Do you want to play a bird character? Do you want to be able to fly over the hot sands of Athas, casting your shadow over those who can only only squint in response?
Do you make lots of Skeksis fan fiction?
Then Aaracokra are the bird race for you! These are just some assorted ideas I had that I think would make them a much stronger addition to Dark Sun.
Ever see the palaces of the Inca? Look them up. They are ideal as not only Aaracokra living places, but Dark Sun. These magnificent structures were made with no beasts of burden and no metal tools. In comparison to the Inca, the aaracokra would actually have a much easier time with divine, arcane and psionic abilities. Though their body plan would not work well with traditional human techniques of constructions.
Also a great deal of the Incan architecture was meant to take advantage of the movement of the sun, moon and stars. Sounds to be of interest to bird people to me!
By the way these could work has either ancient ruins or functioning settlements.
Anyone wanting to play an aaracokra would do well to consider any feats or skills related to flying of course. However when do you think about javelins. I think giving them a cultural significance would be a great idea. This is an idea that I think should ride a balance between swords and lances. What do I mean by that? Swords were historically regarded as valuable. They were status symbols, lovingly made and cared for, sometimes even considered art. In contrast, lances were meant to be disposable. They were treated like long sharpened sticks. I read accounts of knights bragging about how many lances they broke in a single tournament.
I can imagine aaracokra families have their own very specific designs. Taking pride in their design and tolerating no infringement! While loosing them in combat would be expected, returning the shafts after a battle would be certainly welcome in resource starved Athas.
The greater part of Aarakocra are wild, barbarians. Only one point is knowed, as place of civilizated Aarakocra - Winter Nest. How this city look. Ruled by Traaka - she is pro-isolationist politican.
So first point - end of Traaka rule. Isolationists tend to block development, modernization etc. Reconstruction of Winter Nest in quasi-incan style can have place only after collapse of isolationists option. Also other big changes of common sense of Silvaraak can have place after this.
In religion sphere - the greater problem is fact, that silvaraak have main elemental priests of air. And they still should be main cultists of air element - big birds need wind to fly. Aarakocra love freedom, open spaces and flying is the big atribute of this. Transformation, IMO, isn’t possible. Maybe maybe as some SK (or similar being) create new myth and big control over winds… Return. Big power of Sun should mean situation, where lack stable, normal and regular winds. Even now, in many sunny places, with winds we have 2 situations - lack of wind or violent wind. This isn’t good situations to fly.
Next point should be rethinking - where can be created new colonies and how this will have interactions with others aarakocras, humanoinds, sentients races and other beings in wild places. I think, that some colonies have chances to survive, and this can be source to next big step on evolution of silvaraaks - from culture to civilization.
Spears. and any variants, were the most important weapon, with the longest history, in warfare in history of humankind. Do this have place in war homo sapiens vs homo neanderthalensis; do this was pre-napoleonian wars - spears were used. Why? Distance - you can hit enemy, when they (with shorter weapon) cannot hit you. Spears are, by mass media and modern culture, underrated weapon. During pike-and-shot pikes ofter were destroyed in fight, and soldiers were forced to using secondary weapons - often rapier.
Lances of knights, as super-heavy weapon, had to broken during contant, if hit was good. During knight tournament, in duel with lances (IDK formal name), if both players still was on horse (lack of KO), points were calculed by “how long part of lance was broken - longer was better”. Kinetic energy of knight and horse was great, and hit with other armored object. In second, third or later charges cavlaries change lances (cuz every was broken) to eg. estok or koncerz. This still was good to charge with hit in point, but power were lesser in compare to normal lances.
Return to aarakocra warfares. Primary quest - do this bird-race should have connected hands with wings (like in older editions) or free (like in 5ed)?
Free hands mean easy broke fight style - bow and shooting, next run and hiding for new arrows and return to fignt. Other form wouldn’t be rational to this type of being. But what if we use more problematic circumstances of the possibility of commencing the flight (knowed in 3.5ed or 2ed + athasian problem connected with climate)? This can open new way.
If hands are connected with wings this open other way of warfare. You have to used legs so you cannot using bows and other ranged weapons (exception - throwing). Throwing weapons are very limited in compare to other ranged weapons. So the most important would be throwing - javelins, stones, pots, bones - whatever what will be hard. This also can be connected with problems “how, when, where you can fly”. Because in this situation aarakocra need othen landings this mean, that it will be more necessary to switch to melee combat while maintaining the air position (in compare to option wiht “free hands”).
Similar with magic. With free hands and “hands are with winds” this also have great influence in this sphere of warfare.
We also should remember, that athasian aarakocra are more similar to vulture than to eagle (like aarakocra for 5ed). So maybe a revision of the diving flight concept would be a good idea? Something more for vulture… But what…