A harssaf had a somewhat reptilian face with slitted red eyes that seemed to glow. Their skin was brownish red and felt rough and grainy to the touch. They had very long fingers. Both sexes stood about 6 ft (1.8 m) and weighed about 190 pounds (86 kilograms).
Harssafs typically dressed in sand-colored clothing.
These desert creatures were immune to blindness and fire but vulnerable to cold. They were resistant to spells and piercing and slashing weapons and healed exceptionally rapidly. They had exceptional reflexes.
Harssafs had several unique supernatural powers tied to their essence as creatures of fire and sand. They could will into existence an aura of intense heat radiating from their bodies like a shimmering mirage. The heat was harmful to most creatures coming near the harssaf, and they typically carried metal weapons that would conduct this heat as well.
Daily, harssafs could also produce a powerful pulse of sand, bursting in all directions out to 30 feet (9.1 meters). This blast of sand could injure and blind creatures, but harssafs themselves were not harmed by it.
Finally, a harssaf could change itself and its possessions into sand whenever it wanted. In this form, it could slither on the surface and squeeze through tight spaces.
Harssafs had harsh demeanors and took no issue with killing others if it meant their own survival. They favored order over chaos.
In battle, harssafs often wore chain shirts and fought with a pair of kukris. They favored ambushes, burrowing just below the sand or using their sand form and relying on their blindsense to recognize approaching targets. Once in battle, they took advantage of their flaming auras.
Harssafs were well aware of their weakness to the cold and thus would target any spellcasters that they deemed capable of casting cold magic.
Harssafs maintained a strict caste society, composed of "tenders" and "scouts". The scouts were the leaders and the fighters and composed about two-thirds of the population. Scouts were of either sex. The tenders were the injured, the aged, the pregnant, the child-caring, the very young, and the craftsmen. While still capable warriors, they were treated as lower-class. Anyone could prove him- or herself worthy of moving up to the scout caste for the first time or returning to it after an injury or raising young.
Most young, however, were collectively raised by the clan, receiving their training from a variety of scouts in areas of combat or religion. Upon coming of age, young harssafs chose their own careers.
Many harssafs within the scout caste pursued training as monks, while others were fighters or rangers. Clerics were rare, but were highly valued and often served as healers or leaders. Druids were more common than clerics, and wizards and especially sorcerers were more common still.
A harssaf camp had several small tents where the tenders lived together and large shelters for the scouts, though they also had no issue with sleeping out in the open desert.
Separate clans rarely warred with each other; they would rather raid other weaker races for resources.
The legends of the harssafs held that they emerged from the desert in ancient past and that only they would survive when the desert finally swallowed up the rest of the world.
Harssafs served the efreeti Memnon, and when he came to Calimshan from the Plane of Fire in −6800 DR, hordes of harssafs came with him. When the elves put an end to the Era of Skyfire, the same high magic that bound Calim and Memnon in the Calimemnon Crystal also trapped the harssafs in the Calim Desert. They survived for millennia, well past the the Time of Troubles, despite many attempts by the calephs of Calimshan to eliminate them.