Dralasite

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Dralasites are a fictional extraterrestrial race that have been featured as player character options in several role-playing games (RPGs). In each incarnation they have been described as short, rubbery, gray amoeboid creatures capable of changing their form to a limited extent by extending and retracting pseudopods.[1][2]

History[edit]

These aliens first appeared as part of the Star Frontiers science fiction role-playing game published in 1982 by TSR, Inc. as well as the closely related Alpha Dawn strategy game that soon followed.[1][3]

Gogol, a Dralasite child, appeared in the Star Rangers and the Spy installment of Fantasy Forest gamebooks in the same style as the Choose Your Own Adventure adventure series. Gogol was one of several compatriots of the juvenile protagonist and was depicted in the book's cover art.[4]

In 2004, Dralasites were included in d20 Future, a science fiction supplement to the d20 Modern RPG published by Wizards of the Coast.[5]

Basic physiology[edit]

Dralasite are about 1.3 meters tall and 1 meter wide. They weigh about 65 kg and have a body temperature of 30°C. Their average life span is 250 years.[2]

Though they are a higher form of multi-cellular life and are approximately as intelligent as human beings, Dralasite have some similarities to amoebas in that they have no bones or hard body parts. The Dralasite central nerve bundle (brain), numerous small hearts and other internal organs float in a mixture of protein and organic fluids.[1]

Their skin is a flexible membrane that is very tough and rough-textured. A network of nerves and veins on the surface of the Dralasite's skin intersects at a Dralasites's two eye spots. They see shapes and light and darkness very clearly, and can see a difference between distinct colors (blue and green, for example) as one being darker than the other, but they do not see actual colors. The most important sense for a Dralasites is smell. They breathe directly through their skin, and the entire membrane is sensitive to odors. Their sense of smell is so keen they can identify persons by smell alone and can recognize familiar smells on objects or persons. The membrane also is sensitive to touch and to vibrations, allowing Dralasites to hear and feel.[1][2]

As described in the original Star Frontiers rulebook, the keen senses of Dralasites allows them to detect lies told to them 5% of the time, a percentage that can be improved by the expenditure of experience points during a RPG campaign. While Dralasite in d20 Future retain their heightened senses, they do not have a special lie detection ability in these latter rules.[2]

Per d20 Future rules:[5]

  • Scent (Ex): A Dralasite gains the scent ability.
  • Skill Bonus: Due to their inscrutable facial expressions and their uncanny knack for reading others, Dralasite gain a +2 species bonus on Bluff and Sense Motive checks.

Because of their physiology:

Dralasite do not normally wear clothing, because it makes breathing difficult and interferes with their sense of smell. They usually carry their equipment on web belts. When they must wear clothing to protect themselves, they use special materials that let air reach their skin.[2]

Dralasite are omnivores but lack a gastrointestinal tract. Instead they consume their food by surrounding it and sealing it inside their body until absorbed. Having no lungs, Dralasites breathe by absorbing oxygen directly through their skin and speak by forming a mouth through which air is forced by a mechanism that works like a bellows. A Dralasite's voice can vary from a soft whisper to a thundering roar and from a bass rumble to a piercing screech. Among themselves, they also use shapes, skin patterns and touch to communicate. [1][2]

Limbs[edit]

Dralasite usually travel with triped locomotion by forming three short legs, but bipedal and quadrupedal motion are possible as well. Dralasite typically form one or two manipulative limbs (arms with mitten-like hands) for any given task. Being approximately as dextrous as human beings, the formation of more than two or three hands simultaneously rarely benefits the ease at which a task may be accomplished.[1]

Reproduction[edit]

All Dralasite go through male, female and asexual stages during their lives. These phases can be controlled with medicines. In order to reproduce, males release spores into the air which drift until they become attached to a female. A young Dralasite then "buds" off its mother, eventually maturing and dropping off.[1]

Society[edit]

As described in the original Star Frontiers rulebook:

Dralasite are philosophical and thoughtful. Their communities are small, and many Dralasite prefer to live alone. Dralasite do not care about wealth, power or status symbols. They judge themselves by the quality of their ideas and their ability to discuss important ideas wisely. Dralasite often hold large public meetings to discuss new ideas. Discussions and debates are among their favorite ways to relax. Steam baths are another favorite Dralasites recreation. They mix perfumes and intoxicants with the steam. These affect Dralasite the same way alcohol does a Human...[1][2]

Other intelligent races have noted that Dralasite have an overdeveloped sense of humor:

They love old jokes and puns that make Humans groan. Many human comedians who could not find work in Human cities have become rich performing on Dralasite worlds.[1][2]

As for their relationship with other races:

Dralasites are very fond of Vrusk, because they think Vrusk have funny shapes. They get along well with Humans but are careful not to upset Yazirians, who they consider too violent.[6]

Despite the above generalizations about their personality types, Dralasite have been encountered in a variety of roles, including merchants, organized crime figures, bureaucrats, etc.[1]

Fandom[edit]

While probably never having crossed over to television or movies, Dralasites have remained a fixture for almost 30 years not only in RPG publications, but in the culture of the people who enjoy these games. For example, a website called "Star Frontiers New Network" offers material such as the following:

There was a Dralasite's Rights protest at Port Loren about 10 days ago as the Dralasite Equality Foundation has been trying to raise awareness of the plight of Dralasite discrimination across the frontier...Many of the crowd and their supporters had hoped that having the protest this close to the upcoming elections would help to have the Dralasite problem heard.[7]

Perhaps because of their preferences for corny humor as described in official sources, or because of their blob-like appearance, the topic of Dralasites has often been treated humorously by fandom. A list of 100 (actually 46) Dralasite "facts" composed spontaneously composed by the participants in a Star Frontiers chat group includes items such as "# Drals in a blender is messy, in the dryer it really really funny looking" and What do Drals and Jell-O Pudding Pops have in common? Lick one and tell us."[8]

A fan-author informs us:

Dralasites are a restaurateur's favorite client, as they tend to eat almost anything, as long as it is scented and seasoned to taste: "It all ends up at the same place, anyway," as the famous Dral philosopher Otuumbagee once said. Despite their willingness to swallow anything which has been flavored properly, there are some foods which Dralasites savor and some which they often despise.[9]

The short essay proceeds with detailed discuss of Dralasite eating habits including their "favorite scents, flavors, and foodstuffs". The Star Frontiersman, a magazine published in PDF form and offering "more old school sci-fi goodness" regularly offers Dralasite-related content such as a description of Dralasite martial artists with such character concepts as "Protector of the Oppressed" and "The Angry Blob".[10] Another online source provides a humorous description of an NPC called Dreebla "The Dralasite Singing Sensation" accompanied by tongue-in-cheek illustrations including one of the creature in question pole dancing.[11]

Some particular tech-savvy fans are including Dralasites in their Star Frontiers computer game.[12]

While most commonly discussed in the context of officially licensed game settings, Star Frontiers most especially, this distinctive race has also been included in various "home made" game worlds.[13][14]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "''Star Frontiers'' science fiction role-playing game". Starfrontiers.com. Retrieved 2010-03-05. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Star Frontiers, "Alpha Dawn"[dead link]
  3. ^ "''Alpha Dawn''". Kuoi.com. Retrieved 2010-03-05. 
  4. ^ "Star Rangers and the Spy". Gamebooks.org. Retrieved 2010-03-05. 
  5. ^ a b d20 Future, Wizards of the Coast, 2004
  6. ^ "Technomage". Technomage. Retrieved 2010-03-05. 
  7. ^ "Star Frontiers New Network". Majestic-worlds.com. Retrieved 2010-03-05. 
  8. ^ "University of Zebulon, Dralasite Facts". Starfrontiers.us. Retrieved 2010-03-05. 
  9. ^ "Dralasite Snacks". Technomage.com.au. Retrieved 2010-03-05. 
  10. ^ The Star Frontiersman[dead link]
  11. ^ Star Frontiers NPC[dead link]
  12. ^ "Star Frontiers Computer Game". Starfrontiers.org. Retrieved 2010-03-05. 
  13. ^ "The Secrets of Rand". Raevhen.home.comcast.net. 2005-07-14. Retrieved 2010-03-05. 
  14. ^ "The Axis". Members.fortunecity.com. Retrieved 2010-03-05.