The Sholai encountered during the events of Geneforge are explorers, who stumble upon Sucia Island by accident. While on the island, Trajkov, their leader, discovers the Geneforge, and with the aid of a captured Shaper, Goettsch, deciphers its purpose: to confer unimaginable power upon the user. Seeking to make use of the Geneforge, Trajkov and his followers take up residence in the Geneforge research complex, using the Shaper artifacts and Canisters housed within to arm and augment themselves. Goettsch, however, escapes, and Trajkov's obsession with acquiring the power of the Geneforge leads him to capture another Shaper--the playable character--thus spurring the events of the first game.
Trajkov organises his work force into two distinct groups:
- Warriors, who use canisters to better their physical abilities and battle prowess. This group includes Scouts, Warrior Sholai, Stealth Sholai, augmented Sholai and Sholai Commanders.
- Wizards, tasked with reverse-engineering Shaping techniques and Shaper magic for Sholai use.
In Geneforge 1 there is also a minor group of Sholai that do not approve of Trajkov's actions and do not support him, led by Gavrila, Masha and Astrov. Most of these rebels are holed up to the south, seeking to escape from the island and kill Trajkov.
The Sholai are known to mount ballista on their ships for purposes of war. These huge sailing ships are used for exploration, trade, and colonization. In Geneforge 1 they are described to be a nation of traders, builders, skilled shipwrights and explorers.
The shipwright of the Sholai are known to adorn their skin with tattoos.
Sholai have their own language with an alphabet similar to that of the Shapers.