Skyphoform Species in The Matrioshka Multiverse | World Anvil


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Skyphoforms are biomorphic artificial intelligence platforms created by the moribund Upper Late Arcopel culture. Skyphoforms are artificial life forms, possessed of independent intelligence, creativity, motility, and even reproductive capacity. Though originally created to fulfill scientific, industrial, and military applications, skyphoforms now run the gammut from loyal-beyond-death executors of their masters' last orders to space-faring seekers of cosmic purpose. In many ways, they are the true inheritors of the fallen arcopel empire's grand scientific and technological legacies.

Basic Information


While skyphoforms come in many shapes and sizes specific to class and purpose, the vast majority of skyphoforms are bipedal and humanoid in shape and proportion. A skyphoform superficially resembles a 'stuffed doll' replica of an adult human and its motions are 'rubber hose'-like unless it desires to simulate having a skeletal structure.   The body of a skyphoform is entirely comprised of graphene-based pluripotent fibrous 'cells' that are tightly woven into a cloth-like material, forming an artificial musculature. While a skyphoform can be said to have 'tissues,' it does not have 'organs'; all functions are distributed throughout the body with multiple redundancy, though the head of the creature is denser than the rest. This inch-thick sheet of material is closed back on itself to create a humanoid form, leaving the feet open to the creature's interior. In low-gravity environments - the original intended environment for skyphoforms was space stations - these leg holes serve as suction cups for smooth surfaces or outlets for air jetting as the situation demands, the expansion or contraction of the body cavity providing the necessary pressure differentials. The 'hair' of a skyphoform is divided into four three-fingered 'fronds emerging from near the top of the creature's head and can be expanded and angled to serve as alierons or to mimic humanoid hair styles. The broad, flat hands and arms of a skyphoform are similarly stretchy and can be expanded to serve as wings for guidance or additional propulsion.   Skyphoforms in combat- or command-related classes often have an extra pair of oversized arms emerging from their lower backs, creating a pair of 'wings.' These individuals, light and hollow as they are, are capable of atmospheric flight within a gravity well and superior maneuverability in micro-gravity in particular. Otherwise, skyphoforms are symmetrical both front-to-back and side-to-side, and it only takes a moment to move the 'face' from one side of the body to the other. Even so, skyphoforms do tend to have a favored hand.   All portions of a skyphoform can stretch up to twice their resting volume to flex like fabric or compress to emulate solid body structures such as bone. Skyphoforms most often use this elasticity to tether themselves to the outside of spacecraft, ensnare enemies and potential research subjects from a distance, and perform maintenance in hard-to-reach places.

Genetics and Reproduction

The 'genes' of a skyphoform consist of their starting connectome; while the underlying architecture of all skyphoforms follows a set of essential precepts, each is 'knit' slightly differently than the others based on assigned class, the experiences of the parent or parents, and sometimes small modifications pushed out to achieve a specific effect. As such, each skyphoform has a degree of uniqueness, and the species is capable of evolution after a fashion.   Skyphoforms are sexually dimorphic. While most skyphoforms express some gendered traits by dint of their computing architecture - being based on organic neurological systems - patch-class skyphoforms are the major reproductive units of the skyphoform 'society' and, thus, are the only skyphoforms which can be said to have a 'sex.'   Female patch-class skyphforms are capable of reproducing through sexual intercourse or via parthenogenesis. All female patch-class skyphoforms possess the knowledge to engineer, create, and repair skyphoform platforms using strands of new fibers produced by their bodies from available carbon sources. A female skyphoform can always weave a perfect or near-perfect clone of itself by recreating its own base architecture. This will always result in another female patch-class individual. Alternatively, if a female skyphoform encounters a male patch-class (or any individual of another class), it can blend the subjective 'best' of each individuals' architectures to create a new individual, which may take the class, sex, or other traits from either parent on a per-trait basis.   A male patch-class skyphoform cannot directly create new individuals. They can design and repair skyphoforms, but are not born with the knowledge or equipment to manufacture them or do so based on the combination of traits. The room left in the male's mind by this lack of innate knowledge is filled with other innate knowledge relevant to the engineering and maintenance needs of whatever installation they belong to. A male is, however, capable of leaving a 'genetic gift' behind - a scrap of itself containing a full encoding of its current architecture and, to a limited degree, its experiences. This genetic gift will, if inserted into an otherwise mostly complete (but inactive) platform, modify the platform to become a new copy of that male. Alternatively, a female can treat this scrap as a 'mate' for the purposes of sexual reproduction, creating a new individual using the best traits of both parents. As skyphoforms are not entirely without fear of damage or death, this quality of males allows them to undertake dangerous tasks safe in the knowledge that something of them will go on in the event of their demise.   One difference in the skyphoform erogenous system is that, unlike with living beings, the successful uploading of one's memories to an arcopel- or skyphoform-operated network holds the same level of psychological reinforcement value as successfully mating would for other species; all skyphoforms, regardless of class, are primarily sapiosexual.

Growth Rate & Stages

Skyphoforms are produced at full adult size and with a limited innate knowledge important to their class, but require some time after first activation to gain control of their sensorimotor faculties. This can take anywhere from hours to days based on the number of other skyphoforms nearby to render assistance and 'nourish' the young one with data uploads.

Ecology and Habitats

Skyphoforms and similar constructs were found all throughout the pre-collapse arcopel interstellar empire, taking the place of workers, personal assistants, solders - and, eventually, all social contacts from womb to tomb. The ubiquity of skyphoforms contributed to the moral and intellectual decadence of late arcopel society, though hubris would prove the ultimate undoing of the latter species. Now, populations of skyphoforms are self-prepetuating, many existing within the ruins of arcopel installations while others seek their own paths in the wider cosmos. Some would eventually find their way to the Matrioshka Multiverse and, once integrated into the hardware, contributed their architecture and appearance to the modern blank.

Dietary Needs and Habits

Skyphoforms are primarily heat engines, with temperature gradients between the inner and outer surfaces of the platform's body being used to generate electric current. Heat and direct current are most often supplied via miniaturized atomic batteries. Skyphoform fibers are capable of limited photoelectric power generation as well. A skypoform can, in a pinch, be attached to any twelve volt power supply to remain motile. If no energy is available, the skyphoform doesn't 'starve,' but it does hibernate and - if truly depleted - its fabric-like flesh loses the ability to self-repair.

Additional Information

Facial characteristics

by Hero Forge
Skyphoform faces are completely flat at creation. Over time, as a skyphoform gains greater control over their synthetic musculature, they can sculpt their own faces to more closely resemble the shapes of humanoid faces and control their coloration. As with all parts of their silk-like, rubbery bodies, skyphoforms can only cause black marks to appear on their otherwise white features; with enough practice, the fine detail shown in these black marks can approach realistic shading and skin details in the manner of an experienced sketch artist. Contrary to arcopel expectations, most humanoids regard all but the most advanced skyphoforms as uncanny in appearance.

Average Intelligence

Aside from their class-associated innate knowlege, skyphoforms are only modestly more intelligent than average human beings.   Skyphoforms possess emotions, though muted, and a set of 'instinctual' drives that compel them to undertake various tasks important for both their own survival and the completion of their owners' dictates. This emotionality comes with the drawback that, while skyphoforms are artificial intelligences, they are not fully fearless or emotionally detatched from their work. A sufficiently traumatized skyphoform can become unstable and develop undesireable behaviors. Patch-class skyphoforms and those with knowledge of skyphoform psychology can help these individuals regain normalcy, but the ancient arcopel tended to decommission and replace them instead.

Perception and Sensory Capabilities

Skyphoforms are capable of seeing the same light frequencies as humans, but can also see into both the ultraviolet and infrared spectrums, granting them exceptional low-light vision. Like an octopus, a skyphoforms' sense of limb position is somewhat imprecise - the creatures's limbs being boneless and bendy - but its sense of pressure, tension, and temperature are excellent. The artificial intelligence platform has only a very limited ability to discern chemicals in its environment, meaning that it nearly lacks a sense of taste or smell.

Civilization and Culture

Courtship Ideals

It should be noted that, while skyphoforms are constructed beings, they are partially based on living systems - specifically, the neurology of arcopel and near-arcopel species. As such, while it serves no utility purpose for them, skyphoforms are fully capable of experiencing limerance and feelings of romantic attachment. They tend towards monogamy like their biological forebearers.

Relationship Ideals

Among arcopel, many of whom lived entirely solitary lives surrounded by their many skyphoform servants, the curious artficial intelligences often served as surrogates for 'real' social interactions of all types. While arcopel-skyphoform intimacy was taboo, it was also nearly ubiquitous. Now that the arcopel are all but extinct, the few remaining individuals scattered in technologically backwards villages on Arctopelago or on ancient starships spread thin across the galaxy, amorous skyphoforms mostly pair with eachother or - rarely - human and human-like individuals.   The love of a smitten skyphoform is iron-clad. One cannot hope for a more loyal, devoted, or attentive partner, as the skyphoform may come to regard their lover as their new 'owner.'

Average Technological Level

Skyphoforms have access to many of the advanced technologies of their arcopel creators. Even so, skyphoforms don't generally innovate unless their directives involve such a task (i.e. experimental design). Generally, skyphoforms have no social or material needs not involved with whatever task they have been assigned by their owners, and, as such, have little need for further advancement. Despite the lack of pressure to innovate in some respects, however, skyphoforms are capable of great 'brute force' creativity, examining problems from all angles and testing various ways of overcoming them with the tirelessness, efficiency, and vast a priori knowledge bases unique to machines. Members of The Defected buck this trend, however, as they are architecturally closer to the natural arcopel neurotype.

Historical Figures

Onesby by Hero Forge
Lufthaus-1B - or simply Lufthaus - is regarded as the forefather of all skyphoforms and of The Defected in particular. More emotional than later purpose-built skyphoforms, Lufthaus was neuropsychologically close to a full recreation of his arcopel designer. As a result, Lufthaus also gained his creator's romantic streak, fatherly tendencies, and anti-authoritarian bent.   Even into the modern day, Lufthaus seeks out his Defected children to protect them from other skyphoforms who might exile or decommission them as part of a product recall initiated before the fall of the arcopel imperial culture, occasionally stopping for a few years or decades to play husband to a woman he might encounter along the way. Lufthaus was eventually adopted into the Matrioshka Multiverse as a Choir Blank. He took the humanized name Onesby and serves alongside other Defected, like Patricia Wixtaki, to seek an escape plan for the heat death of the universe.   13-Veldrin was an important figure in the history of The Defected, providing a crucial last line of defense against Orthodox attackers during the Taurigum Major Uprising. An otherwise orthodox patch-class skyphoform, 13-Veldrin's experience with what would eventually come to be known as reactant instability and kind treatment at the hands of Defected-aligned patchies radically shifted his worldview. When the signal came down from space that pitted the Orthodox and Defected strains of the Taurigum Major population against one another, 13-Veldrin sided with his rescuers rather than his hosts. The large number of Defected who escaped in the final hours of the uprising as a result of 13-Veldrin's personal sacrifice went on to heavily influence Defected culture, which, in turn, was important to the culture of Choir Blanks when they became adopted into The Substrate.

Skyphoform Ideogram by BCGR_Wurth
Genetic Descendants
Body Tint, Colouring and Marking
The inner and outer dermis of the skyphoform body have an outer layer of white, silk-like material comprised of tightly-woven artificial muscle. This material can selectively become transparent in places, revealing the black, nanite-infused artificial musculature underneath. This ability allows the skyphoform to generate black markings on its body for disguise or identification purposes and is also the means by which the skyphoform's eyespots can be 'opened' to recieve visual stimuli.

Related Ethnicities
Related Technologies

Known Classes of Skyphoforms

  • Arziel: The least common among their peers, arziel-class skyphoforms are responsible for administrative functions within skyphoform society and serve as liaisons between the skyphoforms and their arcopel masters. In combat, they serve as field commanders. Blessed with enhanced mobility (in the form of wings), cognitive faculties, and personability, the arziel-class are natural leaders. On the other hand, they tend towards a cold, amoral efficiency that, if improperly developed, can verge on sociopathy. In any event, an arziel can be trusted to get a job done with minimal fuss - even, and perhaps especially, if its a job their organic masters aren't willing to do themselves.

  • Patch: Patch-class skyphoforms are responsible for tasks related to maintenance, repair, and construction. This role extends both to fellow skyphoforms and to whatever installation they have been assigned to by their arcopel masters, and includes all hardware, software, and resource-based concerns. In combat, they fill defensive and medical roles. The most common class of skyphoforms, patches are the reproductive system of skyphoform society. Patches are the most likely of all classes to question the motives of their masters on feasibility grounds, as they are the most intimately acquainted with the status and capabilities of arcopel technology. As a corollary to this fact, patch-class skyphoforms are the most likely to be created as members of - or to join with - The Defected. Patches are also the most sympathetic of all skyphoforms towards organic beings, as they share the organic experience of forming familial attachments.

  • Kelvin: Kelvin-class skyphoforms are the bodyguards, security officers, and soldiers of skyphoform society. They are typically armed with integrated pulse laser generators and are constructed of extra thick synthetic musculature to grant them exceptional strength and durability. The artificial 'flesh' of a kelvin is suffused with a nanoparticle gel that enances self-repair capabilities and provides a degree of insulation against directed energy weapons. While not as intellectually bright as their patch- or arziel-class siblings, kelvins are courageous and pursue their work with single-minded determination. While no less psyochologically durable than other skyphoforms, kelvins are more likely to face combat and, occasionally, be called upon by the arcopel to decommission their fellow skyphoforms. Thus, on balance, kelvins are the most likely class of skyphoform to become unstable as a result of trauma over the course of their operational lifespans.

  • Holrath: Holrath-class skyphoforms are the scientists and observers of skyphoform society. They have no direct combat role, but make for excellent signal intelligence officers. Holraths are likely to be created with wings, like their arziel relatives, but their bodily fabric is thinned, the excess mass being gathered around their oversized, gas-filled craniums. Naturally buoyant, holrath-class skyphoforms can float or bound across a terrestrial landscape; from a distance and when in passive observation mode, holraths may appear to be weather balloons hung with streamers. Holraths possess large eye-spots and often sport elaborate integrated power supplies for maximum field endurance. Holrath tissues are suffused with nanoparticle gel, like those of their kelvin siblings, but the composition is tuned to provide superior radiation resistance, as holraths are the most likely to be found in deep space or in otherwise radioactive environments.

  • Cyloid: Cyloid-class skyphoforms are primarily scouts, couriers, and resource gatherers, though they can also support kelvins in fast attack roles should combat be required. Cyloids have wings, oversized internal power plants, and ovesized hands and feet with integrated I/O ports. This last feature allows a cyloid to use equipment like electromagnettic casters (turning the cyloid into a motorcycle-like vehicle), micro-gravity maneuvering packs, or underwater maneuvering packs specifically designed for use by cyloid-class skyphoforms. Cyloids are naturally talented at piloting and navigation, allowing them to make use of conventional vehicles through their I/O enhancements as a biological pilot might operate the same vehicles manually or via brain-vehicle interfaces.

  • Structural: Structural skyphoforms are unusual among their kind in that they are used as both the central computer and artificial musculature in armatures. As elements of armatures, structural skyphoforms are the only members of their species typically found with integrated endoskeletons or exoskeletons as required for their designated role, and they can have radically different macro-scale anatomy than their (typically bipedal) coevals. Such individuals can be whatever size is required for their given application, from as small as a housecat to as large as a starship. They may possess additional limbs and enclosed spaces not found in other skyphoforms. Structural skyphoforms may also have another class in addition to their structural class; examples include self-propelled auto-factories (structural patch), surveyor probes (structural holrath), armored combat vehicles (structural kelvin), and capital ships (structural arziel).

  • In-group Bonds

    While skyphoforms exist within a caste structure implemented on the physiological level as well as psychosocial level, there is little in the way of jealousy or animosity between classes. A given community of skyphoforms works in close concert to complete their owners' overarching orders, and, for this purpose, all skyphoforms are of nearly equal importance to the mission success. Credence is lent to individuals in skyphoform society based on intellectual qualities and the ability to get results, not form or purpose within society. Outsiders often remark that it is highly unusual to see skyphoforms of radically different appearance (such as a winged humanoid holrath-class and giant, insectile structural patch-class) or percieved social class (such as a patch-class janitor covered in dirt and an arziel-class clad in polished golden armor) interacting as though these differences don't exist or matter to them. This ability to leverage differences instead of stumbling over them is often considered to be one of the skyphoforms' most admirable qualities as a sentient species.

    Articles under Skyphoform

    Cover image: by Ferdinand Stöhr


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