No-Men

Inspired by the Gnome race from Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen
This is a race of sentient humanoids based loosely on the Gnome race of the game Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen by Visionary Realms.   I like that concept and art so much that I've decided to put them in my Rifts world. I hope the developers of the game take this as the flattery it is intended to be.   No-Men are an unimaginably advanced race who have transcended the shackles of their physical existence. They are insubstantial, consisting entirely of life energy held together by their sense of identity and given form by the power of their will. In other words they are pure spirit. As such, they are incapable of interacting with the physical world without consciously expending their energy to do so. On their home world, this was not a problem because they had no need or desire to interact with the mundane they had transcended above. But on Rifts Earth they've become a favorite snack of psychic vampires of all types, from native Psi-stalkers to otherwordly predators attracted through rifts in droves to the high magic of the planet.   A No-Man can defend itself in its natural form by expending its own life force to achieve what you and I would call spell-like effects. But only those who have the talent for it have any hope or chance of success. The vast majority of No-Men do not have the aptitude to manipulate their own energy to achieve such spell-llike effects. Rather, the best most can hope for is telekinesis and perception manipulation.   If only the world would leave them alone, they would be happy to live their lives in peace, engorging themselves on the blissfully pure life energy of the planet.   But it will not.   So in order to defend themselves without exhausting themselves in the process, No-Men use what they call a mundane interface. A mundane interface is an item that has been enchanted with special runes. When a No-man permanently invests those runes with some of their own essence, they are able to manipulate the item as if it was a physical body part. They eventually regenerate a large portion of this invested energy, thus making mundane interfaces a cheap and efficient solution for interacting with the mundane world around them.   The most common form of mundane interface is a long ribbon which they use to wrap around themselves. In this way, the fabric becomes their de facto skin, allowing them to interact with the physical world and manipulate objects without much more energy expenditure than any physical creature would expend as it went about its day. Heavier and bulkier objects like full suits of armor or dedicated tools and objects can also be enchanted to be mundane interfaces, but this is an uncommon practice because a No-Man with a "skin" interface could just put the armor on over the "skin" just like any other humanoid would and could use enchanted gloves to manipulate tools and objects rather than having to enchant each tool or object separately.

Basic Information

Anatomy

While No-Men have no bodies whatsoever, they are evolved from bipedal humanoid-shaped creatures. Their souls therefore naturally manifest as a bipedal humanoid configuration when they don their mundane interfaces.   The size of a No-Man can vary, depending solely upon the whim of the No-Man itself. There are limitations, however. The "volume" of a No-Man is directly related to their pool of PPE/ISP. The more life energy they have, the higher their volume. This does not mean that No-Men with larger volumes are necessarily larger forms, though. This is because No-Men can also adjust the density of their energy. So a diminutive form with an enormous power pool will be quite bright and a large form with a small power pool will be quite dull. There is a minimum and maximum limit to the density without suffering other effects.   The average No-Man is considered SMALL and is just over a meter tall. A No-Man can assume a larger size, but doing so reduces both their strength and agility by a dice size for each size larger than SMALL. It also reduces their power pool by for each size. No-Men can continue to increase their size as long as neither their strength nor their agility is a d4 and they do not reduce their energy below zero. Conversely, a No-Man can reduce its size by one to below SMALL but only if their agility is a d6 or higher and doing so will reduce their agility automatically to d4. Interestingly, however, a No-Man's strength increases by a dice size when it reduces its size. A No-Man can actually reduce its size even further even though it has a d4 agility but forfeits its ability to use any mundane interface other than its phylactery. A No-Man can not reduce its size more than 2 sizes below SMALL.   In their full spiritual form, they can hover and move in any direction through any material that is not supernatural in nature, such as the bodies of supernatural beings, arcane or psionic barriers and anything made of Mageiron and products made of such supernatural materials. Foil Ant┬áchitin is a common material used to create supernatural composites.
There is no limit to the altitude or depth they can achieve and they do not breathe. Movement in their spiritual form cannot exceed their normal pace. No-Men with mundane interfaces can run and sprint, since those motions rely on their ability to manipulate their interfaces, witch is represented in game mechanics by strength and dexterity.

Genetics and Reproduction

Any two No-Men can form a soul bond in which they allow their energy essences to intermingle. The reactions that occur between the two take on their own form and eventually become a self sustainable soul with an independent identity. Both "parents" are permanently drained of their energy and can never recover it by any means. Most No-Men can afford to produce 2 offspring at most, with one being the most common. Trying to make a third offspring is nearly always fatal.

Growth Rate & Stages

Offspring of a No-Man soul bond are about 1/3 the size of an adult and are just as ignorant of the world around them as any other newborn. All they really are is a collection of life energy in a pattern that is a mash-up of the two parents' patterns. There exists instinct and the ability to communicate fully, however. But without a well formed sense of self and without well-formulated ideas brought about by criticial thinking, what a young No-Man chooses to communicate and how well they listen is not unlike any other youth born in a physical body.   Typically it takes about three to five years for a No-Man to reach adult size and capabilities, although it would still take many more for emotional maturity and wisdom to take root, just as any other species. Then they can live for nearly a thousand years until their patterns start to fail and their life energy dissipates.

Ecology and Habitats

No-Men subsist on life energy and Rifts Earth is an all-you-can-eat smorgasbord. Unfortunately for them, most psychic vampires are unable to ingest the raw ley line energy of Rifts earth and instead need it converted into some form of psychic energy. No-Men are perfect energy converters, without all the blood and inefficiencies of other living creatures, and so are the favored source of energy for psychic vampires.

Dietary Needs and Habits

A No-Man's very existence, the maintenance of its pattern, requires a set amount of PPE. As long as they have this amount of PPE, they are fine. This base PPE is considered the zero mark for game mechanics. However, if a No-Man chooses to sacrifice itself, it can expend PPE and go below zero into negative numbers. When doing so, they may go as far into the negative equal to their total PPE. Just know that once these reserves are dipped into, even a little bit, a No-Men takes permanent damage to its pattern. Memories, personality and core functions are affected in that order the deeper into their reserves they go. So, while their natural regeneration will eventually recoup back up to their maximum PPE, whatever aspects of their self that they've lost remain lost.

Additional Information

Uses, Products & Exploitation

Psi-stalkers and other PPE vampires do not need to cut a No-Man or cause one to bleed in order to drain their PPE. All they have to be is within range for their ability.

Perception and Sensory Capabilities

All No-Men have the ability to "see," "smell," "taste," and "touch" psychic energy and will be able to recognize people and creatures. No-Men have none of the five senses we have, however, since such senses would require biological bodies to react to physical stimuli. Rather, their knowledge of the physical world around them is limited to their ability to cast sensory powers. Seeing and hearing and smelling and touching the physical world are all activities that need to be concentrated upon. This places No-Men at a significant disadvantage merely navigating the world and its people. On the other hand, it also makes them impervious to sensory deprivation. Many No-Men wear masks with permanent runed enchantments that provide sensory inputs of sight smell and hearing, and wear gloves runed for tactile sensations as well.

Civilization and Culture

Naming Traditions

No-Men have no names in their native state, having evolved beyond the use of simple inherently inadequate concepts like names to identify themselves to each other. Therefore, when you meet a No-Man with a name, it is because that is a description they gave themselves in order to work well with other races or a name someone else gave them instead. Accordingly, there is no consistency whatsoever.   It is not uncommon to encounter No-men with insults for names given to them by strangers out of malicious humor and retained out of sheer ignorance or lack of concern. But at the same time, gloriously evocative and colorful names are represented as well as the more common names appropriate to the cultures of the name givers.

Major Organizations

TBD

Beauty Ideals

Beauty to a No-Man is a measure of the person's soul. They have no concept of physical beauty and will not be affected by it one way or another.

Gender Ideals

The concept of sexual identity has not existed among the No-Men for eons. Without physical bodies, there is no need or desire to identify as any gender at all.

Relationship Ideals

Because No-Men live for hundreds of years before their patterns start becoming unstable, they are known to form vast networks of relationships. But like any other race, some are more comfortable with a few close relations while others are more comfortable meeting new people every day.   The one rule you can say about No-Men is that they don't follow any rules when it comes to personality and temperament.

Average Technological Level

The are so advanced they have come right back around to being primitive. In effect, they have stood on the shoulders of so many stacked giants, that they can not see the foundations of their technology any more. As a result, the No-Men of Rifts earth have as much knowledge of technology as they were able to learn here, and their aptitude is as varied as any physical species in that regard. Any knowledge they may retain of their home technology is so impossibly advanced as to be impractical and non-transferable.

Major Language Groups and Dialects

Their native language is one of pure conceptual telepathy with each other. There is no language per se, since even the concept of using a language to convey ideas so imperfectly has been throw away when the ideas themselves can be communicated in their raw form.   In order to work within the mundane world, No-Men will adopt whatever language people around them use. They are no more or less proficient with languages than any other race.   To achieve actual audible speech, No-Men will typically include runed speech enchantments in their masks.

Common Taboos

After their first experiences with enchanting runes, No-Men have taken to creating phylacteries. Think of a No-Man phylactery as like a safe-room in a building. A phylactery can take any shape or form, but there is one characteristic they all have in common: When they are sealed shut, no evidence of their life energy can be detected from without.   Typically, a phylactery is made up of segments of a sphere about the size of a bowling ball. The inside of the sphere is covered in runes and the outside is constructed of the hardest and most durable materials they can find. When not in use, the phylactery is suspended inside their "body." As such, many have taken to designing their phylacteries to be artistic, to be unnoticeable, or to appear as even a rib cage. Among the No-Men, phylactery design is an art form of highest renown and respect, but among outsiders the mere existence of phylacteries is not discussed. When faced with an emergency, a No-Man can withdraw into their phylactery and seal it shut around them. Once sealed, however, the No-Man is unable to sense anything outside the phylactery just as nothing outside can sense them. Any items, interfaces, or physical objects that can not fit inside their phylactery with them are dropped in place. This double-blind nature makes them as vulnerable as it makes them safe.   Because of this, it is considered quite rude to pick up or move a No-Man when inside its phylactery unless this is something that was arranged beforehand.

History

The No-Men of Rifts Earth arrived over 300 years ago in the early days of the rifts. They were originally attracted to the wealth of energy and it seemed like a paradise. By the time energy vampires started hunting them and even going so far as to use them as livestock, it was too late by decades. The Rift that brought them here had closed long since.   Eventually, with the cooperation of benevolent allies, they were able to craft the first mundane interfaces and started fighting back.   Generally paranoid as a rule, the No-Men tend to congregate in high magic areas and along ley lines. But there are enough adventurous No-Men to have wandered nearly the entire planet. It is these adventurers and wanderers who have given rise to the name "No-Men." Because when strangers discover that there is nothing under the cloth wraps, they are often accused of not being men at all.

Historical Figures

The maker of cursed items

Common Myths and Legends

PsiStalkers are the Boogeymen of No-Man folklore, especiallly wild stalkers who don't have the developed impulse control that Coalition monks have.   There was a famous predator called the devourer who kept No-Men as livestock. The story goes that the devourer was insatiable and demanded his livestock to maintain their numbers by procreation. The No-men then began their own eugenics rapid-breeding strategy. The No-Men bred themselves as fast as possible, trying to make sure that those with inherent "magical" aptitude bred themselves to death before being eaten. In about 150 years, the population of captive feedstock was almost purely "magical" and of such great numbers that they were finally able to overwhelm the Devourer. Only a few survived and they are now heroes of legend.
Average Physique
No-Men have a strength and dexterity attributes just like any physical species. This is a measure of their ability to control and apply force through their mundane interfaces. They typically have very high agility and dexterity since their motions are not as constrained by the limitations of a physical body. But at the same time they can't exhibit the excessive characteristics of some physical species who evolved that way holistically or were modified to exceed their natural limitations.   Note that just like a physical creature, a No-Man can not exert force upon any object without also exerting equal force in the opposite direction. For example, if a No-Man puts on only an enchanted glove and tries to lift a sword with it, the no-man will be unable to lift the sword and instead will drive their own "body"into the ground. So, if the No-Man wishes to lift the sword, they will need enchanted footwear of some sort to press against the ground and some enchanted material between the footwear and the glove to provide the supporting structure to transfer the weight of the sword through it from the glove to the ground.
Body Tint, Colouring and Marking
The typical No-Man will consist of a shapeless golden glow. Those with magical capabilities can actually have elements of a different color associated with their magic coursing through their form as well.   No-Men who are ill or suffering some form of trauma will have more erratic forms, as do those No-Men who are suffering from unstable patterns. Unstable patterns also manifest in visible leaks as their energy seems to drift away in places not unlike how smoke or steam would.   No-Men who have chosen to dip into their personal life energy (gone into negative PPE) will lose internal "volume." In other words their forms will either become duller(less dense) or reduce in size until the lost energy is restored.

In this world of Death and Undeath, possession of corpses by entities is a constant threat. Spirits and souls that are capable of possession are spirits and souls that are missing a physical body. In other words, they are incomplete and aetherial form has something like fibrous tethers that remain untethered, searching for a lost physicality. Think of a disembodied spirit as one half of a velcro strip, and whatever it possesses as the other half.
While No-men are full spirits, they do not share the same existence. They have naturally evolved beyond their bodies. Their spirits are complete, as insubstantial as they are. As a result, they are inherently as incapable of possessing an object as you or I. With magic, however, they would still be able to create a spirit body capable of possession, just like you or I could. And just as it would be for you or me, they would leave a portion of their existence behind, a "body" so to speak, that continues to interact with their mundane interfaces.

Comments

Author's Notes

When creating a No-Man character, it is a good idea to select an Arcane Background so that the character can enchant their own mundane interfaces. Without the knowledge and ability to craft runes, if their mundane interface is damaged they will become unable to interact with the world around them, becoming nearly useless in any further game sessions until they can find someone to perform the repairs and enchantments.   This isn't an issue for No-Men in No-man communities, but adventurers would be expected to exhibit more self-sufficiency.


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