During the Illithid Invasion, the Alpha Quadrant burned, countless lives were lost or otherwise destroyed, but for the Dwarhim it forced them to revisit one of their greatest shames and let the galaxy see the hand they played in all the sorrow.
Over one thousand years ago, there was a Dwarhim geneticist who attempted to grant the psychic-blind Dwarhim with psionic potential. It had been a mad quest for Derrontin Granbash nearly all of this life. He envied other species that could move items with a thought or force others to do their bidding. It was a power that he wanted for himself and his people; a way to retain their glory in the galaxy. At first the Institute of Science approved of his research, granting him the funding and technology. As time wore on, Derrontin was not able to provide any concrete proof that he was making any progress. Eventually, his funding was cut and he was assigned to work with a rival on researching a cure for a form of cancer that was ravaging Dwarhim in their frontier colonies. Enraged, Derrontin left his position and after failing to procure funding from patrons, he turned to crime.
Derrontin performed medical duties for criminal organizations to secure funding for the equipment he needed. He even mixed poisons for cartels who wanted to kill rivals quietly. Once he had secured the equipment he needed, he began the ghoulish work of rounding up test subjects. He felt that if the Institute would have allowed him to run trials on fellow Dwarhim that he was on the verge of a breakthrough before his funding was cut. Now, without the Institute looking down on him and everything he did, he felt free to finally see if his theories were correct. He offered credits, clothing, and food to lure in indigents from the lower wards of the capital city of the Empire of Steel, Ironheart. Like many major cities, the older areas of the city were plagued with poverty, crime, and vice. The Lower Wards were home to many homeless Dwarhim just looking for some food, a fix, and a place to sleep, and Derrontin found them to be easy picking. Once back at his lab, he would he would drug his victims and begin his tests.
As it turned out Derrontin was correct, there was a latent psionic gene in some Dwarhim, an estimated 10% of the population had it. He unlocked it. Unlocking the gene also lead to some surprising side effects. The victims who had the gene had their hair turn white and their eyes went milky white as if they were blind though they could still see. Skin color would turn bluish-gray. They developed an intense sensitivity in light. Anything brighter than a common indoor light bay would cause blindness and natural sunlight would cause their skin to crack and blister. Still, they also gained the ability to learn and develop psionic powers.
With his theories proven, Derrontin set about plans to unlock this potential in a wide array of people. His test subjects, now followers, traveled to the Dwarhim colony of Arntok along the edge of the Empire of Steel's territory. There he created a water-based transmittal system and tainted the water supply with it. The solution unlocked the genes in those that had the potential, but it also sickened most of the other residents of the small colony. When it was discovered what happened, those that did not transform rose up against Derrontin and his growing "cult." When Imperial forces arrived to assist the colony, all they found were smoking ruins. Derrontin and his followers repeated this process three more times before they were tracked down by Imperial warships.
For several days, Derrontin, aided by the psionic abilities of his "children" dodged the warships. Finally, they were cornered in the Aztharon system. Derrontin's ship was badly damaged and the Imperial warships were moving in for the kill when several of his number in a fit of desperation were able to somehow open a wormhole which allowed them to escape. The Empire declared them dead after a thorough search of the sector and adjacent sectors. In reality, Derrontin and his cult ended up on the edge of the galaxy. They managed to survive and thrive until they were discovered by the Illithid.
At first it was assumed that the Derro were another servitor species like the Tzakandi and Mind Rippers that were genetically modified by the Illithid from some other Milky Way species. However, Dwarhim historians recognized them for what they were and genetic scans on Derro corpses and captives confirmed that they were the descendants of Derrontin's cult. It was also assumed that they were a conquered species, that was also incorrect. The Derro were slated to become slaves of the Illithid, but the Derro struck a bargain to offer their services as warriors in return for guidance in honing their psionic abilities. This became apparent after the invasion ended and the Derro largely left with their tutors. Those that stayed behind were hounded by the Empire of Steel (something that caused quite a political storm for the Empire in the Concord Senate) until they too were scattered.
Today, Derro are still largely found with Illithids, and therefore the largest group in any one place is in the Whispering Dark. However, there are Derro scattered throughout the Alpha Quadrant and beyond. They tend to work with unsavory characters, but that is not to say that all are criminals. Only about 40 are known to live in Concord space as citizens of one of the Concord members, most other free Derro have thrown their lot in with other stellar powers like the Romulans, Cardassians, Satyxis, and the League of Unaligned Worlds.
Derro are humanoids that stand around 4.5 tall. Their hair is uniformly white with light to dark gray skin and milky white eyes. They have lean builds in relation to their Dwarhim cousins.
Derro for Savage Worlds
Hardy: Derro start play with a d6 in Vigor.
Psionic: All Derro start play with the Arcane Background (Psionics) edge. They all have the Mind Reading power, but the other two power selections are up to the player.
Low-Light Vision: Derro ignore penalties for Dim and Dark lighting conditions.
Strong Willed: Derro have developed innate defenses against intrusions into their minds. They receive a +4 bonus to resist mind-affecting powers (such as Puppet and Mind Reading). This bonus also applies to a Derro looking at someone using the Disguise power (even though they may not know they are looking at an illusion at the time).
Outsider: All Derro start play with the Major version of the Outsider Hindrance. Derro are known collaborators with the Illithids and are therefore despised throughout much of the Alpha Quadrant.
Vulnerability to Sunlight: Derro are blinded when exposed to light brighter than a common household lightbulb, but protective goggles can protect against this. However, when exposed to sunlight, even the dim light of dawn or dusk, their skin begins to blister. This is played out as if the Derro is being attacked by the Sunlight for every hour of exposure. For sunlight akin to early morning or late evening intensity, the damage is a d8. Mid-morning and mid-afternoon intensity deals d10+2 damage. Sunlight equal to the brightness of high noon or greater deals d12+4 damage. This is lethal damage to Derro, and armor does not add to Toughness against these kinds of attacks. However, vacc suits with a properly shielded helmet can protect against this damage.
Racial Enemy: The Dwarhim carry an intense hatred for Derro even after all this time. When dealing with Dwarhim, Derro suffer a -4 penalty to Charisma.
Derro for Rogue Space
Archetypes: Derro can be Scoundrels and Soldiers and receive either a +1 bonus to Fighting or Acquiring.
Strong Willed: Derro get a +4 bonus to tests against mind-affecting powers like Suggestion or Telepathy.
Sunlight Vulnerability: Derro suffer damage when exposed to sunlight. Armor does not decrease the damage taken, but it can negate all damage if the armor totally covers the Derro's body. The damage is L for sunlight equal to that of early morning/late evening; M damage for sunlight akin to mid-morning/mid afternoon; V damage for intense sunlight. This is considered lethal damage.
Psionic: All Derro are Espers with the Telepathy power even if their Empathy score is not high enough. Telepathy is an innate ability. They can converse with each other telepathically without attempting a power roll, but do have to make a power roll (using their Empathy score) if attempting to communicate with another species. Derro Espers can select an additional power to Telepathy with all powers being equally available.