A player race in Azolin:
The naturally psionic xephs are a mysterious and little-known race of Azolin, most easily likened to a sort of benign doppelganger. The base form of a xeph is a medium-sized humanoid; hairless, vaguely neutral and resembling somewhat the enigmatic and rare githyanki or githzerai. Some loremasters have theorized that the creation of the xeph was as an exiled offshoot from these two feuding races. Whatever the origins, xephs are a truly unique species.
Xephs are intensely curious and obsessed with people; it is ingrained in their blood. When a xeph is of age to travel they leave their homes and journey across Azolin in search of their “true” race. Over a number of years a xeph will slowly polymorph into a member of their favorite race, eventually becoming fully naturalized and indistinguishable. This process varies from xeph to xeph, some never settling on a single race to emulate but rather enjoying the endless variety Azolin has to offer. Because the xeph adapt in such a way it is impossible to accurately count the number of xephs in Azolin. However, xeph reproduction always results in a pure-blooded xeph, never in a half-breed. The xeph parent may be identical to the race it has chosen, but the offspring will always take on only the base xeph characteristics.
Xephs not only adapt to look like other races but they mimic their personalities. They try to emulate every facet of that race in extreme detail. Young xephs not ready for the final change utilize their natural psionics to craft increasingly detailed illusions to “try on” forms and races, and shift effortlessly from personality to personality. One day a xeph could be around gnomes, silly and happy, but the next be around drow and become cruel and evil without a moment’s hesitation.
When a xeph has finally made its decision on the favorite race, it undergoes the “Final Rebirth” wherein a form of true polymorph is achieved. Whereas before, when the xeph was traveling and experimenting, illusions were manifested that represents a physical change, this "Final Rebirth" is a permanent disguise that cannot be detected.
Back in Forgotten Time, there existed an isolated nation in the Eshtar Jungles. These were the ancestors of the xeph, and their kingdom was ancient and powerful. Masters of the Psionic Arts, the xeph were confident in their cities of stone and crystal, safe from the horrors that lurked beyond their borders. In the end, however, the gravest threat to the xeph was from inside.
Within the Empire of the Xeph there existed an ancient order of psions known as the Zahhak Cabal. They enjoyed much power and prestige in the kingdom, having been responsible for the creation of the psionic constructs known as Takwin that the kingdom used as labor. Proud and arrogant, they embarked on a dangerous project. Using ancient and forgotten psionic power, they created a being of pure psionic energy and power. This being came to be known as Shak'nall, and it was a god. It was also insane. Lashing out at its creators, it corrupted their souls and forms, twisting them into a race of serpentine creatures known now as the yuan-ti. The Zahhak Cabal used their powers to incite an uprising with the Takwin, leading a terrible and bloody crusade in the name of their new god. In addition to their psionic powers, the yuan-ti also possessed a strange, mutagen venom that could change other humanoids into yuan-ti.
In this manner, the kingdom of the xeph was ended. The xeph were only saved from destruction by another order of xeph, a group of quasi-religeous soulknives known as the Shining Blades of Simorgh. The Blades lead a vast migration of the remaining xeph west, telling them to remain hidden in the lands of Man. Once the xeph had made it to safety, the remaining members of the Blades attacked the headquarters of the Zahhak Cabal. Inside, they found Shak'nall himself, a writhing mass of serpentine flesh, only partly material. The Blades used their combined psychic powers to banish Shak'nall to the depths of the Astral Plane, before being struck down by yuan-ti. With their god missing, however, the leadership of the yuan-ti splintered, and began to fight amongst themselves, quickly falling into barbarity.
Thus, the xeph became what they are today: a culture of nomads without a home that exist among other cultures on Azolin. Although the yuan-ti aren’t as powerful as they once were, the danger they pose still keeps the xeph in hiding.
This creation myth is not widely regarded as true, as it is only retold among xephs as a means of entertainment. Xephs, regardless of their origins, enjoy their malleable nature and fluid personalities and care little for explaining their unique condition.
Xeph on Azolin
Xeph have no homeland, but travel incessantly in their personal quests to find their "true" race.
Xeph alignment is as malleable and fluid as their nature would suggest. A xeph dwelling amongst an evil race would tend to be evil, while that same xeph, later dwelling among a goodly race would tend to be good.
The chief deity of the xephs is Ralishaz, the Dweller on the Horizon. He is the deity of travel, roads, distance, and horizons, all of which are concepts that stir the xeph soul.
Xeph speak whatever language is convenient for them at the time, usually dictated by the culture they live within at the time.
A xeph’s name is granted to her psionically her fourth birthday. These xeph names belong to the collective race and are used and reused down through the generations. Xephs who travel usually take the name of their city of birth as a second name, a reminder of where they originally began their journey through life.
- Male Names: Assim, Bahram, Behrooze, Cyrus, Jamsheed, Ksathra, Majeed, Mehrdad, Nasim, Shatrevar, Xerxes
- Female Names: Amira, Azar, Cyra, Darya, Jaleh, Marjan, Narda, Shahin, Soraya, Zenda
- Second Name: Asha, Dareh, Feroz, Kurush, Melchior, Saeed, Val
A xeph adventurer is usually motivated merely by the thought of travel and exploration itself, as well as finding themselves. A xeph may also be motivated by the desire to see new wonders, feats of might, psionics, or magic great enough to inspire the xeph to greater works of personal art.