The Ki-rin Celestial

The Ki-rin, Celestial creature in Dungeons & Dragon 5e, image from Volvo's Guide to Monsters created by Wizards of the Coast."In the last few years, I have been researching about Ki-rins, these majestic creatures are rare and shy. It has been quite an adventure. Not just because they are rare, but even when you find the lair of one of these creatures, likely, you will not find him. They may be transformed in a mist, flying over the clouds, in the Ethereal or Astral planes. If you thought Unicorns were difficult to sight, Ki-rins are probably 10 times as hard to get even a glimpse."

Abiphisus, Paladin

The Ki-rin Celestial

The following are findings I made along my adventures in at attempt of finding as many Ki-rins as possible in Farûn, as well as accounts and tales about this majestic celestial creature.

First, I would like to say that I've had the chance to meet three of them and seen at least two others. These creatures are magical equines with golden scales and hairs. Like Unicorns, they have a magical horn on their forehead. They look silvery. It is also spiral-shaped like a Unicorn horn.

Like horses, they have a mane and a tail. I've heard that the older they get, the whiter their mane and tail become. Males also have a long bear that looks like they are old human sages.

Their ears are long and pointy. If they weren't that large, they would remind me of my elf companion's ears. I've teased Adastine about that many times. I think both of them have beautiful ears.

Ki-rins have no wings, but they nearly always fly. Actually, they are more like floating in the air, like a fish in the water. I think this is why they have rather large hooves. They don't use them much, so they tend to continue to grow. One of the Ki-rins I met told me he has to have its hooves filed once in a while.

Finally, the eyes of the Ki-rin look like they are light. It's probably only an impression. All the Ki-rins I met so far had yellow eyes, and in the sunlight, they sparkled.



It is thought that the Ki-rins have been around for a very long time. From a very old document I found in the Wizard Guild Library of Waterdeep, the very first Ki-rin had a long neck and two short horns. These creatures would have changed with time to become the smaller type of horses they are now.

From the drawings, it looks like very old Ki-rins looked like Giraffes. The color and majestic way Giraffes walk can indeed be found in the Ki-rins. However, Ki-rins are covered with scales, so I doubt that this is true.


I've learnt of another theory from the far North region of Kara-Tur. Here lived large animals called the Mammoths. They looked like Elephants with thick fur and large tusks. Some say that the Ki-rins were transformed from the Mammoths, made lighter so they could fly. Their color would come from long exposure to their plane of existence which is full of light.

My problem with this theory: hooves. Mammoths, like Elephants, did not have hooves. They had feet. Large ones, but still feet.


I've not been to Maztica. I've been told that these lands are quite dangerous, with large spiders, venomous snakes, and cats as large as cows. Although, to the West of that land is a wide sea with many Whales. A high Cleric, by the name of Eleniossaze, wrote about his trip there and from what he understood, the whales are actually the true Ki-rin's Origin.

Instead of floating in the water, they now float in the clouds. Eleniossaze said time and time again that he saw some whales which looked like they were of golden color. I don't know. Whales are mammals, but they do not have legs or feet. And various fishes are golden in color and they have scales, but they don't have legs either.


On my end, I've been to Zakhara. There I've seen the beautiful animal called the Rhinoceros. Some people of these lands say that the Ki-rin appeared when a Rhinoceros gave birth, some 10,000 years ago. The newborn's horn was magical. It could transform itself into any shape it wanted.

I've seen shapechangers, not like my friend Treelad. He's a Druid and he can change form for a small amount of time. I'm talking of Doppelgangers. Creatures born from human women, but who can change to any other humanoid at will. Some kind of monster.

So I can believe that this special baby Rhinoceros was capable of changing and, with time, became the Golden Creature it is today.


Some people in Farûn use the word Unicorn, making some people think that the Ki-rins come from Unicorns.

For this one, it's clear these people attempted to translate the word from the Kara-Tur language. The two creatures look similar. They are horses and have a horn on their forehead. The body of a Ki-rin, though, is covered with golden scales. Plus, the Unicorn horn doesn't lose its magic as soon as it gets cut.

Gold Dragon?

In my perilous travel, I also ended up in the Feywild. It took me months to find my way back. While there, though, I heard of many tales. One of them was about the real origin of the Ki-rin. I'm positive, this was a dream, so I just can't say that this is true. But many told me that dreams are the way the Fey communicate with us.

What the Fey told me was that one day a Gold Dragon transformed into a horse, but kept its scales instead of changing its body to fur. He also kept one of its horns. While in that shape, he accomplished the great feat of saving the most powerful king of the time, Anamoram. As a reward, the king offered him his most precious treasure: an amulet from Mielikki, goddess of the forests. She would have offered the Gold Dragon a new life by offering him a magical horn. The Dragon accepted and became the very first Ki-rin. What the Dragon didn't know is that good deities would then permanently enroll the Ki-rin with the duty of helping good against all evil forces.

In a way, this sounds like the most plausible origin. At the same time, many of the Fey, like the Satyrs and Black Elves, are known to be great liars.

Deity Creation?

It could also very well be that the Ki-rins were simply created by a deity. These creatures are tasked by Lawful Good deities to help in human matters and evil destruction so this is a very viable origin.

The fact that we have such a hard time to determine where the Ki-rins could otherwise come from, makes me think this could very well be what happened.

Some people think that Ki-rins are deities themselves, but I know better. The Ki-rins do live a very long time, at least compared to humans. But we do see, although very rarely, baby Ki-rins from time to time. This is a clear sign that they die at some point otherwise the world would be crawling with Ki-rins.

Sightings at Births and Death

It's often reported that some priests see Ki-rins when a new birth or the death of an important person occurs. We have quite a few records for some of our wonderful Kings, Sages, High Druids, and other people who were Lawful Good and proved their worth during their life. For births, we have fewer records.

A priest, by the name of Docorin, tried to find a way to detect Ki-rins at each birth that happened around his temple, without much success. It may be that Ki-rins stay completely invisible when they attend a birth unless it needs to assist (i.e. save the baby and/or the mother with his magic)

Several High Dungeons Masters have mentioned seeing a few glimpses of a Ki-rin at the funeral of Gary Gygax.


The only reason for a Ki-rin to be on the Material Plane is to fight evil. This may include helping good creatures, humans, elves, a forest, etc.

Their task may take a long time in which case they will end up with a Lair at a really hard to access location such as a high mountain or even a cloud.

I asked about this to one of the Ki-rins I've met. I didn't get an answer. Ki-rins just do not talk about their duties, present or past. It could otherwise backfire. Demons would love to kill all the Ki-rins responsible for their continuous demise.

What he did tell me, though, is that the Devils always have complicated plans to take over the Material Plane, plans that can take centuries to complete. This is why Ki-rins have to look over the doings of those evil creatures. Humans, Gnomes, Halflings, and other creatures of good spirit but with a short lifespan would otherwise be quite easily taken over within a few centuries.

Solitary Creatures

These creatures definitely keep to themselves. I've encountered three and they had a very broad knowledge of the universe, but somehow they do not divulge anything about themselves, companions, and family.

I very strongly think this is because of their constant and very dangerous missions. One of the Ki-rin I encountered explained that only males are authorized to fight. This is in part to protect their species.

— You see, Abiphisus, our reproduction cycle is very long, told the Ki-rin. We just can't take the risk of being tracked down. The evil creatures we are after know that and they have already tried several times to wipe us out.

However, the sighting of a baby on the Material Plane makes me think that somehow females also come here from time to time. Maybe when they feel the need to reproduce. I'm not entirely sure why a baby would have been here, though. Maybe it got stuck here because of the curse that was placed upon the Ki-rin.


To accomplish their tasks, Ki-rins may partner with Lawful Good creatures as long as these creatures are willing to fight evil alongside them.

I've found Anton's story in the small library of Amn. He recounts his encounter with a Ki-rin:

— I remember, wrote Anton, the first time I saw him. He was flying like a very light cloud. I had been looking for him for several months. After that, we worked together for over a year. This was definitely a very long association for a Ki-rin. Usually, they try to avoid creatures from the Material Plane, especially humans, even if they often are here to help them from evil.

"One day, I was so tired but I really had to make it at a very important meeting with Mythiak, an ancient Gold Dragon. I was just not going to make it on time. This is the first time the Ki-rin offered me a ride. Once on his back, I felt like I was moving through clear water with no resistance. It was so smooth, I actually went to sleep.

"We ended up at Mythiak's place early. I'm not exactly sure what happened and the Ki-rin did not want to talk about it, but I think we went through another plane of existence. Maybe the Feywild or the Ether.

"I could never thank the Ki-rin for his extraordinary kindness."

Anton's story is probably the main reason why I became so fascinated with these celestial creatures and wanted to meet at least one of them. I've yet to encounter a Paladin or a Ki-rin who had such a partnership, although a Ki-rin is not likely to talk about such.

Mortal Enemies & The Herensugue Curse

The Ki-rins have one specific enemy they just can't stand at all: the Herensugue, the evil Demon of the air, a gargantuan dragon with seven heads.

The Ki-rins were able to chase out or kill all the Herensugues from the Elemental Plane of Air. For revenge, the Herensugues cursed the Ki-rins preventing them from changing planes. That meant all the Ki-rins on the Material Plane were blocked there. The curse could be removed only after the Ki-rins killed all the Herensugues Demons.

I think this curse is the reason for which some people have now seen baby Ki-rins on the Material Plane.


Ki-rins live for a very long time. I've not been able to find a clear pointer to how long a Ki-rin would be able to live, but I'm pretty sure it is at least 1,000 years.

According to some Kara-Tur stories I've found in a Winterkeep private library, the same Ki-rin has been seen since about 2,500 years ago. However, I think that most people would not be able to distinguish between two Ki-rins. Especially when you only see a glimpse of it at a funeral or a birth.

My assumption on the Ki-rin is based on Dragons and the small amount of data we have on baby Ki-rins. For one thing, Dragon Wirmlings and Ancient Dragons have dissimilarities and we can see those in Ki-rins of different ages. For example, the color of their scales and hair change with age. Two of the Ki-rins I've met had mostly white hair (mane, tail, feet). The other one's hair was fully white and it was longer too. I think the one with the fully white hair was several centuries older.

The other point is the size. Babies are so small, humans can carry them on a shoulder or in their arms for several years. Adults are huge stallions (well, I haven't seen a mare yet, but I would imagine the same happens with females). Dragons also take several years to reach their adult size and then continue to grow as time passes. Just like with the other Ki-rin's characteristics, this points to a very long lifespan.

Favorite Foods

From the three Ki-rins I've met, most Ki-rins are probably vegetarians. However, one of them was eating the same foods as a human would. Since the Ki-rins magically create the food they eat, it doesn't hurt any animals for them to eat some meat, insects, or other exotic types of animals.

Actually, Ki-rins are very hospitable. They will offer food to the people they meet. I've not heard of a Ki-rin that couldn't supply enough food for a group of people they met.



The Ki-rins can fly and hide very well. From a text by cleric Nizay:

— Ki-rins can change to a mist, allowing them to become pretty much invisible. I think several Ki-rins have already seen me and I haven't had the chance to talk to them because they were hiding in this way. Ki-rins are very shy.

Some people wrote they did not even see a mist. The Ki-rin was just invisible before appearing in front of or behind them. This is most likely true. Ki-rins are quite powerful celestial creatures.


I've been very lucky to meet a few Ki-rins. But that was not without searching for days. I'm not too sure whether it was confusion or what, but I swear, I had a really hard time to find them. Each time, it felt like I was walking in circles.

I'm not too sure why a good creature like a Ki-rin would try to confuse us. Of course, they do not want to be found. So this may just be a way to deter most of us. After all, I did many more than three attempts and I probably abandoned too soon on some of my other attempts. So it may very well be working.


Found in the library of Pyarados:

— I'm Skayn, a Red Magician of Thay. I've been told from a very young age that as a Red Magician chances were that if you survived until 50, you'd then be tracked down by Ki-rins. I thought Ki-rins were after Devils and Demons, not puny humans. How much I was wrong. I was only 45 when a Ki-rin attacked me. I'm still a warrior at heart and I defended myself with my sharp magic long sword. I swear, three times I tried to hit the creature and in seconds it was some 200 or 250 feet away from me. It's clear to me it can teleport.

I have a magician friend who told me that he knows of a spell that allows him to do such moves. So I can definitely believe that it's possible and that a Ki-rin could learn how to Teleport.

Skayn was not able to slay the Ki-rin. I've seen others who say that Ki-rin will at times show evil humans that they are being watched and this may just have been a warning. I think Skayn did not have a chance otherwise.

Lucky Charm

In the Earthfast Mountains, I met with the Deep Gnomes of the cavern of Brikash who told me an old story:

— [...] and one day, said Bewin, our best warrior, Smolnot, was asked to help a Ki-rin for the Ki-rin didn't know his way in our mountain. After a two-day walk down the shafts and helped by Smolnot's favorite pet, Baxar the Xorn, they finally reached the room the Ki-rin was looking for.

I've cut out the previous three hours of discussion on Smolnot's childhood and how he learnt to be the best Deep Gnome warrior there is.

— Now Smolnot could see why the Ki-rin needed to come here, continued Gnans Bart. The room was filled with large worms and in the dim light created by giant mushrooms, he could see a sorcerer casting spells, chanting and, well... cussing a lot!

­— This is when a very large demon appeared, pursued Sneenig. The Sorcerer was opening Gates to the Nine Hells and filling our tunnels with the vilest of all creatures. We, Deep Gnomes, cherry our mountains, but we do not like to share them with such evil. It was time for the Ki-rin to act.

— Do you keep up? Asked Zimgozip.

— Yes! Yes! Go on, I replied.

— A great battle ensued, continued Zimgizip. It lasted at least two hours for the large Demon who just appeared was not alone. The sorcerer had been summoning all sorts of awful creatures for several months now. This is when Smolnot, our warrior, notice how the Ki-rin was the target of many spells and weapon attacks but he would avoid them like he were overly lucky. Yet, Ki-rins are magical creatures and that's probably why this happened. But us Deep Gnomes know much about luck. We use it all the time to find the best rubies, pearls, and diamonds, and also to avoid getting hurt when a loose stone falls on us.

— Yes! Exclaimed Funkest. I think a Ki-rin's horn is a lucky charm or maybe its mane. For sure, they are the luckiest creatures we've ever heard of.

Here we go. It looks like Ki-rins have ways to avoid danger even in the middle of a fight. Many mystical and powerful creatures seem to avoid hits and magical effects. They may have been granted such a defense by their deity.

Another detail, they mentioned a good hour later, the Xorn help in the fight and got really badly injured and was about to die when the Ki-rin touched it and it survived. To me, it sounds like the Ki-rin may have an ability similar to Lay on Hands.

Poison Insensitive

I went to Yartar, not too far from the Everlund. I heard of a story by a Drow who was attacked by a Ki-rin. He somehow survived and wrote about it in his Book of Deep Chasm Repent:

— My soul is lost to evil, writes Enialos. On a usual dark underground day, I was with Eryana, the grand priestess of Velkynvelve, walking toward her personal shrine to Lolth, our deity. Just as we were crossing the bridge over the chasm, a Ki-rin appeared in front of us and immediately attacked.

"In a swift move, I avoided a hoof attack and drew my long sword out. I also had a Dagger of Venom. As I swooped my long sword, I got my dagger in my other hand and got a surprise hit on the Ki-rin. I saw the black venom filling its veins. Absolutely nothing happened. The Ki-rin was not even upset by my trick.

"I got a couple more chances at hitting the Ki-rin, one of which was again with my poisoned dagger and again nothing. After that, the Ki-rin kicked me really hard with his back hooves and I was propelled in the Chasm. Falling.

"Ah, only I did not get hurt or even sustained a bruise. I felt like I was falling slowly. Once I was able to come back, I learned that Eryana was killed by the Ki-rin. It was probably his mission. I think that the Ki-rin kicked me out of the way, not exactly sparing me, but I just wasn't his enemy.

"Since Eryana died, I was not welcome back. Since I was always attracted to having a life on the surface, I went there. I stayed in Yartar for a while. I think I want to eventually return to Velkynvelve. We will see what happens here and whether my enemies in the Underworld disappear soon."

If you ask me, this is an awesome story. Seeing the venom entering the veins of a Ki-rin. That must be some powerful dagger. I wouldn't want to be wounded by such a weapon.

Clearly, the Ki-rin was not affected by that weapon. This probably means that the Ki-rin is immune, although it could be that it had some magic protecting him for that one fight or could it be the Ki-rin's luck again? Either way, I wouldn't want to be a demon hoping to kill a Ki-rin with my poison. It's probably not going to work.

Last Words

As we've seen here, a Ki-rin can use powerful abilities or magic in ways that have not been clearly determined. For sure, it's much more powerful than what I first thought.

Serving us a feast meal is already wonderful, but being able to attack and kill powerful Priestess Drows, Devils, and other underworld monstrosities on its own or very little help is absolutely amazing to me.

I hope to live long enough to have the chance of being given a ride. I continue being faithful to my deity and become even stronger. I want to eliminate all of the evil from the wasteland of Faerûn.


No Name Policy

The three Ki-rins I've met did not give me their names. Even if they had, they would have asked me not to name them in my book. This is very much because of their nature, but also because of potential retribution by Demons or Devils to them or their families.

Ki-rins act as much more than just messengers for their deity and they often end up in quite dangerous situations. To avoid being harassed by the same evil creatures, they always go incognito. This is also why we have such a hard time to find them. Well, that and also there are not very many of them living on the Material Plane.

Origin: Aboleth Creation?

I removed this one from the Creation section above. It's definitely not reality. Since I wrote the paragraph, I learned that all the people who are caught under the Aboleth spell come back with stories of being able to get their dream come true. Clearly, this has to be an Aboleth ability to make their slaves believe complete nonsense.

Baldur Gates is a large city. You can meet a lot of people and learn all sorts of things. Today, I talked with a large Bard:

— Hi Abiphisus, nice to meet you, said Bizamas the Tiefling. I just came back from an underground lake. I was happily working for a great creature named Amakta, a beautiful Tiefling. She had me dig tunnels and set up traps in her lair.

"When I told Amakta I always wanted to ride a Ki-rin, she said I would most certainly see one soon. Ki-rins like to spend time here with her. She too had the chance to ride one named Snowflake.

"Sure enough, within a couple of days, an absolutely beautiful horse appeared. It had a coiled horn and a yellowish body covered with gold hair. He said his name was Rainbow the Ki-rin and she was at my service."

— Bizanas, said Rainbow, once you're done working on your section of the trench for the day, let's go have a ride through this beautiful grotto!

— I was full of vigor and dug as fast as I could. I finally had a chance to realize my greatest dream. After that, Rainbow came to see me every day. She also showed me some of the magic she could perform. She created clouds and delicious foods. She also healed me when I hurt myself digging or setting up a trap.

"This has been the best time of my entire life! Now I spend my time writing about Rainbow. I've seen her since I had to leave Amakta's beautiful home."

Clearly, when I met Bizanas, he was still under the Aboleth spell. I've heard other people talk about having to fight this monstrosity to liberate the few of their friends who were still alive. At first, their friends did not recognize them and they wanted to stay working there. Their conditions were miserable and many had already died, their body rotting away in the humid cave.

Usually, the people who are freed from an Aboleth realize the horror of their stay. I suppose Bizanas' dream was so strong he just couldn't let go. At least now he makes some good money with his marvelous songs.

No Clear Study

I think the main reason we have not been able to clearly study a Ki-rin is they are few in numbers and they prefer to keep to themselves.

I went on all of these adventures looking for clues about the Ki-rins. I have not found much that can be taken as proof. The one thing I can say for sure is that the Ki-rins do exist.

Just an Essay

This work is just an essay trying to determine various points of the Ki-rin's origin, life, and death. It probably includes many mistakes and corrections are very welcome.

Ki-rin's Statistics

The various volumes of Monsters have the Ki-rin's statistics.

Some are also thought to have powerful psychic abilities (the can blow your mind!) In D&D 5e, you can find the Ki-rin's in the Volo's Guide to Monsters.

The Ki-rins first appeared in a D&D extension called the Eldrich Wizardry (1976). It was in the first and second editions of AD&D. It also appeared in D&D 3e. However, it did not make it in the official monster manual of D&D 4e. It probably is because it felt like no Ki-rins were helping during the spellplague.


Some of the art work appearing on this page is copyrighted material. I assert that this is fair use of the copyrighted work as defined in the United States copyright laws. If you have any question or requests in that regard, feel free to contact us.

A small graphic marking the end of the paragraph