Limited to small communities in the Yerasol Archipelago, maenads are a seafaring, psionic race rumored to be savagely emotional, but perceived as extremely reserved by those who actually encounter them. In fact, both rumor and perception are true—maenads have developed a strict code of logic and self-control as a means of holding their intense emotional turmoil at bay.
Maenads are descended from humans forcibly bred with extraplanar gem dragons who enslaved them for unknown reasons. Though the first community of subjects proved naturally psionic, the maenads were far too violent and willful for the inscrutable designs of their masters. The maenads’ creators abandoned them, and sank their island nation to cleanse the slate. Most maenads drowned as the ocean boiled, except those who were at sea when the catastrophe occurred. When these maenads returned from their fishing and raiding, they found only open water where their home had been. The survivors set sail and anchored elsewhere—but couldn’t leave behind their collective grief and anger.
The maenads eventually recovered their numbers. Given completely to rage, they were known for centuries as vicious raiders and pirates. Terror tales of the “Reavers of the Nor’western Seas,” briny skinned giants whose ships were decorated with corpses, savages who hoisted sails sewn from human flesh, were the obsession of human mariners and coastal folk. It was said that when taken by the reavers, you were blessed if they killed you before gruesomely defiling your body, and damned if it were the other way around.
Over a century ago, the maenads adopted a philosophy of logic and self-control to stave off racial self-destruction. Human navies had advanced, developing ships that far outgunned and outmaneuvered the vessels of the reavers. Likewise humanity perfected tactics to rout the psionic pirates. While most veteran seafarers are savvy nowadays to the maenads’ cultural shift toward pacifism, violent “reaver tales” remain a staple of popular literature. So long as it sells the penny dreadfuls, the nightmarish image of the murderous maenad will remain stamped in humanity’s collective psyche.
While a few maenads indulge their old, savage ways, most abide by a ritualized code of pacifism, reason, and self-discipline. On the occasion a maenad loses control, a flood of emotion rises to the surface, often to be released in acts of astonishing bravery or violence.
Maenads are broad and muscular, standing over 6 feet tall and typically weighing around 200 pounds, with maenad males the same height as and only marginally heavier than maenad females. They wear the thick hair on their heads in dreadlocks or braids (and have little hair elsewhere on their bodies). Maenads smell strongly of salt and their skin is dusted with a saline sparkle, giving them a nacreous luster in certain light.
Maenads and Maenad Racial Traits at the D20PFSRD