Catfolk (& Rakasta)

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Havard
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Catfolk (& Rakasta)

Post by Havard » Thu Aug 18, 2016 5:41 pm

What sourcebooks in 3E offer information about the Catfolk race? I think they first appeared in the Miniatures Handbook and later in Races of the Wild.

Are Catfolk 3E's representation of the BECMI Rakasta race? According to Wikipedia, Rakasta were exclusive to Mystara untill they were retconned onto Greyhawk in the Savage Tide AP (which also appropriated Mystara's Isle of Dread), but that AP made a point of making the Rakasta an extinct race on Greyhawk. On the other hand Mystara fans like Traianus have pointed out that Catfolk don't really do Mystara's Rakasta justice.

Other feline races include the Rakshasa (not to be confused with the Rakasta) which are Tiger-like demons. There is also the Tabaxi which are jaguar-folk as well as the Wemics (Lion Centaurs), none of which seem all that similar with Catfolk.

Do any other sources reference Catfolk? What else is known about them?


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Re: Catfolk (& Rakasta)

Post by willpell » Thu Aug 18, 2016 9:02 pm

Loosely relevant - the Mirrodin setting for Magic the Gathering has very well-realized lion-folk called Leonins.

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Re: Catfolk (& Rakasta)

Post by ripvanwormer » Thu Aug 18, 2016 9:30 pm

As detailed in Races of the Wild, catfolk seem very much like rakastas (though with somewhat more human-like faces). However, the basic idea of cat people is common enough (Doctor Who has at least four distinct kinds of cat people alien: catkind, cheetah people, Tharil, and Leonian) that the idea may have originated independently.

The Pathfinder RPG has its own version of catfolk described in the Advanced Race Guide and Bestiary 3. They're similar to the 3e catfolk, but with a -2 to wisdom and sprinting and luck abilities.

There are also the tibbets from Dragon #135 and the Dragon Compendium (2005). They're small, humanoid creatures with the ability to transform into house cats. They evolved from wizard familiars.

Rakshasas are sometimes depicted with non-feline forms. The 2nd edition Monstrous Compendium Volume One said they had the bodily features of "various beasts," "most commonly tigers or apes." "The Ecology of the Rakshasa" in Dragon #326 said their heads were "most commonly that of a Bengal tiger, although those of carnivorous apes, mantises, and crocodiles are only slightly less common."

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Re: Catfolk (& Rakasta)

Post by willpell » Thu Aug 18, 2016 9:56 pm

ripvanwormer wrote:Rakshasas are sometimes depicted with non-feline forms. The 2nd edition Monstrous Compendium Volume One said they had the bodily features of "various beasts," "most commonly tigers or apes." "The Ecology of the Rakshasa" in Dragon #326 said their heads were "most commonly that of a Bengal tiger, although those of carnivorous apes, mantises, and crocodiles are only slightly less common."
As far as I know, the original Indian myth of the Rakshasa had absolutely nothing to do with tigers or other cats. The backwards hands are the key defining feature, along with the fact that they could only be slain with an enchanted crossbow bolt (or possibly some more general sort of blessed projectile).

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Re: Catfolk (& Rakasta)

Post by ripvanwormer » Fri Aug 19, 2016 2:14 am

There's no real fixed way that rakshasas look in actual Indian legend: they have fangs, claws, horns, talons, and other monstrous features depending on the artist (their hands aren't necessarily on backwards). The tiger head look was an invention of Dave Trampier, who illustrated them in the original Monster Manual. The image was evocative enough that it stuck. The "blessed arrow" comes from the fact that Rama killed Ravana with an arrow (not a crossbow bolt) in the Ramayana.

Edit: the vulnerability to blessed crossbow bolts comes from an episode of Kolchak the Night Stalker that Gary Gygax saw.

My favorite version of the Ramayana is Sita Sings the Blues by Nina Paley.

Bonus cartoon about rakshasa hands.

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Re: Catfolk (& Rakasta)

Post by Big Mac » Fri Aug 19, 2016 12:52 pm

One of Loki's Planejammer players has a cat PC, called Kenari Sanura. I'm not sure exactly what race she is, but I bet that they have a lot of information about catfolk.
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Re: Catfolk (& Rakasta)

Post by Dragonhelm » Fri Aug 19, 2016 6:18 pm

Fantasy Flight Games' Legends & Lairs series of d20 products includes one called Mythic Races, which had its own catfolk race (with various subraces). That might be helpful to represent Rakasta in 3e, especially if you're using all the Rakasta subraces.

https://www.amazon.com/Legends-Lairs-My ... 1589940547
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