Roleplayer
Roleplayer #20, June 1990

Ifrits

A New PC Race for Fantasy or SF Games

by Chris McCubbin

This race was designed for the new GURPS Fantasy Folk, but we ran out of room in the book . . . and this was the one that got cut. But the Ifrits were too good not to publish, so here they are! This presentation, with general information, campaign information and a sample character, follows exactly the same format as the actual Fantasy Folk book.

Ifrits are a rare and mysterious race. Some whisper that they are demonic; others say they are simply a very strange type of human. They can have the features and coloration of any human race, and their appearance is usually attractive and healthy (although a small minority are monstrously deformed). Ifrits have normal height for their ST without the racial ST bonus, and normal weight for their ST with the racial bonus. This extra weight is mostly in the wings and muscles – Ifrits are usually slender. They are distinguished by their small horns, distinctly pointed canine teeth, and small wings (typical wingspan: 4 or 5 feet) which they can fold across their back so they make hardly a bulge under clothing. Some individuals are also said to have barbed tails, cloven hooves and other diabolical accouterments, but this may just be a tall tale.

Advantages and Disadvantages

Ifrits get a +2 each to ST, DX, IQ and HT (20 points each for a total of 80 points). They have the advantages Extended Lifespan (5 points), Magical Aptitude (15 points), Night Vision (10 points) and Winged Flight: Small Wings (35 points). They have the disadvantages Bad Temper (-10 points), Lecherousness (-15 points), Overconfidence (-10 points), Reputation -3 on the average (-15 points).

It costs 95 points to play an Ifrit.

Psychology

All Ifrits share a strong ego, a fiery temperament and an unquellably mercurial nature. It is most unhealthy to deliberately insult even the most high-minded of Ifrits. Their natures are intrinsically passionate; an Ifrit is the most ardent of lovers, the most loyal of friends, and the most relentless of enemies. Some philosophers say that an Ifrit is naturally inclined towards destruction, and is innately better suited to slaying and hindering than healing and helping. However, whether the individual's destructive energies are directed against good, evil or both indiscriminately appears to be his or her own choice.

Because all Ifrits are violent, and many are evil, they are widely feared. This is an unfortunate oversimplification. Ifrits have the human power to choose. If many of them are evil, it's because they have been raised in secret by dark cults, to become dark messiahs – champions of evil upon the earth. Such specially conditioned Ifrits are often more evil . . .or at least more creatively so . . . than real demons.

But often a newborn Ifrit escapes such a fate, and is raised by good people. Just as with humans, a virtuous upbringing is no guarantee of a virtuous adulthood, but most Ifrits raised in a loving environment become very admirable people . . . in a fiery, inflexible, violent way. They become paladins, adventurers, heroes or martyrs.

Ifrits live twice as long as humans, and mature twice as slowly. The extended adolescence of an Ifrit is a terrifying time – consider a young woman with the keen intelligence and magical ability of an Ifrit, the experience of a 30-year old, and the mind, body and personality of a 15-year old. The opportunities for severe mischief boggle the mind.

They are intensely magical creatures, and almost all are accomplished spellcasters. Many have become mighty wizards. They can master all of the various schools of magic, but usually avoid Healing and Enchantment spells as unsuited to their temperaments. As might be expected, spells of elemental fire are tremendously favored by all Ifrits. Those of evil intent often excel at necromancy.

Their natural strength, speed and vigor, combined with their fiery temper, make them opponents to be feared in battle. They favor edged weapons – swords and knives – both because these are the best weapons to take advantage of their overall physical prowess, and because they are the most common enchanted weapons. Ifrits are fascinated by enchanted weapons, and few members of the race will reach adulthood without having acquired a powerful weapon. Other magical objects are also of interest to an Ifrit, of course, but their most profound obsession is reserved for those items capable of dealing destruction to an enemy.

Few Ifrits excel at craft, art or music. This may be evidence of their intrinsically destructive nature, or they may simply lack the requisite patience for such pursuits. Although they are not themselves artistic, often they are connoisseurs, who surround themselves with rare and valuable things of craft and beauty.

Ifrits, as a group, love learning and new knowledge, and almost all are literate. Many will also write, and some have produced notable literary classics, an exception to the racial tendency against creative pursuits. Rarely, however, is an Ifrit book poetry or a story. Usually they're factual works on learned subjects. The arts of war and magic are by far the most popular subjects, but Ifrits have also produced notable works of science, engineering, history, artistic criticism and philosophy.

Many Ifrits are profoundly religious. They worship, as a rule, according to how they were raised. Thus, an evil Ifrit will loyally serve dark masters – which encourages those who say the race is demonic – but a good Ifrit is likely to be a passionate champion of some non-pacifistic "good" religion.

Ecology

The genesis of the Ifrits presents many mysteries. Almost all Ifrits are born to human parents. This happens very rarely – perhaps one birth in a million! Ifrits can breed with mankind, though they are not very fertile. The child of an Ifrit and a human will always appear human . . . with a tendency to be attractive, healthy, and mageborn. When two Ifrits breed, the child will always be an Ifrit. However, the race is so uncommon, and Ifrits get along with each other so badly, that most Ifrits come of human stock.

Thus, it seems likely that Ifrits represent a very rare recessive gene combination among humanity. The great-great-great-grandchild of an Ifrit, while appearing fully human, may give birth to another Ifrit. But some religions, both good and evil, teach that the Ifrits are not human at all . . . they are the children of demons! Some who believe this will seek to slay any Ifrit they encounter. Others will wish to worship or control this "demonic" force.

This belief makes the race rarer still. Many newborn Ifrits put to death immediately by terrified or superstitious parents. Most of the survivors are given up by their parents at an early age and raised under the auspices of a religious organization. Evil cults want to insure that their child grows up, as much as possible, with a demonic disposition, free from any moderating love or human emotion. On the other hand, when a benign religion stumbles upon a young Ifrit, they will do their best to raise the strange child as a power for Good.

A very few Ifrits have tails, hooves, and horrible, mask-like visages. It is notable, however, that all these spent their earliest life under the direct care of an evil cult. Some scholars believe that such features are not born to the individual at all, but are produced by magical operations immediately after the birth, and designed to enhance the demonic appearance of the child. Others say that an evil Ifrit grows to look evil . . . but some of the worst villains of history have been beautiful Ifrits.

Ifrits age very slowly, not reaching puberty until after age 20, and achieving their full growth at about age 35. They begin to age at 100, but twice as slowly as human beings. Curiously, while Ifrits become weaker and more unstable as they age, their outward appearance changes little.

Ifrits can eat anything a human can, but usually prefer red meat, either very rare or raw. Some have a distinct affinity for the taste of blood.

Culture

Ifrits have no indigenous culture. This is hardly surprising, since there are seldom more than a few dozen alive at any one time. There are tales of a land of Ifrits, but few believe them . . . because Ifrits do not get along at all well with one another. Even when two Ifrits happen to have identical ethics and world-views (which is very unlikely), they usually still prefer to carry out their respective life-missions far away from one another.

More often two Ifrits will instinctively hate one another and become lifelong enemies; roll any reaction between Ifrits at -6. If they team up temporarily to accomplish some short-term objective, that simply means they will hate each other all the more fiercely later on. Enmity between female and male Ifrits runs particularly hot, though there is sometimes also mutual passion. A Ifrit's interpersonal relationships are usually complex.

Whatever the Ifrits' own true origin, they have little fear of true demons. Indeed, they seem to hold them in contempt, bullying or destroying the lesser spirits, and behaving as impudently as they dare to the greater.

Politics

Most races, especially humans, fear the Ifrits. In many human kingdoms, it is a capital crime to bear or to be an Ifrit. Local reaction to Ifrits will vary from -1 to -4. However, the human stories about Ifrits always portray them as mighty warriors and mages, so many humans will react at +2 to an Ifrit in a situation where combat is imminent.

Dwarves scorn the Ifrits as an abomination, reacting at -4 with a strong tendency toward violence. The sylvan races also react at -4, but they will flee or avoid rather than attack. Some Elven tribes, however, have been known to raise Ifrit children, ensuring that they remain free of evil influences during their early years.

Of the major races, only the Goblins truly admire the Ifrits. Their fascination with all things magical and mysterious gives them an intense curiosity about the race – sometimes to their detriment. Goblins will always react at + 1 to an Ifrit.

Of course, evil races tend to prize the Ifrits. Dark Elves and Bales both seek out Ifrits as slaves and champions. Orcs look up to them with an almost worshipful fear. Gargoyles feel a certain kinship with the winged, horned Ifrits, and can easily be led from their usual indolent lives into evil ways by a charismatic and unscrupulous Ifrit.


[Sidebars]

Ifrits in the Campaign

Ifrits should keep the adventurers guessing. They can be built on anything from 150 to 1,000 points, so the characters never know exactly how powerful they are. More importantly, the party should never know exactly where the Ifrit stands or what he's thinking. No matter how long the party's known the Ifrit, or how many favors he's done for them, they should never be entirely sure of his friendship and good will. If the party seems to be becoming complacent about their relationship to an NPC Ifrit, the GM should take it upon himself to teach them the error of their ways.

Meeting a Ifrit is very unusual – even a traveler can go a lifetime without meeting one. The GM should see that his PCs arc suitably impressed upon encountering their first Ifrit.

Ifrits react normally to all other races. Most other races react to them badly; see Politics in the main text. An individual Ifrit may eventually gain a Reputation which will outweigh his racial reaction penalty. Individuals who happen to know one Ifrit are likely to assume that any other one they meet is a similar individual . . . which is usually a bad mistake.

The Ifrits are the ultimate generalists. They can be equally outstanding as wizards, warriors, thieves, rangers, bounty hunters, bodyguards and assassins. There are a few professions they'll be much less likely to succeed in – trader, because of other races' prejudices, and healer, because it goes against their temperament – but designing an exception to those rules could be an entertaining challenge. One thing about all sorts of Ifrits: they'll all be at least a little magical.

They are outstanding as Allies, Enemies and Patrons. Of course, if the Ifrit is an "official" Patron, Ally or Enemy, the players are entitled to know a little more about his motivations . . . a little.

Ifrits can also work, with few or no changes, in a science fiction campaign. They can represent a mutation, a "created" form of human, or simply an alien race.

Ifrit PCs

Despite the high racial point cost, it is actually quite possible to have a viable Ifrit PC in a 100-point campaign. The player should simply leave the characteristics and advantages alone (Ifrits already have plenty of both), take the full amount of disadvantages, and split the remaining points between combat skills and spells. The result will be a reasonably well-rounded fighter/mage type who can also fly and see in the dark. He would probably be a very young and inexperienced member of his race.

However, Ifrits can be used to much greater advantage in a cinematic or higher-level campaign. Such a flamboyant race also fits in much better in a more extravagant setting. As mentioned above, once they have the requisite points, an Ifrit PC can excel at almost anything.

The GM does not have to allow Ifrits to exist at all. If he decides they do exist, and that he will allow them to be PCs, he should not allow more than one Ifrit in the party at any given time. Remember, there are very few of them, and they do not get along well with one another.

Finally, the race's advantages and disadvantages have been deliberately written so they never have to behave in either an evil or a dangerously erratic manner. Ifrits are unpredictable, but that does not mean they have to be loose cannons. If the character is endangering the party or indulging in sociopathic behavior under the player's excuse that it is in his racial character to do so, the GM should correct the misconception.

Ifrit Adventure Seeds

Little Hellion

A major religious organization, or perhaps a martial religious order like the Knights Templar, is planning a "preemptive strike" against a dark cult of considerable mystic power. This operation is meticulously coordinated, and based on extensive intelligence information (perhaps previously gathered by the PCs). Across the kingdom, every known shrine or base of the evil cult will be attacked simultaneously. The adventurers are assigned a small but pivotal role in the operation.

The cult has been raising a Ifrit child from birth. The party is to raid the remote sanctuary where the child is being raised, and deliver him (alive, if possible) to the attackers. The attackers have assured the PCs that the child will be treated kindly and raised properly; whether this is really true, and whether the PCs believe it, is another question.

The raid itself will be tough enough – the adventurers will have to face physical, spiritual and magical guardians. Once they've performed the extraction, however, their lives will really get miserable. The child is 10 years old, with the physical stats of an 8-year-old (see p. B14) and the body and disposition of a recalcitrant 5-year-old. He's already a 100-point character, with most of that going to fully-mastered spells. He's angry, scared out of his wits, intelligent, resourceful, and absolutely determined to get free and then see that his captors get what they deserve.

It's a three-day trip from the evil sanctuary to the rendezvous point, without a mystically-active juvenile doing everything he can to make the party's life miserable.

To Hell and Back

Infernal forces have stolen a mystical talisman of great power from the archmage who was guarding it. The talisman has been delivered to a powerful demon lord in the underworld. If this creature unleashes the power of this item at the proper time, the world will be plunged into chaos. The stars will be in the proper alignment in just two weeks.

Being too old to undertake the mission himself, the archmage engages a Ifrit of his acquaintance to retrieve the object. The Ifrit can't do it alone, however, and he recruits the PCs to assist him.

The Ifrit knows his way around the netherworld (he jokes that he has family there) and he has a workable plan, but the players are still, after all, in hell, and things are going to be tough. A particularly sadistic GM might have the Ifrit killed or removed from play at a crucial moment, leaving the PCs to fend for themselves.

Character Example

Tarya

Tarya is a young Ifrit in her mid-30s. A young lady of exceptional beauty and charm, she has a delicate oval face, large blue eyes and naturally-curly platinum blonde hair, which nicely compliments her small, ivory-white horns and pinkish-white wings.

Tarya was left at the entrance to the cave of a holy hermit at birth, and stayed with the old man until his death 10 years ago. Although she was fond of her foster father, she is neither particularly good nor evil. At his death she wandered to the nearest city, and was completely smitten with the excitement of urban life. She currently works as a mercenary mage to finance her expensive tastes.

She does not work for individuals or organizations she considers unworthy. Her magical style is literally flashy, consisting mostly of Fire and Light/Darkness spells (with a few healing spells learned from her foster father). She fights unarmored, with a shortsword and buckler. She likes to fly and to rest on high perches.

Tarya is a 220-point character suitable for use as an NPC encounter, or a PC in a campaign of that level.

Characteristics

ST 12, DX 13, IQ 14, HT 13.

Advantages

Alertness +2; Appearance (Very Beautiful); Charisma +3; Extended Lifespan; Literacy; Magical Aptitude 3; Night Vision; Toughness; Winged Flight.

Disadvantages

Absent-Mindedness; Bad Temper; Greed; Jealousy; Lecherousness; Overconfidence; Reputation -3.

Quirks

Always Wears White; Likes High Places; Keeps Nails Extremely Long.

Skills

Bow-12; Brawling-12; Buckler-12; Carousing-12; Dancing-13; Detect Lies-12; Fast-Talk-13; Knife-12; Knife Throwing-12; Savoir-Faire-13; Sex Appeal-12; Shortsword-13; Stealth-12; Streetwise-12; Ventriloquism-13.

Grimoire

Breathe Fire-15; Cold-15; Continual Light-15; Create Fire-15; Darkness-15; Explosive Fireball-1 5; Extinguish Fire-15; Fireball-15; Flame Jet-15; Flash-15; Heat-15; Ignite Fire-15; Lend Health-15; Lend Strength-15; Light-15; Minor Healing-15; Recover Strength-15; Resist Fire-15; Shape Fire-15.

(Back to Roleplayer #20 Table of Contents)


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