The Irda are a fictional species in the fantasy world of Dragonlance for the Dungeons & Dragons role-playing game. In the fantasy collection, where the races and Gods are made up of a fantasy pantheon of the author's creation, they are the first born of all races, born of Evil gods, originally named High Ogres and are also the ancient predecessors of the contemporary or more popularized Ogres.
The Irda or High Ogres, appear in The Irda - The Lost Histories vol II, by Linda P. Baker, Dragonlance Chronicles - Dragons of Summer Flame by Tracy Hickman and Margaret Weis and in a somewhat contradictory plot line within Dragonlance- The Otherlands, by Haring, Bennie & Terra. From a schematic literary perspective, their presence represents a gifted and aristocratic race of humanoids which the authors have effectively created to depict the paradoxes of extreme good & evil, freedom & slavery, as well as obsession with the maintenance of greed, corruption, mysticism and heirarchy or imposed superiority. They may be borrowed in part, like many other fictional races, from J. R. R Tolkien's Middle-earth races, being similar to his Elves in being almost immortal, gifted magically and unearthly in their physical appearance. Unlike Tolkien's races of good, the original Dragonlance High Ogres were created by the evil Dragonlance god Takihisis to represent it's attributes of vanity, darkness, hatred, control, intrigue and chaos. The original High Ogre race was destroyed during events in the Lost Histories- The Irda and then became the Irda.
The High Ogres and Irda appear in the Dragonlance book, The Lost Histories - Volume 2: The Irda where the story of the fall of their empire is told and subsequently appear in the Dragons of Summer Flame where the Irda Isle Anaiatha is destroyed after the god Chaos is released from his enchantment. The only other Dragonlance appearance of the High Ogre or Irda is briefly within the The Second Generation story collection of "Raistlin's Daughter", with further mention in Leaves from The Tree at the Inn of Last Home.
The Irda also appeared in the second edition in the Monstrous Compendium Dragonlance Appendix (1989) under the "Ogre, High" entry. The Mischta, Nzunta and an aquatic Ogre variant the Yrasda, are mentioned in the Dragonlance Dungeons and Dragons publication The Otherlands.
As described in The Lost Histories Volume 2, The Irda, Children of The Stars, the Irda, like their former race known as Ogres, are tall, graceful, humanoid creatures with typically slender frames in females, with muscular but slender male counterparts. Irda skin ranges from light green and blue shades to dark, almost black skin. Eye color among the Irda being black, grey, silver, blue, green or gold, the hair is of any shade and of a silver hue. Irda are inherently magical and can cast spells very naturally. As told in Dragons of Summer Flame by Hickman, the beauty of the High Ogres/Irda was said to rival all other races on Krynn, possessing physical charisma that all races would behold in wonder, even moreso than the majestic Elves who were gifted by Paladine.
As described by Weiss and Hickman in one of the common Dragonlance novel style, long explanatory paragraphs covering the characteristics of the inside world, they are singular and contemplative, keeping to themselves most of the time both out of disdain from the rest of the cruel and harsh world and also to avoid being used by other races for their gifts.. The Irda have incredibly long lives, and the Black Wizard character Raistlin Majere was said to have exclaimed, when he met an Irda in a The Second Generation novelette "Raistlin's Daughter", that they did not age in his eyes, which saw the world as constantly dying. In ancient times as told in The Irda: Children of the Stars, the Ogre culture promoted the sporting of luxuriously rich fabrics and jewelry in their clothing, but upon the rebirth of their culture, and adoption of worship to the Gods of Good, the Irda wore fine light linen clothing of white, blue or grey color.
After their race was cursed by its creator Takhisis in The Irda, most of the remaining evil aligned High Ogre were transformed into hideous de-evolved forms, hunched and terribly mis-shapen, a spiteful blasphemous vengance for their original gifts from the Dark Queen. Some were turned into half-ogre creatures, or Oroughi, the others as what would be known as "real ogres" or hairy ugly green monsters, and their fantasy world variants. The Irda tells how all good-aligned Ogres managed to escape Takhisis' rage as they were protected by the gods of Good, keeping their original graceful forms in addition to being blessed with shapeshifting ability to hide their true, fearsomely beautiful and powerful selves lest they be chastised or persecuted by their former human slaves. These were the Irda.
Not appearing until the publication Dragonlance, The Otherworlds and Taladas - The Minotaurs, only a small amount of evil-aligned Irda escaped and were hence named Nzunta along with another small group of good aligned Ogres, the Mischta and their sea-dwelling counterparts, the Yrsada. All of whom escaped the disfiguration while the Mischta and Yrasda, like the Irda, attained some level of shapeshifting ability from the God Mishakal..
As told in The Irda, the High Ogres were first created on the world of Krynn by the evil goddess Takhisis. Cruel, long lived, extremely powerful both physically and magically, they were able to overcome the Elves, children of the gods of good, and the Humans, children of the gods of neutrality. As Elves could not work in the mines extracting precious gemstones due to their physical condition, the ogres began enslaving humans.
Their strict society considered races other than the Ogre to be insignificant. However, an incident in one of those mines in which Everlyn, the daughter of Igraine, a governor of an ogre province, became trapped in a cave-in, triggered a series of events which lead to the splitting of the ogre society.
Eadamm, a human slave, refused to follow Igraine's orders to abandon the cave, and with several other slaves rescued Everlyn. Igraine not only decided to refuse to execute the human, but befriended him, learning about human traditions. Better understanding them, he was able to give human slaves a better treatment, increasing the profits of his region.
After these events were discovered, the Ruling Council of the High Ogres charged Igraine with treason, ordering to execute him. He fled Takar, capital of the ogre empire, along with the ogres who sided with him and, after defeating several attempts to capture them thanks to the human slaves who sided with the exiled, reached Schall Bay.
As punishment, Hiddukel, (the Dragonlance god of mischeif, evil and trade),and the other gods of evil punished them, killing many of them with a cold fire rain, abandoning them. The goddess Mishakal took pity on the well intentioned Ogres and gave them a magical island to settle in, far away from Ansalon, said to be near the Dragon Isles. Igraine as the leader of these Ogres himself used the term Irda to describe his group of followers for the first time. However, in order to retain their magical abilities and beauty, the Irda were forced to relieve themselves of social contact, resulting in their isolation from the rest of Krynn's races and the distancing of themselves from each other.
In addition, since the Irda were not evil as were the other Ogres, they were permitted to keep their slender bodies while the rest of the Ogres were given hideous shapes by Takhisis in her rage. The Irda shunned any contact with the other races, using their shapechanging abilities to disguise themselves, hiding their isle Anaiatha with a magical fog, and limiting travelling in Ansalon.
The preceding tale is told in all three Dragonlance texts containing mention of the Irda although the details of the events leading up to the Irda escape and most of the High Ogre empire is told in The Lost Histories - The Irda, while the other details of what happened to the surviving evil High Ogres and other clean up of the story line is done in Dragons of Summer Flame and The Otherlands. Although they were not mentioned in The Irda or the Dragons of Summer Flame account of the Irda's escape, the story of other good High Ogres who fled to adjoining islands of Anaiatha named the Mischta, along with their evil Nzunta counterparts, later appeared in the Dragonlance publication The Otherlands, (although the intention of Weis and Hickman may have been that all Irda/Ogres were destroyed- see below- Existence After Chaos War).
In The Irda, all of the evil Ogres were cursed, however within The Otherlands a story that some evil Ogres did avoid the curses of the evil gods and these Nzunta ogres managed to, like the Mischta, escape into the isolated and unpopulated Dragon Isles of Taladas following the path of the Irda. The Nzunta were told to war with the Mischta on occasion and also took some of the transformed Ogres, (named Orughi in The Otherlands), as slaves to help them maintain their former lifestyle in seclusion.
The next chronological appearance of the Irda was in a later story where an Irda supposedly mated with Raistlin, Krynn's most powerful wizard, as per the tale told in The Second Generation novelette "Raistlin's Daughter".
As written in Dragons of Summer Flame, the Irda did not commonly associate with one another, preferring separation from each other. The wise among the Irda saw this as a problem for mating reasons; if the Irda did not interact, there would be no children and the race would die. They invented the Valin, a magical bond that was created between two Irda without consent, a bond linking their very souls, and the only way to lift it was for the female to bear the male's child. If the two Irda refused, they would undergo horrendous physical torment that generally led to death. Out of necessity, most Irda give into the Valin, decide what is best for the child, and then go their separate ways. Most Irda are only affected by the Valin once in their lifetime.
The short story "Raistlin's Daughter" details a rare occasion when the Valin is inflicted upon an Irda and Raistlin Majere, who eventually surrender to the Valin in a cave in Wayreth Forest. Raistlin later reveals the story to be just a rumor. The event takes place between the time when the Irda escaped to Anaiatha and the events beginning the Chaos War in Dragons of Summer Flame, and although the event was never confirmed in the Dragonlance novels, it would follow that a wise Irda fortold the Chaos War events somehow and sought Usha (a pivotal character associated with the Irda appearing in Dragons of Summer Flame's storyline) as a bearer of fate to destroy Chaos.
"And the baby was beautiful, as beautiful as her mother. For it is said that, in the ancient days before they grew self-centered and seduced by evil, the most beautiful of all races ever created by the gods was the ogre...."
- Raistlin's Daughter 
In the Dragons of Summer Flame however, the Irda taking care of Usha revealed to her the true nature of her fully human heritage with the story of her parent's arrival upon Anaiatha in a storm ship-wreck, contradicting any such bloodline event.
In the Dragons of Summer Flame Hickman and Weiss brought the Irda back into the main events of Krynn, writing that while preparing the invasion of Ansalon, the Knights of Takhisis set an expedition to investigate an island north of the continent. This was the island where the Irda had made their home amongst nature, and seeing the knights approach used their magic to create powerful illusions, transforming themselves and their island into a primitive and homely state. Finding the isle inhabited by a very primitive tribal culture, they decided the isle was of no consequence to them and left.
The Irda inhabitants of the isle (Anaitha), were afraid the expedition may be followed by a conquering force, and decided to protect the isle by using the stored magical energy found in the Greygem of Gargath. Although the Irda controlled very powerful magic, they were corrupted by the innate force of Chaos, (the Dragonlance God of Chaos and Creation), when they tried to harness it's power, which led them to break the stone. Usha, the only human living on the island was sent forth to the mainland with protective items before the Irda released Chaos, allowing her to escape their fate and take with her the story of the Irda to Krynn.
In the imaginary world of Krynn, after the event on Anaiatha in Summer Flame where the God Chaos was released who afterward destroyed the Irda's island, any few remaining Irda on Krynn would have been either those who were traveling away from Anaiatha, (as Irda were sometimes prone to do due to boredom from incredibly long lives), or as told in The Otherlands, members the small and isolated Ogre clans that were either living off of the main island of Anaiatha, (the peace loving Mischta and Yrasda clan), or the still evil, Nzunta faction who had made their home next to inactive volcano islands in the area. The authors of the main Dragonlance plotline may for storyline reasons, have intended the entire Irda and Ogre race to have been removed from the fantasy world, their appearance in The Otherlands not continuous with the events of the fantasy novels as it would seem that they are all destroyed in the main storyline of the Dragonlance Krynn. This being said, authors of The Otherlands were not the same as the other novels and may have created the following storylines for gameplay reasons for the Dungeons & Dragons adventure game, but are worth mentioning due to their multiple recurring appearance.
The Mischta are an offshoot of the Irda race , who live on the Isle of Selasia in Dragonlance's Krynn. In the books they live in the forests and are peace-loving creatures, much like their cousins. The Mischta live in small villages and settlements, and are led by a High King. Even though the Mischta of Selasia have no contact with their Irda brethren on Anaiatha, their High King would immediately defer to the High King of the Irda, if they ever resume contact. The Mischta physically resemble their cousins, and are also quite adept in magic. They will never intentionally harm another being if they can avoid doing so.
As the curse befell Ogre-kind after the events of The Lost Histories - The Irda, and the Irda were protected against the curse, a small pocket of evil-aligned High Ogres also escaped the curse. These ogres fled along the same route as the Irda, and were successful in retaining all their physical and mental abilities. They became known as the Nzunta and have a deep hatred for the Irda, whom they consider their betrayers. Nzunta are masters of shapechanging and extremely powerful in the magical arts. They believe in racial purity and thus their numbers upon Krynn are extremely low. The Nzunta long ago enslaved the Orughi, and use them to show their power upon Ansalon and the Dragon Isles.
As depicted in Taladas- The Minotaurs, around the time of the Cataclysm, certain irda underwent a transformation, becoming closely linked with the sea. These irda became the first of the yrasda, an irda-like race, whose members could transform themselves into one of three different sea creatures. Why these irda voluntarily underwent such changes is unknown, although some sages speculate that they were sea-faring irda who broke from their people to live permanently on and in the sea. Like irda, yrasda are shapeshifters, though each sub-race specializes in a single animal form, and can assume no other. Aphelka [neutral-aligned Yrasda] may take the form of squid, Thanic [evil-aligned] may become a vicious and disgusting carp-like fish, and Ushama [good-aligned] can transform into killer whales (orca).