The Jhotha are arthropods. They have six legs and three antennae spaced evenly around their central body, which is protected by a fairly tough exoskeleton. Nearly all of them have some psionic power.
In mating, a pair of Jhotha form a single mind for a while. Usually they separate afterward, but in a very few cases they remain a single person with two bodies. Their intelligence and psionic power is roughly squared; they are the rulers of the Jhotha. However, these Pairfolk do not seem to last long. After two to five years, they disappear. Some Jhotha think that they have gone exploring other worlds; others, that they have been translated into Heaven; others, that they have destroyed themselves, having experienced all that is worth experiencing.
The Jhotha have the capacity to form composite persons otherwise than in mating, but they try to avoid this. Multifolk formed thus are nearly always insane, though very powerful. Fortunately they don't last long, collapsing into their component persons within a few hours.
The Jhotha communicate by means of telepathy among themselves, but few of them can make sense of aliens' thoughts or speak intelligibly to them in return. The range of their telepathy is about eight kilometers in the open, but rapidly diminishes underground. Two meters of solid rock or five meters of loose earth are sufficient to cut off Jhotha telepathy. Other things that can interfere with communication include electrical storms, high-voltage wires and transformers (relevant only late in Torodoth's history, of course), and most kinds of magical shields. The Mists cut off all kinds of communication including telepathy.
Names: Jhotha's "real" names have six parts, representing pure thought and the five senses: a unique prime number, an image, a sound, a smell/taste, a touch-sensation, and a telekinetic sensation. Alien translators generally sieze on the image or sound or both, describe it in their language, and use that for translating the name. For instance, "Fractal-Pentagon-above-a-sapling-Jhray-while-the-Calibarana-cries-at-dawn" is how the name of a noted mathematician in Torodoth was translated by the Wexivinov -- usually abbreviated in bibliographies as Fractal-Pentagon.
[For game purposes, you can make up vocal names unpronouncable by vertebrate tongues.]
The pairfolk are closemouthed about the gods, with whom they are said to associate. It is whispered that on the few occasions when the pairfolk speak of the gods, they are jesting; but if the pairfolk do not know the gods, can the ordinary Jhotha hope to do so?
Metzaragd-Tzigopa said, just a few days before they vanished, that some of the gods amuse themselves by counting the stars. They count them all in less time than it takes to think "!," and begin counting them again immediately; if they were ever to grow bored with counting, the stars would vanish.
Permahatj-Qiznovi spoke at length about the gods T'd and C'r, after which speech they fell to separation again -- the only pair ever known to do so. Their revelation was in vain, for none who had listened to them could afterward remember what they said.
Ifgaunp-Rkam prophesied that when the End comes, no one will notice it except a psionically crippled larval Jhotha and a dying Blirthibo. They never explained further.
Utvanr-Ghisl spoke a list of the gods; they named four hundred and three. Three centuries later Bhocav-N' listed four hundred and thirty-six, but three gods from the earlier list were missing.
Jhotha are mainly solitary, but will cooperate to protect a clutch of eggs or help a neighbor who is being molested by aliens. They are most comfortable associating at long range; at short range (ten meters or less) it becomes difficult to distinguish one's own thoughts from others'.
The pairfolk are the rulers of the Jhotha, but most of them do nothing in the way of governing. There are rarely more than a few pairfolk in a Caligo at one time, and it is rarer still that more than one governs.
The Jhotha have something akin to music, which involves watching a certain kind of lichen grow in resonance to the thoughts of the observers.
Xithrund - This humour allows the Jhotha to hear the thoughts of other sentient beings within a range of about one mile. To understand complex thoughts of creatures other than Jhotha, the Jhotha must know the native language of the creature. Simpler thoughts, such as "I am hungry," "I am frightened," and so on, can be understood more easily. This does not let them dig about in deep thoughts, only to pick up current surface thoughts. Jhotha do not like to hear the dreams of sleeping aliens, and have been known to waken or even kill them when maddened by their insane sleeping thoughts. Use of this sense is automatic; a Jhotha cannot block out thoughts within range without constant effort. Being in range of a large number of minds, especially alien minds, makes it difficult for a Jhotha to concentrate and may cause him to go berserk if he critically fails a stress roll.
This is similar to the GURPS psionic telepathy power, limited to passive skills (telereceive, mind-shield and emotion sense). The average Jhotha power is 14, for a range of 1 mile. It costs 3 points per level. No skill roll is required to pick up surface thoughts, but deep memories cannot be received without the Vhezalund humour. A skill roll is required to block out unwanted thoughts; the mind-shield skill is a mental/hard skill for Jhotha, defaulting to IQ-6. The only other psi skill that can be learned with simple Xithrund is Emotion Sense (which works as normal for Jhotha subjects, but is at -10 for use on aliens). The basic cost is 30 pts, unless the player takes a lower or higher power level and range than is average for the Jhotha.
Vasrik - This humour allows some Jhotha to speak telepathically to creatures who lack natural receptive telepathy. To be understood by aliens, the Jhotha must know their language, though he may be able to get across a mental image or a simple idea such as a nonspecific warning or greeting without such language skill. The dreams of sleeping Jhotha with this humour are sometimes experienced as vivid hallucinations by waking aliens in the vicinity.
The average, base level is equivalent to 14 levels (range 1 mile) of Telepathy at 5 points per level. It allows the user to learn Telesend, Mental Blow, and Sleep. Most telepathic skills are learned as Mental/Average for Jhotha (not Mental/Hard as for Wexivinov or Briacite telepaths).
Vhezalund - This humour allows a few Jhotha to probe into, and sometimes alter or erase, the memories of other sentient beings; the subject does not have to be currently thinking about the memories, though a vhezalund probe often reminds the subject of things he has conciously forgotten or not thought of in a long while. The range is usually more limited than that of the Xithrund and Vasrik humours, generally less than a hundred meters. This can sometimes be used to learn alien languages and other mental skills. This use takes much longer than simply probing memories, but less time than would ordinarily be required to learn such skills.
The Vhezalund humour costs 5 points per level, and allows the user to learn the psi skills Telereceive (to pick up deeper thoughts than are available with Xithrund) and Mindwipe. Most Jhotha have a range of about 100 meters (power level 10), for a cost of 50 points. All telepathic skills are learned as Mental/Average for Jhotha (not Mental/Hard as for human telepaths).
Tzelyund - This humour allows most Jhotha to "read" and "write" telepathic impressions upon various objects. Maximum complexity of the message depends upon the mass of the object; a brief note could be inscribed upon a small pebble of less than an ounce, an epic would require a ton or so of rocks. The durability of the message depends upon the natural permanence of the object. A message incribed on a block of wood would be lost as soon as it began to rot; a message incribed upon soft organic matter would be lost almost immediately; a message incribed upon metal would last until it rusts or melts; etc. Brief messages are often inscribed upon durable organic matter such as Jhotha exoskeletons, eggshells, and the inner bones of other races -- for instance, to "mark" a particular alien as an enemy or friend of certain Jhotha. There are (fairly difficult) spells which allow alien mages to read, write and erase tzelyund messages (though the Jhotha language skill is required for all but detection and erasure).
Tzelyund costs Jhotha characters nothing, as equivalent to the Literacy advantage in a mostly literate culture. The *lack* of the Tzelyund humour is a disadvantage worth -15 points (similar to Illiteracy, but higher point value because the character cannot learn to read later on and buy off the disadvantage.) Skill with the Tzelyund humour is the same as that with the Jhotha language, since both the thought-language and the written language are biologically hardwired.
The Jhotha have a basic or average ST of 6 (-30 pts), IQ of 12 (+20 pts), HT of 9 (-10 pts). (These weaknesses can be compensated for by "riding" a controlled host animal.) The Jhotha exoskeleton has 1 pt of damage resistance and 1 pt of hardened resistance (+4 pts).
The Jhotha language is a Mental/Very Hard skill for all other races (except Jhray). To the Jhotha, all alien languages (except Jhray) are Very Hard skills. This counts as a disadvantage to Jhotha PCs worth -6 points (acts similarly to -3 levels of Language Talent).
The Jhotha have no vocal chords that would enable them to speak alien languages normally; treat this as the Mute disadvantage (-25 pts). This is offset by the Vaskrik humour (costs 40 pts + cost for some level of psi telesend skill).
The Jhotha have a natural ability which allows them to temporarily link their nervous system in to that of another creature, controlling it and sensing through its senses (in addition to, not in place of, the Jhotha's natural senses). This does not count as a humour for the purpose of magic; it is not affected by those rare and difficult spells which detect, supress or transfer humours. In order to do this, the Jhotha must unsheath the nerve-claws at the ends of his legs and insert them into the creature's brain and spinal column. (Treat this as an impaling attack at ST+1; the Jhotha must do at least 1 pt of damage beyond armor to penetrate.) He then injects a tranquilizing venom. (The creature can roll vs. HT to resist the venom.) Once this is done, it takes half an hour to an hour to form a reliable connection, and an equal time to safely disengage from a host creature already controlled. (The creature rolls vs. Will to resist the connection. Sentient beings get a +2 on all will rolls for this purpose.) This ability is an advantage worth --- pts.
Most Jhotha characters will start out with a host creature. Treat it as an Ally worth 5 points for each 25 points that the creature has. For the purposes of this, use only physical attributes, advantages and disadvantages, and ignore IQ and all mental advantages, disadvantages and skills. If the character has a host animal which is not native to the region in which he lives, he must pay an unusual background advantage cost. If he has a sentient host, he must pay a very large unusual background cost and take a major Enemy disadvantage as well; other Jhotha will react to him at -2, the race of which the host is a member will react at -20 (always hostile), other races at -5 to -15, depending on how friendly the two races are. (-40 pts)
The Jhotha have the advantages Unfazeable (15 pts)...
A somewhat useful disadvantage for Jhotha PCs is Crippled: Short Range (a humourotic disease, Yiv-Xithrund. The character has a much shorter range for psi receptivity than is usual for his race, which is a disadvantage in dealing with his own kind but can be useful in remaining sane while living amongst aliens for any great length of time. It is worth a varying number of points; consult the Power-range table for Telepathy in the GURPS Psionics or Basic Set books, and subtract 2 points per level for each level of difference between the Jhotha average (15) and your power level.
Common but not universal disadantages among Jhotha include Xenophobia and Demophobia (because they have difficulty hearing themselves think when in range of a large number of minds).
Jhotha tend to go berserk (must roll vs. Will to retain self-control) when in range of sleeping, dreaming aliens; this is a disadvantage worth -8 points.
The basic cost to be a Jhotha is -14 points (counting the basic Xithrund humour which all Jhotha have, and assuming that it is at power level 15).
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