Asuras are immortal beings whose origins are rooted in rejection and destruction. They are manifestations of divine accident, living blasphemies risen from mistakes made by the gods themselves. Given horrible life through these unspeakable divine errors, the asuras seek to sow doubt among mortals and ultimately revenge themselves upon the gods for their accursed existences. Most asuras share a cohesive philosophy that culminates in nothing less than the systematic destruction of everything the gods have had a hand in creating. To this end, asuras study and meditate on the nature of creation so that they might better know how the cosmos can be unmade. The simplest among these fiends seek out the pious to torment, as well as holy places and relics to pollute with the taint of loathing and faithlessness. Once the destruction or corruption of a holy place is complete, asuras might take up residence in the area to contemplate what they have wrought and consider future misdeeds. The precise records and histories some temples keep can end up being the undoing of other bastions of faith. Thus, asuras spread.
Asuras have reason to seek places to dwell and brood, for unlike many other outsiders, the asuras have no realm to call their own. While the largest population of them dwells in the vast wildernesses of Hell, these fiends can be found throughout the Great Beyond, living anywhere they can make room for themselves. Asuras spend time plotting and nurturing their vast abhorrence of all things. They perfect arts of war and ruin. Even devils are unsafe in asura domains, because although asuras share the alignment of their hellspawned neighbors, devils are proper creatures of the extant multiverse. So consuming is asura antipathy that devils too must eventually fall for asuras to accomplish their ultimate goal.
Despite their warlike and devastating actions, most asuras have an ascetic quality and great insight into reality. They know a great deal about the cosmos. Further, little in the way of material wealth or comfort can sway them from their goals. An asura might possess treasure, probably pillaged from temples lost to asura raids, and it might have servants to see to its wants and needs. However, it values such aspects of existence only insofar as they help the asura move toward its ends.
Other asuras perfect modes of fighting or act as guardians or even extraplanar mercenaries. Such asuras become instruments of ruin, their presence antithetical to the lives of their enemies, whomever those foes might be. They rarely care whom or what they are hired to battle, so long as they can end the existence of a deity’s work. Asuras often collect and guard treasuries oflooted religious relics, letting such objects serve as bait for pious heroes powerful enough to locate such treasures despite the asuras’ elusive aura. The fiends know the loss of such holy objects often grieves and undermines the beliefs of common members of a faith, and so do all they can to draw out such spiritual suffering. While an asura’s individual incarnations can be slain, these fiends are nearly impossible to destroy permanently. The divine spark in them returns to the presence of mighty asura lords, the asura ranas, in Hell or elsewhere. Within a variable amount of time, usually some multiple of 7 years, a slain asura reincarnates as a weaker asura. A truly devoted asura that died in service to the asura cause might be given its old form at the cost of some of the asura rana’s essence. Reincarnated asuras remember their past lives, their origins, and any enemy who has wronged them, and while their appearances and resources change, their thirst for revenge is eternal.
Rarely, however, contemplation on the nature of the multiverse or a desire for something more than eternal strife causes an asura to choose a different course. Such asuras meditate to become closer to that which they once sought to destroy, purifying themselves of their soul-burning hatred. Redeemed asuras are seldom good or religious, but they do wander the planes, dispensing wisdom and working against wanton destruction. Evil asuras loathe these traitors, and seek them out to destroy them with teeming fervor.
Asuras can grow mighty indeed in their endless cycle of reincarnation. The most powerful among them are the asura ranas who dwell in ruined holy places, abandoned deific domains, or in the wilds of Hell. These potent fiends have unique forms, and can demand anything of lesser members of their race, as they are revered as sages and profane bodhisattvas. They usually dwell in places that allow them to deny devotees of the deities access to holy objects or sites. The following list includes several asura ranas named in myth and tales of woe.
- Andak the Dismembered
- Bohga the Treasurer
- Chugarra the Guru of Butchers
- Chupurvagasti, Lady of Poison Mist
- Gavidya the Numberless
- Hydim of the Eternal Fast
- Ioramvol with the Mouth Full of Boulders
- Maeha, Father of False Worlds
- Onamahli the Twice Pure
- Rahu the Sun Eater
- Rytara, Serpent of the Eastern Eye
- Taraksun, Awakener of Wrath
- Zurapadyn, the Beast Who Waits in Smoke