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Origin of the Rakasta

by Giampaolo Agosta

Here are two theories on the origin and diffusion of these feline humanoids, by two scholars with very different points of view.

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I Theory

The origin of Rakasta, excerpt from "An essay on intelligent feline species", by Herr Franz L÷wenroth, Baron of Adlerturm, Klarmont 1003, Glantri

"...as we could verify from accurate interviews of natives of the Khurish Massif, the Rakasta do not have a clear memory of their history, believing to be autochthonous to the mountains they inhabit today. This is all but accurate, as we have been able to establish through the accurate analysis of the Rakastan migratory fluxes that their origins must be located in the southernmost jungles of the continent known as Skothar, which lies in the Far East, beyond the Empire of Alphatia.
We were able to obtain clear evidence of this, thanks to two valiant contributors, who prefer to remain anonymous. They brought from that region the skull of an outstanding specimen of the Rakastan kind, a giant among the felines, whose race is clearly extinct from the most ancient times, as no record of a similar being can be found even in the oldest chronicles of Skothar.
From this primordial progenitor, the mighty Sherkasta came, who ranged far in the eastern regions, reaching the mountains which form an impassable border to the steppes of Skothar. There they thrived, giving birth to new breeds. As they moved northwards and later westwards, these proud felines adapted to the frigid climate of the arctic lands, and the Lynxman was born, a Rakasta able to cross the frozen wastes to the Norwold, were they currently live.
This Lynxman must be, we have no doubt about it, the ancestor of the common Rakasta found here in our mountains, and adapted to a warmer but somewhat drier climate."

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II Theory

The Simbasta, confidential report by Herr Berndt Von Staufenberg, AC 1016, Vanya's Rest.

"...since the last forays of Heldannic explorers in Norwold, we have proof of the existence of Rakastan tribes in Northern Brun. We were already aware of the presence of these felines in Southern Brun and Ochalea, though this information was usually considered useless.
Now, we are able to link all those Rakastan tribes to a single root: the Simbasta of the Davanian Savannah. The lesser breeds of Brun are, apparently, the regressed descendants of the Simbasta. The clue which leads us to this conclusion is a custom deeply rooted in the Simbasta traditions, that is the ousting of known cowards.
We believe that groups of outcast Simbasta, unable to join other prides, due to the Simbastan habit of cutting the cowards' tails, the equivalent of branding among humans, were forced to move outside the borders of the ancestral lands of their kind. There, they had to adapt to different conditions, and some more successful groups were eventually able to survive, acquiring physical forms which resembled their lifestyle and low moral fibre.
Eventually, a growing fear of their former kind pushed these tribes to overcome their innate fear of water, and cross the Sea of Dread to Ochalea and Thanegioth. From there, they moved on to the continent, but were dispersed by the more powerful human tribes."

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Origin of the Rakasta as the Immortals know it

The first Rakasta appeared in the Isle of Cestia, between the Great Rain of Fire and the Varellyan invasion. The tale of their creation by Ka is exposed in "Rakasta of Mystara", by Bruce Heard.
When the Varellyans arrived, the Rakasta breeds had already differentiated enough, with proto-Simbasta (essentially advanced Cave Rakasta) leaving for the western continent of Davania, and proto-Sherkasta (an advanced breed of Rakastodons) navigating through the daedalus of islands north-east of Cestia.
The primitive races still lived on Cestia, but they were hunted to extinction by the Varellyan colonists.

Davanian Migration

This first migration started from the coastal region near Cestia, then it moved to the Meghala Kimata plateau, to the northern regions of Davania and to Ochalea. Meanwhile, wild Rakasta species started appearing in the northern regions, as the offsprings of outcast Simbasta, as explained by Von Staufenberg.
From the Meghala Kimata, the Rakasta moved to Izonda and the Arm of the Immortal. As the northermost species reached the sea, they developed into the domestic and mountain pardasta breeds, which crossed the sea from Ochalea and Northern Davania to Bellayne and the Known World.
A few Davanians crossed the Seas to Bellissaria, and then moved to the Steppes of Jen, where they became the local Fast Runner breeds. The northernmost tribes then mixed with the Skotharian Rakasta coming from Nentsun.

Skotharian Migration

This migration started from the south-western Tangor, then moved north and east. As they reached further, the Rakasta were subjugated by the Rakshasa. At this time, Sherkasta evolved from Rakastodon Fatalis, and struggled to break free from the fiends' control. Rakastodon died out as they were superseded by the more intelligent Sherkasta.
Many weaker Sherkasta, unable to fight the Rakshasa, were pushed north-west, toward Nentsun. From there, the new wild Rakasta moved west, they mixed with a few Davanians coming through the Alphatian lands, and developed into the Lynxman and Snow Pardasta subspecies, who then crossed the frozen seas to Norwold.

The two Theories

Both theories are inherently flawed, in that they miss the dual origin of the modern Rakasta from both the descendants of Ba-stet and Kum-rah, the original Rakasta couple created by the Immortal Ka.

L÷wenroth's theory fails in the end, where it does not explain well the origin of mountain rakasta of Glantri. Moreover, it is unable to explain the origin of western Brun Rakasta, who are clearly unknown to the author.

On the other hand, the second theory describes the Davanian migration, though the Heldannic writer is unaware of the westernmost Rakastan population. The major migratory route was through the Arm of the Immortal, while the Sea of Dread migration was slower, and most Rakasta remained in Ochalea. Also, it fails in explaining the origin of the Lynxmen, who came from northern Skothar.

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Rakastan Bibliography
Bruce Heard, "Rakasta of Mystara, "Dragon Magazine #247, May 1998 David Cook and Tom Moldvay, X1 "Isle of Dread," 1981 Tom Moldvay, X2 "Castle Amber," 1981
Tim Beach and Bruce Heard, "Savage Coast Campaign Book," 1996 --