The Masqueraders are sensory junkies, having lived a life of far different substance they revel—and often are overloaded by— physical life inhabiting a human body. Its pleasure and pain, from the tiniest pinpricks to the most intense feelings, fills them in a deafening whirl, and while some function awkwardly but learn to improve control, others can’t handle it and simply end up shattering the “conduits” thus releasing them into their original form once more. If strong enough they can assume a new form with the energy they’ve collected, and if this isn’t possible they vampirize a weak-willed host body, erode its being, and take their place before the body becomes uninhabitable due to the aftereffects of death.
They are taking the soul’s place in the body, sending off to whatever lies beyond, a feat only possible after the heart stops beating.
Alternately, they can temporarily stay in a weak-willed host, controlling and leeching from it until their will gives out, again releasing them into their default form—a faux manifestation chosen out of personal preference, for no one knows what they really look like beneath all the false masks.
Masqueraders cannot absorb the entire soul of other entities. Instead they feed on the excess energy it produces, weakening it while sustaining their own.
In the void they take whatever form they desire and with no basis for comparison can only mirror the warped alien monstrosities they see.
Those who have experienced the wonders of this world, however, adapt this image to resemble things a human could understand.
Masqueraders who have seen an animal might even take these characteristics along with whatever weirdness they came across in the void, creating a hybrid form that defies logic. Thus the Night Hounds’ vaguely lupine but somehow cephalopodan appearance.
Stronger more experienced beings can exhibit remarkable control over their host body, posing as human in order to get by unnoticed.
Others however, are volatile and not used to the sensations. They twitch and jerk as though overcome with epilepsy or some other motor disorder. They spout words and phrases stored in the brain, imprints from the previous consciousness, in rambling fits. Filled with memories of things they did not experience and consumed with impulses that were heretofore unrealized, it can drive them over the edge and into a curiously familiar-looking madness.
While they are capable of being coherent quite often, this oddball behavior gives them away to those aware of the Masquerader’s presence on earth.
Regardless of control, their best bet is to avoid socialization entirely. Even with remarkable intelligence and complex thought patterns, they are still alien beings driven by hunger and need. Too strange to even pretend full resemblance to a human personality.
Environments full of troubled, unstable people attract them. The negativity signifies strong emotion, and strong emotion reveals a meal worthy of consumption. Some have even figured out how to trick people into following them out of plain sight instead of blindly ambushing them.
Easier when people are under the influence of drugs, in the throes of intense emotions, or simply insane.
Victims of Masqueraders bear a strong resemblance to descriptions of demonic possession, from the speaking in strange languages and confusing patterns, to the convulsive body movement, to the enthusiastic hostility.
Some of them, despite their perpetually hungry energy-burning natures, long to rise above and be something better than a glorified psychic parasite. Be it because of close proximity to humanity, or an awareness of the pain and a desire to end it.