Thaal
Thaal
image
Biological information
Type Humanoid
Size Medium
Intelligence Psionic sentient
Life span -
Sociological information
Planet of origin Unknown
Achieved warp -
First contact -

Thaal Ecological Data
Biochemistry: Series I
Environment: Class 1
GRAPH: G1/R1/A2/P3/H2
Biome: Any
Encounter Chance: Unlikely
Group Size: 2–12 (2d6)
Organization: Theocratic oligarchy
Niche: Advanced technological civilization
Intelligence: Telepathic sentient

The dark fraal

The Sifarv: Military/secular forces allied with/ruled by Thaal

The Klicks: Insectoid species enslaved by Sifarv and Thaal to act as primary invasion troops and “stalking horses”

The Church: The thaal and all krl’osar and zealous I’krl worshipers follow the dictates of Ython Kadar, the Prophet of the I’krl Rising. He promises that their actions shall lead to a new wave of unparalleled power for all krl’osar and faithful. That is enough to motivate thousands of zealous Mindwalkers and thaal to the cause, though even Kadar does not know what happens after they free the I’krl from their dimensional prison—and he does not particularly care. The happenstance discovery of the thaal’s ancient enemies—the fraal—in the Verge has only increased the zealotry into a holy war against the heretics who long ago sinned against their gods.

The Thaal


As detailed in the history of the I’krl Theocracy in the next section, the thaal are of the same species as the fraal, one of the primary aliens of the STAR*DRIVE campaign, and they serve to illustrate one of humanity’s greatest fears: What if the fraal used all their psionic might against us? That nightmare comes alive with the arrival of the thaal and the krl’osar into the Verge during the Externals War.

Rumors rampaged across the Verge as the first thaal encountered were mistaken as fraal until they began their religious conversion campaigns of psychically enslaving people. Tales passed from system to system as folk talked about these “dark fraal” working with the Externals, fanning xenophobic paranoia among the Verge species (as intended). Once the Alliance commanders realized they dealt with another offshoot of the fraal, tempers cooled and intelligence began to collect. Luckily, fewer riots and whisper campaigns erupted against the fraal as expected, though some small-minded people used the opportunity to enhance their anti-psionic campaigns. Most realized the best way to fight some of these psionic priests was with psionics and fraal of their own. The Aegis Rangers (the nickname that has developed for the Regency of Bluefall’s 118th Psychological Operations Battalion) took heavy casualties early in the war’s intelligence gathering phase when thaal impersonators snaked their way into their ranks from Hathorn. However, the thaal provided the Rangers with much information on the I’krl religion and themselves with some agents. Much to the chagrin of the fraal, however, the thaal revealed very little about their racial history until the evrem provided information (noted in Section Three). The paranoia engendered by the revelation were tough on fraal relations with other species, but many of the Verge Alliance powers and the fraal themselves simply used the chance to learn more about their own psionic potentials.

The thaal activated a slash-and-burn campaign where possible with scout ships and small transports, moving many thaal krl’osar across the Verge to supplant and impersonate fraal, discredit them, or attack them as heretics. A notable fact surfaced later in the war that most skirmishes and attacked fraal were Builders, not Wanderers, though one Wanderer city-ship came under at - tack briefly when it ventured into External-controlled Lucullan space. In any case, once their basic nature came to light—psionic zealots on a religious crusade apparently leading the other External species—the thaal became the most hated enemy of the Verge Alliance. By the end of the year, most knew that the most dangerous species among the Externals were the thaal who ruled them.

Thaal as Supporting Cast/Aliens


While the Externals War raged, great mysteries became unveiled as the secret masters of klick, kroath, and others proved to be familiar faces: The thaal are the species from which the fraal originated. After more than ten millennia, the fraal finally have the chance to learn of their species’ past, but their brethren from beyond Hammer’s Star seem less than willing to share such information.

First impressions of the thaal mimic the earliest reactions to fraal visitations to Earth before 2124—a mixture of apprehension, curiosity, and a healthy dose of fear. While fraal have always struck many as enigmatic and inscrutable, most humans view the thaal as more ruthless and aggressive with their psionics, as if they carried some given rights to invade one’s thoughts at any time. The other immediate difference by which humans identify the thaal from their allies is their range of emotions: While often harsh and aloof, thaal have just as wide and volatile an emotional range as any human or aleerin.

Thaal, like their wayward fraal brothers, tend toward less physically inclined classes and professions, embracing the Mindwalker and Diplomat-Mindwalker classes almost exclusively. There are thaal Tech Ops, though these are all thaal with psi talents rather than the capability for full mindwalking. While fraal view their psionics with religious reverence, all thaal (at least all those met in the Verge via the Exeat) embrace a dogmatic and orthodox religious structure. Their krl’osar training teaches them that psionics are gifts from the I’krl, and they are to be used in their reverent service zealously.

Description


Aside from a few notable cultural distinctions, the thaal appear identical to the fraal with which humanity is already well acquainted. They are, after all, of the same species; only a religio-political and sociocultural rift separates them. However, while they show no gross physical differences from the fraal, this species shows a greater propensity toward psionic power and less physical acuity. Thus, their musculature is not even as strong as a fraal’s though their minds generate more than the norm of psionic potential.

Thaal, like fraal, stand roughly 1.5 meters tall in a bipedal humanoid form. Their garb almost exclusively consists of the krl’osar colors of white, purple, and gray, though the range of styles is as broad as those among the stellar nations. At the absolute least, thaal wear the badge of the krl’osar and prefer clothes that wrap snugly and cover most of the body, unlike their sifarv co-conspirators.

As do the fraal, thaal naturally communicate psionically among themselves. They also have a wide understanding of other racial tongues from all the species of the Externals. They also seem to know most of the languages of the Verge, thanks to their long-term intelligence gathering, though they seem to lack a complete grasp of the t’sa and sesheyan tongues.

Encounter


Thaal can be encountered nearly anywhere there is reported External activity, especially after the war gets underway and Lucullus falls. There seems to be no split in thaal society as there is among the fraal, and in truth, many similarities crop up between the thaal and the Wanderers (though there remain enough distinctions that both vehemently point out as heresies against the norm). In fact, while the sifarv constantly denigrate other species for their inferiority, thaal take an intellectual curiosity about new species, always looking for new acolytes and species to “unite under the tri-spheres of the I’krl.” Of course, this rarely prevents them from exploiting any species and its weaknesses if it fails to embrace the holy word they bring.

Thaal always carry a weapon, though they most often use them as a sign of strength rather than actually wield them. Krl’osar crystaffs notwithstanding, the weapon unsheathed first by all thaal is the mind. Thaal tactics often suggest capture and subdual over killing, as examples must always be made and slaves are in constant demand. Thaal forced into combat act in every way possible to remove themselves from harm, preferring to direct underlings or at least deal with foes from a distance, unless they know their foe cannot match them. It is rare to encounter thaal in groups of fewer than four, and lone thaal often have bareem or sifarv bodyguards to do their fighting.

Habitat/Society


The thaal live and work among numerous species, just like the Builder fraal, though they retain a sense of superiority over all of them, including their allied sifarv oligarchs. Like the Wanderer fraal, psionics form the cornerstone of the thaal universe, though the I’krl and the religion built around them exists at center for them. Unlike fraal, the ultra-religious thaal perceive of psionics as gifts only bestowed upon the faithful. They view the use of psionics in very orthodox patterns and any deviation from those patterns brings up cries of heresy and often leads to violence. While rarely discussed openly, those who look easily notice the divisions among the species: The thaal embrace religion and domination; the Wanderers embrace psionics and isolationism; the Builders embrace science and assimilation. These focal points are the cause of the schisms among their original forebears so long ago. Even before the revelations of the I’krl, the thaal followed religious precepts that differ little from those espoused today.

While fraal emotions exist at subtle levels and they bond with friends for life, thaal make the same sorts of bonds with others in both directions: Friendships are for life, as are hatreds. Wanderer fraal look upon these emotional kin with some disdain both for their methods and the “errors” between what they believed was their culture and what attitudes the thaal brought with them to the Verge.

With lifespans measuring in multiple centuries, thaal rarely mate simply to prevent overpopulation unless they seek to dominate a planet they colonize. In either case, thaal births (like those of the fraal) are often singular births after an unusually long gestation period of fifteen months. Any thaal born without psionic potential die from exposure soon after birth, a long-standing practice in the Theocracy. Thaal grow to their adult proportions by the age of twenty, their psionic potentials growing with their bodies. There are no thaal children with the Exeat, though the younger thaal adults are marked by their almost glowing skin and eyes (which dull and mute themselves beneath wrinkles and age later on).

While they are no less mortal than any other species of Externals or Vergers, many among the Exeat bring with them long ingrained superstitions from the Theocracy which mythologize the thaal slightly. They believe (as do some demented thaal) that they are the direct children of the I’krl and to harm one or kill one is to blaspheme and risk eternal torment. One cannot cross their paths unless he bows his eyes beneath the notice of the thaal (often becoming full bows, not just averted eyes). To speak unbidden to a thaal is to presume they wish to be noticed: Many among the Theocracy are trained to assume a thaal krl’osar is not there unless he announces himself and thus is “invisible” until he draws attention to himself. Of all the superstitions, that last one causes many problems, as humans and other species do not play along with them in willful ignorance and thus anger thaal by interacting with them without their leave.

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