Another of my lost starfaring/dimension-hopping races for Swords of Maruzar. They’re meant to be enigmatic, sometimes troublemaking GM characters.
The Iriali are occasional visitors to Maruzar from another world or dimension, though their familiarity with the planet hints at much closer ties in the past. These enigmatic and secretive beings enjoy walking around Maruzar in illusory guise, making all around them see something or someone else.
Most Iriali are content to observe humankind, intervening little or not at all in human affairs. Some, however, seem to visit for pleasure and take it from humans — as lovers, as carousers and gamblers, or tricksters, and some have darker and more dangerous tastes.
Iriali are small humanoids of elfin beauty, no taller than a typical twelve-year old child, with delicately boned faces, skins pale as ivory, snowy hair, enormous, whiteless black eyes, and their foreheads sport a pair of feathery antennae. Their eyes are so light-sensitive that in daylight they must cover them or suffer great pain; most of them use bands or veils of black gauze that they can see through.
All of them are naturally skilled telepaths, often preferring to communicate entirely by mind speech which adds to their eerieness. They are of nonviolent temperament, having a strong aversion to causing pain and death because they can’t stand the mind-screams of those in agony. Iriali will defend themselves solely by non-harmful telepathic means as much as possible. If pressed to desperation, however, they have one last ace in the hole; they can generate a powerful electric shock, which they usually transmit by their hands.
Iriali are extremely individualistic, as they are extremely few and seemingly devoid of any social organization. Some of them say they left all such far behind when they began wandering between worlds. They rarely ever seek each other out, and there have never been reports of mated Iriali pairs or young. Famed for their beauty, telepathic powers and ancient knowledge, they are eagerly sought by many, but rarely ever found.
Iriali antennae are special organs that sense etheric disturbances and aid their use of telepathy. If an Iriali’s antennae are damaged, the Iriali suffers a serious disadvantage to use telepathy.
Most Iriali encounters will be with Observers: individuals who are curious of humankind and somehow either fascinated with Maruzar or deeply connected to its past. Iriali observers may be wanderers, constantly changing guises as they explore — or re-explore — Maruzar, while others choose to stay for long periods in one place, sometimes under a single, painstakingly crafted guise.
Many Iriali observers however also have appointed themselves a hidden purpose. They monitor humankind’s knowledge and use of prehuman artifacts and technology, secretly intervening to deny that young and still-immature race powers the Iriali judge it’s not ready for. Iriali observers will use nonviolent means to achieve this end whenever possible, or find ways to get human help to do the dirty work.
Observers sometimes attach themselves to tomb robbing parties and archaeological expeditions, making sure that any dangerous discoveries they make get lost or disabled. They can make interesting Game Master characters, possibly acting as patrons or quest-givers to the PCs, or as allies with their own agendas.
Some Iriali, perhaps the younger members of this ancient and very long-lived race, wander between worlds for the sheer pleasure of seeing what mischief they can do with their powers. These tricksters have the general Iriali aversion to sensing others’ agony so their tricks never involve violence or serious danger, but they like causing confusion, puzzlement, frustration and annoyance.
Iriali maldeviants are Iriali who lack the aversion to sensing others’ agony, but instead crave it and are addicted to it. These demented Iriali crave different forms of pain: some love the taste of fear most, some like physical pain while others crave mental anguish, and some describe the telepathic sensation of death as the most exquisite of pleasures.
With their high intelligence and superior telepathy, Iriali maldeviants can find many ways of feeding their addiction. Some stalk the cities of mankind as nigh-invisible serial killers, some gate in strange and violent creatures from other worlds to cause mayhem, some seduce and attach themselves to individual humans to torment them with emotional pain, and some even hatch elaborate schemes to start wars or the downfall of dynasties.