Fraal are an alien race from the Star Drive setting for Alternity. They are based on the archetypal "Grey" alien; gray-skinned, hairless, spindly-framed, with rounded heads and large, jet-black, oval-shaped eyes.
In Dragon Magazine #253, Fraal were converted into a potential race for Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd edition, the second of the three "Aliens in AD&D" articles that would convert player races from Alternity/Star Drive to AD&D, a position only the Sesheyans (#251) and the T'sa (#257) would share. They would subsequently be presented as a monster race in the Monstrous Compendium Annual #4.
The AD&D version of Fraal are a race of vagabonds, trespassers from some other world or plane, who have come to be stranded in the various realms of Dungeons & Dragons. Hailing from a place where psionics have replaced magic, the fraal are physically frail in the extreme - even a halfling can beat the average fraal in wrestling! - and have no talent for arcane magic, but they are master psionicists.
Physically, fraal are tall, thin humanoids, with large, deep, dark eyes, small and almost hidden ears, narrow chins and wrinkled faces, making them seem weirdly ancient even from their youths. Pale, almost luminous and reflective skin heightens the darkness of their eyes, and whilst they can grow hair in crimson, silver and black hues, most shave themselves bald. They favor light and airy clothing, with female fraal also favoring elaborate, cumbersome headdresses that extend down to fully enclose and shield the head from view.
A contradictory race, fraal are both highly inquisitive and highly isolationist; they settle in small bands in rugged, desolate tracts of the world - places where they can avoid hostile conflict, occasionally venturing out to explore or interact with their neighbors under psionic veils that make them appear as simply thin, pale humans. They fear the violence of the more physically robust, but they are also a peaceful people who wish to learn about and understand their neighbors. It's mentioned that, of the settings published by TSR at the time of the article's printing, fraal are most likely to be found in the Shaar of the Forgotten Realms, the Kron Hills of Greyhawk, the Iron Peaks of Birthright, and the Ringing Mountains of Dark Sun.
Fraal culture revolves around a strongly communal ideal; psionically aware literally from the womb, fraal are used to a life spent in constant telepathic consultation with their kin. Indeed, being alone can eventually drive a fraal mad; they're so unused to being surrounded by other minds. This has only been exacerbated by the fact that fraal are a race of nomads; they no longer remember why, but they are taught from their childhood that they are not allowed to live in one place for long. Instead, they form temporary communities, lingering in a place where they might study local races, and then move on a - process often expedited if they fear they have been discovered.
Strangely, they have no particular fear or hatred of other races. They're not xenophobic in the slightest. They're a kindly, gentle people, who enjoy social discourse and can't conceal a fantastic curiosity about the world around them.
That said, whilst they are almost wholly pacifistic, preferring to flee or disable foes with their psionics, fraal are willing to defend themselves. Strangely, they have a preference for long, powerful weapons - namely, polearms - as well as simple knives and staves. It's possible this is because of how easy these weapons are to produce, and their usefulness as tools outside of fighting.
This spiritual nature might be why some fraal have been willing to embrace priesthood, whilst arcane magic remains unknown. Perhaps the more benevolent mien of divine magic makes the cleric more appealing to them than the wizard. Who can say? Fraal priests are rare, though, and their relationship with the gods is uncertain; they're still struggling with the possibilities and the importance of interacting with deities. They are most likely to worship gods of knowledge and wisdom, such as Oghma, Rao and Avani.
AD&D Fraal PC StatsEdit
- Ability Score Minimum/Maximum: Strength 3/15, Dexterity 3/15, Constitution 3/14, Intelligence 11/19, Wisdom 11/20, Charisma 3/19
- Ability Score Adjustments: -2 Strength, -2 Dexterity, -2 Constitution, +1 Intelligence, +2 Wisdom, +1 Charisma
- Racial Class Restrictions: Fighter 5, Priest 8 (Cleric or Speciality Priest only), Psionicist Unlimited
- Natural Armor Class: 10 (-2 bonus to Mental Armor Class)
- Movement Base: 12
- Special Advantages:
- Naturally Psionic: All non-psionicist fraal are Wild Talents.
- Naturally Telepathic: All fraal gain Telepathy (Mindlink) as a bonus Discipline & Science at character creation.
- Honed Psionics: Fraal treat their ability scores as being 1 point higher to determine their Psionic Strength Points, and those attacking fraal with psisonic powers suffer a +2 penalty to their power score/Mental THAC0.
- Bonus Psionic Proficiencies: Fraal begin play with points in the nonweapon proficiencies Meditative Focus and Rejuvenation.
- Special Disadvantages:
- Restricted Weapon Proficiencies: A fraal cannot take any weapon proficiencies at character creation other than Spear, Simple Polearm (fauchard, glaive, partisan, ranseur), Knife/Dagger or Staff.
- Restricted Nonweapon Proficiencies: A fraal cannot begin play with Spellcraft, Local History, or Riding proficiencies. They may learn these as they adventure.
- Mindlink Loneliness: A fraal that goes without the company of at least one other fraal for a month must make an insanity check, with a cumulative 5% chance of succumbing to madness. After developing an insanity, the fraal no longer has to make insanity checks due to this loneliness, but they also can't cure this insanity. At the DM's discretion, the presence of a non-fraal psionicist may stand in for the telepathic communion fraal depend on for their mental stability.
AD&D Fraal Monster LoreEdit
Sometimes known simply as the visitors, the psionic fraal are highly evolved and sophisticated humanoids from somewhere else. Some sages speculate that these visitors come from either another plane of existence or perhaps from another world within the Prime Material Plane. Of seemingly fragile build, the fraal rely on devices of unusual workmanship and power to protect themselves. These devices are not magical; in fad, the fraal know almost nothing of magic.
The fraal are thin humanioids, averaging about five feet in height. They can be distinguished by their large eyes, their pale, almost luminous skin, their swept-back ears, and their round heads. Most fraal encountered so far have been bald, although some individuals have been encountered who have wisps of silver, white, or pale-yellow hair. A most disconcerting element is that all fraal display a wizened countenance, much like the eldest of wizards.
The frail are natural telepathic and can telepathically communicate with creatures of low intelligence or better. Wether they have a verbal language of their own is uncertain, though they have never been seen to converse verbally among themselves. They have been known to speak Common to those not of their kind, though they speak it slowly and with some difficulty. Their words display a quiet demeanor and they are not given to excitement or violent emotion.
- The fraal avoid confrontation whenever possible, negotiating when able and fleeing when communication fails. Indeed, fraal seem more interested in observing violence than taking part in it themselves. Witnesses agree that fraal have been drawn to violence and spectacular conflict. Their behavior is almost childlike as they watch physical combat with wonder and an almost clinical detachment. If fraal should find combat unavoidable, they rely upon their psionic talents, which they call mindwalking, to defend themselves. Even more rarely, fraal use alien devices of great power to dissuade attackers.
- The fraal are highly intelligent, using their psionic talents and their unusual devices to best advantage. Fraal almost always operate in groups of seven or more. These small companies prove very effective at eluding and countering enemy threats; most attribute the fraal cohesion to their extensive use of telepathy.
- In psionic combat, the fraal incapacitate and neutralize opponents rather than making lethal attacks. However, they don’t seem adverse to prying into others’ thoughts, dominating minds, or even erasing memories when necessary.
- No more than one fraal in three will have a device that can deliver a ranged attack. Two different types of fraal ranged devices have been seen: firerods and firestaves. These devices and others that the fraal employ do not radiate any magical signature. The fraal seem reluctant to use their fire devices unless absolutely necessary. Most learned sages suspect that this involves a religious taboo against fire, but no one knows for sure. Communication with the fraal has revealed little, as they babble on about a morality of “limited resource development” and “conversationism” whenever the subject is broached.
- Fraal are not native to the Prime Material plane — at least, not this one. The accepted theory is that the fraal are planewalkers who have somehow lost the ability to traverse the planes and have become stranded. Others claim that the fraal are denizens of another crystal sphere who have crashed their spelljamming ship here. One element is common to all accounts of the fraal and their origin: the fraal have sucessfully conveyed that they have arrived on the Prime Material plane accidentally, and do not possess a means to travel home. A ranger claiming to have a fraal encounter reported that they revealed that the “Dark Master” that gave their floating world life has fallen asleep and must be awakened. While such reports make many believe that the fraal are evil, this doesn’t seem to be the case. Estimates place fraal population at less than a 1,000. Only recently has the existence of fraal children been confirmed. Even more recently it has been learned that the fraal, long-lived though they may be, are not immortal.
- For every five fraal encountered, there will be a team leader of 4 HD with 80+3d12 PSPs. This leader is usually referred to as simply “captain”, but bears no obvious marks or symbols of rank or precedence. If more than 50 fraal are encountered, four captains (4 HD, as above) and one great captain (6 HD, 90+4d10 PSPs) will be present.
- To date, no major fraal cities or communities have been found. Fraal are nearly always encountered in small groups, wandering from one place to the next. These groups display intense curiosity about the natural world; they seem unfamiliar with even the most common forms of local fauna and flora. The diversity of humanoid races also seems shocking to these visitors — fraal discussions of “radical genetic diversity” have been witnessed by many of those who have encountered them. Finally, the fraal seem completely amazed by well-known monsters and even the smallest displays of magic. To date, no fraal magician or priest has been encountered.
- Much like explorers and cartographers, the fraal measure and record their findings as they wander over all types of terrain. As the fraal presence becomes more widely known, the visitors are still occasionally attacked and slain by those who believe them to be lesser tanar’ri or some other form of evil creature.
- Little is known about fraal culture. They display an obvious distaste for physical labor, and a deep respect for developments and accomplishments of the mind. They also appear to be a deeply religious people, given to frequent meditation and communal worship. What powers the fraal venerate are unknown.
- The fraal are vegetarians, consuming a great variety of plants and processed agricultural products. They are known to be especially suspicious of new foods and new life forms, but after careful inspection they have proved themselves willing to try just about anything. A fraal appears to have a lifespan of about four or five centuries.
- Magical research and sagecraft have little to say about this mysterious new race of beings, although sightings have been growing more common over the last few decades. Indeed, only a few years ago the existence of the fraal was discounted as the product of imagination, rumor, or even illusionary sorcery. Tody, conflict rages among the learned, who argue about the exact origin of these travelers.
- The fraal, among themselves, have a number of specialists. These include biokineticists (healers), ESPions (advisor-spies), mystics (reputed to see the past and future), and very rarely, a biowarrior (a psionic soldier).
D20 Modern FraalEdit
Fraal appeared in the d20 Menace Manual and d20 Future splatbooks for d20 Modern, each with their own, separate, stat line. As Product Identity, Fraal are not OGL even though the rest of their books are. They also appear in Dark Conspiracy. Fraal are now (explicitly in Menace Manual) the stock Grays and have inherited their short height in place of their original height.
d20 Menace Manual version
- Ability score modifiers: Str –4, Con –2, Int +4, Wis +4, Cha +4.
- Automatic Language: A fraal can read, write, and speak Fraal.
- Psionics (Sp): At will— lesser mindlink ; 3/day— suggestion . Manifester level 10th; save DC 10 + fraal’s key ability modifier + power level.
d20 Future version
- Ability Modifiers: –4 Strength, –4 Constitution, +4 Intelligence, +4 Wisdom, +4 Charisma.
- Speed: 30 feet (despite small size).
- Fraal automatically read, write and speak their own language as a bonus language.
In d20 Future, the Fraal originally hailed from the now destroyed (cause unspecified, but implied to be slow) world of Yrvuun. The remaining Fraal are descended from colonists.
In both versions, while it is not mentioned in their stat block, as non-humans, they receive one less feat and get four less skill points at first level and one less skill point every level afterwards. Also their fluff gives them a couple bits with no mechanical representation (even though at least the second really should have one) stating they also have a poor sense of smell and no sense of taste, as well as the ability to speak telepathically.
Appearing in d20 Menace Manual and referenced in d20 Future, Half-Fraal are not the results of intercourse, but the abduction of and experimentation on females. The female can be of any species. Despite the fluff, the example is an Illithid a species that doesn't reproduce sexually and has no females, once again showing Wizards of the Coast's writers can't make a valid example stat-block to save their life. The template typically manifests as "gray skin, enlarged eyes, long, tapering fingers, or underdeveloped teeth." They are normally written off as random mutations, even in humans.
- Psionics (Sp): At will— lesser mindlink, suggestion. Manifester level 5th or base creature’s manifester level, whichever is higher; save DC 10 + half-fraal’s key ability modifier + power level.
- Ability Scores: A half-fraal gains the following ability score modifiers: Str –2, Con –2, Int +4, Wis +4, Cha +2.
- Automatic Language(s): A half-fraal with an Intelligence score of at least 8 gains the ability to read, write, and speak Fraal.
- Racial hit die gains skills and feats as an outsider.
Unlike Fraal, Half-Fraal aren't explicitly mentioned as playable or given a level adjustment.