Did we ever figure out where Samsarans come from?


Lost Omens Campaign Setting General Discussion


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

We know that Samsarans give birth to humans, and those humans can sometimes be reincarnated as Samsarans. But who gives birth to the reincarnated Samsarans? Humans?


Kami in the form of storks? Well, Samsarans do smell like pickles...

Paizo Employee Creative Director

No one gives birth to a "reincarnated Samsaran."

All samsarans are the result of reincarnations. Samsaran children exist when something else dies and is reincarnated into a samsaran child body.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
James Jacobs wrote:

No one gives birth to a "reincarnated Samsaran."

All samsarans are the result of reincarnations. Samsaran children exist when something else dies and is reincarnated into a samsaran child body.

So the samsaran child just materializes somewhere, fully formed?

Ah, you know, I think I'm conflating the Pathfinder definition of reincarnation, as described by the reincarnate spell, with the real-world definition of reincarnation, which usually implies that the spirit is literally born back into the world.

Is that the case, James?


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I think that there's some confusion over the OP's use of the term "reincarnated samsarans."

Here's my understanding:

Sometimes humans are reincarnated (naturally, without the use of the reincarnate spell). When this happens, they're reincarnated by being born as the samsaran child of a human couple - that is, the baby that comes from the mother's womb is samsaran.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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Michael Gentry wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:

No one gives birth to a "reincarnated Samsaran."

All samsarans are the result of reincarnations. Samsaran children exist when something else dies and is reincarnated into a samsaran child body.

So the samsaran child just materializes somewhere, fully formed?

Ah, you know, I think I'm conflating the Pathfinder definition of reincarnation, as described by the reincarnate spell, with the real-world definition of reincarnation, which usually implies that the spirit is literally born back into the world.

Is that the case, James?

Yeah... the reincarnation going on with the samsaran race (which also happens to other spirits who come back as wildly different things) is NOT the same as the reincarnate spell. Two different things. When we talk specifically about the druid spell, we italicize it.

And yeah... the samsaran child materializes somewhere, fully formed. At what age is variable... might be an infant, might be a teenager, might be in between. Some of them probably die fast, to be honest... but also a fair amount just naturally incarnate in areas where samsarans are common, as if the presence of many samsarans acts as a sort of magnet for a reincarnating samsaran soul.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
James Jacobs wrote:


And yeah... the samsaran child materializes somewhere, fully formed. At what age is variable... might be an infant, might be a teenager, might be in between. Some of them probably die fast, to be honest... but also a fair amount just naturally incarnate in areas where samsarans are common, as if the presence of many samsarans acts as a sort of magnet for a reincarnating samsaran soul.

Now I get it. Thanks!


James Jacobs wrote:
And yeah... the samsaran child materializes somewhere, fully formed. At what age is variable... might be an infant, might be a teenager, might be in between. Some of them probably die fast, to be honest... but also a fair amount just naturally incarnate in areas where samsarans are common, as if the presence of many samsarans acts as a sort of magnet for a reincarnating samsaran soul.

And then the storks come and take the newly incarnated Samsaran child to its adoptive Samsaran parents, right?

Silver Crusade

So a Samsaran reincarnates anywhere from a child to a teenager. How much knowledge do they actually possess at this point? Would they possess basic linguistic skills from their previous life allowing them to communicate, as well as a basic understanding of social topics? Or is their mind a blank slate like newborn? Or somehwere in between?

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Xzaral wrote:
So a Samsaran reincarnates anywhere from a child to a teenager. How much knowledge do they actually possess at this point? Would they possess basic linguistic skills from their previous life allowing them to communicate, as well as a basic understanding of social topics? Or is their mind a blank slate like newborn? Or somehwere in between?

They retain enough of their previous live's memories to function as a "blank slate" of their new reincarnated age, but as if they'd progressed naturally to that age as regards communication skills and maturity. No real memories of their own, but they can speak and function normally for a person at that age.

Liberty's Edge

This whole reincarnation thing feels so contrived and confusing to me. I feel like it would be easier to just say they're born to human parents and samsaran children are typically taken away to be raised properly. Simple and no weird logic issues anywhere.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Alice Margatroid wrote:
This whole reincarnation thing feels so contrived and confusing to me. I feel like it would be easier to just say they're born to human parents and samsaran children are typically taken away to be raised properly. Simple and no weird logic issues anywhere.

Removing the reincarnation element from the samsaran race also, in my opinion, robs the race of its primary theme and "claim to fame." Without it... they're just weird blue people.

Reincarnation is a significant part of many Asian beliefs, and as such I wanted to make sure that it had an equally significant role in Tian Xia. If the samsaran's association with reincarnation causes that much of a problem, my advice would be to simply cut them from your campaign, honestly.

Liberty's Edge

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I don't mean removing the reincarnation thing. They'd still be reincarnated souls, with memories of their past lives and such. But randomly reappearing somewhere as a little kid or teenager is pretty weird (and doesn't seem to be like the Asian-style reincarnation ar all anyway!) And it's fraught with a thousand questions in my mind where this race just doesn't make sense.

Being born to anyone, anywhere, being not the beautiful child you expected but a strange wide-eyed blue baby, perhaps even being able to speak from birth (or at least very early), having strange memories and dreams and knowledge that there is no way of them to have known otherwise... this to me makes sense and meshes with actual Asian religions. And isn't removing ther schtick at all. And also doesn't involve some bizarre manner of them just poofing into existance.

How come their LG patron god doesn't care about a bunch of his own race dying because they got reincarnated into the middle of the Valashmai Jungles or in the oni land?

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Alice Margatroid wrote:

I don't mean removing the reincarnation thing. They'd still be reincarnated souls, with memories of their past lives and such. But randomly reappearing somewhere as a little kid or teenager is pretty weird (and doesn't seem to be like the Asian-style reincarnation ar all anyway!) And it's fraught with a thousand questions in my mind where this race just doesn't make sense.

Being born to anyone, anywhere, being not the beautiful child you expected but a strange wide-eyed blue baby, perhaps even being able to speak from birth (or at least very early), having strange memories and dreams and knowledge that there is no way of them to have known otherwise... this to me makes sense and meshes with actual Asian religions. And isn't removing ther schtick at all. And also doesn't involve some bizarre manner of them just poofing into existance.

How come their LG patron god doesn't care about a bunch of his own race dying because they got reincarnated into the middle of the Valashmai Jungles or in the oni land?

Part of being a Samsaran is forging your soul through adversity and trial over the course of multiple, perhaps hundreds, of incarnations. For some, that means going though a lot of short childhoods. And they don't normally get reincarnated in super remote areas like Valashmai... again... when they DO incarnate, regions of heavy samsaran settlement act sort of like "soul magnets" and draw the incarnation close, so they manifest relatively near areas where other samsarans will be able to help... or at the very least where other humanoids might be able to help.

It's certainly the race in the book that most needs more than a single page of flavor text, though; as I mentioned earlier, it was EASILY the toughest one to fit onto a single page.

Dark Archive

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If the 'kids appearing' thing doesn't work aesthetically, it's easy enough to say that Samsaran women don't get pregnant unless A) they are trying to do so and B) an appropriate spirit is waiting to reincarnate, and that their little blue babies are the reincarnations of other individuals. Or the 'Samsaran babies are born to other races, and then brought to the nearest Samsaran to be dropped off' idea.

A whole raft of Samsaran specific traits related to having been reborn from another species, could be funky. A former Tengu soul, reborn as a Samsaran, might retain a single martial sword proficiency (or exotic sword proficiency, if he starts the game already having all martial proficiencies, as a Ranger or something), or a gift for languags, for example.

On the other hand, the 'appearing kids' concept has potential as well. There might be certain specific areas where children are more likely to appear, like sacred caves, or spirit-infested glades in the woods, or whatever. Some might be found floating on giant lily pads in the middle of a special pool, or even pull their way from oversized pods grown from a rare tree. Those locations would be monitored around the clock by adult Samsarans, who watch out for them (and send explorers around the various surrounding nations, to locate any such 'birthing places' that they haven't already secured).

The location of a Samsaran's 'birth' might also give rise to special traits. One that was dragged into a Samsaran community by a fox might have different traits than one that bubbled up from a sacred hot mineral spring in the mountains.

Maybe all sorts of options happen;

Some Samsarans are born to Samsaran parents (and are still reincarnated souls).

Some Samsarans are born to non-Samsaran parents (and are raised by their birth parents, which might be kinda funky if 'mom and dad' where Nagaji or something!).

Some Samsarans just appear in certain places, probably watched over by adult Samsarans, and quickly are bundled up and taken to a home.

Some unlucky Samsarans just appear in *random* places (and the vast majority of them are eaten by wild animals or die of exposure within the next minutes or hours).

Shadow Lodge Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 8

Set wrote:

The location of a Samsaran's 'birth' might also give rise to special traits. One that was dragged into a Samsaran community by a fox might have different traits than one that bubbled up from a sacred hot mineral spring in the mountains.

Sounds like a great way to tie in a Samsaran Sorcerer's bloodline, or an Oracle's mystery.

Dark Archive

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Benchak the Nightstalker wrote:
Set wrote:

The location of a Samsaran's 'birth' might also give rise to special traits. One that was dragged into a Samsaran community by a fox might have different traits than one that bubbled up from a sacred hot mineral spring in the mountains.

Sounds like a great way to tie in a Samsaran Sorcerer's bloodline, or an Oracle's mystery.

Ooh, good catch.

A Samsaran child born to another race might also explain an unusual critter bloodline. A Samsaran child with the Draconic Sorcerer bloodline might have battered his way out of a dragon's egg as a child, to the surprise of his 'mother,' who arranged for her minions to go leave the little blue-skinned mammal on someone's doorstep.

A Samsaran who was found floating in a tidal pool in a seaside cave could have a natural tendency for the Waves domain as an Oracle, while one found among the bones of a 'sky burial' in the mountains might be suited for Wind or Bones.

It's mildly ironic that this particular flavor works so well for Sorcerers and Oracles, while Charisma is the one mental attribute that Samsarans don't have a strong leaning towards... :)

Still, a wizard with an elemental school, witch with a nature-y patron, or cleric or druid with air/earth/water/fire/weather/animal/plant domains could match up flavor and mechanics this way.

Liberty's Edge

Yet again Set arrives with the most amazingly creative ideas. You're great. I'd totally be okay with (some) Samsaran poofing into existance if things were that variable and cool. :)


So the samsaran child appears fully formed, as a teenager?
teenager as in 15 or teenager as in 60 (the samsaran equivalent of 15).

Grand Lodge

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Children appearing out of nowhere sounds like one of the least otherwordly things that happens in the Forest of the Kami.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

June Vance 17 wrote:

So the samsaran child appears fully formed, as a teenager?

teenager as in 15 or teenager as in 60 (the samsaran equivalent of 15).

Or younger. It varies on a case by case basis.


I thought of something today i thought i would add to this. Since it covers the whole Re-incarnation thing.

So, If Bob Dies and a Druid casts Reincarnation on him (the spell) and he is Reincarnated as a Samsarang... when he dies later does he then get braught into the whole Samsarang reincarnation thing? Technically his soul isnt that of a Samsarang. But i think Game mechanically he techncally would be reincarnated int he spiritual sense..

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Mojorat wrote:

I thought of something today i thought i would add to this. Since it covers the whole Re-incarnation thing.

So, If Bob Dies and a Druid casts Reincarnation on him (the spell) and he is Reincarnated as a Samsarang... when he dies later does he then get braught into the whole Samsarang reincarnation thing? Technically his soul isnt that of a Samsarang. But i think Game mechanically he techncally would be reincarnated int he spiritual sense..

That'd depend on the cosmic balance of souls and the fickle fortunes of karma.


Bumping this for extreme usefulness (thanks JJ)!


I've decided to play a Samsaran in my groups upcoming Wrath of the Righteous campaign and this thread has been ridiculously helpful! Thank you James Jacobs.


Just read through the Samsaran entry of Bestiary 4 and I'm confused. I thought that a Samasaran was a soul that had been reincarnated multiple times as different things and the Samsaran form was one that comes into being after they are getting close to enlightenment. Bestiary 4 just notes them as a race that respawns over and over again.

This is problematic because a campaign I'm running has a subplot involving a samsaran who was someone important (someone human) in another life, and this Samsaran life is one of her most recent incarnations where she gets the ability to ultilize what she knows of herself.


Cool. This helps for my background.


Sorry for the Necro, but I have a question regarding Samsarans, and this was the 'most recent' thread I could find.

Exactly how much of a time 'window' does one have between when a Samsaran dies and is reincarnated? Is it an instantaneous event, or could a Samsaran's compatriots still have a chance to get the character Raised or Resurrected?


I would hope the standard two week window still applies. Otherwise you'd have the very strange case of the only race from an in-world perspective to routinely be able to come back from the dead being the one race from a mechanical perspective where you're forced to bring in a new character to replace them.


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I suppose it is a matter of defining exactly what 'when they die' entails; if that is intended to mean 'dead beyond normal means of being raised', etc., or if that means 'when they are dead, ie., beyond stabilization and heal spells'.

I can imagine a situation where the party has to scramble to get the funds together and find a priest, only to have their dead comrade go 'poof!' two minutes before the spell is cast... "Oh, snap! Quick, someone go find the blue baby! He's gotta be around here somewhere!"


I'm guessing there'd also be some element of choice, i.e. if a samsaran adventurer knows there's a reasonable chance that his party will try to bring him back, he'll make some effort to delay the natural reincarnation process.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber
James Jacobs wrote:
Alice Margatroid wrote:

I don't mean removing the reincarnation thing. They'd still be reincarnated souls, with memories of their past lives and such. But randomly reappearing somewhere as a little kid or teenager is pretty weird (and doesn't seem to be like the Asian-style reincarnation ar all anyway!) And it's fraught with a thousand questions in my mind where this race just doesn't make sense.

Being born to anyone, anywhere, being not the beautiful child you expected but a strange wide-eyed blue baby, perhaps even being able to speak from birth (or at least very early), having strange memories and dreams and knowledge that there is no way of them to have known otherwise... this to me makes sense and meshes with actual Asian religions. And isn't removing ther schtick at all. And also doesn't involve some bizarre manner of them just poofing into existance.

How come their LG patron god doesn't care about a bunch of his own race dying because they got reincarnated into the middle of the Valashmai Jungles or in the oni land?

Part of being a Samsaran is forging your soul through adversity and trial over the course of multiple, perhaps hundreds, of incarnations. For some, that means going though a lot of short childhoods. And they don't normally get reincarnated in super remote areas like Valashmai... again... when they DO incarnate, regions of heavy samsaran settlement act sort of like "soul magnets" and draw the incarnation close, so they manifest relatively near areas where other samsarans will be able to help... or at the very least where other humanoids might be able to help.

It's certainly the race in the book that most needs more than a single page of flavor text, though; as I mentioned earlier, it was EASILY the toughest one to fit onto a single page.

Have you looked at the Ariane of Talislanta? Reincarnation is a central part of their being as well. In fact they judge each other as "young" or "mature" by the number of incarnations each has lived through. The other special thing about them is that they don't use names. They know who they are.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

So why do Samasarans give birth to humans and not any other race?

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber
Mechalibur wrote:
So why do Samasarans give birth to humans and not any other race?

Presumably because Human is what they are closest to? It's possible that the origins of the race are tied to Humanity.


My wild hypothesis is that the population of "humans" that spontaneously appeared in Tian Xia after Earthfall, believed to be the reincarnated Azlanti, were in fact reincarnated as the first samsarans and the Tian humans descend from their children.


I'm with whoever up top. 'reincarnation' to me really does not equate to 'children popping from nowhere'.

My fav example of reincarnation comes from the Sandman spinoff: 'Death: The High Cost of Living'. Basically, a girl who happens to look a bit like Death (sort of a goth girl thing), and who doesn't apparently have parents that will miss her 'incarnates' as 'Death-as-a-human', which is different from 'Death-as-an-Endless' (ie no magic powers, really). In other words, at that point in her life, she knew she was Death. And she was.

So, to the spell reincarnate. If you cast it on a dead body, there's this hobgoblin (or what have you) who was a lot like you, who just happened to be walking around, and instantly knows they are so-and-so reincarnated. They always were that person. If you don't cast that spell? The hobgoblin was never there.

In this system, being a samsaran is a lot like being a tiefling. Maybe you were born as a normal baby, but instead of growing horns and a tail, you just turn blue instead.

Someone casts reincarnate on a dead samsaran? Beats me: I guess that hobgoblin tears his skin off a la Xykon tu reveal a blue guy underneath.

It's gotta be a really weird department at the Boneyard that handles back-in-time soul shunting...


ohako wrote:
I'm with whoever up top. 'reincarnation' to me really does not equate to 'children popping from nowhere'.

Well, (all arguments regarding real-world beliefs concerning Reincarnation & the spell Reincarnate aside), JJ did state quite clearly:

The Most Honorable Sir James Jacobs wrote:
the samsaran child materializes somewhere, fully formed. At what age is variable... might be an infant, might be a teenager, might be in between.

And if I recall correctly, he is the 'inventor' of the Samsaran race, so I would take his voice on this to be the authority. If it doesn't match real-world reincarnation, so what? This is Fantasy. Anything can happen, even blue babies popping out of nowhere. Hardly the strangest thing going on in Golarion!

ohako wrote:
It's gotta be a really weird department at the Boneyard that handles back-in-time soul shunting...

Do we even know with any certainty that Samsarans even show up in the Boneyard? Perhaps there is some kind of ancient blessing/curse haunting this race, which denies them the peace of everlasting repose in the afterlife...


Pathfinder Companion, Maps Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Having Samsarans pop up somewhere out of nothing as non-infants eliminates the problems that would be created by having them born into human families and taking 60+ years to mature -- so we finally have a race for which that particular aging pattern makes sense.


Pathfinder Companion, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Changing Man wrote:

Sorry for the Necro, but I have a question regarding Samsarans, and this was the 'most recent' thread I could find.

Exactly how much of a time 'window' does one have between when a Samsaran dies and is reincarnated? Is it an instantaneous event, or could a Samsaran's compatriots still have a chance to get the character Raised or Resurrected?

I believe James Jacobs has said that samsarans get in line with everyone else to be judged by Pharasma, but instead of going on to an afterlife, if they've maintained the proper balance, they're reincarnated as another samsaran...or finally move on after achieving perfect enlightenment...or get reborn as something else if they didn't maintain overall balance. So, I'd guess it's pretty much the same general time limit everyone has for being brought back...unless the DM wants to do something special, anyways.


This is a concept that is supposed to sound cool I guess.

But as a parent say a father, what are you supposed to do thank the Samsaran?

"Thank you O Samsaran, for coming in place of the child that I was to have. What happened to HIS soul by the way? Did he never happen? By the way, I'm curious, was I essential to this process? Obviously you needed a womb for gestation, but did you need my contribution? Could you have used any available virgin perhaps?

Thank you Samasaran, thank you so very much for inflicting... I mean blessing us with your presence."

Whole thing just sounds kind of funny if you think about it a certain way.


sunbeam wrote:

This is a concept that is supposed to sound cool I guess.

But as a parent say a father, what are you supposed to do thank the Samsaran?

"Thank you O Samsaran, for coming in place of the child that I was to have. What happened to HIS soul by the way? Did he never happen? By the way, I'm curious, was I essential to this process? Obviously you needed a womb for gestation, but did you need my contribution? Could you have used any available virgin perhaps?

Thank you Samasaran, thank you so very much for inflicting... I mean blessing us with your presence."

Whole thing just sounds kind of funny if you think about it a certain way.

I'm not certain I understand what you mean, since it has already been established up-thread that Samsarans are the result of their own form of Reincarnation, and not via conventional birth. Or did I miss something somewhere?


Okay I missed that.

I was thinking like any child born had a small chance of being a Samsaran.

My mistake.

Sovereign Court Contributor

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Changing Man wrote:
sunbeam wrote:

This is a concept that is supposed to sound cool I guess.

But as a parent say a father, what are you supposed to do thank the Samsaran?

"Thank you O Samsaran, for coming in place of the child that I was to have. What happened to HIS soul by the way? Did he never happen? By the way, I'm curious, was I essential to this process? Obviously you needed a womb for gestation, but did you need my contribution? Could you have used any available virgin perhaps?

Thank you Samasaran, thank you so very much for inflicting... I mean blessing us with your presence."

Whole thing just sounds kind of funny if you think about it a certain way.

I'm not certain I understand what you mean, since it has already been established up-thread that Samsarans are the result of their own form of Reincarnation, and not via conventional birth. Or did I miss something somewhere?

As an adoptive father I feel it would be awesome if Samsarans appeared to families and individuals who were unable to have children (same-sex, multi-species, infertility, singletons, whatever) in response to prayers to Pharasma (who, is, after all, the goddess of childbirth).


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If it helps, in modern terminology, Samsarans don't "reincarnate" so much as they "respawn."

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