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All agathions have an animal-like aspect. Some are more humanoid in appearance, while others spend their entire existence in a form nearly identical to that of a true animal. Each type of agathion serves a particular role in Nirvana, and their duties on other planes echo these responsibilities: leonals watch over Nirvana's portals and have a guardian-like aspect in other worlds, draconals carry the wisdom of the ages and observe and guide exceptional mortals, vulpinals are bards and messengers and bear important news to celestial generals and mortal heroes, and so on. Agathions are proud of their feral aspects and don't take kindly to the suggestion that they are cursed folk like lycanthropes or nothing more than magical talking beasts. Every agathion was once a mortal who aspired to goodness and was rewarded in the afterlife with a form suiting her talents and personality; suggesting that an agathion's form is a kind of punishment is a terrible insult.
The following pages describe only a few of the best-known kinds of agathions, but other types exist, corresponding to other conventional animals (bears, dinosaurs, fish, wolves, and so on), with a few having shapes that resemble insects (particularly beetles, butterflies, and mantises); a handful resemble stranger creatures (such as basilisks and owlbears) or unique “animals” native to extreme environments on distant worlds. Certain animals, particularly those associated with scavenging activities (such as hyenas, buzzards, or jackals) or parasitism (like lampreys or ticks) specifically do not have agathions associated with them—these animals are not intrinsically evil, but their habits and ecological niches are far from the noble and proud traditions that most of the souls who seek enlightenment upon Nirvana would associate with themselves.
Individual agathions may be male or female, but they do not reproduce among their own kind—every agathion is a unique individual made from the soul of a good mortal. This does not prevent them from falling in love or having affairs with mortals, and a few aasimar and celestial sorcerer bloodlines derive from past contact with agathions, particularly among communities not averse to anthropomorphic humanoids. Indeed, many mythologies tie numerous races of this kind to the inevitable result of human tribes forming strong emotional attachments to visiting agathions.
Agathions speak Celestial, Draconic, and Infernal, though they can communicate with any intelligent creature because of their truespeech ability. They can also communicate with animals using a similar, silent ability. Even the weakest agathion is able to heal itself or others using a power similar to a paladin's ability to lay on hands. All agathions have a number of similar traits, as detailed in Appendix 3 of this book.
Agathions serving a particular deity or empyreal lord may have additional abilities depending on the role their deity assigns them. For example, a cetaceal serving a goddess of volcanic islands may be able to change shape into a more human-like form to walk on land, and may be immune to fire to tolerate and tend to the life-rich thermal vents at the ocean floor.
Though agathions lack an organized hierarchy, each type of agathion has a few individuals invested with power by the gods of Nirvana or the plane itself. Common agathions look to these exceptional examples for leadership, wisdom, and inspiration; these enlightened folk do not openly claim any responsibilities or rank over their fellows, but welcome the obligations this added power places upon them and do not deny their status or shirk their duties. Part of a category of powerful outsiders known collectively as empyreal lords, these leaders are often significantly larger than common agathions (up to double the normal size, in some cases), and have unusual coloration (such as iron-gray fur) or unique sensory manifestations associated with their presence (such as illusory birds, a constant melody, the scent of oranges, or a calming aura). No agathion fails to recognize their presence when not disguised. Agathion leaders can serve as heralds for deities, although they tend not to encourage religions based on their teachings. The following is but a selection of notable agathion leaders.
Chavod Broken-Spear (cetaceal)
Kelumarion the King Over the Mountain (leonal)
Korada of the Dream Lotus (avoral)
Lady Taramyth the Singing Flame (vulpinal)
Sixlife the Violet Fury (silvanshee)
Walks with Golden Stars (draconal)