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Devas are a specific type of aasimar that, unlike typical examples of the race are in fact all angelic souls contained within mortal bodies. These souls are reborn again and again, meaning that devas have access to the experiences of several lifetimes in their subconscious and, sometimes, waking mind as well. These souls are obliged to fight in the cosmic war against evil, though some stray from this path and are reincarnated in their next life as rakshasas.
Physically, devas appear similar to aasimar, though in a fashion more distinct than many aasimar, who could be mistaken for human. Devas also possess a number of abilities unique to them. Despite this, devas can be and historically have been considered aasimar.
Devas bear the mark of their celestial touch through many different physical features that often vary from individual to individual. Nearly all devas are uncommonly beautiful and still, and they are often significantly taller than humans as well. When a deva’s features are unshapely it is often the result of extreme circumstances, such as grave injury or severe illness. Even in these cases, a deva is more than likely to regain their comely appearance after a time, through their regenerative properties, though in some cases a deva deliberately chooses to enter the world in a less than beautiful body and even the most healthy deva cannot regenerate lost body parts.
Although exact appearance varies widely, all devas are marked by patterns of light and dark on their skin. These patterns may vary from more mundane hues like chalk white or black to otherworldly shades like gray, blue, or purple. Either the light or the dark color may be dominant, meaning that a deva might appear as white on blue or blue on white, neither being particularly more common. Whatever the case, the dominant color makes up the regular color of skin, while the lesser shade appears in patterns across the face, chest, and shoulders. The hair of a deva is often the same color as either of the two.
Devas, like godly avatars, cannot be permanently killed. Just as an avatar will return to the home plane of the god it is a manifestation of to be reabsorbed and perhaps sent to the Prime again so do devas’ souls inevitably return to the mortal world in new bodies as reincarnations of their old selves. However, devas do not typically remember their past lives and are born as new individuals, therefore being subject to the same dangers of mortality as other races, while being prevented from passing on into the afterlife permanently. Some devas are born as infants, while others are born into fully formed adult bodies. Each deva has, in fact, been reincarnated countless times over the period of four millennia in which devas have been known to exist.
Devas are mentally very capable individuals, with both unusually high perceptive ability and an impressive intellect compared with other humanoids. Devas are also, in part due to their immortal nature, difficult to attack, particularly for weakened creatures and they have an innate resistance to both intense positive and necrotic energies. Devas also have the ability to call on hidden memories of their past lives with the memory of a thousand lifetimes ability, in order to increase their competence.
Some devas have a number of other abilities as well. For instance, some devas have a special resistance to the effects of cold or fire or have an enhanced resistance of positive energy. Others regain the use of their wings for flight or relearn innately the Supernal language. Some also gain the ability to call forth their past selves as incorporeal servants or advisors, informing and aiding the devas.
Devas are eternal creatures, never truly dying except in very rare circumstances and never truly being born. Although some devas are born from the unions of celestials and mortals, this most likely commonly refers to the aasimar descendants of devas, who are sometimes mistaken for the immortals. Devas themselves are often spring into the world fully formed as adults, with no memory of from where they came. Likewise, devas do not age although occasionally devas will actually “drop” their body after reaching a considerable age, drifting out of their current body and into a new one. The bodies devas leave behind are often the same as any other mortal’s, though some have been said to dissolve into light upon the soul’s departure.
Unlike most races, however, when a deva dies it does not go to the Fugue Plane to be judged and sentenced. Instead, a deva’s soul simply finds its way to another body, although it may drift for as long as a lifetime in of itself through the Prime Material Plane while finding its way to its new resting place. Such occurrences rarely last longer than seven years, however, and can sometimes last less than a year. Occasionally, devas do not reincarnate for over a century, often the result of an unusually horrid death. During this time, devas are thought to experience an esoteric state known as “bodiless dreaming” in which they regain all the memories of all their past lives and act as spiritual guardians and guides for mortals. These disembodied souls can be resurrected, if they are willing, just like any mortal humanoid.
Although there is no direct evidence for this state as devas are unable to actually recall it, druids and shamans are a reliable source of many of the stories surrounding it. Furthermore, a handful of living devas experience a similar state known as “bodiless walking,” “waking dreaming,” or “disincarnate,” wherein devas experience an out-of-body experience that allows them to interact with the spirits of the dead and other incorporeal beings. Devas who return from this experience often recall memories of past lives more clearly, a gift which some use in order to serve a greater purpose while other, more malign devas hope to use the knowledge gained to evade reincarnation as a rakshasa.
When a deva is born again it reappears suddenly in a blast of light in a place sacred to the gods or primal spirits, forming a body from the local elements surrounding them. This new body is not guaranteed to resemble the one a deva had in a previous life and may even be of a different sex. Invariably, however, devas are unable to contain the memories of their past lives within their new bodies, memories that slip away, leaving only partial remnants in the form of subconscious insights or dreams.
PsychologyEditDevas are naturally refined and are drawn towards virtue, rather than sin or neutrality. The typical deva is good, though few could be called meek. However, this is not something that can be taken for granted and the danger of a deva falling to evil is far greater than that of most races. If a deva falls, they risk becoming a rakshasa and find it uncommonly hard to find their way back to the path of good. As such, most devas, in spite of finding it easier to be virtuous than most races, are taught to fight against the temptation of evil within their own souls constantly.
Devas who are born outside of the normal cycle of life and death, as full-grown adults, alternatively are born fully mature and experience none of these troubles. These devas are, in essentially all ways, amnesiac adults, with no memories of their origins or past lives but with all the basic skills they need to survive, although with a personality informed by past lives, particularly the most recent one. Typically, most devas are born with an inclination towards good.
Because of their past (if subconscious) lives, devas are driven to find new experiences and new lands. Devas, as a result, have visited all corners of Toril. But in spite of this strong drive for fresh experiences most devas have few ambitions beyond living, loving, and striving in whatever life they are born to. Similarly, since devas once served the gods as immortal warriors, most devas find a subconscious urging towards a religious life and are typical devout worshipers of the gods. However, for this very same reason few devas feel the draw towards organized religion and mighty temples, rather seeking a connection to the divine through private worship.
In fact, nearly all are driven by a purpose, either conscious or subconscious, of some sort, be it personal, external, or moral, and though they may stray from this purpose, few devas divert from it permanently. This singular drive, perhaps fueled by a deva’s immortality as well as the memories of goals left unfinished from previous lives, gives deva a sense of purpose and dedication unique to them. More than other races, devas stick to the goals they set and are direct and to the point, rarely waiting long before taking direct action. This drive becomes even more zealous for those who are aware that even death cannot ultimately stop them, driving devas in such a manner that can be both useful as well as dangerously obsessive. Fortunately, this zeal is often tempered by a deva’s moral compass.
Deva emotions are invariably very intense, a fact which devas are generally open about as they generally feel that any deception is more often harmful than beneficial. However, in general, if they so wish, devas are fairly good at hiding their emotions, not so much because they are intentionally deceptive but because they view their own thoughts and feelings rather nonchalantly, intuitively if not consciously aware that all of this has happened before and all of it will happen again. A deva’s mental serenity is also in part the result of their true and fervent belief that even the worst of people are not irredeemable.
In addition to their general striving towards a goal, devas all have an innate yearning for perfection, which they seek to work both in themselves and others. Devas who are aware of their reincarnations believe that, in fact, this is one of the purposes of the process, for each life to bring them closer. All devas, regardless of possessing this knowledge or not, believe that it is unwise to shy away from suffering or unpleasant experiences and that such ill helps them to smooth out their imperfections and send them along the proper path, while enhancing their compassion for others who similarly suffer. However, this is something devas advise for themselves and few have the heart to watch detachedly while others suffer. To a deva, this leads only to more strife, rather than harmony.
Devas who learn of their reincarnations know all too well that they will lose any clear memories of the life they currently lead when they are reborn. This fact is one of the few things that devas truly dread, along with the possibility of becoming a rakshasa. However, few devas lack the courage to face death for the sake of others even with the possibility of this occurrence, feeling that the temporary loss of their self is a price worth paying to render good.
Devas are, ultimately, servants of good more than any other force, though many feel an attraction to law as well, given their immortal heritage. This gives them a sense of tolerance and open-mindedness that others lack, even in the face of evil. Generally speaking, devas are less inclined towards anger than they are shock or dismay. When confronted with obeying the law or obeying good, most devas choose the latter and even the most zealous devas tend to look for the best possible outcome in any situation, rather than the most convenient one.
Like other aasimar, devas are exceedingly rare throughout Toril. However, in spite of this, there is a strange sense of cultural affinity amongst devas, a result of the fact that, beneath their subconscious, they all share memories of a time when they were a united people. As such, dress habits, fashions, and cultural attitudes prevail to some small extent amongst all devas, despite the vast distances usually between one member of the race and another.
Generally, in spite of their unusual qualities, most non-evil cultures welcome adult devas into their fold, in no small part due to their beauty and trustworthiness. Devas who settle in one place tend to favor larger communities, where they can mix readily with others, although they never become just another in the crowd, their heritage always giving itself away. Few devas would want to hide in any case, since their natural talent for leadership and drive to do good often transforms them into exemplary figures wherever they come to live. Some devas become forces for civil justice while others become adventuring heroes. More than a few become both.
Because of their generosity and kindness, devas typically become well-loved wherever they go, gathering a wide circle of friends though, unavoidably, they also make enemies. To a deva these friends become more than friends – they become the only family they know although, in some cases, devas start actual families, sometimes with other devas, but more often with mortals. In the latter case, devas may even have children, who inherit some of their qualities while losing others. Deva often make loving parents, but unfortunately they are all too often forced to watch their mortal family grow old and die before they themselves move on. This inevitable gap between devas and mortals can sometimes put a strain on relationships, one of the few factors that can lead to a deva’s fall from virtue to evil.
Art and leisureEdit
Devas do not typically focus themselves on art but nearly all partake in it as a hobby. Although devas rarely meet one another their art is often marked by similarities across the world, such as angelic motifs. Most devas is simple but elegant and cerebral, which reflects a deva’s motivation for making art – as a further act of refinement that brings them closer to perfection. Artisans in particular tend to view their work as a form of creation and meditation on their unusual life cycle. As a result, devas rarely make art for profit and giving away their art is a very personal thing, often a gift meant specifically for the receiver's possession.
Similarly, devas take great care of themselves aesthetically, making sure to be at all times presentable. Although devas are rarely given to the wearing of flashy jewelry they enjoy the use of fine clothes and make sure their equipment is in prime condition. Deva homes are always tidy and clean, although in such way that seems aesthetically evocative of the Astral Sea.
Because each life of a deva is meant expressly to develop good and happy memories and experiences for themselves and others, each deva’s leisure time is important to them and deva value the emotional enjoyment of the time, more than what they accomplish during the time. In general, deva are a relaxed lot who feel they have all the time they desire to engage in any activity to its fullest. Fun-loving, deva are fond of art, celebrations, games, and any event which challenges them intellectually. They also might enjoy simply laying back and engaging in conversation with a friend, though the more philosophical the exchange the better.
Devas do not, on the other hand, enjoy many activities other races might find enjoyable. For instance, few devas feel fondly about gladiatorial matches or other activities that might result in the intentional injury of another. Although devas might sit quietly about this publicly, most work within society to remove such activities, of which they have a strong disapproval. This in itself, ironically, might provide some of the ease of mind that the matches themselves provide for other, more martial races.
Devas who are incarnated wholly in adult form are not reborn in any location at random. Most often, devas are drawn to specific locations, often those with a particular connection to the gods or primal spirits, particularly the latter. Some of these locations have become known to various factions, such as the primal spirits themselves or their servants. In such cases mortal guardians might exist to ward off danger from the newborn devas and locals might even expect deva incarnations as an omen of sorts. When one appears, these individuals may well take it upon themselves to care for the newly born.
However, in spite of this knowledge, no one can truly predict when or where a deva will be reborn. As a result, it is not entirely unheard of for evil creatures to come upon a deva’s place of rebirth and claim it for themselves. In such cases, the taint prevents further devas from reincarnating until the location has been purified.
There are a few oddities that occasionally occur in reincarnation that have become a part of the deva mindset, though they are not an innate part of their nature but rather idiosyncratic developments. For instance, from time to time devas who were close in life might find themselves reincarnated in the same spot at the same time. Most often the number of these devas is two, leading to the phrase “twinning.” Another example is that, in spite of devas losing all clarity of memory upon reincarnation devas will sometimes reflexively remember people, places, or things that they were familiar with in their past lives, particularly their most recent one, a phenomenon devas call “soul recognition,” and which often proves useful for setting devas back on the path set by them in their past life. Other devas and animals are among the most likely subjects of this soul recognition.
Because of their life cycle devas have an odd relationship with death. While the thought of losing their memories frightens them, devas have no such fear of death itself, which is, after all, something beyond their experience, though devas in general are respectful of the fact that other beings have to contend with it. So odd is this relationship that, when a deva has tired of their current life and decides to drop their body, they might even call together a celebration for the purpose. Devas are almost entirely united in the belief that their deaths should not be mourned since it is, after all, only the beginning of a new life, though this is often left on a deva’s loved ones.
Religion and magicEdit
Something obvious to any outside observer is the innately magical nature of devas and this, along with their powerful minds, makes devas well suited to a life of magic, be it divine or arcane. For many devas, the pursuit of magic is a very personal thing, with more than a hint of spirituality. For those devas who become arcane spellcasters the path of a wizard is ultimately the most satisfying and well-aligned with both a deva’s natural talents and philosophy, avoiding the troublesome intermediaries warlocks work through. Additionally, devas tend to have a dismissive attitude towards sorcerers, who they feel take the power of the arcane for granted rather than as a gift.
Devas tend to favor specific types of magic in their casting, such as cold, electrical, psychic, radiant, or sonic power, which resonates well with the power of the Astral Sea and of angels. Devas magicians are deadly battle mages, composing their spells with studied precision, dealing the minimum amount of collateral damage. This control comes naturally to devas, as does the inclination to hone it.
While many devas are religious, relatively few feel drawn to the temples in which gods are most commonly worshiped. Instead, many devas reject organized religion and instead practice privately in a series of rituals common to most devas, such as meditation or leaving an empty seat for the gods when eating a meal.
Devas feel that, in fact, their entire life is more or less a personal spiritual journey and it is for this reason that most devas view religion as a private matter rather than a public one, a courtesy they return to others. Devas rarely make good proselytizers, instead converting others to their faith through example and inspiration. Devas clerics who successfully convert another likewise encourage them to seek out the answers they seek through private discovery rather than the teachings of an institution.
In spite of this seemingly hostile attitude towards organized religion, devas exhibit no such feeling and many pray respectfully within temples and shrines. However, they feel that while such sacred places have meaning faith has none if it is not backed by constant piety and action and many carry out consistent rituals throughout their daily life, such as ritual offerings or meditating. Overall, devas seek personal revelation rather than an indirect connection through a priest or other minister. As a result, devas are most attracted to the path of an invoker out of the divine spellcasters, as well as shamans if their religious path ultimately leads them to the primal rather than the divine.
To religious deva, there is a special revelation that is unique to them alone that they may acquire through effort or intuition. Although devas, as a whole, are bound to the Prime to be reincarnated again and again it isn't completely impossible for a deva to escape this cycle of rebirth. Over many reincarnations, the deva's drive for perfection is fulfilled, the deva reaching a state of transcendence in which they are removed from the mortal world and freed to take on another path. Precisely what this path entails differs from deva to deva. Some become exarchs. Some simply rise to become angels. Others embrace the fate of any mortal being, whatever that might be while yet others remain behind on the Prime to become spiritual guides for future generations.