The asura are a race of diminutive artisans who secretly dwelt below-ground for thousands of years until the minions of the Great Destroyer forced them out of their underground homes 250 years ago. Since then, they have adapted to surface life and quickly established themselves as one of the most powerful races in Tyria.
Selecting an asura character will start players off in the tutorial Explosive Intellect where players stop the golem threat.
During character creation, a player can customize an asura's physical appearance and answer three race specific biography questions which affect their personal story:
- which asuran college they studied at.
- what their first successful experiment was.
- who their first advisor was.
- The asuran home instance is in the Applied Development Lab in Rata Sum.
By human standards, asura are very short. Described as only coming up to the belt of a norn, an asura is usually about four feet tall. They typically have slender builds, with the head, hands, and feet in somewhat exaggerated proportions. The head in particular is a wide, flat ellipsoid whose width is extended further by large ears which usually drop from the sides of the head. Asura eyes are large and come in a variety of colors; their size is the evolutionary result of being a subterranean race. Their mouths are wide and filled with pointed, shark-like teeth. Asura typically have grayish skin and dark hair. Male and female asura are very similar in appearance; they are mostly differentiated by voice and ear structure.
In matters of childbirth and early development, little is known outside of the knowledge that asura give live birth in the same manner as humans. An asura will typically live 5-10% longer than a human.
The asura value intelligence and intellectual superiority over all other attributes. Individual asura will dedicate an entire lifespan to building a portfolio of successful projects or becoming the foremost expert of some tiny aspect of the arcane. They constantly seek to prove their own intellectual superiority, and by extension the superiority of the asura race. This typically results in asura being arrogant to the point of rudeness towards others, especially towards non-asura races. The asura have quickly established their intellectual and magical superiority over the other races and view them as useful primarily for heavy lifting, taking risks, and asking stupid questions.
Asura magical technology is second to none. Their experiments with magic are evident through the impressive floating structures found around and within their cities. Many asura study the difficult art of golemancy, and golems are often used for defense and general work. The golems' complete absence of intelligence and huge size complements the asura perfectly. The asura have also developed and use blasting rods.
The most important contribution of the asura to Tyrian society is the asura gate network which links many of the major cities of Tyria. To maintain this, they have retained a neutral attitude to all races.
Asura have a strong sense of family and extended family, they affectionately refer to their children as “progeny” or “offspring". They also venerate their parents, and grandparents. Asura traditionally cremate their dead.
Asura believe in the Eternal Alchemy - the idea that all beings and magic in the world are a part or function of a greater purpose or "machine". Asuran life is built around the research of the Eternal Alchemy - the asura join one of three massive colleges dedicated to this research. It is believed once complete mastery is gained over the Eternal Alchemy, mastery will be gained over all of Tyria.
The Inquest is a meta-krewe which believes that the Eternal Alchemy could be controlled and manipulated like any other machine. Members of the Inquest thrive on controlling power and knowledge, and their experiments are less ethical and more dangerous than those performed by other asura. They have no qualms about experimentation on sentient beings.
Rather than organized government, the asura prefer to utilize krewes: small, efficient task forces led by the most experienced member, designed to allow any individual asura to reach their maximum potential in any particular task. The asura also have a group known as the Arcane Council who are responsible for the mundane parts of asura city life. The members of this council rotate - membership into this council is granted by performing a task which benefits the asura as a whole. The role is rarely desired as it means an individual asura cannot spend time advancing one's own research.
An asura's name usually consists of a short, sharp first name with one or two syllables. Feminine asura names typically end in -i or -a vowel sounds, and the masculine in a consonant sound. Any asura whose name does not follow these rules may risk ridicule during childhood. Both male and female Asuras typically have two of the same letter in a row somewhere in their name. Asura do not have a last name, instead opting to use job titles, a krewe name, or honorifics to differentiate themselves. Those who choose to take a last name of a style similar to humans are rare and are considered eccentrics, though their surname is often ignored by other asura.
Inventors and builders, the asura care little for history, choosing to use their intellect to look forward rather than to look back. While much is known of asura culture and attitudes, little is known about the race before their surfacing outside of their regular contact with other underground races such as the dwarves and the dredge. When they were driven out as Primordus' minions appeared from deep underground, the majority made a home among the magical ruins found on the Tarnished Coast where they quickly learned how to harness the magical energies to advance their research.
Over the years the asura have increased their network of gates across Tyria, but they zealously guard their advancements and enforce gate use for peaceful activities only.