Gods are foreign beings that look down on high, their boundless power infinite and terrifying - it is in the earth we can trust. It is in Istralar and her children - it is in the avatars that possess the power given by our lives.A world flowing with magic - magic that runs through natural ley-lines like blood through veins and arteries, no less - is one that takes note of its inhabitants. Just as the flora and fauna of Istralar possess life, so too does the world itself, and this life blossoms into form with the birth of nations: into the form of an avatar. An avatar is, in summary, a representation of a group that has become so distinct and unique that the power of their memories, souls, and magic can coalesce into sapience. They are not merely representatives of a country or singular group, instead taking characteristics from the denizens of their land across great swathes of time - the perception that they must be limited to countries is largely due to many close-knit countries across Istralar that cling to one singular cultural norm, and have done so for many years. The Kingdom of the Galasthin Elves, for instance, has persisted for millennia across multiple planets; though the Galasthin avatar has not made themselves publicly known, they are undoubtedly powerful. The powers possessed by each avatar heavily vary, as to be expected. The Tulaant Steppe's warlike avatar has been observed rending terrain and forcing challenges upon his inhabitants and visitors alike; by contrast, the forests of Yksinka often grant travellers safe passage, or ensnare them in trapped vines if they would seek to do harm. If there is a limit on the powers of an avatar, it is undoubtedly tied to their home terrain. Avatars are not typically able to leave their home for long, though joining forces with a mortal of some kind appears to bypass this requirement. Any known attempts to test either theory - that they must return, or that they can avoid doing so with the aid of man - are known thanks to their typically-violent failure; this is the risk of playing with fire.
Relationships with MortalsThough avatars are distinct from most forms of mortal life, that does not mean they must remain separate. Avatars have been known to bless mortals with special powers to aid them in quests beneficial to their domain, such as the case of the Starcrowned. These powers seem to vary greatly on the strength of the bestowing avatar, and if the cause is important enough, may well be augmented by other avatars of neighbouring regions (or in dire cases, even of Istralar herself). They are typically permanent boons, as an avatar's power shapes life and land; by accepting, a mortal grants that avatar the ability to make such an adjustment to them directly. Seeking out an avatar for that purpose has historically been known as a bad idea. Avatars are highly capricious beings that can be as gentle as an angel, or as tricky as any fey or devil. Their boons should be obtained through chance and action, not through intent, unless the situation is serious enough that only a higher power's intervention could save it. Additionally, an avatar is capable of taking control of a mortal. The full extent of this control is not known - the Tulaant Steppe was granted a mortal's full body and soul by a ritual performed by the Starcrowned after the nearby presence of a Shard spurred it to act, but there exist many stories of brief possession - and it has long been theorised that an avatar could save the life of a mortal by merging with them in some regard. If this has occurred, neither avatar nor victim has spoke of it.
We are the land's blood - the magic that flows through its veins. The blood of the dead, the blood of the living, and the blood of those yet to be born!Each personification can change its form at its own whim. Many adopt a humanoid body that mimics the inhabitants of their attached land, but augment these forms as necessary. Some, however, prefer more primeval shapes such as flora, parts of the landscape, or native animals that stalk inhabitants and intruders with ancient power. Iskaldhal's personification is rumoured to be a sleeping mountain (or potentially a range of them), with some theories even stating that the skyward-reaching Kyöpelinvuori is, in fact, the avatar at rest. On the same continent - which is, incidentally, known for its high rate of supernatural activity - the local legends of Myrkalla suggest that their country's avatar manifests from the nature their culture so deeply revolves around, forming leaves and trees into a facsimile of form every time it requires one, and otherwise lingering as a spirit borne by the wind to keep watch over their territory. Many stories of travellers getting lost and finding a guide of some kind - spiritual, or another travelling stranger - are, in fact, the actions of a territory's avatar, despite the belief that these messengers are sent by gods. Divine messengers do exist, but it is far more common for the world to seek to protect her beloved inhabitants.
Genetics and Reproduction
As mentioned, avatars may form from a particularly distinct culture - though they cannot reproduce in any traditional sense, avatars spawned of colonies tend to refer to their people's former homes as siblings or guardian-figures. Parental titles, however, are typically reserved for the planet they dwell upon, and the bond of childhood is typically only used by these planetary avatars - though all usually refer to mortals part of their sphere as their own children as well. Avatars that have taken human form are capable of producing offspring if their body can manage it, though excess augmentation appears to remove this ability from the host.
Perception and Sensory Capabilities
The walls have ears, lass. The walls have ears.An avatar can detect everything happening within its territory at all times, to a level of nuance not understood by mortal men. Druids have previously studied this connection to gain natural understanding of their own, leading to the invention of the spell Commune with Nature.
Protects their territory; immortal until that is lost.
Avatars are not something that should be expected to show up in tales of Istralar, nor can the average adventuring party tell when one interacts with them. The Lost Ones have encountered a number of avatars in their Champion-bound adventures, and have rarely been able to tell at the time of interaction that the being they speak to is more than any man. Indeed, avatars seem to exist somewhat beyond the bounds of standard mortal lives and the rules of adventure.