Aetherborn are a strange living by-product of the process of aether refinement, cast in humanoid form but lacking any of the biological qualities of other races. They don’t eat or sleep, and they don’t reproduce—nor do they have any physical sexual characteristics. Language that categorizes people into male or female categories thus breaks down when it comes to aetherborn. Most aetherborn prefer that others use the pronoun “they” to refer to them, since it doesn’t attribute a gender that they don’t possess. Only a relative few prefer “he” or “she,” having chosen to adopt a gender.

Aetherborn Features

Ability Score Increase. Your Charisma score increases by 2, and two other ability scores of your choice increase by 1.

Age. Aetherborn come into being as adults and live no more than a few years.

Alignment. As a rule, aetherborn are driven by hedonism and self-interest, making them neutral at best and thoroughly evil at worst. Neutral aetherborn might devote much of their time (and wealth) to parties and social activity, while evil aetherborn are usually involved in the criminal underworld.

Size. Aetherborn are about the same size as human, ranging from 5 to 6 feet tall. They are quite light – only about 100 pounds – and their weight diminishes as they age and more and more of their substance returns to the aethersphere. Your size is Medium.

Speed. Your base walking speed is 30 feet.

Darkvision. Accustomed to the night, you have superior vision in dark and dim conditions. You can see in dim light within 60 feet of you as if it were bright light, and in darkness as if it were dim light. You can’t discern color in darkness, only shades of gray.

Born of Aether. You have resistance to necrotic damage.

Menacing. You gain proficiency in the Intimidation skill.

Languages. You can speak, read, and write Common and two other languages of your choice.

Gift of the Aetherborn. An unknown aetherborn, desperately seeking a means to extend their short life, discovered a process of transformation that prolonged their existence—by giving them the ability to feed on the life essence of other beings. Since then, other aetherborn have learned and carried out this monstrous transformation, and aetherborn with this “gift” have become a small minority among an already small population.

A gifted aetherborn has the ability to drain the life essence of other beings. Similar to the way heat is transferred from a warm object to a cold one, a gifted aetherborn need only touch another living being with a clawed hand to draw life essence out, fueling their own continued existence while draining strength and vitality from their victim.

For many aetherborn, living as they do for indulgence and instant gratification, the concepts of “want” and “need” are virtually synonymous. But Aetherborn with this gift understand what it is to truly need, for they develop a hunger for life essence that far exceeds any desires they might have felt before their transformation. A gifted aetherborn who abstains from this feeding deteriorates even more rapidly than other aetherborn, while enduring unspeakable agony caused by the deprivation of life energy.

At the DM’s option, an aetherborn character can research methods of achieving this dark “gift.” The process is similar to inventing and manufacturing a rare magic item (see “Chapter 6 of the Dungeon Master’s Guide”). But rather than aether, the process requires a variety of rare unguents and unusual ingredients that make up the cost of researching and undergoing the transformation.

An aetherborn with this gift gains the Drain Life ability: a natural attack that deals 1d6 necrotic damage and restores the same number of hit points to the aetherborn. However, if the aetherborn goes for 7 days without dealing this damage, their hit point maximum is reduced by 1d6 per week. This reduction can’t be removed until the aetherborn has used their Drain Life ability and completed a long rest.

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