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Legends of the Rakastaby Scott Moore
The following is an excerpt from the "Rakasta" entry in the Encyclopaedia Pandius. Other references in parenthesis are assumed to be the names of either additional reference works held in the library at Pandius or other entries in the Encyclopaedia Pandius, which have not been included here.
The intelligent humanoid cat people known as the rakasta are known to exist on several alternate worlds and planes (see the information for "Mystara" and "Thunder Rift" under the "OD&D" entry, as well as the information for "Mystara" under the "AD&D" entry, elsewhere in this collection). In other realms, these creatures are known as rakshasa (see the information for "Greyhawk" and "Faerun" under both the "AD&D" and "d20" entries elsewhere in this collection). It is quite possible that one of these observed locations is the original source for these cat folk and that they have somehow learned to cross the borders between planes or alternate realities and populate other realms. Over time, the name for their race became corrupted from one form to the other, but which term was the creature's original preferred name for themselves no one seems to remember. The Thunder Rift rakasta readily admit that they come from "elsewhere" and that they are not native that realm (see TSR's 9435, Rage of the Rakasta).
Legends of such creatures have existed since back in the time of the Wilderlands, which existed to the southwest of ancient Blackmoor, when the cat folk were rumoured to have made a pact with the dwarves of the Starrcrag Mountains in order to use a secret portal hidden deep within the gold mines there. According to legend, an entire race of cat folk used the portal to leave the Wilderlands, never to return. Why they would choose to do so has been the subject of much conjecture, with one of the more accepted theories being that diviners among the cat folk may have had some sort of premonition of the coming Rain of Fire and believed that leaving that world would be the only way to save their race from the coming destruction.
The famous Cat's Eye Ring, one of their culture's most famous artifacts, accompanied them when they left. Many treasure seekers, however, continued to explore the caverns of the Starrcrag Mountains for years afterwards, hoping to discover the ring rumoured to have been "lost" there (see page 76 of Judge's Guild's Player's Guide to the Wilderlands).
As to where the cat folk disappeared to when they passed through the portal, there have been several theories:
1) Some believe this may have been the origin of the rakasta that now reside in Thunder Rift. They further suggest that the rakasta of Mystara came from this group, as there is a known Dimensional Pool leading to Mystara 25 miles south of the settlement of Bywater (see TSR's DMR1, Escape From Thunder Rift).
2) Another theory suggests that the creatures travelled to the world of Urban Arcana, which is home to several magical items known as Cat's Eye Rings that may have been created using the original relic as a model (see page 127 of Wizard of the Coast's Urban Arcana Campaign Setting).
3) Yet others contend that the portal may lead to the Isle of Dread in the Thanegioth Archipelago, as a colony of rakasta are known to inhabit that fairly isolated region as well (see TSR's X1, The Isle of Dread).