Sunday, November 9, 2014

Tz-Ar-Ai, an Alien Species for Stars Without Number

Two years ago, I posted my original races for SWN- the Eldreth and the Solii. (Which originally I made for a short-lived Traveller* campaign, but later re-statted for SWN) My third original race, which I have periodically tinkered with, has never been posted. I'm restless today, and so here they are:

Tz-Ar-Ai  (Pronounced something like tizz are eye by humans)

Appearance and Biology:
Tz-Ar-Ai physiology varies by gender. Males stand around 6-6 1/2 feet, with females usually standing about a foot taller and with narrow, cone-like heads.  They are slightly insectoid in appearance and genetics. Their bodies are covered with a bony, plate-like structure. Females have small, vestigial wings reminiscent of a grasshopper's. The coloration of the Tz-Ar-Ai ranges from bleached bone white to a dark slate gray. The plating often displays subtle structural differences and patterns of another color. Other species often have a difficult time telling the difference between Tz-Ar-Ai with similar plate coloration.Tz-Ar-Ai often carve permanent markings into their plates, often reflecting membership in religious groups, sayings that the individual lives by, names of children, etc. The process is similar to a human tattoo, but Tz-Ar-Ai consider their markings sacred and never carve a flippant mark into their plates.

All currently living Tz-Ar-Ai are afflicted with a degenerative disease unique to their species. This makes them physically frail and sickly, and limits their lifespan to about 60 years. (According to their history, their healthier ancestors lived for 180 or 200 years.) The disease confounds all present medical treatment, and even proves resistant to psionic intervention. The disease manifests shortly after reaching adulthood and is incommunicable to other species.

Tz-Ar-Ai females lay clusters of eggs, which can be fertilized by any male Tz-Ar-Ai. Most of the eggs do not hatch, likely due to the disease that plagues their species.

The Tz-Ar-Ai have lost much of their history. They understand that they were a powerful species, prone to psionic ability, and that their ancestors had access to a multitude of arcane and esoteric psi disciplines. Their society had psi-tech that in some ways rivaled that of the Terran Mandate.

Then came the disease. The Body-Scourge, as rendered in their language. Current Tz-Ar-Ai can only speculate that it was a bioweapon specifically targeted at them by an enemy of some kind, though no trace of this ancestral foe remains today. As the disease slowly rotted their bodies, the governments of the Tz-Ar-Ai homeworld, An-Nr-Tar, came together in a desperate attempt to save their race. Several castes were designated with tasks designed to ensure continuity of the species: One caste of psionic healers with the ability to absorb the maladies of others, one caste of scientists, one cast of powerful bio-psi and telepathic psychics to place the rest of the species into a sort of suspended animation while the scientists searched for a treatment and the healers martyred themselves to keep the scientists whole for just a little longer.

Nobody knows quite what happened after that, because of the Scream. The Tz-Ar-Ai called it the Soul Scourge.

About one hundred years after the Scream, relatively few surviving Tz-Ar-Ai woke up. The scientists were gone. The healers were gone. The guardians remained, though they were thoroughly insane. The awakened survivors found they were still afflicted with a weakened body, but they were no longer dying off. Their young still developed the disease, but it seemed now immanently survivable.

Their history is gone. All knowledge of what happened during the Slumber is gone. They are a people without a past.

Psychology: The Tz-Ar-Ai are a grim people. Some are obsessed with uncovering the secrets of their past. Some desire to find a cure for the condition so that future generations don't have to suffer. Some search for a new place for their species. Some have given up and believe that it is only a matter of time before the Tz-Ar-Ai are gone.

Most cultures on the Tz-Ar-Ai world are deeply religious, and psionics factors heavily into their religion. They see it as a divine gift from the Creator, Her own omnipotent power given to them in some small degree. There are many different religions on the Tz-Ar-Ai world that focus around different psionic abilities and the saints or angelic beings that created them. While the central worship of the Creator is nearly universal, there are many different animistic traditions, ancestor worshippers, pantheons of saintly, siddhartha-like beings, etc. Tz-Ar-Ai often follow multiple religious practices, and some have even assimilated alien religious beliefs into their own personal spirituality. Many of the markings on a Tz-Ar-Ai's plates have religious or mystical significance.

Due to their grim and often philosophical and mystical natures, many other species consider the Tz-Ar-Ai to be off-putting, aloof, or just plain depressing. Others romanticize them as zen-like wizards. The truth, of course, varies widely, as no two Tz-Ar-Ai have exactly the same belief or life philosophy.

The Tz-Ar-Ai are best seen through Doomed and Mystical lenses. Their species sometimes seems backward or hopelessly impractical to other species. The Tz-Ar-Ai don't look for the reason why in terms of the scientific, but rather the cosmological. The Tz-Ar-Ai are acutely aware of their position: a race without much of a past, and unless they find a cure or treatment, not much of a future.

Tz-Ar-Ai as Player Characters:
*Tz-Ar-Ai have a -1 to their Constitution modifier, and suffer a -1 to all saving throws vs. Physical Effects.
*All Tz-Ar-Ai begin the game with one mastered Level 1 psionic power, regardless of class. Tz-Ar-Ai Warriors and Experts will never improve beyond this one ability (unless the GM allows multiclassing and they pick up a level in psychic.) Tz-Ar-Ai psychics may master additional abilities as normal.
*Combat/Psi-tech is a class skill for all Tz-Ar-Ai.

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