Dark Sun: Grave Burden
Extraterrestrials from the moon Ral, afidae were an advanced race who had developed an unrivaled aptitude and understanding of psionics. Thousands of years ago, the afidae built moonportals to travel through the Astral plane to Athas. Sometime during or after the Cleansing Wars, the afidaen portals malfunctioned and the Astral plane was torn asunder. The afidae of Athas were severed from their kin on Ral, and had to adapt to the harsh landscape of the Tablelands.
Afidae usually carry a reserved and quietly inquisitive nature. Around other races, afidae can be wary. Their unique ability to change form is feared by many, and trust relations between people who aren’t close to an afidae can be difficult. Some afidae attempt to become transparent in order to gain the trust of others, and some use their self-altering power to trick and deceive. While their general reputation isn’t as stained as an elf’s, nor as hated as a defiler’s, afidae must cope with being truly alien in a caste-structured world. Ambitious afidae seek to conquer their foreign disadvantages, vying for positions of power within social hierarchies outside of their own.
Afidae are slightly taller than humans on average, with about the same anatomical structure. Their skin ranges from near ivory white to near obsidian black. Undertones are often blue, violet, and red. They have no body hair to speak of. Afidaen eyes are often a stark contrast with their skin tone; dull black eyes for lighter-skinned afidae, and milky-white eyes for darker-skinned afidae. Eyes often have muted hints of color, which can be any color. Some afidaen legend holds that eye undertones are representative of an afidae’s soul; with bluish eyes hinting at cerebral nature, yellowish eyes hinting at enlightened nature, and reddish eyes hinting at ambitious nature. This legend isn’t confirmed, however. Afidae do not have ears. Instead, afidae have evolved hearing that sense sounds through psionic-impressions.
Afidae often wear unique cultural vestments and robes. These clothes sometimes represent an afidae’s role in society, with commoners wearing simple and neutral-toned vestments, artisans wearing practical and minimally-intrusive vestments, clerical/psions wearing decorated vestments, and warriors wearing specially-crafted vestments of afidaenweave armor. Afidae rarely wear open shoes or sandals and often wear cuffs and bracers.
Male afidae are slightly larger than female afidae in terms of body mass, but mature male and female afidae are roughly the same height.
Many afidae live in small subterranean societies and stay away from other settlements, as their ability to alter their physical appearance is as feared and illegal as magic in the city-states. If they do enter a city-state, they are watched closely; harassment isn’t uncommon and persecution is often a tactic of many templars to get rid of them. Afidae slaves and gladiators aren’t rare, and more often than not they are shackled with psionic manacles and eyed by templars with the true seeing spell if that templar is advanced enough. Many afidae have forgotten their ancestry, but those who remember may still feel a connection to their cosmic homeland.
At the center of every major afidaen society is a monastery of the Way. Afidaen psions are perhaps the most venerable in all of Athas, and the most powerful psions hold the most influence in afidaen culture. The head of any given psionic temple in an afidaen society is almost always the leader of that society. Males and females often occupy many of the same roles in society.
Rarely do afidae form stable socieities above ground; most of the commonly known afidaen settlements are underground in large caverns and subterranean networks. Here, afidae can utilize underground veins of water, precious materials found beneath the earth, and avoid most of the extreme temperature fluctuations of the day/night cycle as well as sandstorms and most of the terrible beasts that roam the tablelands. Living underground has its own dangers, however. Aberrant subterranean lifeforms are always a concern. Afidae have low-light vision, but populated areas are always lit with psionic torches, lamps, and synthetic veins made from isoluum, a natural ore found deep underground. The synthetic lights that afidae create from isoluum are sensitive to psionic impressions, and glow when living creatures are nearby. This allows locals and travelers in subterranean afidaen socieities to see without needing torches and the like.
Afidaen architecture is beautiful and simple. Buildings are typically made of cobblestone that glisten with subtle iridescent minerals and crystals. An afidaen home is rarely larger than it needs to be. Comfort is also a major consideration, and so furnishings and interiors are designed to allow maximum comfort. Ventilation shafts are constructed in most buildings, and air is circulated by psionic rotation if natural ventilation is not cooling enough. Communal structures are often sights to behold, crafted of simple but alien designs.
Afidae rarely “worship” anything. It may appear that they do because of their strong connection to a psionic monastery, but actual involvement in clergy/druidism isn’t common. If an afidae does become a cleric or a druid, he often lives apart from main society with other afidaen clerics or druids.
The language of afidae is a complex one, and it’s rarely taught to non-afidae. Syllables are round and often blend together, making attempts for outsiders to learn the language difficult to distinguish words and meanings. On the other hand, an afidae easily learns other languages if he or she is exposed to them for any significant length of time, and it isn’t uncommon for afidae to be educated in speaking at least one other language (typically common).
Afidaen in written form is comprised of a letter system, with accent symbols being heavily used. Various logographs are also used throughout, and these symbols often convey several meanings that vary depending on its location in a script.
Afidaen names are relatively simple compared to other words in their language. Male names often sound heavy with deep vowels, while female names sound bright with sharp vowels. Afidae name their offspring sometime after birth, but once an afidae becomes an mature adult (around 20 years of age), the afidae can change his or her name and the new name is honored alongside the old name (although the old name is rarely given or used by others the afidae meets after the change).
As curious individuals, afidae often find themselves venturing outside of their homelands at least once in their lives. Those who walk the surface may do so for many different reasons, however. Psions often leave their society to gain new perspective on life and test themselves. Afidae trained in combat and defense may venture out to brave the harsh surface world and find treasure. Intellectual afidae may search for knowledge not found in their homelands. As a generally open-minded race, afidae adventure for many different reasons and are rarely judged by their own society for that.
- +4 Int, -2 Con. Afidae are bright, but aren’t well-adapted to the climate and conditions of Athas.
- Alter Self 1/rest – As the spell, except afidae can only change into a creature of their size. This is a racial psionic power.
- Afidae have low-light vision, and their eyes amplify light dim-lit areas.
- +2 Use psionic device, Autohypnosis, and Psicraft. An afidae can use these skills untrained.
- Begin play with 3 PP and a randomly-selected 1st-level power. At 5th level, an afidae receives 3 additional PP and a randomly-selected 2nd-level power. At 10th level, an afidae receives 5 additional PP and a randomly-selected 3rd-level power. At 15th level, an afidae receives 7 additional PP and a randomly-selected 4th-level power. At 20th level, an afidae receives 9 additional PP and a randomly-selected 5th-level power. Use the afidae’s Charisma and character level to determine the DC and ML of this power (unless the afidae has levels in a psionic class that uses a key ability that is not charisma).
- Languages: Afidae and common. Bonus languages: any except secret languages.