Ashari

Ashari
Official art of symbol of the Ashari, by Conceptopolis from Critical Role: Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting, p. 30.[art 1]
Organizational information
TypeGuardians of the elemental portals
Base
Favored deity
GoalsSafeguard portals to the Elemental Planes[3]
History
EstablishedSeparated into four tribes ~89-189 years before the Divergence[4]
Membership
Leaders
DemographicsMultiracial
Associated classesDruid, Cleric (nature domain), variety of others[5]

The Ashari are a multiracial people divided into four tribes: Air, Earth, Water, and Fire. Each of the four tribes live in locations where the Elemental Planes have bled into the Material Plane.[6][3] The Ashari make it their duty to guard these portals, ensuring that nothing dangerous is able to pass between the planes.

History[edit | edit source]

About 900 years ago or so, roughly a thousand years ago, we were a nomadic people. Then there was some sort of great sundering. We're actually still not 100% sure. A lot of information was lost. And the elemental planes started bleeding with this plane and—oh, Vex is falling asleep.

— Keyleth gives a history lesson[6]

The Ashari are descended from an ancient order of druids, the Gau Drashari, whose duty was to tend to Mount Ygora on the continent of Domunas. It was on Mount Ygora, home to the city of Toramunda which was split into Cathmoíra and Avalir, where two Primordials had been sealed by Melora and Pelor during the Schism. During the fall of Avalir, the Gau Drashari used Transport via Plants to evacuate Cathmoíra and leave for other continents, including Gwessar, Issylra, and Wildemount.[7]

The Gau Drashari were fragmented as a group during the Calamity that followed, and much of their name and history was lost, but they retained their purpose as guardians of elemental threats.[8] Now named the Ashari, they were a nomadic people until a celestial solstice tore open innumerable portals between Exandria and the Elemental Planes, causing widespread destruction. The Ashari formed a pact to split their society into four groups to seal these portals. While most were healed and closed, four portals remained, one for each of the Elemental Planes, and the Ashari tribes settled near them to keep guard over the portals.[9]

In 843 PD, the Cult of the Dark Heart, an "rogue faction" of the Ashari tribe based in Issylra[10] and who sabotaged an elemental rift near Terrah.[11]

Culture[edit | edit source]

The Ashari are, for the most part, insular, living in remote areas and only occasionally interacting with the outside world or even each other.[12][13] Their tribes are made up of a diversity of races;[14] in Tal'Dorei, genasi are most often found among the Ashari rather than common society.[15]

The Earth Ashari are mistrustful of the dwarves of Kraghammer, who constantly disregard their warnings about reckless mining and whose arrogance during the last eruption of the Terrah rift (before 812 PD) led to earthquakes and the collapse of an entire mountain.[1]

The Ashari greet each other with the word "Kaitiakè" (meaning respect, guardian, keeper) as a sort of salute.[16] Other possible greetings include, "The Wildmother sees you" and "Your actions bring forth light".[17]

Religion[edit | edit source]

Not all Ashari necessarily follow or worship deities.[2] Some have a more animistic faith, revering the elements themselves, and some, like Keyleth at the beginning of her journey, are mistrustful of or disinterested in the gods.[2][18] Some Ashari worship Melora and Kord,[19] but they take caution with anyone who worships a non-nature-aligned deity—especially Erathis, despite her relationship with Melora.[1] The Ashari in Zephrah often favor Melora, those in Pyrah favor Pelor, those in Vesrah favor Sehanine, and those in Terrah favor Moradin.[2]

Elemental influence[edit | edit source]

In their role as guardians of the Elemental Planes portals, the Ashari have developed deep connections to their respective elements that influence each tribe. Their leaders are usually skilled in druidic or other nature magics, but their societies also include a variety of professions and classes aside from druids.[5] Their colors, materials, and other aspects of their culture take inspiration from the four base elements: members of Fire Ashari tip their arrows with volcanic glass,[20] Derrig of the Air Ashari had a tattoo of clouds,[21] as well as wearing blue clothes often seen on members of the air tribe. Their concordance with elemental powers also influenced them to create unique magic items to ease their adaptation with elemental landscape around the rifts: earthboard, flamefriend lantern, oceanic weapon, and skysail. These items are kept secret by their creators and are rarely given to people not of the Ashari. To extract their full potential, an unaffiliated individual should undergo a 24-hours worth of special training from an Ashari familiar with the item's use.[22]

Aramenté[edit | edit source]

Once in every generation, in each of the four tribes, a member is chosen to set out on an Aramenté,[23][24] or "Noble Odyssey". During this journey, this Ashari member seeks out each of the other tribes and ventures through the portals they guard. Upon completion of this journey, the empowered Ashari member's lifespan increases significantly[25][26] and becomes the elemental master of their respective tribe, and the elder retires.[27] If failed, the participant cannot undergo the Aramente again.[28] The person chosen for an Aramenté is usually—but not necessarily—a druid or nature cleric[5] and, classically, chosen from the relatives to one of the current Ashari leaders. The participants can refuse the nomination.[28]

Tribes[edit | edit source]

Air Ashari[edit | edit source]

The Air Ashari guard the portal to the Elemental Plane of Air in Zephrah and watch over the Frostweald. The title given to the headmaster of the Air Ashari is "Voice of the Tempest."[29][2]

This tribe lacked a headmaster for some years. Keyleth's mother, Vilya, was set to become headmaster and had embarked on her Aramenté, but never returned. Korrin, Keyleth's father, served as acting leader of the Air Ashari in the interim.[1][30]

After years passed with no word from Vilya, Keyleth finally set off on her own Aramenté. She would eventually complete the task that her mother could not, earning the title of "Voice of the Tempest."[31] Keyleth returned to Zephrah and took her place as headmaster there.[32]

Despite limited interaction with the outside world and with the other Ashari, Korrin led a contingent to aid the Fire Ashari in re-sealing the rift created by Thordak's escape.[33] He also led a military force of Air Ashari providing air support to Fort Daxio's forces during the siege of Emon. [34][35]

Earth Ashari[edit | edit source]

Official art of Terrah, by Kent Davis.[art 2]

Terrah is the home of the Earth Ashari[36]. and of the portal to the Elemental Plane of Earth. They are led by Headmaster Pa'tice, the Heart of the Mountain.[1]

The Earth Ashari were the first tribe that Keyleth visited on her Aramenté.[37] She performed a task for them in the Earth Plane[38] but was not fully successful.[39] One of the aspects of the task involved the consumption of oloore root tea, which initiates a vision quest for the drinker.[40]

Fire Ashari[edit | edit source]

The Fire Ashari live in Pyrah and guard the portal to the Elemental Plane of Fire. When Vox Machina encountered them, they were led by Headmaster Cerkonos, the Flamespeaker.[41]

Keyleth, along with the rest of Vox Machina, visited the Fire Ashari as part of her Aramenté in 810 PD.[42] There, they journeyed through the portal to complete a task in the Fire Plane. On completion, Keyleth was given a spark stone by Cerkonos as a token of her success.[43]

After Vox Machina left, the Fire Ashari were devastated by the ancient red dragon, Thordak, on his escape from the Fire Plane into the Material Plane.[44] Many members of their tribe were killed, and Cerkonos lost an arm.[45] As elementals and other creatures from the Fire Plane began escaping through the rift that Thordak left open, Vox Machina, along with Gern Blanston and a contingent from the Air Ashari, helped the Fire Ashari to re-seal the rift.[46]

Official art of Lorkathar in Flamereach Grove, by Bryan Syme.[art 3]

The elite elementalists of the Pyrah are called firetamers. A half-orc named Lorkathar leads a group of firetamers and other elemental specialists at the makeshift Flamereach Outpost on the outskirts of Emon; there they watch over the Scar of the Cinder King, which had not been fully healed as of 842 PD.[47][48] After a period of the rift being relatively well-controlled, there was a flare-up in late 842 PD; several firetamers were killed in a coordinated attack,[49] and a short time later a massive, ashen plateau suddenly rose near Flamereach Outpost.[50]

Water Ashari[edit | edit source]

The Water Ashari live in Vesrah,[51] where they guard the portal to the Elemental Plane of Water. They are led by Headmaster Uvenda, the Heart of the Tides.[52]

Some of the Ashari of Vesrah are waveriders, who patrol the seas and rescue sailors from storms, monsters, and pirates. Waveriders can communicate with aquatic animals and plants, and can wildshape into a giant octopus or hunter shark.[53]

Visiting the Water Ashari was the third and final task of Keyleth's Aramenté. There, she journeyed with Vox Machina into the Water Plane to collect lodestones from a kraken, nearly losing several members of the party in the process.[54] Upon their return, Uvenda confessed that perhaps the task had become too dangerous and agreed to reconsider it for the future. Keyleth was then granted the 9th-level spell Shapechange by Uvenda in celebration of her success.[55]

Etymology[edit | edit source]

The word "Ashari" can be found in many languages with a multitude of meanings, including: sunrise, innate will, torchbearer, and gardener.[17]

Trivia[edit | edit source]

  • In the non-canon "Trinket's Honey Heist" (OSx18), the Fire Ashari have a cultural dance troupe that performs at the Hazel Festival in Westruun in 813 PD. The troupe includes fire breathers and fire spinners doing fire poi.[56]
  • Although the people of Zephrah commonly wear blue clothing, two of the player characters hailing from this city, Keyleth and Orym, wear mostly green and/or orange in their official art.
  • Members of the Ashari do not have a surname (e.g. Keyleth, Orym, Cerkonos, Pa'tice, Uvenda), instead, add the name of the tribe they belong to.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting, p. 31.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting Reborn, Chapter 2: "Allegiances of Tal'Dorei", p. 49.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting, p. 30.
  4. "Aramente to Pyrah" (1x22) at 1:17:27. Keyleth claims that the Ashari as they are today were formed 900-1000 years before the present time, 810 PD.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Matthew Mercer (@matthewmercer) on Twitter: "They are a diverse people! The leaders tend to be druids or nature clerics due to the elemental connection, but many are other classes, farmers, crafters, teachers, etc." (February 10, 2018) — in reply to @ellekam: "@matthewmercer Question... are all Ashari druids? If not, could a sorcerer Ashari become the leader of Pyrah?"
  6. 6.0 6.1 "Aramente to Pyrah" (1x22) at 1:17:27.
  7. "Fire and Ruin" (E3x04) at 3:59:42.
  8. "Blood and Shadow" (E3x03) at 5:17:19.
  9. Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting Reborn, Chapter 2: "Allegiances of Tal'Dorei", p. 48.
  10. "A Desperate Call" (3x36) at 38:26.
  11. "The Aurora Grows" (3x49) at 4:31:00.
  12. Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting, pp. 30–31. "[T]he isolated nature of each tribe [...] much of life within the Ashari is hidden from outsiders' prying eyes. [...] They've come to understand the necessity of good relations with nearby cities, so occasionally members will visit and trade with towns and people near their guarded fane."
  13. "Daring Days" (1x86) from 3:12:55 through 3:17:06. Keyleth says the Vesrah are insular. Pa'tice, headmaster of the Earth Ashari, says he hasn't attended anything with the Water Ashari in a long time.
  14. "The Chapter Closes" (1x115) at 4:13:00. "a dozen Ashari kids, elf, dwarf, orc, many bloods and creeds rush past as they play."
  15. Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting, p. 28.
  16. Marisha Ray (@Marisha_Ray) on Twitter: "@matthewmercer Kaitiakè means respect, guardian, keeper. Sort of the Ashari salute. Also, totally ganked it from the Māori." (March 16, 2017) — in reply to @CaonContinuum: "@matthewmercer @Marisha_Ray So what does Kyatiake (spelling?) actually mean?"
  17. 17.0 17.1 Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting Reborn, Chapter 6: "Allies and Adversaries of Tal'Dorei", p. 227.
  18. Marisha Ray (@Marisha_Ray) on Twitter: "@mikeargueta303 Many Ashari follow Melora as a deity and an example. This isn't news to Keyleth. Her relations w/ gods are just less devout." (October 15, 2016) — in reply to @PickOverlord: "@Marisha_Ray so the Spire of Conflux has a relation to Melora AND the Ashari? It'll be interesting to see how Kiki deals with that fact"
  19. "Aid of the Tempest" (3x66) at 1:06:48.
  20. "Aramente to Pyrah" (1x22) at 2:46:35.
  21. "Dalen's Closet" (OSx33) from 11:44 through 12:25.
  22. Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting Reborn, Chapter 5: "Game Master's Toolkit", p. 198.
  23. Marisha Ray spelled Aramenté with an accented "e": Marisha Ray (@Marisha_Ray) on Twitter: "Aramenté; realized. What a crazy 5 years it's been. #Criticalrole #HuntingtonGardens #DruidNerd https://t.co/S0PuRGBTza" (March 20, 2017).
  24. In the Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting it is spelled without an accent mark. Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting, pp. 30–31.
  25. "Those Who Walk Away..." (1x45) at 1:14:07.
  26. "Hope" (1x56) at 3:07:49.
  27. Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting, pp. 30–31.
  28. 28.0 28.1 "Talks Machina Special #3: Critical Role Campaign 1 Wrap-up" (TMSx03) at 2:45:16.
  29. "Onward to Vesrah" (1x87) at 3:30:47.
  30. "Voice of the Tempest" (1x90) at 3:35:15.
  31. "Voice of the Tempest" (1x90) from 3:34:27 through 3:51:12.
  32. "The Chapter Closes" (1x115) at 4:10:19.
  33. "Cindergrove Revisited" (1x46) at 9:55.
  34. "The Siege of Emon" (1x78) from 1:46:25 through 1:52:29.
  35. "The Siege of Emon" (1x78) at 3:51:46.
  36. Name of the Earth Ashari's home: Marisha Ray (@Marisha_Ray) on Twitter: "Terrah!" (September 12, 2016).
  37. "Aramente to Pyrah" (1x22) at 2:51:55.
  38. "Aramente to Pyrah" (1x22) at 2:56:00.
  39. Marisha Ray (@Marisha_Ray) on Twitter: "I've thought about this a lot, and I think there is something too this. By starting in the middle of Kiki's story, the audience missed a lot of what made her the way she was. Watching Pike die; killing a kid; failing at her first Aramentè task with the Earth Ashari, etc.. (1/2) https://t.co/7QNHIbbbD3" (January 6, 2019) — in reply to @iravixian: "@Marisha_Ray y'kno, I've been thinking about this since between the sheets and how people didn't like keyleth. My thought that her particular character is harder to get to know in the middle of a campaign versus Bou, which we got to know from the start. #showerthoughts"
  40. "Aramente to Pyrah" (1x22) at 2:55:54.
  41. "Aramente to Pyrah" (1x22) at 2:47:29.
  42. "Aramente to Pyrah" (1x22) at 2:51:35.
  43. "Aramente to Pyrah" (1x22) at 4:14:45.
  44. "Desperate Measures" (1x40) at 2:52:24.
  45. "Those Who Walk Away..." (1x45) at 2:47:26.
  46. "Cindergrove Revisited" (1x46) at 3:07:11.
  47. Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting, pp. 127–128. See also pp. 95–96.
  48. "What You Need to Know Before Watching Exandria Unlimited" at CritRole.com
  49. "The Oh No Plateau" (E1x02) at 1:58:48.
  50. "The Oh No Plateau" (E1x02) at 2:16:38.
  51. "Aramente to Pyrah" (1x22) at 4:18:38.
  52. "Daring Days" (1x86) at 3:13:49.
  53. Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting Reborn, Chapter 6: "Allies and Adversaries of Tal'Dorei", p. 228.
  54. "Curious Tides" (1x89) at 14:44. Matt summarizes the difficult battle in the previous episode.
  55. "Curious Tides" (1x89) at 2:05:49.
  56. "Trinket's Honey Heist" (OSx18) at 52:32.

Art:

  1. Official art of symbol of the Ashari, by Conceptopolis from Critical Role: Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting, p. 30. This file is a copyrighted work. Its use in this article is asserted to qualify as fair use of the material under United States copyright law.
  2. Official art of Terrah, by Kent Davis (source). This file is a copyrighted work. Its use in this article is asserted to qualify as fair use of the material under United States copyright law.
  3. Official art of Lorkathar in Flamereach Grove, by Bryan Syme (source). This file is a copyrighted work. Its use in this article is asserted to qualify as fair use of the material under United States copyright law.