories: dangerous, and suspicious.
You, perhaps, believe differently. As an adventurer, you have conquered your people's fears. Normally claustrophobic and isolationist, you defy them by seeking out others, and going into spaces where few aarakocra would be comfortable — spaces where they cannot easily fly. You might bear this risk for a number of reasons. Perhaps you were once a guide, and that taste of adventure appealed to you. Perhaps you find your people's ways stifling and narrow, and want to see the wider world. Perhaps you simply want to see what else there is to hunt.
Recommendations: Aarakocra favor the Druid, Seeker, Ranger, and Shaman classes. It is recommended that you steer away from heavy armor if you want to fly, and make use of your racial ability. This trait, combined with the requirements of unoccupied adjacent spaces for your fly speed, largely puts you out of the running for most Defender classes, who prefer to stick close to melee and heavily armored. Even lightly-armored melee classes may be less interesting to you, because of the space you need to take flight, though their mobility can help you get out of melee quickly enough to take wing, if necessary.
Sidebar: Aarakocra Flight
Before you allow an aarakocra PC, you should consider the effects that their flight will have on your game. Flying introduces new wrinkles to many encounters and scenarios, and you're going to want to be prepared for them.
Combat: Due to their flight capabilities and ranged attack focus, aarakocra will largely stay away from melee combat, peppering enemies from a distance with javelins (or other ranged attacks). In order to keep them threatened, you want to ensure that your combats have ranged-attack capabilities, flight themselves, or some way of forcing the aarakocra to land to be effective. An aarakocra who is flying is easier to hit than normal, because they can't react as quickly to oncoming attacks, so they should feel vulnerable when in the air. Keep in mind the range limit on their ranged weapons, as well. Bows can fire pretty far, but if the aarakocra is within range to attack an enemy with a bow, they are in range to be attacked by enemies with bows (or other long-range ranged attacks). Thrown weapons, which are the only weapons aarakocra can use their racial encounter power with, have even shorter ranges. Keep in mind also that melee combat effectively disables aarakocra flight, forcing them to land because they can't spread out their wings.
Exploration: Keep in mind that a flying aarakocra, while their vision is keen, can't see through tree branches, or through ceilings, and can't usually carry the entire party with them as they go (they must carry less than half of a normal load). Aarakocra who go exploring in flight tend to be lightly equipped as a result, and this makes them extra-vulnerable to threats that might occupy the space beyond their current vision. The usual guideline of "don't split the party!" applies here, too: loner aarakocra are sitting ducks. While they can accomplish basic reconnaissance, they should return to the main group to undertake anything more than a few skill checks. In an extended challenge, you can make use of the aarakocra's flight: Athletics, Acrobatics, Endurance, Perception, and even Nature can be key skills that a flying aarakocra uses to contribute to success.